A 15th century pub at the heart of Brede has risen to the challenge of meeting the village’s needs by baking its own bread.
It might be an unusual product for a pub but the Red Lion’s freshly made ‘Brede bread’ has proved popular and, with no grocery shop in the village, locals as well as hikers, walkers and campers at the Dogwood Cottage Campsite have come to rely on it.
Natalie Campbell-Crabb, who took over the running of the independent pub with her partner Philip Graham in September 2018, said: “We have a lot of hikers and walkers who pop in, who are delighted to see local produce.
“They love to see that we’ve got this, there isn’t anywhere else in the village unless you go to the farmers market on a Friday.
“You’ve got the church and then you’ve got the pub.”
As well as the homemade bread, which varies from white, wholemeal, spelt Roman or foccacia, the pub sells a range of other local produce made by villagers – including chutney, locally pressed apple juice, eggs and even chocolate from a local chocolatier.
Natalie said building this mutual relationship with residents was key.
“It’s important for us to support what’s going on in the village,” she said. “We are supported by the village, they are our bread and butter.”
The pub also acts as an entertainment hub for Brede, hosting live music, open mic nights and quiz nights, said Natalie, who has been keen to develop this since taking over last year.
While her family had always worked in pubs, Natalie was an accountant before taking over the Red Lion. She said: “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and blood and tears. But it’s a beautiful, magical pub.”
Looking forward, she said she was keen to work with the council to grow more support and recognition for the village.
With limited public transport links from Hastings, Natalie said it was difficult to attract customers from the town, which she said was ‘a shame’.
Councillor Ian Jenkins, who has lived in Brede for the last nine years, said the Red Lion was a ‘lovely pub’ and stressed that it was important to support local businesses – especially out in rural areas.
He said the Red Lion went beyond the typical services of a pub, diversifying its income stream and finding new ‘niche markets’ such as by selling its own bread and providing fish and chips available for takeaway once a week.
He said: “That’s a unique thing for the pub to do. I think it’s great.
“As a village, it’s saving people going into the town.”