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The Ferry House


The Ferry House came under the ownership of Alex Burden & his mother Mavis in 2000. A third generation farming family, the Burden family has cultivated the land around Harty for decades. With such a strong personal connection to the local area it’s no wonder the last 20+ years have been dedicated to the careful development of our beautiful 16th venue, in harmony with its natural surrounds.


Then known as ‘The Ferry House Inn’ (or affectionately by locals as the ‘Harty Ferry’), the first year of Burden ownership was spent running the pub/restaurant with a handful of employees. Over the next three years however, extensive renovations & a rear extension project were completed. In 2004 we held our very first wedding!


During this period The Ferry House as you know it today was taking shape, with the building of our beautiful Oak Barn & a new kitchen, among other renovations. We bought our own marquee - and put it up and down every time we had a wedding! Not so hard in the days where we averaged nine weddings a year. Mavis Burden retired from The Ferry House in 2009.


An exciting & significant period of change! The wedding garden was created, along with our beautiful Oak Gazebo. The children’s play area was built & in 2013 the Kitchen Garden sprang to life from one humble lettuce bed, swiftly followed by our first asparagus crowns. Alex met & married Victoria Burden & our beautiful Room Five suite was renovated. In 2014 we were awarded our first ‘Taste of Kent’ Award & took on the management of the Mocketts Farm self catering cottages.


More renovations included our Event Suite marquee. The Kitchen Garden continued to thrive & expand with the building of our poly tunnel. In 2015 we were awarded our first 2AA Rosette for culinary excellence - an accolade maintained every year since. We also won our second ‘Taste of Kent’ award in 2018, having been runner up in 2016. Summer 2019 saw the opening of the Coach House (our biggest single investment to date), comprising of six luxury bedrooms, new staff facilities & extended kitchen & butchery facilities.


The year of the pandemic, when life as we knew it ground to a halt. We are prodigiously proud of our team during this most challenging of times. However it didn’t stop us opening the fifth Mocketts Farm cottage - The Farmhouse - in Spring 2020 & our two beautiful Treatment Rooms in December 2020. We continue onwards & upwards from here with our typically ambitious & passionate plans for The Ferry House. What they are, you will just have to wait & see…


As the pandemic came to an end, life started to look a bit more normal and our team were returning to work, we made it our mission to tick some huge milestones off the list in the coming years. The end of 2021 saw us turn our restaurant upside down, making the once separate 'shoot room' into a larger restaurant full of the country character you see today. Early 2022 brought with it Storm Eunice, picking up our poly tunnel and destroying majority of the produce growing in it. We took this opportunity to not only rebuild the poly tunnel but add another one as our Kitchen Garden continues to expand. Our terrace refurb was complete just in time for some alfresco dining in the spring of 2023 and to top off a few years of hard work from our amazing team, in October we were awarded our 2AA Rosette in Culinary Excellence!

With plenty up our sleeve for 2024 and beyond, watch this space to find out more about our upcoming projects.

Back In The Day


The Isle of Harty used to be a separate island from the Isle of Sheppey, once separated by Capel Fleet, which now has a road causeway. Harty has gone by many names over the years: Hertei, Heartage, Herteye and by 1610 it was named ‘Harty’, and the name stuck.

The hamlet of Harty is steeped in history. Harty saw stone-age settlers navigate their early boats, the coming of the Romans, the Saxons who built their ancient port of Cilling directly opposite and the invasion of the Danish. Most notably, Henry VIII posted his fleet in the East Swale sending an armada of over 25,000 men to attack Calais. Throughout history, Harty’s position was considered a very strategic one. Long views down the North Kent coastline and out into the Thames Estuary channels allowed for good sight of invading hordes that could be forewarned.

The Ferry House (formerly The Ferry House Inn) takes its name from the ferry boat that would ship travellers back and forth from the mainland over the Swale estuary. The ferry was Harty’s most important link of communication, but in 1941 the boat fell to pieces and has never been replaced. The rights to the ferry were, and still are ‘held by the landlord of The Ferry House Inn’.

After the 13th century, Harty became a sea route from London, and was the last port of call for travellers. People would often visit the early Norman Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, often described as Kent’s remotest place of worship, and would cross over via the Ferryman. It is therefore speculated that there was an inn at this spot even back in those days. The inn has for many years been a popular rendezvous for yachtsmen in the Swale and is a favourite place to visit by holidaymakers – and it’s still that way all these years later.

During the running of the ferry, the Ferryman was recorded that he was ‘well known to a large number of people who had occasion to cross over to the island by way of Harty Ferry from the mainland. Many and many a rough voyage he had experienced.’ It has been quoted that ‘not a single service has been missed and some very rough passages had to be made’.

Harty has always had a very small population. According to the census of 1899 the population was just 90. Very few people now live on the island – which explains the seclusion of the area and the abundance of wildlife. Harty is now the scene of extensive farming, a quiet backwater beloved by ornithologists and naturalists, where birds of prey soar and nature flourishes in this remote corner of Sheppey.

Many thanks to the late Lisa Tyler of the Sheppey Local History Society & to Philip Haynes for his photograph of Harty Church.