Page Updated:- Thursday, 23 February, 2023.


Earliest  1590

Black Bull

Latest 2012+

1 High Street / 186 Church Street


Black Bull

Above photo, date unknown.

Black Bull 1920s

Above photo, circa 1920 showing "Black Bull" extreme right.

Black Bull 2010

Above photo 2010 by Oast House Archives Creative Commons Licence.

Black Bull 2012

Above image from Google, May 2012.

Black Bull 2021

Above photo August 2021, kindly taken and sent by Ian Goodrick.

Black Bull sign 2016

Above sign 2016.

With thanks from from Roger Pester


The following information has been taken from


The "Black Bull Inn" was one of the two fully licensed premises in Cliffe prior to 1887 and is likely to be the oldest ale house in the village. One of the earliest references is a alehouse recognizance, taken before John Leveson and William Lambarde in 1590.

By 1611 it is known that a Richard Done was the victualler and that sureties were confirmed by John Noke and George Parker, both yeomen of the same parish and this recognizance was carried out in 1611.

Originally it was a wooden structure built next to the historic Prior's Hall Cottages but in 1887 the old wooden building burnt down and the pub was re-built and stands as it does today.

Being one of the oldest pubs in the village it also has its fair share of myths and legends in common with many old village buildings and one is a story of a haunting. According to legend footsteps may be heard and doors open and close of their own accord. These mysterious occurrences are due to the wanderings of an old sailor, who drowned at sea, returning to seek out his sweetheart, or another quoted reason is that, the "Black Bull" was constructed upon an ancient burial site and the departed are seeking peace and quiet.

At the turn of the last century the "Black Bull Inn" was fully involved in the community with the Cliffe Cricket Club having its headquarters there. The club played their matches on Cliffe Marshes on an area of the marsh which became known as ‘Cricket Marsh'. During the winter months the "Bull" was the centre for coursing meetings.

In the cellar of the pub there is a well which one of the previous owners had dated as being constructed in Roman times although this is doubtful. One of the most interesting aspects of the well is that, some way down, there appears to be an entrance to a tunnel that local sources say lead to the church.

In 2011 Cliffe-at-Hoo Historical Society and West Kent Archaeological Society, whilst carrying out a survey of St. Helen's Church, were informed about a rumoured covered entrance to the ley tunnel from the church to the "Black Bull." There was no evidence of an entrance for the ‘tunnel' at the church and that, from the "Black Bull," the tunnel appeared to travel towards the direction of the church but had collapsed after about 10-15 metres approximately somewhere beneath the road above. After further investigations, and with the help of a local diver and churchwarden, it was found that the ‘tunnel' was less than a metre in height and the brickwork was no older than the 17th century: it was concluded that it was probably a drainage channel. Further investigations are planned for the future.

Later, in 2012, the Society was again called in to help identify some uncovered brick and stone work that had come to light during work to the rear of the building. We were quickly able to identify, by means of mortar used, brick type and pattern and use of plans of the building and nearby structures, that it was the remains of a late 19th Century cess pit.


The pub is now closed and has been converted into two private houses.


Dover Chronicles 20 February 1847.


On Saturday last, and inquest was held at the "Bull," Cliff, before J. Hinde, Esq., on the body of Ann Butler aged 5 years, daughter of John Butler, labourer, who died on Wednesday last in consequence of her clothes catching fire on the 16th Jan last.

Verdict, "Accidental Death.



???? 1590

DONE Richard 1611

BAINES John 1854-1757

SAPLEY James 1758-63

SAPLEY Ann 1764-65+

SHEAD James 1808-27

OSMOTHERLY William 1828-30

WEBB Francis 1831-34

TONG William 1835

COULTER Henry 1836

FREMLIN James 1837

HAMBRIDGE George 1838-42 (age 66 in 1841Census)

MEARS George 1844-54 (age 32 in 1851Census)

GOURD Sarah 1855-57

BROWN Alfred Stevens 1858-91 (also butcher age 28 in 1861Census)

JOHNSON William 1893-1902 (age 63 in 1901Census)

POTTER George Robert 1902-11 Kelly's 1903

HORSHAM John Ernest Henry 1911-12 (age 23 in 1911Census)

GOORD Sidney William 1912-18

JONES John 1918-23

WARREN Walter Gerald 1923-28

WILLIAMS Charles 7/Feb/1928

WOOD William Edward 1928-34

WOOD Jane (widow) 1934

HACK Charles 1934-46

WALES Frederick James 1946

WATERS Frederick 1950s


Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903



If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-