Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest ????

(Name from)

Fenn Bell Inn

Open 2020+

Allhallows Street / Fenn Street

St Mary Hoo

01634 270422

Fenn Bell 2009

Above images taken from Google maps 2009.

Fenn Bell 2009

Above image taken from Google maps 2009.

Fenn Bell 2009

Above photo 2009 by Chris Whippet Creative Commons Licence.

Fenn Bell sign 2010

Above sign 2010.

Fenn Bell 2021

Above photo, 14 January 2021. Kindly taken by Chris Richford.


The pub is thought to have been named after one of several bells erected on nearby marshes. In poor weather, these would ring to enable travellers to find a safe way across without getting stuck in the mud.

Also known as the "Blue Bell" in 1858.


Fire at pub news report 28th October 2012.

Four members of the same family were taken by air ambulance to a London hospital today (Sunday), following reports of an explosion at a pub.

Two boys, believed to be aged five and nine, and their parents were in the popular "Fenn Bell" on the Ratcliffe Highway in St Mary Hoo when a fire broke out at about 1.10pm.

A fifth person, a woman not related to the family, was treated by paramedics at the scene. None of the injuries are thought to be life threatening.

When three crews from Strood and Thames-side arrived at the isolated pub the fire had been put out with an extinguisher.

A stretch of Fenn Street has been closed. Police said the road closure would remain in place until the pub had been made safe.

The 17th century Fenn Bell, which is popular with Sunday lunchtime diners, was evacuated.


From the 18 July 2015.

Fen Bell Inn's beer garden zoo pulls in the punters.

You've heard the saying about organising a particularly raucous event in a brewery - but what is it like to run a pub that doubles as a zoo?

Andy Cowell and wife, Kelly, owners of the "Fen Bell Inn," combine pulling pints with taking care of a range of exotic animals housed in the beer garden.

The pair took over the pub last October when it was "pretty much on its knees". Now they say it is doing a roaring trade.

Customers can enjoy a pint of beer alongside meerkats, monkeys and racoons at the venue in St Mary's Hoo, Kent.

Mr and Mrs Cowell decided to turn the 17th Century inn into a new home for their growing collection of animals - after they ran out of space at their farm.

Mr Cowell had taken in unwanted animals before, but said he needed space to expand.

"A lot of our animals come from people who have died, we can offer them a home for life," Mr Cowell said.

With food costing 250 per week, and a 7,800-a-year vet's bill, the Cowells hope the pub's revenue will provide security for the animals.

Mr Cowell said: "We want to offer something different from the sanitised zoo experience, a nice atmosphere where we can also educate people into not keeping them as pets.

"Next year we will offer free workshops for children - we would love to inspire the next David Attenborough."

Now currently working towards a zoo licence, the pub is on its way to becoming Medway's first zoo.


I am informed that the pub finally gained its Zoo License in June 2017.


From the By Jade Edwards, 31 August 2017.

Fenn Bell Inn, St Mary Hoo, zoo will be closed until Monday after woman spat at staff.

A pub zoo will be closed for the last days of the summer holidays after a customer spat at a member of staff.

Andy and Kelly Cowell have decided to close the zoo at the Fenn Bell Inn in St Mary Hoo for the next three days after the incident.

Over the summer holidays the pub has had an average of around 4,000 visitors a week but Mr Cowell said their car park just can’t cope.

Andy and Kelly Cowell 2017

Andy and Kelly Cowell at The Fenn Bell Inn, St Mary Hoo.

People have been parking in a nearby industrial estate, despite the Cowells telling them not to.

Today, when a member of staff told a customer they could not give them a table, she spat in her face.

Mr Cowell also said people have been abusive and threatening to staff because they could not get in.

The dad-of-two said: “We fully understand that people want to come here and are disappointed when they can’t get in, but we are only a small zoo with 50 car parking spaces.

“We will keep the pub open, but the zoo and train will be closed on September 1, 2 and 3.”

Andy Cowell and pig Spice

Andy Cowell with Spice the kune kune pig. Picture: Steve Crispe.

The pub doesn’t charge entry fees - something the Cowell’s feel very strongly about - but despite thousands of visitors each week only 200 is put in their donation boxes.

Mr Cowell has launched a campaign to raise 250,000 to buy land to create a bigger car park, install a water pipe and to invest in conservation projects and educational programmes.

He said: “We have got hundreds and hundreds of people coming here and we’re trying to raise money to complete the project.

“We had 100 people waiting to come in today but we just didn’t have enough room. People are moaning about car parking but we’ve got a deal on the table - we just need the money.

“I want people to support me and for people to come here. It’s frustrating.”

The pub will be open for the next three days, but the zoo will be closed.


From the, 26 July 2019.

Fenn Bell Inn given green light to expand zoo.

Fenn Bell lemurs 2019

The pub's zoo is home to lemurs, racoons and owls.

A pub with a zoo has been given permission to expand its animal enclosures and facilities.

The Fenn Bell Inn in St Mary Hoo, Kent, has doubled as a zoo since 2017 and is home to racoons, owls and lemurs.

Landlords Andy and Kerry Cowell have been given the go-ahead for new enclosures, extended opening hours and an overflow car park.

Medway Council supported the application, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Planning committee member Gary Etheridge said: "It is an excellent facility - not only for the rural area, but for the whole of Medway.

"It's a golden opportunity for parents to take young children along for their first introduction to something slightly bigger than a kitten or a dog.

"The animals are well kept and cared for and the place is clean and tidy so I fully support this."

The application also includes a sheltered visitor seating area, a conservation room, and a keeper's lodge.

It received 58 letter of support and three objections.


From the By Nicola Jordan, 18 June 2020.

Fenn Bell Zoo, St Mary Hoo near Rochester, prepares to open again.

A popular zoo, threatened with closure because of the coronavirus lockdown, is reopening on Monday, thanks to a massive fundraising campaign.

Andy Cowell, who manages the Fenn Bell Conservation Project at St Mary Hoo near Rochester, had feared he might be forced to have his animals put down because he could not afford the thousands of pounds to keep them safe and well.

Andy and Kelly Cowell 2020

Andy and Kelly Cowell are looking forward to re-opening the zoo.

Andy, who also runs the neighbouring Fenn Bell pub with wife Kelly, set an initial fundraising target of 10,000.

But, following a KentOnline article and a GoFundMe page set up by a well-wisher, the amount snowballed to 45,000 in a week.

Andy was at first reluctant to appeal for donations towards the running costs of Medway's first licensed zoo, which now has more than 100 animals.

He said at the time: "We're not beggars, we work extremely hard, but we've been put in this position."

He described the response as "amazing" and was "extremely humbled" by the scores of donations posted to him.

Andy said on the zoo Facebook page: "We can't wait to open our doors and welcome you all back. I know that things are not quite the same at the moment, but I hope that you will support us as we take our first steps back.

"During the lockdown, we have had the opportunity to complete some projects. We now have our new fishing cat enclosure, as well as our bobcat and Binturongs (bearcats).

"Once again, we can't thank you enough for all your support while we were in lockdown. Without your support, we would have lost our zoo."

The safari truck and play equipment will not be available, but toilets will be open.

There will be a limit on numbers to allow more room for social distancing. There will also be a one-way system and sanitiser stations.


From the By Will Payne, 14 January 2021.

Aerial pictures show devastating impact of flooding on Fenn Bell Inn pub, Hoo.

These images show the devastating scale of floods which submerged a pub-cum-zoo earlier this morning.

Torrential rain overnight and this morning flooded the Fenn Bell Inn, Hoo, as other parts of Kent were struck by the severe conditions.

Fire crews attended the site in Ratcliffe Highway earlier this morning to help pump water out of the building.

However, due to drainage issues in the surrounding area it wasn't possible to remove it.

The pub is connected to the Fenn Bell Conservation Project, which has fallen on hard times recently following the third lockdown.

Staff were pumping water out of the zoo this morning. None of the animals were effected by the conditions.

Head keeper Connor Gordon, said: "We have lost the entire pub.

Fenn Bell flood 2021

The conservation project, behind the pub, has not been badly damaged. Picture: Geoff Watkins.

"The fire department were here this morning. We've saved what furniture we can.

"We're fighting a losing battle. If the rain ever calms down we'll be able to properly clean up."

Connor then took to Facebook to share the news. He said: "The building is ruined, nearly a foot of water inside, it's even deeper outside. The ditches are full and bursting, the roads are flooded and getting worse.

"We are pumping water out of the zoo as this post goes out, all the animals are staying warm and dry in their beds, and we will keep them that way."

A spokesperson for the fire service said: "One fire engine attended and crews attempted to remove the flood water using a main pump, however due to drainage issues in the immediate area, it was not possible to do so.

St Mary Hoo flood 2021

A drone captured the full extent of the damage. Picture: Geoff Watkins.

Fenn Bell flood 2021

The flooding came following torrential rain earlier this morning. Picture: Geoff Watkins.

"Crews ensured the scene was safe and provided advice to the occupant."



COWELL Andy & Kerry 2017-20+


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