Page Updated:- Sunday, 13 November, 2022.


Earliest 3 Sept 1947 (Name from)

John Brunt VC

Open 2022+

24 Church Road / Old Kent Road

Paddock Wood

John Brunt VC 2009

Above photo 2009 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.

John Brunt sign 1970sJohn Brunt sign 1996

Above sign left, 1970s, sign right, May 1996.

With thanks from Brian Curtis

John Brunt VC signJohn Brunt sign 2009

Above sign left, date unknown. Sign right, 2009.

John Brunt sign 2022

Above sign 2022.

John Brunt Whitbread signJohn Brunt VC card 1949

Above aluminium card issued May 1949. Sign series 1 number 43.

John Brunt 2022

Above photo 2022.

John Brunt 2022

Above photo 2022.


Originally the "Kent Arms" the pub changed name on 3 September 1947 to celebrate John Blunt VC.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 5 September 1947.

John Brunt

Outside the public house named after her V.C. son stands Mrs. T. H. Brunt with a framed replica of the picture on the sign.

Left or right: Sir Sydney Neville (Managing Director, Whitbread and Co Ltd.) Mr. J. Marchant and Mr. Brunt.

Extreme right: Lieutenant-colonel F. C. L. Bell, O/C of Captain Brunt's Regiment.


Following information taken from 2014.

The Brunt family settled in Paddock Wood in the 1930s and their son, John, was a frequent visitor to The Kent Arms as a teenager. He was killed fighting in the Second World War, on 10 December 1944, in Italy. On 3 September 1947 a naming ceremony took place, and a new sign (designed by Kathleen M Claxton, and built at Whitbread's Wateringbury brewery), bearing a portrait of John with his name underneath, was unveiled by his father, Thomas Brunt. A miniature replica of the sign painted in oils was presented to Brunt by Sir Sydney Nevile, Managing Director of Whitbread and Co Ltd.

In May 1949 Whitbread began issuing 2" x 3" plaques featuring pub signs of Kent and the south-eastern portion of Sussex. Known as Whitbread's Inn Sign Miniatures, five series of 50 each were produced between 1949 and 1955, the first three series in metal, the third series reissued in card, and the last two series issued only in card. Number 43 of the first series was The John Brunt, V.C.

The "Hooden Horse" controversy

By the late 1990s, the pub had gained a reputation for drugs, trouble and after-hours drinking and the Whitbread brewery sold it to the Inn Business pub chain. On Sunday 1 June 1997, after a final night disco, the pub closed. The new owners announced that it was going to be renamed The Hopping Hooden Horse because of the hop cultivation in the area, and that it would have the initials JBVC after the name to retain the history of the town. Within a week work had begun on renovating the pub, and no more than two days after an article in the local newspaper revealed the plans a campaign to retrieve the pub sign, and a petition to retain the original name had been started.

The new owners of Hooden Horse Inns ltd, Inn Business PLC, after receiving some letters of complaint announced that: "most of our pubs contain the corporate Hooden Horse name and there was simply no way we could have made the place work under the name John Brunt V.C." and the newly renamed pub opened 6 days before the 50 year anniversary of the original naming ceremony on 28 August 1997. Bob Akehurst, a Paddock Wood resident, threatened to stand against the existing Paddock Wood councillors in the local elections if they didn't take appropriate action to ensure that John Brunt's name was remembered.

Some former customers refused to enter the pub now that the name had changed and Mr. Akehurst, who remembered John Brunt, said that to "call the place The Hopping Hooden Horse is, frankly, ridiculous."

John Brunt in the 21st century

The new sign, unveiled on 9 November 2008.

In June 2001 Rita and Terry Dixon took over the pub from Hooden Horse Inns and immediately decided to revert to the old name, which was greeted with enthusiasm by Paddock Wood residents. Several customers who had refused to drink there under the Hooden Horse name now returned (although even during that time, the pub was still known by local residents simply as The Brunt). Unfortunately the original signs had been lost when the pub changed its name, although the "John Brunt V.C." brass wording that used to hang on the outside wall was found at the nearby hop farm. On 9 November 2008, a new sign designed by Alex Atkinson, an art student at Mascalls School, was unveiled by Eric Knight, who knew John Brunt when at school.


Still open in 2014 but reported as closed from What Pub as of March 2019 and up for sale by owners Flurets.


From the By Secret Drinker, 15 November 2019.

Secret Drinker at the John Brunt VC pub in Paddock Wood.

“It was a right ****hole, well it was until I arrived”.

Approach the strangely named John Brunt VC from the wrong angle and you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into a dodgy corner of Eastern Europe.

Okay, its position in Paddock Wood doesn’t help (regular readers know my views about pubs next to stations) but this must be one of the least attractive boozers in Kent.

John Brunt entrance 2019

Another poorly lit entrance is still advertising Faye Phillips, who apparently sang here a month ago.

As the door creaked open I almost stepped into the skewiff pool table, but having negotiated this first obstacle I got a darned good licking from Bernie. The woman in decorator’s trousers holding onto the black shaggy mutt, with three white socks, was equally affable.

Any sane person looking closely at the pub, either inside or out, will conclude the best course of action would be to tear it down and start again. It’s about as rough and ready as anywhere you’ll visit.

The opening quote, from the current manager, is telling us he believes he’s turned the place around in the last 16 months.

Despite this, I think most people stepping in here (wiping their feet on the way out!) would still think it’s a pub from hell. But, despite first appearances, and what I’ve already said, I think this is a great pub.

Okay, I wouldn’t dream of eating here, even if they were serving food – though the snack offering, including twiglets, scratchings, nuts and crisps was extensive. And, the whole place could do with a good seeing to from the women in decorator trousers. But, it’s got heart and the regulars are as friendly and upbeat as you’ll find anywhere.

It’s a proper pub – pool, a Rocket jukebox (though please don’t play Dire Straits again), two dartboards, a decent sized screen and a reasonable selection of drinks. Sadly, if there’s even a trace of snobbishness about you then you’ll have to write it off.

At this point the decorator lady and her fella Pete disappeared into the night as their taxi had arrived and it was kisses and hugs all round.

Barman Ray was attentive and cheery so, on his recommendation, I started with a Doom Bar (4%) which poured with a decent head and was well kept. I tasted the Hobgoblin, but it was a very poor second. Secret Drinker’s mate tried just about everything else on offer – Amstel, Guinness and vodka and coke.

When the manager arrived and stepped in for Ray he was, if anything, even more friendly and approachable – though he did have me marked down as either a taxman or a copper and he does support Arsenal!

He was happy to chat and explained the unique pub name. In 1947 the Kent Arms was renamed John Brunt VC in honour of a young Second World War officer who grew up in Paddock Wood and was later awarded the Victoria Cross. In 1997 the pub’s name was changed to the "Hopping Hooden Horse" but there was such local outrage the former name was restored in 2001.

By now the jukebox was blaring out the Beautiful South and two tunes from Eddy Grant. For alternative entertainment you could try the dominoes and travel scrabble on a shelf which looks as if it hasn’t been touched for decades.

John Brunt inside 2019

There’s a decent sized TV screen in one corner with a couple of brown leather sofas underneath.

The usual pithy words of wisdom are chalked up around the bar – ‘Free drinks for anyone aged over 80 – with a parent present’, ‘Be careful drink driving – mind my car’ and ‘Everybody brings happiness – some when they come, some when they leave’.

Deciding it was time for me to deliver a little happiness around the place my mate and I made our way into the night.

Sadly, if you want to share the delights of the John Brunt you’ll need to be quick as it’s closing on December 2 when Star Pubs & Bars (Heineken UK) will spend 250,000 ripping the heart out of it to re-open a gastro offering next February.

John Brunt smoking area 2019

There’s a popular covered smoking area at the back.

Surely they won’t be daft enough to change the name and who knows, as one of only two pubs in a town of 8,000 people, perhaps a gastro pub will prove to be a winner?

It will, nevertheless, be very sad that the rough and ready folk of the current rough and ready boozer may be lost forever.

The pub will be closing for a major refurb on December 2.

John Brunt toilets 2019

If size is important then the urinals at the John Brunt are the most important thing in the pub.


From the By Luke May, 18 November 2019.

John Brunt VC pub in Paddock Wood shuts for refurb after Star Pubs and Bars takeover.

An historic pub named after a local war hero is facing a two-month closure.

The John Brunt VC in Paddock Wood is set to be converted into a gastropub at a cost of 480,000 after it was taken over by Star Pubs and Bars.

The Church Road boozer will close its doors on December 2 - fortunately The Secret Drinker has paid a visit to give his thoughts.

A spokeswoman from Star Pubs and Bars said: "We have plans to transform the John Brunt VC into the best family friendly pub in the area. Building work will start early December with the pub reopening mid to late February."

It is the only pub in England to be named after a Victoria Cross holder.

Young John, as he was known around Paddock Wood, served in Italy during the Second World War before was killed by mortar fire in 1944.

His death came the day after an act of bravery that would earn him a posthumous Victoria Cross.

A letter from the War Office read: "Wherever the fighting was heaviest, Captain Brunt was always to be found, moving from one post to another, encouraging the men and firing any weapon he found at any target he could see.

"The magnificent action fought by this Officer, his coolness, bravery, devotion to duty and complete disregard of his own personal safety under the most intense and concentrated fire was beyond praise. His personal example and individual action were responsible to a very great extent for the successful repulse of these fierce enemy counter-attacks."

Young John was killed by mortar fire the following day - four days after his 22nd birthday.

In honour of the fallen hero his local pub, then called the "Kent Arms," was renamed the John Brunt VC and remains the only pub in England to be named after a Victoria Cross holder.

There are no plans to change the name of the pub.


From the By Luke May, 18 November 2019.

This is what John Brunt VC pub in Paddock Wood could look like after revamp.

A six-figure revamp is set to change the face of an historic pub.

The John Brunt VC in Paddock Wood is England's only pub to be named after a Victoria Cross holder.

Proposed John Blunt 2019

This is what the John Brunt VC in Paddock Wood will look like after a refurb.

Cpt Brunt died in the Second World War the day after an act of gallantry that would earn him Britain's highest honour.

KentOnline's Secret Drinker visited The John Brunt VC ahead of a 480,000 refurbishment by Heineken-owned Star Pubs and Bars.

The boozer will be transformed into a family friendly venue, complete with food.

But first it will need to close for two months.

Last orders will come on December 1. It is expected to reopen in mid to late February, creating between 10 and 12 new jobs.

Inside, the pub is being reconfigured to create a more spacious interior.

This includes moving the toilets, shortening the bar, and opening up the bar and dining areas to create one room with seating for 64 people.

The ceiling is also being raised and new bi-fold doors installed, while the beer garden is also being given a makeover.

Dugald Macer, regional operations director for Star Pubs & Bars said: "The John Brunt is in a fantastic location near the railway station and supermarket, ideal for commuters, parents on the school run, shoppers and the community as a whole.

"With around 2,000 new houses being built in the area, there is a real need for a family friendly local with a fabulous garden that offers good value quality food and has a broad appeal.

"We have a passionate experienced couple lined up to take the pub forward, who are great at putting on events.

"They know the area well and are very much looking forward to moving to The John Brunt, becoming part of the community and making The John Brunt the beating heart of Paddock Wood."


From the By Secret Drinker, 6 April 2020.

Secret Drinker looks back at his 10 worst pubs across Kent.

It’s almost a year since I landed the best job in the world and I’ve been travelling around Kent ever since discovering the very best, and worst, pubs right around the county.

Fortunately the majority of boozers I’ve been lucky enough to visit have been great, but some, sadly, have been found wanting.

I can only ever report exactly what I find at a given moment in time and I realise a fly-on-the-wall review can’t possibly take into account everything going on in a pub. - and many of these pubs may well have improved since my visit.

But, I was tasked with discovering the good, the bad and the ugly – and, in my humble opinion on the day, these are the 10 worst boozers I’ve visited...

9. The John Brunt in Paddock Wood had to feature at No. 9 because even the landlord described it as ‘a right ****hole’. Right next to the station (my views on pubs near railway stations are well known) it looked like something from a dodgy corner of Eastern Europe. After a good licking from Bernie I made sure I wiped my feet on the way out as I left the least attractive pub in Kent. As rough and ready as anywhere you could visit, I said any sane person would tear it down and start again. I must be a genius as that is exactly what Star Pubs & Bars (Heineken UK) has now done.


The pub closed its doors for a few months in 2019, probably covid related but glad to say that the pub re-opened again in February 2020.



Last pub licensee had DIXON Terry 2001+


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