Sort file:- Tunbridge Wells, November, 2023.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 19 November, 2023.


Earliest 1806-

Royal Oak

Open 2020+

15 (92) Prospect Road (22 1973 Kent and Sussex Courier) (32 in 1901Census)

(Woodsgate Pigot's Directory 1828-29)

Royal Tunbridge Wells

01892 542546

Royal Oak 1940s

Above photo circa 1940s. Kindly sent by Michael Mirams.

Royal Oak 2011

Photo taken 19 March 2011 from by Dayoff171.


Kentish Gazette, 1 April, 1806.

On Friday the 10th of March, James Harris, landlord of the "Royal Oak" at Woodsgate in the parish of Tonbridge, was fined by the Right Hon. Lord Vis. Boyneone of the Magistrates for the county of Kent, the sum of three guineas and expenses; as also Win. Martin, constable of Speldhurst, the sum of ten shillings and all expenses; the former for refusing to find diet and beer for a party of the Northumberland regiment quartered upon him; the latter for abusive behaviour to some soldiers of the said corps in quarters.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Saturday 7 July 1866.

Stealing Money.

John Ward, 50, labourer was charged with stealing 5s. 6d., the money of Edward Johnson, at Tunbridge, on the 26th June.

Edward Johnson said he was the landlord of the "Royal Oak Inn," Tunbridge Wells. About 3 o'clock on the afternoon of 26th June, he heard a noise at the bar. He saw his wife, and from what she said, he went after the prisoner, and brought him back, and charged him with stealing the money, when he said "why did you not jump up and catch me."

Alice Johnson said she was the wife of the last witness. On the afternoon in question she left her husband in the bar parlour, asleep, to go to her bedroom to change her dress, while there she heard a slight noise, and on looking over the banister she saw a man with ragged trousers and old boots. Witness told her husband and he went out and brought the prisoner in in about 10 minutes after. She knew prisoner to be the man whom she saw leaving the home. Before witness went up stairs she counted the money and found that there was 19s 6d. in the till; there was half a crown in the till. When witness counted the money she found that 5s. 6d. was missing, in which was the half-crown.

Thomas Boooman said that on the 26th June he went about 4 o'clock to the "Royal Oak;" the prisoner was given in custody upon the charge of robbing the prosecutor. The sum mentioned was 5s. 6d. When witness charged prisoner with the offence he made no answer. The prisoner was taken to the station house and searched, when a half-crown and other money, amounting to 5s. 11 1/4d, was found upon him.

The jury found the prisoner not guilty.


From the Kentish Gazette, 1 August 1837.

George Monckton and William Turner were indicted for assaulting John Austin on the highway, and stealing from his person a half-crown.

Mr. Shee stated the case for the prosecution; Mr. Perry defended the prisoner Turner.

John Austin is a private in the 1st Foot Guards. On the night of the 10th June last, he, in company with his nephew, a lad about eleven years of age, went into the "Royal Oak," Tonbridge Wells, where they had a pot of beer. At twelve o’clock they left, on their road home to his mother’s, who lives in a cottage near Pembury. Observed the prisoner Monckton as one of the company left at the public-house. After having left about ten minutes he saw a man lying in the hedge; spoke to him, but received no answer; left him and continued his way home. Just after he received a tremendous blow over his right eye, which felled him to the ground. A man got on him and demanded his watch. Witness got up on his hands and knees, and saw two men running away, and he then found that he had been robbed of half-a-crown; he had no watch; his nephew ran away the moment he was knocked down. He got up, and after going over the hedge, for fear the men might come again, saw the mail-coach go by, and then he got home by himself. His forehead bled profusely for three hours, and he was laid up for five days.

Cross-examined by Mr. Perry:- Saw but one man in the hedge.

John Austin, the nephew of the last witness, was then examined, and corroborated his uncle’s evidence, but added that he saw two men in the hedge; that he saw both prisoners at the "Royal Oak," knew them on the road by their dress, and saw Turner knock his uncle down, and Monckton jump upon him. The lad was cross-examined by Mr. Perry, and made the most extraordinary and prevaricating statements; he and his uncle had been drinking together at various public-houses on the night in question, and his answer as to his knowledge of the prisoners was weak in the extreme. On the other hand various witnesses came forward to prove that the footmarks of the shoes of both prisoners fitted exactly with those near the bloody spot, that fresh blood was seen on the trousers of Turner just after the robbery, and that both prisoners were with others drinking at the time mentioned at the "Royal Oak," which is kept by the brother of Monckton.

Mr. Perry, in a very able speech, contended that no evidence had been given sufficient to prove the identity of the prisoners.

The learned Judge having carefully summed up, the Jury, after a short deliberation, acquitted the prisoners.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier. 12 September 1873. Price 1d.


At the "Royal Oak Inn," on Tuesday morning last, at ten o'clock, J. N. Dudlow, Esq., coroner for Kent, held an inquest on the body of William Russell, a sawyer, of Windmill Fields, whose death occurred under the circumstances detailed in evidence. Mr. John Wood was elected foreman of the jury. The body having been viewed, the Coroner addressed the jury, informing them that if was their duty to inquire, in the first place, by what means the deceased came to his death, and in the second place, whether at the time of the occurrence he was of sound mind.

The following evidence was then taken:— Samuel Russell deposed: I am a bricklayer, living at Tunbridge Wells, and the deceased was my father. I am not quite certain as to his age, but I believe that he was 61 last June. He was a sawyer, and lived with me. On Sunday morning last my little daughter told me that she had found her grandfather hanging by the bedstead. I went up, and found him hanging by the neck to the bedstead. That was as near ten o'clock as I can say. He was quite dead. The last time I saw him alive was about four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, when I spoke to him. He went to bed about ten o'clock on Saturday night. At about half-past eight or a quarter to nine on Sunday morning, I heard him say 'thank you' to a little girl who had taken some stockings into his room. He has been in a very low state of mind and in low spirits of late, but during the last fortnight he has been much quieter. He had been at the Ophthalmic Hospital, and while he was there a cousin of mine wrote to me asking me to go and visit him, as he was very strange in his manner. He came home five weeks since last Friday. He said on one occasion that he was afraid he should come to some bad end, and I replied, "You must not talk like that, or I must put you away." He replied, "You must not do that, or I shall go mad certainly. " He looked strange when he said that. Since that he has been rather better, and much quieter. He said that he had been a very wicked man, that there was no forgiveness for him, and that he was in hell and lost for ever. I believe that the life he had led preyed upon him. Early on Sunday morning I heard him go down stairs, and afterwards return to bed, but I did not take any notice of that, as he has done so since his return from the hospital, his object being to get a little food, as he said he felt faint. The cord produced produced was the one which was found round the neck of the deceased.

Ellen Russell, aged nine, stated that on Sunday morning, at half-past eight, her sister Kate took some stockings in to the deceased, and witness heard him say "thank you." She saw him at that time. A little after nine she went to call her grandfather to breakfast, when she found him hanging from the bedpost. She called her father, who cut him down. On one occasion her grandfather looked as if he was not quite right in his mind.

Owing to the extreme youth of the witness, the coroner did not put her upon oath.

Several of the jury intimated that they had known the deceased, and were satisfied that he was at times not in his proper senses.

Mr. W. C. Satchell, surgeon, deposed that on Sunday morning, shortly before ten, he saw deceased, who was then quite dead. There were appearances round the neck—a mark or indentation—from which it appeared that death had resulted from hanging. The distance from the bed to the floor was so short that the body could not be suspended. He had no doubt that the man tied the cord round his neck and then threw himself on to the floor, and the weight on the rope produced strangulation. He had no doubt that the man was in an unsound state of mind at the time he committed the act.

The Coroner, in summing up, remarked that the jury could have no doubt in this case. A verdict "That deceased hung himself while in an unsound state of mind" was returned.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 6 February, 1880.


George Henry Chestunt, a muffin seller, was summoned for being disorderly and refusing to quit the “Royal Oak” public house when requested to do, on the 26th December.

Mr. W. C. Cripps, solicitor, appeared to support the case, and stated the facts.

Mr. Patrick Tracey, the landlord, said that on the 26th December, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, the defendant, who was a perfect stranger, called at his house. In consequence of a complaint made by his wife to him, he went to the defendant, who was with two others. He told them they were blackguards to use such language, and requested them to leave the house. The defendant then asked him to fight, and commenced to take off his coat. He again asked him to leave, when he said he would fight any man in the house. He used very obscene language. A customer, who was in the bar at the time, asked if he thought he could “eat” the house; thereupon the defendant hit him three times on the mouth or nose with his fist, and made his nose bleed. The defendant then went out, and his two companions were ejected. He had great trouble in finding out the name and address of the defendant, but on Saturday he saw him on the platform at the railway station.

By defendant: He might have said that he would chuck them out of the house – William Tudor, of the “Frant Forest,” said he was at the “Royal Oak” on the day in question. Because the landlady refused to draw him any more beer, he used very bad language. She refused because he was quarrelsome and the worse for liquor. His language was not fit for any woman to hear. When Mr. Tracy came, he ordered the defendant and the other two out. The defendant refused to go, and was quarrelsome. He was not particular who he quarrelled with, as he wanted a row. A man who was standing at the bar, with his hands in his pockets, was struck by the defendant twice.

The defendant said he was very sorry for what had occurred, but owing to a few friends coming from London, he had a little too much to drink. He had served the “lady of the house” with muffins since Christmas.

The Bench said they should always encourage landlords in turning out disorderly characters. There had been also an unprovoked assault. Defendants would be fined 10s., and also 10s. costs, or 14 days, hard labour.

A week was allowed for payment.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 17 June 1938.


Sunday Morning Alarm at Tunbridge Wells, but the Horse was quite Unperturbed!

"The Royal Oak garages are on fire."

Royal Oak fire 1938

This telephone message flashed to the Tunbridge Wells Police Station in the early hours of Sunday morning averted what otherwise would have been a more serious fire.

Racing to the scene in the police utility van, P.S. Squirrell and several police constables found that the wooden garages at the "Royal Oak" were blazing fiercely. The Police Constables were P.C.'s Lewis, Keech and Saunders.

In spite of the intense heat they burst through the flames and dragged the blazing cars out, but not before these were badly damaged. Within a few minutes the Borough Fire Brigade arrived, and under the direction of Chief Officer Goodwin and Second Officer Furneaux soon extinguished the outbreak.

"It was an exceptionally smart piece of work both on the part of the Police and the Fire Brigade." and eye-witness told a "Courier" reporter.

"Although the Police arrived within a minute of receiving the alarm, one of the cars petrol tanks had already burst in the furious heat, throwing flames high into the air. When the Police arrived they dashed through these flames, and, heedless of the danger of further explosions from other cars, they succeeded in dragging the damaged vehicles out one by one," he added.


Another spectator remarked that had it not been for the prompt work of the Fire Brigade, members of which had dashed from their beds, and were on the scene within three minutes, the whole of North Street might have been involved in the blaze.

"Fortunately the wind was in the opposite direction, otherwise it would be difficult to say how far the outbreak would have spread. Certainly if the wind had been blowing towards the public house that would have been destroyed or at least, seriously damaged." he added.

A horse in Garage 7 remained quite unperturbed by the excitement which had disturbed his Sabbath dawn, and as there was no immediate danger of this garage being burned the police wisely decided not to risk bringing the animal out through the flames in the yard.

Altogether, two vans, two cars and two bicycles were destroyed, and one cart and three other cars were seriously damaged. Afterwards the owner of the cart made a frantic search of the town in order to purchase another cart with which to continue his business on the following day.

Residents in the vicinity were roused from sleep, but they did not have to leave their homes. Windows in St. Peter's Parish Room were cracked, and other damage was caused by the heat. There were no personal injuries.

It is thought that the fire was caused by a short circuit in the wiring of one of the cars, as it was around this particular vehicle that the flames were fiercest.



HARRIS James 1806+

PAWLEY Edward 1828-32+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29


PAWLER Mary Ann 1841+ (age 35 in 1841Census)

HUNTER William Ralph 1862+

DEUDNEY J 1873+ Kent and Sussex Courier

HITCHING Allen 1871-74+ (age 50 in 1871Census)

TRACY Patrick 1880-81+ (age 36 in 1881Census)

CLARK James 1891+

START Henry 1901-03+ (age 54 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

TITCHENER George 1913+

SAUNDERS Alexander 1918-30+

WOLVEY Edward 1938+


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier



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