Sort file:- Tonbridge, January, 2023.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 24 January, 2023.


Earliest ????

(Name from)

Somerhill Inn

Open 2020+

59 (9) Pembury Road


01732 366997

Somerhill Inn

Above photo, date unknown.

By kind permission

Somerville Inn

Above postcard, date unknown.

By kind permission

Above photo, 5 October 1963.

Somerhill Arms 1990

Above photo, April 1990, kindly sent by Philip Dymott.

Somerhill Arms sign 1994

Above sign, 1994.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


Kent & Sussex Courier 16 November 1900.


The following licenses were transferred:- The "Sommerhill Inn," Tonbridge, from the name of the late Mr. L. R. Lucksford, Hildenborough, from Mr. Alfred Kemsley to Mr. John Marshall Campbell.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 20 February, 1914.




St. Stephen's Laundry, Tunbridge, is an unpretentious two storied shop and dwelling house, situated at the top of St. Mary's road, a quiet, residential thoroughfare, with a few shops, leading out of the Pembury-road. One can hardly associate such quiet premises with crime, but the laundry was, as related in the special edition of "The Courier" on Saturday, the scene of one of the most terrible tragedies that has ever startled Tonbridge. The facts in brief are that late on Friday night James Standen, the proprietor of the laundry, suddenly went out of his mind, shot his three children dead, and then committed suicide.


From enquiries made by a representative of 'The Courier" and "The Gazette" it appears that Standen carried on a small but apparently successful laundry business, known as St. Stephen's Laundry. Some nine months ago he lost his wife, and since had engaged Mrs. Daisy Morris to act as his housekeeper and mother his three little, ones, Jamie, aged six years and nine months; Leslie, aged three years and three months; and Nellie, aged three years and seven months. All the neighbours are unanimous in the opinion that Standen was devoted to his three motherless mites, and therefore the terrible tragedy that occurred can only be explained by the theory of sudden madness.

On Friday morning Standen complained at feeling unwell, and announced to his housekeeper that he would remain in bed that day. Here it is as well to explain that Standen and his children occupied one large bedroom. He slept in one bed, the two youngest children another, and the eldest child in a cot. About 8.30 on Friday evening Mrs. Morris left the house with the intention of purchasing some supper. Standen and his children were then in bed. Mrs. Morris met some friends, and did not return to the ill-fated house until between ten and eleven o’clock. She was rather surprised not to hear any sound in the house, and she at once went up to the room where she was confronted with one of the most fearful sights that anyone could imagine. Standen, clad only in his night shirt, lay dead at the foot of his bed, with a ghastly wound in his chest. By his side lay.


in the shape of an unwieldy old-fashioned double-barrelled breech-loading gun, old, and almost covered in rust, by his side. On the other bed lay the bodies of the two youngest children, their heads almost blown to pieces. In the cot lay the body of the elder boy, also with terrible shot wounds in his head. Apparently Standen had shot the little boy and girl while they were asleep, re-loaded the gun with two fresh cartridges, shot the elder boy, and then placed the muzzle against his chest, ending his life in a fearful manner. Death must have been instantaneous in each case.

The distracted housekeeper at once rushed to tell the neighbours what had happened, and they immediately informed the Police. Inspector Cheeseman, P.C. Excell, and another officer at once hastening to the scene of the tragedy. Dr. Watts was also summoned, but he could only pronounce father and children to be dead. The bodies of the murderer and the three child victims were then conveyed to the mortuary to await the inquest, which was held on Monday.


Standen's short married life appears to have been overshadowed with sorrow, and it is believed the awful crime on Saturday was the result of constant brooding over his troubles. As far as can be ascertained he appeared to have no business troubles.

About six years ago he was driving his wife in a trap when he met with an accident. Mrs. Standen was pitched out of the trap, and unfortunately alighted on her head, sustaining nasty injuries. After a short illness, she recovered. Subsequently, however, trouble again visited the family, Mrs. Standen dying from pneumonia in the infirmary about fifteen months ago. Standen has never been the same man since this sad domestic trouble, and, according to the stories of his neighbours, he has been constantly brooding over his troubles. On several occasions he has spoken to neighbours about suicide, and there are also rumours that lately he has given way to drink, while others state that his manner has been very strange.


A letter was left for Mrs. Morris, and was read at the inquest. It was very hastily written, and appeared to have been folded while the ink was wet. The contents of the letter are as follows:—

'Dear Daisy,

This is for anyone to know I leave everything belonging to me to you. I hope all will forgive me for what I have done. Don't stop in Tonbridge, where all these wicked people live. I will meet you in Heaven. My hand is not firm, but my gun will put this right. Trusting this will not make any difference to anyone else.

James Standen."


The inquest was held at the Fire Station on Monday afternoon by the Deputy Coroner, Mr. B. H. Levett. Mr. P. L. Babington was chosen Foreman of the Jury.

The first witness was Daisy Morris, housekeeper to deceased. She stated that she was a widow, and had been acting as housekeeper to Mr. Standen. She first came in contact with Standen when she was seeking employment. He did not give her work at his laundry, but he told her about the loss of his wife and his motherless children. Eventually she agreed to become his housekeeper. Witness identified the whole of the bodies.

The Coroner-. What was Mr. Standen's health like?

Witness:- He was a strong, healthy man, and I never knew him to suffer from any illness, but at times he was the worse for drink, and was rather strange.

Did he drink much?

He did when I first went there, but until a week before Christmas I had never seen him the worse for drink. Last Tuesday, however, he was away all day, and came in the worse for drink.

What was he like?

He appeared worried about his business.

He had lost his wife, I believe?

Yes, he used to worry about that, but he used to say the wife was more comfortably off, as for four or five years she had suffered from fits.

Was he fond of his children?

He was passionately fond of them.

He was the worse for drink, I think you said on Thursday?

Yes, he was; but he seemed to get better in the evening, and he went to the pictures together.

What was he like on Friday morning?

He called me in, and said he should stop in bed. I said, "I suppose it is the drink? and he replied, "Yes, I suppose it is."

Did he ask you for drink on Friday?

Yes, he did, but I said I should not go out for it. He replied, "There is no need to do that, as I have some here." I then noticed a half-bottle of whiskey by the bed, and went to make a grab at it, but he was too quick, and snatched it away, hiding it under the bed. On Friday evening I found that the bottle was empty.

Had he ever appeared worried?

Yes, he said he should end his life sometimes. I think he was principally worried about his business.

Was it about the business?

Yes, I think so. He said something about there always being the gun, when everything else failed.

What time did you put the children to bed on Friday?

About a quarter to eight.

Was Standen asleep?

His eyes were shut, and I thought he was asleep. As I was going out, I noticed his eyes were half opened. I asked him how he was, and he said, "I feel rather tired. I think I will sleep."

Then you went out?

Yes, he said, "Good-bye, dear." I said. "Don't say good-bye." He sad, "All right then, so long."

Did you think you would never see him again?

Oh no, he always used to say, "Good-bye," to get me to say "Don't say good-bye." He then used to smile, and say, "so long."

What time did you return?

About 10.15 to 10.30 p.m.

Did you hear anyone about?

No, I heard no sound. I went upstairs to the bedroom, but it was locked, and I called out, "Let me in, Jim." There was no answer, and I said, "Sonny, what is the matter with dad?" I then burst the door open, and I saw Mr. Standen lying dead at the foot of his bed. I then went across to a neighbour's, and her husband informed the Police.

Had you seen the gun before?

It was always there, ever since I had been there. It was kept in the sitting room.

Did you see it on Friday?

Yes, it was in two pieces, on a sheet of paper. Mr. Standing had been cleaning it.

Did he ever say what he used it for?

He said he used it for shooting rabbits, and that he had


Did he say he was ill an Friday?

He said, "I am right down ill." I said, "I suppose it’s the drink?" He said, "Yes."

How was the business?

It did not seem to get on as well as it might have done. It brightened up last month, however.

Could the children get the gun?

No, they were too small to carry it.

Did you see anyone about the house when you returned?

No, the place was quite empty.

By the Foreman:- Mr. Standen was only strange in his manner after the drink. He seemed queer after a drinking bout.

Mrs. Dann, an employee of the laundry, was the next witness, and he stated that Standen never asked for drink on Thursday. On Friday morning he seemed a little the worse for drink.

She went up to his room and said, “This won't be right, boss. What’s the matter?" He said, "I am rotten." In the evening she went and got him a glass of beer about 8.15 o'clock. She sat talking with him, and left him about 8.15. "The little drop of beer I gave him," added witness, would not hurt anyone."

The Coroner:- Had you any conversation with him earlier in the day?-Yes, about the work. He said that Mrs. Morris could come down with me, and that he would be down in twenty minutes.

Mrs. Morris:- I beg pardon. That in a lie.


Herbert James Corner, landlord of the "Somerhill Inn," deposed that he had known Standen for some time. "On Friday evening," continued Mr. Corner, “he came in my house between 9 and 9.30 p.m., and called for a half-quartern of gin. He drank this up. I should say he was in my house from two to two and a half minutes. He did not take any drink away with him."

The Coroner: How far is your house from deceased's?—Witness: About seven minutes' walk.

Did he strike you as a men who had just got up from a sick bed?— No, he was fully dressed, the same as I have seen him dressed nine times out of ten.

Lily Haynes, St. Mary's-road, deposed that she lived next door to Standen. “On Friday night," she stated, “I heard two shots, between 9.30 and 10 p.m."

The Coroner: How many?

Witness: Three, and then something dropped.

Was there an interval between them?

Yes, about the same between each.

What did you do then?

I called my father, and he said it was only the wind.

I suppose you often heard bangings in the laundry?


P.C. Excell said he was called about 11 o'clock by the witness Morris. He went to the house and found the father and three children dead. He also summoned Inspector Cheeseman and Dr. Watts.


Inspector Joseph William Cheeseman stated that he was summoned to the house. He found the body of Standen laying at the foot of the bed, with the gun beside him. The two youngest children were lying close together on a bed, their heads being practically blown off. The eldest boy was laying in another bed, and his head was also practically blown off. Witness found an empty bottle beside the bed. It smelled strongly of whiskey. There was another bottle, which smelled of brandy, but witness had not been able to trace this bottle. There were several documents in the room, and a letter addressed to Mrs. Dann. There was a bank book with no balance in it, and 17s. 4d. in cash in the house. The letter; as given above, was then read. Witness’s theory was that Standen leaned on the gun, and then pulled the trigger. He should think that the children were shot while asleep.

Dr. Watts, who was also called after the tragedy had been discovered, gave evidence as to the injuries of the father and the three children. Nellie, the youngest, had the left side of her head blown away, her brains being spattered over the bed. Leslie had the whole of the right side of his head blown entirely away, the brains being scattered over the bed and floor. James had a large gun-shot wound in his head. The father had a large gun-shot wound in his chest. A post-mortem examination had been made, and it was found that the liver and the upper part of the stomach had been shot away. The wads and some shot were found in the abdomen. The deaths of the children must have been instantaneous, but the father probably lingered a minute or two after shooting himself. The deaths in all four cases were caused by haemorrhage and shock from gun-shots.

Horace Standen, of Tonbridge, deposed that he was uncle to the father. Standen had an uncle who shot himself about two and a half years ago, and witness had a sister who had been in an asylum for 40 years. Witness did not now much about Standen, but did not consider that he was strange in his manner.


The Coroner, having summed up the evidence, the Foreman intimated that their verdict was as follows:— "James Standen is guilty of the murder of his three children, but in regard to the act on himself, there is not sufficient evidence to show what his state of mind was. The Jury are agreed, however, that he committed suicide."


The funeral of James Standen and his three little children took place yesterday (Thursday). The two hearses, the first containing the father, and the second the three little violet and white coffins, with the mortal remains of the unfortunate children, left the mortuary in the early afternoon, en route for Pembury, where the interment took place. A large crowd of curious spectators assembled in the immediate vicinity of the Fire Station but there were no hostile manifestations, the crowd standing reverently as the cortege passed by. There was only one carriage of mourner, and there were no flowers or wreaths of any kind.


I have reference to this being called the "Hooden Horse" date unknown, but probably just for a short time of its history around the 2000s, and the "Somerville" at either side of that incarnation.



BOWDEN Samuel 1874+

HOLLANDS John (James) 1881-Feb/83 (age 50 in 1881Census) Kent and Sussex Courier

BRACKENBURY William Feb/1883-Apr/92 Kent and Sussex CourierThanet Advertiser

LUCKSFORD Richard Leonard Apr/1892-1900 dec'd Thanet Advertiser

CAMPBELL John Marshall Nov/1900+

LUCKFORD Kate 1903-11+ (widow age 45 in 1911Census) Kelly's 1903

CORNER Herbert James 1913-14+

MARCHANT James Charles 1930+

KEENE Horace 1938+


Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier

Thanet AdvertiserThanet Advertiser


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