DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 28 February, 2023.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1901-

(Name from)

Ye Olde Yew Tree

Open 2020+

32 Westbere Lane

Westbere

01227 710501

http://www.yewtreewestbere.co.uk/

https://whatpub.com/olde-yew-tree

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1906

Above postcard, circa 1906, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1912

Above postcard, circa 1912, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Old Yew Tree 1914

Above postcard, 1914, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Ye Olde Oak Tree 1917

Above postcard, circa 1917, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe. Probably showing licensee Robert Miles.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1923

Above photo circa 1923, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ye Olde Yew Tree 1948

Above postcard, circa 1948, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Old Yew Tree 1966

Above photo, May 1966, kindly sent by Bob Le-Roi.

Ye Old Yew Tree 2007

Above photo 2007 by Nick Smith Creative Commons Licence.

Yew Tree 2015

Above photo 2015.

Ye Olde Yew Tree sign 1987Ye Olde Yew Tree sign 1991

Above sign left 1987. Sign right, July 1991.

With thanks from Brian Curtis www.innsignsociety.com.

Ye Olde Yew Tree sign 2014Yew Tree sign 2015

Above sign left 2014, sign right 2015.

Ye Olde yew Tree matchbox 1987

Above matchbox, circa 1987, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Yew Tree inside 2017

Above photo kindly taken and sent by Steve Glover, September 2017.

Yew Tree back 2017

Above photo kindly taken and sent by Steve Glover, September 2017.

Yew Tree inside 2017

Above photo kindly taken and sent by Steve Glover, September 2017.

Yew Tree bar 2017

Above photo kindly taken and sent by Steve Glover, September 2017.

 

The "Yew Tree Inn" proudly claims to be five hundred years old, but has been a public house for but a fraction of that time. It was built as a hall-house, now without its service rooms, and was a private dwelling a century ago when Westbere, according to directories of the time, appears to have had no pubs at all.

According to Wikipedia, the Inn was built in 1348 and it is one of the oldest pubs in Kent. Queen Anne and the Archbishop of Canterbury are reputed to have stayed here, and Dick Turpin evaded capture from the law hiding out here. The building was used as a hospital to treat wounded soldiers during the civil war and supposedly it has two ghosts. The interior is heavily beamed and features a large inglenook fireplace.

Further research unearthed this passage "It is uncertain precisely when the "Yew Tree" became an in. The consensus of the second half of the 19th century record the various tenants as agricultural labourers and grocers who probably sold ale. It was not until 1901 that the premises were officially referred to as the "Yew Tree," a pub with a licensed victualler named Frank Carey. Only two years previously, the inn was the starting point for the old tradition of beating the bounds, Shelagh Wenhorn provides an interesting note from the observations of parish history Francis Heath.... "The next event which excites interest in the old, time-honoured custom of beating the bounds, a custom that has been much neglected in the past. October 4th 1899 at 10 a.m. witness the departure of those who assembled to take part in this important event from the "Old Yew Tree Inn," a well-known spot in the parish of Westbere where, on Sunday and other dry times, many a refreshing draught has been taken of its well-known Nut Brown Ale."" (Steve Glover tells me that Thatcher's Brewery used to do a Nut Brown Ale, so perhaps this was who supplied their beer in the early 1900s. However, Rory Kehoe disputes this fact and says there has never been a brewery of that name in Kent. However, Tomson & Wotton did brew a beer called Thatch Brown Ale and I think the Yew Tree was always supplied by Tomson and Wotton. The Tomson and Wotton connection is likely to be due to this. Or at least, it'll do till I get corrected! I recall being told in the 1970s (by licensee Alf Burke) that the Wotton family owned land and a large house in Westbere. Captain Bill Wotton (the last Managing Director of Tomson and Wotton) used to call in on his two aunts (the Misses Wotton) quite regularly and always paid the Yew Tree, Alf & Joyce Burke a visit too.)

 

From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. 23 March 1901. Price 1d.

KEEPING OPEN DURING PROHIBITED HOURS.

Frank Carey, landlord of the “Old Ewe Tree,” Westbere, was summoned for keeping his house open during prohibited hours on the 4th inst. Mr E Wotton, Ramsgate, appeared for defendant, who pleaded guilty.

Corporal Charlton stated that at 10.25 on the night in question he visited the house and in the tap room saw three men, two of whom were drinking from glasses containing beer. He asked them if they knew the time, but they made no reply. Defendant then came in and witness asked him if he knew the time. He said he was very sorry but did not look at his watch. On the table were two glasses containing beer. Before witness entered the house he heard one of the men say he would have another quart, but he would look outside first to see who was about.

Cross-examined- There was no clock in the room.

Mr. Wotton, in mitigation of the offence, said that defendant received a postcard stating that he had been appointed an enumerator in connection with the census, and on the strength of that he said he would stand his customers in the bar half a gallon of beer. He declared that no beer was paid for after closing time though undoubtedly the men were drinking there.

Defendant had been a licence holder for five years and during that time had never been cautioned by the police.

The Bench fined defendant 40s. and costs 10s. 5d.

 

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 05 February, 1938.

WINE AT “YEW TREE,” WESTBERE. APPLICATION TO LICENSING MAGISTRATES.

An application for a wine licence in respect of the "Yew Tree," Westbere, was granted at the annual licensing meeting of the St. Augustine's Division at Canterbury on Wednesday.

Mr. Stewart Daniel, making the application on behalf of Mr. Joseph B. Taylor, said that at the present time the "Yew-Tree" was only a beer house and had been such for a number of years. The house was reputed to be between 600 and 700 years old. Behind the house was a garden which was used for teas and other liquid refreshments during the summer, when there were many visitors to the village. Through a demand for something other than beer or minerals. Mr. Taylor had had to turn customers away. Sometimes when a party arrived one member wanted a glass of wine and because he could not get it the whole party went elsewhere.

"I am instructed," said Mr. Daniel, "that all ladies are not fond of beer, and the result is that the inhabitants of the village cannot sit in the garden at this house and give their wives wine if they desire it. In the old days before so much use was made of motor cars an old beer house might have been sufficient, but nowadays there was an influx of visitors who preferred something different from beer. At the moment there was a popular taste for sherry and Mr. Taylor was often asked for this by people who visited the village. The house had always been well conducted and Mr. Taylor was very popular. He (Mr. Daniel) understood there was a feeling in the village in favour of the granting of the application and the Parish Council was also in favour of it.

He had had a letter from the Rector of Westbere, (Father C. V. Reeves) in which he spoke of Mr. Taylor and his family in most glowing terms and showed himself to be in support of the application.

Mr. Taylor, who said he had been at the house for three years and that during the summer there were many visitors to the parish, supported the statement by Mr. Daniel as to the demand for wine and said that local residents were pleased to think he was making the application.

Mr. A. Auld. Brookland Cottage, Westbere, insurance agent, gave evidence as to the demand for wine.

Mr. William Seath, Kemp Hall Farm, Westbere, said that the "Yew Tree" was conducted as a licensed house should be, and Mr. Taylor was the best of landlords. There were many visitors to the village in the summer and they required a choice of wines and spirits. He was a member of the Parish Council and when this matter was mentioned the members were much in favour of the granting of the application.

The magistrates granted the application.

 

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 21 June, 1947.

Bill Merritt, B.E.M. FORMER CHISLET MINER HONOURED.

Until recently when a fall of rock resulted in confinement to bed at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, 78-years-old Bill Merritt, of Hersden, and formerly of the "Yew Tree Inn," Westbere, was the oldest underground colliery worker in England.

On Thursday it was announced that Bill had been awarded the British Empire Medal on the recommendation of the Minister of Fuel and Power for “outstanding services to the coal industry.”

When the news was made public Bill, who used to work at Chislet Colliery, was propped up against a pile of pillows in Bell Ward of the Hospital. But he had had the news the day before in an official letter and when he began to show the notification around he was the hero of the hour.

Bill told a reporter during an interview "If I’d been up, you could have knocked me down with a feather. It's a very big honour for a pitman and of course, I'm tremendously pleased. Won't my pals at the Colliery be surprised!"

When Mr. Bill Merritt. B.E.M., leaves his bed in the Kent and Canterbury Hospital he will be the guest for a fortnight at the new Ramsgate luxury hotel, the Regency.

 

From an email received, 27 January 2021

Bill was never a licensee or landlord of the "Yew Tree Inn." I lived there till I was 8 years old (1947), with my parents, and grand parents, Joseph B and Mary Taylor.

Bill Merritt lived in a shed at the back of the property. My grandmother served him dinner in the pub kitchen each day. Any meat he would wrap in a piece of newspaper and take it ‘home’. The shed contained an old iron bed, a small desk and chair, and a suspicious looking bucket in a corner. The pub, at that time, had an outdoor, brick, flushing toilet and one other upstairs. Light in the shed was by candle or from an old carbide lamp ‘borrowed’ from Chislet Colliery.

We moved to “Quinta”, a bungalow formerly on Church Lane, Westbere, where my grandparents retired to one year later.

I believe George Harvey, an uncle to my cousin, became the landlord in 1948 after Joseph Taylor.

I include an small item of interest titled "A Shilling and a Blue Bike."

Best, Alan Hodgeson.

 

A Shilling and a Blue Bike.

It was a small blue bike. I was just 7 years old and too scared yet to try and ride it sitting up on the saddle, so I sat on the flat carrier above the rear wheel. From here my feet could easily reach the ground.

The lane outside the "Old Yew Tree Inn," located in the sleepy little village of Westbere, County of Kent, England, where we lived with my grandparents, was quiet and safe for a young boy to ride.

On occasion, a geezer I knew named Jim Unsworth, a regular visitor to local pubs, would be seen in Westbere. He was a dapper little fellow who lodged with my uncle, Bill Catterick, in the next village and liked his beer, as did my uncle.

Unsworth’s estranged wife, Emily, lived down the end of the lane in a railway crossing cottage. Her occasional duties were to open the long gates across the tracks to accommodate a tractor passing over the rails to reach marshy fields on the other side.

She also enjoyed a drink, but in moderation, and came to the "Yew Tree Inn" several nights a week. Sometimes my grandmother, and I, would go to the crossing cottage to visit her. I always remember the axe she kept near the bolted back door, as she felt threatened by husband Jim, and this gave her some sense of security.

The couple had wed in August 1945, but after he left the army in August 1946 to return home, the marriage rapidly deteriorated due mainly to his drunken ways.

Anyway, when he would show up in our little village he usually had been drinking. He would ask me to ride down to the crossing cottage on my little blue bike to see if Emily was there so he could go and harass her. Sometimes the rows and shouting from there were alarming. For this small task I would hastily accept the brass three penny piece tip that he would give me.

It was on my mother’s 30th birthday, February 11th, 1947, that about 3:15 PM, he arrived in quite a stupor and smelled particularly strong of ale. I made my directed ride on the little blue bike down the lane and back, to report that I had seen his wife carrying coal into the house. She collected it by the tracks where it was thrown by the drivers of passing steam locomotives who had knowledge of her situation.

This time the tip he gave me was a silver shilling and I felt thrilled at the pay increase.

That evening I sat in the small, cozy bar of the pub in my pajamas, being entertained by some of the cheery locals. Outside, great snowflakes slowly fell. They were highlighted by the amber lamp over the entrance heavy oak door, and as it opened, I turned to see who was coming in. Heavy stamping feet and black uniforms with snow on their helmets and shoulders announced the arrival of police sergeant Jennings and constable Gimber. They slid onto a bench seat across from me and started to quiz me about what I had seen that afternoon. My parents, both with worried looks on their faces, came into the bar from our living room as I told the officers what I knew, and what I had seen.

Eventually, the story came out that Mrs. Unsworth’s daughter, Betty, had come home from school to find the outer door smashed in. She got no response to her banging on an inner bolted door. She had peered through a window. In the evening dusk could not make out too much but had a very troubled feeling. Betty ran to Mr. Stringer’s house, her grandfather who lived close by, and he came to investigate. As the evening grew dark, he had shone his flashlight through a window and saw a pool of blood. Betty peeped under his arm and said, “They are lying on the floor!” The pair had then hurried to the village rectory to call the police. Two officers had arrived, and they broke through the bolted door.

At the inquest, the coroner revealed what was found. It seems that following my bicycle ride, Unsworth had waited till his wife came out for fuel then pushed her back inside and secured the door bolt behind him. It was reported that the room had evidence of a violent struggle. On the floor, by the table, lay Emily Unsworth with her throat cut from ear to ear by an open razor that the husband had kept on the kitchen windowsill at my uncle’s house.

Sprawled across her was her estranged husband with wrists slashed and a deep gash in his own throat to speed the process. The great pool of blood had already begun to soak into the porous concrete floor.

Of course, our little village was greatly shocked. Emily’s twelve-year-old daughter Betty, and her dachshund, came to live with us for a while until her relatives made permanent arrangements for her.

During her stay, she would often entertain me by acting out like Unsworth, drawing her hand across her throat, and with eyes rolled back, drop onto the couch with limbs akimbo in a pretend death trance.

Time passed, and the next family to move into the crossing cottage would throw back the rug to show the blood stain to visitors, as I told the grizzly story.

I realized, sadly, that I had lost my silver shilling somewhere. By now though, my ego was comforted by the fact that I could pedal the little blue bike proudly down the lane seated high on the saddle.

 

Alan Hodgson. Port Charlotte, Florida. June 1st, 2018.

 

Thanet Times, Tuesday 29 April 1969.

A MAN SERVING a sentence at Canterbury Prison told Margate Court on Wednesday that money found on him by police after a robbery from Dreamland was his savings.

Edward Alexander Farr, who was convicted of stealing 554 from a safe at Dreamland last year, was claiming the 77 taken from him by police at the time as his own money.

The other claimant who appeared at the court, was Mr. Anthony Burke, of "Ye Olde Yew Tree Inn,"

Westbere, Canterbury, who said that he was part time manager of the arcade and was responsible for the money which was stolen in the raid.

Det. Sgt Sidney Vickers told the court that he saw Farr in connection with the robbery, and though Farr said he only had 13s in money, officers found a roll of 77 tucked inside his underpants.

'SAVINGS'

Farr claimed that he was wearing swimming trunks and had put the money inside them to keep it safe. The money, he said, had been saved over a course of time working in London and in Thanet.

The magistrates decided to accept the application of Mr. Burke, that the money was his and ordered him to pay, pointing out to Farr that he had 14 days to lodge an appeal.

 

According to a village history pamphlet, the building was a grocery shop in the early part of the 19th century and the owner, Thomas Marsh, may have taken advantage of the Beerhouse Act of 1830 in order to obtain an on licence. Until the change of use in the mid-19th century, the building had been known as the "Palm Tree." Palm is an old Kentish dialect word for yew.

In 1834 the villagers met at the "Palm Tree" for a Bread & Cheese charity feast.

I am informed by Mark Hatcher that Robert Bert Miles was still the publican in 1921. His wife died in 1922, so assume he sold up, and he has found him registered in Redcar cemetery, North Yorkshire in 1931. But doesn't know the link to that are is as yet.

Renovations in 1982 saw the three bars opened up into one, and unfortunately the wooden panelling went out with the walls and also the character of the pub.

It is reported the licensee Alf Burke was no mean accordionist and occasionally entertained, with his encore always being to sing "the hole in the elephant's bottom."

 

Project 2014 has been started to try and identify all the pubs that are and have ever been open in Kent. I have just added this pub to that list but your help is definitely needed regarding it's history.

As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.

 

LICENSEE LIST

CAREY Frank 1901+ Whitstable Times

BRICE Marshall 1911-July/1913 (labourer on farm age 52 in 1911Census) Whitstable Times

MILES Robert Bert July/1913-21+ (age 59 in 1921Census) Whitstable Times

DAVIES Joseph F 1923+

TAYLOR Joseph B 1935-48

HARVEY George 1948-62

BURKE Alf (Anthony) & Joyce 1962-82

ASHCROFT Ray & Grace 1984-87

ELVERY John 1987+

 

CensusCensus

Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald

 

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

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