Page Updated:- Thursday, 08 June, 2023.


Earliest 1860+

Kent Arms

Latest 3 Sept 1947

(Name to)

Fowl Hall

Paddock Wood

Kent Arms map

Above map circa 1890.


Said to be the second pub to be established in the town the earliest I have reference to it at present is 1860. Not to be confused for the "Kent Arms" at nearby Yalding.

The building in which it is housed was originally a private house occupied by Thomas Mitchell in the area then known as Rats Castle. It seems to have been converted into a pub sometime between 1851 and 1861, the first landlord being John Moseley.

From around 1870 up until at least 1901 the pub was run by the Bowles family.

By 1911 the landlord was James Walker, father of the local historian Jack Walker.

Legend has it that the building was at one time haunted by a woman with long hair who had come to a sad end and in support of this it is recorded that the resident ostler preferred to spend his nights in Tonbridge rather than in the pub.

The "Kent Arms" was formally renamed the "John Brunt VC" on 3 September 1947, and is the only public house in the country named after a VC winner.

In 1997 its name was changed by new owners to the "Hopping Hooden Horse" but this was unpopular with the locals and when the pub changed hands again in 2001 the name reverted to the "John Brunt VC."


Kent Arms card 1949Kent Arms card 1949

Above card issued 1949. Sign series 1 number 45.

Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 20th October 1860.


On Thursday, Mr. Moseley, of the "Kent Arms Inn," Paddock Wood, sent to a neighbouring shop for some sweet spirits of nitra, which he was in the habit of taking. The young man in the shop by mistake sent some poisonous liquid, which Mr. Moseley swallowed before he discovered the error. Mr. Moseley was immediately conveyed to Dr. Monckton's, where he received immediate attention, and we are happy to state is now out of danger.


Maidstone Telegraph, 24 October 1868.


Mr. James Streeter, a carpenter of Brenchley, was charged at the Tonbridge Petty Sessions, on Tuesday, with assaulting Mr. John Clapson, a grocer, of Brenchley, at the "Kent Arms," on the 3rd October.

Mr. Palmer for complainant.

Complainant stated that he was in the "East Kent Arms" on the evening of the 3rd October, when after a few words, in chaff, defendant came up to him unawares and knocked him senseless. He fell back in the landlord's arms, and was taken out of the room. When he came to himself again he went back again into the room, and told defendant he should summon him. After some little time, defendant again got up and struck him a violent blow, saying that he might "as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb." In reply to defendant, complainant denied that he as drunk or had used aggravating language.

Mr. Jonathan Manser, a brick-maker, corroborated complainant's statement.

Mr. Moseley, landlord of the "Kent Arms," deposed to seeing Clapson bleeding, and to taking him out of the room, but he did not see the assault. Clapson had not had anything to drink in his house, he was a little "freshy" when he came in. Defendant alleged that complainant was very drunk and abusive, and challenged him out to fight and then ran away.

John Parsons, a joiner, said he was present at the "Kent Arms" on the night in question. He heard complainant make use of a great deal of aggrading language on both occasions before defendant struck him. Complainant was drunk.

The Bench considered it a very aggravated assault and fined defendant 15s, and 27s costs, or a month's imprisonment.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, Friday 10 April 1874.

Paddock Wood. Drunk and disorderly.

Thomas Semark was charged with being drunk and disorderly, at Paddock Wood, on the 6th inst.

I.C. Holman said that on the previous evening about 7 o'clock, as he was passing the "Kentish Arms," he heard a great disturbance inside. He went into the room, and saw the defendant quarrelling with another man about some beer. The landlord turned the defendant out of the bar three times, and the third time when he went back again he refused to do anything to him. He afterwards went to the "Maidstone Arms," and the defendant, who was there then, followed him out and abused him. He then took defendant, who was very drunk, into custody. The defendant said that he did not remember anything about it, but admitted that he was a little the worse for drink.

The defendant was fined 5s. and 7s. 11d. costs, or in default 14 days.

The Chairman directed the Superintendent to make a note of the house, and Superintendent Dance said that there would be a complaint made against the landlord.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 24 April 1874.

Brenchley. Drunkenness.

James Taylor, of Brenchley, was sommoned for being drunk and riotous, on the highway, at Brenchley, on the 5th inst.

Mr. Warner defended, and took exception to the wording of the summons, which the Bench overruled.

I.C. Holman said that at 7 o'clock, on the 6th inst., he was on duty at Paddock Wood, and on passing the "Kentish Arms," he heard a great disturbance in the parlour. He went in and found the defendant there very drunk, making use of bad language, and wanting to fight a man named Semark. He told the landlord not to draw the defendant any more beer. Defendant went out in the street, and again used very bad language, until his son took him home.

To witness he said, "You _____, you have got your tap turned on me," and to Semark he said, "Look at you ______, or you'll get run in." While in the house the defendant drank of glass of beer.

By Superintendent Dance:- The other man was apprehended, and he pleaded guilty to being drunk and riotous. The landlord was present.

Mr. Cripps protested against Superintendent Dance putting questions of the kind when

the matter was not judicially before the court. It was done for the purpose of importing prejudice. He (Mr. Cripps) had to appear for the landlord in another case.

By Mr. Warner:- Found defendant, Joy, Semark, Moseley, in fact about a dozen including boys in the room. They were sober accepting Joy, and he was quiet. Didn't say to defendant he had been there all day, and that it was time to get home. Reported the matter to Superintendent Dance the next day. I apprehended Semark, and should have apprehended defendant. It was half past 10 o'clock at night when Semark was apprehended.

A friend in court desired to speak to the defendant when Mr. Dance ordered him off, and the Bench observing the defendant and his friend in conversation, the Chairman ordered him out of court.

Mr. Cripps submitted that the defendant and his friend had a perfect right to speak in the court, because the defendant was not a prisoner.

Esther Sturmer, living at Paddock Wood with her parents, said that on Easter Monday, at about half past 6 o'clock, she was going up Paddock Wood Street, when she saw the defendant, who used insulting and indecent language to her. Defendant was drunk or he would not have said so.

By Superintendent Dance:- He went for his son to second him to fight. He was rolling about from one side of the road to the other.

By Mr. Warner:- Had seen Taylor drunk several times before. She saw him drunk on the Saturday before Easter Monday, at Waghorn's.

I was going to Waghorn's.

Mr. Warner:- What were you going there for?

The Bench decided that the question was one which should not be put.

Mr. Warner contended that he had a perfect right to put the question to test the credibility of witnesses, because it would be important if he could show that the girl was a frequenter of tap rooms.

The Bench said the question could not be put.

Semark, Carpenter, said he was at the house on a day in question, at 7 o'clock. He and defendant had been having a game together, and the defendant got quarrelsome and wanted to fight. He was not particularly drunk, something like witness, a little fresh.

Defendant went away to fetch somebody to second him to fight, and then the policeman came. Did not see what that place outside.

By the Bench:- We were all a little noisy. Taylor was not worse than the rest of us. I have been there from 12 o'clock till 7 o'clock.

By Superintendent Dance:- I pleaded guilty to being drunk and riotous, and was fined.

By Mr. Warner:- Could not recollect having anything the same evening at the "Maidstone Road Inn," but was offered some drink. Defendant got a little "shirty," and wanted to fight.

Superintendent dance asked witness if it was not a fact that when he went to the "Maidstone Road Inn" he was in such a drunk state that he could not tell whether he had any drink there or not.

Mr. Warner strongly protested against the Bench allowing Superintendent Dance to put these irregular questions.

Mr. Warner, for the defence, commented upon the unreliable accounts given by the girl Sturmer, and, with regard to the charge of being drunk and riotous, he denied that defendant's conduct was riotous within the meaning of the statute, because he would not have to be guilty of turbulent or uproarious conduct, whereas the only evidence was that he merely spoke to the constable and went away. He called the following evidence:-

James Taylor, the defendant, said he was a brickmaker. He was at Bowles's house on the evening in question, having been sent for to meet a man there to pay him for some bricks. Had been to work with this son in the brickyard up to noon. At about 3 o'clock he went to Bowles's house. Whilst there six or seven of them had two or three quarts of beer - did not have very much. He left the house before Holman and called to see his son to ground out another "hack." He saw his son, and then returned to the house, because the man who had to pay him the money had not arrived with it. After he had been in the house of short time, Holman called and said, "What's the row here?" Witness said there had not been any, and went home and spoke to the landlord and ask him if there had been any. They had been having a little play. He said to Holman, "Do you think I am drunk?" Holman said he was, and sent him away without his money; in fact, he had not received it yet. He did not believe he spoke to the constable afterwards. On the way he met Mr. Wade and Mr. Fever, and he spent the evening at home.

By Superintendent Dance:- Never saw the girl Sturmer at all that evening. It is not true that I went to fetch my son to fight Semark. He walked back with me to the house.

William James Wade, shoemaker, and a superintendent of the Sunday School Teachers at Brenchley, said he had been summoned to give evidence in the case. He met the defendant at a quarter to seven o'clock near Mr. Guests shop, and he was then perfectly sober. He spoke to witness. He did not roll about, but walked as straight as possible.

Superintendent Dance:- You were a dissenting person?

Witness:- Yes.

Superintendent Dance:- Why did you leave the chapel?

Mr. Warner objected to the question being asked, and the Bench decided that such a question should not be put.

Alfred Fever, railway porter, saw the defendant the same evening, and he was certain the defendant was quite sober. He did not roll about.

By Superintendent Dance:- Am a porter at the railway station, and had only just gone off duty.

By Sir David Salomons. I was sober.

Henry Bowles, the landlord of the "Kentish Arms," said Taylor called at his house on the day in question at about 3 o'clock. Whilst in witnesses house he was not drunk. When Holman called he said witness was not conducting his house properly. Had been in the house 4 years, and had never had any complaint. Holman did not say Taylor was drunk, but ordered that he should not have any more beer. Did not hear any disturbance outside, but Semark said something about Holman's number.

Mr. Warner was about calling other evidence, when the Chairman said:- We conceive there is not sufficient evidence to convict, therefore we dismissed the case.

Mr. Warner applied for the defendant's costs.

The Bench refused to make any order as to costs.

Henry Bowles, the landlord of the public house, was summoned for permitting drunkenness at the "Kentish Arms Inn," at Paddock Wood, on the 16th inst., and also with suffering gaming to take place, at the same time and place.

Mr. Palmer supported the case; Mr. W. C. Cripps defended, and Mr. Herbert Monckton, of Maidstone, watched the case on behalf of Messrs. Jude and Co., brewers, of Wateringbury, stating that they did all they possibly could to get respectable tenants.

Mr. Cripps suggested to Mr. Dance whether, after the termination of the other case, he would proceed with this one. He had in his hand a memorial, signed by every inhabitant of respectability in Brenchley, the clergyman, church warden, &c., testifying to the admirable way in which defendant had conducted his house.

Superintendent Dance:- He has been cautioned several times. I don't think I have the slightest chance of a conviction. I must take the opinion of the Bench whether they will advise me to withdraw it.

Mr. Palmer wished to say a few words as to his case. Mr. Bowles had been summoned for permitting drunkenness, but the only evidence he could offer was that Semark was there, that he was drunk, that he pleaded guilty to the charge of drunkenness, and that the landlord repeatedly bought in beer from 12 o'clock at noon till 7 o'clock at night. That was the strongest part of his case.

Mr. Moore:- We have further evidence that he went to another public house.

Mr. Cripps:- Where he was apprehended.

Mr. Palmer:- I am in your worships hands.

Superintend Dance:- I cannot withdraw it myself, but under the advice of the Bench I will withdraw its. I don't see any chance of a conviction at all.

Mr. Cripps:- This memorial is signed by Mr. Pope, the minister, the overseer, the churchwardens, and every respectable inhabitant, who pass by this house daily.

Mr. Palmer:- Of course there is another case, permitting gaming. The evidence there would be that of Semark, who will say that four of them played for beer, and those that lost had to pay the score. They kept on for a considerable time.

Mr. Cripps:- It has been decided by the Court of Queen's Bench that unless you can connect the landlord with it, you cannot convict.

Mr. Palmer:- But he was one of the players.

Mr. Cripps:- Not for beer.

The Chairman:- Then you withdraw the summons?

Superintendent Dance:- I don't see the chance of a conviction.

Mr. Chris said he did not see how the police could have taken any other course. He was quite prepared to meet the case on its merits, but no doubt the police had acted right bringing the matter before there worships.

Superintendent Dance:- The case was fully reported to the Chief Constable, and he directed the prosecution.

The chairman:- The police have done quite right.

Mr. Palmer:- And I hope we have done quite right withdrawing, now the facts are before you.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 5 June 1874.

Paddock Wood Alleged Perjury.

James Taylor, a brick-maker, of Paddock Wood, was charged with that he did, on the 21st April last, falsely, wickedly, wilfully, and corruptly commit wilful and corrupt perjury in his evidence as a witness on the hearing of a certain information, at the Tonbridge Petty sessions, in a case in which Superintendent Dance was the complainant, and prisoner defendant.

Mr. G. D. Warner defended, and pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Ernest Harris said he was present when the prisoner was charged with being drunk and riotous on the highway, at Paddock Wood, and he was about to state from memory what took place, when Mr. Warner objected, saying that as depositions had been taken by Mr. Walker, the Clerk to the Court, those depositions should be produced.

Mr. Thomas Fuller Walker, the magistrates' clerk, was then sworn, and produced the depositions he took on the occasion of the prisoner being charged with drunkenness. A witness named Esther Sturmer gave evidence against the defendant, and said he was drunk.

Superintendent Dance said he was present at the court when the defendant was charged with being drunk and riotous, at Paddock Wood. He added. Mr. Warner called defendant to give evidence, and he did give evidence.

Mr. Warner asked that the evidence should be produced by the magistrates' clerk.

Mr. Walker said he would add to his evidence.

He then read the deposition taken, in which defendant stated that he was not drunk, that he did not see Sturmer, and that he did not go for his son to second him in a fight.

Superintendent Dance added that he cross-examined the defendant, and in reply defendant said he did not meet Sturmer, that he was not quarrelsome and did not want to fight, and that he did not go for his son to second him in a fight with Semark - that he never thought of such a thing as fighting.

I.C. Holman said that on the 6th April, on passing the "Kentish Arms" public house, Paddock Wood, kept by Henry Bowles, he heard a great disturbance, and in the parlour he saw the defendant, who was drunk and wanted to fight a man name Semark.

Mr. Warner again objected, and submitted that Holman's depositions should also be put in.

Mr. Walker objected to the depositions being put in, and contended that the witness could give his evidence afresh.

The Bench ordered the deposition to be produced, and Mr. Walker was about to read it, but Mr. Warner objected, as Holman called to prove an assignment of perjury, and if the depositions were read over to the witness it would be refreshing the witness's memory, which would be an act of injustice to the defendant. He wish to test this witness's evidence, and if the depositions were read he should apply that the witness should be out of court.

The Bench ruled that the deposition should be read, and in the presence of the witness, if Mr. Warner still called for them to be produced.

Mr. Warner said he would not call for them at this stage of the proceedings.

I.C. Holman then added that defendant's son, Ebenezer, was with him, and led him away. Defendant was summoned, and when he swore he did not want to fight Semark.

Mr. Warner then asked to be allowed to see the depositions of Holman, and they were handed to him. He then asked Holman if he had, since the hearing of the summons, had any conversation with Semark about it.

Holman denied that he had. He had not told any of the Semark's that he did not care whether Taylor was convicted or not, but he would put him to a a lot of expense. he was sure Taylor was drunk.

Esther Sturmer, a young girl, whose deposition had been read by Mr. Walker, then repeated her evidence, which was to the effect that she met Taylor in the road, that he used insulting language to her, and that she considered he was drunk.

By Mr. Warner:- Is it true he reeled from one hedge to the other. There was no wall. There is a ditch on the side of the road, but he did not tumble in that.

Ann Beech, widow, Paddock Wood, said the last witness passed her house at about half past 6 o'clock, running, and a few minutes afterwards Taylor called.

In answer to Mr. Walker, witness said there was a road leading to some cottages by which Sturmer could have passed without going along the main road. When she saw them that were both on the High Road.

Aaron Underdown, labourer, Paddock Wood, said he lived next door to Taylor's son Ebenezer, and on 6th April he heard the defendant call his son out and say, "Pinscher," I want you to go and second me in a fight with Tom Semark." Defendant also said something about having some money down, but he did not exactly hear what the amount of money was.

His son told him he was a b______ old fool, and he had a good mind not to go, but defendant took hold of him and said he must go. The defendant was the worst for drink, and wanted to go and fight down at Mr. Bowles. The defendant and his son went down the road together.

Mrs. Beech, recalled, said the son lodged at her house, and she heard the defendant calling out. Defendant called out "Pincher," the name the son went by. The son went out, and then the defendant asked him to go and second him to fight Tom Semark. The son of his father if he had the money down, and on his saying he had the son called him a fool and told him he had a good mind not to go. The son took his cap and went away.

Thomas Semark, Paddock Wood, carpenters, said that on the 6th April he and Taylor were drinking together at the "Kent Arms." Taylor challenged to fight witness for half a sovereign, and after he had been away a short time he returned with his son "Pincher," and again challenged witness to fight. Directly afterwards a policeman called, and no fight took place. Defendant said, when he left the inn at first, that he would fetch his son to second him. He did not think he would come back any more. Did not see any money posted.

By Mr. Warner:- Treated the whole matter as a joke, and they might have drunk together afterwards.

By Superintendent Dance:- Thought defendant meant what he said.

By the Bench:- I could not say the defendant was drunk. It is a difficult thing to say when persons are drunk. I do not think I was drunk myself, but I admit I was the worst for drink.

Ebenezer Taylor, the son was sworn, and said he preferred not saying anything, because it would be against his father.

Mr. Warner submitted that he must proceed with his evidence, and the Bench ordered him to do so.

Witness then said that one evening, he did not know the dates, his father asked him to go and second him in a fight with Tom Semark. He asked his father if he had any money down, and on his saying he had half a sovereign down, witness said. "You ______ old fool, I have a good mind not to come. He went with his father to the public house, and got him away as soon as he could.

By Mr. Warner:- My father was not drunk, but he had had some liquor.

This being the case for the prosecution, Mr. Warner said it was perfectly clear that proceedings must fail, because there was one important link which was necessary, and had not been proved. It was necessary, in a case where a person was about to be indicted for perjury, that the first step should be to produce the information which was laid, and if in writing it was necessary that that information was duly sworn to. Archibald states, "And if upon oath it must be proved that it was duly sworn to." So that there was an important link wanting.

Mr. Walker said that the information did not profess to be taken upon oath.

Mr. Warner:- Then it is bad under the statute.

Mr. Walker said the word upon the information was taken, not sworn.

Mr. Warner replied that it was exactly the same so far as his objection was concerned.

The Bench overruled the objection.

Mr. Warner then proceeded to allude to the different assignments, and submitted that so far as the Sturmer assignment was concerned, the evidence of the girl, which was not clear and distinct, was uncorroborated, except so far as the woman Beech; and then, with regard to the fighting, the same argument applies. The evidence went to show that the defendant was drunk, and that being so, could have conviction for perjury be obtained against this man?

The Chairman said the question was whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant their sending the case for trial.

Mr. Warner replied that they could only be justified in sending the case for trial upon the evidence of two independent witnesses on each assignment.

The prisoner was then cautioned in the usual way. He said he was not guilty, and did not know the nature of the charge.

He was committed to take his trial at the Assizes, the Bench intimating their willingness for him to be admitted to bail, himself in 20 and two sureties of 10 each or one of 20.


Kent & Sussex Courier 07 May 1875.


Mr. Rogers applied for an extra hour to be allowed to Mr. Bowles of the "Kent Arms", Paddock Wood, on the occasion of the Quarterly Meeting of the Foresters at his house. The house closed at 10 o'clock, and on this occasion there was an extraordinary amount of business to transact prior to the Club Festival.

The Bench said that in consideration of there being an extraordinary amount of business to transact they would grant the application, but it should not be taken as a precedent.


Sussex Agricultural Express 15 June 1889.


A license to enable him to server refreshments in a booth at a Forester's club was granted to Mr. H. Bowles, of the "East Kent Arms Inn," at Paddock Wood.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 7 February, 1908

Supt. Styles in his annual report to the licensing justices, said the licensees had generally conducted their houses in a satisfactory manner, with the following exceptions: Sidney J. Bowles, "Kent Arms," Paddock Wood; .....


From accessed 13 August 2018.

The Lost Pubs around Paddock Wood: Part One.

“The Hostelries of Paddock Wood”

The pub changed its name to the "Kent Arms" in 1947 following the re-naming of the "Kent Arms" in Paddock Wood to the "John Brunt VC."

In the 1950s trade consisted almost entirely of local land workers and, during the season, hop pickers. Because it was located some way from the prying eyes of the law, after-hours drinking appears to have been a regular occurrence, the pub remaining open until the last customer had departed.




MOSELEY John 1860-68+

BOWLES Henry 1871+ (age 35 in 1871Census)

BOWLES Henry (son) 1881-89+ (also farmer age 24 in 1881Census)

BOWLES Sidney John (son of Henry sen) 1891-08+ (age 32 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903Kent and Sussex Courier

WALKER James Albert 1911+ (age 38 in 1911Census)



Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier



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