Page Updated:- Friday, 26 March, 2021.


Earliest  ????

Staff of Life

Latest ????

Cooling Street


Staff of Life

Above photo, circa 1970. Kindly sent by Heather James.

Staff of Life

Above photo, Circa 1970. Kindly sent by Heather James.

Staff of Life

Above photo, circa 1970. Kindly sent by Heather James.

Staff of Life

Above photo, circa 1970. Kindly sent by Heather James.

Staff of Life card

Above card of which the above 4 photos were on the other side, circa 1970, kindly sent by Heather James.


Above photo showing the new "Staff of Life."


The following information has been taken from


Outside and away from the village, along Cooling Street, sat the beer house known as the "Staff of Life" which was run by Mr. Moses Watson until the 1870's when the Batchelor family became involved.

James Batchelor became licensee in 1872 and stayed there for just over twenty years. In the 1871 census returns it shows James and his wife Frances occupying the "Staff of Life" with some of his children – sons: Charles, William, George and James, and his three daughters: Ellen, Caroley (Caroline) and Elize with his fourth daughter, Edith, soon to be born.

As with many beer houses of the time the "Staff of Life" changed its licence in 1887 to enable its patrons to buy the drink of their choice and to drink it away from the premises – an off-licence.

James's son John took over the establishment in 1895 from his father and worked there until the turn of the century. John would have had help not only from his wife Lizzie, whom he married in 1892 but James too as carried on living there.

From 1869 through to 1921 the Register of Licences show that the name and address for the "Staff of Life" remained constant however, when looking at the 1891 census returns there appears a slight confusion. In it shows James Batchelor, together with his children John, Caroline and Edith living at ‘The Beehive', a beer house, and with James being indicated as being a farmer and beer retailer. However, in the official records of the North Aylesford Petty Sessional Magistrates Court for licensing of beer houses, there is quite clearly an entry for the "Staff of Life" with James Batchelor as licensee and no mention of an establishment called "The Beehive".

There is a photograph of a round, thatched building in a local publication stating, “Circa 1908. The "Beehive" public house was in Cooling Street, to the south of the present "Staff of Life" public house.” The present "Staff of Life" referred to was not the original one, which closed in 1921, but another in the same area that took the old name. The photograph shows a small, round building which looks totally unsuitable in size to house the Batchelor family.

However, there is no indication of another beer house in this position on maps between 1875 and 1911 and, according to Parson's Directory (1902), it shows an entry for, "The Staff of Life" (otherwise "Beehive") beer house and Mr. John James Batchelor as beer keeper and farmer. In the 1899 edition of Kelly's Directory the "Beehive" was again included and Batchelor was noted as the beer keeper.

Interestingly there was a farm next to Yew Tree Cottage, on the same side of the road to the "Staff of Life," called Beehive Farm where a Charles Frederick Jarrett lived.

On a map of 1912 there is an indication of a small, round building that would satisfy the findings of A. Cherry's publication and which appears to be in the grounds of Beehive Farm.

What was the "Beehive?" It certainly was not a licensed premise in its own right. It may well have been an out building of the "Staff of Life" named "Beehive" due to its shape or location on Beehive farm. Whatever it actually was, it was known as the "Beehive" locally and dispensed ale. It is very possible that there was a change of name of the beerhouse that was not 'officially' recorded - this practice has been noted with several public houses in and around Medway about this time.

It is also worth noting that in 1901 James Batchelor was recorded as being a retired farmer and living at Gattons Farm House and John, with his family, as living at the "Staff of Life" beer house.

Prior to taking over from John James Batchelor, Isaac Davies worked at "New Inn," Shipbourne, Malling where he described himself as a ‘Hotel Manager'.

A fellow neighbouring farmer, by the name of William Francis Hayter, then took over the running of the beer house for a short time and lived there with his new wife, Rowena Helen and their baby daughter Phyllis.

The "Staff of Life" closed its doors towards the end of 1921, however, the location was used at a later date to construct a fine brick building which was once the home to Cooling Men's Institute which, after its demise, returned once more to be known as the "Staff of Life": a public house and restaurant. Today it is a private dwelling.


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.



WATSON Moses 1869-72

BATCHELOR James 1872-87

BATCHELOR John James 1895–1902

DAVIES Isaac Richard 1902–10

HAYTER William Francis 1911–13

BARLOR  Edwin Henry 1913-21

End of 1921 renewal refused.

JARVIS Jean & Ted 1970?


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