Page Updated:- Wednesday, 04 May, 2022.


Earliest 1698

Woodman's Arms

Closed 1978

Hassell Street


Woodman's Arms

Above photo, date unknown.

Woodman's Arms 1970s

Above photo by Keith Exell, date unknown (possibly 1970s) showing his wife Pamela having lunch outside.

Woodman's Arms 2010

Above photo 2010 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.

OS map 1896

Above map 1896.


Also known as Woodman's Hall, the building gained a Grade 2 listing on 16 February 1989.

The building can be dated to 1698 and was extended in 1833 with other alterations done during the 20th century. The building shows a boarded door to its centre left with a plaque over inscribed T. M. 1833.

Closed as a pub in around 1978 and then became the Woodman's Auberge, run by Gerald Campion, a retired actor who played Billy Bunter on BBC TV in the 1950s.

Now a private house.


Following passage taken from 2012.

The "Woodman’s Arms" at Hassel Street, near Hastingleigh high up on the North Downs between Ashford and Canterbury, was a classic pub that has long since disappeared. I only had the pleasure of visiting it once, and having just turned eighteen did not, unfortunately, appreciate its finer points at the time.

The "Woodman’s" had been brought to my attention after it had featured on the local television "news magazine" programme - "Scene South East". This was back in the days of "Southern Television" when our local ITV programmes came from Southampton. This meant a distinct bias towards Hampshire, with Kent and Sussex lucky to get a mention. The only exception to this was on Friday evenings when the aforementioned programme was broadcast from the company's Dover studio.

What had caught the presenter’s eye was the fact that the "Woodman’s Arms" did not have a bar, which even 40 years ago was highly unusual. Instead, drinkers sat around a table in what appeared to be the licensee's front room. Having seen the pub featured, I decided to check it out for myself, at the earliest available opportunity. I therefore set off on my motorbike, one evening in June, in search of this highly unusual pub.

Hassel Street was only a few miles away from my then home village of Brook, but being tucked away amongst the maze of narrow lanes that lie at the top of the North Downs it took a bit of finding. I eventually succeeded, and found the pub located half-way down a “No-Through Road”. From what I remember, it was an unassuming, white-painted building which was considerably older inside than it looked from the outside.

According to a guide to “Kent Pubs”, published by Batsford in 1966, the Woodman’s dated back to 1698, and had three rooms. One was a side room, that doubled up as a children’s room, one was for darts whilst the third acted as the bar-parlour. It was the latter that I made my way into, and I do vaguely remember there being a darts room to the left of the entrance. As shown on the television programme, the room was plainly decorated, and simply furnished. There was a table, complete with tablecloth, in the middle of the floor, and along one of the walls, was a dresser on which were placed various bottles of wines, spirits and bottled beers, plus a selection of glasses. Pushed up against the other three walls were some hard wooden chairs, occupied by about half a dozen or so people.

As I walked in I could see no evidence of any beer pumps, so I enquired as to whether the pub sold draught beer. I was told that it did but, feeling very conscious of the lull in the conversation, decided to opt for just a half of bitter. The landlady retrieved a half-pint mug from the dresser, and disappeared down some wooden stairs to the cellar below.

To digress for a moment, according to the aforementioned “Kent Pubs”, the "Woodman’s" was renowned for its beer. Although it was a freehouse only one brew was stocked “so that it is always in condition”. “Come here for your Fremlins” said the guide, and you would have had the choice of Fremlins Mild, Three Star Bitter or County Ale. “Every pint or half, is drawn in the cellar, seven steps down and seven steps up, which stays at 50 degrees summer and winter.” The landlord had been told, when he first came to the pub, by a retired publican friend that, “The secret of keeping ale and beer was to order it in advance so that it can lay for two weeks before you tap it.” These days, pubs seldom lay their beer down for more than two days before tapping and serving it!

The recommendation given above would have been lost on me back then, as I didn’t know that much about beer. However, the beer stocked at the time was almost certainly cask Whitbread Trophy from the former Fremlins Brewery in Faversham. When the landlady returned with my drink, I made some half-hearted attempts at conversation, but felt increasingly awkward and out of place. I had only recently reached the legal drinking age and was a somewhat shy and slightly introspected youth, lacking in social skills and not able to mix well with different age groups. Most of the clientele seemed to know each other, and whilst they were not unfriendly, I quickly decided that one swift half was enough. This was a great shame as this turned out to be my only visit to the "Woodman’s." Not long afterwards I went off to university, and apart from short visits to see my parents, during vacation time, never returned to live at home on a permanent basis.

I am not certain exactly when, or indeed why the pub closed, but one possible clue to its demise is again given in “Kent Pubs”. The landlord of the "Woodman’s" worked as a postman in the mornings, which suggests that his main income came from delivering letters rather than serving pints. This indicates that the pub may not have been viable on its own, and given its isolated position, it is perhaps easy to see why. I cannot help thinking though, that had the "Woodman’s" managed to hang on for a few more years, then people like Mr Rodney Coe may have helped to put it on the map.



MOON George 1851-91+ (also carpenter age 21 in 1851Census)

COBB Jesse 1901+ (also hurdle maker age 36 in 1901Census)

DURRANT G 1911+ (age 45 in 1911Census)

BRENCHLEY George 1938+




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