Page Updated:- Wednesday, 26 May, 2021.


Earliest 1969

(Name from)

Bell and Jorrocks

Open 2020+

The Street


01580 852415

Bell and Jorrocks
Bell and Jorrocks sign 1987Bell and Jorrocks sign 1996

Above sign, July 1996

With thanks from Brian Curtis

Bell and Jorracks sign 2015

Above sign 2015, kindly sent by Brian Curtis.


Above information taken from 9 March 2014.


This building is grade II listed, the listing being for the group of buildings around the crossroads in Frittenden village centre. It is described in the Kent Historic Buildings Index as being 18th Century. The building forms a block with Frittenden Stores and Manchester House, described as "early 19th century."

The earliest documentary evidence for this building is an indenture dated 8 May 1741. The building itself appears to date from the early decades of the eighteenth century. Whether there was another building on the site before this date is unknown. The building block today consists of both the pub and the shop. However, originally the site would have consisted only of the pub and its outbuildings of stables etc. The shop was built about one hundred years later. The 1806 Tithe Map shows the pub on an island site with the road passing in front of the building as today, but with another track passing in front of Forge Cottage and behind the pub, passing through where Hepplewhite stands today.

The indenture of 1741 was between Moses and Mary Lepper and William Serjeant, and John and Lydia  Lepper and Thomas Lepper, and finally John Paine. Paine was probably the tenant. Eleven years later, in 1752, John Paine was in dispute with the other parties of the 1741 indenture.

Later that year John Grove (sometimes Growe) appears to have replaced Paine having bought the "Bleu Bell" from John and Thomas Lepper, both described as carpenters from Frittenden. The property consisted of the stable, outhouses, bankside or orchard and also one spot of Ground being the nine pin alley co-joining the orchard of John Weston.

John Growe, now described as a yeoman of Headcorn, sold the "Blue Bell" to Thomas Ballard, a gentleman of High Halden in 1769.  Richard Baker is described as the occupier in that document. Following the death of Thomas Ballard in 1789 ownership transferred to John Ballard, snr., and John Ballard, jnr., both stable keepers from Middlesex.

Documents of November and December 1803, show that The "Bell" was sold by the Ballards to Robert Tolhurst of Frittenden, turner. William Southon is shown to be the occupier. By 1806 Tolhurst, who now appears to be living in Biddenden, sells The "Bell" to James Dodson, brewer of Cranbrook, apparently with a mortgage of 250. William Potter is now described as being in occupation.

By 1811 Dodson is described as brewer, dealer and cheapman and bankrupt. The "Bell" was sold to James Small, yeoman of Frittenden, who appears to have redeemed the mortgage for 170. Of particular note is the description of the property as all that one messuage or tenement now or hertofore called or known by the name or sign of the "Bell" with the shop stables and outhouses thereunto belonging some time since altered and built by Robert Tolhurst together with the cartside or orchard and all and singular the appurtenances ... . This appears to indicate the building of the shop and Manchester House during the 3 year ownership of Robert Tolhurst. The document also refers to a Richard Baker as the heir of Robert Tolhurst. Whether this is the same Richard Baker who occupied the "Bell" in 1769, or a relation, is not known.

In 1818, James Small and Andrew Dungey took a mortgage on The "Bell" of 250. Small is described as an Innkeeper of Frittenden and Andrew Dungey a ginger bread maker in Cranbrook. Then, in 1821, Small and Dungey sold The "Bell" to Samuel Shepherd, Gent., of Faversham, for 800.

There followed a long period under the ownership of Samuel Shepherd, one of the Shepherd Neame dynasty. The 1839 Tithe Commutation Schedule indicates that The "Bell" and premises were in the ownership of Messrs Sheppards (sic) of Faversham and the tenancy of Thomas Busbridge.

Busbridge was still the tenant of The "Old Bell Inn" at the time of the 1841 Census. Busbridge was aged 50 but no wife is recorded in the Census, although two daughters, aged 8 and 4, and a son, aged 7, are listed. There was a live-in female servant, Lucy Simmons, aged 55. The following year, 1842, The Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser ran an advert for an auction to be held by Mr Benjamin Hatch on 1 November. The properties were described as very valuable freehold and leaseholds at Tenterden, Wittersham, Halden, Woodchurch, Lydd, Old Romney, Frittenden, Biddenden, and Goudhurst, consisting of an excellent Brewery and several Taverns, Alehouses, Land, &c., late the property of Samuel Shepherd, Esq., deceased, and by his will directed to be sold. Lot 9 was The "Bell" Public house, with Garden, Stable, and Outbuildings, at Frittenden, in the occupation of Mr Busbridge.

The same newspaper recorded in May 1846 that the new landlord of The "Bell" was a Mr G Price. The article was about the anniversary of Frittenden Provident Benefit Society, founded in 1839: the celebrations included a dinner at two o clock, some four hours after the festivities began, for 120 gentlemen and members, provided by Mr Price, probably in what is known as the Bell Field today.

An 1848 Directory of Kent shows George Price not only as victualler at the "Bell" but also as a shopkeeper.

The 1851 Census shows George Price, aged 31, as grocer and innkeeper. He lived at the Inn with his wife Ann, 31, and son George, aged 8 and described as a scholar. The household was completed by Mary Nye, 21, house servant, and Mary Cox, 18, draper's assistant. Later, Price was to move to Lake House where he farmed about 17 acres in Frittenden and Staplehurst with a rental value of 96.18s.

However, by 1861 the Census records James Barton, 48, Innkeeper and Carrier at The "Bell Inn." An 1848 Directory notes that James Barten (sic) operated a carrier service between Frittenden and The "Ship" at Maidstone on Monday and Thursday. The census of 1841 and 1851 recorded Barton as a carrier, operating latterly from Hollenden Cottage close to The "Bell." As the local inn was often the meeting/pick-up point for a carrier, it would have made sense for Barton to combine the role of Innkeeper and carrier, particularly as The "Bell" also possessed stables. Barton lived with his wife, Eliza (44), together with a son James, 20, and Harriot, 12. Another daughter, Elisa 24, also lived at The "Bell" with her husband James Harris, 24, a carpenter.

In 1863, another large brewer appeared on the scene when The "Bell Inn" was leased for 21 years by Price to Messrs John Brenchley, Edwin and John Stacey of Maidstone. This would appear to be the beginning of the association with Messrs Isherwood Foster & Stacey, brewers of Maidstone. The 1863 document indicates that James Barton continued as tenant at a rental of 40 per annum.

An indication of the perceived permanency of the public house as an institution is given by the placing of a benchmark on the front of The "Bell Inn" in 1866. This indicates the elevation of the village at 116.96 feet above mean tide at Liverpool. This is recorded as having been authenticated by H. S. Palmer, Captain R.E.

The 1867 Kelly s Directory for Kent records that William Brakefield was at The "Bell." He was described as also being a butcher and carrier. This was confirmed by the 1871 Census when Brakefield lived at The "Bell" with his wife Louisa, 51. However, his household was quite extensive with 5 men, all described as servants, living-in. Thomas Hodges, 41, James Brenchley, 16, and James Gurr, 14, were all described as labourers, and Alfred Gurr, 38, possibly the father of James, was a shepherd. James Morgan, 20, was a butcher's assistant.

By 1874, the Post Office Directory shows a William Kemp at the "Bell" and in October 1875 Dive Bearsby, snr. took on the tenancy. Kelly's Directory of 1878 shows a Charles Bearsby at the "Bell" but this is an error.

In 1880 Dive Bearsby, jnr., was born in The "Bell." The Census of 1881 confirms Dive Bearsby, 42, as the innkeeper of the "Bell Inn." Living with him were his wife Adelaide (44), daughter Alice, 10, and sons Frank, 7, Peto, 3, and Dive, 1. A female general domestic servant, Florence Thomas, was also recorded, as was Thomas Croucher, 42. Perhaps surprisingly, given the nature of the business and the presence of stables behind the Inn, 1881 was the only census where an ostler and inn servant was recorded, Samuel Clapson, 49.

The continued occupation of the "Bell" by Dive Bearsby, snr., as innkeeper was confirmed by entries in various directories and by the 1891 Census. However, by this date the household shows a distinct division between the household in the Inn and that of the shop. Dive snr., now 57, was accompanied by Alice, now 20, and Dive jnr., now ten and described as a scholar. However, Dive, snr., now appears to have a new wife, Sarah, 45, and a new son, Arthur, aged 2, his first wife, Adelaide having died in April 1885. Percy Shoobridge and his wife Mary are described as Drapers and have their own, apparently separate household in the shop.

The Club Day of Frittenden Provident Society was again reported in the local press in 1894. At two o'clock the members dined together in a large marquee erected in a field near the "Bell Inn," where an excellent spread was, as usual, prepared in a most satisfactory manner by Host Bearsby.

Dive Bearsby, snr., remained the innkeeper at the time of the 1901 Census. His household consisted of Sarah, his wife (55), daughter Alice, 30, and four sons; Frank (27), Dive (20) from his first marriage and Arthur (12) and Charles (9) from his second. Only one servant is recorded in the Inn, Helen Murrell (16), described as a general servant. James Ashbee is now operating as a grocer and draper in Manchester House.

At the time of Dive jnr's wedding to Florence Chantler, of Parsonage Farm, in April 1904, Dive snr., by now 63 years of age, is described as retired inn keeper and Dive jnr., aged 23, as Inn Keeper, The "Bell Inn," Frittenden.

Dive junior kept up the tradition of multiple occupations of the innkeeper of The "Bell." At various times he farmed at Whitsunden and at Street Farm. During WWI he served with the Royal Flying Corps in France.

A comedian who once stayed at the "Bell Inn" on holiday, took away many jokes about the Frittenden Band Chaps, some true, some fabricated. One long-established yarn concerned a diminutive drummer whose big drum so obscured his vision that he was once found marching along by himself, beating his drum for all its worth, blissfully unaware that the rest of the band had turned down a side street! Another story has it that one of the men, on the auspicious occasion of a visit of the Band to London, was so enthralled by the sights around him, that he lost his mates, but very soon accosted one of London s policemen who, he thought, would be sure to put him right straightaway, hence his question, "Seen anything of them Frittenden Band chaps?"

The local press reported the 1908 anniversary of the Frittenden Provident Society taking place, the 69th. On this occasion it is reported that members met at the "Bell Inn" and transacted business at ten o'clock. After a church service and parading the village, at two o'clock a capital dinner was provided. About 250 enjoyed the excellent repast provided by Host Bearsby. The link with the Provident Society was reinforced when, in 1911, the Club House was erected to the rear of The "Bell." It became not only the focal point of the Society but much of the social life of the village as a whole.

Dive Bearsby, snr., died 3 August 1920, almost 45 years after entering The "Bell." He is buried in St Mary's churchyard along with his first wife Adelaide. The local press reported his death as being that of a well known Weald sportsman.

By 1935, Fremlins had taken over the freehold and in that year a picture of The "Bell," decorated for the Silver Jubilee, confirms this.

June 1939 saw the closure of the Frittenden Provident Society and the beginning of a change in the role of The "Bell." The "Bell" and the Club Room had been the location of many village activities and the Club Room had been the centre of the Provident Society. The "Bell Inn" Slate Club was another self-help club associated with the pub. Many other institutions met at The "Bell." The Poor Law records show that the overseers had, over several centuries, met at The "Bell." However, the Poor Law had been abolished in 1929, although it's impact continued until the creation of the welfare state effectively from 1948. The Vestry had been the main tool of civil administration until the creation of Parish Councils in 1894. Minutes of Vestry meetings often record that the meeting began in the Church but often adjourned to complete business in The "Bell." The Club Room had also been the venue for events such as Smoking Concerts, one such being advertised in May 1927. Other events included political meetings, the annual meeting of the bowls club, dancing classes and various forms of hunt. Perhaps one of the more unusual uses made of The "Bell" was as the venue of the Coroners Court.

One continuing use of The "Bell" and now The "Bell and Jorrocks" is its use for the annual meeting of the Feoffees of the Idenden Charity. This Charity was founded in 1566 to distribute funds derived from the legacy of Thomas Idenden to the use of the Poor Maidens Marriages, to the relief of the poor Householders within the said Parish of Frittenden and to such Deeds of Charity as shall be thought most needful.

In 1956 a newspaper article noted that Dive Bearsby, jnr., was still licensee at the "Bell," having clocked up 52 years. The directors of Fremlins entertained Dive to lunch at the "Royal Star Hotel" to note the achievement. The article concluded with the sentiment that he remain licensee for The "Bell" for many years.

In 1963, the two village pubs were photographed. Both showing themselves as Fremlin pubs. 1964 saw the establishment of the Toucan Club by Bob Coram (the cartoonist better known as Maroc) and others to lobby for draught Guinness to be available in The "Bell." This was ultimately successful.

In 1967, Fremlins were taken over by the brewers Whitbread and two years later, in 1969, Dive Bearsby retired as licensee after 65 years and 94 years after his father took over the licence.

At this point plans were made to amalgamate the two pubs in the village. The John Jorrocks, formerly The "New Inn," was in the tenancy of Phil Oliver. With the amalgamation of the two pubs, the John Jorrocks was closed and The "Bell" renamed The "Bell and Jorrocks" with Phil Oliver as the tenant.

During the Post Office strike of January 1971 The "Bell and Jorrocks" became the site of the Post Box for a private postal service established in the village. This service distributed local, national and international post during the dispute. Stamps were designed by Bob Coram, Maroc.

Phil Oliver had been 57 by the time he moved into The "Bell and Jorrocks" and in 1978 the Tenancy was taken over by Les Randall. The "Bell and Jorrocks" was again the recipient of a significant village artefact when, in 1983, a propeller blade from the Heinkel shot down close to the village in 1940 was hung in the pub, together with a dramatic painting of the event.

In 1986, the tenancy was taken over by Brian and Nikki Holloway. The pub has been in their tenancy since then until April 2006 when Sean and Rosie Croucher took over to continue the provision of beer, food and a social centre to the village of Frittenden into a fourth century.


By Phil Betts.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.


During the Covid 19 crisis of 2020, this pub was able to offer a take away service in June, possibly earlier.



Last pub licensee had OLIVER Phil 1969-78

RANDALL Les 1978-86

HOLLOWAY Brian & Nikki 1986-Apr/2006

CROUCHER Sean & Rosie Apr-2006-2014+


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