Page Updated:- Friday, 22 February, 2019.


Earliest 1385

Bull Hotel

Open 2019+

Bull Lane


01732 789800

Bull Hotel

Above postcard date unknown.


Above postcard, date unknown. Kind permission from Eric Hartland.

Bull Hotel 2013

Above photo 2013.

Bull Hotel 2010

Bull Hotel 2010.

Bull Hotel drawing

Above drawing, date unknown.

Bull Hotel sign 2013

Above sign, 2013.


The Bull dates back to the 1300′s as a coaching inn offering respite to weary travellers along the Pilgrim's Way.

An infamous haunt of smuggling gangs was the "Bull Inn." In 1799 a gang leader, Lieutenant Colonel Shadwell, was shot dead on 1st June by an army deserter, and his comrades wreaked a terrible revenge. The murderer and his comrade were savagely beaten to death by the smugglers, an event recorded on a stone set into the wall by the hotel.

"With an eclectic past, including being the headquarters of a renowned gang of smugglers, as well as a favourite watering hole for Battle of Britain pilots, the 600 hundred year old Bull is now a beautiful four star country retreat as well as a gourmet dining destination with an AA rosette for culinary excellence."


Under the Enclosure Act of 1814 a sale of 15 acres of waste land was held at the "Bull Hotel" in Wrotham in 1815. A William Williams paid 60 for 2 acres, He subsequently built the "Fox and Hounds."


From the Maidstone Gazette and West Kent Courier, 27 July 1830.

Better late than never.

The inhabitants of Wrotham proclaimed the King on Wednesday last. At the conclusion of the ceremony, nearly 500 of the poorer classes were regaled with bread, cheese and ale. In the evening the parties, who joined in the loyalty of the day, dined together at the "Bull Inn," and drank His Majesty's health, with other appropriate toasts, in flowing cups.


South Eastern Gazette 29 July 1856.


At the "Bull Hotel," Wrotham. Also a middle aged Woman, to take the management of 4 children, and assist in plain needlework. Likewise a Housemaid. The tap is quite away from the house. Good character indispensable. Apply to Mr H. Spencer, "Bull Hotel," Wrotham.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 21, November 1873.


Magistrates’ Clerk’s Office—Before Major German.


Geo. Maddocks, gamekeeper, Jas. Johnson, waggoner, and Thos. Maddocks, waggoner's mate, were charged with stealing 12 bottles of champagne, two bottles of sherry, one bottle of cherry brandy, fifty cigars, &c., of the value of 6, the property of Mr. J. E. Shrubsole, of the "Bull Hotel," Wrotham, under the following circumstances: The prosecutor had catered for the Otford Castle coursing party on Wednesday, and having to provide also on Thursday, he left his goods in a part of the grand stand which was boarded off, and George Maddocks was left in charge. Thomas Maddocks, the son, was with the father, and he fetched, the prisoner Johnson, and they appear to have then made free with the wine. Mr. Shrubsole discovered the robbery on Thursday morning, and Sergt. Hilder, K.C.C., paid a visit to the house of the senior Maddocks, where he found that prisoner drunk, and there was a full bottle of champagne in the bedroom, and an empty bottle in another room, and three pieces of cigars in his pocket, and 21 cigars in a cupboard. When charged with stealing them, he said that it was through drink he had done it. The son subsequently admitted assisting to drink the wine, and three bottles of champagne were found at Johnson’s house.

Maddocks, sen., and Johnson were committed for trial, and the boy was discharged.



 The Complete History, as we Know it.

This inn known by the name and sign of the Bull was built during the reign of Richard II, in 1385. Though this original structure was considerably smaller than the present day edifice.

The house began trading under the sign of the Bull not long after it was built, but it was not until 1495 under the licencing enactment of Henry VII, that the house was granted its first licence. Before that it had been lawful for anyone to keep an ale-house without licence, for it was recognised as a means of livelihood not prohibited by law. Unfortunately the names of those who served ale here before 1495 are unrecorded for parish records do not begin until 1558, however the first keeper recorded under licence is one Mawer Beecher. It is impossible to determine how long he kept the Bull, but one can almost be certain that he died here, for in 1552, it was his son Elisha who was granted a wine licence for the house under the terms of the licensing legislation act of that year.

Elisha Beecher was still here in 1560 and 1562, but 1570 the Bull was kept by Henry Crass, a shoemaker of Wrotham Parish. Crass died here in 1581, whereafter the widow Crass took over the Bull and kept it until her death in 1596. In 1601, the Bull a "hospicum situate and lyeing wythin the parith of rootham, was sold with its wine licence to Jacob Grundy, inkeeper of Gravesend. When he died in 1638 the Bull passed to his son John and Richard, shipbuilders of Gravesend. In 1641, Richard Grundy purchased his brothers share of the Bull, but in 1649 upon his death it passed back to John Grundy heir to the estate of Richard. The following year he sold the inn to Nysall Hodsholl esq. who in that same year of 1650 leased it to Isaac Shoebridge, an inn keeper of Sevenoaks. He served as keeper here until his death in 1673, whereafter his widow Nyomi was granted a lease and kept the Bull until 1678, the year in which she died whereafter her daughter Susannah took over.

In 1682, she married William Evenden, a clothier of Wrotham Parish. In 1685, Cecily Hodshole widow and relict of Nysall sold the Bull to Joseph Matthews, a surgeon of Wrotham with William and Susannah Evenden in occupation. By 1702 William Evenden was the sole licensee, his wife having died in 1700. However by 1703 it was John Saker who was drawing ale at the sign of the Bull, and he continued to do so, until 1730 during which time the inn was sold on two occasions. In 1718, Richard Matthews sold it to Richard Crow, surgeon of Wrotham and he, in 1730 sold it to Hectar Crosby, a victualler of Sevenoaks.

Hector Crosby kept the house until 1753, when he sold it to another innkeeper called John Clifford. During his time here in 1761, the first of two incidents connected to the nefarious activity of smuggling involving the Bull, took place. On the evening of 6th October 1761, three smugglers were fired upon at Fishermans wharf Gravesend, during the course of which one of them, William Styant was mortally wounded. His companions carried him to Wrotham Heath where he was found to have expired. Leaving the body of their friend on the Heath the other two made their way to Wrotham, where they took refreshment at the Bull Inn. However a party of dragoons following close behind discovered the dead man and went to the Bull and arrested the two smugglers called Hide and Stanford. They were later sent for trial at Maidstone and eventually hung on Penenden Heath.

In 1772, John Clifford sold the Bull to Francis Gibbon brewer and maltster of Wateringbury. They leased the Bull to Solomon Brigden. He was still here in 1784 and witnessed the advent of faster mail coaches. The Bull had long been a coaching house but with the improvement of highways and speedier coaches, it became an established staging point. During the height of the coaching era the Bull underwent many changes the existing stables were enlarged to cope with the added volume of team changing that took place here, whilst the inn itself was altered by way of addition, an upper room was converted to a customs office so that His Majestys excise officers could receive and sort the mail delivered by coach.

In 1786, Jeremiah Shadwell took over as keeper of the Bull. He was the brother of Lieutenant Colonel Shadwell, leader of a smuggling gang that used Wrotham as a staging point for contraband ran in from the coast. The gang was known to have frequented the Bull on numerous occasions. On 1st June 1799 the gang leader Shadwell was shot by an army deserter in the inn. His associates pursued and captured the deserter and his companion and duly beat them to death. Jeremiah Shadwell may have been involved in the incident which would explain why he left the inn so suddenly for by the end of June 1799, one John Micklefield was keeping the house and did so for well over the first quarter of the 19th century.

In 1822, whilst in his hands a billiards room was added to the property, which Micklefield advertised as the Bull Commercial Inn and posting house, excellent facilities with reading room, billiard room and good stabling. In 1833, Richard Gibbon sold his brewery to Frederick Leney a coal merchant of Wateringbury. He became Frederick Leney and Son brewers and maltsters coal merchants and brick manufacturers of the Phoenix Brewery. Frederick Leney Junior kept the Bull until 1851 when he handed over to John Goddard Morgan, he in 1857 to Henry Spencer, he in 1863 to Thomas Bowles and he in 1872 to James Edward Shrubsole. During his time here he also kept the Borough Green Hotel. In 1890 he was succeeded by John William Trepess, he in 1894 by Walter Rowe, in 1897 by John Whale, he in 1902 by Mrs E. Hudson, she in 1904 by John Willis, he in 1906 by Henry Maguire and he in 1908 by Henry Short Millet, who kept the house for the duration of world war I, at its close he was succeeded by Alfred John Cape, he in 1921 by Edward Swift he in 1929 by John Cleary, he in 1933 by John Dykes and he in 1936 by Harold Prince.

For much of the second world war the Bull was the haunt of fighter pilots stationed nearby. The Bull remained in the hands of Frederick Leney & Sons Brewery until 1960 when they sold out to the Whitbread Fremlin Brewery. They eventually sold the Bull as a Free House. To-day it is owned by John Michael Dunnell and his wife Elaine.


Passage below from their web site. 2014

The Bull Hotel has catered to the needs of passing travellers and locals alike for over six hundred years. It has appealed to those in search of rest, fortification and good company, providing a quiet, tranquil respite from the troubles of many an age.

With a rich sense of history, The Bull can date its first license back to 1385. After extensive work, the hotel has been restored to its former 14th century glory, showcasing exposed oak beams, an inglenook fireplace and even war time victory stamps still evident on the ceiling.

In the picturesque village of Wrotham, the current owner, Martin Deadman, looks to continue this tradition. At The Bull the accommodation is cosy, clean and comfortable and with the AA Rosette restaurant earning praise from the national press, the service here is friendly, the food is without pretension and the atmosphere is relaxed.


Bull Hotel stone

Close to 'The Bull Inn', at Wrotham, is an inscription which reads: "Near this place fell Lieu Colonel Shadwell who was shot to the heart by a Deserter on the morning of the first day of June 1799. The Assassin with another Deserter his companion were immediately secured and brought to justice". There is a detailed epitaph to Colonel Shadwell in All Saints Church, Maidstone.

It turns out Colonel Shadwell was the leader of a gang of smugglers. They used 'The Bull Inn', which was owned by Shadwell's brother, Jeremiah Shadwell, as their headquarters. Wrotham was used by the gang as a staging point for contraband brought in from the coast.

The Deserters had come from the encampment at Cocks Heath (Coxheath), where they had been part of the Volunteer Brigade called into service because of the threat of a Napoleonic invasion. At Wrotham the Deserters were apprehended by Shadwell, but then one of them fired the fatal shot that killed him.



BEECHER Mawer to 1552 dec'd

BEECHER Elisha 1552-62+

CRASS Henry 1570-81 dec'd (also shoemaker)

CRASS Mrs (widow) 1581-96 dec'd

GRUNDY Jacob 1601-38 dec'd

GRUNDY John & Richard (sons) 1638-41

GRUNDY Richard 1641-49 dec'd

GRUNDY John 1649-50

HODSHOLL Nysall (owner) 1650

SHOEBRIDGE Isaac 1650-73 dec'd

SHOEBRIDGE Nyomi (widow) 1673-78 dec'd

SHOEBRIDGE Susannah (daughter) 1678-82

EVENDEN/OVENDEN William (husband of above) 1682-85

HODSHOLL Cecily 1685 (owner)

MATTHEWS Joseph 1685+ (owner)

EVENDEN/OVENDEN William & Susannah 1685-1700+


SAKER John 1703-30

MATTHEWS Richard 1718+ (owner)

CROW Richard 1718-30 (owner)

CROSBY Henry 1730-53 (owner)

CLIFFORD John 1753-72 (owner)

GIBBON Francis 1772 (owner)

BRIGDEN Solomon 1772-84+

SHADWELL Jerehiah 1786-June/99

MICKLEFIELD John June/1799-1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

LENEY Abraham 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

LENEY Frederick 1840+ Pigot's Directory 1840

LENEY Frederick jun. to 1851

MORGAN John Goddard 1851-56+

SPENCER H 1856-63

BOWLES Thomas 1863-72

SHRUBSOLE James Edward 1872-81+ (age 44 in 1881Census) (Bull Hotel)

MARTIN Thomas K 1881+ (age 37 in 1881Census) (Bull Inn)

FRYER Thomas to Apr/1890

TRESPASS James William Apr/1890+

ROWE Walter to 1894-97

WHALE John 1897-1902

HUDSON E Mrs 1902-04

WILLIS John 1904-06

MAGUIRE Henry 1906-Sept/07+ Kent and Sussex Courier

MILLETT Henry Short Sept/1907-18+ Kent and Sussex Courier

CAPE Alfred John 1918-21

SWIFT Edward Hibbert 1921-29

CLEARY John 1929-33

CLEARY Dennis 1930+

DYKES John 1933-36

PRINCE Harold 1936-38+

DUNNELL John Michael & Elaine ????

DEADMAN Martin 2014+


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Pigot's Directory 1840From the Pigot's Directory 1840

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:-