Page Updated:- Sunday, 06 March, 2022.


Earliest 1858-

Elephant's Head

Open 2020+

Furnace Lane

Hook Green


01892 739525

Elephant's Head 1912

Above postcard, circa 1912, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Elephant's Head 1920

Above postcard, 1920, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Elephant's Head playing field 1920

Above postcard 1920 showing the playing field, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Elephant's Head 2006

Photos taken on 27 August, 2006 from by John Law.

Elephant's Head 2012

Above photo 2012 by Julian P Guffogg Creative Commons Licence.

Elephant's Head sign 2010

Above photo 2010.


Information taken from accessed 15 October 2020.

Elephants’ Heads and Tales.

An Elephant’s Graveyard?

Two friends and I were taking refreshments in The Elephant’s Head at Hook Green after a pleasant walk around Lamberhurst, and we fell to wondering about why the old pub was so-called. The anecdotal story told to us, of an elephant buried in the grounds, seemed a little fanciful, but worth exploring. I then recalled that until relatively recently, there was a pub with the same name on Seal Road at Greatness. A little detective work led me down a trail with several intriguing and tortuous twists and turns.

Some of you may already be aware of what I discovered: that The Elephant’s Head pubs in our area are named after the crest on the coat of arms of the aristocratic Camden family, which has long associations with Sevenoaks. Three more elephant heads feature in the arms. In the south east there are in fact five pubs of that name, with three having a direct link to the Camdens and their lands at Wildernesse and elsewhere.

Sir John Pratt by Michael DahlIn 1705, Sir John Pratt bought a mansion house (Stidulfe’s Place) in Seal, together with the surrounding 364 acre parkland. He renamed it Wilderness (the ‘e’ seems to have been added in the early 19th century). Sir John was an eminent judge and politician, becoming Lord Chief Justice of England from 1718 to 1725. Wildernesse was to remain in the family until 1885. The estate stretched from Godden Green to what is now Hospital Road, and goes back in time to 1327, when it was owned by Robert de Stidulfe. In 1954 the mansion, much enlarged in the 18th and 19th centuries, was acquired by The Royal London Society for the Blind. Then called Dorton House, it is now home to 23 luxury retirement apartments, going once more under the name of Wildernesse House.

Wilderness House 1800

Above engraving showing Wilderness House circa 1800.

Sir John’s third son was the eminent lawyer and Whig politician Charles Pratt, a leading proponent of civil liberties who became Lord Chancellor in 1766. The previous year Charles was raised to the peerage with the title Baron Camden. In 1786 he was made 1st Earl Camden. He was buried in Seal Church, where there is a memorial stone in his honour. We will hear more of him later.

The family crest displaying the elephant’s head can be seen today on three of the surviving lodges to Wildernesse Estate (Avenue, Hillingdon and Homestead Lodges). The heraldic device symbolises great strength, wit, longevity, happiness, royalty, good luck and ambition.

Camden Coat of Arms 1768Payden Cottage Crest 1808

Above pictures (left) Camden Coat of Arms 1768, (right) Payden Cottage Crest 1808.

In 1786 Wildernesse estate passed to Charles’ son, another John – John Jeffreys Pratt, the 2nd Earl Camden. In 1812 he became the 1st Marquess Camden. In 1795 John Jeffreys had been appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with a certain Colonel Arthur Wellesley as his ADC. The two men became close friends and in March 1815, Wellesley, now 1st Duke of Wellington, came to stay at Wildernesse. The two double rows of limes that still grace Wildernesse Avenue were planted to commemorate his visit and after the battle became known as The Waterloo Limes.

So what of the ancient pub at Hook Green? The tale that one of the Indian elephants brought to this country to show to Royalty died and its bones were buried in the grounds of the inn may be plausible in that various attractions were no doubt displayed in the “pleasure grounds” of nearby Bayham Abbey, which did receive royal visitors. However, in the absence of any exhumation, it’s far more likely to be merely an adventurous supposition.

But the next piece of the jigsaw fell into place. I recalled that the Camdens also held the title of Viscount Bayham of Bayham Abbey – just down the road from the pub. In 1714 Sir John Pratt had bought Bayham Abbey and its estate, to add to Wildernesse. (And of course this is commemorated in Bayham Road in Sevenoaks). The title was given to Charles Pratt in 1766.

In 1768 a medieval farmhouse at Hook Green built in 1489 became an inn. Then or some time afterwards it was named The Elephant’s Head. The real origin of its name is now evident. (A report in the Kent and Sussex Courier of 19th September 1873 concerning an alleged rape refers to the pub as “The Elephant”, although in 1919 a transfer of licence applied for by “an agent for Marquis Camden” was granted for The Elephant’s Head).

This is described as “Glenfarg Sunday school outing to Hook Green, Kent”. (If correct, the children had travelled down from central Scotland).

Over the years the family were great benefactors of the local community. Bayham Abbey School in Hook Green was built in 1860 by George, 2nd Marquess, for the children of the Bayham Estate. After his death in 1866 his titles were inherited by his eldest son (yet another John, one of 11 children), who decided to move from Wildernesse to Bayham. The 3rd Marquess was briefly MP for Brecon before entering the House of Lords: Lord Camden died in 1872 at the early age of 31, followed by his wife Lady Clementina Augusta, daughter of George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough, aged just 37.

The Bayham estate was extensive and was added to over the years. Bayham Abbey was founded c1200 as a house for monks of the Premonstratensian order but largely destroyed in 1536/7 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. In 1870 the 3rd Marquess built on the other side of the Teise valley the present Bayham Hall as his country retreat. The house and its 368 hectares of “pleasure grounds”, designed by landscape gardener Humphry Repton, were the scene of many a glorious social occasion and visited by royalty (including Edward Prince of Wales in 1920) and others amongst the great and the good DFL (“Down From London”). In 1961 the fifth Marquess entrusted the abbey ruins and the original 18thC residence, the “Georgian Gothic” Dower House (below), to the guardianship of the state.

Dower House

In the 1970s the family left Bayham, when the Hall, and in 1993 the rest of the estate, was sold into private ownerships.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 19 September, 1873.


A sullen looking young labourer, named Thomas Boorman, of Lamberhurst, was charged under a warrant with committing a rape upon Elizabeth Histed Crittle, a single woman, aged 23, of Crowborough Cross.

The prosecutrix for the past three years has been in the habit of attending Lamberhurst with her father, mother, sisters, and brothers, for the purpose of picking hops, for Mr. Albert Arnold, of Furnace Mill Farm. They rented a kind of shed for a dwelling, and the prisoner had been in the habit of calling upon the Crittles, and having a cup of tea. He did so on the afternoon of the 9th inst., and after tea, he and the prosecutrix went to a public-house called the "Elephant," at Hook Green, where they partook of a pot of beer. After drinking this they left the public-house at about twenty minutes to nine o’clock, and they proceeded together towards Furnace Mill Farm. After they had left the high road, and gone along a private one to within about 150 yards of the Mill-house, and 115 yards of another house, the prisoner threw her down, and after a struggle lasting over a lengthened time committed the offence charged.

In answer to Mr. Browell, the young woman, whose evidence was of a most disgusting character, said she screamed but the prisoner prevented her continuing to do so. She also scratched at his face. She did not tell her parents or any of her relatives what had taken place till two days’ after.

Dr. W. G. Tiley said there was no doubt the offence had been committed, and after the evidence of P.C. Bartlett and P.C. Palmer, (who deposed to apprehending the prisoner, and observing signs of a struggle having taken place on the road side) had been taken the Bench adjourned. On their return, the Chairman said the majority of the Bench were of opinion the case should go before a jury, and therefore the prisoner was committed for trial at Lewes.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 21 October, 1874.

Publicans' Extensions.

On the application of Mr. W. C. Cripps, the Bench granted an extra hour (until 11 o'clock,) was granted to Mr. John Martin, of the "Elephants Head," Hook Green, on the occasion of the Bayha Rent Audit Supper.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 29 September 1893.


John Grafney was charged with stealing 3 life fowls, value 9s, the property of William Hill's, at Lamberhurst, on the 22nd inst.

The Sussex Magistrates alone dealt with this case, as the offence was committed more than 500 yards over the Kent boundary.

Mr. Burton defended.

Henry Baker, groom, deposed he was in the "Elephant" on Friday night. Prisoner was there and wanted to fight, for which purpose he took off his coat, but witness persuaded him to put it on again. They went to the urinal together, and prisoner said "I have got a couple of dead 'uns," taking his handkerchief out at the same time. Witness did not know what he meant. He had his suspicion, so went in the house again for a match, going to the urinal, struck a light and saw feathers lying about. he found two fowls dead but warm close by and took them to the landlord. He had previously seen the prisoner going away with a bundle in his hand. He also found a handkerchief near the fowls. When going to Wicker's farm in search of prisoner with Mr. Hills and a policeman, they found two fowls, but could not find prisoner there. Prisoner was a complete stranger to him. In the house they could not hear any fowls cackling as there was so much singing. He heard no noise when outside with prisoner.

By Mr Burton:- There was a large number of people just finished hop-picking at the public house. Prisoner went away with some girls, and they found them at Wicker's Farm, but not prisoner.

Jim Hills, landlord of the "Elephants Head," deposed at about 10:05 he was called by Baker, who asked him if the two dead fowls that he had got for his, and witness replied he thought they were. he found that five fowls were missing. The four fowls (produced), which were found, were his property. Next morning, he went to Cousley Wood and found the prison. prisoner apologised to witness for having made a row at his house the previous night. Witness replied that he had not heard anything about that row, but informed that he had stolen five of his chickens. Prisoner denied that, and showed him a bag, but there were no signs of fowls having been there. The fifth fowl had not been traced.

Prisoner was discharged, on the ground of insufficient evidence.


Kent & Sussex Courier - Wednesday 24 July 1901.


The license of the "Elephant's Head," Lamberhurst, was temporarily transferred from William Hills to James Barden.


From Kent & Sussex Courier 26 December 1919.


FRIDAY. - Before Alderman H. M. CALEY (in the chair) and the Mayor (Councillor Dr. H. A. Latimer).


Mr. W. C. Cripps applied for temporary authority for the transfer of the license of the "Elephant's Head," Hook Green, from Mr. C. M. R. Cleeve (agent for the Marquis Camden) to Mr. F. W. Pierce. This house has been closed for two years. A similar application was made respecting the transfer of the license of the "George and Dragon," Lamberhurst, from Mr. F. W. Pierce to Mr. G. E. Pearce.

Inspector Wratton offered no objection and both applications were granted.

(N.B. Have spelt PIERCE & PEARCE the way shown in newspaper report.)


From the  24 July, 2020.

Blaze destroys out building of 15th Century English Pub in Hook Green near Lamberhurst.

A blaze has ripped through an outbuilding that is used as part of the dinner area of The Elephants Head in the early hour of Friday morning.

Elephant's Head outhouse fire 2020

Five fire appliances and a water carrier along with forty firefighters from Kent fire and rescue were scrambled to traditional 15th Century English Public House that serves traditional English pub food in the village of Hook Green in the early hours.

The outbuilding has been totally destroyed and left a mangled mess after flames engulfed the wood and tin structure.

Fire crews used hose reels and jets to tackle the flames.

Crews successful stopped the flames from spreading to the near historic pub that dates back to 1858.

An investigation into the cause of the blaze has been launched by Kent fire and rescue.



BALDWIN Samuel 1858+

MARTIN John 1874-81+ (also farm bailiff age 64 in 1881Census)

LEVERATT Samuel 1891+ (age 65 in 1891Census)

HILLS William 1893-July/1901

BARDEN James July/1901-03+ Kelly's 1903

CLEEVE C M R to Dec/1919

Last pub licensee had PIERCE F W Mr Dec/1919+

PIERCE Stanley 1940+



Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


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