DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Thursday, 23 February, 2023.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1663-

(Name from)

George Inn

Open 2022+

Meopham Street

Meopham

01474 814198

http://www.thegeorgeinnmeopham.co.uk/

https://whatpub.com/george

George 1891

Above postcard, circa 1891, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

George Inn 1900

Above postcard circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

George Inn

Above postcard, date unknown.

George Inn 1940s

Above date circa 1940, showing the West Kent Hounds passing.

George Inn

Above photo from the book, 1975, Pubs of Meopham by Jim Carley.

George Inn 2012

Above photo September 2012.

George Inn 2009

Photo by David Anstiss 2009 from http://www.flickr.com.

George signgeorge Inn sign 2012

Above sign left from the book, 1975, Pubs of Meopham by Jim Carley.

Above sign right, 2012.

George Inn sign 2022

Above sign 2022.

With thanks from from Roger Pester  www.innsignsociety.com.

 

This was the original heart of the village where the church wardens met, where the first village school was established and the site of the
village stocks and pillory (what a deterrent this would be to vandals and others guilty of anti-social behaviour!). The earliest mention of "The George" is 1598 and originally called “The Market Crouch” (i.e. Cross). The present sign is that of an 18th Century Hanoverian King. Rumour has it there was a secret tunnel from "The George" to the Church or even Meopham Court behind the Church.

In 1663 the pub was owned by John Child and occupied by Richard Durling.

1757 the Smith-Masters family bought the pub for 300, and put in Thomas Buggs as licensee.

 

The following has been taken from the 1975 book by Jim Carly, slightly amended to correct innaccuracies.

The George, situated at the centre of the oldest part of the village, is almost certainly the oldest of the village Inns. The known history of the village has recently (in 1974) been suddenly projected back to the Iron age by the discovery of an iron age camp in the grounds of the secondary school. This discovery came quickly on the heels of the discovery of 1st century pottery and some ancient ditches just to the south of the George, indicating the existence of a Roman settlement of some sort. There was certainly a settlement here in 788. as evidenced by a charter of King Offa. A will dated about 990 was witnessed by the parish priest. It is therefore reasonable to assume that whenever the need for a inn arose, it would be located at the centre of the village.

The earliest known record of the inn is in 1663, when the landlord was Richard Durling, the second licensee was Thomas Boghurst, a name still extant at Boughurst Farm, just beyond the eastern boundary of the parish, but back in 1332, Archbishop Simon de Mepeham publicly rebuked the populace for frequenting Inns rather than church on Sundays.

From 1710 to 1715 Thomas Rogers was the licensee. Nothing more is recorded until 1753, when the house was held by Thomas Buggs, a member of an old and highly respected Meopham family. He, or possibly a relative with the same name, continued there until 1804. The licence then passed to Thomas Lawrey, and three years later to Mary Lawrey, presumably his widow. In 1810 Thomas Hart took over, and we next hear of Robert Hills from 1838 to 1848. After him came Joseph Langford, who started another long family connection. He was probably the relative of the licensee of the "Coffin." He died in 1852, at the age of 52, and the licence passed to his widow. Mary Ann Langford. In 1887 Samuel Meakin took the licence. He died in 1892 at the early age of 46, and Caroline his widow, succeeded him. After 15 years she went to the "Railway Tavern," with her son George, but a clock in the George still bears her name.

By long-standing tradition, the George was the centre of local Government in the parish. In 1739 the Churchwardens paid out 5/- recorded in their cash book as ‘Spent at meeting at the George'. In 1740 they spent 2/- on beer for workmen at the church, probably at the nearby George. Further evidence of Parochial use appears in the parish register for 1810, when the Vestry met and resolved: ‘Easter Monday - to allow this day and next Easter 40/- for dinner and 3 for liquor, for such persons as pay rates, who choose to come to the George and partake of the same’. If the present Borough Treasurer reads this book, will he feel able to make a similar offer?

The old parish workhouse was situated in The Street, only a few yards from the George. At times this became so full that the Vestry had to board out some of the paupers and casuals in cottages, and even in public houses. The payment was at times as much as 4/4d. a day, and there is no doubt that the George got its fair share of these boarders.

Another form of local government making use of the George was the Court of the Manor. This relic from the past continued until comparatively recent times. One such meeting, held in April 1898, was described in the Meopham Review:

There was a good musta of Quit-Rent payers, or their representatives These included Messrs. W. Johnson, Whait, T. Leeming, J. F. W. Buggs, E. Crowhurst. Atkins, H. Bishop, Fitt and others. The Lords of the Manor were represented by their Deputy Steward, Mr. Cecil Kingsford. Mr. W. Oliver was in attendance in his office of Crier, in which capacity he called the Court to order, and afterwards closed it. Various dues were paid, such as Quit Rent, Acquittance, Reliefs and Entry Fees'.

Apart from local trade, an important source of custom in ancient times must have come from the weekly market. By a royal charter in 1456, an annual fair and weekly market were instituted. Although the Fair was, latterly at least, held at Pitfield Green, the market was certainly held at The Street. Just to the north of the George were the village stocks, for the punishment of offenders. The stocks have long since gone, and the two pollarded trees which flanked them have gone too, making way for the car park entrance and the bus shelter.

The George continued for many years to be noted for its suppers and concerts, and to be the meeting place of a Benefit Club. In December 1899 the George Benefit Club held its third annual dinner there. We are told in the Meopham Review that the large room of the inn was very attractively decorated for the occasion with the Chinese lanterns and fairy lamps. Excellent arrangements were made by the committee and the popular hostess, Mrs. Meakin. An excellent repast was followed by Harmony.

Mr. Alfred Roots recollected a story about another dinner. It was the custom for those taking part in the event to contribute something to the bill of fare. Mr. Alban Dorrington was asked to give a duck, but refused on some pretext. Nevertheless, he went to the meal, and later complimented the committee on the quality of the poultry. It was then broken to him that one of the ducks had been stolen from his garden nearby!

The present Inn Sign (1975) depicts a Hanoverian King, but this must be an anachronism, as the Inn is very much older than the Hanoverian dynasty. Many old inns were called 'The George and Dragon', and it seems very likely that over the centuries the name became contracted. This is currently happening at the Fox and Hounds, which is often colloquially called just 'The Fox.'

During the operation of the Gravesend to Wrotham Turnpike Road, a side-gate or bar was located at the junction of The Street and Wrotham Road, to collect tolls from traffic between Meopham and Luddesdown and Harvel. The bar was kept locked, and when any traffic required to use the road, the ostler from the George took the toll and unlocked the gate. He must have had a supply of toll tickets as a check on his honesty, but no example has been traced. According to Bagshaw's Directory of 1847, The George was the posting house for the village.

The earlier owners of the premises are not known, but the freehold was bought by the Masters family in 1757 for the sum of 320. Apart from the house, they acquired 6 acres of land. The tenant at that time was Thomas Buggs. His rent then, and in 1765 was 16 a year. This was increased to 20 in 1800, and further increased to 30 in 1810. It remained at this figure until at least 1825. Apart from rent, he had to pay rates. The Rateable Value in 1838 was only 5, but by 1840 this had increased to 24 suggesting major extensions to land and on buildings. The rates payable on that figure were 12/-.

The Rateable Value in 1974/75 was 1,138. The Smith-Masters family continued to own the premises until at least 1853. By the 1920’s the premises had been acquired by Watney Combe Reid & Co., from whom in turn they passed to Trumans.

 

From ‘A Precis of Meopham’s pubs, past and present.’ By James Carley. Date Unknown.

The George Inn.

Our next visit is to the “George,” situated at what was undoubtedly the original settlement of the village. Hereabouts are the church, the former manor house (Meopham Court, and a number of old buildings, as well as archaeological evidence of a Roman farmstead. The earliest known written record is a conveyance dated May 1, 1598, when Christopher Poore of Brenchley conveyed to William Child his Inn called The George, but previously known as ‘The Parish Crouch.” (or "Market Crouch.") Another document makes it clear that the old market cross (or crouch) stood in the road at this point. We can thus easily imagine an early Elizabethan Inn, standing at the cross-roads in the village centre, having been established in all probability at least by the time of the Meopham Charter of 1456. This granted the right to a market every Saturday as well as a four-day fair once a year. It is quite possible that there was an inn there very much earlier. In 1332 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon de Meopham issues an edict publicly rebuking the populace for frequenting inns rather than church on Sundays. We know that the Archbishop was born in Meopham, and his parent are buried somewhere in the churchyard. He may well have been concerned about the goings-on at his “local.”

As befits the oldest inn it was the centre of local government in the parish. The Churchwardens met there, and had no hesitation in recording their expenses. For example, in 1739 they recorded in their cash book “5 shilling spent at meeting at ‘The George’.” A more interesting entry is found in 1810. The Vestry met and resolved “Easter Monday – to allow this day and next Easter 40/- for dinner and 3 for liquor, for such persons as pay rates, who choose to come to the George and partake of the same.” Would that our present Borough Councils would take the same line! Apart from the Vestry, the Manorial Courts were also held at the George. These continued until comparatively recent times, and were duly minuted.

In common with many other public houses, the George ran a sick benefit club. There is a report extant of the third annual dinner held there in December 1899. It says that the large room was very attractively decorated for the occasion with Chinese lanterns and fairy lamps. Excellent arrangements were made by the committee and the popular hostess, Mrs Meakin, and the repast was followed by harmony.

Opposite the inn is the road to Luddesdown, and during turnpike days there was a side gate across this road. It was operated on behalf of the trustees by the ostler of the George. He must have had a supply of tickets, but none has been traced. For many years the inn sign depicted a Hanoverian king, clearly an anachronism as we know that its name was used long before the Hanoverians came to the throne. This has recently been put right, and the present sign shows St. George, as no doubt it did in the past.

This seems to be an inn which from early times was let out, and not operated by the freeholder. In the conveyance of 1598 it is recorded that the tenant was William Cripps. The Manorial Roll of 1663 shows that the Child family still owned the freehold, with Richard Durling (a family still resident in the parish) in occupation. The Masters family (whose connection with Meopham was recorded as long ago as 1240) bought the premises in 1757. Later owners were the brewers Watney Combe Reid & Co., and the Trumans.

 

 

Kentish Gazette 22 January1819.

Marriage.

Jan 1, at Meopham, Mr. Richard Goodwin, to Sarah, eldest daughter of Mr. Thomas Hart of the "George Inn," at that place.

 

From the Register of Licenses granted in the North Division of Aylesford Lath.

1872, August 23rd, To sell by retail Excisable Liquors to be consumed on the premises. The "George," Meopham. Owner, Reverend Alan Smith Masters Camer. Licensee Mary Ann Landford, widow.

 

LICENSEE LIST

DURLING Richard 1663+

BOGHURST Thomas 1668+

ROGERS Thomas 1710-15

BUGGS Thomas 1753-1804

LEWRY Thomas 1804-07

LEWRY Mary (probably widow) 1807-10

HART Thomas 1810-19+

HILLS Robert 1838-47

LANGFORD James 1847-52 dec'd (age 42 in 1851Census)

LANGFORD Mary Ann 1852-74+ (widow age 61 in 1871Census)

RANDS James 1882+

MEAKIN Samuel 1891-92 dec'd (age 44 in 1891Census)

MEAKIN Caroline Mrs 1892-1905+ Kelly's 1903

YOUNG Eliza Mrs 1913-18+

ROFF Arthur 1922-30+

OLIVER Ernest Tom 1934-49+

https://pubwiki.co.uk/George.shtml

 

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

CensusCensus

 

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

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