Page Updated:- Wednesday, 30 June, 2021.


Earliest 1825-

Hop Pole

Closed 1967

Farningham Hill and Button Street


Hop Pole 2017

Above Google image, August 2017.


This was originally built as a coaching inn and named the "Hop Pole" around 1825 and was situated on the Farningham Hill, but when the railway was built in the 1860s business wained and it was converted to a private residence called Broomfield Hall and the license was transferred to the new pub also called the "Hop Pole" at Button Street in the village.

When Sonny Caller had the tenancy there was no electricity or gas to the building, and the pub was lit by oil lamps. Courage needed to lose one of the pubs in the village and decided to close it and keep the "Lamb" open.

The building is now adjacent to the M25/M20/A20 junction and stands in a couple of acres of land.


From an email received 5 April 2018.

The Lamb, Swanley Village. (Farningham)

The pub I learnt to drink in. Just at the top of the lane down to where we lived. Ernie Chilmaid had the tenancy. He kept a fine pint of Courage Dark Mild but I preferred the Ordinary Bitter.

It was a beer house only which caused confusion amongst strangers. "A pint of bitter please and a gin and tonic for my wife." "Sorry sir, no spirits, we only sell beer." "Oh, I'll have a glass of white wine then." "Sorry sir, no wine, we only sell beer. We do have a Babycham if the lady would like that."

A range of different barstaff.

The desk-sergeant at Swanley Police Station's wife, a very large woman with make-up trowelled onto her face and whose feet swelled alarmingly out of the strappy shoes she always wore.

Mike Sutton, who had no driving licence but would drive his tractor over from the 'farm' in Wilmington where he lived. When pissed he would wedge himself into the corner of the bar and benevolently gaze over the assembled company with the most maniacal grin on his face. A genius at spoof.

Bill Cook, the driver of the 719 Green Line Bus from Wrotham to Hemel Hempstead. One snowy night he left the pub late to walk back to Swanley where he lived. Waking early in the morning he realised he'd lost his glasses and followed his own footsteps back towards the village. Every so often there was an area of crumpled snow where he'd fallen over and there, in the middle of one such patch, were his glasses.

Ernie Chilmaid himself. Very favoured customers (my mother was one) would, after the pub had closed at night, be offered a tot of his own personal whisky. He could also spin a good yarn (see Barty Hotchkiss' story of Ernie Chilmaid's Chain Beer).



Sir Tim Bligh took over the Priory Swanley Village, which had been his father Sir Edward Bligh’s house round about 1960. Sir Edward and Miss Hall his house keeper moved to Holmesdale in Horton Kirby opposite the Rogers at Court Lodge.

Once he lived in The Priory, one of the first things Sir Tim Bligh did, no doubt exercising authority as Macmillan’s Private Secretary, was to pull rank on the Swanley Town Council and persuade them to change the name of the lane running past his property from the name Tweed Hill to Park Lane. Hence his address became The Priory, Park Lane. The Swanley Village people didn’t know whether this was some kind of a joke or an attempt to flatter the circumstances of his address. Some local people were annoyed particularly Ernie Chillmaid who owned The Lamb pub opposite the Priory.

One thing Tim Bligh couldn’t do was to change the popularity of The Lamb. This I am sure he would liked to have done since the weekend cars parked in front of the entrance to The Priory whilst their owners were merrily imbibing in The Lamb must have given rise to a certain amount of annoyance.

The Lamb had been in the Chillmaid family for more than one hundred years. It was a beer house. It was not licensed to dispense wines and spirits. This meant of course the beer had to be in excellent condition. If the beer was bad no customers would bother to come to the Lamb since there was no alternative drinking. Ernie Chillmaid knew how to look after his beer. He took great pride in his cellar work. His draught beer, straight from the barrel, had a reputation among discerning boozers for being the best draught beer in the locality. Hence, no doubt much to the annoyance of Sir Tim, The Lamb was a very popular pub.

One summer evening two students discovered The Lamb. They were from the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup. They had caught a 21 Bus to the top of Button Street walked through Farningham Woods and were passing through Swanley Village on their way to Swanley where they were to catch a bus back to Sidcup. They came upon The Lamb. It seemed a friendly place. There were one or two people standing outside talking together and enjoying the early evening sun with their glass of beer.

The two students decided to stop and take a glass of beer. They enjoyed it. They took another. Very soon they were joining in the banter with the locals in the Public Bar. They asked the landlord, ‘How long have you been here?’ ‘More than a hundred years.’ was Ernie Chillmaid’s reply followed by much laughter. The student persisted, ‘This is really good beer. The best beer I have tasted for a long time. How do you keep it so?’

Ernie Chillmaid put one hand on his beer pump handle and another on the bar and said with great authority. ‘Well I look after my cellar. I keep the place tidy, I keep the pipes and the pumps clean and I rotate the barrels in proper order. And there’s one last thing. In my cellar I keep a rusty old chain. Now last thing at night when all you happy fellows have gone home I go down into the cellar. I open the bung in each barrel in turn. I put in my rusty old chain and give it several twists. That’s the beer you are drinking.’

Several weeks later four students appeared in the Public Bar of The Lamb. ‘Now what can I get for you young gents?’ Ernie Chillmaid asked. ‘We would like four pints of your rusty chain beer please landlord.

ABH 4th Jan 2013.


Simon Hingley.


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.



LLOYD Richard Bethell 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

BETHELL Richard 1839-40+

SHENTON William 1841+ (age 30 in 1841Census)

LUNN Richard 1847+

LUNN Martha Mrs 1851-55+ (widow also farmer age 51 in 1851Census)

DUNMALL James 1861+ (age 62 in 1861Census)

WALKLING William 1891+ (age 69 in 1891Census)

CALLER John 1901-38+ (age 39 in 1911Census)

CALLER Sonny 1940-before 53


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



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