Page Updated:- Thursday, 28 September, 2023.


Earliest 1838-

Lower Bell

Open 2020+

Rochester Road / 201 Old Chatham Road

Blue Bell Hill


01634 861127

Lower Bell 1910

Above photo, 1910, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Lower Bell 1922

Above photo, 1922, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Lower Bell 2013

Above photo 2013.

Lower Bell sign 1964

Above sign 1964.

Blue Bell sign 1978Lower Bell sign 1986

Above sign left 1978, sign right November 1986.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


At Bluebell Hill there are two pubs called the "Upper Bell" and "Lower Bell," one at each end of the hill. Many years ago, the road was too narrow for horse and coach teams to pass each other, so a bell was rung at either pub when a coach was about to depart, to warn those taking refreshment at the other end.

I believe this to be the younger of the two as Wright's Topography of 1838 referred to the other one as the "Old Bell."

In and around 1964 the landlord called time at 10.30pm, Maidstone times, however it was possible to race up to the "Upper Bell" and have another pint as last orders up there came under Medway times which then was 11 pm.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Tuesday 26 November 1844.

Whereas, a petition of John Robert Alexander, formerly of the "Lower Bell Inn," Aylesford, Kent, licensed victualler, then of "Kits Cotty House," Aylesford, aforesaid, out of business, then of Moat Road, Maidstone Kent, out of business, and then of the "White Hart" public house, Chatham, Kent, licence victualler, and late of the same place, waiter, having been filed in the Court of Bankruptcy and the Interim Order for Protection from Process having been given to the said John Robert Alexander, under the provisions of the statute in the case made and provided, the said John Robert Alexander is hereby required to appear in Court before Edward Holroyd, Esq., the Commissioners acting in the matter of the said Petition, on the 12th day of December next, at 11 o'clock in the forenoon precisely, at the Court of Bankruptcy, Basinghall Street, London, for the purpose of his first examination touching his Debts, Estate, and Effects, and to be further dealt with accordingly to the provision of the said estate; and notice is hereby given, that the choice of Assignees is to take place at the time so appointed.

All person's indebted to the said John Robert Alexander, or that have any of his effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to Mr. James Foster Groom, No. 12, Abchurch Lane, Lombard Street, the Official Assignee, nominated in that behalf by the Commissioner acting in the matter of the petition.

James Johnstone. Messenger.


From a local paper March 1846.

At the Kent Assizes, in March 1846, Robert Rose, aged 31 and William Kite, aged 66, were charged with stealing one pocket of hops, valued at 9, a hundred and sixty pounds weight of hops valued at 9 and a hop pocket valued at 5 shillings, the property of John Wood, at Maidstone.

John Wood deposed that he was a hop grower, residing at Headcorn and on 23rd October, that he delivered eighteen pockets of hops to Mr Wright of Maidstone. John Bonwick, the servant of John Wood, deposed that he had seen the eighteen pockets in his master's warehouse, but on counting them at the end of October, one was found to be missing.

Another witness John Callender deposed that he lived at Aylesford and in October the prisoner William Kite came to him and asked him to go to the Castle Lock for a quantity of hops, which he was to take to the "Lower Bell," on the Chatham Road. The prisoner gave him 4, which he was to give to the person from whom he received the hops. He then went in the company of two men named Jenner and Knibb, to the Castle Lock and saw the prisoner Robert Rose, who had a quantity of hops in his barge. They helped him unload the hops and gave Robert Rose, the 4 and then took the hops to the "Lower Bell," and cut the pocket asunder, throwing away the half, which showed the owner's name. This was corroborated by William Jenner.

John Smith deposed that he was a pensioner residing at Frog alley, Crow Lane, Rochester. The prisoner had come to him to ask, where he could dispose of some hops; they were sold to Mr Driver and before the sale took place, the hops were deposited in his house for two nights. John Tuff, the superintendent of the Rochester police, deposed that on 18th of November, he went to the house of John Smith, and found a pocket of hops marked W. Day, Birling, while there the prisoner Kite came in and said the hops were his and he had paid for them; he took him into custody on suspicion of stealing them. Both prisoners were found guilty, Robert Rose was transported for seven years and William Kite for fourteen years.


Kentish Gazette, 6 March 1849.


On Monday night some thieves broke into the cellar of the "Lower Bell" public-house, on the Rochester road and stole wines and spirits to the value of 20 leaving only four bottles of wine.


South Eastern Gazette 23 March 1852.


(On the Turnpike Road leading from Maidstone to Rochester).

John Green respectfully begs to inform his Friends and the Public, that he has taken the above well-known compact and comfortable Inn, and hopes, by an assiduous attention to its business, and supplying them with every article of the best quality and at moderate prices, to merit a share of their patronage.

Dinners, Chops, Steaks, etc., provided at the shortest notice.

Tea Parties supplied. Private Sitting Rooms.


The above Inn commands views of the most pleasing and diversified character whilst from the hill above it the scenery is a splendid living panorama. It is close to the well-known monumental remain "Kit's Coty House," which is stated to have been "the Burial Place of Catigern," and to "Many old historic sites, Sacred to Legend and Poesy."

The neighbourhood presents to the antiquarian, historian, geologist, and botanist, a wide field of enquiry, and to the rambler it is unparalleled in its attractions. It is distant from Maidstone 3 miles, and from Rochester 5 miles, and omnibuses pass every hour to and from the North Kent Railway Station at Strood.


Southeastern Gazette, 22 February 1853.


Wednesday. (Before Major Boys, Capt Savage, and T. H. Day, Esq.)

George Hill, a soldier belonging to the 95th regiment, quartered in Chatham barracks, was brought up in custody on Tyler the constable, on a charge of stealing a pair of shoes from the "Bell" public-house, on the Maidstone road.

Committed for trial.


South Eastern Gazette, 18 October 1853.


On Wednesday last four men, named Charles Clarke, William Green, Stephen Baldwin (a married man), and Henry Harteford, all in the employment of Mr. Cubitt, at his works situate in the neighbourhood of Blue Bell-hill, on the high road between Maidstone and Chatham, were brought up in custody at the magistrates’ clerk’s office, Town Malling, charged with a gross and felonious outrage upon a married woman named Mary Mackenzie, who is extremely poor and upwards of 50 years of age.

It appeared that Mrs. Mackenzie was travelling from Chatham, on Sunday evening week, when on reaching the "Lower Bell" public-house, she entered it, and asked for half a pint of porter. Mrs. Green, the landlady, seeing that the wayfarer looked fatigued, asked her to sit down in the tap-room to rest and warm herself, an invitation which the poor woman gladly accepted. Six or seven of Mr. Cubitt’s workmen were sitting m the tap-room at the time, who pressed the old lady to drink with them; but she declined, and on finishing her porter left the house. Clark and Green shortly afterwards followed her, and at a signal from them given by whistling, Baldwin and Hartefold joined the pursuit in the course of a few minutes. Not long after their departure cries of "murder" were heard on the road by Mrs. Green, who became greatly alarmed, but went to the door to see if she could distinguish whence they proceeded, when she saw three of the ruffians dragging the poor old creature up the hill. She then went out, and seeing Baldwin, asked him at once to go to the stranger’s assistance and to bring her back to the house; but one of the fellows jeeringly replied to her "You had better mind your own business, and go in doors and go to bed, or we’ll serve you in the same way." She then saw Clark lay hold of Mrs. Mackenzie by the shoulders, and drag her down a lane leading towards Aylesford, bring assisted during the time by his companions. Baldwin was then again requested to render his aid in rescuing the woman, but refused, alleging that they were only having a lark with her. He, however, went up to them, and used some disgusting language, encouraging Hartefold to the commission of the felony which he was then attempting to perpetrate, while Clark and Green were holding the poor old helpless creature, whom they had thrown upon the ground. Mrs. Mackenzie, however, with a violent effort, contrived to throw the brutes off, and extricating herself from their grasp, ran towards the public-house, pursued by her four cowardly assailants. She then got over the hedge into a meadow at the back of the "Bell" and hid herself, remaining in concealment for nearly an hour. The fellows, however, at last discovered her retreat, and at once resumed their violent ill-usage of her, when Mrs. Green, again hearing screams of "murder," opened an upstairs window and heard the woman cry "You’ll murder me; and you shall murder me sooner than effect your purpose." The scoundrels, however, again threw her on the ground overpowered, and Baldwin (who it will be remembered was the only married man in the gang, and the father of a family) succeeded in perpetrating a capital crime. Their victim was by this time helpless and nearly senseless, and one of them was heard to exclaim "I think the ----- is dead," on which all of them decamped, and left the poor creature to her fate.

On recovering consciousness, Mrs. Mackenzie, with great difficulty, proceeded on to Maidstone, where she remained all night; but on Monday morning she returned to the "Lower Bell" to learn the names of her abusers, which she readily obtained from Mrs. Green, who on Tuesday drove her over to Town Malling, where Superintendent Hilton was informed of the circumstances, and warrants having been obtained against the fellows, pursuit was made, and Hartefold and Green were apprehended at Mr. Cubitt’s works, and subsequently Baldwin and Clarke at the "Fleur-de-lis," where they had spent the day in drinking. The two latter at first resisted the efforts of the officers to capture them, and being assisted by some of their pot-companions a scuffle and fight took place, which ended in placing the whole of them in handcuffs. The evidence of Mrs. Green, the landlady, and of Mrs. Mackenzie, as to the atrocious outrage committed, and the identity of the prisoners, being perfectly satisfactory to the Bench, the four brutes were fully committed for trial at the next Maidstone assizes. Warrants were also obtained against some of the persons who attempted to rescue Clarke and Baldwin from the hands of justice.


From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 7 January,1860. Price 1d.


Mrs. Gee, landlady of the “Lower Bell” Aylesford, and her daughter Sarah Jane Gee, were charged with having assaulted Joseph Siphet on the 10th of December.

The complainant said that he was coming from Maidstone on the day in question. A man named Knott was a little before him and went into the defendant's house. Defendant and her daughter came out almost immediately afterwards, and Mrs. Gee came to his (defendant's) cart and said “What have you got there? They have some of the old man's things and I'll have them.” The cart contained his “shop goods,” which Mrs. Gee and her daughter attempted to take away. He put up his arms and told defendant to stand off, when the daughter “slapped his face.” Mrs. Gee then took a load out of the cart and went into the house with it. Mrs. Gee did not strike or assault him in any way.

Complainant called a woman who lived with him to confirm the evidence.

Mr. George said that if Mrs. Gee had been placed in a position to give evidence, he should have proved that complainant was the real aggressor. As it was, he cross-examined him at some length to prove that there had been fowls killed upon Mrs. Gee's premises, and complainant, who was employed there, was accused of killing them, and to show that having been twice convicted of felony, his evidence was not to be relied on.

The case was dismissed.


Maidstone Telegraph 18 June 1864.


Last week an inquest was held at the "Lower Bell" public-house, before J. N. Dudlow, Esq., on the body of a man named Rowle, a pensioner, who met with his death under very distressing circumstances. It appeared from the evidence that on Saturday night deceased and his wife went to the "Lower Bell" public-house, kept by a man named Clinch, where they remained till it was time to close the house. Being requested to leave, they refused to do so, whereupon the landlord, finding them very determined, ejected them. On being put out deceased grasped hold of the landlord, when a struggle ensued, the result being that deceased was thrown down the stone steps leading to the house. Deceased was then carried across the road, where he remained for some time, but was afterwards removed to his home. Deceased received some severe injuries, and on Sunday he was attended by Mr. Keddell, surgeon, but, notwithstanding that gentleman's exertions he expired in the greatest agony. The man was very much intoxicated at the time, and caused a good deal of confusion in the house by his riotous conduct. Clinch, the landlord, used every means in his power to get the deceased away from the house quietly, but, finding he couldn't, he had no alternative but to expel him by force. The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict "That deceased died from an effusion of blood upon the brain, caused by an accidental fall."


From an email received 11 November 2022.

 My family have connections with the "Bell" at Bredhurst.

PARKER William licensee 1891+ (until about 1900) was grandfather of my mother’s first cousins. Their mother was Eleanor Parker, born in Bredhurst on 7/2/1889.

William’s wife was born Eleanor Stanger and was from the family at the "Lower Bell" on Bluebell Hill. The Parkers moved there from Bredhurst by 1901.

Eleanor Stanger senior was born Eleanor Clinch


Marylin Stevenson.



Last pub licensee had ALEXANDER John Robert 1838+ Next pub licensee had Wright's Topography 1838

GREEN John Mar/1852+

ENDFIELD Thomas 1858+

GEE S Mrs 1860-62+

CHINN Sarah 1861+ (widow and mother of Harriett Gee) (age 33 in 1861Census)

CLINCH George 1864-71+ (age 53 in 1871Census) Maidstone Telegraph

STANGER William L 1874-91+ (age 37 in 1881Census)

STANGER Eleanor 1901-03+ (age 50 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

COLE G F 1913+

AVARDS F A 1922+

REEKES William James 1930-38+


Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838


Maidstone TelegraphMaidstone Telegraph

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:-