Sort file:- Chatham, January, 2024.

Page Updated:- Thursday, 25 January, 2024.


Earliest 1753-

Red Lion

Closed Jan 1960

145 (110 Pigot's Directory 1832-34) (131Kelly's 1903) High Street / Military Road


Red Lion

Above postcard, date unknown.

Red Lion 1948

Above postcard, 1948. Also showing the "Globe" centre of picture.

Red Lion

Above postcard, date unknown.

Red Lion location 2014

Above Google image showing the location, May 2014.


There may have been two pubs with this name in the same High Street as various directories give two names for the years 1832 and 1838. At present I haven't been able to separate the two and have various different address for the both due to the renumbering of the street.

The Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre has referenced a set of documents, that I haven't seen yet, and is part of the Watts Charity MSS, 1579-1972.

Reference is made as follows:-


T29. The "Red Lion" and 3 messuages, North side of High Street (3 docs.) [Original bundle no. 32]



T37. Premises in Chatham and Rochester [including 2 adjacent messuages, St, Nicholas, Rochester; land on the corner of Globe Lane, Medway Street and Military Road; 7 messuages at nos. 1-7 Military Road; several messuages in Room Lane, (otherwise known as Railway Street); 2 messuages at nos. 1 and 2 Rome Villas, Maidstone Road; and the "Red Lion," High Street, all in Chatham] (15 docs,)



T38. Premises at Chatham, Maidstone and Milton-next-Sittingbourne [including land next to the "Sun Tavern;" The "Globe Hotel;" The "United Service;" The "Criterion" beershop; the "Red Lion;" and cafe, formerly the "General Havelock," all in High Street, Chatham; land, part of Room Lane Farm, Old Maidstone Road, Chatham; Fant Farm, Maidstone; Church Field (29 acres). Church Farm, Milton next Sittingbourne] (8 docs.)


The Licensing Records of 1872 stated the premises held a Full License and was owned by the Trustees of Watts Charity.

This took on the license of the "United Services" for some reason when that pub closed in 1936.

The address of this establishment has been slightly different in various directories over the years, in and previous to 1862 it had the address of 110 High Street, but in the 1882 and 1891 it was referenced to Military Road.


Having found three licensees mentioned for 1793 in a document called "The Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce and Manufacture (1793)" and no addresses there have been three pubs with the same name.

The others with this name in Chatham over the years, are the "Red Lion" addresses in Church Lane, and also the "Red Lion" addressed at 335 High Street, which became the "Birmingham Arms" although I believe it was numbered 200 High Street then.


From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, 26 October 1861.

Robbery of a Publican.

Helen Reed, 23, was on Monday charged on remand, before the county magistrates, with having stolen half a pint of brandy, from the spirit bar of the "Red Lion" public house, Military Road, Chatham, where she was servant.

The spirit was accidentally discovered hidden away, by Mrs. Harcus, the landlady, and on the prisoner being taxed with the robbery, she at once confessed that she had taken the brandy.

The magistrates committed her for 3 months' hard labour.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 21 February 1920.

Murder and Suicide at Chatham.

Revolting story told at inquest.

Principal witness censured by the coroner and jury.

The chief witness, a man named Charles Gambrill, was censured by the Coroner and jury at an inquest held at Chatham on Friday, states "The Chatham News."

The inquiry was respecting the death of Ellen Fisher, age 32, the wife of an Acting Company Sergeant Major in the R.A.S.C., and Charlie Sutton, a single man, age 28, whose occupation was that of an armour's mate in the Royal Navy, and the jury found verdict of wilful murder against Sutton as regarding Mrs. Fisher, and suicide during temporary insanity as regards his own end.

After evidence of identification have been given, George Edward Baldock, armourer's mate, of the Royal Navy Barracks, said he knew the deceased man Sutton, who was stationed at the Barracks. He last saw him on Monday evening, just before 5 o'clock. He was just the same as usual. Witness had seen both Sutton and Mrs. Fisher together. That was in the "King's Head" public house last Friday week, when witness was having a drink. He went out and left them both there. The next morning witness asked Sutton who he was with the night before. He told with that he had been living with her.

What else did he tell you?

That he had been living with her, and left her about Christmas. He said he had had a few words with her over a note he left on the table. Witness believed it was a £1 note.

It might have been a Treasury note or a message?

Yes. He left it there overnight, and took it away next morning.

What sort of a temper had this man?

A quiet disposition; a very nice chap.

Thomas Robert Mogg, armourer's mate, Royal Navy Barracks, Chatham, said he knew Sutton, whom he last saw alive on Monday. He was with him all that day, and he seemed strange in his manner, for witness and he had been together for four years. At times he had a "funny" temper. Witness said something to him, and he muttered something about "I'll kill her." Witness and seen this woman with him before.

Did he appear to be upset about something?

Yes, very much.

The Coroner:- Surely he must have said something before he threatened to kill somebody.

No, sir. I can't remember.

He was talking about a girl, was he?


Did he mention any names?

No, none whatever. I was with him one night ashore about a month ago, and there was an upset in Peter's Supper Bar, and that was the night I knew he had been keeping company with this woman.

Did you know her name?

No, I never knew until I saw it in the papers.

Never mind what was in the papers.

I can't tell you her name, then.

You knew he had been in the company of a girl?


You have seen the body. I suppose?

Not the body of the woman.

Sergeant Golding interposed with the remark that there was a photograph.

The Coroner (to the jury):- I think we must take witness's evidence generally. He is able to say that the deceased had a grievance against a girl; he can't tell us her name.

In answer to a juryman, witness said he had never been to the woman's house.

Arthur Richard Horton, licensee of the "Red Lion," Military Road, Chatham, said he knew Sutton as a customer at the house. He last saw him at 9:45 on the night previous to the tragedy; he was at the "Red Lion" for about two hours.

Was he sober then?

Yes. He was always a sober man.

Did you have any conversation with him?

In the ordinary way. That's all.

Did he seem to have anything on his mind?


Did he say where he was going when he left?


Witness added that deceased woman had been in the house that same evening, but Sutton said she were not together; he had never seen them together.

Did they recognise one another?

Not in my presence.

How long was Mrs. Fisher there?

About half an hour.

By the foreman:- Both persons were in the same saloon bar; but they were apart.

Mrs. Louisa Maud Sherfield, of 64, Henry Street, Chatham, said she, too, so Mrs. Fisher on Monday. They were together in the "Red Lion" at about 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. They had a drink and left near two o'clock. Witness knew Sutton but she did not see him at the "Red Lion" that evening.

It's a large bar, is it?

So many corners in it.

Did Mrs. Fisher notice him?

I couldn't say. I don't think she did.

Did you have any conversation with her about Sutton that night?


Was Mrs. Fisher sober when she left?


Did you leave together?


Where did you part company?

At the top of Clarendon Hill in the car. I got off and she continued her journey. That was about 11.

Did Mrs. Fisher go home alone or was there anyone with her?

Witness:- She was with another gentleman.


The gentleman behind here, Mr. Gambrill.

That was when you left at 11? o'clock?


Has Mrs. Fisher ever said anything to you about Sutton as to any quarrel?

Nothing at all; she kept her own counsel; kept things very much to herself.

Charles Gambrill. E.R.A., Royal Navy, said he knew Mrs. Fisher, although he had not known her long; he met her at about the beginning of December, he having returned to Chatham at the end of November.

During that time, how do you know her intimately?

No, just introduced to her by friend in the "Prince of Wales."

Asked by the Coroner to give his story in his own words as to his movements on Monday night, Gamble said he had recently returned from 28 days leave. He left the barracks at 8 o'clock and went to the "Prince of Wales" and had a drink. Mrs. Fisher and this woman (pointing to Mrs. Sherfield) were there. He stood there for a little while, and then spoke to Mrs. Fisher and the other woman. They all had a drink together, and the woman left. He remained a little longer, and then went to the "Army and Navy" public house.

Did you make any sort of arrangements to meet later?


Witness (continuing) said he was in the "Army and Navy" until 9:30. Then he walked up the street, and returned to the "Prince of Wales." He was there some time, when Mrs. Fisher came back, and was there until 10 o'clock.

You left with them?


Where did you go?

She asked where I was going. I told her I was going back to Barracks, but she asked me if I would have some supper and see her home.

Witness added that Mrs. Fisher had spoken to him about Sutton; should be worried about him, and said he had threatened her.

Did Mrs. Sherfield hear her say that?

No, she was speaking to someone else.

What did Mrs. Fisher tell you?

That he had been molesting her, and that she was frightened of him.

Did she say why she was frightened?


Did she say in what way he had threatened her?

No. We all had supper together after leaving the "Prince of Wales." I didn't want to go with them, because I had had my supper before leaving Barracks, but she implored me to go home with her, and we got on a tram.

Arriving at Mrs. Fisher's house, said witness, he went indoors with her, and I stood speaking, and Sutton's name came up again, when she again complained of his following her; she could not understand, she said, why he forced himself on her. Sutton had called at the house once or twice, and she had told him to go.

Then, said witness, he left the house. She asked him to return again. He went to Navy House, and booked a bed.

Why did you want you to come back?

To see if she was all right.

Didn't she give any other reason?


We promise to return?


And you went back?


Witness proceeded:- She showed me some photos. I had been there about 10 minutes when there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Fisher, expecting it to be Sutton, asked me to go upstairs. "I expect it's him," she said. I went upstairs and she blew the light out, and answered the door. I stood in the bedroom and heard him ask her if he could come in. She said, "No, you can't come in! I've told you before that you can't come in!" "But I've got nowhere to sleep," he said, and she told him then to go to the Salvation Army or Navy House. Sutton said, "Let me come in, I can sleep on the couch." I then heard no more speaking but a sort of a blow.

Did you hear any scuffle?


Any threat?


Had there been any scuffle he would have heard it?


And had there been any screaming he would have heard it?


Witness added that it was quite possible there might have been some more conversation which he couldn't hear. "As soon as I heard the blow I came downstairs," said witness. "The blow was as though someone had fallen. That was two or three minutes later."

Gambrill went on to describe what he did next. When he went down the stairs in the darkness. Mrs. Fisher was standing up against the wall at the front of the stairs, and as he reached the foot of the stairs so she fell.

But I thought she had fallen before. Wasn't that the noise which you heard?

No, it was Sutton. I went to put my hands on her and they were wet with blood. I heard a noise like water, but could not see what had happened in the dark. I went upstairs to get my coat, and then went out and found the police in New Road.

Didn't you turn to Mrs. Fisher at all?


She might not have been dead then?

I couldn't see in the dark.

Didn't you think it was necessary before even sending for the police to see what you could do. She was not quite dead?

(Witness made no answer.)

Did you return with the police?


She was in the same position as he left her?


Did you assist the police?


What position was Sutton in?

Lying on his back with his head just inside the door.

Witness added that the open razor laid between the bodies.

Sutton must have forced himself inside.


The Foreman:- Knowing what she had already threatened, did you take any precautions to guard her?


Buy a juror:- The bedroom door upstairs was not closed.

Evidence was given by Police Constable Shilling, K.C.C., to being called by Gambrel.

Police Sergeant Golding spoke to go into the house at 1:40 a.m., when he was called by Police Constable Collier. The next door neighbour, Mr. Harris, was knocked up, and he was asked whether he would be good enough to take the two children in so that they should not see what had happened. He did so. Witness then searched the body of the deceased man, and in his pocket found a wallet, in which were two postcard photographs (produced). On the backs were written a message, and there was also a note about Mrs. Sherfield.

The Forman wondered whether the message which had now been handed round to the jury, had any bearing upon this inquiry.

The Coroner thought it had. It was an important matter. The message suggested that the act was premeditated on the part of Sutton, it showed motive.

The Foreman:- He simply gives her a character.

The Coroner:- But he says, "Forgive me," as though he contemplated something.

Dr. H. J. Bryan, police surgeon, Chatham, stated that the direction of the woman's wound rather suggested that her assailant attacked her from behind, and so deep was the worms that death must have occurred within a few seconds. Probably her body was just leaning against the wall when Gambrill saw her falling. There was no evidence of any struggling so far as bruises would leave one to think. The man had cut himself higher up, just below the chin, and had severed all the vessels and muscles right across the throat.

Can you express any opinion that the wound was self-inflicted?

I'm afraid I can't. It might have been and probably was.

The Former inquired if there were evidence of any disease.

The Coroner said he had not ordered a post-mortem examination, because he did not think it necessary.

Dr. Bryan said, as a matter of fact, there was evidence of venereal disease.

The Coroner:- Did you examine both?

No, only the man.

Upon the two postcards being handed to Sutton's father he identified the handwriting as that of his own.

Coroner read the note as follows:- Dear Sister. - Forgive me doing this. I am no good now. This woman has ruined me. I met her last August, and I have been in her grip ever since. Last Wednesday night was my last night with her. I didn't know she was one of the bad woman until she got me in her grip. I couldn't get away from her. I have been living with her for months. She wanted me to take her away last week. She is the most known bad woman in Chatham. I hope the police will get hold of her and punish her heavily. - Goodbye, Charlie.

The Coroner having summed up, the jury returned to consider their verdict.

After a quarter of an hour's absence the Forman announced that they found that Mrs. Fisher met her death at the hands of Sutton, and that Sutton met his death at his own hands in a fit of passion. The jury also desired to state that the evidence of Gambrill was not satisfactory, and his conduct deserved censure in the fact that he did not guard the woman when asked to do so, and also that he did not attempt to render assistance before going for the police.

The Coroner:- Then you return of the verdict of wilful murder against Sutton, and suicide in a fit of passion. Do you mean that he was not in a sound mind?

The Forman:- Yes; temporary insanity.

The Coroner here called Gambrill forward and told him the jury's wish that he should be censured. His position might have been a difficult one, but instead of being upstairs he should have rendered all the assistance he could.

(Gamble:- I am sorry.)

And he agreed further with the jury, and it had struck him at the time of hearing the evidence, that he found Mrs. Fisher in this position and yet he seemed to have gone upstairs for his coat. No ordinary person would have bothered about his coat on such an occasion; any ordinary person, in his senses, would have thought what could he do to have save the woman's life.

Gambrill interposed again with the observation that the whole of there was such a shock to him.

The Coroner:- But you weren't shocked so much that you forgot to go upstairs for your coat.

The Foreman also stated that the jury desired to express their sympathy with a parents of Sutton and with the husband of Mrs. Fisher.

The Coroner accordingly expressed the sympathy to the relatives.

From the accessed 16 October 2016.

The Red Lion lying in wait at Chatham’s crossroads.

The pub inquiry started with two faded photographs of a jolly pub scene. On the back of one was written: Red Lion — where Samuels is.”

Red Lion licensees Grimmers


Pub expert Roy Murrant asked for help. He got it. Almost immediately, a gent came into the Chatham News office in New Road Avenue, and — without identifying himself – said the couple in the photograph were the licensees Sam and Gwen Grimmer and the pub was indeed the "Red Lion" at the crossroads of Chatham High Street and Military Road/Railway Street, where the jewellers H Samuels now is. (2016)

“I used to use the pub all the time,” he said. “There was a small lounge bar that was normally packed with all sorts of naval people like myself. Then there was a separate long bar that went to the end of Chatham High Street. I was there the night it closed down and it was very sad as it was a great pub.”

Sam and Gwen Grimmer


It got better. Mrs Ivy Grimmer then e-mailed: “I would like to confirm that it is definitely the "Red Lion," Military Road Chatham. The landlord, Mr Sammy Grimmer and his wife Gwen ran the establishment during the war years. I know this because my husband’s father was Sammy Grimmer’s brother.”

Photographic evidence soon arrived from Mr Derek Mears, of May Road, Gillingham. “I enclose a print taken about the same time,” he wrote. “This one was taken by my brother Bill, the sad occasion being the closure of the pub in January, 1960, for the site to become Samuels. “Behind the bar are Sam and Gwen Grimmer putting the towel over the beer pumps after the last pints had been served.”

Sam and Gwen Grimmer last night January 1960


Look at the detail: the fancy mirror, the Squires gin bottle, the Bass ashtray and the White Horse whisky in the background. Mr Grimmer is wearing a top hat; and the back to front writing on the towel says Initial Towel Supply Co. I wonder who the two customers in the background are? And whose is the mysterious hand on the right that helps the towel ceremony?

It’s a fine print: I suspect Mr Bill Mears was an experienced and accomplished photographer.

Pub-crawling Scot beaten by Chatham challenge.

I also suspect that Dennis Gegg, of Brockenhurst Close, Rainham, is an experienced raconteur. He tells a good tale. Here it is:-

“In 1938 I joined the Royal Marines and used to frequent the Red Lion. My favourite beer was Mann’s Mild, a dark beer brewed by Mann, Crossman and Paulin, the makers of Mann’s Brown. It cost 4d a pint.

“For half a crown we had what we called a good run ashore — a pint in the Red Lion (4d), then on to the Gaumont or one of the three cinemas along the High Street (6d, in the front row) and then back to steak, egg and chips in a café just off the High Street (9d) which left enough for blanco, soap, and a pint in the Naafi bar for the rest of the week. There were, I believe, about 20 pubs on the left of the High Street, up to the Brook. There were three pubs next door to each other and there was a bet among the members of our squad that if you could drink a half pint in each pub in High Street (left), up to the Brook, and then walk back to barracks you’d win half a crown.

“A member of my squad, a Scot, did it, plus a whisky chaser. He didn’t get his half crown. He didn’t walk back.

“Fourteen years later I was back in Civvy Street and got a job as a brewers’ rep with Mann, Crossman and Paulin. One of my customers was the Red Lion in Chatham. Mann’s Mild was slightly dearer then at 10d a pint. I can confirm that the photo in your feature was Sam and Gwen Grimmer, a lovely couple. Thanks for the memory.”

(Indeed I was quite right about Dennis Gegg’s storytelling: I now have a copy of his privately published autobiography The Ramblings of a Raving Idiot, which is very funny.)

Revealed: the Nelson Road gambling den.

Until May 1, 1961, the only way you could legally bet on a horse race was at a racecourse. Bookies anywhere else could be arrested.

There were ways around it, of course. Illegal joints could be found in many back streets. One such was an establishment in Nelson Road, Chatham, a street torn down when the Pentagon was built. One of the nearest pubs to that was the Red Lion.

George Lidster, now 90 and living in Glenwood Close, Luton, marked my card. “The Red Lion was a proper gambling pub,” he explained. “I used it on a Saturday morning and I have fond memories of it. It was served by bookies’ runners who took your bets to a house in Nelson Road, near where the old working men’s club was. This place had a long passageway and half way down there was a hatch where you could push through your betting slips.”

So gambling was the main attraction? “No, he was a good landlord and kept a good beer,” Mr Lidster replied. “Every Saturday lunchtime he would have biscuits on the bar with those round cheeses. That was one of the reasons we went there — you could get a good snack lunch.” And the occasional shilling on the horses? “Well, maybe,” Mr Lidster chuckled.

One particularly story sticks in Mr Lidster’s mind — and I’m sure it did to the man who was on the receiving end of the story. “There was one chap down the High Street who was a really bad lot, so several of them in the Red Lion held him down while a tattooist from tattooed his forehead.” Readers — I don’t know what was his crime and what was tattooed. I’m sure someone out there does, though.

Mr Lidster, a Yorkshireman who came down to Medway in 1936 to work at Short Brothers, has a several lists of pubs in Chatham High Street and the Brook from bygone years and hopes to let me have a copy shortly.

And he agrees with me that the Brook might have been a den of iniquity then but was a damn sight more interesting that the grimy racetrack that it is now.

By Stephen Rayner.


From an email received 4 August 2020.

Dear Sir,

My Grandparents on my mother's side used to run, (own?) the Red Lion, where Samuels now is, from sometime before the first world war until I understand approx 1921. They were Harry and Bethsheba Belcher, (she being born Thirgood).

The long bar I was told was the longest bar in Britain. They used to have mirrors on all floors so that they could keep an eye on the barstaff and customers, all from the comfort of their own room.

In 1921 Harry went to London to purchase a second pub in the Medway area, but unfortunately was killed when he walked out from behind his taxi and was hit by a tram. It was six weeks before Bethsheba found out what had happened to her husband and he had already been buried in London when she found out.

Family history says that Bethsheba had to (sell?) the Red Lion as at that time no women were allowed to own/run a pub by themselves.

Some of the people that used to use the pub quite regularly were Scott of the Antartic's men although I was told Scott himself never used it. But the likes of Oates etc did.

I still have some silverware that used to sit on a table by the front door.

During the First world war Harry Belcher along with his much younger brother in Law Ernest Thirgood (who used to help in the pub), joined the Engineers in Chatham, Ernest ended up being a pilot in the RFC. He was invalided out when a spar went through his stomach when he crashed a newly received but totally obsolete and out of date death trap Garretts FE2 aircraft into a hedge on purpose.

After recovering he became Earl Mountbatten's chauffer. He was still doing the same job in the 1950's. Lord Louis would allow him to take one of his Rolls Royce's when he went on holiday and I remember Ernest and Eadie turning up at our house in Blenhiem Avenue in one of these Rollers with his caged chickens on the back seat where Lord Louis would normally sit.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the pub, but I do remember seeing a photo of the long bar absolutely packed full of Navy personnel.


Neil Coombes.



CLOUT Joseph 1793+ Trade Directory 1793

NEWMAN William 1793+ Trade Directory 1793

ASHDOWN William 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

BURGE William 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

BRADDY Benjamin 1831-32+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

MANNERING George 1832+ (200 High Street)

BUDDEN James 1832-41 (age 44 in 1841Census) Pigot's Directory 1832-34Wright's Topography 1838 (110 High Street)

CHAPMAN Frank 1841+ (age 26 in 1841Census)

Last pub licensee had HARCUS John 1861-62+ (age 39 in 1861Census)

PLATTS Thomas 1862+

TUSSELL Francis 1871+ (age 52 in 1871Census)

BURDETT Peter 1872-74+ Licensing Records 1872

KELLY James 1881-91+ (age 45 in 1891Census)

HALL Francis C 1901-03+ (age 29 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

ROBERTSON Albert John 1911+ (age 29 in 1911Census)

KENNEDY John W 1913+

BELCHER Harry 1913-20

HORTON Arthur Richard 1920-22+

WILLARS John 1930-38+

GRIMMER Sam & Gwen 1939-Jan/61


Trade Directory 1793Universal British Directory of Trade 1793

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

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

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872



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