Sort file:- Hawkhurst, August, 2023.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 19 August, 2023.


Earliest 1828-

Royal Oak Hotel

Open 2020+

Rye Road




Royal Oak 1909

Above postcard, circa 1909, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Royal Oak Hotel

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Royal Oak Hotel 1915

Above postcard, Date 1915, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Royal Oak Hotel

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Royal Oak Hawkhurst

Photos taken on 28 August, 2006 from by John Law.

Royal Oak sign 2009Royal Oak sign 2015

Above sign left 2009, sign right 2015.

With thanks from Brian Curtis and Roger Pester


Southeastern Gazette, 10 May 1853.


On Saturday, the 7th inst., an inquest was held at the "Royal Oak Inn," before W. T. Neve, Esq., coroner, to enquire as to the death of a labourer named Samuel Reed.

Hannah Fraser, widow, deposed:— I occupy a cottage next to where deceased lived, and knew him very well. This morning, at a little before six, I saw him go past my window towards the outhouse. At six o’clock I went there, and found the door fastened inside. I heard some one inside bustling about. I went twice within half an hour, but the door was still fastened. I knocked and asked who was there, but received no reply. After kicking once or twice, the door flew open, and I saw the deceased on his feet with his back towards me, and on looking up I saw that there was a rope round his neck.

Caleb Ballard, labourer, deposed:— At a little after seven I was called, and found the deceased hanging from a rafter in the roof of the outhouse; he was quite dead; his feet touched the floor.

Mary Ann Reed deposed:— Deceased was my husband, and was 59 years old. Last night we went to bed at about nine o’clock; neither of us slept very well during the night. Deceased seemed very dull, and to have something on his mind. This morning he tried to got up at four, but I persuaded him to lie down again until half-past five, when he got up. He fetched me a pail of water, and then came to the foot of the stairs, and said to me "Don’t get up; you’re tired, and you had better lay down again." I afterwards saw him go round towards the outhouse. I never heard him threaten to make off with himself; he didn’t tell me that he was suspected at Mr. Dobell’s. I didn’t ask him what made him so dull and restless.

W. Dobell, of Hawkhurst, grocer, deposed:— I have occasionally employed the deceased in my shop, picking fruit.

I lately received information that deceased had been selling several ounces of tobacco at 2d. an ounce, the usual price; being 3d.; in consequence I suspected him of having stolen some from my shop, and last night, at about half-past seven, I accused him of it, but he denied it. I told him what I had heard, and he said he had found two ounces of tobacco; on the road to Marden. I told him that I strongly suspected him of having robbed me, and that I didn’t wish him to come into my shop again. He appeared very downcast. I threatened proceedings against him.

Verdict, "That deceased hanged himself," but whether or not he was insane at the time, there was not sufficient evidence to show.


Maidstone Telegraph, 9 August 1862.


Richard Darnell, of Hawkhurst, was charged with stealing one bottle of brandy, the property of Mr. Dives, of the "Royal Oak Inn," in that parish. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month’s hard labour.


Maidstone Telegraph - Saturday 11 October 1862.

Frank Dive, landlord of the "Royal Oak," Hawkhurst, was charged with having unlawfully assaulted Joseph Cogger, on the 23rd September.

Defendant denied the charge, and called a witness who corroborated his statement, whereupon their worships dismissed the case.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Monday 6 July 1868.

Hawkhurst. Volunteer Inspection.

On Tuesday the 23rd of June, our Rifle Volunteers underwent their annual inspection at Cranbrook. Drill being finished, they returned home, and after halting at mine host's of the "Royal Oak," Highgate, for a preliminary wet, they were invited by the Captain of the corps to partake of a cold collation, which had been provided by Mr. and Mrs. Seymour, of the "Eight Bells Inn." After partaking of the same they were regaled with sundry bowls of punch, at the expense of Lieutenant Piper. A merry party, under the chairmanship of Ensign Herschel, was the result, and all appeared to enjoy themselves very much.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Monday 11 January 1869.

Hawkhurst. Increased Value of Property.

The "Royal Oak Commercial Inn" was sold on Monday to the tenants, Mr. F Dive, for £1,890. The same property was purchased for £1,150 a short time ago, including part of the meadow, which has been sold for £300.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Monday 9 May 1870.

Bankruptcies in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

From Finley's Gazette.

Frank Dive, Hawkhurst, inkeeper (Royal Oak), to surrender May 21, at half past ten.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 8 June 1945.


Full transfers were granted as follows: "Royal Oak Hotel," Hawkhurst, from Vernon Churchill Simmonds to Charles Douglas Allen.


From the By Secret Drinker, 27 January 2020.

Secret Drinker reviews the Royal Oak and the Queen’s Inn, Hawkhurst, Cranbrook.

I ended up doing a head-to-head this week after visiting two pubs just a stone’s throw apart in Hawkhurst, near Cranbrook.

Anyone stepping into the Royal Oak and the Queen’s Inn will be struck by the similarities between these two sizeable village boozers.

They both offer rooms for those seeking a sleepover, they both have trendy, bleached beams and are furnished with high-backed wing chairs. The bar staff in both are dressed head-to-toe in black, they both have open fireplaces, they offer many of the same drinks, both smell of food as you walk in and even their addresses only differ by a single postcode letter.

So, you might think there’s not much to choose between them – you might think that, but you’d be very, very wrong. One is a delight, the other as dull as dishwater.

The Royal Oak Country Pub & Carvery, to give it its full title, had absolutely no life about it and felt like the lobby of a quiet Premier Inn.

Royal Oak bar 2020

The atmosphere was as flat as the Harvey’s Sussex Best and the false log walls at both ends just added to the boring sterility.

The switched off staff stood refusing to chat to anyone but themselves – the only time they looked animated was when they went outside for a fag in the front car park.

Despite the carvery, to the left of the front door, the overpowering aroma was burnt fat and the open fire grate, with stacks of logs, showed no sign of having been lit in recent times and just added to the frosty atmosphere.

However, take a short stroll along Rye Road and you will come across the well-lit "Queen’s Inn."

At the Royal Oak there is a small entrance porch leading into the pub from its car park at the front.

Royal oak porch 2020

The toilets, for example, were clean and fresh at both pubs, but both the ladies and the gents at the Oak are long overdue for an upgrade.

Royal Oak inside 2020

With stripped beams, wing-backed chairs and tasteful lighting the Royal Oak’s bar could be a lovely place to relax.

In the Oak people sat in corners quietly and spoke only in hushed tones, almost as if they were afraid to be overhead. The only exception was a woman sitting at the bar drinking pints of Kronenbourg concentrating constantly on her mobile phone.

I’d been in a full 15 minutes before I realised the child in school uniform playing quietly at the table behind her was her daughter.

Sadly, from what I witnessed, the only time she acknowledged her daughter’s presence was to shout at her unnecessarily and tell her she would be unloading six bags of shopping when they got home.

Royal oak window 2020

Many of the interesting features at the Royal Oak have been retained and well maintained, but this is a pub which, with the right staff and customer service, could be so much better.

Hardly anyone was eating in the Oak, although looking through the shared corner window that led to Chinese takeaway next door it was doing a great trade.

Although the "Queen’s" is undoubtedly more cosy and welcoming, the "Oak," with hops hanging off its beams and comfortable high-backed chairs could be a decent pub.

Royal Oak toilets 2020

The ladies toilet in The Queen's not only boasts trendy basins and a choice of hand cream, but also the opportunity to sit awhile and chill out.

Queen's Hotel toilets

Sadly it is the staff who really let it down, they’d much rather be talking to each other, checking mobiles or smoking than looking after customers.

Contrast this to the "Queens" where the big, bearded fellow behind the bar, could not have been more welcoming or attentive.

Geographically speaking these Hawkhurst inns are cheek by jowl, but they’re miles apart when judged on pub appeal.


From the By Secret Drinker, 6 April 2020.

Secret Drinker looks back at his 10 worst pubs across Kent.

It’s almost a year since I landed the best job in the world and I’ve been travelling around Kent ever since discovering the very best, and worst, pubs right around the county.

Fortunately the majority of boozers I’ve been lucky enough to visit have been great, but some, sadly, have been found wanting.

I can only ever report exactly what I find at a given moment in time and I realise a fly-on-the-wall review can’t possibly take into account everything going on in a pub. - and many of these pubs may well have improved since my visit.

But, I was tasked with discovering the good, the bad and the ugly – and, in my humble opinion on the day, these are the 10 worst boozers I’ve visited...

1. It might seem a strange choice for number one, but the Royal Oak, Hawkhurst is in top spot because it is the most dull, uninteresting and soulless place I’ve ever had the misfortune to visit in Kent. Other pubs on this list may have their problems and failings, but at least they have some life about them. The Oak also deserves its position because staff completely switched off and clearly dislike the place too. And, what makes it even more unforgivable is the fact it clearly has the resources to be so much better. Describing it as being like the lobby of a Premier Inn was unfair to Premier Inns – it’s far more boring than that.

The décor has all the hallmarks of a decent local boozer but the Royal Oak is a mile wide of the mark.



BATCHELOR Samuel 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

LOWDER William 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

MARTIN Edward 1843 (owner)

LEONARD John 1858+

DIVE/DIVES Frank 1861-21/May/70 (age 24 in 1861Census)

Last pub licensee had EVEREST David 1871+ (age 44 in 1871Census)

RODMELL Edward Thomas 1881-91+ (age 55 in 1881Census)

DAVIS John 1903-30+

SIMMONS Vernon Charles 1938-Jun/45 (also farmer age 47 in 1939)

ALLEN Charles Douglas Jun/45+


In the 1871 census Edward Thomas Rodmell is listed as being a hotel keeper at 61 High Street, Strood.


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

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:-