Page Updated:- Tuesday, 23 May, 2023.


Earliest 1964

(Name from)

Toastmasters Inn

Latest 2014+

(Name to)

65-67 Church Street


Toastmaster Inn

Above photo from

Toastmasters Inn 2008

Above photo 2008 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.

Toastmasters Inn 2009

Above photo 2009 by Chris Whippet Creative Commons Licence.


Built in 1812, this fine Free House was originally known as the "Royal Exchange." The pub served the needs of the thirsty workers in the local cement industry for many years, and it is known that at one time its cellar served as the village mortuary! In 1964 the pub was purchased by Mr Sydney Ward, who, prior to his retirement to Kent, was a well known Toastmaster in London. It was he who gave the pub its current name, a name which is unique among English pubs.

Now owned by Mr Dean Shardlow, who has managed to retain the character of the place while extensively refurbishing the building, the pub is renowned for it's excellent selection of Real Ales and boasts a fine Indian Restaurant (with an award-winning Chef) complete with takeaway service.

The Toastmaster Inn Ghost

The following photo was taken by local resident Keith Thompson on New Year's Eve 2001 in the "Toastmaster Inn," Burham. At first glance it appears to be just an ordinary photo of a group of revellers at a New Year party. But take a closer look at the picture on the wall at the extreme right hand side of the photo - can you see the face in it. Nothing strange there, until I tell you that the picture is actually that of an old corner pub.

Toastmaster Inn ghost

There have been rumours about the pub being haunted for some time. The snug bar in the pub used to be a separate cottage owned for many years by a lady named Mabel. Mabel used to frequent the Toastmaster Inn ghostpub, and would sit at the bar in the corner by the picture cleaning the glasses for the Landlord. According to one former Burham resident: "I knew Mabel and her husband Sam very well and Mabel never missed a day, lunch time and evening on the same stool. Mabel was a real character, a larger than life lady, with a laugh to remember with Sam being the quieter of the partnership." After she died her cottage was acquired by the pub and converted into the snug bar and second kitchen, and a plaque (still there today) was placed on the wall above the bar in the corner where Mabel used to sit, proclaiming it to be "Mabel's Corner". Since then there have been numerous reports of strange sounds, glasses moving of their own accord and sightings of a ghostly figure.

So, is the mysterious face in the picture actually that of the late Mabel? I shall leave you to form your own opinion...


From an email received 4 April 2018.

The Toastmasters, Burham.

I don't know how true the story is but whilst Sydney Ward had the pub it was considered a good place for fine food with an excellent cellar. When he died the contents of the cellar were sold separately and reached more than the pub itself. So old and delicate were some of the wines that they couldn't be moved so the purchasers held special dinners at the pub when the wine was opened and consumed.

Simon Hingley.


From an email received 19 January 2019.

The picture on the wall is not of Mabel. I worked at the "Toastmasters" in as a younglazed trainee chef in the mid seventies and knew Mabel well up until her death in 1978 she was originally from Snodland born in 1894 her husband Sam was injured in the first world war and suffered from Shell shock throughout his life.

Paul Duvall.


From an email received 19 February 2019.

I was at Wallington County Grammar School with Sydney Ward's son Greg. When the family moved to Kent, rather than interrupt upcoming GCEs, Greg stayed with my parents in Surrey, returning to Burham at weekends. I often used to go along too & was there the very day Sydney Ward took over the pub.

I have no doubts that the place was actively haunted. It was not unusual during the night to hear crates or whatever being dragged around in the cellar despite everybody being asleep in bed. Many times the door leading down to the cellar would be opened while this noise was occurring, only for the noise to stop immediately and the cellar to be in total darkness. This happened frequently & eventually everybody regarded it as a nuisance, so nobody bothered to go downstairs to investigate. Odd things occasionally happened upstairs. Sydney placed a cup of tea on a table only to find moments later that a teaspoon had inexplicably been inserted in the cup handle.

I had no idea that the cellar was once used as a mortuary! The place did have a rather depressing atmosphere at times.

K Tillman.


From an email received 15 May 2020.


When Sydney Ward moved to Burham from Waddon (near Croydon), his son Greg & I both attended Wallington Grammar School. Rather than disrupt Greg's approaching GCE exams, he stayed with my family during weekdays, travelling to Burham most weekends. I would often accompany Greg, including going with the family on the day they moved into what Sydney had already renamed 'The Toastmaster's Inn'. He had commissioned a new pub sign depicting a portrait of himself (typical) in his toastmaster's gear. He drew in a locals as most evenings he would play popular tunes on his large 'Bird' electric organ.

After awhile, a dark 'presence' was sensed upstairs by everybody, which gave a sense of distinct unease.

The main 'problem' became the cellar. At night the wooden beer crates would be heard as if they were being dragged about. This was loud and distinct. Upon opening the door to the cellar, there would be darkness and the noise, whilst being loud as we stood by the door, ceased instantly we opened it. Initially, this was deeply disturbing, as can be imagined. Whatever the reason, beercrates would be found moved around the following morning although I do not recall any damage. In time, this disturbance became common enough for us all to more or less become accustomed to it and nobody bothered to investigate the mystery any further! However, the upstairs 'dark presence' would come and go, it was almost intimidating at times. I do recall Greg's sister Lesley being upset by it.

None of us knew anything about the cellar's grim historical use as mortuary, which I believe we would have found to be very disconcerting. Over the couple of years I was a regular visitor to the pub, there were a number of smaller incidents, perhaps explained as 'poltergeist' activity, all very odd.

About this time both Greg and I went our different ways, eventually losing contact. Only in latter years did I learn that the pub was resold, sadly I have no idea where the Ward family ended up, although I do recall hearing Greg had taken over the running of the business. I think the plan was to serve more food. I would really like to know where they all went and how they are getting along these days. I also wonder if later owners experienced the same things as we did in 1964 - 1965.

Keith Tillman.


Apparently changed name to the "Butcher's Block" some time between 2014 and 2019.


I have just added this pub to that list but your help is definitely needed regarding it's history.

As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.



WARD Sidney 1964+

WARD Greg ????

SHARDLOW Dean 2014+


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