Page Updated:- Thursday, 01 September, 2022.


Earliest 1816-

Upper Bell

Latest 2005-


Blue Bell Hill

Upper Bell 1920

Above postcard, circa 1920. Kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Upper Bell 1956

Above photo circa 1956, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe. The motorbike parked outside is a Matchless 350 registration SKP 752.

Upper Bell crowd 1960s

Above photo, by Bob Auger, circa 1960s.

Upper Bell 1978

Above photo date 1978, from by Ben Levick.

Upper Bell 2000

Above photo 2000 by Sean Tudor.

Above photo 12 may, 2007, by Ray Garlick from

Upper Bell 2012

Above photo 2012 by Ian Yardham Creative Commons Licence.

Upper Bell 2013

Above photo, January 2013, kindly taken and sent by Mike Aronson.

Upper Bell 2013

Above photo, January 2013, kindly taken and sent by Mike Aronson.

Upper Bell 2013

Above photo, January 2013, kindly taken and sent by Mike Aronson.

Upper Bell sign 1978Upper Bell sign 1986

Above sign left 1978, sign right, July 1986.

Upper Bell sign 1964

Above sign 1964.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


I believe this to be the older of the two "Bells" and Wright's Topography of 1838 referred to it as the "Old Bell." The Kelly's directory of 1903 also referred to this as the "Old Bell," and addressed as at Burham, Rochester.

It has been said that unusually the cellar was located above and behind the public bar. The Landlord simply had to turn the tap on to pour a pint. In due course a new & much larger bar was opened upstairs.


From the Observer 13 October 1816. Transcribed from


On Sunday, the 22nd ult. as some young men were nutting in the woods near the "Old Upper Blue Bell," on the old road to Maidstone, they observed a female lying under a tree apparently asleep, and passed on without disturbing her. On the succeeding Friday the young men again went nutting to the same place, when to their extreme surprise they saw the female lying in the precise place and attitude in which they had seen her before: one of them went to her, and took her by the hand; she was alive, but in such a situation as excited the most shuddering sensations of horror and disgust, mixed with surprise, that a human being could retain any portion of animation under such complicated sufferings of want and wretchedness. She was almost in a state of putrefaction, large maggots were feeding on every part of her frame; exposed to the attack of flies; her nostrils, and even her mouth were infested by them; behind her ears, between her fingers, and between her toes, they were drawling in sickening quantities; and her clothes were literally rotten from long exposure to the varying and humid atmosphere. With a laudable alacrity they applied for assistance at the "Blue Bell," and with the assistance of two men the unfortunate sufferer was placed upon a hurdle, and conveyed to an outhouse, where such necessaries and comforts as could be procured were immediately prepared for her. Mr. Browne, surgeon, of Rochester, was sent for, and immediately came to visit her; and through his humane, kind, and constant attention, this unfortunate woman has been rescued from the jaws of death, and is now in a fair way of recovery. The account she gives of herself is, that her name is Ann Martin; she came from Lewes some time back with an artillery soldier to Chatham barracks; but that she had left him, and had determined on returning home to Lewes; that being destitute of money, and oppressed by fatigue, she, in a fit of despair, laid herself down to die; that she had lain where she was discovered ever since the Sunday preceding that on which she was first seen, and consequently had been eleven days and nights without any kind of food!


From the Maidstone Gazette and West Kent Courier, 19 January 1830.

Pig stealing.

Thomas Curtis, 37, for stealing two pigs, Valley 3, the property of John Roper, at Thurnham.

Mr. Pollock appeared for the prosecution, and called the following witnesses:-

John Roper examined:- I live at Thurnham. On the 5th of November, I missed two pigs from my yard. They were two open sows; one had a blue mark on the rump; they weighed about three score each, and were seven months old. When I saw them again they were dead and dressed; one was cut up. I could not swear to the identity of the pigs when I saw them at Farleigh.

John Ashby:- I live at East Farleigh. On the 6th of November, between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning, I was in Cradock's yard, which is between 5 and 6 miles from Mr. Roper's. There were no pigs in the yard; one had a blue mark by its rump; they were both open sows. Prisoner lodged with me at Cradock's. At 10 in the day, he came home, and asked if I had seen anything of the man that drove his pigs home the night before. I said I had not. He owned the sows in the yard. He and I slept in the same room. He was out all the night of the 5th. He told me he had slept at the "Upper Bell." I went to work and returned in the afternoon, while he was dressing the pigs. Saturday morning, he asked me to buy one of the pigs for 8s. a score, and agreed to take 26s. for the whole pig; he said he got them off Mr. Catt over the hill, for a debt, and the Catt's servants drove them home. In the afternoon, I heard about Mr. Roper having lost two pigs. In consequence of what Mrs. Cradock afterwards said I got up and called prisoner out. I charged him with stealing the pigs, and he denied it. I asked him if he would go to Maidstone to see if any bills were posted about it. We went together and sawe a printed handbill about the pigs. Prisoner wanted to pull it down, but I would not let him. We then went home. Prisoner was going out and I followed him; he asked if I meant to keep him in hold, and I said I did not intend to leave him till I saw the bottom of his job. We set up until 2 o'clock in the morning, and then I said we might as well lay down for a little while. Afterwards I heard prisoner going down stairs. I called to him and he said "come along." I told him I would not let him go, and followed him. He said he would take me to the man he bought them off. I went with him, and when he got a top of Loose Hill to Shirnold pond. I was a little way before him, and heard him run away. I run after him, but he got out of sight, and at last I found him lying on his belly under a quick. I laid hold of him, and we tumbled through the quick and I was uppermost. He said "for God's sake Jack have mercy on me; I know I'm wrong and pray let me go." He said he opened the yard gate for one to come out; he only meant to take one, but the other followed, and he drove both away. He owed Mrs. Cradock some money, and wanted to pay her. I then took him home and sent for Mr. Pound.

By prisoner:- When I first called you out at home. I did tell you to make your escape, and offered you some money to go, but on second thoughts I thought I was wrong, and would not let you go. I was so frightened at first I hardly knew what to do.

The Chairman told this witness he could not let him stand down without observing that he had conducted himself with an honesty and intelligence that reflected on him the highest credit.

Richard Cradock:- I was at the yard and saw two pigs, one marked blue near the tail; and did not belong to me but I had others in the yard. Prisoner claimed the two.

Mr. Roper again called, deposed that the two pigs corresponded in weight, size, &c, with those which he lost.

The usual testimony was then given of prisoner having been capitally convicted in the August assizes 1821, of stealing a mare.

Guilty, on both indictments.

Transported for life.


West Kent Guardian - Saturday 02 October 1841.


An accident, which at the time threatened very serious consequences, occurred on Saturday night to the "Wonder" omnibus (driven by R. Hodgskin,) on its return from Gravesend to Maidstone, in passing over Bluebell Hill. It appears that one of the horses, in slowly ascending the hill, got his bit entangled in the pole chain. The omnibus was very heavily loaded, being full inside, and having eight person's outside. On attempting to pull up at the door of the "Blue Bell Inn," the coachman found that he had no control over the horse, which had become entangled, the ostler was not at hand to block the wheel, and the vehicle began to descend the hill at a rapid pace. The night was very dark, and the speed of the vehicle increased at every step, rocking fearfully. The attempt to pull up at the bottom of the first the declivity was useless, as one of the reigns broke, and the only alternative which remained was to run the vehicle into a heap of stones on the roadside, before reaching the Lower Bell Hill. This was happily accomplished, and the vehicle stopped without overturning, and without injury to the passengers, who, however, were much alarmed.


Kentish Gazette, 15 January 1850.

Sudden Death.

On Thursday se’nnight, Mr. John Tester (better known by the name of Bensted), farmer, residing near the "Hook-and-Hatchet," on the Chatham Boxley-road, was found dead, lying beside his horse and cart, opposite the gate of his farm-yard. It appeared on the inquest, that the deceased left home on Wednesday afternoon with his horse and cart, in apparent good health; he called at the "Blue Bell," and proceeded on to the "Hook-and-Hatchet," where he continued drinking till ten o’clock, when the landlord assisted him into his cart, being "rather the worse for liquor," and he left for home. At one o’clock the following morning, his son became uneasy at his absence, and sent James Smith, the under-bailiff, to look after him, who on going out of the gate saw the horse and cart standing close by, and his master lying in the road. He immediately called his son, and they together removed the body into the house. The son immediately despatched a messenger to Chatham for Mr. Steddy, who, on his arrival, pronounced him dead. Vardict, "Died of Apoplexy." The deceased was 71 years of age, and of eccentric habits.


From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 19 February 1859. Price 1d.


A case of sudden death, which occurred near the “Upper Bell Inn,” Blue Bell Hill, near Maidstone, on the night of the 20th Jan., has excited the animadversion in the neighbourhood. At the date mentioned, a woman of somewhat eccentric habits, named Mary Hardy, unmarried, and about 69 years old, who had lived for a few weeks previously in a cottage not far from the “Bell,” called about nine o'clock in the evening upon a female neighbour, residing in a cottage not far off, and after conveying with her for some time, left to proceed home. She was observed at the time to appear unwell, but did not complain of illness. About an hour afterwards, Mr. Smith, a miller, employed at the windmill situated a short distance off, on returning home from his work, observed something lying in the road, and getting over the hedge from the field in which he was, found the dead body of a female, still warm, and lying in a pool of blood. He at once procured assistance from the cottages in hand, and it being ascertained who the deceased was, she was conveyed to her own residence. Mr. Kingsnorth, the overseer of the parish of Burham, who is proprietor of the Windmill, at which Smith works, was then informed of the circumstances, and directed that a surgeon from Aylesford, should be sent for. The medical man, however, on hearing that the person was already dead, declined to attend, alleging that he could, of course, render no assistance. Next day application was made to the coroner at Town Malling, but as the police-constable who gave him information of the death could not state that it was attended with any suspicions of violence, he also declined to go and see the body; giving as his reason the determination of the county magistrates to allow no expenses for inquests, where death had occurred from natural causes. There then remained nothing to do but to bury the body, which was done by order of the overseer, at the expense of the parish; the cost of the coffin and funeral, however, being more than covered by a small sum of money, and a silver watch, which was discovered in deceased's cottage. It should also be mentioned that although Mary hardy, when she sent off to return home from the cottage previously mentioned appeared to be unwell, and that it was thence inferred that she had fallen down in a fit in the road, it was found, on examining the body, that there was a severe lacerated bruise on her forehead, and that she lay in “a stream of blood,” two feet long. The question that arises out of this is, was it or was it not a proper case for investigation by a coroner and jury! If it was, then it becomes certain that a failure of public justice has been caused in order of the magistrates respecting the holding of inquests, and the refusal to pay the expenses unavoidably incurred by such enquiries. This must tend greatly to diminish the security which everybody formerly enjoyed as to protection for life, or the most vigorous means of prosecuting a murderer, should death occur through felonious violence. We may add that Mary Hardy is reported to have been a perfectly sober woman, of respectable character, though of reserved and solitary disposition.


The road past the pub was just a slip-lane onto the southbound A229 was closed off in 2003 and the pub closed fairly soon after having been deprived almost totally of passing traffic. The village had already been bypassed by the A229 from 1983, so from then on trade was difficult. This must have been the last straw and by March 2005 it had been boarded up.


Project 2014 has been started to try and identify all the pubs that are and have ever been open in Kent. 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.



WALTER Thomas 1838+ Wright's Topography 1838

BROOKER George 1881-1903+ (age 41 in 1881Census) Kelly's 1903

LE GASSICK Francis Nettleton 1923-54

MAGUIRE Patrick 1954-57 Next pub licensee had


Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838


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:-