DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1867-

Druids Arms

Latest 1908+

12 Market Street

Deal

Druid's Arms

Above photo shows the building on site of old "Druid's Arms," date unknown, looking from Market Street to King's Street, (Low building fore-front of picture.)

 

From the Deal, Walmer, and Sandwich Mercury, 16 June, 1870. 1d.

CAUGHT AT LAST

Henry Pitcher, a young man dressed in sailor's clothes, but described as a peg-maker, was brought up by P.S. Soicer, charged with being drunk and fighting in the public streets early the same morning.

P.S. Spicer said: I was on duty in Lower Street about a quarter to one o'clock, and heard a great noise of holloaing and shouting in Market Street. I went there, and saw two men fighting and about ten or twelve others in the street. The prisoner and a man named Edward Holness were the two that were fighting, and I apprehended Pitcher for being drunk and riotous in the public street. I was alone, and could therefore only take one into custody. I brought the prisoner into the station. He had been drinking, but was not so drunk as not to know what he was about. I can't say where the prisoner and the other men had come from, but they were near to the "Druid's Arms." I afterwards asked the landlord of the "Druid's Arms" whether he knew anything of the row, and he said he did not, but they commenced in his house and he at once turned them out. The prisoner was very noisy in the streets on Saturday night week, and again last Saturday night also.

I defence Prisoner said Holness wanted to fight inside the public-house, and when he left Holness and his brother both set upon him, and he then turned on them.

The Superintendent said the prisoner had been in custody upon a similar charge before. The police had recently had considerable trouble in clearing the streets at night-time of persons of the same class as the prisoner, and the thing had now got to such a pitch that something must be done to put a stop to it.

After a short consultation, the Mayor said a previous conviction was very much against the prisoner, and he must therefore be chastised. He would be sentenced to seven days' imprisonment.

The Magistrates requested the Superintendent to caution the landlord of the "Druid's Arms," as there was no doubt the prisoner had come from there.

Supt. Parker said he believed the house was closed at a quarter to twelve.

 

From an issue of Bygone Kent Vol 15 No 4. October 1994.

DEATH AT THE DRUIDS

By Julie Deller

A good public house provides far more than liquor. It is a port of call for locals, friends and street acquaintances meet there, presided over by a landlord who acts out his role as Mine Host and there may even be a pretty barmaid to make the older gentlemen think - for a while at least - that they are young again! A pub needs to be a comfortable and happy place. This is the story of one which was neither.

In October 1901 "The Druid's Arms," a Thompson's house in Deal's old Market Street, became the scene of a most miserable death. It may not have been reported as a tragedy, but for those who knew the landlord it was a tragic ending for his life.

Mr and Mrs Browning had lived and worked at the "Druid's Arms" for thirty two years. It was, of course, far too close to the "Providence Inn," it most popular public house where whisky was served from six in the morning until eleven at night. Tripe and onions was a dish always on the Bill of Fayre and the pub also sold milk. Doubtless the Deal boatmen gathered there during those long opening hours and there Is little doubt that "The Providence Inn," also a Thompson house, did a better trade than the "Druid's Arms."

Map

William Browning worked on the beach helping to launch the boats for fishing in winter and trips to the Downs for summer visitors. During August of 1899 he broke his leg. Unable to carry on his boat work he began to worry as money became short.

In turn Mrs Browning worried about her husband. She suggested he went to the doctor to gel a tonic to 'brace him up', but he refused, although, as his wife said, he knew that he was just not as he used to be - not himself. He was always tired and left his wife to serve the few customers who came into the bar. They began to discuss leaving the pub for a less tiring kind of business. A nice little tobacconist's shop, where they could sell mineral waters, seemed a good idea, yet Mr Browning, feeling depressed, could not make the decision. Finally, after two years of poor health, he agreed to give notice to the Brewery.

The morning before they were due to leave the "Druid's Arms," Mr Browning told his wife that he had stomach pains and diarrhoea, for weeks he had eaten very little and slept less. On that gloomy October afternoon Mrs Browning made a pot of tea and gave a cup to her husband who sat by the fire without speaking. Someone was heard coming into the bar, so Mrs Browning left her husband sitting by the light of the fire, to greet Mr Wraight who was a friend and anxious about Mr Browning's health. When Mrs Browning told him how poorly he was Mr Wraight said he would like to buy him a drink and Mr Browning then came from the kitchen and into the bar. He spoke to Mr Wraight and accepted his offer saying that he would have a glass or beer with some ginger beer, but his wife said that it was not good for his stomach upset, so Mr Wraight said 'Have a little drop or brandy - hot'. Mr Browning shook hands with Mr Wraight and returned to the kitchen where he once again took up his seat beside the fire. The room was dark, as Mrs Browning had not lit the gaslight. She gave her husband the brandy, which she had warmed, and suggested that he should go up to bed if he felt no better. Her husband said: 'I don't want to go to bed. You come back as soon as you've served; don't stop.'

Mrs Browning returned to the bar, lit the gas there and washed up a few glasses from around the room, chatting to a woman friend and Mr Wraight. After about ten minutes she excused herself saying that her husband was sitting in the dark and she must light the gas bracket in the kitchen. Soon after she was to return to the bar shrieking 'Fetch Mr Wraight. Something's wrong'.

Something was very wrong indeed. Mr Browning had hanged himself. Mr Wraight dashed out after the distracted woman and saw the body of Mr Browning suspended from a beam in the outside closet. He quickly cut him down and did his best to revive him but, after a few breaths, he was soon quite dead.

An Inquest was opened on the following morning with a jury which included, amongst the twelve good men and true, some well known Deal names. The Foreman was Mr F. Roberts and there were two near neighbours: Mr W. Hunnisett the Linen Draper in the High Street and Mr E. Inkpen the Coal Merchant of 3 Market Street. The Brewers were represented by Messrs A. Morton and B. Turner.

Mary Jane Browning stated that she lived at the "Druid's Arms." She then identified the body, just viewed by the Jury, as that of her husband William Browning, licensed Victualler, and went on to tell the melancholy story of the previous afternoon. He had, she said, lived at the Druid's Arms since 1869. His only trouble was that they were leaving the house because they were unable to pay their way since her husband had broken his leg and could not take on beach work. 'He was not given to worrying about things until the last two years,' she said, but she knew that he did not really want to give up the business. She thought that he was so worried about leaving that it had preyed on his mind.

Mrs Browning explained how she had left her husband sitting by the kitchen fire, but when she returned he was not there. She took a lighted candle and went upstairs to look for him, thinking that he had decided, after all, to go to bed, although he had not told her as he usually did. She looked in at the private closet, but he was not there, so she opened the back door and called to him. There was no answer and she thought that, having seemed so drowsy, he might have fallen asleep in the public closet in the yard. She then opened the door of the yard closet and saw her husband's body hanging from a beam. She added that she remembered calling for Mr Wraight, but had no clear memory of anything else at that time.

Mr Wraight went at once and cut down the body, saying that he thought there was still some life in it. In his evidence Mr Wraight said that, when he cut down the body there was still life in it and he carried it into the kitchen asking Mrs Browning to send for a doctor, but one could not be found for some time and when the doctor did arrive Mr Browning was dead.

'I quite thought that I was going to restore him,' said Mr Wraight. 'The string I cut from the body was no thicker than a penholder and he breathed for about half a minute afterwards.' Mr Wraight stated that the deceased's feet were about four inches clear of the ground. After cutting him down the witness said that he blew into his mouth to get the lungs to work and kept rubbing at him, so as to get the breath in. He had always found this the best thing to do, but no one came to assist him. The Coroner said 'You acted very promptly, but I doubt if that is the most approved method which is to let them lie on their back and work the arms gradually up and down'. (These days Mr Wraight's method would have been praised.) Mr Wraight rejoined with 'I always thought that Christians were the same as dumb animals and that is the best way to restore them. I could not get a doctor so I doctored him as well as I could myself, but I saw no sign of life after, except a gasp or two'.

Representing Thompson's the Brewer, Mr Turner said that he would  like to state that the Browings were leaving the house at their own request. The hope for a tobacconist's shop was then mentioned: he had told them that, if they wished to leave they could do so, but it was not necessary to serve them with notice. Several months later the Brownings informed him that they had found a place and would remove the best part of the furniture and leave the other for valuation. Thompson's had found another tenant and the change was to have taken place that day. The deceased owed no money and Mr Turner made it very clear that the Brownings had never had pressure placed upon them to leave. It was of their own accord and at their own request. Dr Hardman (Coroner) asked if the Browmings were 'getting past the proper management of the house', to which Mr Turner replied 'They could manage the house all right, but people seldom come in to see old people'. 'Was business falling of?' asked Dr Hardman. 'It was about the same as the last few years, but they paid the firm very regularly,' said Mr Turner.

In summing up the Coroner placed some emphasis on how 'satisfactory' it had been to have the representative of Messrs Thompson's present and to know that - as it was supposed - there had been no harsh action from the firm to the tenants. They were leaving of their own accord. He added that it was probably reasonable to suppose that the breaking or old associations might, to some extent, have weighed upon the mind or Mr Browning, also parting from a home where he had lived for over thirty years could have had a depressing effect. He said that, if the Jury coupled these thoughts with the evidence given by the widow he felt that they would have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion as to the state or deceased's mind at the time he took his life. A verdict was returned 'at once' on suicide during temporary insanity.

The local newspaper carried the notice or Mr Browning's death with nothing more than: 'BROWNING October 15th, at the Druid's Arms, Market Street, Deal, William Browning, aged 67 years'.

Some time later the Druid's Arms became the Druid's Supper Rooms, under the management of a Mr Catt who later founded Catt's Restaurant which was so popular in Deal until the 1970s.

 

Editor's Note

The licensing Act of 1872 restricted pub opening hours in England. In towns, pubs could now only stay open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. It was an unpopular measure. A further licensing Act in 1902, aimed at reducing Britain's pubs by one third, did away with many undesirable (or only marginally profitable) houses. Perhaps the "Druid's Arms" was in this category and it may have been the cause of the landlord's worries.

 

 

No licensee mentioned but the Deal Licensing Register mentioned this as an alehouse in 1867.

 

LICENSEE LIST

BROWNING William Nov/1869-1901+ Deal MercuryPost Office Directory 1874Post Office Directory 1882Post Office Directory 1891Kelly's 1899

JENNINGS G 1908+ Pikes 1908

 

Post Office Directory 1874From the Post Office Directory 1874

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Post Office Directory 1891From the Post Office Directory 1891

Kelly's 1899From the Kelly's Directory 1899

Pikes 1908From Pikes 1908

Deal MercuryFrom the Deal Walmer & Sandwich Mercury

 

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

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