Sort file:- Canterbury, November, 2023.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 19 November, 2023.


Earliest 1708

Eight bells

Open 2019+

34 London Road, St. Dunstan's


01227 454794 & 07903025193

Eight Bells Eight Bells

Above photos taken by Paul Skelton, 19 May 2012. Eight Bells sign 1968Eight Bells sign

Above sign left, 1968, sign right, 2012.

Eight Bells sign 1986Eight Bells sign 1991

Eight Bells sign left July 1986, sign right May 1991.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Eight Bells card 1951

Above aluminium card issued June 1951. Sign series 3 number 14.

Eight Bells 1965

Above photo taken by Edward Wilmot in 1965.

Eight Bells matchbox 1980s

Above matchbox, 1980s, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


Information taken from pub in picture frame.

There has stood on this site an inn known as the "Eight Bells" for two hundred and seventy seven years. The origin of the sign dates back to the eleventh century and the days when Inns and Taverns stood within the precincts of the parish churches. However many bells a particular church held determined the number given to the name of the Inn. In this instance the church of St. Dunstan's holds eight bells.

The first "Eight Bells" was built during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) in the year 1708, and was a rambling timber framed building, with commodious livery stables at the rear, where traveller's horses were kept at a charge or hired out. A sign depicting this service hung outside the Inn for over a century and a half, and read "Bait and livery stables." The word "Bait" is derived from an anglo-saxon word meaning "to feed" and was used to designate a meal taken by travellers to refresh them on a journey.

The first recorded owner of the "Eight Bells" was one Nathaniel Laythem, who is described as being a vesturer of the City of Canterbury.

Although an ever popular stopping place for countless travellers and local townspeople by the late nineteenth century the years and the climate has taken its toll and the Inn had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was finally demolished in 1898. Work started on the present "Eight Bells" in August 1898 and was completed early in 1899, having been built on the original foundations of the former Inn, and with many of its original timbers.

The Inn today still gives out that same generous glow of warmth and hospitality that it has done for over two and half centuries. So stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.


From the Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal 7 September 1819.


Free Public Houses and other estates,

To be Sold By Auction, By Messrs. White, (Without Reserve).

Pursuant to certain orders of the Vice Chancellor of Great Britain, and before the Major part of the Commissioners named and authorised in and by a Commission of bankrupt awarded and issued against Matthew William Sankey, of the City of Canterbury, brewer, dealer and chapman, at the Guildhall, of the said city of Canterbury, on Wednesday next, the 22nd day of September next, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, (subject to such conditions of sale as shall be then and there produced.)
The following very Valuable Freehold Estates, in Lots.

Valuable Brewery free public houses and other Estates to be sold by auction by Mrs White without reserve.

Lot 9. A Messuage called the "Eight Bells," with the yard, garden, and appurtenances, situated in St. Dunstans, (near Canterbury) in the said County, and now in the occupation of Mary Wachers, widow.


From the Kentish Gazette, 4 July 1843.

A young woman was found at half-past nine o'clock on Friday night last, on the road between Harbledown and Canterbury, in an almost dying state, with a child on her breast. Information was given to the Superintendent of Police, who despatched three of his men with a stretcher, and had her conveyed to the "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan’s. Mr. Holttum was sent for, who attended her, and it was more than half an hour before she was brought to a state of consciousness. She still remains there in a very weak state.

What makes the case worse is, some villain had the cruelty to rob her of nearly all her clothes while she lay helpless. She states that her name is Hilgrove, that she is 18 years of age; that her husband is a saddler, and left her with his father in Ireland to seek work, and she received a letter from him stating that he had got work in London; she went there with what trifle she could get together, thinking to meet him there, but his master had discharged him a few days before, having no more work for him. He said on leaving he should go to Canterbury to try for work, whither she proceeded from Gravesend on Friday with only 3d. in her pocket, and walked and carried her child to where she was found, and there dropped through exhaustion. Inquiry has been made by the police for her husband, but he has not been found.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 14 July, 1860.


(Before W. Plummer and E. Sankey, Esqrs.)

George Lancaster was charged with stealing one pair of trousers and a cup, of the value of 6s., from Mr. Thomas James, of the "Eight Bells Inn," St. Dunstan's street.

Prisoner was found by Police-constable Fowler and taken into custody, when he proceeded to the prisoner's house in Church-Lane, Northgate, and under the pillow of the prisoners bed he there found the cap and trousers.

The prisoner, who had nothing to say in his defence, was remanded.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 2 February, 1861.

The Supposed Coiner's Case.

Superintendent Davies’ statement of having seen the prisoner loitering about having been read, P.C. Fowler was examined who said, on Monday night about ten o'clock, I saw the prisoner come out of the "Eight Bells." He complained to me of some parties in there who had been ill-using him. I told him to go to the station-house but did not take him into custody. When at the station he was searched and a spoon and some plaster of Paris found upon him, but nothing else to convict him.

Prisoner was discharged.

(This could apply to the other "Eight Bells" in King street. Paul Skelton.)


From the Kentish Chronicle, 19 September, 1863.



Thomas James, son of the landlord of the “Eight Bells” public-house, St. Dunstan’s, was charged with furiously driving down St. Martin’s Hill, on the previous evening. The charge was preferred by H. G. Austin, Esq., J.P., who stated that he was returning to Canterbury on the previous evening, when he observed the prisoner with a tug on the road. The prisoner drove the tug about on the road as if with the view of preventing him from passing. At length Mr. Austin got his carriage past; but afterwards the prisoner drove his tug at a furious rate down the hill, as if with the intention of driving into Mr. Austin’s carriage. Fortunately, by drawing quite close to the side, an accident was prevented. When Mr. Austin reached the foot of the hill he found the tug standing outside the “Ship” public house, and when he endeavoured to ascertain the name of the owner the prisoner abused and threatened him. The magistrates fined the defendant 20s. and 6s. costs, with the alternative of twenty-one days' imprisonment in default.


Dover Express anmd East Kent Intelligencer 9 December 1865.

Burglary By An Old Offender.

At the City Police Court on Tuesday, a man named William Ward alias Macdonald, who has been several times convicted of felony, was charged with having burglariously entered the house of John Goodwin Fedarb, a newsman, living in Mill-lane, Canterbury, shortly before six o'clock on Thursday morning, and stealing therefrom a silver watch, two pair of cloth boots, one pair of Wellington boots, a blue striped shirt, a silk handkerchief, and a blank cloth mantle. It appeared from the evidence that the prosecutor got up between five and six o'clock on Thursday morning, and left home at about twenty minutes to six, fastening the front-door of his house as he went out.

A few minutes afterwards Mrs. Fedarb, who was in bed, heard a noise in the lower part of the house, and thinking it was caused by her husband, she called out "Are you not gone yet?" but did not receive any answer. Her daughter came into her bed-room, and just then the cathedral clock struck six. Presently the fire-irons were heard to rattle down stairs, and having listened a few minutes to see if any other noise was made, Mrs. Fedarb went down into the front parlour, and saw the door was open. She missed a silver watch and a pair of cloth boots, and all doubt as to what had become of these was removed when she discovered a pair of dirty old boots in the middle of the room, and which had evidently been left behind by the depredator in his hurry to get out of the house on finding there were others about besides himself. Mrs. Fedarb sent for the police, and later in the day the other articles named in the charge, and which were seen about the house on the previous day, were found to have been stolen.

Enquiries were instituted by Superintendent Davies, and the result was that suspicion fell on the prisoner, who on the night previous to the robbery had taken lodgings at the "Eight Bells," a low lodging-house opposite the prosecutor's house. When he went to the "Eight Bells" he was very drunk, and William Hogben, potman, noticed the prisoner wore the strange boots found in prosecutors front room. He got up between five and six o'clock on Thursday morning, and having obtained two or three lucifars from Hogben, he left the house.

It is probable that he then saw Mr. Fedarb come out of his house, thinking there was no one else at home, or that the other inmates were not about, prisoner by some means not yet discovered. He says he did not break anything in getting into the house, and it is not unlikely that Fedarb did not latch the door as supposed. Superintendent Davies sent a description of the prisoner to all the superintendents of police in the county, and on Saturday morning he was apprehended in Globe lane, Chatham. P. C. Kilby saw Ward going into a second-hand clothes shop kept by a Mrs. Mace, and inspecting he was the who had committed the burglary at Canterbury, he followed the prisoner into the shop and caught him in the act of selling the missing silver watch. He told prisoner he thought it was part of the proceeds of a burglary for which he was wanted, when Ward said he did not steel the watch, and that he had bought it nine months since.

Kilby then took the rascal before the great terror to evil doers, Superintendent Everist, who at once identified the fellow as an old acquaintance. At first Ward repudiated the friendship, but after a gentle reminder from Everist of a previous exploit in which he (prisoner) was the principal actor, the fellow exclaimed "All right master, you come to me to-morrow morning and I'll tell you all about where they are," meaning the stolen articles. He was then wearing a pair of boots which he admitted on the following day, were part of the proceeds of the robbery. He also admitted that he had taken the other property named in the indictment, and that he had sold it on his way from Canterbury, but as he came a round-about-read, he did not know where he had disposed of it. In answer to the usual question by the magistrates, prisoner said "I done the deed, bet I never broke nothing." He was than committed for trial at the assizes, which commence at Maidstone on Saturday the 16th December.


From the Dover Express, 22 October, 1869.

Public-house Offence.

On Thursday, Thomas James, proprietor of the "Eight Bells" public house, St. Dunstan's, was charged with unlawfully selling a certain quantity of beer in his house before half-put twelve on Sunday morning last. Defendant pleaded in extenuation that out of the four men who were in his house he gave a pint of beer each to two, they being in his house on business. The other two persons told him they had been travelling by road. The Supt, said the house was always kept very orderly. Fined 2s. 6d and 9s. costs.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 30 May 1891.


In our Police Court news last week we inadvertently described Henry Ditton, a publican convicted of keeping his house open during prohibited hours, as the landlord of the "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan's. The house kept by Hutton is the "Eight Bells," King's Street. The "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan's, is kept by a person of quite a different name, a highly respectable man, against whom there have been no police proceedings whatever.




LAYTHEM Nathaniel 1708-19

PRESCOTT Lucy 1719-25

GIBSON Henry 1725-38

PORTSMOUTH Thomas 1738-47

DARLING Thomas 1747-59

ANTIUM Edward 1759-70

WRAIGHT Richard 1770-82

PAYNE Jonathan 1782-95

COLE Isaac P 1795-1813

WACHERS Mary 1819 (widow)

STOKES Thomas 1813-24

STOKES Edward 1824-29 Pigot's Directory 1824

EDMED James 1829-45 (age 61 in 1841Census) Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34Stapletons GuidePigot's Directory 1840

MARSH John 1845-58?

JAMES Thomas 1847-82 Bagshaw's Directory 1847Melville's 1858Post Office Directory 1862Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Post Office Directory 1874

COURT William 1882-87 Post Office Directory 1882Historic Canterbury web site (livery and stables)

DALE William 1887-89

HOPKINS William Richard 1889-95 Historic Canterbury web sitePost Office Directory 1891

DITTON William 1891 (beer retailer age 63 in 1891Census)

POLLOCK James S 1895-1903

WINCHESTER Charles 1903-18? Post Office Directory 1903Kelly's 1903Historic Canterbury web site

HODGES G W 1913+ Post Office Directory 1913

WOOLSTEN Henry 1917-27? Historic Canterbury web site

FEIST John James Stanley 1922+ Post Office Directory 1922

MOON Henry John 1827-34 Post Office Directory 1930

GILDER Thomas James 1934-50 Post Office Directory 1938

GILDER Johnathan 1950-60

MOAT Jack 1960-84

WALLS Derek Alfred 1984-85

WALLS Maureen Kathleen Janet 1985-99

GEORGE June & BOWYER Roger 1999-2002

HUNT David and Hazel 2002-03

HUNT David 2003-06

TRUELOVE Kim & Ryan 2006+


Pigot's Directory 1824From the Pigot's Directory 1824

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

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

Stapletons GuideStapleton's Guide 1838

Pigot's Directory 1840From the Pigot's Directory 1840

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862

Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Greens Canterbury Directory 1868

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

Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1903

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Post Office Directory 1930From the Post Office Directory 1930

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938

Historic Canterbury web siteHistoric Canterbury web site


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