Page Updated:- Monday, 27 September, 2021.


Earliest 1740-

Eight Bells

Latest 1995+

Wingham Well

Eight Bells

Above photo, date unknown, kindly sent by Debi Birkin.

Eight Bells late 1900s

Above photo kindly sent by Raymond Beeching, showing the "Eight Bells" circa 1900. He goes on to say that the photo shows his great great grandfather; son and daughter, his son HAROLD GURR was the licence of the "Eight Bells;" which can be seen above the doorway.

Eight Bells 1993

Above shows the Eight Bells as seen in 1983.

Eight Bells 2009

Former Eight Bells as seen from Google Maps 2009.

Eight Bells 2011 Eight Bells 2011

Above 2 photographs by Paul Skelton, 31 May 2011.

Former Eight Bells 2015

Above photo showing the premises in 2015.

Eight Bells card 1953Eight Bells card 1953

Above card issued March 1953. Sign series 4 number 11.


The pub was known as a beerhouse in 1907, but the premises can be traced back to 1740. The pub takes its name from the eight musical bells which were re-cast from the original six at St Mary's Church in Wingham in 1719.

Earliest reference found so far is in the Wingham Division Ale Licence list, which shows the "Eight Bells," Wingham, (assumed to mean Wingham Well), to be re-licensed for the sum of 8 shillings in 1740 indicating that the pub was present before 1740.

The "Inns of Sport; Whitbread & Co. Ltd.; 1949 says the following about the pub:-

"But to go back to Canterbury and our fishing. There is an inn at Wingham Well, six miles east of the city, which they call The "Eight Bells" and from it you can fish that charming river, the Little Stour or, indeed, its parent river, the Stour itself. [...] The "Eight Bells" was built about 1719 and it has gone through almost every stage of the noble hierarchy of beer, for it began as a malthouse, became a brewery and is now an inn."

The pub gained an extension to the licensing hours in 1950, making Summer Time hours all year round, after being put to the Magistrates at the Wingham Licensing Sessions, with a petition of 66 people and the payment of an extra 575 monopoly value. The pub was now allowed to open for a maximum 8 hours a day.

I am not certain when the house finally closed, but it is now registered as a listed building with the following description:-

Public house. Dated 1779. Painted brick and plain tiled roof. Two storeys and attic on plinth with half-hipped roof and central stack. Regular fenestration of 3 glazing bar sashes on first floor and 2 on ground floor with central boarded door in double rebated surround dated 1779 in tympanum. Single storey wing to right with 2 wooden casements and boarded door.

Listing NGR: TR2309156654


From the Kentish Chronicle and General Advertiser, 18 January, 1862. Price 1 1/2d.


T. T. Delasaux, Esq, coroner, held an inquest on Tuesday, at the “Eight Bells,” on the body of Thomas Measdy, aged 27 years, a waggoner in the service of Mr. Ratcliffe, of Goodnestone. His death was caused by the near wheels of a waggon passing over him.

Charles Baker:— I live at Goodnestone and was mate to the deceased who was waggoner to Mr. Ratcliffe. I was returning from Canterbury with the deceased. We had a waggon and three horses under our charge, and when we had got within a short distance of Wingham Well, we met a horse that had run away and which frightened our horses and they started off, deceased being at the time in the waggon and I driving them. As the horse that had run away was coming up the hill, I stopped my three horses and caught the horse. There was another young man in the waggon with the deceased who got out and took the horse from me. I then started off, and the deceased was getting out of waggon when he fell, and the wheels passed over his neck, and killed him. I believe that in getting down the deceased touched one of the horses, which made it kick, and thus threw the deceased.

The jury found a verdict of “Accidental Death.”


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 14 March, 1884. 1d.


Mr. H. T. Johnson, of Canterbury, applied for a temporary authority to sell until the next transfer day, to be granted to Robert Hammond, in respect of the “Eight Bells Inn,” Wingham Well.

Superintendent Kewell opposed the application on the grounds of immoral character of the wife of Hammond, but it was decided to grant permission until the next transfer day.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 7 March, 1919.


Mr. K. A. Mowll appealed for the renewal of the licence of the "Eight Bells," Wingham, with which the Magistrates had objected to on the grounds of redundancy.

Superintendent Stone said that the tenant was Mr. H. Gann and the owners were Messrs. Bushell, Watkins nd Co. The tenant was in the employ of the Wingham Agricultural Employment Co. It was used by field workers. There were 80 cottages that might use the house. The nearest public house was the "Volunteer," at Bramling.

Lord Northbourne to the tenant - Do you think your customers take too much? - No, my lord, they do not have enough (laughter).

Mr. A. K. Mowll said that in other words it might be said that there were licensed houses in the immediate vicinity, but in this case there were no licensed houses anywhere near.


From the Dover Express, 20 October 1933.


The “Eight Bells," Canterbury was granted an occasional licence for a sale at Claypits Farm, Goodnestone, on 26th October.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 26 August, 1938. Price 1d.


A Dene Hole has been discovered in the garden of the “Eight Bells,” Wingham Well, which is close to Bramley Down, near Littlebourne. The surface collapsed when workmen were investigating a sinking in the ground. The cavity is 20ft. deep, 30ft. x 18ft. with a pitch of from 8ft. to 14ft., and there are several side tunnels. The side road, under which the cave runs, has been closed.

There are many such cavities, known as Dene Holes, in East Kent. The purpose for which they were made is a matter of surmise. Some schools of thought regard them as ancient hiding places, whilst others believe they were excavations to get a particular strata of chalk that was best for use on the land.

Above shows the layout of the Dene hole found at the pub. Kindly supplied by Paul Wells.


Position of Dene hole

Above map showing the position of the Dene hole.

Dene hole entrance

Above picture showing the entrance to the Dene hole, supplied by Paul Wells.

Inside Dene hole

Inside the Dene hole, kindly supplied by Paul Wells.

Inside Dene hole

Inside the Dene hole, kindly supplied by Paul Wells.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 14 July, 1939.


An application was made for approval for plans for the conversion of the public bar of the "Eight Bells," Wingham Well, into a saloon bar, and improvements to the living accommodation.

The Chairman said that as the licence had changed hands so often the bench had thought of referring the licence, so they hardly thought they could ask the brewers to spend money on it. Therefore the application would be deferred.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 11 March, 1949.


William A. V. Ralestone, licensee of the "Eight Bells," Wingham, was granted a billiards licence, to enable bar billiards to be played at his house.


From the 1948 Whitbread & Co Ltd 'Inns of Kent'

"From the landlord at the "Swan," in Wickhambreux came rumours of portentous happenings at the "Eight Bells" at Wickham Well - no more than four or five miles away south of the Canterbury-Sandwich road - and there in due course was unearthed a story surely unique in the long history of the English inn. A few years ago the landlord of the "Eight Bells" was disturbed over his evening chop by a sudden loud and disturbing rumbling under his very chair. For generations before this there had been noted strange matters, such as the oddly loud way in which people walking on the road outside could be heard as if from under the floor of the bar, and the way in which small subsidence's appeared in the floor from time to time, and so on, but nothing 'what one might say, definite, like'. At this loud rumbling the landlord jumped up in alarm and, looking round, found a subsidence a few feet from his back door. Thereupon a bucket of water soon produced a funnelling and further subsidence's (but as yet no evidence of brimstone and sulphur).

This was obviously a matter for Higher Authority and, in due course, came architects and builders, and after excavating, not without risk to life and limb, a vertical shaft with foot-holes, some eighteen feet deep cut into solid chalk, was found to lead into a main chamber 20 feet long. Thence seven smaller chambers led out and there is evidence of further tunnels which are marked down for excavation. As to what the chambers are, experts differ, opinions ranging from Neolithic dene holes of circa 2000 BC to an Early Christian meeting-place of the second century AD. It is true that there is a 'Dene Farm' marked on the one-inch Ordnance Survey map only a mile or so away; while local knowledge, pointing to where a 'lane' of corn is ripening more quickly than the rest of the field, will claim that it marks the line of a Roman road. This is probably true, for, although not so marked on the Ordnance map, in a district so heavily Romanised as this, local knowledge is often synonymous with fact.

Whichever construction the reader may wish to put on this phenomenon (and the writer has a sneaking idea that the smugglers of the eighteenth century may have known all about it), the fact remains that the caves are there for all to see. It is hoped that ladders will also be available for the more venturesome."


Eight Bells leafletEight Bells leaflet Inside the Eight Bells

Above leaflets and photo of the inside of the pub, kindly supplied by Paul Wells.


A web site accessed in 2016 said the premises had just been sold for 795,000 and it was described as 6 bedrooms detached.



HOLNESS John 1740+ Wingham Ale Licences 1740

TUCKER Edmund 1847+ Bagshaw's Directory 1847 (beerhouse)

GOLDFINCH George 1861+ Census

COCK John 1871+ (age 52 in 1871Census)

GANN Mr H early 1900s-1919+ Dover Express

GURR Harold 1922-Jan/23 Dover Express

COLEMAN Edward John Jan/1923+ Dover Express

FRIEND Mr G E Feb/1939 Dover Express (beerhouse)

RILSTONE/RALESTONE William A V Feb/1939-50+ Dover Express

PITTS Mr Sidney J 1952-74+ Dover ExpressLibrary archives 1974 Fremlins


Wingham Ale Licences 1740From Wingham Division Ale Licences 1740 Ref: KAO - QRLV 3/1

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Library archives 1974Library archives 1974

Dover ExpressFrom the Dover Express



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