Page Updated:- Tuesday, 09 April, 2024.


Earliest 1606

Farriers Arms

Open 2020+

The Forstal



01233 720444

Farrier's Arms 1955

Above postcard, 1955. Kindly supplied by Rory Kehoe.

From and www.kentonline

Villagers reopen Farriers Arms pub in Mersham and

BBC South East's Bryony MacKenzie reports on the first pint of Farriers 1606.

By Luke Hollands. November 26 2009

IF BLANK SPACE SHOWN ABOVE, your browser won't play the video, so please CLICK HERE.

A village pub is set to reopen after locals clubbed together to save it from closure.

When pub-goers in Mersham heard the "Farriers Arms" was about to close they embarked on a plan to save the historic inn, which has been a key part of village life for more than 400 years. They decided to buy it.

Local businessman Richard Bishop banded together with more than 90 locals who each bought a share in the pub. Between them they helped stump up £430,000 for the purchase of the building from Punch Taverns Ltd, plus an additional £200,000 to pay for the renovation.

But as well as money, the new owners have invested their time and skills, including carpentry and plumbing.

Now after months of hard work the new-look "Farriers Arms" is to on Saturday.


By Bryony MacKenzie 23 November 2010

An abandoned east Kent village pub is celebrating its first year back in business with its own brew of bitter.

The "Farriers Arms" in Mersham, near Ashford, reopened in November 2009 after it was bought collectively by a group of villagers in April 2009.

It is now owned by 121 local shareholders and is making a profit.

The pub's bitter is brewed in what used to be the village forge. It is called Farriers 1606, named after the year the pub first opened.

Farriers 1606 is made from local east Kent hops. Everyone working at the micro-brewery is a volunteer.

Head brewer Richard Dixey said: "It was exciting but I was quite anxious at the same time.

"As it turned out I think we've brewed a very good pint of beer. Hopefully we'll sell a few more and we'll continue to make this particular brew our flagship."

The pub's shareholders hope that if the Farriers 1606 does well they will be able to extend their licence to sell it to other pubs.


Farriers Arms

Above photo kindly sent by Peter Moynahan, date unknown.

Farrier's Arms

Image by D G Seamon, published under the Creative Commons Licence.

Farrier's Arms drawing

Above image shows a line drawing of the "Farrier's Arms" taken from the Stone Green Farm website.

Farriers Arms sign 1974

Above sign 1974.

With thanks from Roger Pester

Farrier's Arms sign 1986Farrier's Arms sign 1991

Farriers Arms sign right April 1986, sign right July 1991.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Farriers Arms sign 2015

Above sign 2015.



In the hundred of Chart and Longbridge and ancient parish of Mersham, can be found the inn known by name and sign of the "Farriers Arms".

It was built in the 3rd year of Elizabeth I, in 1606. The water mill that lies behind the inn is mentioned in the doomsday survey, compiled in 1086. When first built the property was a farm dwelling forming part of the estate of one Simon Tindle of Ashford. In 1632, whilst still in the hands of Tindle the blacksmith's forge and stables were built. The earliest recorded blacksmith to occupy the forge and cottage is one Elias Wheeler, Farrier formerly of Bilsington. He occupied the property with his family until his death in 1673 whereupon his son Thomas took over the family business. In 1678, Thomas Wheeler, his wife Anne and his mother Martha are all recorded as blacksmith's.

In 1683, the property was owned by Richard Tindle, nephew of Simon who died in 1667 with no apparent heirs and so his estate passed to Richard by right of descendancy. The Wheelers were still in occupation and operating their business. In 1694, Thomas Wheeler, purchased the freehold of the property from the executors of the Tindle estate. He died in 1716 and left it and the business to his sons James and William. William Wheeler died in 1742 and James became the sole possessor. He died in 1761 and left everything to his son Thomas, who possessed of the property until 1772 when he sold the property to one Johnathan Epps and moved to Aldington and carried on a smithies business there. Years later, his son Thomas Junior, was convicted of smuggling and deported to Tasmania, along with other members of the infamous Ransley gang.

On the 19th April 1780, a man named John Back, who was probably the owner at the time, left the house in his will to his wife. The premises may have been referred to as the Blacksmith's Arms at that time. Records state that one Edward Back at the "Farrier's Arms" Uphill from 1800 to 1810 was living in Bell House.

John Epps worked the forge until 1802 when his son John Junior took over the business. John Epps Senior died in 1816. In April 1806 John Epps Junior married Mary Ransley. She was the sister of William and James Ransley who in 1800 had been hanged at Maidstone for highway robbery, and the cousin of George Ransley who later led the infamous Aldington gang of smugglers.

John Epps Senior and his son were both known to have taken part in the brewing of ales, and at one time the house may have been an unlicensed "tap" or "Blind Pig" as they were often referred to. In 1828, John Epps Junior sold the house and forge to one William Prebble, farrier and common beer seller, who in 1829 was granted a licence to sell ales and ciders from a premises at Mersham. He called these premises the "Farriers Arms".

On 14th January 1884, Miss Mayan Poulter sold the premises to a John Newman Longley, who was already a tenant, for the sum of £600. He sold it two years later on 28th October, 1886 to Alfred Smith, who was a brewer.

The inn has seen and undergone many changes over the years. It probably stood host to George Ransley and his gang of smugglers, before it became a licensed house. Many of its early keepers through-out the nineteenth century were smithies and still worked the forge as well as running the inn. In 1855 Richard Chamberlain, farrier, held a licence here and did so for many years to come. However nothing has changed the character of the inn. So stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.


From the Telegraph 15 Sep 2010

Farriers Arms


The "Farriers Arms" was built in 1606 and unfortunately closed in 2008, after being run down for years and was likely to have been another lost village pub to add to the list, but the locals decided to do something about this trend and clubbed together to buy and run the pub themselves.

It is estimated that about 121 locals and interested parties put their money, time and enthusiasm together, bought the grade 2 listed building and are now running it as a thriving business and hub of the community.

Extensive renovations have taken place and the locals converted the pub from almost derelict to what it is now in just 6 months and reopened on 28th November 2009. There is even a solid brass brass foot-rail – from former premises of The Mariners' Mission in Hong Kong!

Excellent new toilets with marble tiling throughout have been added. A completely new bar area was constructed in English oak by one of the excellent local tradesmen. A new kitchen and forty seat restaurant has been added to the existing small but cosy dining room now called 'The Anvil Restaurant'. The garden and patio areas have been completely reconstructed using reclaimed materials. All the above work was been carried out by local trades people and other community members, for the most part free of charge. Five acres of land at the rear of the pub are also being used for various village functions.

Many functions have been held at the pub including a fireworks party of November 5th and a beer festival in 2011 in which the locals are saying it was one of the best they have even attended, with the organisers really knowing their beers.

They should do actually, as the pub also houses their own micro-brewery housed in what used to be the old forge next door, and brew such as their flagship "Farriers 1606," a 3.7% beer named after the year the premises was built. To date, other beers also produced on the premises include Bishops Brew stout (special), Christmas Ale (special and currently enjoying its second outing), Summer Gold and Harvest Plenty, and they say others will follow as time progresses.


Farriers beer lables

The pub also put on other entertainment during the year and one local says the following:- "The beer and music festival was fantastic; such a great atmosphere with the very young up to the not so young members of the village, and people from outside who love to come to the pub and are made to feel so welcome." They hold an annual village fete in their garden which also has a trout stream running through it with a bridge across to a private field where children play and other functions can take place including their new Pétanque/Boules piste. 

The pub is also reputed to be haunted but I have heard no stories relating to this as yet.


From the Kentish Gazette, 16 July, 1850

Kentish Gazette, 9 July 1850 &

From the Kentish Gazette, 16 July, 1850




On Tuesday, the 23rd of July, 1850, at Four o'clock at the "Royal Oak Inn," Ashford, and old established FREEHOLD PUBLIC-HOUSE, called the "Farriers' Arms" situate in the parish of MERSHAM, in the county of Kent, with a substantial and compact Brewhouse, Store rooms, and Lofts, large Yards and Sheds, two three-stall stables and Chaishouse, a capital Graden, well stocked with fruit trees, bounded by the river Stour, and now in occupation of Mr. W. Prebble.

The purchaser may have immediate possession.

These premises offer many advantages for carry on the business of a brewer, as well as a licensed victualler. There is no beer-shop or other licensed house in the parish, nor any within a distance of 2 miles. If purchased by a brewer, the outbuildings may be easily converted into cottages.

For further particulars apply to Messrs. Furley and Mercer, Solicitors; Mr. John Williams, Wine Merchant, New Street; or the Auctioneers, Ashford.


Kentish Gazette, 10 February 1852.

Ashford. PETTY SESSIONS, Saturday, Feb. 7.

(Before J. B. Wildman, Esq., and Bench of Magistrates).

Thomas Tourney, of the "Farriers' Arms Inn," Mersham, was summoned by Superintendent Gifford for Sunday trading. It being the first offence, he was fined only to the amount of the costs, with a caution.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 5 March 1881.

Mersham. Sad Death of a Schoolboy.

Dr. Johnson, Deputy-Coroner for East Kent, held an inquest at the "Carriers' Arms Inn," sic on Wednesday, touching the death of David James Bishops, 9 years, son of Mr. Edward Bishop, deceased, a clerk in the British Museum. Mr. D. Swaffer was chosen foreman.

Thomas Harnden, a little boy attending the Mersham school, deposed that on the previous Monday, he and about a dozen other boys were having a game at hare hunting between school hours. They had not been playing very long before they got into the marshes through which the River Stour runs. When deceased was in the act of crossing the dyke at the mouth of the river he missed his footing and slipped into the water, which was higher than usual, and running very strongly. Deceased was carried down the stream rapidly for some distance, but witness never heard him cry for assistance. Witness got a stick for him to take hold of, but he was quite out of reach. Witness call to Harry Taylor, another of the boys engaged in the game, who was on the opposite side of the river. When Taylor came up he asked witness to throw the stick across to him, as Bishop was nearer to him than to witness. Taylor got the stick and held it out, but Bishop could not take hold of it, and he disappeared from sight. Ernest Wilson, another of the boys, went directly to the schoolmaster, but when he arrived deceased could not be found.

Henry Taylor, the boy mentioned by the lad Harnden, said he was one in the game of hare hunting. In running through the marshes he heard the last witness call for him to come up. He ran and saw Bishop in the water, and held out the stick to him as stated, and tried to assist him, but he sank directly.

George Gower, miller, Mersham, deposed that, hearing that the boy Bishop was drowned, he with others searched the river, but did not find the body until about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 22nd.

The Coroner asked whether any adult person could have been of any assistance to the deceased.

The witness replied that the river was so high and running so swiftly that it would have been impossible to have rescued him.

Others present said they never saw the river running so fiercely before.

The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned."


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. 3 March 1900. Price 1d.


Charles Reuben Ring, landlord of the “Farriers' Arms,” Mersham, was fined £5 and £1 10s. 8d. costs for selling adulterated rum, whisky, and brandy, in January. The accused was that Mrs. Ring in “breaking down” the spirits had made a mistake.


From the Whitstable Times, 6 September, 1902.

Matilda M. Lankstead, landlady of the “Farriers Arms,” Mersham, pleaded guilty to selling brandy, gin, and whisky, below the standard required. She said their was but small sale for the spirits and she had neglected to put in proof spirit to make up for evaporation. Superintendent Bailey handed in certificates which showed that the brandy was 4.4 degrees below the limit, the gin 6.2 degrees and the whisky 7.83 degrees. Fines of £2, £8, and £5, in respect of the three spirits, with 10s. costs in each case were imposed, a total of £18 10s.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 21 March 1903.

George Manuel, landlord of the "Farriers' Arms," Mersham, was fined £2 and 10s. costs for selling gin 3.5 per cent, below the legal limit. He stated that the gin in question was some that was left in the house when he took it. All the other spirits had been replenished by himself, and these turned out to be pure.


Farrier's Arms business card 1955

Above business card circa 1955.

Kentish Express, Friday 20 June 1980.

£50,000 House Fire.

The home of a Mersham publican was destroyed by fire during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The house, on the Esplanade at Sandgate, belongs to the landlord and landlady of the "Farriers Arms," Mike and Pat Smithers.
Firemen from Folkestone fought for several hours to contain the blaze.

Afterwards a spokesman said the fire could have been started by an electrical fault in the bathroom. Damage has been estimated at more than £50,000.


From the Fri 9 Oct 2015.

The village that bought its own pub.

When his local fell to ruin, Richard Bishop stepped in to save it – with a little help from 100 other villagers. 10 years on, the Farriers Arms in thriving.

Farriers Arms locals 2015

Some of the villagers – now shareholders – who clubbed together to buy the Farriers.

Round 50 years ago, I walked into the Farriers Arms and ordered my first pint. I was 14. Later, I’d sneak in with my friends and buy a pint of mild ale, the only one we could afford. For decades it was part of my life – and of many of the villagers here in Mersham, Kent – but then about 10 years ago people started drifting away. New management took over and it became a ghost pub.

On a rare visit I remember a woman serving behind the bar with her washing hanging near the log fire. Everything was damp. It felt like the last straw. The pub closed soon after, in 2008, and was boarded up. Then squatters broke into it.

We all feared it would follow the same fate as pubs in a similar state, get redeveloped or even knocked down. No one wanted that to happen – the Farriers Arms had been around since 1606.

I couldn’t stand by and watch the poor building fall apart. Everyone in the village wanted it back up and running, so I thought: let’s save it. The first time I contacted the company seven years ago it wasn’t interested in selling, but about a year later, after it had closed, it came back and said: “If you want to put in an offer, we’ll consider it.”

I’d been running my own business since I was 21, so it was natural to look at it as a commercial venture. I offered £430,000 and the company accepted it, with the agreement that I had a month to raise the money from the village.

The best place to start was knocking on doors, and soon other people were helping to raise money. We ended up with a sum that not only bought the pub, but also paid for its redecoration and more. Our local fundraising came to £845,000 and, within a year, we built a microbrewery in one of the outbuildings.

Seven of us formed a committee and we sent a questionnaire to all our investors – who had given anything from £5,000 to £50,000 – asking them what they wanted the pub to offer customers; live music, quiz nights, pub games and so on.

I launched it under an enterprise investment scheme. We bought the property next door and built a new kitchen, which houses our head chef. We rebuilt the restaurant and replaced the manky carpet with stone and oak boards. We created the bar from reclaimed timbers and someone bought the bar foot rail on eBay – it was originally from a fishermen’s mission in Hong Kong.

Head Brewer

Head brewer Richard Dixey (left) and his right hand man Barry Dinning manage the microbrewery that has been built in one of the pub’s outbuildings.

One of our great strengths is that everyone (we have 115 shareholders) has different skills. We have eight full-time staff and 12 part-time, and then our shareholders who work for free.

We’ve got a couple of electricians, a glut of plumbers, people with planning experience, painters and decorators. There’s an area that everyone can take care of, from painting and building, to looking after the paperwork, flower arranging and upholstering the chairs.

We also have a master brewer and a chemical engineer, who advises on contamination in the brewing process.

It is an awful lot of work. We hold events on a regular basis in the field behind the pub: bonfires, village fetes and a beer festival, which attracts around 5,000 people a year.

There’s a massive amount of community spirit all around the country, but often it’s not harnessed. What we’ve learned is that if you can band together you get listened to and it brings out the best in people. Recently, we discovered that a big company wants to develop a massive warehouse nearby, something we’re challenging through our local group, Village Alliance, which has come into being as a direct result of the pub.

Jackie Bates

Jackie Bates is one of the pub’s menu writers. The pub is run in true community spirit with everyone chipping in to do tasks.

Along with a general feeling that change can happen, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie. We’ve been going for more than six years now, and these days we have a few widowers who find friendship and comfort in the group. We’re inundated with people who are close to retirement too. One member of the brewing team always said to me: “I don’t know what I’d have done if you hadn’t knocked on my door.”

We’re turning over three-quarters of a million and now make a profit each year. Shareholders receive a dividend, and can request to take it as an enhanced voucher to spend in the pub. When people have died, their shares have been passed on to their children rather than sold; people who have invested in this see it as a truly beneficial project.

Whenever we offer our shareholders a discount in the pub, the answer is always unanimously: “No, we want to pay the same as everyone else.” None of us makes a financial profit from the Farriers Arms and none of the directors, brewers or helpers is paid. We do it because we love it.

Our social circle has expanded as a result and we’re much more aware of the talents in the village and the strength we have as a group – there’s always a feeling now that something can be done.


From the By Vicky Castle, 18 January 2017.

CCTV picture released after suspected burglary The Farriers Arms Pub, in The Forstal, Mersham.

CCTV images have been released of a man wanted in connection with a burglary at a pub in Mersham.

Cash, champagne and keys were reportedly stolen from The Farriers Arms Pub, in The Forstal, on Monday, December 19, between 2.30am and 10.15am.

Burglar 2017

Police said the suspect was wearing a light coloured jacket, dark trousers, dark trainers, a light coloured back pack and a hat.

Police released this image of a man they wish to speak to in connection with the burglaryPolice released this image of a man they wish to speak to in connection with the burglary.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 01843 222289 quoting reference ZY/046015/16. Alternatively contact Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


From the By Sam Lennon, 28 July 2019.

Police investigate reported rape at pub at The Forstal, Mersham, Ashford.

Police are investigating a reported rape.

Officers say they were told a woman was attacked at the Farriers Arms, The Forstal, Mersham, late yesterday.

A 21-year-old man was arrested and remains in custody today as inquiries continue.

Detectives need witnesses to help solve this case.

Investigating officer Det Insp Tristan Hardiman said: “There would have been a lot of people around the area during the evening.

"We would like to speak to anyone who may have seen the incident or has information that could help with our investigation.

“Any information, however seemingly insignificant, could be vital.”

Anyone with information concerning this investigation should call an appeal line on 01843 222289 quoting the reference number 46/144885/19.

Or you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111.




WHEELER Elias to 1673 (Blacksmith)

WHEELER Thomas 1673-1716 (Blacksmith)

WHEELER James & William 1716-1742 (Blacksmith)

WHEELER James 1742-61 (Blacksmith)

WHEELER Thomas 1761-72 (Blacksmith)

EPPS Johnathan 1772-1802 (Blacksmith & brewer)

EPPS John Jun. 1802-28 (Blacksmith & brewer)

PREBBLE William 1828-50+ Pigot's Directory 1840 (1829 "Farrier's Arms")(age 40 in1841Census)

TOURNEY Thomas 1852+

CHAMBERLAIN Richard 1855-71+ Melville's 1858 (age 64 in 1871Census)

RICHARDSON John 1881-84+ (age 62 in 1881Census) Post Office Directory 1882

LONGLEY John Newman 14/Jan/1884-86

SMITH Alfred 28/Oct/1886 (Brewer)

HUNTLEY George 1891+ (age 52 in 1891Census)

RING Charles Ruben 1900+ Whitstable Times

OLIVER George 31/Mar/1901+ (only listed as lodger and general labourer age 68 in 1901Census)

LANKSTEAD Maltida 1902-03+ Post Office Directory 1903Kelly's 1903

MANUEL George 1903+

KING Henry 1911-13+ (age 60 in 1911Census) Post Office Directory 1913

Bushell Watkins & Smith Ltd 27/Jun/1918+

COOK Reg 1954+ (Black Eagle Brewery, Westerham)

Ind Coope, London Ltd. 31/Aug/1961+

SMITHERS Mike & Pat 1980+

STANFORD Mick & Shirley Mar/1992+

BAKER Michael Sept/2011+


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

Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

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

Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald



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