Page Updated:- Wednesday, 10 April, 2024.


Earliest 1828-

Fordwich Arms

Open 2024+

King Street


01227 710444

Fordwich Arms 1876

Above photo circa 1876, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

This photo appears in an old article on public health in Victorian Canterbury and highlighted the fact that the city's new (in 1875) main sewer emptied into the River Stour, close to the pub.

Fordwich Arms postcard

Above postcard, date unknown.

Fordwich Arms 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Tim Timpson.

Fordwich Arms 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1900

Above photo, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1907

Above postcard, circa 1907, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1908

Above postcard, circa 1908, kindly supplied by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms

Above photo, circa 1911, kindly sent by Steve Glover.

Fordwich Arms 1911

Above postcard, circa 1911, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1912

Above postcard, circa 1912, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1920s

Above photo, 1920s, kindly sent by Michael Mirams.

Fordwich Arms 1923

Above postcard 1923, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms and Town Hall 1920

Above postcards, circa 1924, showing the pub and also the Town Hall, right. Kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms

Above photo, date unknown, kindly sent by Tim Timpson.

Fordwich Arms 1924

Above photo, circa 1924, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1933

Above photo circa 1933, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms and Town Hall

Above postcard circa 1935. Kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1936

Above postcard circa 1936, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fordwich Arms 1938

Above photo, 1938, kindly sent by Tim Timpson.

Fordwich Arms 1964

Above photo, September 1964, kindly sent by Clive Bowley.

Fordwich Arms 1952

Above photo, 1952, kindly sent by Tim Timpson.

Fordwich Arms

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Gary Thatcher.

Fordwich Arms mat

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

Fordwich Arms

Above photograph taken from their web site.

Fordwich Arms sign

Above photo taken on 11 June 2010, by Patricia Streater showing their sign and below in better days, May 1973, by kind permission of Brian Curtis of the Inn Sign Society.

Fordwich Arms sign 1973
Fordwich Arms 2019

Above photo, 2019.


According to the Guinness Book of Records, Fordwich has the smallest working Town Hall in Britain, built in 1544 and able to hold a mere 41 people and is also the smallest town, based on population.

Fordwych Town Hall 1903

Above photo taken from the Bystander, 30 December, 1903.


Fordwich is regarded as being of Roman origin, developing to become the Port of Canterbury, although at the time the river Stour was much wider than it is today, and is still a member of the Cinque Port of Sandwich, and the Mayor Deputy still pays annul 'ship money' to the Mayor of Sandwich to the sum of 6s. 8d. annually.

The pub holds the keys to the 1000 year old church, St. Mary the Virgin, should it be locked. The church has four bells in its tower, dating from between 1624-1633.

The "Fordwich Arms," a long weatherboarded house of antiquity, was burnt down in the 1930s and later rebuilt. It was once the crane-house of the Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, who collected tolls from goods unloaded at the town quay.


From the Kentish Gazette, 17 October 1837.


An affray took place on Friday night at a dance at the "Fordwich Arms." The party quarrelled, when one of them, a resident of Sturry, named Charles Hills, received several severe stabs in the body, and his life was for some time despaired of. The assailant, who lives at Herne, was seized, and on the following day was fully committed to Maidstone gaol by the magistrates for trial.


Kentish Gazette, 21 October 1851.

Stealing Nine Sovereigns.

James Nichols, 26, labourer, charged with stealing from the person of Thomas Bayly, on the 26th day of July, 1851, at the Ville of St. Gregory, in the city and borough of Canterbury, 9 sovereigns and 1 half sovereign, the money, goods, and chattels of the said Thomas Bayly.

Mr. Horn prosecuted, and Mr. Dawson defended the prisoner.

Thomas Bayly, traveller, deposed:- On the 26th of July I was at the "William the Fourth" beershop, Littlebourne; saw the prisoner there; had never seen him before. Treated the men to a gallon of beer. had ten sovereigns and changed one; it was safe when I left there. The prisoner asked for a lift, and I allowed him to get into my chaise. I drove about 2 miles on the road towards Canterbury; all at once I forgot everything that was going on, and remember nothing further till I was going to bed at the "Beehive," Canterbury, between 7 and 8 o'clock, when I took stock, I missed my money - all the gold and some silver. I told the landlord, and he fetched the policeman.

Cross-examined:- Was coming from Wingham, when he first saw the prisoner; there were two other men with him; had taking a glass or or two of ale previously at Wingham; could not recollect how many glasses.

By Mr. Horn:- Gave no directions to the prisoner to go to Fordwhich. He took the reins the moment I could not drive.

Elizabeth Moys deposed:- My husband keeps the "Fordwich Arms" at Fordwich. I remember the prisoner and the prosecutor come into our house in a chaise cart, about 5 on 26th July. Nicholls was driving; they had some brandy and ginger beer. The prosecutor took out some sovereigns and silver together to pay for it; they were alone together for about three quarters of an hour in the parlour. The prosecutor went to sleep for about 10 minutes; the prisoner was then sitting there him. They afterwards left together.

Cross-examined:- The prosecutor did not appear intoxicated when he came in, but could not walk when he left. They had a quartern of brandy and two bottles of ginger beer.

George Drake Baker, living in Canterbury:- On the 26th July saw the prisoner come to his own own home in a gig, and the prosecutor was with him, and appeared very much intoxicated. They went into the house, and stop for about 10 minutes.

Benjamin Argar, landlord of the "Beehive" Dover Lane:- Remembered the prisoner coming to his house with the prosecutor about 7 on the evening in question. He assisted Mr. Bayly to get out of the gig, and the prisoner drove off to Mr. Brown's. The prosecutor was very much intoxicated, and shortly afterwards missed his money, and said he had been robbed.

Jesse Emanuel, police constable, took the prisoner into custody about 9 o'clock in the evening of 26th July in Guildhall Street, Canterbury.

Mr. Dawson addressed the jury for the prisoner.

After a short consultation, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 12 May 1900. Price 1d.


The East Kent Coroner (R. M. Mercer, Esq.) held an inquest at the "Fordwich Arms," Fordwich, on Monday, on the body of Robert Taylor, who was found in a dyke near Fordwich on the previous day.

It appeared that the deceased was a single man, aged 51, and had no settled home. He got his living by selling watercress and things in the street. The deceased had been subject to fits all his life. The Rev. R. Hitchcock, rector of Fordwich, saw the deceased at 9.50 on Sunday morning, when on his way to the Barracks. The deceased was sober. He spoke to witness and then walked on. Later on in the day Mr. Hitchcock was told that the deceased had been found in the water at Upland Meadow, Fordwich. He got assistance and went to the spot and helped to get the deceased out of the water. The deceased's face, when found, was in the mud and his body was half in the water. He was quite dead and there were no signs of a struggle. Dr. Ince made a post mortem of the body and found death was due to suffocation. The deceased probably had an epileptic fit.

The jury returned a verdict that deceased died from suffocation through falling into the water while in a fit.


Fordwych Arms advert 1904

Above advert 1904.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette, Saturday 15 October 1910.

Fordwich. The Fordwich Arms.

At St. Augustine's Petty Session at Canterbury on Saturday the licence of the "Fordwich Arms," Fordwich, was transferred from George C. Penney to Charles H. Tapsell.


Gloucester Citizen, Tuesday 16 December 1930.

Guests to jump to safety. Ancient Town Hall saved.

Fire, which broke out early today, badly damaged the 900 years old inn, the "Fordwich Arms," in the little village of Fordwich, near Canterbury.

The landlord (Mr. W. Powell) was awakened by smoke and found the house well alight. They raised an alarm and Mrs. Powell, a four years old daughter, and Miss Hart (the maid) dashed through flames and smoke down the burning staircase into the kitchen which they left just as the roof fell in.

Mr. and Mrs. J. Lord, two London visitors jumped from their bedroom window onto a table placed beneath by a neighbour. The cat and a dog were suffocated by fumes. Owing to the danger of the 1,000 years old Town Hall becoming involved, the Hearne Bay Brigade, as well as the local Brigade, was called and the blaze was confined to the inn.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 7 January, 1939.


Change of management.

Mr. and Mrs. Cork, late of Janes Tea Rooms, Hythe, would welcome all old customers. Fishing, Golf, Boating.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 10 February 1945.

The licensing justices refused an application by Mrs. D. Bailey, of the "Fordwich Arms," for an extension of supper hours.

Mrs. Bailey said many people, both military and civilian, got to the place just after 10 p.m. for their suppers. She could not then serve them with drinks.

Superintendent Hall said he was of the opinion that the extension was not necessary at the present. Very few people frequented the place (as a constable could prove). There might be a need for the extension after the war.

Mr. C. A. Gardner said he knew that many people went to the "Fordwich Arms" from long distances.


From the By Gerry Warren, 24 September 2019.

The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury is the AA's restaurant of the year.

Kent now boasts the country's best restaurant following a prestigious presentation last night.

The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury was named Restaurant of the Year at the AA Hospitality Awards at Grosvenor House in London.

It is the latest accolade for the riverside inn which was awarded a Michelin star last October - just ten months after opening and has also already been named UK pub of the year in the GQ Magazine Food and Drink Awards.

Michelion award 2019

It comes just weeks after the "Dog" at Wingham won best food at the Great British Pub Awards.

The AA Restaurant of the Year recognises eateries that provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience and providing a high standard of hospitality, say inspectors.

Fordwich Arms owners Guy Palmer-Brown, Daniel and Natasha Smith, say they have had a "phenomenal" first year and feel "truly blessed".

"It has proven to us that the hard work and dedication from our team in such a young business has paid off.

"This will only spur us on to achieve as much as we possibly can going forward.

"A huge thank you goes to our team for their continual hard work, without who none of this would have been possible, as well as our guests for their never-ending support of us."

An AA Inspector said of Fordwich Arms: "The 1930s country boozer with a terrace and garden looking over the River Stour was begging for a makeover, and that’s just what it got when high-flying young chef-patron Dan Smith took the helm in 2018 and immediately turned the place into a foodie destination.

"Smith’s cooking is firmly in the new-wave modern British camp, allying sharp technique with intriguing combinations of first-class materials."


From the By Joe Walker, 19 January 2020.

Fordwich Arms accused of arrogance over response to grieving customer going public with complaint.

A grieving diner who suffered a family tragedy has accused a Michelin-starred pub of arrogance after it blamed "tight margins" for not allowing him to move a table booking.

Martin O'Grady had handed over 660 as a pre-payment for a birthday meal at the award-winning Fordwich Arms near Canterbury, which was last year named the UK's best pub.

Martin O'Grady 2020

Martin O'Grady has criticised the response of the Fordwich Arms.

But four days before the New Year's Eve bash, his father had a serious accident abroad, so a family member called the pub in an attempt to change the reservation, which was for a table of six.

The request was refused, as was a full refund, and on the day of the planned birthday meal, Mr O'Grady's father died.

He took to Facebook to share his disappointment, saying: "We are utterly disgusted by this experience, not to mention 660 worse off, and just feel compelled to share this horrifying story with anyone ever considering making a reservation at this establishment. There are no words."

In response to the public post, Fordwich Arms head chef Dan Smith said he was "sorry to hear of Mr O'Grady's loss".

But he told how a pre-payment was taken because a lot of "premium expensive ingredients" had been purchased specially for the night.

Dan and Natasha Smith 2020

Dan Smith runs the Fordwich Arms with his wife Natasha.

He also spoke of having to cover the wages of 16 staff members brought in to provide the "best experience service", adding: "This means that margins are very tight as always in restaurants."

But the response has further angered Mr O'Grady,

"Obviously they are feeling the heat from all the negative attention this has drawn," he said. "They are 'sorry for my loss'? They didn’t communicate that to me.

"It seems that all the negative comments and criticism has pressurised them into commenting. Arrogance at best!

"Their rationale is just about economics. The human aspect of this seems entirely lost on these people."

Mr O'Grady reiterated that he had not sought a refund from the pub, and merely wanted to change the date of the booking given his father's accident and grave condition.

"We were simply requesting a goodwill gesture to allow us to change our reservation to a later date once I had a chance to return to the UK," he said.

"When asked how management view such extenuating circumstances the manager and owners neither cared nor wanted to hear anything about it.

"Another recital of terms and conditions ensued."

Mr Smith said Mr O'Grady was told tickets for the New Year's Eve dinner were non-refundable, but said they could be transferred to another person.

He explained: "The first contact we had with this booking was a phone call on Saturday, December 28, in which we were informed that one of the party's relatives was unwell.

"Once we had heard the news our manager immediately phoned the two tables on the waiting list. However, at the late stage they had already made plans elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, due to the late stage we were unable to fill this particular table. The manager also phoned them on the Monday, which was his day off, to inform them we had not yet been able to sell the tickets and to see if they had any luck.

"We also informed them that we would be happy to refund the two tickets of the couple whose father was unwell or put it towards drinks had the other four wished to attend the booking.

"However, we were informed that none of the party of friends would be attending the booking.

"The reason we charge a pre-payment for these events is that all the food is bought in especially for the menus we offer, which allows us to purchase exactly what we are going to use in the evening.

"With it being New Year's Eve, this particular menu utilised a lot of premium expensive ingredients which were purchased specifically for the event and ensures that no food is wasted.

"On this evening we also had 16 members of staff to ensure we offered the best service we possibly could. Again the cost of the ticket price to cover the large staff costs for the evening.

"As a small independent restaurant in the current financial climate, it is vital we take steps like these to take pre-payments to protect our business.

"We have a high number of staff to ensure we provide the best experience possible. However this means that margins are very tight as always in restaurants."


From the By Max Chesson, 9 April 2024.

Chef Dan Smith assures Michelin-starred The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury will stay open after hitting market for 1m.

An award-winning chef has assured his Michelin-starred pub will remain open after the building hit the market for more than 1 million.

Dan Smith, who heads the Fordwich Arms near Canterbury, says the sale of the property’s freehold will not impact the popular business.

In fact, he says he and his wife Natasha – who have a lease on the building until 2038 – are hoping to buy it themselves.

"We are ourselves looking at putting an offer in,” he told KentOnline.

"[The lease] will renew to us as we have first right of refusal, but we are looking into an investment to buy the building.

"The sale is part of a wider range of pub sales by the current owners."

The Fordwich Arms is listed as a freehold public house investment.

It is currently let at 68,000 a year, with the Smiths’ lease set to run until March 2038.

Fordwich Arms patio 2024

The riverside patio at the Fordwich Arms.

The husband-and-wife restaurateurs took on the 19th-century building in Fordwich seven years ago and secured a Michelin star within 10 months – aged just 26.

The duo also run the Michelin-starred "Bridge Arms" in nearby Bridge.

The ground floor of The Fordwich Arms offers an open-plan trading area with a central bar servery in the front room while the dining room to the rear has seating for about 50 customers.

Externally, a customer patio and lawn to the rear of the building overlooks the river with seating for 69 customers and parking to the front for 12 vehicles.

The historic pub in Britain’s smallest town had previously been run by town stalwarts Sue and Shaun Donnelly who retired after 24 years in November 2017.

The Smiths had their work cut out winning over locals after renovating the traditional hostelry.

Some disgruntled regulars were unimpressed with price increases and the removal of sandwiches from the bar menu – with one branding it “homely to hipster”.

But in a glowing review, Michelin bosses say: “England’s smallest town is a pretty little place and this elegant Arts and Crafts style building fits it perfectly.

“It sits in a delightful spot beside the river and its wisteria-covered terrace affords wonderful views.

“An impressive wood-topped bar and open fires welcome you in and the wood-panelled dining room bursts with charm.

“The cooking is modern, creative and sometimes playful but this is never at the expense of flavour.

“Excellent quality ingredients, like plump Scottish langoustines, underpin it all.”



WOODROFFE Daniel 1826-40+ Pigots 1826Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34 (Fordage Arms)

SMITH John 1847+ Bagshaw's Directory 1847

MOYS Valentine 1851-58+

MAY William 1875-81+ (age 53 in 1881Census)

WATSON John 1881-82 Post Office Directory 1882 (age 49 in 1881Census)

DOBSON Arthur Edward 1899-1901+ Next pub licensee had (age 27 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1899

PENNY George Charles 1903-Nov/10 Kelly's 1903Whitstable Times

TAPSELL Charles H Nov/1910-13+ (age 29 in 1911Census) Whitstable TimesPost Office Directory 1913

POWELL William A 1930-38+ Kelly's 1934

CORK Reginald Jan/1939+ (age 55 in 1939)

SMITH Dan 2018-20+ Next pub licensee had


Pigots 1826From the Pigot's Directory 1826

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

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

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Kelly's 1899From the Kelly's Directory 1899

Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Kelly's 1934From the Kelly's Directory 1934



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