Sort file:- Whitstable, December, 2023.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 16 December, 2023.


Earliest 1739

(Name from)

Bear and Key

Latest 1990+

3 High Street/Middle Wall/Cheapside


Bear and Key 1910

The "Bear and Key" is shown on the right. The building on the left is the "Duke of Cumberland." Circa 1910.

Whitstable Fire Brigade 1900

Above photo circa 1900, showing the Norfolk Union Insurance manual fire appliance and Whitstable Fire Brigade. The appliance was housed at High Street and the horses kept at the "Bear and Key" stables. Photo from Douglas West book.

Bear and Key 1900

Above photo circa 1900.

Bear and Key 1920

Above photo, circa 1920, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Bear and Key

Above photo, date unknown, by Douglas West.

Bear and Key 1960

Above postcard, 1960, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Bear and Key sign 1990Bear and Key sign 1995

Above sign, August 1990.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


According to the Canterbury City Council Appraisal of Whitstable the pub was originally known as the "New Ship Inn" as early as 1730, the pub changed name to the "Bear and Key" in 1739, but was rebuilt in the 1790s.

I believe renumbering occurred around about 1881 and the premises has also been addresses as Number 1.

Situated just to the right of the "Duke of Cumberland."

The name refers to Baron's Quay, where some local Baron tied up his ships.

The licensee William Brannan, in 1898 was also described as a wind and spirit merchant.

By 1940 the pub was owned by Flint Ales and Co.


From Kentish Gazette 01 June 1768.


Now in full Perfection, Are ready for the Reception of Ladies and Gentlemen, at his House at the "Bear and Key." Good accommodations, with the best of Wines, etc., and the Favours of those, who please to honour him with their Company, will be gratefully acknowledged. By T. Hockless.

N.B. Lodgings, Coach-house, Stabling, etc. and Horses to any Part of England. A good Turnpike Road from Whitstable to Canterbury.


Kentish Gazette 09 January 1844.


An action in which Mr. T. Fairbrass, timber-merchant, of Canterbury, was plaintiff, and Mr. J. Pettit, bricklayer, of Wingham was defendant was brought before Mr. Palmer, the Under Sheriff, yesterday, at St. Augustine's Sessions-house, which occupied the court and jury for a considerable time. The action was for the recovery of 5 16s. 8d., being the value of a quantity of laths supplied in the repairing of the "Bear and Key" public-house at Whitstable, in September, 1842. The debt was denied by defendant, who pleaded he was never indebted to Fairbrass for the laths charged to him.

Mr. Delasaux, of Canterbury, appeared as solicitor for Mr. Fairbrass, and Mr. Lee, of Sandwich, for Mr. Pettit.

After Mr. Palmer had gone through the whole of the evidence adduced on each side, and clearly explained the points at law thereon, the jury consulted for a short time, and returned a verdict for the plaintiff. Damages 4.


Kentish Gazette, 21 January 1851.


On Thursday evening last, there was a very fashionable soiree dossiate at the "Bear and Key Inn."

The stewards were Messrs. Ames, Williams, Ginder, Reid, Reeves and Collens.

Dancing was kept up to my late hour, and the party separated highly satisfied with the evenings amusement.

It is only justice to the worthy post to state that the refreshments were on the most liberal scale.

We understand that it is intended to hold balls in the same Assembly Rooms monthly during the season.


Kentish Gazette, 25 November 1851.

A lecture on Bloomorism (Support for equal rights for women; an early form of feminism) was delivered at the "Bear and Key Inn," on Saturday evening last, by Mrs. Franklin, the attendance at which was very meagre.


South Eastern Gazette, 31 January, 1860.


Charles Brannon, landlord of the "Bear and Key" at Whitstable was charged, at the St. Augustine’s petty sessions, on Saturday, with having assaulted Wm. Morgan, on the previous Sunday evening. There was a second complaint against the defendant, of having damaged the complainant’s hat to the amount of 5s. It appeared that complainant had a dispute with the defendant’s ostler, and was subsequently pushed out of the house by the defendant, who also kicked and struck him several times. Defendant said he merely pushed him out.

Fined 1s. for the assault and 20s. costs, and for the damage to the hat 1s. and 10s. costs.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 4 February, 1860.


(Before William Delmur, Esq., Capt. Slarke, and William Plummer, Esq.)

Charles Brennan, landlord of the "Bear and Key Inn," Whitstable, was charged with assaulting William Morgan. A second charge was also preferred, for damaging Morgan's hat, to the amount of 5s.

The complainant stated that his employer, Mr. Hatton, had a horse, which he kept in the defendant’s stable. On Sunday, he had the horse, to go to Canterbury with, and on his return, in the evening, he proceeded to put it in the stable us usual. Having some cause of complaint against the ostler, he afterwards went into the house to speak to the defendant. Without any provocation, the latter struck him on the face, knocked his hat off, and pushed him out of the house.

The defendant said:— The complainant came home on Sunday evening in a state of intoxication, and proceeded to put a horse, belonging to Mr. Hatton, in my stable. I heard him cursing and swearing at the boy, because he would not bring a light. He then accused me about my ponies being fed with cut meat belonging to Mr. Hogben, upon which I pushed him out of the house. Mr. Brennan called his ostler, and a boy who was engaged in the stables in the night in question. They both gave corroborative evidence. The boy said that Morgan was very much the worse for liquor at the time, and charged the ostler with stealing his corn to feed Mr. Brennan's ponies. The bench were of an opinion that an assault had been proved, but considering the provocation, they would make the penalty as light as they could. The expenses amounted to 1, and they would only add to that a fine of 1s. In the other case, for damaging the complainant’s hat, the bench ordered the defendant to pay 1s. and 10s. expenses. The fines and costs in the two cases amounted to 1 12s.


South Eastern Gazette, 17 July, 1860.


THE Proprietor, Mr. CHAS. BRANNON, having completed the extensive alteration to his premises, takes this opportunity of tendering his best thanks to his patrons for the liberal support he has received during a period of upwards of twelve years, and begs to assure them that his best endeavours shall be used to secure a continuation of their support.

July, 1860.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 4 August, 1860.


The new line of Railway between Faversham and Whitstable was opened on Tuesday, by the Directors. The town was decorated with flags, and the day was observed as one of general festivity and rejoicing. In the evening the directors and their friends dined together at the "Bear and Key Hotel." The next day the line was opened for public traffic. The works continuing the line to Herne Bay and thence to Margate are in active progress.


From the Kentish Chronicle and General Advertiser, 25 January, 1862. Price 1 1/2d.


Charles Brennan, landlord of the “Bear and Key Inn,” Whitstable, was charged with suffering gaming with cards in his house, on the 24th December last. The charge had been permitted to stand over several weeks on account of the defendant being unable to attend the Court through illness. The offence was admitted and the Bench fined the defendant 5s. and 10s, expenses.


South Eastern Gazette 14 July 1863.


Having taken this old-established Inn, solicits a continuance of the patronage so long bestowed upon his predecessors by the inhabitancy of Whitstable and its neighbourhood, and by the visitors. G. B. also takes this opportunity of thanking his numerous friends and customers who supported him in his late business at the "George Inn," Shalmsford Street.

Whitstable 6th July, 1863.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 3 October, 1863.


The adjourned enquiry look place on Monday, at the “Bear and Key,” Whitstable, respecting the death of the gentleman Found dead in the parish of Seasalter, as mentioned in our last, when the medical evidence showed that there was an effusion of blood on the brain of deceased, causing apoplexy, and a verdict of "Death from natural causes” was returned.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 18 June, 1864.

Cole v. Brannan.

Mr. Delasaux appeared in support of the claim, amounting to 16 3s. 6d. for printing the “Bear and Key Inn,” Whitstable, in the year 1860, and Mr. Towne defended the action on the ground of excessive charge.

By the evidence it appeared that plaintiff had agreed to paint and grain the front of the house for 6, and the remaining charge was for extra work done by order of the defendant and Mr. H. Marshall, acting as Surveyor to the works then going on on the premises. An attempt to settle the affair by arbitration had been made without success; but defendant since the action commenced made an offer of l2, winch the plaintiff refused to accept, but said he was still willing to abide by a fair valuation. Mr. Shrubsole, builder, of Canterbury, and Mr. Marsh had on one occasion gone over the work, but no satisfactory conclusion was come to nor any award made. Mr. Shrubsole was examined in support of the claim, and gave evidence that the extra charge beyond the contract was a fair charge for the extra work done. On the other hand Mr. Marsh said he considered the charge for the painting inside the house was excessive, and that was all he had surveyed.

His Honour eventually awarded the sum of 13 10s. in discharge of the demand made.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 20 April, 1867. Price 1d.


On Wednesday last, Mr. T. G. Browning offered for sale by public auction at the “Bear and Key Hotel,” the sail-barge “Agenora,” and she fetched 250.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. 19 October 1867. Price 1d.


On Tuesday last the annual meeting of the Whitstable Mutual Maritime Insurance Association took place at the "Bear and Key Hotel." There was a large attendance of members, and the usual business was transacted. On the same day the annual meeting of the Whitstable Star Insurance Association was held at the "Duke of Cumberland Inn," at which there was a full attendance of members. All the retiring officers were re-elected, and the ordinary business was disposed of. We understand this club has been very fortunate daring the past year, the averages amounting to only 3 5s. 0d. per cent, in the first class, and 3 18s. per cent, in the second class. Only one total loss was sustained during the whole year. This state of affairs is exceedingly favourable as compared with other clubs of a kindred nature.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 23 April 1870.


The annual parish dinner took place at the "Bear and Key Hotel" on Easter Monday. The Vicar of Whitstable occupied the chair, and was supported by most of the parish officers, and several of the leading inhabitants of the town. After dinner — which was admirably served up by Mr. George Bourne — various toasts were drunk, and a variety of topics concerning the parish were discussed. The utmost harmony and unanimity prevailed, and a pleasant evening was spent.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 16 July 1870.


During the night of Wednesday last two gardens—one belonging to Mr. Bourne, "Bear and Key Hotel," and the other to a man named Attwood—were entered, and about a sack of potatoes stolen there from. Unfortunately there is no clue to the perpetrator of this depredation.


Kentish Gazette, 29 February, 1876.


At the St. Augustine's Petty Sessions, on Saturday last, before Captain Hilton (chairman), and R. E. Thomson, T. G. Peckham, P. Marten, and J. B. White, Esqrs., Alfred Butcher, a boy, was charged with stealing, on the 12th inst., a pipe, value 1s., the property of John Thomas Reeves.

The lad was employed in the billiard room at the "Bear and Key" Hotel, Whitstable, and on the pipe, which had been left in that room by the prosecutor, being missed, inquiry was made and it was found in the prisoner's possession. He was given into custody on the charge, when he said, I did take it, from off a book.

Mr. Bourne, the prisoner's employer, said he had no reason to suspect the prisoner of robbing him before, although he had been robbed a good deal. He wished the Bench to deal leniently with the case and was willing to take the boy back into his service if he would be a good lad.

The Bench therefore fined the lad 10s. and discharged him with a caution.


From the Farmer's Gazette, Saturday 24 June 1893.

Strawberry tea.

About 50 members and friends of the Congregational Church had a most successful outing on Thursday in last week. They drove in three brakes and a wagonette, supplied by Mr. Brannan, of the "Bear and Key Hotel," to Preston near Wingham, where they were entertained to a sumptuous strawberry tea. The occasion of the visit was a services in connection with the anniversary of the Wingham Congregational Chapel. The weather was delightfully fine, and it is needless to say the drive was much enjoyed.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette, Saturday 10 September 1898.

Delicate Ground To Move Upon.

Before the meeting terminated, Mr. J. R. Daniels said it had come to his knowledge that Mr. James Fielding, of the "Bear and Key Hotel," was about to apply for a licence to erect a hotel at Tankerton which would cost 10,000. Such a hotel, to his mind, seemed highly desirable for the development of the place, and he did not know whether he dared to move a resolution for the council to support the application at the licensing sessions.

Mr. Solly:- You have 40 or 50 drinking shops in the town now, are they not sufficient?

Mr. Daniel said he knew he was moving on a delicate ground, and he should always be ready to support or any action wich would set machinery into motion to do away with houses in the town where the tenants could not possibly be getting a living. There was no doubt there were too many public houses in the town, but they had not reached the millennium when they could do away with such places.

Mr. Camburn said he considered Mr. Daniels was out of order in bringing this subject before the meeting.

Mr. Daniels pointed out that by supporting the application they would be supporting something which was for the benefit of the visitors to the town.

Mr. Kemp said that he had seen the plans and there was not a bar shown in the whole place. The hotel would excel the County at Canterbury. It would be the means of getting more houses built on the estate, while the rateable value of the town would be increased.

No definite decision had come to on the matter as the Chairman hurriedly left the meeting in order to keep an appointment, and the proceedings abruptly terminated.


From Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 3 August 1912.

Mr. W. Trueman, who for some time past has been the landlord of the "Bear and Key Hotel," Whitstable, has taken the old "Falstaff Hotel," Westgate, Canterbury. His many friends will wish him all success in his new enterprise.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 23 July 1949.

"Bear and Key Hotel, Whitstable, Kent.

Mr. Cecil. C. Cadle, F.N.A.A. has been favoured with instructions to sell by public auction the surplus hotel equipment and effects, on the premises on Thursday, 4th August, 1949, at 11 a.m. precisely.

Including in the sale are:- Mahogany Sideboards, Chairs, Tables, Electric Gramophone, Loud Speaker, All Mains Amplifier, Pianos, Carpets, Stair Carpet, Coco Matting, Bedsteads, Mattresses, Gas Cooker and numerous other items.

Goods on view between 2 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 3rd August, and morning of sale.

Catalogues (price 3d.) may be obtained from the Auctioneers Offices, "Moorgate House," 134-136 Tankerton Road, Tankerton-on-Sea. (Phone Whitstable 2277.)


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 18 March 1950.

Plans for structural alterations at the "Bear and Key," Whitstable, were approved.


Former Bear and Key 2017

Above photo taken and sent by Steve Glover, August 2017. Who tells me the building is now operating as a Prezzo Restaurant.




OUGHAM Ozias 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

WETHERLY John 1832-39+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

KEMP William jun. 1840-47+ Pigot's Directory 1840

BRANNAN Charles 1851-62+ (age 43 in 1861Census)

Last pub licensee had BOURNE George July/1863-82+ (age 65 in 1881Census) Whitstable Times

BRANNAN William 1889-94+ (age 40 in 1891Census)

FIELDING James 1898+

BROWN John Bellamy 1901+ (age 49 in 1901Census)

HAMMOND Leslie 1911+ (age 50 in 1911Census)

TRUEMAN W Mr Next pub licensee had to Aug/1912

ROBERTS Fanny Mrs 1918+


ROBERTS Fanny to Mar/1920 Next pub licensee had

APPLETON Fred 1934+

KEMP William 1940+


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

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

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


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:-