Page Updated:- Monday, 06 March, 2023.


Earliest 1723-

Royal Oak

Closed Oct 2020

The Street


01233 502218

Royal Oak 1911

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

Royal Oak 1911

Above photo, 1911, from Dave Downey.

Royal Oak 1914

Above postcard 1914, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Royal Oak 1974

Above photo, 1974.

Royal Oak

Above photo date unknown, kindly sent by Alan.

Royal Oak 2005

Above photo, 2005.

Royal Oak 2010

Above photo, circa 2010, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Royal Oak 2012

Photos taken on 18 July, 2012 from by John Law.

Royal Oak 2011

Photo by Oast House Archives 2011 from

Royal Oak sign 1986

Royal Oak sign April 1986.

Royal Oak sign 1991Royal Oak sign 1993

Above sign left July 1991, sign right 1993.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Royal Oak sign 2011Royal Oak sign 2015

Above sign left 2011, sign right 2015. Kindly sent by Brian Curtis.

Royal Oak beermat

Above beer-mat kindly sent by Mike Lyon.

Royal Oak Morris Dancers date unknown

Above postcard, date unknown.

Royal Oak 2020

Above photo showing the closed pub in 2020.


According to the Shepherd Neame web site:- The "Royal Oak" is a traditional English pub, the building itself being a 400-year-old former gamekeeper's lodge, and still retains its oak-beamed ‘olde worlde' charm.

Nowadays it acts as the heart of the community for the small and pretty village of Mersham, being the meeting place for most of the local clubs and societies, from the cricket and football clubs to the PTA and WI. The pub supports six darts team, and a bat and trap team – a traditional Kentish pub game which the "Royal Oak" are helping to keep alive. In addition there is a quiz night every Sunday.

Traditional pub grub is served, with pride being taken in providing substantial portions at very reasonable prices, and there is a large open log fire in the colder months; in the summer the large garden is an attractive option.

The village of Mersham is located a short way off the M20, just outside Ashford, making this pub an attractive proposition for a refreshment break when travelling to or from the Channel Tunnel, or indeed when travelling to or from Ashford itself.


From the  By Jane Freyer, 14 May 2009.

A close-knit community: Meet the ladies who've spent years stitching their entire Kent village.

At first sight, this looks like a classic British village.

There's a beautiful Norman church, two pubs, a shop, a school, a village hall, a huge Georgian manor house with landscaped gardens, teenagers slouched around the bus shelter and dozens of red-brick cottages with gardens in full bloom and vegetable patches bursting with cabbages, cauliflowers and sweet peas.

Mersham Knitters 2009

Woollen wonder: The ladies of the Mersham Afternoon Club , Daphne O'Donoghue, Joy Pearson, Joyce McDonagh and Margaret Goldup.

There's even a cricket pitch, with a match in full flow and the offside stump leaning drunkenly to one side after a particularly unplayable spinner.

But on closer inspection, things don't look quite right. The fielders are a bit wobbly in the leg department and far too fat to fit in the very smart pavilion for lashings of tea and egg sandwiches. And the roof on the manor house is rather saggy.

And the chimneys are wonky. And most of the television aerials look like they've been caught in a nasty storm. And the smoking teenagers are a bit misshapen.

In fact, the whole thing looks rather, well . . . home-made. Which is no surprise, because every inch of this village - Mersham, in Kent - has been lovingly knitted by a small group of very twinkly ladies who started 23 years ago with a couple of cottages and some pigs, and ended up creating more than 60 properties, complete with wheelie bins, outdoor loos, gas tanks, cars in the driveways and even a smart red telephone box.

The woollen version appears thatched rather than tiled, but otherwise the Royal Oak pub is easily recognisable.


From the Shepherd Neame Web site 18 June 2014

This inn, known by the name and sign of The "Royal Oak," was built in part during the reign of Elizabeth I, in 1592, though the original structure of the building has been altered and added to through the years on a number of occasions. The establishment was originally built by the Knatchbull family as a part of the Hatch estate, as the game keeper's lodge, but it was not untill the year 1723 a licence for the selling of ale was first acquired by Jonah Barton, a descendant of the first game keeper. Following this, with the permission of the magistrates of Ashford, Jonah renamed the premises the "Royal Oak". Jonah's daughter Matilda succeeded him following his death in 1746. Sir Norton Knatchbull put the "Royal Oak" inn on the market and 1893 it was purchased by the Shepherd Neame Brewery of Faversham. Since 1893 several landlords and land lady's have had the tenancy for the "Royal Oak," all of them bringing something different to the village and each of them with stories to tell, including tales of ghostly sightings in the pub, while the ghostly photograph has people questioning the phenomena to this very day.

Russ and Joy Davies and staff are the faces that greet you at the "Royal Oak," offering a warm welcome and good company.


From the By Charlie Harman, 5 March 2021.

The Royal Oak pub in Mersham, near Ashford, could be converted into homes after 'struggling for a decade'.

An historic pub in the centre of a village could be turned into two homes after "struggling for more than a decade".

The Royal Oak in Mersham, near Ashford, ceased trading in October last year, with the Covid-19 pandemic proving the last straw to its survival.

Plans have now been submitted to convert the site as – according to planning agent Milliken & Company – it couldn't compete with the community-owned "Farriers Arms" less than a mile away and had seen five landlords pass through since 2013.

In plans lodged with Ashford Borough Council, a statement attached to the proposal reads: "While the Royal Oak had been struggling as a public house for over a decade, its forced closure for three months as a result of Covid restrictions in March 2020, and its subsequent inability to effectively compete as primarily a wet sales operation with a limited food offering (due to a lack of adequate circulation space to successfully introduce social distancing measures), meant that Shepherd Neame was faced with the difficult decision of having to permanently close the pub."

The Faversham brewery then disposed of the freehold and the new owners now want to convert it into two homes – one to rent out and one to live in for their retirement.

The scheme would leave the interior largely untouched and would use most of the existing internal walls.

A heritage statement said that while the hall house built in about 1450 had special architectural interest, a number of later additions left little of the original building work.

Regulars in 2001

Royal Oak regulars in December 2001.

This could ease the planning process but Mersham residents are up in arms over the plan for the pub, which opened in 1592 when it served as a gamekeeper’s lodge for the Hatch estate.

Villager Richard Jakeman said: "I don't think it has to compete with the Farriers. Since being in the village we've used the Oak as a sociable drinking local and the Farriers for eating.

"They're both very good at what they do but admittedly the Oak is always going to face a challenge making money predominantly from 'wet' sales.

"The landlords did a great job but were definitely constrained by the brewery, as a free house the place would have a real chance to be successful."

However another said: "No one has ever made the pub work with breweries involved over the last 14 years.

Lady Brabourne 2002

Countess Mountbatten, known locally as Lady Brabourne, pulled a pint when she reopened the Royal Oak in 2002, pictured with then-landlord Ian Cook and Robert Neame.

Countess Mountbatton 2002

Countess Mountbatten with Ian Cook, Tony Palmer and Robert Neame.

Licensee 2020

Landlords Maxine and Dave (top left) may be the last in the pub's long history.

"If it became a restaurant there is not enough parking, so maybe a sympathetic restoration to two dwellings could work."

But the last landlady, Maxine Smith, said she was insulted by this, adding: "Running a pub is difficult in any climate with high rents and the highest VAT on beer anywhere in Europe but the last year especially.

"My husband Dave and I had a fantastic two years at the Oak and would have continued if it hadn’t been for Covid.

Brian Russell 1973

Brian Russell, landlord of The Royal Oak, pictured with an old fireplace he had uncovered in December 1973.

Brian and Linda Russell 1974

Brian and Linda Russell, landlords of The Royal Oak in 1974.

Fundraising 2002

St Patrick's Day fundraising in March 2002.

"We had some amazing regulars who supported us and could have done with a few more from the village to be fair.

"That is the problem with these types of pubs – no one realises what they’ve lost until they are gone.

"It will be a shame to lose the pub as it has never been run as a free house, free from the restraints of a brewery.

Colin Palmer 2002

Colin Palmer played the piano non-stop for two hours in order to raise money for Ashford Citizens Advice Bureau in December 2002.

Royal Oak cheque 2004

A village event raised 4,250 for the Pilgrims Hospice in October 2004.

Manage 2005

Bar and restaurant manager Adam Ruffle in March 2005.

"If somebody gave it a go it would get support but for how long is a different matter.

"It’s also one of the last coaching houses in Kent so a bit of Kentish history is dying."

Michelle Barden 2007

In 2007, Michelle Barden, landlady of The Royal Oak, became the first user of, an online pub meal pre-ordering system. She's pictured with Keith Sutton, right, director of SDA Marketing, and Gareth Hurford-Jones, of Red Dragon IT, designers of the system.

Pram race 2007

Action from the annual pram and wheelbarrow race in December 2007.

Wheelbarrow race 2007

Landlady Michelle Barden with some of the racers taking part in the 2007 pram and wheelbarrow race in aid of the Pilgrims Hospice

Ropyal Oak inside 2020

Covid-19 proved to be the pub's downfall, as closures and social distancing damaged income.

Since leaving in September, Mrs Smith has returned to work in education, a career she had held for 20 years before moving into the pub.



BARTON Jonah 1723-46

BARTON Matilda (daughter) 1746+

FORRESTER Jessie 1858+ Melville's 1858

CLINCH Edward 1861+ (age 35 in 1861Census)

OFFEN Essex William 1871+ Next pub licensee had (age 34 in 1871Census)

FOOKS William 1881-82+ (age 36 in 1881Census) Post Office Directory 1882

BUSS George 1891+ (age 58 in 1891Census)

LILLEY George 1901+ (age 29 in 1901Census)

CHAPLIN Richard John Pell 1903+ Post Office Directory 1903Kelly's 1903

WRIGHT James pre 1911

WRIGHT Edith 1911

APPS Frederick 1911-38 dec'd (age 32 in 1911Census) Post Office Directory 1913

APPS Elizabeth 1938+ (widow age 62 in 1938)

RUSSELL Brian & Linda 1974+

COOK Ian 2002+

RUFFLE Adam 2005+

GOWLETT Mrs K 2011+

DAVIES Russ & Joy 2014+

SMITH Dave & Maxine to Sept/2020


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



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