28 Hawkesbury Street
The above picture of the Shakespeare Inn 1921 at Elizabeth Street by kind
permission Dover Library.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer,
12 May, 1871. Price 1d.
An inquest was held before the Borough Coroner, W. H. Payn, Esq., at
the "Albion Inn," Hawkbury
Street, on Tuesday afternoon, on the body of a French cook, lately in
the employ of the Imperial Hotel Company, named Anselm Plesson, aged 53
years, who died suddenly from the effects of an epileptic fit.
George Toms, said: I am the landlord of the "Shakespeare Inn,"
Hawksbury Street. The deceased has lived with me for nearly 17 years. He
was a French cook, and his name was Plesson. I believe he had been many
years at the "Ship Hotel," and lately at the "Imperial Hotel." He was a
very powerful man, and, generally speaking, in good health. I do not
know if he was ever intemperate. I have never seen him intemperate. His
wife and his daughter lodged with him. The last time I saw him alive he
was lying on his bed at my house. This was about four o'clock on Monday
morning. About five o'clock his wife called me and told me that he was
dead. I slept in the room above the deceased. I had been up with him off
and on nearly all night. I went to bed about 11 that night, and about
12.30 deceased's wife called me and told me her husband had fallen down
stairs. I got up and found the deceased lying on the mat at the bottom
of the stairs. I rendered him what assistance I could, and with my help
he was able to walk upstairs, where I found he had a cut on the back of
his head, his collar being covered with blood. The wound was not deep;
it was only a slight scratch, about two inches in length. He never spoke
after his fall, and died about five o'clock. He appeared to me to be
suffering from delirium tremens, which he is occasionally subject to.
By the Foreman: I have seen him in the same condition before some
years ago. I have seen him so more than once before. The last time I saw
him so was about a year since.
A Juryman said he had heard that last Friday the deceased had fallen
down the area steps at the "Imperial Hotel," and asked witness if he had
heard of it.
Witness replied that the deceased had not told him about it, but he
had heard the same thing that day.
The Coroner enquired of Sergeant Barton, who was in attendance, if he
had brought one of the hotel waiters to corroborate the statement.
Sergeant Barton replied that he had not - it was the first he had
heard of it.
Richard Thomas, a chemist, residing on the Crosswall, said: On Sunday
evening, I went to the "Shakespeare" where the deceased lodges, as a
friend, not as a professional man. I was with him for two or three
hours. He complained as he usually does of a headache. He is subject to
fits of delirium tremens. I made up some medicine for him from a
prescription which he gave me, and he took it during the course of the
day. About eleven o'clock I left him, and he was then comfortable in
bed. Soon after twelve Mrs. Toms called me up and asked me if I would
come round and strap up his wound. I went, still as a friend, not a
professional; and deceased sat very quietly while I dressed the wound.
It was not very deep, but merely a scratch. About 12.30 he began to get
worse, and at 2 o'clock I told Toms it would be prudent to send for a
surgeon, as I had done all I could for him and could do no more. Dr.
Colbeck came shortly afterwards. I stayed with the deceased till he died
at 4.40. He was nearly insensible all the time. When he was in bed I
told him it was a bad job that he had had a fall, and that it would be
sure to upset him; but he only said that he was very sorry he had fallen
By a Juryman: I have not heard that he was going downstairs to cook
By the Foreman: The deceased never told me he had a fall previous to
this. I heard to-day that he did fall down the area steps at the
"Imperial Hotel" last week.
Mr. Thomas William Colbeck, a surgeon residing and practising in
Dover, said: On Monday morning, about 2.50, I was called to the
"Shakespeare Inn" to see the deceased. I found him on the bed in his
room, in a severe fit of epilepsy. I tried to administer some medicine,
and gave directions to Mr. Thomas as to his treatment. I remained with
him twenty minutes, but he was no better when I left, I left some
medicine for him to take if he became at all able to swallow. There was
a cut on the back of his head which it was impossible to examine owing
to his convulsions, and not being able to move him on account of his
great weight. I have examined it since he has been dead, and found it to
be a scalp wound, without any fracture of the scull, and not sufficient
to cause death in a healthy man. I attended the deceased about six years
ago for delirium tremens. I think the blow to his head might have caused
an epileptic seizure in a person in the state of health in which I am
led to believe the deceased was. From the evidence I think that the
wound was quite such as would have been caused by an accident similar to
that I have heard described, and that the epileptic fit was an immediate
cause of death.
The Jury returned a verdict to the effect "That the deceased died
from an epileptic fit, accelerated by his fall downstairs.
The first amenity, in Hawkesbury Street, received a new
liquor licence in 1845. George Toms held the licence by 1859. He was a local
mariner who had been born at a house which was later replaced by the
"Queen's Head". He retired from that profession and kept this house up to
1877 when he transferred the licence to newly erected premises in Forty Foot
Road, (Elizabeth Street). Despite opposition, mostly from the trade itself,
he successfully opened the new outlet which contained two bars and seventeen
rooms. It opened at 3.30 a.m. but at 5 a.m. after 1900.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer,
25 June, 1877. Price 1d.
THE NEW PUBLIC-HOUSE IN COUNCIL STREET
Mr. Worsfold Mowll presented a memorial to the Bench on behalf of the
owners and occupiers of the public-houses at the Pier, asking that they
would oppose the approval of the plans submitted to the Licensing
Committee by Mr. Toms, to erect new premises at Council House Street,
and signed by the Justices of the Peace. Mr. Mowll addressed the Bench
at considerable length and handed in the memorial which he had read.
In the absence of Mr. Stilwell (the Magistrates Clerk) it was agreed
to let the matter stand over.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 31
August, 1877. Price 1d.
APPLICATIONS FOR NEW LICENSES
Mr. George Toms, the present occupier of the "Shakespeare Inn"
in Hawkesbury Street, made an application for the removal of a
beer license from that inn to a newly erected house in the
Forty-foot Road, and for a new license.
Mr. Thomas Lewis supported the applications, and Mr. Worsfold Mowll
opposed on behalf of the owners and occupiers of the several licensed
houses in the locality.
Joseph Bourne, builder of the new premises in question, said the
house contained seventeen rooms, two for the accommodation of the
public. It was to be called the "Shakespeare Inn" and was similar to the
"Hotel de Paris."
Mr. Toms said that during the last year he had suffered
severely through the recent floodings of salt water at the Pier. He had
found that he had now a connection round him which would be better
served if he had better premises. He had erected the new house at his
own risk of obtaining the license at this meeting.
Mr. Worsfold Mowll said this case had given him a very great deal of
anxiety not to leave out one single point which he could strongly use
against the granting of the license to the new premises, and in a
lengthy and forcible speech urged the Bench to refuse the application,
on the ground that there were already more than sufficient houses, that
under faith of the policy of the Bench to grant no new licenses the
owners of the existing houses had invested their capital, and that it
was not for the public convenience or in the interests of public
morality that the difficulty of conducting a legitimate business should
be increased, if it was for public convenience or public morality why
then refuse it? In conclusion, he said, with all respect to the Bench,
that if they granted this license it would be a great injustice to the
public-house owners in the neighbourhood.
Mr. Henry Hayward, estate agent, said he acted for most of the
brewers in Dover and had a good knowledge of the Pier District, and the
sufficient accommodation afforded by the second-class hotels. He had
several to let and found great difficulty in obtaining tenants for them.
There were three of these houses situated between the two railways for
which he was anxious to obtain tenants.
Mr. Charles Beeching, proprietor of the "Hotel
de Paris," said when he took the house in January, 1876, he laid out
£1,500 on improvements which he would not have done if he had known
there would have been an opposition. During the season he had not been
one full night and on Thursday last there was only one person in
the house and the next night not a soul. The rent of the house was
£125, and, as far as he could judge, was of exactly the same description
as the newly constructed building in question. If he had another £1,000
he could not make any further improvements.
Mr. Mowll said the lease of this had just been renewed for a term of
99 years, and was the property of Dover Harbour Board.
Mr. William Oldfield, landlord of the "Royal
Hotel," Clarence Place, said the new house came in between him and
the station. His custom was entirely chance custom and he might go for a
month without having anyone in to sleep, in fact, he had only been full
three times this season, and then he had plenty of accommodation. There
had been a very great difference this year owing to the Castalia having
William W. Baker, of the "Clarence
Hotel," said if the license was granted it would make a deal of
difference to him.
William C. R. Jackson, of the "Princess Maud," said he had not been
full this season, and the previous night he had only one person in the
Stephen Smith, late of the "Providence Inn," said he took the house
in August, 1875, and left the 6th July, 1877. During the last seven
months he was nearly starved at it, and when the navvies were at work at
the slip on the South-Eastern Railway, he had six of them at his house,
and was glad to take them. He lost £150 in twelve months.
Mr. Lewis said that if the new license was granted the old house
would be closed.
The Magistrates retired at 2.40 to consider their decision in the
foregoing case, and others that had been reserved. After thirty minutes
absence, they returned to the Bench, when Dr. Astley said: I refer first
to the transfers. In the case of the "Spotted Cow," we refuse the
transfer. In the case of the "Shah," we consent to the transfer being
made. Then in reference to the application s for new licenses. There
were three. The first was refused for want of sufficient value of the
property being proved. The next was for a license to be removed from the
"Old Dolphin Inn" to a new house. That we have granted. The other was an
application from George Toms to transfer his license from a house in
Hawkesbury Street to a new house, and the majority of the Magistrates
have approved of that license being granted.
Mr. W. R. Mowll: I take this the proper opportunity of giving
expression to my convictions in the matter. It is not at a little cost
to my private feeling that I do not sit in silence and hear the decision
of the Bench given. My desire to act in conformity with my colleagues is
very great, but my desire that my character as a public man and as a
magistrate should to-day and in the future go down unsullied is still
dearer to me. It does appear to me that in granting the application of
Mr. Toms the Bench have departed from a principle which they have
adopted for several years past, and which I believe has acted for the
well-being of the town at large. The district in which Mr. Toms proposes
to have his new house is one already to my mind amply supplied with
licensed houses, and -
Mr. Finnis: I should like to be in order.
Mr. W. R. Mowll: I am within my rights.
Mr. Finnis: I challenge your rights.
Mr. Rees: And I.
Mr. Finnis: I appeal to the Chairman, and I think I may appeal with
some confidence. It is known in the superior courts judging differing
from the decision given claim to give their own judgement each for
himself. Now it happens in this case that the magistrates, with the
exception of Mr. Mowll agree. Mr. Mowll, I think, is entitled to give
his judgement, but his opinion is not asked, and I do not think he is
entitled to give it.
Mr. W. R. Mowll: I must rise to speak too. I am addressing my
fellow-townsmen through the Press.
Mr. Rees: I beg your pardon. We are not addressing anyone through the
Press. We are sitting on the Bench. We are not holding a public
Mr. Finnis and other Magistrates rose to leave.
Mr. W. R. Mowll: You are welcome to leave. I shall still address my
fellow-townsmen through the Press.
Some formal business connected with the other licenses having been
transacted, the Chairman and other Magistrates, except Mr. Mowll, left
Mr. W. R. Mowll: I am still on the Bench. The Press will please
observe that. I repeat that it costs me a very great deal to stand in
opposition to the rest of my colleagues, but I do put the very highest
estimate on public morals, and my experience as a magistrate brings me
to this conclusion that in the ratio on which licensed houses are
multiplied so in that ratio excessive drinking is multiplied. My
conviction is that the district to which we refer is already amply
supplied with licensed houses. Futher than that, much has been
given us in evidence that certain of our fellow-townsmen carrying on a
respectable business have been led to lay out large sums under the
impression that the Bench would grant no more licenses. I consider that
ought to have weighed with us on the principle of doing to others as we
would they should do unto us, and under that conviction I desire, so far
as possible, to limit the opportunity of excessive drinking. My
conviction that the license should not have been granted. (Applause.)
Mr. Mowll then left, and the Court was cleared.
From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 14 December, 1877. Price 1d.
THE ECCENTRIC LADY OF ALBERT ROAD.
Francis Mary Bailey, of 22, Albert Road, was charged with wilfully
breaking three panes of glass at the “Shakespeare Inn,” Commercial Quay,
the property of Mr. G. Toms, of the value of £6 6s.
Stephen Solley said: I live at 42, Council House Street. Last evening,
between 8 and 9, I was passing Conrade’s “Prince Imperial Hotel,” and I
saw the defendant standing on the opposite side of the street. I walked
on towards the pier and she walked the same way. We were side by side. I
said nothing to her. When we got to the “Harp Hotel” I went on to the
other side of the street; she continued on the same side. She asked a
fly driver if his cab was engaged. He said it was not, and opened the
door for her to get in. She said “No,” and flourished her umbrella. I
could see she was very much excited. I crossed by Lukey’s store to the
Forty-foot-way, and the defendant did the same. She kept close to me,
and I tried to avoid her. When I got to Mr. Tom’s house – the
“Shakespeare Inn” – I saw defendant strike at the window with her
umbrella. She could not break it that way, and so she thrust the point
through. She struck at others but could not break them. When she got as
far as the door she broke two more in the same way. Mr. and Mrs. Toms
came running out of the house and took hold of her. Someone asked her
why she done it. She said because his son had tampered with some deeds
belonging to her, and she would have the house down. She was detained
until a Constable came. She did not appear in liquor; she was walking at
the same pace as I was, about 4 miles an hour.
Defendant: Witness is quite a stranger to me. I did not speak to him.
Everyone is allowed to walk the streets without following other people.
I suppose I am allowed to go out for a walk as well as anyone else.
George Toms, proprietor of the “Shakespeare Inn,” said: I was in my bar,
and I heard a noise which I thought was the report of a revolver in the
coffee-room. I went into the room but could not see anything. My wife
and I went to the door, and we saw the defendant outside striking the
windows at the door of a private bar with her umbrella. I just had time
to catch hold of her as she commenced beating at the windows of the
public bar. I asked her what she did it for. She said her son had been
tampering with deeds upon a house that belonged to her. She said the
Prince of Wales was coming, and he would settle it.
Defendant: It’s false.
Mr. Toms: She was very much excited.
Defendant: Not any more than you are.
Mr. Toms: I detained her until a friend of hers came. We tried to reason
with her to pay the damage, but she would not listen to it. To replace
the glass it will cost me £6 6s.
Defendant: I can have it done cheaper than that.
Mr. Toms: I know nothing of the woman, nor does my son. He is on the
line, at Chatham.
Police-constable Brace deposed to taking the defendant into custody, and
seeing the three windows broken.
Defendant: It is quite correct. I was excited.
Police-sergeant Barton said the defendant was a terror in the
neighbourhood in which she lived. They were constantly receiving
complaints at the station about her conduct. While she was in the cell
at the station last night she continually pressed them to send for the
Prince of Wales and Prince Arthur to bail her out.
The Bench remanded the prisoner until Friday, in order that the prison
surgeon might report on the state of her mind.
From the Dover Express and East Kent
Intelligencer, 19 April, 1878. Price 1d.
PUBLIC HOUSE BUSINESS
Mr. Toms applied for permission to open early at the "Shakespeare
Inn," Queen Elizabeth Street. The Magistrates granted the application.
From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 23 November, 1883. 1d.
A respectably dressed young man, named Harrison, was charged with being
drunk and refusing to quit licensed premises, and also with assaulting a
Mr. Toms, son of the landlord of the “Shakespeare Inn,” Council House
Street, said that he wished to withdraw the case against the defendant
as he was a respectable young man, and was sorry for what had occurred.
The Bench: What about the charge of assault on the police.
The Superintendent: I leave it with the Bench. The constable is willing
to pass over the charge of assault.
The mayor then cautioned the defendant and discharged him.
Before leaving Toms, who died in August 1900, aged 76, it
may be of interest to say that he was a great friend of Captain Matthew Webb
the channel swimmer. He was his pilot on 24 August 1875 when he swam to
When the Chief Constable objected to this renewal in 1940, some
interesting moves took place. It was on a lease of 21 years which had
started on 5 July 1934. It could only be terminated by either side, at seven
year intervals. The licence was refused on 7 June and the house was referred
to the Compensation Authority.
From the Dover Express, 4 October, 1940.
A case regarding the apportionment of compensation in regard to the
"Shakespeare" public house, was adjourned to Canterbury on 11th October,
or to some other day convenient to the parties concerned.
The registered owners took advantage of their option and gave
notice to terminate on 6 July 1941. Compensation meanwhile of £1,500 had
been awarded and the owners and the lessees held differing views on who it
belonged to. The Court ruled that the owners receive £303.10s. and the
This outlet of George Beer and Rigden was destroyed during
a bombing attack on 2 October 1941.
CHANT R before 1845
RAPSON Richard Chant 1845-47
TOMS George 1859-83+
SCOTT George senior 1889-Nov/1900
STEVENS Robert Nov/1900-Aug/14
DEVERSON Gilbert Charles Aug/1914-Aug/17+
DEVERSON Mrs Aug/1917-19
DEVERSON Gilbert Charles 1919-24
ALLEN J 1925
ELLEN Ernest William 1926-Jan/27
BALSOM John Jan/1927-28 end
(Formerly of the Royal Marines)
ROWE Thomas Henry 1928-June/29
RIGDEN Frederick June/1929-Feb/31
BRANNON Thomas Feb/1931-35
(Formerly Regimental-Sergeant Major of the Depot, Royal Scots.)
MARTIN Wilfred to Nov/1935
LUGG/SUGG Charles Vivian Nov/1935-37
MARVIN Wilfred 1938+
From Bagshaw Directory 1847
From the Post Office Directory 1874
From the Post Office Directory 1882
From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1895
From the Kelly's Directory 1899
From the Post Office Directory 1901
From the Post Office Directory 1903
From the Post Office Directory 1913
From the Post Office Directory 1922
From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1924
From the Post Office Directory 1930
From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1932-33
From the Post Office Directory 1938
From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1938-39
From the Dover Express