Sort file:- Canterbury, March, 2024.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 26 March, 2024.


Earliest 1860-

Sovereign Inn

Latest 1881+

26 (5 in 1861Census) Castle Street


Former Sovereign Inn

Above premises being number 26 Castle Street.

Former Sovereign

Above photo date unknown, by Darkstar.

Canterbury map 1874

Above map 1874 identified by Rory Kehoe.

Sovereingn paint work 2021

Above photo showing some original paint work discovered whilst being renovated in 2021. Kindly taken and sent by Michael Mirams. Looks like it was offering Truman, Hanbury & Buxton's London Porter.


As early as 1826 the premises was lived in by John Thomas Scudamore, who was listed as a surgeon. Later but date unknown a Zachariah Prentice, linen manufacturer was living there.

The first mention of a publican in the premises, now called the "Sovereign Inn" was James Dovell identified from the 1881 census. However by 1889 the premises appeared to be occupied by a T. Fowler Junior, and the premises was being used as a fruit and potato stores.

A George Dowell was licensee before 1867 and further research has shown a Mr. G Finn as being the licensee in 1870 when he organised a race, see below.


South Eastern Gazette, 11 September, 1860.


There were nine applications for new licenses, as follow:—

Granted. Isaac Barlow, for the "Tower Inn," Pound-lane.

Elizabeth Martin, for the "Kentish Arms," sic Westgate.

Refused. William Todd, for the "Plough," Pound-lane.

Isaac Pierce, for the "Millers Arms," Pound-lane.

James Henry Robins, for the "Sovereign," Castle-street.

Richard Yeomans, for the "Steam Packet," North-lane.

John Sidney Hawkes, for the "Cannon Inn," Northgate sic.

Edward Yeomans, for the "Man of Kent."

John Gillis, for the "Fortune of War."

A billiard license was granted to William Dilnot Wildish, Parade. Possible "Brewery Tap."


South Eastern Gazette, Tuesday 10 September 1861.


The applications for new licenses were then made, as follows:-

James Henry Robins, for the "Sovereign," Castle Street.

Mr. Fielding supported the application, and urged that it was necessary that the license should be granted, as the traffic through Castle Street had been much increased since the opening of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. He also spoke of the accommodation the house offered to the public, and handed in two memorials, one of them signed by visitors to the house, and the other by persons residing in the neighbourhood. The application was granted.


South Eastern Gazette, 25 September, 1860.


On Thursday last the city justices held an adjourned sitting for the granting of public-house licenses and other business connected with the renewal of spirit licenses. The decision of the bench was announced with reference to the "Woolpack" in North-lane, the license being refused. Mr. Delasaux, on the part of the landlord of the "Royal Sovereign" beer-shop, in Castle-street, sought to reopen the consideration of the application of his clients for a spirit licence, which had been refused at the previous meeting, but the bench declined to depart from their usual practice, and the decision remains unaltered.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 11 July, 1863.


On Monday, Mr Robins, landlord of the “Sovereign” public-house, Castle-street, appeared to answer a complaint for having skittle playing on his premises at five minutes before 2 o’clock in the morning. Mr. Robins said it was not so late as that. He admitted it was after 12 o’clock when a policeman went to his house and got his “allowance” of something to drink without paying for it. Superintendent Davies asked have the ease thoroughly investigated.

Mr. Robins said he had a private skittle club and he could not interfere with them.

The Magistrates informed him that he was responsible for what took place on his premise, on which he promised that the cause of offence should not be repeated.

The Bench recommended Mr. Davies to lay Mr. Robin’s statement about the policeman having got his “allowance” before the Watch Committee.


From the Maidstone Telegraph, 1 January 1870. Price 1d.


A 140 yard handicap, promoted by Mr G. Finn, “Sovereign Inn,” took place at the new running grounds. Canterbury, on Monday last. Snow fell during the greater part of the day, and there was consequently not many present. The first prize was 7, second 1 10s, and third 1 5s being awarded to each winning a heat who was not placed in the final. After the preliminary heats had been run, G. Baker, Canterbury, 30 yards start; H. Newman, Canterbury, 33 yards start; and E. Weller, Canterbury. 20 yards start, were left in for the final. Wellor was the favourite, but he was unable to recover the long start conceded to his opponents, and Baker, passing Newman, won somewhat easily. Newman being second and Weller third. A. Jury, 26 yards start, and G. Nurse, 28 yards start, of Maidstone, ran in the handicap. Jury won his heat, but Nurse, after a game struggle to catch his opponent (who started five yards in front of him), was defeated by barely a yard.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 16 April 1870.


Thomas Wellard, a man in the employ of Messrs. Leney and Evenden, of the Phoenix Brewery, Dover, was charged with leaving the horses and dray in his charge unattended, thereby endangering the safety of foot passengers.

Mr. Superintendent Davies stated that he saw a dray and two horses in Castle-street, on Friday, the 1st April. He saw them standing outside the "Sovereign" public-house quite five minutes with no one to look after them. The defendant afterwards came out of the “Sovereign.” He had frequently cautioned the men in Messrs. Leney and Evenden's employ, or he might have simply cautioned the defendant in this instance.

Defendant said this was the first time he had been in Canterbury, and he had therefore never been cautioned.

Mr. Finn, of the "Sovereign," said there was a chain fastening the wheel to the cart, so that they could not move.

The Bench considered the charge to be proved, and fined the defendant 1s.; costs, 17s.


From the Whitstable Times, 24 September, 1870.


At the city Police Court, on Thursday, (before H. G. Austin, Esq., in the chair, Alderman Masters, J. Hemery, Esq., and H. Cooper, Esq.,) the Directors of the Canterbury Gas and Water Company were summoned for poisoning wells in Castle-street, by allowing a leakage to exist at their gas works twenty-four hours after notice had been given to the company.

Mr. Webster, barrister, appeared far plaintiff; Mr. Bealey for the defendants.

George Felix Finn, landlord of the “Sovereign,” was the complainant in the first case.

In opening the proceedings, Mr. Webster remarked that the object of the plaintiffs in taking out summonses against the company was not expressly for extorting heavy penalties, but more for securing a pure supply of water in future. In the case now before the Bench, the facts were these:— Up to the commencement of the year, plaintiff had been supplied with water through the company's old mains, the well on his premises having far some time been closed, in consequence of the offsets of a leakage from the gas works. Prior to opening the well, plaintiff received a notice, from the directors, informing him that, as they had adopted new works, the old supply would be discontinued; and Finn, having a desire to make use of the well, determined to have it re-opened, upon doing which the water therein was found to be poisoned by being contaminated with percolations from the gas works. On making a complaint of this, Finn was told he would find, if he emptied the well of its contents, the new water which came in would be pure. Of course he was only too pleased to try the experiment. The prospects held out were not realised, however; the fresh water, as it found its way into the well from the springs, being still more impregnated then that which was taken out. The plaintiff was, therefore, induced to serve the company with a notice on the 24th of August. Having observed that the company had been re-incorporated, Mr. Webster proceeded to draw attention to the Act of Parliament and to the clause defining the penalty to which the company was subjected for creating such an offence—viz., a sum not exceeding 200 as penalty, and 10 for every day that elapse after the expiration of twenty-four hours after the service of the notice if the evil is not remedied. He did not know what defence Mr. Bealey could make to the charge—whether or not he would deny there was any leakage at all, after the meetings the directors had held upon the subject of contamination, and the resolution agreed to by them, whereby they proposed terms to these whose wells had been injured; and surely after this it could not be reasonable for them to come here and deny that any leakage existed. There was no doubt whatever that the ammoniacal water did escape from the gas-holder tank, that it percolated the soil, and poisoned the water in the neighbouring wells, and it was for the purpose of having their rights re-instated that the aggrieved persons had instituted these proceedings.

The magistrates' clerk having read the notice served upon the directors, which it appeared was worded under the auspices of the old company, the following evidence was produced by Mr. Webster:

George Felix Finn deposed:— I have occupied the “Sovereign Inn” for a period of five years, and during the greater part of that time I have been supplied with water through the old pipes of the company. On receiving a notice stating that the old supply would be discontinued and a new one introduced, I determined to open the well in my cellar for the purpose of ascertaining whether the water from the springs was pure, and for this purpose I took the old water out and let the fresh in. The new water as it came in was strongly impregnated with gas, which was perceptible both as regards taste and smell. I examined the well also on a subsequent occasion, with the same result, and have tested the water again this morning, finding it still poisoned.

Mr. Webster was about asking Finn whether he was not aware of his own knowledge that other wells in the locality had been similarly poisoned, when Mr. Besley objected to the question, contending that the magistrates were there simply investigating a complaint made by Finn, not affecting any one else.

Mr. Webster appealed to the Bench. If the same means of poisoning the plaintiffs well affected other wells, he argued that he had a right to ask the question.

The magistrates thought it would be more in order for Mr. Webster to confine himself to the case in which Mr. Finn was plaintiff.

Mr. Finn, in continuing his statement, said he remembered opening the well in 1867, when the water appeared to be clear and good.

Cross-examined by Mr. Besley:— Under the old supply I had four taps in my house from which I could obtain water—one in the cellar, two on the ground floor, and one upstairs. Up to the time the old supply was cut off I had the water gratuitously.

I prefer using well water, which I consider superior.

I believe there was a leakage from the gas-holder tank in 1854, but I was not occupier of the “Sovereign” then. I had a supply of gas from the company up to March, 1869, when I discontinued being a customer, and the gas was cut off by my order. The escape which poisons my well could not have emanated from the gas pipes, as the well is 3 ft. below them. I was aware I had power to dig up the ground to ascertain if there was any leakage from the main pipe, which is 15ft. or 20ft. from the well; but I did not do so, as I did not think it probable the pollution took place through any escape from the main. There was a cesspool 16ft. away from the well. I admit that I want a conviction, and I suppose the penalty will follow.

Re-examined:— I did not come here particularly to seek damages, but to ensure a good supply of water, and to regain the exercise of my rights. I did all I could to arrange the matter previously, but as I could not agree to the terms offered by the company, I resorted to these proceedings. If I had taken the new water, I should have expected to have paid for it.

Mr. Webster said a suggestion having been thrown out that drainage might be the cause of the pollution, he would call Mr. Cole to state to the contrary.

George Cole, plumber and glazier, stated that in the coarse of his experience he had opened seven wells, on examining the plaintiffs so found the water strongly impregnated with gas, so much so indeed, as to induce him to be positive that an escape of water from the gas-holder tank was the cause thereof. The water in the bottle produced did not bear traces of gas pollution, and it must have been taken from the top, where the poisonous matter was not so perceptible as at the bottom. Several meetings of persons who considered themselves aggrieved by being deprived of the use of their wells had been held on different occasions, and a deputation waited upon the directors, who passed a resolution stating that water from the new works would be supplied at half price to these persons whose wells appeared to be impregnated with gas, after an examination had been made by their officer; but if the water was found to be pure, the ordinary rate would be charged.

This being the conclusion of the case for the plaintiff, Mr. Besley addressed the magistrates on behalf of the directors, and firstly asked them to give their decision on the point whether the case was properly before them. The wording of the notion he contended was not correct, though that of the summer was; for in the former the directors were indefinitely charged with allowing a leakage of gas washings, whereas the formal and correct term specified by the Act was simply gas. He made this objection because he urged that before a conviction could be recorded it must be shown there was a leakage of gas; whereas up to the present time no evidence had been called that related to anything but gas washings. The mistake was evidently made by the notice being framed under erroneous auspices—viz., an old Act of Parliament.

Mr. Webster said he must protest against any objection as to jurisdiction being entertained at this advanced stage of the proceedings.

The magistrates considered this was an improper time to raise such an objection. It should have been made when the case was first brought before them, and not at the adjourned hearing. The case was postponed at their own instigation.

Mr. Besley, in resuming his address, alluded to the important nature of the decision that would be given by the Bench upon the merits of the case, which he asked them to balance well. They all knew how essential it was that successful issue should attend joint stock enterprise; yet of course he would not for a moment wish them to infer that in their operations they were justified in poisoning wells or in injuring any person; but especially in a company supplying two such important elements in the enjoyment of life as gas and water was it desirable that their management should be successful. If any grievance existed in this instance it was not one for which the present company could be considered responsible, but one which originated in 1854, and which had been condoned for by an arrangement between the parties that they should be supplied with water gratuitously, and the supply had been continued under these circumstances ever since. Up to the time of the new works being opened at the period, to which he referred back, there was an escape from the gas-holder tank, caused by pure accident, and for which no one was to blame. This was, however, as he had said, settled, by the company giving a supply from their own works; and the question for adjudication by the magistrates was whether they would convict the company of an act committed in 1854, the pollution then accruing from that which had now been remedied, as he should conclusively show in evidence, as well as the fact that no offence had been committed during the past six months, the time prescribed by the Act. He might remark that the directors could not understand the necessity of the summonses against them being multiplied, the others well knowing this case was coming on; and if they meant to harass the directors he must ask the Bench to consider whether the evidence in the first case justified them in going into the others. He then called the following evidence: Harry Good, manager of the company from 1839 to 1886, stated that about the year 1852 a complaint was made of the leakage from the gas-holder tank, and an arrangement was made with the occupier of the “Sovereign” on account of the poisoning of his well. Mr. Webster did not see how this agreement, made with a previous tenant to Finn’s predecessor, could in any way be taken to relate to the present case. He objected to such evidence being taken The Bench also thought it had no bearing upon the summons.

Mr. Good continued:— The water round the gasholder was for sealing the vessel. The tank is 40ft. deep. (Witness afterwards corrected this part of his evidence, stating the depth was 16ft.) At the time he alluded to, the holder was out of repair, the puddling with which it was encircled being defective. Attempts were made to repair it, but it was not made a good job.

Edward Eves, inspector, said the water was put on at the “Sovereign” in 1856, and was continued up to last year. There was no leakage whatever in that neighbourhood at the present time. In cross-examination, he admitted he had not taken up all the mains.

Robert K. Moorhouse, the present manager, said there had been no leakage from the gas-holder tank since he had been manager; if there had, he should have found it out by the quantity in the decreasing; and it had not been found necessary to pump fresh water in.

Cross-examined:— Altogether, they had three tanks, two of which had required water, but the one on the same side of the road as plaintiff’s house had not.

Mr. James Burch, secretary, said in 1868 the gasholder tank in question was found to leak, and by order of the directors it was emptied and repaired thoroughly. In July last year he tested the retentive powers of the tank, by taking the level of the water twice—the second time, twenty-four hours after the first, when he found the level precisely the same.

Cross-examined:— He had nothing to do with the practical management of the works. There was a leakage from one of the tanks, but this was seventy yards away from the plaintiff’s premises. There was no leakage from the one near the “Sovereign.”

This being the whole of the evidence, the magistrate retired, and after some deliberation they returned into Court; when the Chairman said they had unanimously arrived at the decision that the case was proved. They fined the company 30 penalty, and ordered them to pay 10s. for every day after twenty-four hours since the service of the notice. The Court would be adjourned until three, when the other cases would be heard.

Mr. Beeley stated that as the directors intended to appeal, they hoped the other cases would not be gone into at present.

Mr. Webster had no objection to their being adjourned, but as the circumstances were different in each case, one decision could not, he thought, apply to all the summonses.

The cases were then adjourned until the 24th of October.


Today, (2012) the building appears to be a Skin and Laser Clinic.



ROBINS Henry James 1860+

COLE Gorge E 1861 (identified as tobacco and carpenter age 33)

ROBINS James Henry Sept/1861-63+ (age 40 in 1861Census)

DOWELL George pre 1865

FINN George Felix & PAGE 1865-70+ Whitstable TimesGreens Canterbury Directory 1868

OYLER James T 1871+ (age 25 in 1871Census)

DOVELL James O H 1881+ (age 52 in 1881Census)



Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald

Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Greens Canterbury Directory 1868


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