Forge Hill, Roman Road
Picture taken from Shepherd Neame web site 2011.
"Walnut Tree" Sketch taken from their web site.
Photo by Oast House Archive 2009 from
Sign left April 1986, sign right July 1991.
Above with thanks from Brian Curtis
Above sign left June 1992, sign right 2011.
The "Walnut Tree Inn" was built during the reign of Richard II
(1377-1399) in the year of the crusades. Five years before, seventeen horses
fetched 19 shillings each and six 15 shillings each at auction held in St
When first built, the house was no more than a timber framed, wattle and
doubt hut with a thatched roof. A fire burned in a central hearth and an
aperture in the roof, a louvre, acted as a flue. The floor, of the only room
(called the hall) was covered with straw, there were no bedrooms, cupboards
or furniture. Supplies and possessions were kept in baskets or boxes.
Everyone in the family lived, ate and slept in this one room. The average
cost of a dwelling of this type was about six pounds.
In the mid fifteenth century a small bedroom was added at a higher level.
Reached by ladder, here the children of the family would sleep on wooden cot
beds, often suspended from beams.
In 1456, one Septimus Longbarrow, a yeoman of Ashford. purchased the
house and 10 acres of arable land for 11 pounds. In 1502 one Joseph Silver,
yeoman, resided here with his wife Rebecca and seven children, by the turn
of the sixteenth century great improvements had been carried out to the
property and the main dwelling enlarged. In 1611, the property was purchased
by one Nicholas Marren a former bailiff of the Manor of Aldington.
Sometime during the seventeenth century ale began to be brewed here, for
in a sale document of 1687, a "brew-house" is included in the inventory. In
1704, the property was purchased by one Jonas Quilter.
In August of the same year Quilter stood before two justices at Ashford
and was granted a license to sell ales and ciders, from the premises which
at this date bore no title but was registered as an ale house under
ownership. In 1749, the property was purchased by Thomas Gadhew, who upon
being granted a license registered the house under the title of the "Walnut
During the Napoleonic wars Aldington was the stronghold of the Aldington
Gang, an infamous band of smugglers that roamed the marshes and shores of
Kent plying their nefarious trade. The gang's prolific leaders, Cephas
Quested and George Ransley, both natives of Aldington, made the "Walnut
Tree" their headquarters and drop point for their illicit contraband. High
up on the southern side of the inn is a small window through which the gang
would shine a signal light to their confederates up to Aldington Knoll.
The "Walnut Tree's" association with lawlessness did not end with the
demise of the smugglers for as late as 1904 the inn was centre of the cock
The "Walnut Tree" has seen and undergone many changes since first it was
built but the historic character remains unchanged. The food and liquor
served here these days is strictly legal... so stay, enjoy the fayre and
reflect on those bygone days.
The "Walnut Tree" offers open fires in the winter and a beer garden in
the summer. Children are welcome with and there is a garden play area with a
bouncy castle at weekends.
Now supplied by Shephard Neame this pub also serves meals where there is
a menu to suit all, including meat and fish dishes cooked on sizzling
Kentish Gazette 13 February 1849.
A few evenings since, the landlord of the "Black Horse Inn,"
crossing the road at about nine o'clock, saw a person lying on his back,
with his arms extended. He (supposing the person to be intoxicated)
went to assist him by placing him on his legs, when to all appearance he
was asleep, but on taking him into his house, with the assistance of
other parties, it was discovered that he was dead. He proved to be Mr. Firman, late of the
"Walnut Tree Inn," Aldington, who had arrived at the
Pluckley station, and was on his way to Charing, where he resided. He
had a considerable sum of money on his person.
Kentish Gazette 04 February 1851.
IN THE PARISH OF ALDINGTON.
Mr. R. Thompson will sell by auction, at the "Walnut Tree Inn,"
Aldington, on Thursday, the 6th February, 1851, at One o'clock in the
Afternoon, a Stack of excellent Meadow Hay, standing at Stone Street
Green, containing about 22 Tons.
Mr. Divers, of the "Walnut Tree Inn," will show the Stack, and further
particulars may be had of the Auctioneer, Saltwood, Hythe.
From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 16 June 1860.
SUICIDE BY A FARMER.
An inquest was held by C. J. Fox, Esq-, deputy coroner for Kent, at the
"Walnut Tree Inn," Aldington, on Thursday last, upon the body of William
Kesby, a farmer, belonging to the adjoining parish of Bonnington. It
appeared that on Tuesday afternoon Charlotte Kesby, a niece of deceased,
saw his gabardine and dog beside the pond, near their house, and his
coat floating on the water. She called John Kesby, a brother of
deceased, who now deposed—on going to the pond I found my brother, quite
dead and cold. His legs were tied together by a cord near the ankles.
The pond was four or five feet deep. The deceased's mind has been very
much affected for the last two years, and he has had several fits. He
had a severe fall from a hay stack last Christmas, and fell with his
head upon a stone I believe that the fall very materially affected his
spirits, and led him to commit suicide. He was 70 years of age, and was
always a very quiet, inoffensive, and sober man. The jury returned a
verdict of "Temporary insanity."
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 20 March 1880.
ALDINGTON. FATAL ACCIDENT.
On Friday evening a fatal accident occurred to Mr. James Smith, landlord
of the "Walnut Tree Inn" at AIdington Corner. Mr. Smith was driving a
commercial traveller to Hythe, and stopping at the "Shepherd and Crook," Burmarsh, the landlord, Ovenden, said
he was about to drive to Hythe
and would take the traveller with him. Mr. Smith accepted the offer, and
started in a few minutes to return to Aldington. On the journey the cart
was overturned into a ditch near the Rectory. The Rev. Mr. Valpy heard
the noise of the horse splashing in the water, and summoning assistance
Mr. Smith was found on his face forced down in the mud; the splash
board of the cart being on his neck. He was completely smothered, and
could not be resuscitated. At an inquest on Saturday a verdict of "
Accidental death " was returned.
From YourDover.co.uk, 26 March, 2008
EATERY IS AN HISTORIC PLACE TO BE.
THE historic "Walnut Tree" pub in the village of Aldington was built
during the reign of Richard II.
It started as no more than a timber-framed wattle-and-daub hut with a
thatched roof, but in the mid-15th century a small bedroom was added at
a higher level - it was reached by ladder.
Ale was brewed on site in the 17th century and the inn grew in
But during the Napoleonic wars with France the village was the
stronghold of the Aldington Gang - an infamous band of smugglers who
roamed the marshes and shoreline.
High up on the southern side of the pub is a small window, through which
the gang would shine a signal to their confederates on Aldington Knoll.
The ghost of George Ransley, a bygone smuggler, is reputed to haunt the
inn and many strange happenings have been reported.
The "Walnut Tree" has an excellent restaurant which serves fine
food - sizzling grillstones, the oldest form of cooking meat on stones
on the table.
The inn prides itself on home-cooked fare and Sunday
roasts. It also has outside bars and a marquee can be arranged for large functions such as weddings.
The pub is opposite the village cricket green and there is ample
car-parking space and an excellent beer garden.
http://www.ghostpubs.com accessed 17 June 2015.
Built in the reign of Richard 2nd between 1377 and 1399, it was
timber-framed wattle and daub with thatched roof until rebuilt. Inside
the inn is a bread oven built into an inglenook fireplace. There is
still a spy-hole, once used by the smugglers, to view the marshes
searching for Revenue men. Cock fighting took place here until 1904. The
"Walnut Tree" exhibits ghostly manifestations. These include a smuggler,
who expired in the pub during a poker game with a gang of outlaws. His
throat was slit, and his body was thrown down a well. There have been
further reports of several phantom children in Victorian style dress
being seen and heard in the bars. Aldington Knoll, nearby, people have
claimed, to be the burial site of a giant. Author, H.G. Wells, said this
site was the entrance to fairyland.
QUILTER Jonas 1704+
GADHEW Thomas 1749+
AMESS Elgar 1828+
FIRMAN John 1832-Feb/49 dec'd (age 40 in 1841)
DIVERS William 1851-58+ (age 39 in 1851)
FIRMAN Mary 1861+
SMITH Mrs James 1882-Mar/80 dec'd
SMITH Mary (widow) Mar/1880-1901+
DENNE Annie 1903+
MOODIE Ernest 1911-13+ (age 35 in 1911)
AWFORD Herbert George 1922-39+
BARRETT Graham & Karen 2011+
From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29
From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34
From Melville's Directory 1858
From the Post Office Directory 1882
From the Post Office Directory 1903
From the Post Office Directory 1913
From the Post Office Directory 1922
From the Post Office Directory 1930
From the Post Office Directory 1938
and Herne Bay Herald