Sort file:- Maidstone, October, 2023.

Page Updated Maidstone:- Monday, 30 October, 2023.


Earliest 1538-


Latest ????

(Name to)

St Faith's Green



The pub is mentioned as being in Gabriel's Hill and is mentioned in local historian John Leyland's account of 1538.

It is said that the pub became the "Half Way House" by 1860.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.


Murder and Execution.

The morning of Monday 25th August 1783 had been one of sunshine and showers. At around 10 a.m. twenty-five-year-old Mary Bax, a well-respected young woman from Deal, began her journey along the ancient highway to Sandwich. The purpose of her journey was to deliver a parcel (sadly, records don’t record its contents). As she passes the "Checker’s Inn" (also known as the "Halfway House") she passes a young vagabond sitting at the road side. Whether Mary took any notice of Martin Laas (all the official records spell his name thus) is not known. But upon spotting Mary carrying her parcel Laas decides to follow and rob her.

He stalks his victim for about half a mile, before finally catching her up. Laas asks for directions to Sheerness. Mary replies that he is a ‘great distance’ away, and when Lass begs for money to ‘bear his expenses’, Miss Bax regrets she has none to give. Unperturbed, Martin Laas accompanies his prey a little longer. The Newgate Calendar reveals what occurred next:-

…[O]n passing a ditch, [he] pushed her into it, and jumping upon her, into mud and water up to his middle, and thus smothered her. He then took a bundle which she carried in her hands, and her shoes from her feet, with which he made off through the marshes, across the country towards Dover.

Unfortunately for Laas his crime was witnessed by a looker’s son (‘Looker being a Kentish colloquialism for a shepherd). The boy, whose surname was Rogers (eleven or twelve-year-of-age), had been sheltering from the rain in a haystack, when he heard Mary’s desperate screams. Upon seeing Rogers coming towards him Laas fled. After discovering Mary’s body lying among the reeds and bulrushes, Rogers then ran toward Deal to raise the alarm. He was immediately taken to the local magistrate, where he explained all.

Martin Laas was eventually caught sleeping in a churchyard in Dover (some more contemporary accounts state it was Folkestone). He was committed to St Dunstan’s Gaol at Canterbury, to await his trial at the next Maidstone Assizes.

The only known illustration of Martin Laas, as featured in the Illustrated Police News of 18 November 1882.

At his trial in Maidstone the defendant behaved with ‘unparalleled audacity’. He showed no remorse; on the contrary he appeared very cheerful. He mocked the court and insulted the witnesses. When the guilty verdict was given Laas gave three cheers and became so rowdy that the judge ordered that the prisoner be chained to the floor of his cell, until the time of his execution. It was during this period that Laas confessed to the murder. He was hanged on Penenden Heath, which until Christmas 1830 was the site for all Maidstone’s executions. Laas didn’t die alone. Also upon the scaffold was John Huntley (convicted of murdering his wife). After the execution Huntley was sent to be anatomized, but the surgeons, according to the Newgate Calendar, had no interest in Laas and his corpse was burned beneath the gallows.

Mary Bax plaque

Kentish Gazette, 11 January 1853.


The Epiphany Sessions for this borough were held on Monday, at the Town Hall, before Sir W. B. Riddell, Bart., Recorder, and the following magistrates:— H. W. Joy, (Mayor), and Messrs. Argles Godden, Stacey, Hydo, Ellis, and Whichcord.

John Oliver and William Brown were charged with stealing two hand-bills, the property of Stephen Grigsby Stone-street, and Frederick King with receiving the same knowing them to have been stolen. The three prisoners it appeared, figured recently in our militia.

Mr. Grigsby identified the two hand-bills as his property, and stated that they were stolen from the front of his shop about half-past seven on Friday evening last, when he gave information to the police.

George Copper, marine store dealer, Week-street, stated that King brought him a hand-bill on Saturday morning which he said was his father's, that his name was John Smith, and that it was by his father's desire he brought it. Gave him a shilling for it; he went out, but soon returned with another, for which he also received 1s.

Henry Bexley, a young fellow apparently of the same class as the prisoners, stated that he was at the "Chequers" St. Faith's Green, with King at breakfast on Saturday morning, when Oliver came in, and Brown afterwards. Oliver said his mate Brown had got some hand-bills to sell and all they got over 1s. should be spent. They all went out, witness following. He saw King go into Copper's and when he came out he gave a shilling to Brown, saying that is all. Brown then told King to take in the other one; King said, Is it all right, for if it is not I shall get into a row. Brown said it was, and King went in with the second bill, and returned with another shilling. One shilling was changed at a beershop, and Oliver got 7d. and King 4d. King said he did not want anything unless it was all right.

W. Sunnock deposed to getting the bills from Copper and apprehending the prisoners. King acknowledged selling the bills at the desire of two companions; the others denied all knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Horn prosecuted. Brown and Oliver were found guilty of stealing; King guilty of receiving, but recommended to mercy on the ground that he was led into the offence by his companions.

Sentenced, Brown and Oliver, to six weeks hard labour, the first and last were solitary; King, three weeks, the first and the last three days solitary.




MARTIN Charles 1851+ (age 41 in 1851Census)

BIRD John 1857-67+ (also lodging house keeper age 32 in 1861Census) Post Office Directory 1867


Post Office Directory 1867From the Post Office Directory 1867


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