Page Updated:- Thursday, 21 September, 2023.


Earliest  1773-


Open 2023+

The Street


01233 770217

Chequers 1905

Above photo date 1905, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Chequers 1950

Above postcard, 1950, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Chequers 1951

Above postcard, 1951, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Chequers 1951

Above postcard, circa 1951, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Above photo, circa 1954, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


Above photo circa 1987.

Chequers 2012

Photo taken 15 December 2012 from by Jelltex.

Chequers 2019

Above photo 2019.

Chequers sign 1990

Above sign, 1990.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


This is a 14th century building that reputedly possesses a secret underground passage to the parish church next door, but its whereabouts is uncertain.

The quaint, weatherboarded hostelry is frequented by visitors from far and wide, but one permanent resident of the pub is not of this world. For the Chequers is haunted by the restless spirit of a French soldier, a prisoner-of-war in the area during the Napoleonic Wars. The name of this lone village ghost has never been discovered, but he is usually active in the bedrooms on the upper floor of the pub, and has been known to move guests' clothing from one room to another.


From the Kentish Gazette, 20 February, 1773. Price 1½d.

To be Sold by AUCTION,

On Tuesday the second Day of March next, between the Hours of Eleven and Twelve in the Forenoon. At the Sign of the “CHEQUER” in SMARDEN.

ALL that MESSUAGE or Tenement, together with a TALLOW-CHANDLER'S SHOP, Warehouse, and Stable, Garden, Orchard, and one Piece of Land thereto belonging, containing one Acre, more or less, situate and being in Headcorn, in the Occupation of Mr. Thomas Bailey.

And also all that new-erected MESSUAGE or Tenement, divided into two Dwellings, with the Garden there-to belonging; situate and being in Headcorn aforesaid, and adjoining to the first-mentioned Messuage or Tenement.

And also all those four Pieces or Parcels of LAND, Meadow and Pasture, containing eighteen Acres, more or less, with a Lodge thereto belonging; situate and being in Smarden in the Occupation of Mr. William Jell.

For further Particulars, enquire of Mr. George Jell, at Tenterden, or of Mr. William Jell, at Smarden, who will shew the Premises.


From the Maidstone Gazette and Kentish Courier, 5 April, 1842.


The "Chequers Inn," at Smarden, with land,

At the "Star Hotel," Maidstone, on Thursday, April 21st, 1842 at Four for Fire o’clock precisely, by order of the Trustees of the late Mr. Crisp, who have directed a positive sale of this remaining portion of his estate, in 4 lots.

The "CHEQUERS INN," at Smarden, with chaise-houses, stables, a malting, and a small quantity of land, situated immediately upon the line of the South-Eastern Railway, and close to the company's intended station.


From the Kentish Gazette, 21 February 1843.


Feb. 4, at the "Chequers Inn," Smarden, Mrs. Law.


From accessed 17 June 2015.


With history over 500 years, this is where a Napoleonic war veteran, an assailant took this person's life, whilst on leave from the army. Since that episode, there have been phantoms and apparitions manifesting, with poltergeist activity with cutlery and crockery being deliberately hidden. One witness to an apparition appearing told how she saw a man standing in her bedroom. She said he had a hideous smile, before he dissolved away in front of her. In another report, a woman sleeping alone said she felt a burning touch on her back during the night. When she awoke, she found she had a mark in the shape of a cross on her flesh. The room with a four-poster bed is also the earthly home of the dead soldier. When he returned from war in 1812, he stayed at the "Chequers." He was flattered and plied with drink one evening by a young woman from the village. When he retired to bed, she silently stole into his bedroom to rob him. However, he was startled by her presence, and a violent struggle ensued. During that assault, she stabbed him and fled. Sadly, the soldier died from his wounds, but when he manifests he is in part uniform and his night attire.


From the By Ben Ashton, 29 March 2019.

The Chequers Inn in Smarden dropped from 5 to 2-star food hygiene rating.

The popular pub near Ashford was recently inspected and found to be below the standards required.

A highly-rated 14th century pub in Smarden has been given a poor food hygiene rating following a recent inspection.

The Chequers Inn, in The Street, was found to be below the standards required when inspectors paid it a visit on March 15 this year.

It previously had the highest possible rating of 5 after it was inspected back in September 2017 but that has now dropped to 2.

The popular venue has a 4/5 rating on TripAdvisor from 133 reviews with 80 per cent of those labelling it as either very good or excellent.

So why has The Chequers Inn been given a 2-star rating?

A number of issues were raised by inspectors following their assessment of the premises, such as areas that needed cleaning, the need for pest proofing and the condition of some of the walls and flooring.

The report said: "Thoroughly clean and disinfect the ice machine that had significant mould growth and keep the scoop hygienically (not in the machine).

"Thoroughly clean and disinfect all the pipe work and connectors to the beer lines. Clean and disinfect all surfaces and equipment in the cellar with a suitable fungicide.

"Redecorate wall surfaces with a mould inhibiting paint. Redecorate the internal kitchen door and door frame.

"Pest proof the external kitchen door and the cellar door. Redecorate dry goods store.

"Repair the sink tap that is loose. Repair the patch of flooring that was damaged and starting to lift on the kitchen floor.

"Clear yard area to remove oil equipment and general redundant items to reduce pest harbourage."

Bosses were also told to provide evidence of food hygiene training and to improve the labelling on both frozen and prepared foods.

It was noted that cooked hams had “no shelf life applied”, while hot water needed to be provided to the wash hand basin in the toilet.

The report added: "It is recommended that you provide separate equipment used specifically for preparing allergen free foods e.g. knife, board, frying pan."


From the By Rebecca Tuffin, 24 August 2019.

13 Kent pub gardens to visit this summer bank holiday weekend.

With this bank holiday weekend set to one of hottest yet, many will be longing for an ice-cold pint in a sunny beer garden.

So we have found some of the best Kent has to offer.

Listed below are 13 of the county's finest spots to meet with friends and indulge in good food and drink.

Chequers Inn.

Chequers Inn garden 2019

Chequers Inn garden.

The Chequers Inn has recently won the Trip Advisor excellence award, and has made it into this year's AA Guide 'pick of the pubs'.

Alike to a fairytale cottage, a lily-topped pond and wild flowers surround the tavern - a peaceful spot for an afternoon drink.

Ingredients are sourced locally, along with Kentish ales brewed by Harvey’s, Sharp’s, and Fuller’s.


From the By Rachael Woods, 27 January 2020.

Paul Hollywood judges bake off at Chequers Inn, Smarden.

Celebrity baker Paul Hollywood cast a critical eye over cakes with soggy bottoms at a village bake-off.

He drew a big crowd at the Chequers Inn, Smarden, where the search for a star baker was on.

Paul Hollywood 2020

Paul Hollywood at a charity cake baking contest in The Chequers Inn.

People crammed into the cosy hostelry for the charity do, organised by landlord Melissa Spalding, 36, who has been romantically-linked to the Great British Bake Off Judge after his highly publicised split with ex-love Summer Monteys-Fullam, for whom he left his wife Alex.

Posting on Facebook earlier this month Melissa wrote: Who will be our Smarden star baker?

"Paul Hollywood will be judging your delicious cakes in a winner-takes-all competition.

"All money raised will be donated to The Smarden Parish council in order to keep our village beautiful.

"Anyone wishing to come along but not take part in the baking are also welcome as after the winner is named, the cakes will be sold off to raise further money for the parish."

Chequers 2020

Paul Hollywood at a charity cake baking contest in The Chequers Inn, Smarden.

An onlooker, who watched the contest through the pub's windows due to the crowds, said: "It was absolutely rammed, I could hardly see Paul at all."

Bakes on show included an elaborate feather-topped creation and a three-tiered sponge but it's not know whether any of them earned the famous 'Hollywood handshake', which is only awarded for baking masterpieces.

Paul was also spotted dining out at Montalbano restaurant in Tenterden this month.


From the By Isaac Crowson, 9 Apr 2023.

DEPP'S PINT DREAM Johnny Depp wants to buy UK pub owned by Brit TV star’s fiancee.

Chequers and Johnny Depp 2023

JOHNNY Depp is interested in buying a Grade II-listed pub owned by Paul Hollywood’s fiancee — on sale for £1million.

The actor is said to be “a huge fan” of the venue run by Melissa Spalding, 38, who has been dating baker Paul, 57, since 2019.

Depp, 59, is close friends with pub regular and illustrator Ralph Steadman, who is said to have tipped him off about the sale of The Chequers Inn, in Smarden, near Ashford, Kent.

A source said: “Depp adores the pub and has done for years.

“Johnny loves the history and has spoken before about wanting to buy a pub.

“It’s right in the heart of the English countryside.

“It’s right up his street.”

But a local said the pub had recently lost custom as its menu had become too “posh” and “dear”.

One customer told The Sun on Sunday: “It’s not what village folk want.

“And it’s got so dear in there now.


From the By Chantal Weller, 18 September 2023.

The Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood to marry Melissa Spalding, landlady of The Chequers Inn, in Smarden.

The Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood is set to marry his fiancée this week.

The celebrity baker and partner Melissa Spalding – landlady of The Chequers Inn in Smarden – will tie the knot in Cyprus, The Sun reports.

Getting wed at the 5-star Anassa Hotel, the couple have been pictured soaking up the sun with their family ahead of the big day.

Insiders told The Sun Hollwood and Melissa are expecting 75 guests, including celebrity pals such as fellow Bake Off judge Prue Leith, 83.

Hollywood, who previously lived in Wingham, near Canterbury, lived in Cyprus during the 1990s and worked at the same hotel as head baker.

He met his ex-wife, Alexandra, there and they got married in 1998 but split in 2017.

He began dating now fiancée, Melissa Spalding, four years ago after meeting at her pub.

The Grade II-Listed site has been owned by the Spalding family for several years, but was recently put on the market for almost £1 million.

The venue has seven rooms, a 35-cover bar, a 37-cover restaurant with a pizza oven, and a large two-bedroom owner's accommodation.

Last week, the owners rubbished speculation that Johnny Depp is interested in buying it.

"It’s an absolute load of rubbish,” the owner told this website.

“Johnny Depp has never had a drink here and is certainly not interested in buying the place.”

It followed a report by The Sun in April that the Pirates of the Caribbean actor was “a huge fan” of the inn.

Paul Hollywood

Hollywood judges The Great British Bake Off with Prue Leith.

Before lockdown in 2020, Hollywood judged a village baking event held at The Chequers Inn to raise money for Smarden Parish Council.

People crammed into the cosy hostelry to get a glimpse of the 57-year-old who was searching for the star baker.



LAW/LOW Samuel 1828-32+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34

DAVIES John date unknown

WEST William 1851-61+ (also farmer age 47 in 1851Census)

CORNES Norton 1871+ (also miller age 42 in 1871Census)

CORNES Esther 1881-91+ (widow also miller age 44 in 1881Census)

COPPING James 1901-03+ (age 45 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

MAXTED John 1911+ (age 56 in 1911Census)

MAXTED Alice Mrs 1913+

PIPER Robert Harold 1922+

SPALDING Melissa 2020-23+


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903



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