Sort file:- Maidstone, December, 2023.

Page Updated Maidstone:- Sunday, 10 December, 2023.


Earliest 1828-

Royal Oak

Latest 31 Aug 1975

89 (35 in 1851Census) King Street



Royal Oak Inn 1870

Above photo, 1870, by kind permission of Eric Hartland.

Royal Oak 1929

Above photo, circa 1929, believed to be the replacement for the original.

Above photo, July 2008, by kind permission of Eric Hartland.


I also have reference to another "Royal Oak" addressed as in Hart Street, West Borough.

The "Royal Oak" was one of 4 inns in King Street during the last half of the 19th Century. By 1929 a new Inn had taken the place of its predecessor but in turn this new Inn closed its doors on 31 August 1975 leaving the street without a single pub. The Scotch Provident House was built on the site after the building was removed.


From Northampton Mercury, Saturday, July 3, 1830.

A few days ago a terrier puppy was discovered milking the udders of a cow belonging to Mr. Symmons, Landlord of the "Royal Oak," in Maidstone. The little milk filcher had latterly increased much in bulk, to the surprise of its owner, who was ignorant of the source from which its wants had been supplied.


Maidstone Journal, 13 September, 1842.


On Saturday last an inquest was held at the "Royal Oak," before F. F. Dally, Esq , on the body of John Jude, aged 77 years, who died suddenly in his own house on Friday night last.

William Hadlow, servant at the "Royal Oak," stated that he had known the deceased for several years who had lately complained of a very bad cough. On Friday evening about 6 o’clock, deceased came to him with some ingredients for his cough, which he mixed for him — deceased took about a teaspoonful and a half and then left. Shortly after witness was called to by deceased's housekeeper, who said that he had fallen down dead in his bed room. Witness went in and found deceased on the floor lying on his side quite dead. He immediately went for Mr. Day.

Thomas Day, Esq., surgeon, stated that he was called on by the last witness on Friday evening last to attend the deceased—he found him in his bed room on the bed, lying on his back quite dead—he opened a vein in the arm but very little blood flowed. Witness considered that the deceased’s death was from a diseased

The jury returned a verdict "that the deceased died from natural causes in a natural way."


Kentish Gazette, 13 May 1851.

Fatal Accident.

On Monday evening about nine o’clock a most melancholy catastrophe occurred on Gabriel’s Hill, in this town, which resulted in the death of the wife of Mr. Wm. Springett, thatcher, of East Farleigh.

It appears that Springett, with his wife and their daughter, with the infant child of the latter, and a woman named Pankhurst, had been to the Bearsted Petty Session, where the case in which they were engaged was finished about three o’clock, and decided in their favour. They remained at the public-house where the sittings are held till between seven and eight, when they proceeded homeward in a low uncovered van, or small wagon, drawn by a pony. On arriving at the "Royal Oak Inn," they alighted and remained till about nine, when all the party again got into the van, and started, Springett driving at a very fast pace, so much so that on arriving at the top of Gabriel’s Hill, he could not turn the pony to go down the hill, until it had got some distance down High-street. They continued at the same pace down Gabriel’s Hill until on arriving opposite the shop of Mr. Thomas Haffenden, confectioner, the wheels of the van appear to have come with such violence against the kerb as to throw the whole party with frightful force on the stones. The daughter and Mrs. Pankhurst, who were sitting behind, were flung against the window of Mr. Haffenden’s shop, breaking several panes of glass and one of the frames, but not themselves sustaining serious injury.

Springett was thrown out in front, but escaped with only a few bruises. Not so his unfortunate wife. On being lifted up she appeared quite senseless. Mr. Joy and his assistant were instantly in attendance, and rendered all the aid in their power, but it was of no avail—the poor woman was dead. The distress of the husband and daughter at this awful catastrophe may be imagined. The body was taken to a room in the "Ship Inn." The cause of death appears to have been the shock to the nervous system, no external injury being discoverable. The deceased was about forty years of age, and has left several children to lament the awful event which has made them orphans.


South Eastern Gazette, 21 February, 1860.

Suicide of a Female by Hanging.

Information was received at the police station yesterday (Monday) morning, that a woman named Charlotte Burr, wife of Thomas Burr, labourer, residing with her father-in-law, George Simmonds, carpenter, in the "Royal Oak" yard, Maidstone, had destroyed herself by hanging.

It appears that she has for some considerable time past been suffering from ill-health, and for the last six weeks has been confined to her bed, during which time she has threatened to take away her life, saying she "wished to get out of the world." She repeated this threat on Sunday, and, notwithstanding her husband's endeavours to bring her to a better frame of mind, she stated that she was determined to carry it out. The husband got up on Monday morning between seven and eight o’clock, to make her some tea, and on his carrying this up he found her suspended to one of the rails of the bed by his handkerchief. He was so weak himself from illness that on his attempting to take hold of her he fell on the floor, and this alarmed Simmonds, who ran up and cut her down, but life was extinct. It is a singular circumstance that some years ago deceased’s mother hung herself in a cupboard in the same room.


South Eastern Gazette, 21 February, 1860.

A Child Poisoned through a Mistake.

Last Saturday night an infant named Elizabeth Wren, aged eight weeks, the daughter of Thomas Wren, papermaker, of Queen Ann-road, Maidstone, was accidentally poisoned. The mother, it seems, had intended to give it some Godfrey’s cordial and syrup of rhubarb, but got a bottle containing laudanum in mistake, and gave some of it to the child. The grandmother was present, and smelling the laudanum, she snatched the spoon away, and threw the remainder of its contents into the fire. Some warm tea was given to the child, with a view of bringing up the laudanum, but the poor little thing getting very drowsy, Mr. Sankey was sent for; and notwithstanding every exertion on his part, the child died. An inquest will be held at the "Royal Oak," on Wednesday, and it has been arranged to hold that on the body of Mrs. Burr at the same time.


South Eastern Gazette, 28 February, 1860.

Coroner’s Inquests.

On Wednesday afternoon last two inquest were held at the "Royal Oak Inn," King-street, Maidstone, before T. Kipping, Esq., coroner, the first on the body of Elizabeth Wren, aged eight months, the daughter of Thomas Wren, of Queen Ann-road, who met with its death by having a quantity of laudanum administered to it in mistake, on the previous Saturday; and the second on the body of Charlotte Burr, wife of a labourer living in the "Royal Oak" yard, who hung herself on Monday morning. No additional facts were elicited in either ease, beyond those given in our last impression.

In the former, a verdict of "Accidentally poisoned" was returned, the jury, through their foreman (Mr. J. Jennings) adding that bottles which contained laudanum ought at all times to be kept separate from other bottles.

In the case of Mrs. Burr, a verdict of "Temporary insanity" was returned.


From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 25 February 1860. Price 1d.


On Wednesday, an inquest was held at the “Royal Oak,” public house, on the body of an infant, named Elizabeth Wren, aged eight weeks.

Mrs. Wren, mother of the deceased, said, I live at No. 12, Queen Ann Road. My infant was born on the 28th of December last. The child had been healthy up to the time of his death, but had been rather fretful. I had, at different times, been in the habit of giving the child a mixture of laudanum, asafoetida, and peppermint, which had been recommended by a friend of mine. On Saturday night, last, about a quarter past ten o'clock, I intended to give it some Godfrey's cordial, and syrup of rhubarb, together, but made a mistake in the bottle. I had bought it at Mr. Wimble's chemist. I took down the bottle of laudanum from the mantelpiece, in mistake, and gave the child nearly half a teaspoon full. My mother was present at the time, and held the child in her lap. My father was also present, and perceiving the child was fretful, persuaded me to give it a little Godfrey. I then gave her about half a teaspoon full. Mother smelt the laudanum when I gave it her, and I then threw the remainder into the fire. The child had taken nearly half a teaspoon full, as near as I can say. The child soon afterwards was sleepy, and they let her sleep for about two hours. We thought she had not taken sufficient to hurt her. I was not aware that would have been a dangerous dose. The bottle was labelled “laudanum” and “poison.” We were in a hurry when we gave it to the child, father was bothering then, and she forgot to look at the bottle. Did not do anything to the child during the two hours it slept. Mother was obliged to go out to market, and when she returned she perceived the child was very ill, and sent for Mr. Sankey, surgeon, directly. In a short time he came, the child was then alive, and died about eight o'clock on the previous Sunday morning. After the child had taken the laudanum, mother thought she was in a fit, and the child drew herself up as if suffering.

Mr. Sankey, surgeon, said, on Sunday morning, last, I was called in at No. 12, Queen Ann Road, and see the child. It was then lying in the lap of its Grandmother, and was very pale, the breathing was slow, and it appeared to be in a sleep, quite motionless, could not be roused, and insensible. The Grandmother told me that laudanum had been given to the child, about half a teaspoon full, which had been given to it by mistake. I saw the laudanum bottle, it was on the mantle piece, and the other bottles were in the cupboard. The child appeared to be dying. I first put my finger down its throat to make it vomit, but that was not succeeding. I tried to give it some mustard and water, but the child did not swallow it, it had lost all power of swallowing. I then threw some sold water into its face, and rubbed it in front of the fire, and kept up a respiration. I then gave a galvanic battery, and galvanised the child about three hours, but without success. The child gave two or three convulsive cries for an instant, and then went off again. I left it at half-past five o'clock, and thought it must soon die. Had not the slightest doubt as it its having taken the laudanum. One drop would have been a dangerous dose, and two drops would be fatal, unless means were taken at once to restore it.

The bottle which contained the laudanum was here produced, which was properly labelled, and the jury expressed their opinion that no blame was attributable to the chemist.

Mrs. Smith, the Grandmother of the deceased child was here called, but her evidence was only in corroboration of her daughter's statement, and the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”


From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 25 February 1860. Price 1d.


An inquest was held upon the body of Charlotte Burr, aged 35 years, who destroyed herself by hanging, on Monday morning.

Thomas Burr said, “I live in the “Royal Oak,” yard and I am a brewer's labourer. I am the husband of the deceased. My wife had been ill about six weeks and confined to her bed. During that period she had been up about three times. She had been suffering from a liver complaint and her mind appeared to be very much affected. On Sunday afternoon last she said that she could not live in such agony and should make off with herself. She had been attended by a medical man, and he had ordered that she should be watched. I tried to persuade her not to make off with herself. At times she appeared to be quite sensible and then would go off in a very strange way. I went to bed on Sunday night between nine and ten o'clock. During the night I awoke several times. My wife slept with me. She did not, during the night, appear to be more strange than usual. At about a quarter to seven on the following morning, I got up as she asked me, to go down stairs and get her a cup of tea. I did so, and took it up to her, she was then hanging in the room. It was then about a quarter to eight. I did not cut her down, but I took hold of her body and held her up, and cried out for help; deceased's father, George Simmonds, came to my assistance, and cut her down. She was hanging by an handkerchief. She was not quite dead when she was found, but died soon afterwards.

George Simmonds, father of the deceased, was also called, who fully corroborated his son's statement.

A verdict of “Temporary Insanity,” was returned.


From Chatham News 19 December 1863.


On Saturday morning, the ostler at the "Royal Oak," King Street, left his bed-room over the stables. On lifting the trap-door to descend, he was alarmed by the dead body of a man falling to the ground. It was then found that a drunken man named "Jack Simmonds," had gone into the stables for a night's lodging, as he had done before, and being very tipsy, the door had fallen and caught him by the neck. He would appear to have lost his footing at the same moment, and, no doubt. was instantly killed by hanging.

An Inquest was held; verdict," Accidental death."


From Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, November 19, 1871; Issue 1513.


Mr. G. Usmar, the proprietor of the "Royal Oak," Maidstone, was hunting over the estates of the Earl of Romney on Monday, when one of the party, in shooting at a rabbit, accidentally lodged the contents of his gun in Mr. Usmar's eye. The bullet traversed the flesh for some distance, and although Dr. Adams was soon in attendance, he was unable to extract it. The unfortunate gentleman will most probably lose the sight of the injured eye, if, as is feared, more serious consequences do not ensue.

N.B. Possible death occurred between July & Sept 1878, so he lived a few more years. From Free BMD Death Sept Qtr. 1878 Maidstone. George Usmar aged 57.


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.



SIMMONS Thomas 1828-51+ (age 65 in 1851Census) Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34Kentish Gazette

USMAR George 1867-71+ (age 49 in 1871Census) Post Office Directory 1867

USMAR William 1882+

COOK W 1891+

STAPLEY William 1903-11+ (age 61 in 1911Census) Kelly's 1903

USHERWOOD Fred 1929+

COATES Geoff & Teresa Aug-Dec/1974



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

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


Kentish GazetteKentish Gazette

Post Office Directory 1867From the Post Office Directory 1867

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:-



LINK to http://www.kentphotoarchive.com/