Sort file:- Tunbridge Wells, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest ????

Volunteer Tavern

Closed ????

42 (40) Victoria Road

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Volunteer Tavern

Above photo circa 1912-14, showing the Drill Hall that was situated on the north east corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street, kindly sent by Ed Gilbert. He says it shows members of the Royal West Kent Rifles heading off to camp before later serving overseas in France.

Volunteer map 1982

Above map 1982 showing the location of the pub.


The building was demolished for the Royal Victoria Place redevelopment.


Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. 20 December 2016.



Victoria Road did not exist in 1839 based on a map of that date but did exist in 1849, but at that time very few buildings existed on the north side, however on the 1849 map is a small building on the site of what became the "Volunteer Tavern" that, when Albert Street was later constructed, was positioned on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. No information is available to determine if this building became the tavern or if it was demolished to make way for the tavern. A map dated 1852 does not show the existence of Albert Street, but the aforementioned small building appears to have been extended to the rear.

In 1868 the map shows Victoria Road, Albert Street and Kensington Street to the north. The building that became the tavern is shown on this map. It is known that by 1871 the "Volunteer Tavern" existed.

Moving ahead in time to 1907, a 1907 os map on which the "Volunteer Tavern" is shown on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street.

A review of Planning Authority records turned up some references to this building. These online records date from 1975 onward and so do not provide any information from an earlier period. In 1977 an application was made by Mr B. P. Davies of Stitches Farm in Eridge, Sussex for “Retail shop with flat above 42 Victoria Road”. Permission was granted with and expiration date for this usage in 1982, and so in 1982 there was an application submitted for a continuation of this usage by Mr. B. P. Davies which application was approved with a requirement to renew this usage by December 31, 1986. In 1984 there had been an application by Mr B. P. Davies for an extension to the buildings at 42-44 Victoria Road but permission was not granted. In the same year a retrospective application was approved for “A change in use first floor from residence use to office and store at 42 Victoria Road. This application suggests that after the building had been a tavern that it had been converted some time prior to 1975 as a residence, which it remained until 1984 at which time it was converted in office space and a shop. In 1985 Mr B. P. Davies applied for “A extension to increase retail area for 42-44 Victoria Road but permission was not granted.

In 1986 a proposal was put forth to the Planning Authority for a major redevelopment of a block of land bordered by Camden Road, Calverley Road, Grosvenor Road and Kensington Road. A map showing the extent of this planned redevelopment to make way for a shopping centre (Royal Victoria Place) was presented to the Planning Authority for approval. With some alterations the scheme was approved but revised in 1988 and approved again. Demolition and alterations of buildings began soon after with part of the work being to remove the section of Victoria Road between Camden Road and Albert Street as well as Kensington Road to the north of it. At the intersection of the old Kensington Road and Camden Road, the new Victoria Road began and travelled westward for a short distance and then travelled in a south westerly direction to meet the intersection of the old Victoria Road and Albert Street, with Albert Street itself blocked off from meeting Victoria Road.

A map dated 1988 which pertained to a planning application that year for the redevelopment of land on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. This maps shows the old drill hall as “Hall” and across Albert Street is shown No. 42 Victoria Road. The proposal was for a new two sty brick residential development. It was approved with the building at No. 42 Victoria Road and other buildings in the site of the new building being demolished.

A map dated 2010 shows the realigned Victoria Road which I described above beginning at Camden Road at the former intersection of Camden Road and Kensington Road and swinging south west to join up with the old Victoria Road west of Albert Street.


The "Volunteer Tavern" in Victoria Road, Tunbridge Wells dates back to at least 1871 when in that year Frederick Muffett (1841-1910) was the licensee of the tavern and a carpenter, living above the tavern with his wife Elizabeth and three of his children.

The tavern was located on the north- west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. On the north east corner was the Drill Hall ,at No. 38, where members of the Royal West Kent Regiment met and conducted their drills. In the years leading up to WW 1 members of the RWK were “Volunteers” and it is from this military connection that the "Volunteer Tavern" derived its name. The address of the tavern began as No. 40 but was renumbered 42 Victoria Road during the early 1900’s during the time that Frederick Muffett was the licensee.

The only known photograph of the tavern is the one shown at the top of the page, dating to the period of 1909-1914. This image shows a horse and wagon and soldiers outside the drill hall and also provides a partial view of the "Volunteer Tavern" on the opposite side of the intersection of Albert Road from the drill hall. The name of the tavern can be seen in this image on the front of the tavern with a reference to the availability of ales and porter. The soldiers in this image were members of the 4th Btn Royal West Kents going off to camp from the drill hall.

The 1871 census shows that Frederick and his family came to Tunbridge Wells before 1870 and after 1866 and it is likely that he started the tavern in the late 1860’s. Frederick had been born in 1841 in Bromley, Kent. On May 3,1863 he married Elizabeth Hancock at St George the Martyr Church in London. Frederick was given as a bachelor, working as a carpenter, and the son of Benjamin Muffett a carpenter. Elizabeth Hannock had been born 1835 at Paddington, London and was the daughter of William Hannock, a farmer.

Frederick and Elizabeth had the following children (1) Walter Frederick, born 1865 in Bromley, died 1935 Tunbridge Wells (2) Alice, born 1866 in Bromley, died in 1895 (3) Edith, born 1870 in Tunbridge Wells (4) Lily, born 1872 in Tunbridge Wells (5) Lena, born 1874 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1871 census, taken at the "Volunteer Tavern," 40 Victoria Road, gave Frederick as a carpenter and tavern keeper. With him was his wife Elizabeth and three of his children.

The 1881 census, taken at the "Volunteer Tavern," 40 Victoria Road gave Frederick as a carpenter and tavern keeper. With him was his wife Elizabeth and their children.

The 1891 census, taken at the "Volunteer Tavern," 40 Victoria Road. Gave Frederick as a carpenter and beer retailer. With him was his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Alice, a dressmaker; his daughter Edith; his daughter Lily, a dressmaker and his daughter Lena a milliners apprentice.

The 1901 census, taken at the "Volunteer Tavern," records the address now being 42 Victoria Road but is the same premises as No. 40 from previous census records. Frederick was given as a carpenter and beer retailer. With him was his wife Elizabeth; his daughter Edith, a house worker and his daughter Lena who was a dressmaker worker.

Probate records show that Frederick Muffett died October 29, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York but also of the "Volunteer Tavern" at 42 Victoria Road indicating that he had been on holiday in the USA when he died. His body was returned to Tunbridge Wells where he was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 12th. He left an estate valued at 2,283.

His son Walter Frederick Muffett was living at 61 Beulah Road at the time of the 1911 census. With him was his wife Alice Anne, age 45, who he had married in 1887. With him were four of their eight children, although two of the eight had not survived infancy. They were living in 6 rooms. Probate records gave Walter Frederick Muffett of 61 Beulah Road when he died May 4, 1935 at the Kent & Sussex Hospital. The executors of his estate were his sons Fredrick Arthur Muffett, upholsterer, and Sydney Herbert Muffett, motor engineer.

The 1911 census, taken at 42 Victoria Road gave Elizabeth Muffett, as a widow, age 76 and a beer retailer. With her was her daughter Edith Willcocks, born 1871 in Tunbridge Wells, who was assisting in the tavern business of her mother.

When Elizabeth Muffett gave up the tavern is not known. Probate records show she died 1912 in Tunbridge Wells at 42 Victoria Road and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 14, 1912.

Upon the death of Elizabeth Muffett in 1912 the tavern was taken over by Mrs Edith Killick (1871-1955), the wife of John Thomas Killick, who remained as the licensee up until at least 1938, based on local directories.

Edith Killick died June 10, 1955 while a resident of 61 Beulah Road, Tunbridge Wells. Probate records gave the above address and date of death and that she was the wife of John Thomas Killick and not his widow. The executor of her 8,624 estate was Edgar Henry Groves, accountant, which suggests that her husband was not alive. A number of possibilities exist as to who her husband was but not definitive information was found in his regard.

Edith Killick was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 15th. Further information about the occupants of the tavern are given in the last section of this article. It was interesting to note that Edith Killick of 61 Beulah Road had the same address as Walter Frederick Muffett who died there in 1935.

A search for the "Volunteer Tavern" after 1938 did not turn up any results and a general search on the internet for any references to 40 or 42 Victoria Road did not result in finding out anything about the occupancy of the building after 1938.



MUFFETT Frederick 1871-Oct/1910 dec'd (also Carpenter age 40 in 1881Census)

MUFFETT Elizabeth Oct/10-12 dec'd

KILLICK Edith Mrs 1912-38+




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