Sort file:- Deptford, October, 2019.

Page Updated:- Friday, 25 October, 2019.


Earliest 1791-

Brown Bear

Closed 1983

154-156 Deptford High Street

St. Paul


Brown Bear 2007

Above photo March 2007. Taken by Matt Martin.


Addressed as Butt Lane before 1825.

I have been informed that the pub closed in 1983. Further information (2017) tells me that after closure the premises operated as a cafe, but this too has closed.


From the Morning Advertiser, 24 August, 1843.


Yesterday a most extraordinary scene was enacted in this Court by Dr. Drury and a select portion of the followers of the great Teetotal Apostle – a woman named Elizabeth Gleeson being placed at the bar on a charge of violently assaulting a Mr. Abbott, a fly proprietor, at Dartford, and smashing a quart pot, the property of Mr. Benjamin Dawson, landlord of the “Brown Bear,” High-street, Deptford, during one of the meetings held by the Reverand Father Matthew in the above anti-teetotal town.

Mr. Abbott stated that he was standing near his stables, under the Railway arches, listening to the speeches, or rather, watching the speakers, for it was impossible to hear, when he observed the prisoner hammering a huge piece of stone with a quart pot. He told her that it was very unjust to destroy a man’s property like this, when she used a very bad expression, and struck at his head with the pot, but he warded off the blow with his arm, which was much hurt, and at the moment he thought his arm was broken, she said if she did not smash the pot, she would smash him. He never touched her, or spoke to her, except as he had stated.

The defendant:- Oh, no, no. I never struck at your head. I’ve studied the law. (laughter.)

Mr. Jeremy:- Studied the law! How do you mean!

Defendant:- Why, Why, I have learnt the law a little, and I know I must not break a man’s head with a quart pot. (Renewed laughter.)

Mr. Jeremy:- You have made a nice distinction in law between smashing a man’s head with a quart pot, and smashing the pot itself; but I think you have been “assuming a virtue which you have not.” Speaking to you as a student-at-law, I should say you had not a legal coolness to pocket an affront, and look for legal redress. Your knowledge has not taught you that the wilful destruction of property is a minor offence, although it has convinced you that splitting a man’s head is something like a capital one.

Defendant:- I’ve been teetotal for five years; ever since my husband died.

Mr. Jeremy:- How! Does the loss of a husband lead to taking another pledge” but I will not press the question, perhaps you took timely warning. Where do you come from?

Defendant:- From Ratcliff highway.

Mr. Jeremy:- That’s a long was to come.

Defendant:- No distance is too far to come to see Father Matthew; but I say there is no blow; I never struck him, and there is no mark to show for it.

Mr. Jeremy:- Do you wish to have coular demonstration of it!

Defendant:- Certainly.

The complainant bared his arm and showed a very disagreeable bruise.

Defendant (exultingly):- Look there’s no wound.

Mr. Jeremy:- No, but there are marks of a blow.

Defendant:- It looks to me more like a pinch then a blow.

Mr. Jeremy:- If that be the case, pots can pinch pretty hard – (laughter) – and however much we may like temperance in liquor, we must take care that in curing one disorder we do not bring on worse. Physicians and lawyers ought always to study that. We can deal with drunken people, and punish them, but we can’t so easily cure broken heads and bruised limbs.

Defendant:- They all jeered at me, and the man Abbott called to me and others to drink, and none called out “if they don’t, throw it over them.” An attempt was made to effect the latter, but he got hold of the pot.

Mr. Dawson produced the pot, which bore testimony to the teetotal prowess, being literally indented, and a hole struck through the bottom, rendering it perfectly useless to the supporters or opponents of Father Matthew, as far as holding either Adam’s ale, or extra stout was concerned. He knew nothing of the occurrence.

The complainant declared he had not drunk a drop of beer or spirits that day, and never touched the pot except to rescue it.

A man named Jones was called, who deposed to the facts either sworn to or admitted as above, and most positively sworn that the complainant never used any expression of disapprobation or insult, and that he was quite sober.

Mr. Jeremy:- And how was the lady?

Witness:- Why, I should say she could not be sober when she was knocking a pot against stones. Besides that, there was a regular row among the Teetotallers, who were most of them drunk. (Laughter.)

Mr. Jeremy:- No! Come let me hear the truth; are you not going a little too far?

Witness:- Well, I may be mistaken, but they called out “Kill the ____; do ‘en up; cut ‘em up.” They didn’t look very sober.

The defendant persisted in the truth of her defence, and called John McLaughlin, who said he lived in Deptford. He was at the meeting, and saw the row. He was not close by, but a few yards off; he could not be particular to a yard; perhaps it was from 50 to 60 yards. Defendant’s feelings appeared to be “hurted” at the pot being offered, and there was a rush and a scrimmage, and the pot got the worst of it. Being jumped upon by at least a dozen people. Complainant did get a blow, but not from the woman.

Mary Murphy, a pretty Irish girl, was next called, and deposed that she also came from Ratcliff highway to see Father Matthew.

Mr. Jeremy:- But why did you make such a pilgrimage? He will come and see you all in turn. I wish you would have a little patience.

Miss Murphy:- I can’t see the dear man too often.

Mr. Jeremy:- And have you taken the pledge?

Witness:- Yes.

Mr. Jeremy:- What! One so young and pretty not to have strength of mind to resist temptation! (Laughter.)

Witness:- There is nothing like taking the pledge after all.

The witness then went on to say that she had heard a great deal of “speechifying,” and a great many people didn’t like to hear it. As there was a great deal of bustling about she could only hear a talking, but nothing that was said. The “bustle” was not altogether about the pot of beer – it was “a general row.” She would swear that the complainant had the pot of beer, and offered it to the defendant.

Mr. Jeremy:- Will you venture to swear that, when you admit the general confusion?

Witness:- I will.

Mr. Jeremy:- Then you are swearing very rashly, and I cannot place confidence in your evidence. The other witness on your side has not ventured to say the complainant offered the pot.

Jones said that McLaughlin could not have seen the whole of the transaction, as he was acting as usher to these who were taking the pledge, and was decorated with a green riband, a medal, and a rosette.

Mr. Jeremy said his view of the case was, that in the confusion few people could see the transaction throughout. He should, therefore, take the positive evidence of the complainant, confirmed as it was by a perfectly disinterested individual.

The defendant said several more witnesses had been promised her; but they had not come.

Mr. Jeremy said that he did not like the bringing forward evidence as it had been for the defence; that evidence was very unsatisfactory for him, although, at the same time, he believed there had been provocation offered by some one, though not the complainant. That person might seemingly in their own parishes and discuss the question was legal, and would, probably, be beneficial; but the defendant had studied the law to little effect if she supposed persons might wander about, from district to district, as champions of a cause, to disturb others and excite these adverse feelings which led to a breach of the peace. Taking into consideration the provocation on either side, he would endeavour to allay the commotion by simply ordering the damaged pot to be paid for. He, however, scarcely thought that he ought to let the matter pass over without binding the defendant over to keep the peace.

Dr. Drury, who had on more then one occasion attended at this Court and defended the cause of his country people, here started up, and on rising, said that Jones had sworn to a lie.

Mr. Jeremy:- Now, Mr. Drury, pray don’t interfere. I have come to a conscientious decision.

Mr. Drury:- No; it is out of opposition to a grand principle.

Mr. Jeremy:- I really have a disposition to soothe this abolition of feeling, but I cannot allow myself or my office to be insulted.

Dr. Drury:- There is no man has a greater respect then I have for you as a man or a magistrate; but here is a woman with nothing proved against her, whom you condemn. I say you are wrong, and I am astonished that a man of your general good sense, should come to such a decision. I am annoyed at the idea of it. You have treated that poor woman ill; but what’s to pay!

Mr. Dawson:- 2s. 4d.

There’s the money, said Dr. Drury, indignantly throwing down half-a-crown.

Mr. Jeremy:- Now, do not be so violent. I wish to heal all this disagreeable feeling, and you, as a Doctor, ought to apply a “plaster.” (Laughter.)

Dr. Drury:- It is illegal; that is what I say.

So say I, said Mr. Pyrke, a broker, of Deptford bridge.

Outrageously scandalous, shouted a posse in the place.

The confusion here became general in the Court. The Magistrates sat placidly. Dr. Drury took possession of a portion of the Bench, Mr. Pyrke jumped up on a chair and endeavoured to harangue. Ultimately, after some screams and fights, the inspector and about twelve or fourteen officers, cleared the Court vi et armis, (with force and arms) the Magistrates not taking notice of the contempt of Court.


Shields Daily Gazette 26 August 1875.


On Tuesday, a meeting was held at the "Alexandra Hall," Blackheath, of Kent county magistrates for the renewal of licenses to victuallers in the district. Among the applicants was Mr. Ingham, of the "Brown Bear," High Street, Deptford. At the last annual meeting the license for the house was granted to a former tenant; in November the house, which was a very small place, was closed. In January the license was transferred to the present applicant, and Messrs. Taylor, Walker, and Co. having purchased a house adjoining, had pulled down this and the old licensed premises, and had constructed a large building on the site, for which the license was now asked. Mr. Carttar opposed the application on the ground that the present was an entirely new building, and that it was necessary that the usual notices for a new license should have been given. Mr. Child, who appeared for the applicant, said the Court of Queen's Bench had decided that only a renewal of an old license was necessary when an addition was made to former licensed premises. The magistrates thought that the alteration was an addition merely to the old licensed premises, and the renewal was granted.


Kentish Mercury, Friday 10 January 1890.

Prescribing without seeing the patient.

On Friday, at the "Brown Bear," High Street, Deptford, on the body of Daisy Wood aged 10 months.

Emma Wood, the mother, identified the body, and said she lived at 17, Blackhorse Road, Deptford. The deceased had been delicate but she noticed nothing amiss till Wednesday evening, when about 5 o'clock she appeared to have a convulsive fit. About 7 o'clock she had another attack, and witness having no money asked a neighbour for sixpence, and then sent for some medicine. She gave it to the deceased, who died about 11:30 the same night.

Elizabeth Pittman, of the same address, said the mother asked her to go for some medicine, and she went to Dr. Makeham's and got some medicine, but did not know who she saw there.

Dr. Moore, 416, New Cross Road, said he had made a post-mortem examination of the body and found all the organs healthy except the lungs, which showed old inflammation. The brain was slightly congested. The cause of death was convulsions from teething.

The Coroner commenting upon the doctor having prescribed without seeing a child; it was too bad, and he had several cases of a similar description that week.

The jury returned a verdict "Death from natural causes," and the jury made a collection for the mother.



SMITH Samuel 1826-32+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

KNOCK Henry 1840+

DAWSON Benjamin 1843+

GEORGE Thomas 1848-May/53 dec'd

GEORGE Harriet May/1853-74+ (widow age 46 in 1861Census)

INGRAM William 1875-84+ (age 54 in 1881Census)

DEALER Alfred Thomas 1891-1901+ (age 61 in 1901Census)

DEALLER/DEULLER Vincent David 1910-15+ (age 39 in 1911Census)

BARNETT William Albert 1921+

ALDRIDGE Henry William 1934+

EMERY Neri P 1938+

GOULD Eliza M Mrs 1944+


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



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