Page Updated:- Sunday, 06 March, 2022.


Earliest 1873-

Bell Inn

Open 2020+

Three Elm Lane / Golden Garden

Golden Green

01732 851748

Above photo, date unknown.

Bell 1935

Above photo, 1935, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe. The car parked outside the Bell is a Citroen, KL7651, which was supplied by Roote's Ltd, Maidstone, to a Miss Corke, of Bower Cottage, Sole Street, earlier that year.

Bell Inn 2011

Above photo 2011 by N Chadwick Creative Commons Licence.


Situated at the corner of Three Elm Lane and Victoria Road, the "Bell Inn" is now (2015) the only pub in Golden Green. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book and has always been a part of the village.

In October 1853, the Inn was the venue for the inquest on the deaths of thirty hop-pickers who drowned in the River Medway at Hartlake when the wooden side of the bridge collapsed as they crossed in a farm cart. Their monument stands in St. Mary's Churchyard, Hadlow.

The building gained a Grade 2 listing on 29 January 1990.


From the The Kentish and South Eastern Advertiser 25th October 1853.

Hartlake bridge

Above showing the Hartlake Bridge.

The inquest was held on Saturday 22nd October at the "Bell Inn" in Golden Green which was the nearest available public room to the scene of the disaster.

It was held before D N Dudlow Esq, coroner and a jury of 12 local people, also present were a solicitor and a manager representing the Medway Navigation Company who had overall responsibility for the upkeep of the bridge.

Before the proceedings began the coroner made it clear that should the jury find that there had been any negligence or carelessness that charges of manslaughter could ensue.

The proceeding began with eye witness accounts of the accident and the events leading up to it. Heavy rainfall for several days had caused flooding in the area and water was laying on the roads to a depth of several feet.

Consequently the farmer who had employed the pickers, Mr Cox of Hadlow, provided a wagon and a pair of horses so that they might be transported back in relays to their lodging without getting wet. The bridge itself was not under water as it had a high crown, but the approach roads on either side were submerged.

The first journey passed uneventfully but when they were passing over the bridge for the second time the horses shied, the wagon slipped and the wheels of the wagon broke through the boards that skirted the wooden structure.

Despite the best efforts of the driver to pull the wagon clear it finally overturned throwing the occupants into the swollen river. Eleven of the passengers managed to scramble to safety but 35 others were quickly drawn below the surface of the fast flowing waters. Despite the best attempts of a party of men who quickly arrived on the scene from Mr Cox's farm no more survivors were found.

The jury and other members of the inquest then visited the scene of the disaster together with the newspaper reporter who described the scenes they witnessed at the rivers edge:- "We found groups of the bereaved friends and relatives standing about in mute despair - others with animated gesticulations were describing the terrible catastrophe - some with long poles were probing the eddies and backwaters of the river for those that were lost. A little bareheaded shoeless girl was pointed out to us as having lost father and mother and infant brother. One man (Hearn) had lost 14 relatives - another whose face and mien were the personification of grief itself, threw a piece of wood to direct the men with poles to the spot where he had last caught a glimpse of his drowning wife. Only six of the bodies had been found; and 30 more it was believed were then to be discovered. It is scarcely possible to perceive a more distressing sight."

Newspaper reporter describing the scene at Hartlake Bridge:- Back at the "Bell Inn" later in the afternoon they heard more evidence, this time about the condition of the bridge. Some local witnesses submitted that they considered the bridge to be in a dangerous state as a number of the timbers were rotten and a Mr Johnson from Mereworth said that he always went the long way home rather than use the bridge.

The coroner himself also admitted that he didn't use the bridge but his reason was that when horses heard their hooves on the resonant wood they were likely to become restive and frightened.

The jury subsequently left the room to consider their verdict. On readmission they returned their verdict to the effect that the deceased were accidentally drowned, and in the opinion of the jury:- "the accident arose entirely from the defective state of the road and the wooden bridge, and their dangerous construction, which ought before have been remedied."

Considering the tragedy to be an accident absolved of any responsibility in spite of the fact that the bridge was 'defective' and a 'dangerous construction' effectively denied the victims families the possibility of obtaining any recompense from the local Medway Navigation Company.

The glorious days of hand hop picking finally came to an end during the 1960s after a period of intensive agricultural mechanisation that had begun during the second world war.


Kentish Gazette, 14 March 1854.


An inquest was held on Tuesday last at the "Bell Inn," Golden Green, Hadlow, before the coroner for that division, and a highly respectable jury, of which Mr. Joseph Osborne was foreman, touching the death of Ann Homewood, the wife of Stephen Homewood.

Stephen Homewood deposed:— The deceased was my wife; we were drinking together at the "Bell Inn," on Saturday night last. My wife left about ten o’clock, and I went home about half-past eleven. I found my wife lying on the bed with her clothes on; her frock was undone. I asked her if she was ill; she said her head was bad. I got into bed with my clothes on, and fell asleep; on awaking in the morning I found she was dead. Deceased had complained of her head for some time past, and had a fit five weeks ago. A sister of the deceased (Mrs. Beech) deposed, that her sister came to her house about ten o’clock on Saturday night. She complained of her head. Witness left her in her house, went out for about 20 minutes, and met the deceased going into her own house. On her return, deceased asked her if her husband was coming home. She told her she thought he was. She bid her good night, and saw her no more alive. She found that the deceased had been sick in her house during her absence.

George John Vine, Esq., surgeon, of Hadlow, deposed, that he was called in about six o’clock on Sunday morning. He found the deceased quite dead, but not cold. From the appearance of the face it was quite evident the deceased had died from suffocation, by lying on her face in the bed, without power of moving. There were no marks of bruises on her body, and it was his opinion that congestion of the brain ensued from the before-mentioned cause.

Verdict:- "Died from natural causes.”


From the Kent and Sussex Courier. 8 August 1873. Price 1d.


Albert Morris, carrier, of Tonbridge, was summoned for assaulting Joseph Taylor, stone-mason, of Golding Green, at Hadlow, on the 26th July last. Mr. Warner stated the circumstances, he appearing in support of Taylor, and said that a cross-summons had been taken against complainant by defendant's wife. Complainant said that on Saturday the 26th ult., he and a Mr. Jeffery called at the "Bell," Golding Green, on their way from Tonbridge. There they saw the defendants wife, to whom he had never spoken but once, and then she accused him of having been with bad women which he denied. He and Mr. Jeffery had some ale at the bar. Mrs. Morris repeated the charge against him, but he took no notice of her, and turned his back upon her. She, however, repeated the accusation, and he told her to go away as it was not the first time she had insulted him. She had the appearance of having had a little to much too drink. She caught hold of his coat and he told her she was a bad woman. She then pulled him round and he gave her a push. She then fell down and said she would fetch her husband. Mr. Jeffery and witness went away and had got as far as Mr. Jeffery's house when defendant came up and asked witness why he had struck his (complainant's) wife. Witness replied he did not, but she had insulted him and asked defendant to hear what he had got to say. Defendant refused, and struck witness under the eye with such force that he fell down, and was rendered insensible. In falling he had his hands and face cut. In answer to the defendant he denied that he fought four rounds with him, or that he bunted him with his chest and nearly bit his nose off. Edward Jeffery, blacksmith, Golding Green, said he had been summoned by defendant to give evidence. He corroborated the complainant's evidence. He said that after the blow he didn't think Taylor knew what he was doing. Taylor got up two or three times and defendant knocked him down each time. After defendant went away Mrs. Morris went back and again abused complainant. Defendant said his wife told him the complainant had hit her, and he was very much annoyed. When he got up Taylor bunted him and then he struck him. The complainant Taylor was then charged with assaulting Deliah Morris at the same time and place. Mrs. Morris said she accompanied her husband to the "Bell," Golding Green, and was speaking to the landlady when the defendant called in. He said, "Holloa Missus how are you?" when she replied "How is the old woman you was with when I turned you out of my stable?" Defendant then said "If you say that again I will knock you down." A man who was with him (Jeffery) said, "Don't hit the woman," and then witness repeated the accusation. Taylor then knocked her down, and she told her husband. Her husband then went after the defendant who had gone up the road, and said he should not hit him but summons him, Taylor then met them ‘full butt' and her husband asked him why he had hit his wife, adding that if he wanted to fight he should fight him. They then fought but she could not say who struck the first blow. By Mr. Warner:- Had lived under Taylor for four years. Taylor spoke first. She denied that she took hold of his coat or put her hand on him. Taylor knocked her on the side of the head and she fell. She denied that after the assault she went up to defendant and again assaulted him. Mrs. Farmer, the landlady, was called to prove the assault, but she only saw Mrs. Morris get up from the floor. She did not see her take hold of Taylor, but she believed Miss. Morris" spoke first. Jeffery repeated his evidence.

The Bench dismissed the last case, and fined the defendant (Morris) in the first case 1 and 15s. costs, which he paid.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier. 12 September 1873. Price 1d.


John Harnley, labourer, of Fulham, aged 26, was charged with stealing, at Hadlow, on the 7th instant, two umbrellas, value 2s. 6d., the property of Henry Beach.

Prosecutor, a labourer, said that on Sunday evening he was at the "Bell Inn," Golden Green, when he saw the prisoner and several other people there. He had two umbrellas with him, and these he placed behind the table. At about twenty minutes to ten o'clock a young man called in and asked if any one had lost an umbrella, and witness, on looking round, saw that his umbrellas had been taken. The prisoner had left a short time previously. Witness next went to Mr. Fanner, the landlord, to whom the prisoner had given up the umbrellas. Witness identified the umbrellas produced as his property.

William Wamett said that on Sunday evening he was in front of the "Bell Inn," at about half-past nine, when he saw the prisoner go by with two umbrellas. The prisoner went from the direction of the taproom to a tree in front of the house, and then returned. Witness and his mate went towards the tree, when the prisoner stopped them and asked them to have a pint of ale. Witness, however, went to the tree, where he saw the two umbrellas, and these prisoner took in to the landlord, telling him not to deliver them up to anybody until he came for them. Witness afterwards went in the taproom and asked if anybody had lost any umbrellas. The prisoner refused to go to the landlord to ask for the umbrellas to be given up, and a policeman was then sent for.

George Farmer, the landlord of the "Bell Inn," said that he received the two umbrellas from the prisoner on Sunday night last. He asked witness to take care of them until the next morning, and not to give them to anyone but himself. He kept them until the police called, when he gave them up.

P. C. Horton said he apprehended the prisoner, who acknowledged that he had taken the umbrellas.

The Bench sentenced the prisoner to seven days' imprisonment with hard labour.

The father of the prisoner asked the Bench to inflict a fine, offering to pay as much as 6, but the Bench refused to listen to his liberal offer to contribute to the county exchequer, and the prisoner, who turned to his wife and father and told them he should be out on Saturday, was removed in custody.


From Barclay, Perkin's Anchor Magazine, Vol XVII, No.9, September 1937. Kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


Mr. J. Wells, on August 18th, tenant of Messrs. Style & Winch Ltd., at the "Bell," Golden Green, near Tonbridge, since 27th February 1912.

Mr. A. H. Godden, on August 7th, tenant of the Dartford Brewery Co. Ltd., at the "Prince of Wales," Hunton, near Maidstone, since 3rd February 1932.

From the By Andy Robinson, 15 August 2019.

Tonbridge pub The Bell Inn had 'dirty' kitchen and food past its use-by date.

Food hygiene inspectors gave it a rating of 2 after mould was found growing on a tomato puree nozzle.

A pub in Tonbridge was given a food hygiene rating of two after inspectors found the kitchen to be "generally dirty" and containing items past their use-by date.

Environmental Health Officers visited The Bell Inn in Three Elm Lane, Golden Green on May 16.

Their report has been obtained from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council by Kent Live through an FOI.

The officer states they could not find any food safety management system.

Some food was found to be two days past its use by date. Smoked ham trimmings and a margherita pizza both had use-by dates of May 14.

Tomato puree also had mould growing around the nozzle and lid.

Hand contact points such as the microwave handle and dial, light switches, fridge handle and fryer handle were dirty, yet the soap at the hand wash basin had run out.

The top of the ice machine also needed cleaning.

The kitchen and its equipment was found to be "generally dirty" and in need of an "in depth clean", according to the environmental health officer.

A rating of two means improvement is necessary so the authority decided a revisit would be the appropriate form of action.

At the time of writing, the Food Standards Agency website says the pub has a food hygiene rating of 2.



ELDON John 1858-62+ (also builder age 61 in 1861Census)

FARMER George 1871-82+ (age 36 in 1871Census)

PARKER Henry Jan/1886-91+ (age 55 in 1891Census) Kent and Sussex Courier

WOOD Harry 1901+ (age 33 in 1901Census)

COWTAN Ernest Bourner 1903+ Kelly's 1903

WELLS James 27/Feb/1912-18/Aug/37 dec'd

BURROW Franis Norman 1938-39+ (age 31 in 1939)


Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier



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