Page Updated:- Saturday, 13 November, 2021.


Earliest 1841-

Castleton's Oak

Open 2011+

Tenterden Road/Benenden Road


Castleton's Oak 2011 Castleton's Oak 2011

Above images from Google maps 2011.

Castleton's Oak

Above sign left, date unknown. Right shows Inn sign card.

With thanks from Brian Curtis

Castleton's Oak card 1953Castleton's Oak sign 1953

Above card issued March 1953. Sign series 4 number 6.

Castleton's Oak matchbox

Above matchbox, date unknown, kindly sent by Debi Birkin.


The history of this place is somewhat dubious.

Not yet known when it first gained its license, but the census of 1841 mention a family of 4 living there who were all listed as agricultural labourers. They were the Body family for Richard and Cecilia, both age 35, and their children Richard age 11 and Mary age 8. However, in 1842 it appears their beer shop was for sale.

 The census records before 1881 refer to this area as Castleden and Castleden Oak. In the 1700s it appears to have been an established inn. At the time the gentry were trying to make the Wealden highway safer for travellers and it may have been a turnpike, charging users of the road for its maintenance, apart from offering food and shelter. The turnpike is mentioned in the census of 1851 onwards.

One time property of the "Tenterden Brewery" the brewery went up for auction in February of 1922.

Situated just outside the Village of Biddenden on a cross-roads lies the "Castleton's Oak." Now a Free House, at time of writing it still had the original windows of Whitbread when it was one of their chain of pubs.

Evidently Ebenezer Castleton a local carpenter, on his 70th birthday heard that a huge oak had come down in a storm not wanting to end up in a pauper's grave he took sufficient wood from it to make himself a coffin.

Ebenezer lived for another 30 years before he actually had need of his handywork.

The sign shows his coffin with him sitting on top of it waiting for that eventful day.

The sign was also depicted on the Whitbread Inn Sign cards 4th series number 6 of 50 and the back of it states the following:

"Judge not the play, before the play is done."


From Kentish Gazette 11 October 1842.


Late the Property of Samuel Shepherd, Esq. deceased, and by his Will directed to be sold.


At the "Saracen's Head Inn," in Ashford, on Tuesday, the 1st day of November, 1842, at Four for Five o'clock precisely in the afternoon,

Lot 10. A well-accustomed Beer Shop, with Garden, Stable, Out-buildings, and about Two Acres of Pasture Land adjoining, at Biddenden, in the occupation of Mr. Richard Body.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 28 May, 1864.


On Monday an inquest was held at the “Castleton’s Oak” beer-house, on the body of James Goodwin Body (son of Mr. Richard Body, horse dealer), a lad only 13 years of age, who was found suspended by a cord to a branch of a tree the Saturday morning previous. From the evidence adduced, it appears that on Friday evening, about half-past 7 o’clock, deceased had been irritating some of his Younger brothers and sisters, when his mother interfered and threatened to punish him if he did not leave off, on which he left the house, saying he would not return again. Nothing more was seen of him until the following morning, when a man named Freeman being at work in a field a short distance from the house, observed a body hanging from a tree adjoining the field, and on going up to it recognised it to be that of deceased who was quite cold. The sad truth was at once made known to his parents, and he was cut down and conveyed home. The jury, after a little consultation, returned the following verdict, viz., “That deceased hung himself while in a temporary state of derangement of mind.”


From the Dover Express, Friday 19 August, 1868.


On Saturday morning last, mrs. Body (widow of the late Mr. Richard Body), of "Castleton's Oak Inn," died suddenly. Dr. Pinyon was of opinion that deceased had died from the rupture of a blood vessel of the heart, he having previously attended her.


Kent & Sussex Courier 30 September 1938.


A "Courier" reporter who called at Plummer's Farm, Bendenden, yesterday (Thursday) to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Clark on their diamond wedding anniversary, was asked to come back later as neither of them was at home.

"Grandma is out blackberrying," he was told, " and Grandpa has gone down to the "Castleton's Oak" for a game of darts and a pint."

Old Mr. Clark (he was 80 last birthday) is a champion darts player and has taken part in several tournaments recently. He threw for the "Old House at Home" against other teams during Cranbrook Shopping Week and scored the winning double in one game.

Every evening he walk to the "Castleton's Oak," a mile there and a mile back, and plays many a game of darts. Partnered by his grandson, he won six games on Wednesday.

His wife, formerly Miss Mary Ann Pavis, is a year older than he, but no less spry. She rises at 6.30 in the morning and busies herself in the house and garden. Neither of them wear glasses.

Mr. and Mrs. Clark were married at Wouldham, near Rochester, 60 years ago, and now have a large family consisting of five sons, four daughters, 26 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Four of their sons served in the War, three being in the Regular Army, and one was a prisoner of war.

Mr. Clark began work at the age of eight, bird scaring for sixpence a day. At 17 he was headman of four waggoners.

He retired last October, after eleven years as foreman of the National Sanatorium Farm at Benenden.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 7 August 1953.

Electric cooker stolen, court told. Man sent for trial.

CHARGED with stealing an electric cooker worth 6 from an unoccupied bungalow at Biddenden. Dennis Gerald Little (21), of 1, Tunnel Road, Tunbridge Wells, was sent for trial to West Kent Quarter Sessions by Cranbrook magistrates on Wednesday.

Mrs. Ada Watts, of "Castleton's Oak" public house, Biddenden said the bungalow Glenthorne, Benenden Road, formally belonged to her and was for sale at the time of the alleged offence in June.
Among articles stored there was an electric cooker.

Mr. Kenneth E. Smith, a baker's roundsman, of Botany Bay, Horsmonden, said Little asked him to take a lorry to the bungalow and collect a cooker he had bought.

Little opened the front door and they carried the cooker to the lorry. He took Little's belongings, which he had collected from a cherry orchard nearby, and the cooker, to 11, Orchard Close, Horsmonden, where Little was then living.

Sergt F. W. Martin told how he saw Little at Tunbridge Wells, and Little said he had taken the cooker to a Tunbridge Well scrap metal dealer, "as I heard you were after me."


In a statement, Little was alleged to have said he had been cherry picking at Blddenden, and while there he got to know the bungalow was empty. He had just been married and he thought the cooker would be useful.

Little was granted bail.


From accessed 17 June 2015.


Here is a macabre tale of a carpenter who lived in the village and who made his coffin 30 years before he died. Ebenezer Castleton lived and worked at Biddenden. When he heard an old oak tree had fallen and bought sufficient for his own funeral coffin. He was then aged 70. Ebenezer went on to be 100 before he died and now the inn sign shows him sitting on one end of the coffin. The pub exhibits ghostly manifestations, these include the ghost of the aged carpenter and the frequent sounds of a hammer tapping on wood.


I am not certain yet as to when the pub closed its doors to the public, but in November 2018 demolition started on the building.


Castletons Oak demolition November 2018

Above photo, 24 November 2018. Kindly taken and sent by Peter Checksfield.

Castletons Oak demolition 2018

Above photo, 24 November 2018. Kindly taken and sent by Peter Checksfield.


Above plans 2018.


Above plans 2018.



BODY Richard 1841-42+ (only listed as agricultural labourer age 35 in 1841Census)

OTTAWAY George 1871+ (also horse dealer age 37 in 1871Census)

JARVIS Thomas H 1891+ (age 27 in 1891Census) Post Office Directory 1918

WITHERDEN Frank 1901-18+ (age 50 in 1911Census) Kelly's 1903

WATTS Owen 1938+ Post Office Directory 1938

???? Fred & Betty 1980s?



Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1918From the Post Office Directory 1918

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938


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