Page Updated:- Monday, 20 December, 2021.


Earliest 1835-

Horseshoe and Castle

Open 2020+

Main Road


01634 221691

Horseshoe and Castle 1905

Above photo circa 1905. Showing the words Truman Hanbury.

Horseshoe and Castle

Above photo showing the original building, pre 1914.

Horseshoe and Castle 2009

Above image from Google May 2009.

Castle and Three Horseshoes 2011

Above photo, January 2011, by Stephen Harris.

Horseshoe and Castle 2014

Above photo 2014.

Horseshoe and Castle 2018

Above photo 2018.


According to information on the pub wiki site, this has at one time been called the "Castle and Three Horseshoes," but I am yet to see evidence of this.


The following information has been taken from

The original pub was of a timber construction and in 1914 a fire broke out. With the pub being of wooden clapboard the fire took hold quickly and the pub burnt to the ground. The local Fire Brigade, from Cliffe, tried to extinguish the fire but, by the time they had arrived, the fire had spread too far. The village policeman of the time had arrived before them on his bicycle and had bravely entered the burning pub but was too late to save anything apart from a bottle of whisky. The pub was then re-built in brick and stands today on the original site of the old wooden pub.

In 1987 the pub was faced with closure. Developers had decided to build houses in the car park and turn the pub into a private dwelling! It was due to a campaign by the villagers, led by Ann Marsh, City Councillor and formal mayor of Rochester City Council, and supported by the then owner of Cooling Castle and a director of a brewery, Mr. Christopher Knight, that the campaign was successful.

The plans for the development were altered to build three houses in the site of the pub's car park and turn the pub's garden into a car park. There is still a garden at the rear of the car park where a pétanque court was established for a short time and where 'bat and trap' is still played.


From the Kentish Gazette, 4 August, 1835.


By Messrs. HOOPER and SONS,

AT the "Bull Inn," ROCHESTER, on WEDNESDAY the 12th day of August, 1835, at Two o'clock in the afternoon, in Two Lots (unless preriously disposed of by Private Contract, of which due notice will be given), the following valuable

FREEHOLD ESTATE, situate in the several parishes of COOLING and FRINDSBURY, or one of them, in the County of Kent, and about six miles from Rochester.

Lot 1 comprises a FREEHOLD MESSUAGE or TENEMENT, now used as a Public House, known by the sign of the "Horse Shoes and Castle," with the barn, stable, garden, and a piece of rich ARABLE LAND to the same belonging, containing altogether one acre, three roods, and thirty perches, more or less, in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Gill.

This Lot, with Lot 2, is on lease, and the apportioned annual rent is £20.—Apportioned land-tax £1 8s. 0d. per annum.

Lot 2 comprises FOUR very desirable Pieces or Parcels of rich ARABLE and MARSH LAND, known by the names of Oak Field, Pound Marsh, Middle Marsh, and Further Marsh, and containing together nineteen acres, two roods, and nineteen perches, more or less, also in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Gill.

This Lot, with Lot 1, is on lease, and the apportioned rent is £25.—Apportioned land-tax £2 2s. 0d. per annum.

The Estate may be viewed by applying to the Tenant, who will point out the lots, and of whom printed particulars and conditions of sale may be had 15 days before the day of sale; also at the "Bull," Rochester; "Bell," Maidstone; of Messrs. Currie, Horne, and Woodgate, Solicitors, "Lincoln's Inn," London; Messrs. Austen and Claridge, Solicitors, Sevenoaks; and of the Auctioneers, at the same place.


Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph, Saturday 2 May 1914.

Cooling Inn Burnt Out.

The Cliff Fire Brigade were called on Thursday noon to last for a fire which broke out at the "Horseshoe and Castle Inn," Cooling.

The whole building was found to be well alight, on about 1 o'clock the roof fell in. Only one bar was saved. The fire is attributed to the ignition of a beam in a chimney.



As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.


From the By Tom Chesshyre, 23 June 2018.

Great British Boltholes: The Horseshoe & Castle in Kent is a wicked hideaway for a weary walker.

The Horseshoe & Castle is a traditional pub located near the village of Cooling.

It has five rooms, a cosy bar, beer terrace and serves hearty English pub grub.

Tom Chesshyre had a peaceful stay and was a fan of the 'first-rate' burgers.

When I checked in to the Horseshoe and Castle, a gloriously traditional pub with five simple-but-smart rooms, I was nearing the very end of my walk from the beginning of the Thames in the Cotswolds to its entry into the sea, on the Kent side.

‘Did you lose any weight?’ asked the barmaid, and before I could answer, she said: ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get wicked food here.’

By wicked she meant ‘good’, of course, and the burgers served on the lovely little beer terrace were indeed spot on, perfect fodder after a ramble along the coast that day from Gravesend.

The Horseshoe and Castle is in the heart of Dickens Country, just round the corner from St James’s church in the sleepy village of Cooling.

In the graveyard of this church you will find 13 tiny graves belonging to children who died between 1767 and 1854. Dickens knew these poignant graves well and refers to them in the opening page of Great Expectations. He lived not so far away in Gad’s Hill.

Cooling is on the edge of the marshland that seems to be haunted by the ghosts of Magwitch and Pip, plus many a smuggler (as well as Dickens himself, naturally).

Cooling is now home to Jools Holland, who lives in Cooling Castle, and there’s a signed picture of the musician and broadcaster in the cosy bar, which is also decorated with pictures of Dickens characters, an inscribed Kent County Cricket Club bat and a collection of miniature bottles.

Horseshoe and Castle 2018

Homely: The pub has a cosy interior and is decorated with an array of pictures including a signed picture of Jools Holland, who lives in the area.

The place: The Hoo Peninsula is north of Rochester and east of Gravesend and has a marvellously isolated feel. Take a train to Gravesend and it is an extremely pleasant walk to the village of Cooling. For more details see my travel book From Source To Sea: Notes From A 215-Mile Walk Along The River Thames (Summersdale, £9.99).

The accommodation: Two rooms are in an annexe at the back and the other three are in the main building. There are doubles, twins and a family room, which has a double and a single bed. It is a blissfully quiet place to stay.

The food: The pub serves good ciabatta rolls, nachos with melted cheese and first-rate burgers (as previously mentioned). Rump steak salads and vegetable curries are also available. Breakfasts are hearty with locally sourced bacon and eggs, plus fried tomatoes and baked beans.



GILL Thomas (land owner) 1835+

NORRIS John 1841+ (age 40 in 1841Census)

HAMPSTEAD Ann 1851+ Census

HAMPSTEAD Joseph "John" 1855-61+ (age 59 in 1861Census)

HAMPSTEAD Ann 1871+ Census

HODSHON Samuel 1878-91+ (also grocer age 36 in 1881Census)

POTTER George 1901+ Census

COOPER William George 1903+ Kelly's 1903

SMITH George 1911-13+ Census

LANE Frederick H 1938+


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:-