Page Updated:- Tuesday, 09 January, 2024.


Earliest 1736

Blue Boys Inn

Closed April 2014

Kipping's Cross


Blue Boys painting

Above painting by Richard Termslow who dies in 1933, kindly sent by Miss Grace Kirby. She says it may be for sale should anyone be interested. Contact details here:-

Blue Boys Inn 1952

Above photo, 1952. Kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Blue Boys Inn

Above postcard, date unknown kindly sent by Peter Moynahan.

Blue Boys 1955

Above photo 1955. Creative Commons Licence.

Blue Boys ledger

Charrington's ledger. Creative Commons Licence.

Blue Boys Inn

Above photo, date unknown, with permission from Eric Hartland.

Blue Boys Inn 2008

Above photo, May 2008, with permission from Eric Hartland.

Former Blue Boys 2014

Above photos by Paul Skelton 11 April 2014.

Blue Boys signBlue Boys sign 2010

Above sign left, date unknown, sign right 2010.

Blue Boys sign 1964Blue Boys sign 1964

Above signs 1964.

With thanks from Brian Curtis

Blue Boys signBlue Boys sign

Above sign date unknown.

With thanks from Roger Pester


The "Blue Boys" at Kippings Cross recalls the time when George IV halted to have two of his horses shod there with his entourage circa 1800, his postillions being clothed in a royal blue livery.

However, that is just one theory as to the naming of the pub, but another suggestion is that it is actually named after the blue riding jackets worn by the postboys as this indeed started life as a posthouse as far back as 1736, although built originally as a farm house in 1584.

The pub was once owned by the Page and Overton's brewery.


Southeastern Gazette, 20 September 1853.

"Accidental death." BRENCHLEY. Frightful Accident through Carelessness.

A fatal occurrence took place in Brenchley on Tuesday morning last, under the following circumstances. An infant, about nine months old, named Thomas McQueen, nephew to Mr. George McQueen, of Kippine’s-cross, had been placed in a child’s carnage with another little fellow of his own age, and was being drawn across the road by two other children of the respective ages of ten and five years, when Henry Moon, in the employ of Mr. John Roper, of Frant, drove up to the spot in an empty coal van, with one horse, he (the driver), having neither reins nor whip. The children drawing the infants did their best to get out of the way of Moon’s vehicle, but the fore wheel of the van struck the front wheel of the little carriage, broke the axle-tree, threw the children out, and passed nearly over the head of little McQueen, fracturing the skull, and injuring him in a dreadful manner. The child survived about a quarter of an hour only. An inquest was held on the body on Thursday last, at the "Blue Boys Inn," before W. T. Neve, Esq., coroner, when in addition to the circumstances above related it was proved that Moon, at the time of the occurrence, was sitting down inside the van with another man; that he had seen the child’s carriage in the road, but omitted to stop his horse, and that Samuel Morris, a labourer, who was passing at the time, called out to him to pull up when forty yards from the spot where the accident happened, but that he did not attend to the warning. Moon himself alleged that he was sitting at the time in the fore part of the van, and saw the child’s carriage in the road, but thought he should just miss it, until he saw the wheel struck, when he shouted to stop his horse, but as it was hard of hearing it did not obey his call till the mischief had ensued. He admitted he had neither reins nor whip, as he could not find a whip on leaving home that morning, and the foreman would not allow any reins to drive with. The jury, after much deliberation, returned a verdict of "Manslaughter" against Henry Moon, who was accordingly committed on the coroner’s warrant to take his trial. Moon bears a good character as a steady man.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 6 March 1885.


Monday, March 6th, A rabbit coursing meeting will take place at Mr. Pilbeam's the "Blue Boys Inn," Pembury.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 7 February, 1908.

Supt. Styles in his annual report to the licensing justices, said the licensees had generally conducted their houses in a satisfactory manner, with the following exceptions: .... John Henry Head, "Blue Boys," Brenchley; ....


Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 18 March 1927.


A temporary transfer of the license of the "Blue Boys Inn," Brenchley, was granted from William Henry Harper to Ernest Rowley.


Kent & Sussex Courier, Friday 8 March 1929.


Mr. Rowley, the popular landlord of the "Blue Boys," is about to leave the district. During the time he has been at the "Blue Boys" he has done much to restore the famous old coaching inn to its status as a house of call for travellers on the main Hastings road.


Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 28 December 1945.

Parks - Moss.

On the 20th of December, 1945, at St. Augustine's Church, Tunbridge Wells, by the Rev. Dudley, Donald, son of Mr. H. Parks, of Lower Green Road, Pembury, to Elizabeth Mary daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Moss of the "Blue Boys Inn," Matfield, Kent.



I have just been informed by Dean Griffin that the building has been purchased by McDonalds who propose knocking it down to build yet another drive through. AND I expect that'll look exactly the same as all the others in the country.


Blue Boys McDonald's

Above image sent by Dean Griffin.

From the Kent and Sussex Courier 16 January 2014.

Blue Boys McDonalds

Above photo showing what the building may look like if it is converted.


PLANS to knock down a "landmark" café in Matfield and build a McDonald's restaurant have sparked anger among residents and customers.

A planning application has been submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to demolish the Blue Boys Café on Hastings Road to make way for a drive-thru.

Those living nearby are concerned about increased traffic on the already-busy A21 as well as an increase in littering.

Customers fear the loss of a local family business, saying the café, which has previously been a restaurant and a pub, is a well-known waypoint along the Tonbridge to Hastings road.

"A drive-thru will be nasty. I would be OK with a restaurant, but I'm definitely opposed to a fast-food chain," said Valerie Philbrow, of Maidstone Road.

"The traffic and the noise level will be even worse," said Valerie Philbrow, of Maidstone Road.

"We already get litter dumped here from people who use the McDonald's takeaway in North Farm. I don't know why they would want to build another drive-thru when there is already one a couple of miles down the road.

"A drive-thru could be 24-hour or at least open until late at night.

"This is one of the most dangerous roads in the South East and this will just make traffic worse.

"We are on green belt land in what is supposed to be an area of natural beauty."

The nearest McDonald's drive-thru to the proposed site is on Dowding Way, on the North Farm retail park, which is less than four miles away.

Fiona Gledhill, also of Maidstone Road, said: "I think it's an horrendous idea.

"There are a lot of people who go there, in particular people who are travelling and truckers who want good proper food.

"It will also make the traffic horrific. And they do more than just food for truckers and people driving past.

"They have a regular group of elderly people who visit and they do family Sunday lunches.

"People aren't going to want to swap that for a McDonald's.

"And I don't even think the site is big enough for a drive through."

Her daughter Laura added: "Blue Boys is a nice family business, they are not just a café, they even brought us firewood when we got snowed one winter.

"There's always a queue to get in to the service station anyway, this is only going to make things worse."

The name Blue Boys is said to have originated after King George IV stopped at what was a pub to have his horses shod.

The postilions on his coach wore blue caps and cloaks.

Roy Clark, of Heskett Park, Pembury is a regular customer at the café.

"I have been coming here for years, I used to play darts here when it was a pub, it was my local.

"I think it's a stupid idea, there's already a McDonald's in Tunbridge Wells and there's an empty service station just past Lamberhurst, why don't they put it there.

"I come in here a couple of times a week for breakfast, you can get proper English food here, all you get at McDonald's is processed rubbish."

A McDonald's spokesman said: "I can confirm that we have submitted plans for a new restaurant on Hastings Road in Matfield.

"A new McDonald's would bring investment to the area and provide at least 65 full and part-time jobs for the community.

"We are excited about the prospect of investing in the area and will work with the council on our plans."


Not sure whether it did ever open as a MacDonald's, but latest information found (2017) says it's opened as an Indian Restaurant.


From the By Ben Hatton, 17 July 2018.

The fascinating and long history behind the Blue Boys Inn - the abandoned eyesore next to the A21.

Work is now under way at the derelict building site off the A21 close to Tunbridge Wells.

Why would conservationists want a fast food drive-through built on the site of a historic building in their area?

The eventual fate of the Blue Boys Inn, just outside of Tunbridge Wells, could untie the knot of this particular thread.

Work is now evidently under way at the site at the Blue Boys Roundabout, just off the A21.

Campaigners interested in preserving the building are now pushing for the site to have a big yellow ‘M’ outside, with a teenager leaning out of a plastic-cased window, offering burgers and fries.

Counterintuitive maybe, but follow the thread from the start and you can make sense of the way it has come out of the knot.

This is the history of the Grade II listed building and that time George IV visited the drive-through.

It doesn’t look like somewhere royalty would visit now. Sadly, you can spot the Blue Boys by the metal sheeting over the roof, and the tarpaulin flapping in the wind.

The building is now derelict, and is better recognised as an eyesore just off the A21, near the Kipping’s Cross junction, in Matfield.

The history of the building.

Historic England awarded the building its Grade II listed status for its “unusually complete” records, and for its historical character.

There are two parts of the building with significant historical interest.

The oldest part is dated from at least as far back as 1584, when it was a farmhouse, owned by Thomas Wickens, a yeoman of Brenchley.

The building was passed down through the family for about a hundred years after, until its accessibility for travellers along the road to Tonbridge brought new trade.

The new occupants included saddlers, equine keepers, and carpenters. It changed hands a few times every century from then on.

In 1724 a turnpike was extended from Woodsgate to Kippings Cross, meaning there was a higher quality but tolled stretch of road. The site of the Blue Boys was positioned at the start of the free to access, and much more treacherous road.

Travellers needed a place to stop, rest, and make repairs.

But that’s not all tired travellers need – a licence was granted to sell ale in 1736.

The roads continued to improve and the site became a receiving house for mail.

‘Posting’, a way of travelling cross-country in stages by coaches, became more common. Progress could be slow and travellers would stop, often overnight, at a post house. The coaches were accompanied by riders on horseback, known as postillions, or postboys, who wore signature blue riding coats.

In 1765 the house became a fully licensed inn, registered under the name ‘Blue Boys’, for its most regular customers.

In the late 1700s at the height of the coaching era the purpose-built inn and stabling facilities were added to meet the demand.

Ordnance Survey maps label the building as a post office until the late 1800s.

The 16th century farmhouse and 18th century extension and stables remained more or less unchanged until the mid-20th century, when more modern extensions were added.

The site retained many of the historical features, including brickwork, ledge plank doors, wooden beams, signage, and the 18th century fireplace.

The time it had a royal visitor.

The name ‘Blue Boys’ has another frequently referenced origin story.

One day the inn was said to have hosted a royal visitor. George IV, the then prince regent (de facto sovereign) was travelling between Penshurst and Bedgebury. He and his accompanying guard stopped at the inn.

His postillions – the riders accompanying the coach – were said to have worn royal blue livery, which was the identifying uniform.

The inn was then named to mark the honour bestowed by this royal visit.

This tale may well be true. But there is no definitive record to confirm or deny it.

But its link to the name ‘Blue Boys’ is likely apocryphal. If Historic England are correct, the ale licence was granted only three years after George IV was born.

The decline.

The inn closed sometime in the mid-2000s, and after a brief stint as an Indian restaurant and a few years sitting empty, it became the Blue Boys Café in April 2010.

Carol Summers, 60, lives next door and used to run the café with her husband. She said: “It was empty a long time before that. We thought rather than let it sit there empty we should do something with it.

“We moved [next door] in 2004 and it was just a pub then.”

Mrs Summers said the current owners, Rexton Investments Ltd, took ownership of the site midway through her tenancy.

In January 2014 Rexton Investments applied for planning permission to demolish the building and replace it with a drive-through, with McDonalds intended as the new tenant.

There was a backlash. The Courier reports on drive-through row.

Mrs Summers campaigned to protect their family business: “Our regular customers were disgusted with it being shut down so we started a petition.”

Neighbouring was also part of it: “We didn’t want McDonalds next door.”

The Tunbridge Wells branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) got involved and in March an architect and expert in historical restoration, Ptolemy Dean, approached English Heritage (responsibility for listed buildings was moved to the public body Historic England in 2015) to have the building Grade II listed.

Lady Elizabeth Akenhead, chairman for CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells District Committee says she wrote to the council requesting a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) be issued. This would give temporary protection to the building while the listing application was under consideration.

Lady Akenhead warned the building was at risk of demolition by the owners if the council did not act.

The Conservation Officer at the time said the council would be too exposed to financial risk if the BPN was issued but the building was not then listed as it may have to pay the owners compensation.

In a reply to Lady Akenhead the Conservation Officer argued that while there was some “substantial merit” for the building to be listed, the case was not as strong as the CPRE believed it was, and the building may not be listed.

The row continued and the café closed its doors to the public in April that year.

Mrs Summers thinks the confrontation over the future of the building played a part in their tenancy ending: “I guess [Rexton Investments] didn’t want us there causing problems,” she added.

On 13 May 2014, two days before the Blue Boys was expected to be granted protective Grade II listed status, the owners demolished most of the 16th century part of the building.

Courier headline after part of the Blue Boys Inn is destroyed.

The CPRE says the council was tipped off on the day of the demolition, but it didn't act.

The building was listed, half demolished, and has been left derelict ever since.

When asked why it tried to knock down the site when it did, the owners said “there were concerns over its structural stability.”

The council subsequently issued an Urgent Works Notice, forcing the owners to weatherproof the now half demolished structure.

And that brings us just about to the present day. The Blue Boys is still there, derelict, with temporary metal sheeting over the roof, with tarpaulin attached either side.

Planning permission for a drive-through on the site was granted again in 2016, but this time there can be no demolition, and the work will wrap around the historical parts of the building.

So – do the combatants take up their positions once again?

Not quite.

Blue Boys 2018

The Blue Boys Inn is now a building site (Image: Kent Live).

The planning permission was granted subject to certain conditions being met. The back-and-forth between the council and owners to see these conditions met has been going on for more than a year.

Meanwhile the building is still there with its protective wrappings.

For the past several months the CPRE has been pushing for the weatherproofing to be improved.

Lady Akenhead says: “The borough council has taken a very long time to decide the applications.

“The building has been left exposed to the weather far longer than we would like.

“We suspect that it is gradually deteriorating.

“There is still time to save parts of that building.”

Rexton Investments don’t accept the criticism. The company’s director Christopher Dickens, 43, said: "We have invested a lot of money in this project and we are absolutely determined to get the building into use as quick as we possibly can.

“Whenever we receive a report from the local authority that they need repairing we always restore them in good time.

“They can’t see what is going on behind the tarpaulin. Again it is not in our interest for the building to fall apart at the seams.

“If there was damage being caused we would have to pay for it so why would we leave it to deteriorate?

“The site was visited last week and the protective measures are doing their job efficiently.”

A visit to the site in November showed the tarpaulin to be in bad shape, with holes and whole segments no longer properly attached.

Lady Akenhead’s response to the company’s dismissal of the criticism: “You can see the tarpaulin flapping loose on the roof. Weather can get in.”

The council admitted its role in the delay, a spokesman for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: "This is a complicated site and we are in negotiations with the owners to progress the ‘details’ applications as quickly as we can.

“We are mindful that some of the previous delay has been the fault of our administration in respect of these applications and we have taken steps to ensure this is not repeated.

“We have much of the information needed to fulfil the conditions of the application and where matters are outstanding this is because we have requested further or amended detail.”

The sign is still up on the Blue Boys Inn.

But the council originally refused to clarify what errors had been made and what corrective steps had been taken.

The CPRE remains concerned about the state of the building and its exposure to the weather they are pushing for all parties to get a move on and have the drive-through built.

Lady Akenhead said: “We have always thought the preservation of the building is the most important thing.

“What we are worried about now is that the building will deteriorate to such an extent as to justify demolition.”

So, what comes next?

The owners say they have not secured a new tenant yet, but it will definitely not be McDonald's. Mr Dickens said:

"There are a few others in the market place.

"We are just working our way through the process.

“We hope that will be under way on site in the early part of next year.”

The legacy of the Blue Boys extends well beyond Matfield.

Sarah Fuller, 50, lives on Cryals Road, a short walk from the Blue Boys.

She met her husband there, back when you could still buy a drink, in 1996.

“I had been in there before but I wasn’t a regular.

“I just went in there with my cousin one night.

“She was going out with [my future-husband’s] best mate.

“They went to the Blue Boys regularly.”

Sarah gestures around her home, and at her husband Jack, “31 years later” she says.

“It is a bit sad. It would be nice for it to be a pub again but that is not going to happen now.

“We used to spend a few nights there in the week.

“There isn’t really another pub within walking distance.”

Jack Fuller, 55, says “it was a local for everyone round here.”

What did he feel about the place where he met his wife shutting down?

“We weren’t happy.”

The old pub now stands as a reminder of what used to be, for the Fullers, and for all the people who drive past everyday.

But the legacy of the Blue Boys extends well beyond Matfield.

The site is now completely fenced off.

Last year, a building was destroyed in Bristol. The site was thought to be on the verge of being granted listed status.

But there was nothing left to list.

The council there did not issue a BPN, and again the fear of paying out compensation was raised.

So how can a building, under investigation by a public body as to its preservation status, be knocked down or otherwise tampered with, and it be perfectly above board?

Bristol architect-turned-campaigner Neil McKay took the loss of the building to heart. And he has set up a petition to put pressure on the government to make sure incidents like these don’t happen again:

“I would say that the current legislation leaves an obvious loophole for unscrupulous owners or developers to destroy buildings to prevent listing and this gap in protection has existed for decades.

“The Welsh Assembly have actually been very progressive in their legislation and have plugged this loophole and I think it’s high time that the rest of the UK follows suit before we lose anymore buildings unnecessarily.”

Mr McKay says the kind of protective instrument needed does actually exist, it’s the Building Preservation Notice, the thing TWBC did not use.

So why not use it?

It’s not the fear of compensation, at least it shouldn’t be. Compensation being paid out is rare, at least it is thought to be, because so few payments are actually made that no public body records the information.

That may be because the councils are careful, and so no claims ever need to be made.

Either way, interim protection during the listing process is not guaranteed, and councils have the power to provide it, but usually don’t.

Wales has brought in the necessary protection, with no fear of reprisals should listing not go ahead.

Mr McKay is pushing for the same legislation here because there is just too much uncertainty surrounding the use of the Building Preservation Notice. He does not think the use of BPNs should cause so much anxiety, but to remove doubt the introduction of automatic interim protection will protect both the buildings and the councils.

Tunbridge Wells has about 3,000 listed buildings, and who knows how many more await. The historical character of the area is its most defining feature.

The Blue Boys is perhaps the epitomical case study for a national decision, which will affect us here more than anywhere.



ALCOCK William 1851-61+ (also farmer age 63 in 1861Census)

ALCOCK William 1871+ (also farmer age 44 in 1871Census)

Last pub licensee had PILBEAM John 1881-85+ Next pub licensee had (age 53 in 1881Census)

SMITH James E 1891-03+ (also farmer age 42 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

HEAD John Henry 1907-08+ Kent and Sussex Courier

STARR Stephen 1911+ (age 57 in 1911Census)

HARPER William Henry Mar/1927+ Sevenoaks Chronicle

ROWLEY Ernest Mar/1927-Mar/1929 Sevenoaks Chronicle

PARKS H Mr 1945+

WOOD A W 1953+


Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


Sevenoaks ChronicleSevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser


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