Sort file:- Chatham, December, 2018.

Page Updated:- Friday, 21 December, 2018.


Earliest 1828-

Golden Lion

Latest ????

7 Brook Street / Smithfield Bank



Wright's Topography of 1838 says the premises was situated on the Corner of Brook and Military Road.

In 1869-70 the pub was part of a consortium who were advertising their goods of selling tea in response to grocers' selling beer and wine. (Click for further details.)

The Licensing Records of 1872 stated the premises was operating a Full License and was owned by Edward Winch of Chatham.


Illustrated London News, Saturday 19 January 1850.


On Saturday evening last, an inquest was held at the "Golden Lion Inn," Chatham, before J. Hind, Esq., coroner for West Kent, touching the death of Ellen Bright, a young girl, aged 17 years, who was killed on the previous evening by a tiger, in the establishment of Mr. George Wombwell, which had arrived in that town for exhibition on the preceding day. The deceased, who was denominated "the Lion Queen" had the honour of performing before her Majesty some time since, at Windsor Castle; and, as will be seen from the evidence, was going through the usual evolutions with a lion and tiger at the time she met with her melancholy death.

Stephen King, the first witness examined, said he had been in the employ of Mr. Wombwell, as keeper, for the last six years. The deceased was a niece of Mr. Wombwell, and daughter of John Bright, a bugle-player in the band. It was the business of the deceased to go into the dens and perform with the beasts, which she had been in the habit of doing several times daily for the last twelve months. On Friday evening, shortly after nine o’clock, she went into the den in which a lion and tiger were kept, for the purpose of performing as usual—the tricks played by her being principally with the former animal. She had only been in two or three minutes, but had gone through the main part of the performance, excepting that of making the lion sit down in a particular part of the cage, when—the tiger being in her way—the deceased struck it lightly with a small whip which she carried in her hand. The beast growled, as if in anger, and, crouching close to the bottom of the den, stretched out its paw, as if at her leg or dress, causing the deceased to fall sideways against the cage; the animal at the same moment sprang at her, and, seizing her ferociously by the neck, inserted the teeth of the upper jaw in her chin, and, in closing his mouth, inflicted frightful injury in the throat with his fangs, he then appeared to change his position, making a second gripe across the throat of his victim. A keeper, who was standing on the step of the den, armed with a whip, immediately rushed to her assistance, but the animal did not loose its hold until struck over the nose violently with an iron bar; and whilst King held the tiger, the poor woman was removed from the cage, bleeding profusely, and life all but extinct. She was taken into one of the caravans, where she was immediately attended by two medical gentlemen, who happened to be present at the time of the occurrence.

By the Jury:- The animal had never exhibited symptoms of animosity before. All the animals appeared very fond of deceased, and she of them. Witness had frequently heard Mr. Wombwell say he wished there was no Lion Queen. Witness thought, if she had kept the whip from the animal, it would not have attacked her. Deceased had never exhibited any symptoms of fear, and had frequently gone into the den to the animals when there had been no company present, for practice and amusement. It had been said that, perhaps, it happened because the beasts had not been fed, and it was a few minutes past their time. In answer to that, witness could only say, he had frequently seen her go amongst the animals on a Monday, when they had not been fed on the previous day.

Richard Cooper Todd, surgeon, attached to the Royal Artillery, stationed in Brompton Barracks, said he was witnessing the exhibition at the time of the occurrence, and was standing quite close to the rope in front of the den. He saw the deceased enter, and on going in the tiger did not appear to be very friendly with her; she struck him on entering, and he lay down. She then proceeded to her performances with the lion, and afterwards turned round, and again struck the tiger. It appeared angry, and immediately seemed to turn upon the deceased, rearing upon his hind legs, and seizing her by the neck. She fell on her back, and the tiger crouched over her. He saw no more of her until removed from the den, when he hastened to her assistance. She was perfectly insensible, and had lost a great deal of blood, and her face and lips were very pale. She was still alive; the heart was beating; but she was perfectly unconscious. Witness placed his hand on the wound in the neck to stop the bleeding, and administered some brandy to deceased, but she was unable to swallow it, and in a very few minutes her heart ceased to beat. There were four wounds on the left side of the neck, a slight wound on the right leg, and another on the chin, caused by the teeth of the tiger, whose jaw had caused a very large wound under the chin, which, aided by the shock her system had sustained, produced death.

The Jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased was killed by a male tiger whilst exhibiting in its den, and expressed a strong opinion against the practice of allowing persons to perform in a den with animals.

The occurrence excited very painful interest, and a great number of persons were present during the inquiry.

The alarm and confusion among the spectators at the moment of the frightful scene baffles description, most of those present pressing on each other in their efforts to escape. Fortunately, however, none were seriously injured.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.



BISHOP John 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

BUTCHER James 1838-40+ Wright's Topography 1838

MOSS George 1858-81+ (also solicitors managing clerk age 65 in 1881Census) Licensing Records 1872

DUDMAN William 1891+ (age 54 in 1891Census)


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872



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