Sort file:- Herne, October, 2021.

Page Updated:- Monday, 04 October, 2021.


Earliest ????

Prince Albert

Latest 1959

(Name to)

Herne Street


Priince Albert 1900

Above postcard, circa 1900, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Prince Albert 1900

Above photo, circa 1900, kindly sent by Garth Wyver and Michael Mirams.

Prince Albert 1930

Above photo, 1930.

Prince Albert

Above postcard, date unknown.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 9 May, 1863.


On Saturday evening last. Richard Steed, the carrier between Herne and Canterbury, was found brutally murdered, a short distance from his house, and Alfred Aldridge (who was discharged from the 54th Regiment, with a blank character, and has been in prison for felony), has been apprehended on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. From inquiries instituted on the spot it appears that on Saturday afternoon the murdered man was drinking at a public-house at Herne, in company with several men. Aldridge being among them, and that he left the house in the evening for the purpose of proceeding home, accompanied by Aldridge. Nothing more was heard of him until between seven and eight o'clock the same evening, when a young man named Turk, with a female named Connor observed the body lying in a dry ditch by the side of a foot road leading from Herne to Maypole. It was frightfully knocked about. The face was completely battered in, and the head forced several inches into the earth. An alarm was immediately raised, and upon assistance arriving, the poor fellow was conveyed to his home, but ceased to breathe just as the house was reached. He was of a jangling disposition, especially when in liquor, but nothing particular transpired at that public-house to create any suspicion that foul play was in store for him. Information was given to the county constabulary, and Superintendent Walker made an investigation of the circumstances connected with the murder, which resulted in the apprehension of Aldridge, whose trousers bear marks of blood, and human hair was discovered on his boots. The accuse spoke of it as being a very serious affair, and appeared anxious to know where he would be tried. He admits having accompanied the deceased from the public-house at Herne, but states that he left him some distance from where he was afterwards found, as described above. It would seem that the murdered man was first knocked down with some blunt instrument, and then his face battered in with the heel of a heavy boot, such as the prisoner wore at the time of the murder.


On Monday morning the prisoner was placed at the bar of the St. Augustine's Police Court, to answer the charge of having wilfully killed and murdered Richard Steed. W. Delmar, Esq., was in the chair, and the following justices were also present:- W. Plummer and George Neame Esqrs., and Captain Slarke. The room was crowded, as was also the street in which the office is situated, and the most intense excitement prevailed. The prisoner remained cool and collected throughout the whole of the proceedings, and paid great attention to the evidence adduced. He is a tall muscular man.

The following evidence was adduced:- George Turk, of Maypole, engine driver, deposed:- On Saturday night, shortly after eight o’clock, I was going from Maypole to Herne-street, by the footpath. I had gone nearly half a mile from Maypole, when I saw the deceased lying in a dyke close by the footpath. He was then alive. He was frightfully cut about the face and disfigured. The wounds appeared to have been recently inflicted, and the blood was flowing from them. Mrs. Connor was with me. Directly she saw the body she made a dreadful noise and clutched me. I took her on a few yards, and then returned to the deceased. I only knew the deceased by his clothes, otherwise I should not have known who it was. I tried to get him up, but his head rolled back. I then laid him on the bank. He was perfectly insensible. I went immediately to the house of a person named Petts, and requested him to go to the deceased, while I went to inform his friends. Assistance being obtained, the deceased was removed to his house, but he died soon after; medical aid was sent for. Did not see any weapon or any person near the place. The deceased lived at Maypole. There was a good deal of blood and brains on the ground where Steed was lying, and the brains were pouring out of his head. Could not see any mark of scuffling about the place. It was between lights when I first saw the body. Did not notice whether the deceased's pockets were turned inside out or not. My attention was more drawn to the state he was in.

Mrs. Connor, who was with the previous witness when the body of the deceased was discovered, confirmed his evidence. The prisoner declined to ask these witnesses any questions.

Hannah Steed, the widow of the deceased, deposed:— My husband was brought home on Saturday night wounded. They did not let me see him then, but I thought I heard him breathe. Did not examine his clothes, but the doctor and another witness did. The prisoner owed my husband a little money, and he said he would pay him when be got his money; but when the deceased asked him for it, saying if he did not pay it he would summon him, the prisoner said he would never get it. My husband did summon him. The day afterwards he came to our door and asked for the deceased. My little girl went to the door and let him in. the deceased was at his supper at the time. The prisoner offered him 1s., which deceased said he could not take, as the summons was out. They jangled together for some minutes after that, and the deceased ordered him out, and as he would not go the deceased pushed him out. As the prisoner was going out he said “Oh you ______, I will do it for you before many weeks.” That was about two months ago.

By the prisoner:— You gave the child a shilling, and her father made her take it back to you.

Albert Steed, son of the deceased, 12 years of age, deposed that he was with his father on Saturday at Bogs-hole, on the new line of railway between Herne Bay and Reculver. He had been selling coffee and small beer to the men employed on the line. He saw the deceased go towards the pay office; he counted his money, and said it was 9s. 9d. He put the money into his pocket again. The prisoner was at work at Bogs-hole, on the line. Did not notice the prisoner there on Saturday, or any day during the past week. He assisted in bringing home the body of the deceased, and saw some money taken from his pockets; it was 1s. 8d , 6d. in silver and the rest in coppers.

By the prisoner:— On Friday evening, a little boy was sitting with me on a style on Mr. Sladden’s land. You came alone. It was between May-street and Bogs-hole that I parted with my father.

Turk recalled:— About a quarter of au hour elapsed between witness’s leaving the body of deceased and Petts getting there.

Julia Hammond, daughter of the deceased, deposed that she was present just after the body of the deceased was brought home. Saw the pockets of the deceased searched by her brother. There was 6d. in silver and fourteen pence. Only knew what her father had told her of what had transpired between them. The face was so disfigured that she hardly knew it.

Jesse Holness, of Herne-street, deposed that he knew the deceased and the prisoner. On Saturday night he went at 7 o’clock to the “Prince Albert,” at Herne-street, about 1 1/4 mile from Maypole. When the deceased come in, he said “Halloa, Canterbury,” and the prisoner said, “Halloa, Canterbury.” The deceased asked if Canterbury was going home, and the prisoner said “Yes.” Deceased then said, “We will go home together.” Witness went out for about half-an-hour, and on his return they were both gone. There were others in the taproom at the time witness left, besides the deceased and prisoner. They did not have any beer in witness's presence. Could not say whether they left together or not, or whether they were under the influence of drink. If they went the right way home, they would go by Maypole.

The prisoner declined asking this witness any question.

George Stannard, a navvy at work on the line, deposed that he saw the deceased on Saturday on the line. A little after 7 o’clock he saw the prisoner and deceased going home together. They were then just going up Herne-street, towards Maypole. Did not speak to either of them. They appeared to be walking very friendly together.

By Captain Ruxton:- I know Ridgeway farm. The way the prisoner and deceased went would take them past that farm.

Isaac Pulley, living near Ridgway farm, about five minutes’ walk from Herne-street, deposed and to seeing the deceased and prisoner pass his house on Saturday night, going in the direction of Maypole. Witness said to them, “It’s very cold to-night,” and one or both of them replied, “Yes, it is.” They seemed to be “talking like” when they passed witness. The murder took place a quarter of a mile from where they passed witness’s place. Identified the coat produced as the one worn by the prisoner on Saturday night, when he passed within two rods of witness's place.

The prisoner:— That is my coat, and the one I generally wear.

Superintendent Walker deposed:— On Sunday morning I proceeded to Hoath, to the residence of the deceased. It is called Maypole-street. I saw the body, and examined the head. Saw that great violence had been used. I then went with Sergeant Gower to the spot where the murder was committed, which is about half-way between Ridgway farm and Maypole street. A footpath leads from Maypole-street to Ridgeway, on to Herne. On passing down that footpath, I saw where the murder had taken place. It was a dry ditch, and there was a large quantity of blood and brains lying there. There was a hollow on the ground about three inches deep; it had the appearance of the head having been pummelled into the ground. The blood and brains were scattered about there. There was also the mark of the heel of a boot, but I did not see any appearance of a struggle having taken place. I then saw witness Pulley, and from what he said and other information, I went to the prisoners house, and ordered him to be stripped, for the purpose of examining the clothing. I then asked for the boots he had worn on the previous day, and he said they were in the cupboard. His wife handed the boots to me from the cupboard. I then asked the prisoner which way he came home on the previous evening, and if he would show me. He said he would. He then took me and Sergeant Gower towards Maypole-street, near Mr. Larkin's forge. He said he left the deceased not far from Herne, who took the road not far from the wood, and that he (the prisoner) took the road which he was showing me, coming out at Larkin's forge. He took us across the field where there was a footway, and sometimes where there was not, in a circuitous direction, and towards Herne-street. We also went across a ploughed field, which brought us out nearer to Herne, than to Ridgway farm. He did not take me past Pulley’s house. When I apprehended him on the charge he said he was not guilty. The road the prisoner took me would have been half a mile out of his way going from where he left the deceased to his (prisoner’s) residence. [The boots of the prisoner were here produced. There were marks of blood on them, especially at the back part and the heels, and there were also portions of human hair still adhering to them. A thrill of horror ran through the Court as this exhibition took place]. Having carefully examined the boots, Superintendent Walker said he had no doubt of its being human hair, both black and grey.

By the prisoner:— You made a stop once as if you did not know where to go.

After some further evidence, Mr. Jameson, surgeon, stated the nature of the injuries which the deceased had sustained. The skull was extensively fractured and the bones of the face completely smashed in. The jaws were also fractured. These injuries had undoubtedly caused the death of the deceased.

Some discussion took place respecting the calling of additional evidence. Captain Ruxton read a letter which had been addressed by Mr. R. Larkin to Mr. Superintendent Walker. The letter was to the effect that the prisoner was seen by Mr. Larkin's son on Saturday night, and that an iron share, with blood upon it, had been found near the spot where the murder was committed. It was agreed to adjourn the hearing till four o'clock in order to obtain the attendance of Mr. Larkin and his son.


At four o'clock the prisoner was again placed at the bar. The magistrates on the bench were Mr. Delmar, Mr. Neame, and Mr. Plummer. The Court was again crowded, and there were some hundreds of people in the street, unable to obtain admission.

Richard Larkin was then called and examined, he deposed; I am a smith, and live at Maypole, in the parish of Hoath. Yesterday afternoon my wife told me there was a plough some distance in the field, and as Mr. Jameson said the murder had been committed by some powerful instrument, it struck me that such an instrument as the point of a plough might have been used. I therefore went to the plough this morning, and took this point from it, as there appeared to be stains of blood on it. The plough was about 130 yards from the place where the murder was committed, and the prisoner must have passed it.

Edgar Albert Larkin deposed to seeing the prisoner pass his house on Saturday evening, about nine o’clock.

Mr. Jameson, surgeon, then carefully examined the share produced, and expressed his decided opinion that the marks upon it were blood marks. He also added that it was his belief, that the deceased’s skull was broken by the share, and then the boot went to work.

Having been duly cautioned, and asked if he had anything to say in answer to the charge, the prisoner said:- I can only say what I told the Superintendent. You say I am charged with having wilfully murdered Richard Steed. That is a fearful crime and one I am not guilty of. I started with Richard Steed from Herne Street. We went along the footpath towards Hoath, about 360 or 400 yards. Then I changed my direction, and look the left road—Steed going over the style, and along the hedge and the footpath, to the right of the one I was in. I kept in my direction till I came out at the forge. I went to the shop for some bread, and then went straight home, and did not come out after, except into the yard. When there my neighbour said Steed had met with an accident. I told him where I left Steed. I did not hear of his death till between eight and nine on Sunday morning.
The Chairman:— It is our duty to commit you for a jury to decide whether you are guilty or not.

Prisoner:— I do hope that something will be found out to clear me of the charge of murder, or at all events, to lighten my crime. I have not seen the deceased since we parted after leaving Herne-street.

He was then removed and conveyed to St. Augustine's Gaol.


On Monday afternoon Mr. T. T. Delasaux, coroner, opened an inquest to investigate the circumstances touching the death of Richard Steed, who was murdered on Saturday evening, as reported above, The jury, which was a very respectable one, assembled at the “Admiral Rodney” public-house, but as all the witnesses were in Canterbury attending the examination before the magistrates, the proceedings were merely of a formal character. After the jury had been sworn and viewed the body, which presented a shocking spectacle, evidence was called to prove the identity of the deceased, in order to enable the coroner to give a certificate for burial. The inquest was then adjourned till Friday morning at ten o’clock.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 16 May, 1863.


The adjourned inquest was held at the “Admiral Rodney,” Hoath, on Friday morning, before T. T. Delasaux, Esq.

George Turk was examined, and repeated the evidence which he gave before the magistrates on the previous Monday.

A Juror:- Was the man lying in the ditch?

Witness:- Yes, quite in the ditch.

A Juror:- Was he on his back?

Yes, and it was the back of his head that made the hole.

The Foreman:- Which way was his feet?

Witness:- Towards Maypole, and his head towards Herne-street.

Mrs. Connor’s depositions were rend over to her, and she said they were quite correct, and had nothing to add to them.

Mrs. Steed added the following to her evidence:— About a week after Eldridge first brought 1s. he came again to the same door and one of my daughters went and he gave her 1s., which she took to her father, and he made her take it back to Eldridge, who wrangled with the child for some time, but ultimately took the 1s.

By a Juror:— When he first brought 1s. he was perfectly sober.

Albert Steed made the following addition to his evidence:— I have sometimes spoken to Eldridge; but he has never said anything to me about my father. I do not know whether my father took any more money after I left him on Saturday, neither do I know whether he spent any money. There were 7s. in silver and 2s. 9d. in coppers in his pockets when I left him.

Julia Hammond also repealed her evidence.

Jesse Holness said, in addition to his depositions, that the deceased and Eldridge appeared to be on good terms in the public-house. Witness had never heard Eldridge say anything against Steed.

George Stannard, being examined by the jury, said that the deceased and Eldridge passed him about a rod distance from the spot where he was standing. They appeared to be friendly.

Isaac Pooley added that he could identify the coat produced as being the one worn by the man whom he saw with the deceased. He saw them together on the Maypole side of Ridgway Farm. That is about twenty rods nearer the spot where the murder was committed than where Eldridge says he parted from Steed.

Superintendent Walker said that he walked from the spot where Eldridge said he left Steed, to the place where Pooley saw him, in four minutes.

P.S. Gower produced some hair which he had cut from the right side of the head of the deceased on the Sunday after the murder.

The Coroner, in summing up said, Gentlemen,— This is the evidence upon which you have to consider and return your verdict. A more brutal, or a more diabolical murder, I think, has never been committed, at all events within my jurisdiction, during the last fifty years. It is for you to say to whom she finger of the law should point. I will first read you the law upon the subject, and then make such observations as I think necessary. Before doing so, however, I must ask you to dismiss from your minds anything and everything that you have heard out of this room, and confine your attention to what has been adduced before you. And I must ask you to do so with reference to the conduct of the magistrates of the Home Division. They have thought it right to commit a man that he may be tried for this offence. I must ask you to dismiss from your minds what they have done. You must recollect that they do nothing more than commit a man to gaol; not so with you. You are here, in fact, partially to try the party whom you think guilty, because you return a verdict after an inquisition. When the magistrates commit they have to form an indictment, and send to the Grand Jury, who may throw the bill out; but you return an indictment, and the prisoner cannot be discharged without being tried. The Coroner then read the following extract from Jervis on the case:— “Murder is defined to be when a person of sound memory and discretion unlawfully kills any reasonable creature, being in and under the King's peace, by any means with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied.” There can be no doubt that a murder, and a very foul murder, has been committed; and the only question is for you to say to whom the finger of the law should point.

The jury, after having consulted for bout twenty five minutes, returned a verdict of “Wilful Murder against Alfred Eldridge.”


From the Kentish Chronicle, 1 August, 1863.


Alfred Eldridge, 33, labourer, was indicted for the murder of Richard Steed, at Herne on the 2nd May. Prisoner walked to the front of the dock apparently but little affected, and pleaded not guilty. He was then removed.



Alfred Eldridge, 33, a tall, powerful man, was charged with the wilful murder of Richard Steed, at Herne, in this county, on the 2nd of May.

The prisoner was also charged with the same offence upon the coroner’s inquisition.

Mr. Russell and Mr. Biron conducted the prosecution. The prisoner was unprovided with professional assistance, but, at the request of the learned judge, Mr. Barrow kindly consented to Watch the case on his behalf, and he was assisted by Mr. Poland.

It appeared from the opening statement of the learned counsel for the prosecution that the charge against the prisoner, rested principally upon circumstantial evidence, although some statements that he himself made were undoubtedly of a very important character. A great number of witnesses were examined in support of the charge, but as their evidence consisted principally of different minute facts, the nature of the case will be much better understood in the form of a narrative than if the statements of the different witness were given in detail. It appeared that the deceased was a man about 55 years of age, and that he resided at the village of Maypole, about a mile and a half from Herne, near Canterbury, and that he was originally a carrier, but latterly he had got his living by supplying the labourers employed upon the Herne Bay and Margate Railway with beer and other articles, and was constantly passing backwards and forwards between his own village and the railway works. The prisoner had formerly been a soldier, but since leaving the service he had worked us a labourer, and he had been for several months employed as a navvy upon the railway works at Herne. It seemed that he had previously lodged at the house of the deceased, but dissensions arose between them, and some angry feeling existed, and the prisoner, who is a married man, left the deceased’s lodging and went with his wife to occupy a cottage by himself in the same village of Maypole. It appeared that about three months before the death of the deceased he had made a claim against the prisoner for a debt of a few shillings, which he alleged he owed him, and which the prisoner refused to pay, and the result was that the deceased took out a county court summons against him for the amount. This no doubt exasperated the prisoner, and he went to the deceased’s house and offered him a shilling in satisfaction of his claim, but he refused to take it, and a quarrel took place and the deceased turned the prisoner out of his house, and the latter was heard to make use of threats, one of which was that he would do for the deceased in a few weeks. Nothing particular, however, seemed to have occurred from this time until the day of the fatal occurrence, which was Saturday, the 2nd of May last. On that day the deceased had gone from his own house, as usual, to the railway works at Herne; and he was present when the railway men were paid off, about half past six o'clock in the evening. The prisoner received his wages with the others, and nothing took place that was at all calculated to create any suspicion of violence being intended on his part; and it appeared that the deceased first left the railway works, and that shortly afterwards he was followed by the prisoner. The next that was seen of them was about seven o’clock in the evening, when they were both at a public-house near by, called the “Prince Albert;” but it appeared that they did not have anything to drink at this place, and both the deceased and the prisoner were perfectly sober, and there did not appear to be any ill-feeling between them, but on the contrary, the former appeared to have addressed the prisoner as “Canterbury” which was a nickname he went by, and to have asked him if he was going home, and proposed that they should go home together. The prisoner consented, and it appeared that they both went away from the “Prince Albert” apparently on the most friendly terms, about 7 o’clock in the evening, and the deceased was never again seen alive, or at all events he was in a dying state when he was found, and never spoke again. The distance from the village of Herne to that of Maypole, where the prisoner and the deceased resided, was about a mile and a half, and persons going to the latter would have to keep along a footpath, and would pass a place called Pooley’s-gardens, which was about a quarter of a mile from Herne, and at this place the prisoner and the deceased were met about half-past seven o'clock, walking together, and apparently on friendly terms. What happened after this was a blank, except so far as was suggested by the evidence; but very soon afterwards some persons passing along the footpath, about half a mile from Pooley’s-gardens, found the deceased lying in a ditch close by the path in a most frightful state. His skull was fractured, the bones of one side of his face were completely smashed, one of his eyes was smashed out and was lying on his cheek, these injuries having apparently been occasioned by his head and face being stamped upon by a heavy iron armed boot, and his brains and blood were scattered about in all directions. There was not the slightest appearance of any struggle having taken place, and the suggestion on the part of the prosecution was, that the unhappy man had been suddenly struck down unawares as he was walking along, and that while he was lying upon the ground he was stamped or jumped upon, and by this means the other injuries were inflicted upon him. He was removed to his own cottage, where he remained insensible for a few hours, and then died; and it would seem that suspicion at once fell upon the prisoner as being the author of the deed. On the following morning, therefore, Superintendent Walker, of the county constabulary, went to the cottage of the prisoner, accompanied by one of his men, and finding the prisoner there, they proceeded to question him as to the occurrences of the previous evening. He was first asked where the boots were that he had worn, and he said they were in the cupboard, and the policeman took them out. It was then noticed that he had a pair of clean stockings on and he was asked where the dirty ones he had taken off were, and he said they were somewhere about; but, although strict search was made for them, they have never been discovered, and this induced a belief that they had stains of blood upon them, and that they had purposely been destroyed. At the bottom of the trousers worn by the prisoner there were several red marks, and his boots which were stiff and hard as though they had been recently soaked in water or washed, presented similar marks. The boots and the trousers were submitted to the scientific examination of Dr. Taylor and Dr. Perry; but it appeared that with regard to the former articles, owing to the time that had elapsed, and the nothing to which they had been subjected, they were unable to say positively whether the red marks upon them were made by blood; but with regard to the trousers, they gave a very confident opinion that the marks which appeared upon them, and which were at a spot to which they would in all probability have spurted from the head of the deceased, as he was being trampled upon, were marks or blood. A most, important discovery was made, however, upon examining the boots of the prisoner, which was, that between the clip of iron and the sole, there were found a number of small hairs of a brown colour tinged with grey, corresponding exactly in colour with the hair of the deceased. It also appeared that at the time he met his death the deceased had a red woollen comforter round his neck, and some small fibres of red wool of the same description as that of which the comforter was composed, were found among the hairs under the iron clip of the prisoners boot. When the police had found these articles they told the prisoner that Steed was dead, and that he was the last man he had been seen with him on the previous night, and they asked him whether he wished to say anything as to what had occurred, and he replied that he was desirous to do so. He then said that it was true that he and the deceased had left the village of Maypole together, intending to go home to Maypole, but he said that after they had gone a short distance he left the deceased , and went home by another route, and he declared that he did not pass Pooley’s gardens with the deceased. There did not appear to be any reason why the prisoner should have gone home by the route he referred to, which was stated to be a much further distance than the usual route between the two villages, but it appeared that the prisoner was seen at one portion of the route near a place called Larkin’s Forge, but this was at nine o’clock at night, and he gave an explanation where he had been between that hour and half-past seven o'clock, when he was just seen by the witness in company with the deceased. The above facts, it will be seen were well calculated to make out a strong case of suspicion, if not of positive guilt, against the prisoner, but the statements that were subsequently alleged to have been made by him appeared to afford almost conclusive evidence of his being guilty of the crime laid to his charge. It appeared that when the prisoner was before the magistrates, after being cautioned in the usual manner, he made a statement, similar in effect to the one he had told the superintendent, and said that he parted with the deceased after they had gone a short distance, and that he did not know that he was dead or that anything had happened to him until the following morning, and he concluded by making the following extraordinary expression, “I do hope that something will be found out to clear me of the charge of murder, or if not to lighten my crime.” It also appeared that when he was in custody in St. Augustine's Gaol, Canterbury, while, he and another prisoner, a soldier named Charles Watson, who was charged with stealing a carpet bag, for which offence he was tried and acquitted on the that day of the assizes, were in the exercising yard together, the prisoner asked Watson what he was in for and he told him, and then inquired what he was charged with, and he replied, “Murder.” Watson asked him who he was charged with murdering, and he replied, “A man.” He then inquired whether it was true, and the prisoner was represented to have replied, “It is too true for me.” The prisoner was then asked how it came to be found out, and he said that it was known he was the last man who was seen with him, and the police came to his house and made inquiries and found blood on his clothes and on his boots, and took them away. The prisoner was then asked by Watson how he did it, and his reply was, “I kicked his brains out,” and he went on to say that it was thought at first that the man had been killed by a ploughshare that was near the spot, but this was not true, us he had kicked him to death. In addition to this it appeared that while the prisoner was in the railway carriage with a number of others, among whom was a boy named Theoff, to be conveyed to Maidstone to lake their trial at these assizes, this boy, who lived in the neighbourhood and was well acquainted with the deceased, said “I should like to see the man who murdered old Steed,” and the prisoner said “Should you?” The boy then said to him. “Are you the man?” and the prisoner replied “Somebody has been telling you.” The boy repeated that he should like to see the ma who was charged with the murder, and the prisoner then said “I shall have to answer for it.” Immediately after this he appeared to have a sort of exclamation to the effect, “I deserve all I shall get for it—it was not more than half a minute about. I did not know that Steed was dead until the next morning.”

Nearly twenty witnesses were examined in support of the prosecution, and although most of them were cross- examined at some length by the counsel for the prisoner their evidence pretty well established the facts above stated. Charles Watson the soldier said, however, that the conversations to which he deposed did not all take place at one time, but on different occasions during a period of eleven weeks that he was confined with the prisoner at Canterbury before they were sent to Maidstone to take their trial. He accounted for this by saying that prisoners, according to the gaol regulations, were not allowed to converse with each other, and that they were liable to punishment if they were detected in doing so by the warders, and consequently they were obliged to converse by stealth, and he said that the conversations to which he referred were had with the prisoner without the knowledge of the warders, while they were walking round the yard at exercise. In re-examination the witness said that he did not mention a word about what the prisoner had said to him until last Wednesday, and he said he should not have done so then if Superintendent Walker had not asked him if the prisoner had said anything to him while they were in prison together, and he then told him all that had taken place. Mr. Barrow also elicited from this witness in cross-examination that in addition to what he had already stated the prisoner said that it occurred through drink, and that he and the deceased had quarrelled before the affray took place.

Mr. Barrow, at the close of the case for the prosecution, made a very able speech to the jury on behalf of the prisoner, and after observing that, it was solely through the humanity of his learned judge that he and his learned friend appeared on his behalf, and calling their attention to the difficult position in which an advocate was placed who was called upon to defend a prisoner who was charged with an offence for which his life might be forfeited upon the scaffold without any previous instruction or information, he said it appeared to him there were two very important questions for the jury to take into consideration before they would be justified in returning a verdict that would consign the prisoner to an ignominious death. The first of these questions was whether a murder had been committed; and the second was, whether the prisoner was proved to have been the man who committed the act. The learned counsel then proceeded with a good deal of ingenuity to contend that there was no evidence of any malice on the part of the prisoner towards the deceased, or anything to show that when they set off together on the fatal evening to return home the prisoner entertained any idea of committing violence upon the deceased, and that the probability was that, even supposing they should be of opinion that the prisoner was the man by whom the act was committed, a quarrel and affray took place between them, and that the act was done under the excitement of passion, and was not premeditated, which would reduce the crime from that of wilful murder to manslaughter. He next proceeded to contend that the evidence was not conclusive upon the point that the prisoner was the person who committed the violence upon the deceased and he said that if there was any doubt in their minds upon this point the prisoner was entitled to the benefit of it.

The learned Judge then summed up the evidence with the greatest care and minuteness.

The Jury retired soon after seven o’clock to deliberate upon their verdict. They returned into court in about half an hour, and found the prisoner Guilty.

The learned Judge then passed sentence of death in the usual form, stating to the prisoner at the same time that from the nature of his crime he must not expect to receive any mercy on this side of the grave.

The prisoner heard the sentence without exhibiting the slightest emotion, and when the learned judge had concluded he bowed slightly to him and also to the jury, he was then removed by the warden.

The trial was not concluded until nearly eight o'clock.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 15 August, 1863.


During the past week the culprits Holden and Eldridge, under sentence of death in Maidstone gaol, have been making every preparation to meet their awful end, under the assiduous attentions of the Rev. C. S Woolmer, and the assistant chaplain. They are both in a very calm and collected state of mind, and Eldridge states that he feels happier now than he has done since the days of his boyhood. With regard to the other culprit great efforts are being made to obtain a commutation of his sentence. During the past week a communication has been forwarded to the Secretary of State, from the Colonel and non commissioned officers of the Artillery brigade to which he belonged certifying to his general imbecility, and “positive insanity” when under the influence of a very slight amount of drink, and testifying to the fact of delirium tremens being common in his family, and that some of his relations have committed suicide while in that slate. No intimation, however, has been received by the gaol authorities as to any reprieve being granted.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 22 August, 1863.


Maidstone, Monday.

The warrants for the execution of the culprits, Eldridge and Holden, were received by Major Bannister, the governor of the gaol, on Friday morning, and on the following day an answer was returned by the Home Secretary to the memorial praying for a commutation of Holden's sentence, on the ground of insanity. Sir G. Grey states that he has very carefully considered the case, and the various representations which have been made to him, but he has failed to discover any reasons why a reprieve should be granted. The culprits received the above information with calmness, as neither, since his condemnation, has seemed to anticipate any forgiveness. During the past week they have continued to exhibit the utmost penitence, devoting nearly the whole of their time to spiritual exercise. In the early part of the week they requested to be allowed to remain up until twelve o'clock for reading and prayer, and that desire was of course complied with; but an application for a superior diet was refused by the visiting justices, who have determined for the future not to depart in any way from (the ordinary prison fare in the cases or condemned convicts. Holden, though fully alive to his position, exhibits a good deal of eccentricity. The respected chaplain of the gaol, the Rev. C. S. Woolmer, has been most assiduous in his endeavours to bring the men to a proper frame of mind, and has been so satisfied of their repentance that he has felt justified in administering the Holy Communion to them.


On Monday their photographs (one copy of each only) were taken to be presented to their wives. Eldridge's wife, who is not in a condition to bear an interview, has written some very affectionate letters to that culprit, in which she says a better father or husband never lived, and attributes his misfortune “all to drink.” His brother had an interview with him on Monday and received from him his photograph.

Eldridge wrote a letter to his wife, in which he exhorted her to live in the paths of rectitude, so that she might never be placed in his awful position. In that letter he stated that drink had been the bane and curse of his existence, and that if it had not been for that, the crime of which he was convicted would never have been perpetrated. He expressed great penitence, and ended by commending his soul to his Maker. The other prisoner likewise attributed his position to a too free use of strong drink, and just before coming upon the scaffold he asked the clergyman to address a few words on this subject to the crowd beneath. This however, was not done. They each partook of breakfast, after which the sacrament was administered to them, and they were removed to the dressing-room to prepare for execution, and from a quarter past eleven until noon they remained alone in silent prayer.

A few minutes before the hour fixed the bell began its solemn dirge, and shortly afterwards both the culprits walked firmly on to the scaffold, having previously been pinioned by the executioner. Casting his eyes round, Eldridge said, “I don't know how it is, but I never felt so happy in all my life.” For an instant Holden seemed to falter, then said in a firm voice, “Tell my wife I am very happy, and that I have no fear” Eldridge was first placed under the drop, and Calcraft proceeded to adjust the noose, the miserable wretch earnestly opening and clasping his hands together the while, as if engaged in prayer. The noose was then adjusted around the neck of Holden, who held an open Testament in his hands; the caps were placed over both men’s heads; and, after Calcraft had shaken each by the hand, the bolt was drawn, and the two wretched men were launched into eternity with scarcely a struggle, death being to all appearance instantaneous.

There were about six or seven thousand people present most of the very lowest orders, but the usual opportunity of gratifying their morbid tastes was denied them, as the scaffold was so surrounded with black cloth that not more than the top of each white cap could be seen after the drop had fallen.

It is a somewhat singular fuel that exactly six years ago, viz. on Thursday, the 20th August, 1857, two men were executed at Maidstone.


Ind Coope & Co Ltd purchased the pub from Budden & Biggs Brewery Ltd by conveyance and assignment dated 23 March 1931. The pub held a full license.



DOWNS George 1838-62+ (age 65 in 1861Census)

HOLNESS Richard 1871-74+ (also dealer age 58 in 1871Census)

BEAN Edwin Isaac 1881-1903+ (age 59 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

PEARSON Ernest Arthur 1910-22+ (age 30 in 1911Census)

KIRBY Bertram 1930+

LODGE Frederick Henry 1934+

FINCHER Ellen E Mrs 1938+



Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


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