Page Updated:- Monday, 06 March, 2023.


Earliest 1887-

Pig and Whistle

Latest 1891+




The only reference I have found so far for this pub is in the census of 1891.

The Shorham Hoistory Society suggest that this was a meeting place for the Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers.

This is a rather confusing one for me. It is possibly a private house as shown on the 1901 census. But a newspaper report for 1887 mentions about stealing of a Jubilee coin showed the "Pig & Whistle" in inverted comas where Alfred Buckwell was lodging & stealing from the "Fox & Hounds."


From  28 August, 2008.

Long lost pub had connections to the 19th century smuggling trade.

SOME months ago Michael Collins, of Evelyn Road, Otford, asked me if I remembered a long-vanished pub on the footpath to Shoreham near Magpie Bottom. It was called the "Pig and Whistle."

He writes: "I was last up that way 40 years ago and I could just make out where it was as the footpath almost passed through the ruins.

"Some believe it was connected with a local legend. Can you tell me more?".

The legend you refer to, Michael, is almost certainly smuggling. The "Pig and Whistle" stood a few yards away from a small flint cottage which was a 19th century lookout post.

The smugglers came this way from the coast via Wrotham on their way to London with tea, brandy, lace and tobacco.

When they arrived at East Hill they hid their goods in various dene holes which may once have been chalk or flint mines.

There was also a tunnel nearby which was almost certainly a smugglers' hiding place.

More information about this fascinating area comes from Jack Hollands whose story about life on the North Downs was told in conversation with Monty Parkin, of Kemsing.

This was turned into a book called On East Hill. It was published in 2006 by Phillimore.


From an email received 5 June 2017.

You may be interested to read the following article published in the Otford Society’s Newsletter dated March 2009, which provides further detail of the "Pig and Whistle." Having met and spoken with John Bovington, mentioned in the text, I can corroborate the existence of the ruins and his observations of the area.

John Willmore.


In the Steps of Samuel Palmer.

One of the greatest English 19th century landscape painters, Samuel Palmer, and his friends John Linnell, William Blake and others, once roamed the hills above Otford and Shoreham, describing them as ‘Little Switzerland’.

The descriptions may be over the top (if you will excuse the pun), but it is possible to understand why the ‘Ancients’, as they called themselves, thought this way. The hills and small valleys and what Palmer called their ‘dells and nooks and corners’ offer superb walking through history steeped countryside.

This is a personal impression of some of the walks from Otford over these same hills without plotting every stile. There are already good walking guides including the excellent illustrated Otford Society guide which is available from various shops in the village.

One of the walks takes you up Otford Mount (part of Little Switzerland). Across the field at the top, with its 600ft triangulation point, turn left on the road until the first corner where you go down a footpath alongside the ancient Paine’s farm. This takes you over sometimes boggy ground (my father-in-law once lost his shoe here) to descend into a wild wood. In spring, you emerge to be greeted by smiling primroses, a magic place – Magpies’ Bottom. To the right there used to be an elevated hide, presumably for shooting – now long gone. To the left is an official path which leads to the road and Rose Cottage Farm, owned by John and Annette Bovington. Some 20 years ago John was horrified when the owner of a strip of ancient woodland, including yew trees, above his farm proposed to sell the trees for timber. Instantly, John offered to buy the wood to preserve it. This was 1986. A year later the famous storm of 1987 blew some of the trees down, so they had to go as timber anyway.

Turning left on the road and passing Rose Cottage Farm on the right, you quickly come to a bend in the road. Here you climb a stile on your right and follow a path up to the wooded ridge on your left. As you approach a huge stone step into the next field, look on your right and you can make out crumbled remains of what once was the "Pig and Whistle," a hostelry apparently in the middle of nowhere. There is no road here, but it is close to the North Downs Way and early travellers may have preferred this high route distinct from the Pilgrims Way, because they were less likely to be surprised by robbers. More fascinating is the theory that is was used by the infamous 100 strong Hawkhurst smuggling gang. There are caves nearby which might also been used for storing contraband. John Bovington thinks it likely that it was an unlicensed drinking house for part of the time. At one point there were two cottages, one occupied by farm workers, the other – curiously – by a sea captain. Did he have anything to do with smuggling?

I am told there are court records that a customs man was kidnapped in the area and take to Lydd and tortured. The court record is vague, but the presumption is that the kidnapping took place at the "Pig and Whistle." The two kidnappers were duly tried and deported to Australia. More recently, in 1943, the nearby site was used testing anti-aircraft guns and was bombed by the Germans. The only casualties – 16 sheep!

When he bought Rose Cottage Farm, John Bovington acquired the next door Elm Tree Cottage. Upstairs there is a ring in the wall and a plastered cavity, known as a brandy slide. The story is that the occupant used to hang a red lamp from the ring to warn smugglers that custom men were about. His reward was a bottle of brandy down the slide.

Continue the walk through Dunstall Farm. You are quite high and in the distance you can see Dartford and Canary Wharf. The walk takes you past a huge, high-tech domed cattle shed, known locally as Shoreham’s Dome, round a hayrick and across a flint-strewn field to trees and steep path down White Hill to Shoreham Station. Some way down, a path leads off to the right towards Dunstall Priory where the author Lord Dunsany once lived. It was Lord Dunsany who, horrified by the death and suffering of troops in the 1914-1918 was, paid for the white cross memorial on the hill above Shoreham.

If, instead of going left at Magpies’ Bottom, you go straight ahead up the hill, you pass through a field, cross a road, pick your way over another wet field and then cross diagonally to see the white outline of the "Fox and Hounds," a favourite with walkers. When I first stopped there, milk churns were used as seats and you were offered a schooner of sherry in return for two old pennies. I never had the pennies with me!

When you leave the pub, you can turn right and drop to the golf course and take yourself back to Dunstall Farm and Shoreham. Alternatively, you can turn right and then right again to follow the ridge and drop down to Austin Lodge, now a golf course and a road to Eynsford. At Eynsford you can follow a path past the Roman museum at Lullingstone, past Lullingstone Castle where the Hart-Dykes produced silk until the 1950s, past Castle Farm with its shop and lavender products, back to Shoreham and Otford.

John Lewis.


I am informed that in the 1881 census there is listed  two uninhabited cottages in Magpie Bottom, which is approximately the location of the "Pig and Whistle." The 1891 census lists the "Pig and Whistle" as a singular house, and the 1901 census lists it as a private house and Rober Bulger as head of the house, but not identified as a licensee. The 1911 has two separate entries, which still may refer to the same one property.



BUCKWELL Daniel 1891+ (listed as general labourer age 81 in 1891Census)

BULGER Robert 1901+ (listed as Stone Beater road lad age 76 in 1901Census)




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