Sort file:- Canterbury, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Wednesday, 31 March, 2021.


Earliest 1708

Eight bells

Open 2019+

34 London Road, St. Dunstan's


01227 454794 & 07903025193

Eight Bells Eight Bells

Above photos taken by Paul Skelton, 19 May 2012. Eight Bells sign 1968Eight Bells sign

Above sign left, 1968, sign right, 2012.

Eight Bells sign 1986Eight Bells sign 1991

Eight Bells sign left July 1986, sign right May 1991.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Eight Bells card 1951

Above aluminium card issued June 1951. Sign series 3 number 14.

Eight Bells 1965

Above photo taken by Edward Wilmot in 1965.

Eight Bells matchbox 1980s

Above matchbox, 1980s, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


Information taken from pub in picture frame.

There has stood on this site an inn known as the "Eight Bells" for two hundred and seventy seven years. The origin of the sign dates back to the eleventh century and the days when Inns and Taverns stood within the precincts of the parish churches. However many bells a particular church held determined the number given to the name of the Inn. In this instance the church of St. Dunstan's holds eight bells.

The first "Eight Bells" was built during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) in the year 1708, and was a rambling timber framed building, with commodious livery stables at the rear, where traveller's horses were kept at a charge or hired out. A sign depicting this service hung outside the Inn for over a century and a half, and read "Bait and livery stables." The word "Bait" is derived from an anglo-saxon word meaning "to feed" and was used to designate a meal taken by travellers to refresh them on a journey.

The first recorded owner of the "Eight Bells" was one Nathaniel Laythem, who is described as being a vesturer of the City of Canterbury.

Although an ever popular stopping place for countless travellers and local townspeople by the late nineteenth century the years and the climate has taken its toll and the Inn had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was finally demolished in 1898. Work started on the present "Eight Bells" in August 1898 and was completed early in 1899, having been built on the original foundations of the former Inn, and with many of its original timbers.

The Inn today still gives out that same generous glow of warmth and hospitality that it has done for over two and half centuries. So stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.


From the Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal 7 September 1819.


Free Public Houses and other estates,

To be Sold By Auction, By Messrs. White, (Without Reserve).

Pursuant to certain orders of the Vice Chancellor of Great Britain, and before the Major part of the Commissioners named and authorised in and by a Commission of bankrupt awarded and issued against Matthew William Sankey, of the City of Canterbury, brewer, dealer and chapman, at the Guildhall, of the said city of Canterbury, on Wednesday next, the 22nd day of September next, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, (subject to such conditions of sale as shall be then and there produced.)
The following very Valuable Freehold Estates, in Lots.

Valuable Brewery free public houses and other Estates to be sold by auction by Mrs White without reserve.

Lot 9. A Messuage called the "Eight Bells," with the yard, garden, and appurtenances, situated in St. Dunstans, (near Canterbury) in the said County, and now in the occupation of Mary Wachers, widow.


From the Kentish Gazette, 4 July 1843.

A young woman was found at half-past nine o'clock on Friday night last, on the road between Harbledown and Canterbury, in an almost dying state, with a child on her breast. Information was given to the Superintendent of Police, who despatched three of his men with a stretcher, and had her conveyed to the "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan’s. Mr. Holttum was sent for, who attended her, and it was more than half an hour before she was brought to a state of consciousness. She still remains there in a very weak state.

What makes the case worse is, some villain had the cruelty to rob her of nearly all her clothes while she lay helpless. She states that her name is Hilgrove, that she is 18 years of age; that her husband is a saddler, and left her with his father in Ireland to seek work, and she received a letter from him stating that he had got work in London; she went there with what trifle she could get together, thinking to meet him there, but his master had discharged him a few days before, having no more work for him. He said on leaving he should go to Canterbury to try for work, whither she proceeded from Gravesend on Friday with only 3d. in her pocket, and walked and carried her child to where she was found, and there dropped through exhaustion. Inquiry has been made by the police for her husband, but he has not been found.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 14 July, 1860.


(Before W. Plummer and E. Sankey, Esqrs.)

George Lancaster was charged with stealing one pair of trousers and a cup, of the value of 6s., from Mr. Thomas James, of the "Eight Bells Inn," St. Dunstan's street.

Prisoner was found by Police-constable Fowler and taken into custody, when he proceeded to the prisoner's house in Church-Lane, Northgate, and under the pillow of the prisoners bed he there found the cap and trousers.

The prisoner, who had nothing to say in his defence, was remanded.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 2 February, 1861.

The Supposed Coiner's Case.

Superintendent Davies’ statement of having seen the prisoner loitering about having been read, P.C. Fowler was examined who said, on Monday night about ten o'clock, I saw the prisoner come out of the "Eight Bells." He complained to me of some parties in there who had been ill-using him. I told him to go to the station-house but did not take him into custody. When at the station he was searched and a spoon and some plaster of Paris found upon him, but nothing else to convict him.

Prisoner was discharged.

(This could apply to the other "Eight Bells" in King street. Paul Skelton.)


From the Kentish Chronicle, 19 September, 1863.



Thomas James, son of the landlord of the “Eight Bells” public-house, St. Dunstan’s, was charged with furiously driving down St. Martin’s Hill, on the previous evening. The charge was preferred by H. G. Austin, Esq., J.P., who stated that he was returning to Canterbury on the previous evening, when he observed the prisoner with a tug on the road. The prisoner drove the tug about on the road as if with the view of preventing him from passing. At length Mr. Austin got his carriage past; but afterwards the prisoner drove his tug at a furious rate down the hill, as if with the intention of driving into Mr. Austin’s carriage. Fortunately, by drawing quite close to the side, an accident was prevented. When Mr. Austin reached the foot of the hill he found the tug standing outside the “Ship” public house, and when he endeavoured to ascertain the name of the owner the prisoner abused and threatened him. The magistrates fined the defendant 20s. and 6s. costs, with the alternative of twenty-one days' imprisonment in default.


From the Dover Express, 22 October, 1869.

Public-house Offence.

On Thursday, Thomas James, proprietor of the "Eight Bells" public house, St. Dunstan's, was charged with unlawfully selling a certain quantity of beer in his house before half-put twelve on Sunday morning last. Defendant pleaded in extenuation that out of the four men who were in his house he gave a pint of beer each to two, they being in his house on business. The other two persons told him they had been travelling by road. The Supt, said the house was always kept very orderly. Fined 2s. 6d and 9s. costs.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 30 May 1891.


In our Police Court news last week we inadvertently described Henry Ditton, a publican convicted of keeping his house open during prohibited hours, as the landlord of the "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan's. The house kept by Hutton is the "Eight Bells," King's Street. The "Eight Bells," St. Dunstan's, is kept by a person of quite a different name, a highly respectable man, against whom there have been no police proceedings whatever.




LAYTHEM Nathaniel 1708-19

PRESCOTT Lucy 1719-25

GIBSON Henry 1725-38

PORTSMOUTH Thomas 1738-47

DARLING Thomas 1747-59

ANTIUM Edward 1759-70

WRAIGHT Richard 1770-82

PAYNE Jonathan 1782-95

COLE Isaac P 1795-1813

WACHERS Mary 1819 (widow)

STOKES Thomas 1813-24

STOKES Edward 1824-29 Pigot's Directory 1824

EDMED James 1829-45 (age 61 in 1841Census) Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34Stapletons GuidePigot's Directory 1840

MARSH John 1845-58?

JAMES Thomas 1847-82 Bagshaw's Directory 1847Melville's 1858Post Office Directory 1862Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Post Office Directory 1874

COURT William 1882-87 Post Office Directory 1882Historic Canterbury web site (livery and stables)

DALE William 1887-89

HOPKINS William Richard 1889-95 Historic Canterbury web sitePost Office Directory 1891

DITTON William 1891 (beer retailer age 63 in 1891Census)

POLLOCK James S 1895-1903

WINCHESTER Charles 1903-18? Post Office Directory 1903Kelly's 1903Historic Canterbury web site

HODGES G W 1913+ Post Office Directory 1913

WOOLSTEN Henry 1917-27? Historic Canterbury web site

FEIST John James Stanley 1922+ Post Office Directory 1922

MOON Henry John 1827-34 Post Office Directory 1930

GILDER Thomas James 1934-50 Post Office Directory 1938

GILDER Johnathan 1950-60

MOAT Jack 1960-84

WALLS Derek Alfred 1984-85

WALLS Maureen Kathleen Janet 1985-99

GEORGE June & BOWYER Roger 1999-2002

HUNT David and Hazel 2002-03

HUNT David 2003-06

TRUELOVE Kim & Ryan 2006+


Pigot's Directory 1824From the Pigot's Directory 1824

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

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Stapletons GuideStapleton's Guide 1838

Pigot's Directory 1840From the Pigot's Directory 1840

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862

Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Greens Canterbury Directory 1868

Post Office Directory 1874From the Post Office Directory 1874

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Post Office Directory 1891From the Post Office Directory 1891

Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1903

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Post Office Directory 1930From the Post Office Directory 1930

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938

Historic Canterbury web siteHistoric Canterbury web site


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