DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest 1798

(Name from)

Guildhall Vaults

Latest Oct 1943

(Name to)

2 Bench Street

Guildhall Vaults circa 1928

Above picture kindly sent by James Linden Ferrissey, who says the picture has been in his family album since 1928 sent by Albert Edward Potter who must have worked for the company. Click here.

Guildhall Vaults 1928

The picture, above, taken about 1928, shows the Guildhall Vaults and J. Williams, the tobacconists on the corner of Bench Street.

Pewter mugPewter mug

Above pewter mug kindly sent by Pamela and Howard Newman. Inscription says "Guildhall, Bench Street, Dover."

Guildhall Vaults

Bench Street, Guildhall Vaults, corner of Queen Street after being bombed during WW2. Rubble has been cleared from the "Guildhall Vaults". The huge crater in Bench Street is just out of our picture to the left.

From the Dover Express, 21 January, 1833.

DOVER, Jan. 21.

On Wednesday last the friends of Mr. Halcomb held a meeting at the "Guildhall Tavern," and it being understood that it was for the purpose of cancelling the feuds and jealousies which existed at the late election between them and the friends of Sir John Reid, both parties made a point of attending, and mustered between six and 700, so that it was impossible to accommodate this vast company in the Catch Club Room; other rooms in the house were cleared and fitted up with chairs and tables at the moment, and filled instantly, as were all the passages and stairs hading to the different rooms.

Such a meeting was never seen before in Dover, but the most perfect good will and union prevailed, an union which will exist until the ensuing election, and be sufficient to overturn all the reform or patriotic unions, as they now call themselves, which may be brought against it by the brave Captain Stanhope, our ci-devant member, or any of their reforming friends: by the by the hon. gentleman, Mr. Thomson, paid a short visit to the town yesterday, in order to dine with my Lord of Durham, and is off again.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 12 April, 1867.

DOVER POLICE COURT

Wednesday: (Before the Mayor,  Captain Crookes,  R. Dickeson, W. R. Mowll, and S. M. Latham, Esqs.)

John Sabin, a constable of the Dover Police Force was charged by David George Austen with being guilty of wilful perjury when a witness in a case heard on the 1st of April, wherein the complainant and four others were charged and convicted for wilfully disturbing the inhabitants of Queen Street.

Mr. Minter appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Lewis for the defendant.

All the witnesses were ordered out of Court.

After Mr. Minter had detailed the evidence given on the occasion on question, and denied that Austin was in company with those who committed the offence of creating a disturbance, he called upon Edward Worsfold Mowll to prove that the depositions taken on the 1st of April were correct statements of what was then sworn.

The depositions having been read, David George Austin said: I am an assistant to my brother who carries on business in Bench Street, Dover. I remember the 27th of March last. On the evening of that day I went to the "Guildhall Inn" for the purpose of meeting George Macleod. I saw him there, and remained there with him about a quarter of an hour, when I left and proceeded to the "Shakespeare Hotel" to post some letters. When I came out of the "Shakespeare Hotel" I saw some persons come out of the "Guildhall Tavern" I did not know who they were, but I distinguished the voice of George Macloed. The persons who came out of the "Gulilhall" went up Queen Street. I was stepping from the "Shakespeare Hotel" door. When I stepped from the "Shakespeare" I hesitated, as I was not certain whether to go indoors or follow them. I did go after them. When I arrived at the bottom of Queen Street I did not notice any policeman there, but I saw some persons going up the street. I could not distinguish who they were - they were about a third of the way up the street. I soon afterwards heard a knocking. I was then by the police-station. I came up to Holmes, Flashman, Bolton, and Macleod as they were turning to go into Princes Street. Holmes and Flashman were not companions of mine - to my knowledge I have never before spoken to them. At the time I left the "Guildhall Tavern" I did not know of the intention of the other four to go up Queen Street. I will swear I did not join the four others at the bottom of Queen Street, nor did I stand with them round Mr. Marks's door or shutters while the knocking took place. I did not knock at either the door or shutters, and had nothing to do with the knocking.

By Mr. Lewis: It was about half-past ten when I left the "Guildhall," and I hesitated because I was in doubt whether or not to go home. I did not get home at all that night - it was nearly one o'clock in the morning when I left the last of the four. Neither Macleod nor the others, when in the "Gulidhall," said anything to me about where they were going. I did not know him. I saw no one at the door when I passed the house where the knocking had been going on - I didn't notice the door. I did have an umbrella in my hand. After I joined the others, we all went to Brett's "New Inn" - Bolton left us after he had been there a short time. Some time after this, myself and the three others came out of the "New Inn" together - it was after eleven - and we went down Market Place, to Corbett's corner. Holmes and myself then went round the backway to Mr. Macleod's private door, and we afterwards all proceeded down Snargate Street and went into the "Army and Navy" public-house. After this we came back again through the Market Place into Cannon Street. During this time Macleod was talking rather loudly. When passing up Cannon Street, one of the party rang Mr. Eastes' bell - I believe it was Flashman. There was then no knocking with sticks, nor with the knocker. When the bell had been rung, I led George Macleod across the road. Flashman and myself did not run into the policeman Pilcher's arms. We did not stop to have the door opened after the bell was rung. I afterwards was going up Cannon Street, and was stopped by the policeman Pilcher with one arm. The policeman let go of my arm to catch Flashman. I then walked away back through the Market Place. I knew that Flashman and Macleod were taken to the police-station, but I did not follow them. After they were taken there, I walked down Queen Street and turned sharp through Last Lane. I was not, prior to the night in question, on companionable terms with the others, with the exception of Macleod. On the Friday evening following I went to the police-station, after I received the summons. I saw a policeman there - George Macleod went with me for the purpose of getting the summons heard on the following day. I might have said to Raymond, "I wish it had occurred somewhere else, and not in this town, where I am known." Only one of the party were excited that night - George Macleod.

By Mr. Minter: When I went up Cannon Street, I was taking George Macleod to where he was going to sleep - he was rather tipsy. I had no knowledge of Flashman's intention to pull the bell. The policeman took hold of me by the arm and said, "What did you ring the bell for?" I replied that I did not ring it.

Joseph Edwin Bolton sworn: I am an architect, living in Dover. I was at the "Guildhall Tavern" on the night of the 27th March, and when I left there in the company on Holmes, Flashman, and Macleod, Austin was standing at the bar. I went into the "Guildhall" about half-past nine, and stayed till about a quarter or ten minutes to ten. I left to go home to get something to eat, and returned to the "Guildhall" about ten minutes after ten. I believe Holmes and Flashman were in the "Guildhall" when I returned. When Holmes, Flashman, Macleod, and myself left there to go up Queen Street, Austin was not with us. Macleod knocked at Mr. Marks's shutters and door with his stick as we went up the street, but Austin was not with us. The next time I saw Austin after we left the "Guildhall" was when we had turned the corner to go into Princes Street.

By Mr. Lewis: We walked quickly up Queen Street. Austin could not have been with the party a minute or two before I noticed him. We planned at the "Guildhall" to go to the "New Inn," and Austin might have heard us say we were going there. I won't swear that Austin was in the bar when we left.

Bt the Bench: At the "Guildhall" we were speaking generally to the people in the bar. I believe Austin was in the "Guildhall" when I went there the second time, but I can't say he was there when we left to go up Queen Street. I am sure Austin joined us at the top of Queen Street, because he hit Holmes on the shoulder, and Holmes said to him, "What! You here again?" When we came out of the "Guildhall Tavern," I believe Austin remained in there, but I won't swear he did. He was standing beside me at the bar a little after ten, and I spoke to him. I got home that night at a quarter-past eleven - I parted company with the others at the "New Inn."

William Holmes deposed: I was at the "Guildhall" on the 27th March, and saw a number of people in the bar. I did not see Austin there when I went in - I believe he came in afterwards. I heard him speak to Macleod. I left the "Guildhall" in company with Bolton, Flashman, and Macleod - Austin was not with us. Previous to that night, I was not acquainted with Austin. Just before we left the "Guildhall" I heard Austin say he was going to post some letters. We went up Queen Street after we left there, but Austin did not go with us. There was knocking when we got to Marks's house  - Macleod, who was walking inside, knocked at the door and shutters. Austin was not with us at the knocking - he joined us as we were rounding the corner at the top of Queen Street.

By Mr. Lewis: I remember Austin joined us at the top of the street because he "tapped" me on the shoulder. I went to the "Guildhall" at about five or ten minutes past ten - Austin came in after that. We planned to go to the "New Inn," but it was just after Austin had left. I am sure Austin did not join us till at the top of Queen Street, because just before we reached there I looked round to see if a policeman were about - I had seen one when we were at the bottom of the street. When I looked round I could see down the street as far as the police station, but I could not see Austin. I was in Cannon Street at a subsequent hour the same night when Flashman rang Eastes' bell - before he did so he said, "Let's ring the Doctor." I was not taken in charge. I have never offered Sabin any money in the way of a bribe, I might have offered him money one night in July or August last - I was "screwed," and he helped me home. He would not take the money.

By the Court: When I looked round from the top of the street, just before the tapping on my shoulder, I did not see anyone between myself and the police station. I only looked on one side of the street - the police-station side. Austin left to post the letters about two minutes before we left the "Guildhall." When Austin came up with us at the top of Queen Street, he was out of breath as though he had been running.

Shippery Flashman deposed: A proposition was made by Holmes to go to the "New Inn" after Austin had left the "Guildhall." Austin did not join us at the bottom of Queen Street, and was not with us when we had got about 20 yards round the corner.

By Mr. Lewis: I rand Eastes' bell at a later hour the same night, and myself and Macleod were taken to the police-station. Sabin then said that five persons, including ourselves, had gone up Queen Street at a previous hour, making a disturbance. I did not say anything before I rang the bell at Eastes.

By the Court: I saw Austin about a dozen or fifteen yards behind, before we turned the corner of Queen Street, running to catch us up. When at the "New Inn" I told Austin I was surprised that he had had to run to catch us up. I did not think he was so far behind. When I looked back from the top of Queen Street and saw Austin, he was between Marks's and where we were.

This was the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Lewis then opened the case for the defence, and laid before the Bench that it was not for them to decide whether Sabin had made a mistake, and believed that Austin had joined the others in Queen Street earlier than he did, but from the charge that was made they had to decide whether or not the defendant had designedly and maliciously committed perjury. He criticised the evidence, and pointed out the several discrepancies that occurred in it, and afterward called William Corrie, a borough policeman, who said: On Wednesday, March 27th, I was on duty in Last Lane, about twenty minutes to eleven. I saw four persons, Macleod, Holmes, Bolton, and Flashman, going up Queen Street, past Market Lane. I saw them distinctly, as I was near a lamp that projects from the corner of the wall. Directly afterwards I saw Austin follow them - he was running. I was standing in Barton's doorway, about two paces from the corner of Queen Street, and he overtook them near the stores of Messrs. Dickeson and Shuttleworth. After Austin passed, I came to the corner of Queen Street to watch, and I saw him join the others at the store. I saw police-constable Sabin following them up. After this my attention was called to something on my own beat. I know Austin well - see him nearly every night - and have not the slightest doubt about his being the person who joined the four near Mr. Dickeson's store.

This witness was cross-examined by Mr. Minter, but no fresh point was elicited, not his evidence shaken.

The Mayor then intimated that the Bench wished to retire.

After a few minutes absence, the magistrates returned, and the Mayor said the Bench considered the evidence for the prosecution insufficient to substantiate the charge.

The case was therefore dismissed.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 28 September, 1877. Price 1d.

A CHILD DROWNED

An inquest was held at the "Guildhall Inn," on Monday afternoon, before W. H. Payn, Esq., Coroner, and a Jury of which Mr. Cullen Marsh was the foreman, on the body of a child named George Charles Prince, who fell into the Wellington Dock and was drowned on Sunday afternoon. The following evidence was called:-

Charles Prince, father of the child, said he last  saw the deceased on Sunday afternoon at half-past four. He was four years of age.

Mr. James John Coverdale, a wine merchant, a visitor at Dover, said: When I was passing the Racquet Court yesterday afternoon I heard a splash in the Water in the Wellington Dock. I saw two children running away. I went to the side of the quay and saw a child in the water. I got on a vessel on the quay-side  but found nothing with which I could save the child, and I was not a swimmer. While I was searching for assistance the child turned on his back and sank. I think there should be something put around this dock to fence it off, there being no protection.

Francis Oscar Johnson said: I am mate of the Swedish brig Emily, lying at the ballast quay. yesterday afternoon I was told that there was a child in the water. Some women pointed out the spot where the child sank. I grappled with a boat-hook in the direction pointed out and found the body under the keep of another vessel. I recovered  the body and took it to the Police-station.

Mr. Edwin Duke, surgeon, stated that he was returning from the Pier, when he saw a number of people looking into the Wellington Dock, and on enquiry he found a child had fallen into the water, and they were grappling for it. I waited till they recovered the body, when I examined it and found it quite dead.

A verdict of accidental death was returned.

 

From the Dover Express19 August 1888

FIRE AT THE GUILDHALL VAULTS

On Sunday afternoon considerable excitement was ensued in Bench street by an outbreak of fire at the "Guildhall Vaults Inn." The fire was discovered at twenty minutes past four by Mr. Comes, fly proprietor, who was driving past the house and noticed smoke issuing from the roof, he immediately ran to the Queen-street Fire-station, where he gave the alarm. Station Sergeant Barton telephoned to Superintendent Sanders, at the Town Hall, and then had the hose-reel at Queen-street at once got out. The occupants of the "Guildhall Vaults" were out driving at the time, and Sergeant Barton had to burst open the door before an entrance could be effected. The house was full of smoke, which proceeded from the direction of the kitchen at the rear. It was found that the fire had broken out in cupboard between the kitchen and the staircase, the origin being supposed to be over heating of some lucifer matches, which were kept there. Superintendent Sanders quickly arrived with Sergeant Nash and Several members of the Brigade, who at once set to work, stand-pipes being fixed in Bench-street and Queen-street. The fire had got a good hold on the premises, and it was at one time thought that the whole building would be destroyed, the walls of the top rooms becoming very much heated. The brigade worked with a will, and are to be complimented on the way in which they succeeded in coping with the flames. The supply of water was good and the fire was extinguished about an hour after its being first discovered. The damage was of an extensive character. The kitchen was entirely gutted and its contents destroyed. The staircase was very much burnt and the passage scorched. Considerable damage was also done to furniture &c., by smoke, heat, and water. The premises were insured in the Guardian Fire Office and the furniture in the Norwich Union. The owner of the house is Mr. E. Lukey and the occupier Mrs. K Ayers.

 

From the Dover Express, 19 August 1888

FIRE AT THE GUILDHALL VAULTS

On Sunday afternoon considerable excitement was ensued in Bench street by an outbreak of fire at the Guildhall Vaults Inn. The fire was discovered at twenty minutes past four by Mr. Comes, fly proprietor, who was driving past the house and noticed smoke issuing from the roof, he immediately ran to the Queen-street Fire-station, where he gave the alarm. Station Sergeant Barton telephoned to Superintendent Sanders, at the Town Hall, and then had the hose-reel at Queen-street at once got out. The occupants of the Guildhall Vaults were out driving at the time, and Sergeant Barton had to burst open the door before an entrance could be effected. The house was full of smoke, which proceeded from the direction of the kitchen at the rear. It was found that the fire had broken out in cupboard between the kitchen and the staircase, the origin being supposed to be over heating of some lucifer matches, which were kept there. Superintendent Sanders quickly arrived with Sergeant Nash and Several members of the Brigade, who at once set to work, stand-pipes being fixed in Bench-street and Queen-street. The fire had got a good hold on the premises, and it was at one time thought that the whole building would be destroyed, the walls of the top rooms becoming very much heated. The brigade worked with a will, and are to be complimented on the way in which they succeeded in coping with the flames. The supply of water was good and the fire was extinguished about an hour after its being first discovered. The damage was of an extensive character. The kitchen was entirely gutted and its contents destroyed. The staircase was very much burnt and the passage scorched. Considerable damage was also done to furniture &c., by smoke, heat, and water. The premises were insured in the Guardian Fire Office and the furniture in the Norwich Union. The owner of the house is Mr. E. Lukey and the occupier Mrs. K Ayers.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 10 July, 1891. Price 1d.

ACCIDENT

A man named Thomas Maroney, of Castle Place, was taken to the Hospital on Wednesday evening, suffering from a broken leg, which he sustained by slipping down in the “Guildhall” public-house, Bench Street, whilst carrying some beach on his back.

 

Dover Express. 1 September 1899.

Fruits of the Traffic.

Jonas Saw was brought up charged with using bad language in King Street.

Sergeant Ruben Danson said that about noon on Monday he was called to the "Guildhall," and Mr. Ward, landlord, said the prisoner had been very abusive, and using bad language. He refused to leave the house and witness put him out. He refused to go away, and used very obscene language. In consequence witness took him into custody. There was another man complained of, but he went away.

Mr. Ward, the landlord, said that one of Messrs. Pearson's gangers name Smith brought four men in and called for a quart between them. Smith and two of the men left, and the other two became noisy and he had to call the police in to put them out.

The other man left.

Prisoner was fined 5s.

Mr. Bradley commended Mr. Ward for refusing to serve the men, who had evidently had too much, and he hoped other publicans would do the same.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 6 February, 1914. Price 1d.

DOVER LICENSING SESSIONS GUILDHALL LICENCE

The plans of the “Guildhall,” Bench Street, were produced by Mr. F. Hayward. It was stated that the plans had been altered in accordance with the desires of the Bench.

They were approved.

 

From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 20 March 1942.

At the Dover Licensing Sessions on Monday, a Proection Order was granted in respect of the "Guildhall Vaults," and the licence transferred from Mrs. Morecroft to Freda May Appleby.

 

Dover Express 21st August 1942.

At the Dover Police Court on Friday last, plans for alteration of “Guildhall Vaults” to provide better supervision were approved. A music and singing licence was also granted.

 

From the East Kent Messenger. December 2nd 1955.

First, oil bomb hit the old "Guildhall Vaults"

THE first oil bomb to fall on Dover landed right in the middle of Bench Street during the early hours of October 6th, 1943. 'The deadly fuel it contained set fire to the historic Guildhall Vaults and adjoining tobacconist's shop and a shoe shop opposite.

All three premises were completely gutted and German communiques mentioned large fires in the Dover area.

The Guildhall Vaults was one of the oldest public houses in Dover, being founded in 1690. It is reputed to have stood upon the site of the Dover Guildhall, where the Assizes were held.

A secret passage from the Guildhall Vaults to the Western Heights is said to be used for moving prisoners.

The Vaults was a popular rendezvous for seafaring men. Trinity House pilots in particular. It was known all over the world.

Older readers will no doubt recall the famous grapevine in the back garden. This survived enemy action but unfortunately it succumbed to the demolition men.

Next door to the Vaults and part of the building was Mr. Jack Williams' tobacconist's shop. He lost every bit of his stock that night, but by telephoning and sending telegrams, Mr. Williams had cigarettes delivered to him the next day and was completely restocked within 48 hours.

For Dover's wartime inhabitants were not to be done out of their cigarette and Mr. Williams continued at another shop in Biggin street.

Today, the original site is still empty. There Is a well-kept lawn, surrounded by ugly gaping walls.

But one day, the Guildhall Vaults will rise again. For planning permission has been granted to the brewers. (Dec 10th 1955).

Guildhall Vaults cleared

NO RE-BUILDING HAS TAKEN PLACE YET (circa 1956):- There is a well-kept lawn behind a tiny privet hedge. A new public house will be erected on the site.

This was later shown to be the "Dover Tavern" and opened on 4th July 1957.

 

Reckoned to be a pretty old one this. John Bachelor, the mayor of 1600, was the keeper of a "Guildhall Tavern" near the Market Place and this it was said, could be traced to 1690. Previous to that it had been titled the "Bull" with a large assembly room at the back for meetings and concerts. A passage, used for the movement of French prisoners, ran from here to the Western Heights.

 

However, further research has turned up the following, as seen in the Kent Post of 1732, so it looks as if the "Guildhall Tavern" either didn't exist till after that date, or the "Bull" was indeed another pub nearby. Also the Trade Directory of 1798 definitely gives a "Bull" in Market Place. Earliest licensee traced so far is as late as 1826.

 

From the Kentish Post, March 1-4, 1732

To be Lett, "The Bull Alehouse" near the Market Place, in Dover, now occupied by Nicholas Ellenden.

 

From the Dover Telegraph, 5 December, 1835. p.8 col.4

Mr. T Houghton Senior, died 28 November at Dover - late baker and formerly landlord of the "Guildhall Tavern"

 

It belonged to Walker when it was sold for £1,300 in 1859. The title "Guildhall Vaults" was certainly in use from 1805. It was extensively damaged by fire on 13 May 1888.

 

It closed in March 1942, the property then of Ind Coope and Allsopp. Another victim of world war two, it was damaged when an oil bomb landed in Bench Street on 6 October 1943 setting fire to it.

 

The Queen Street corner property, during the 19th century, was a saddler's, and next was the "Guildhall Vaults" Inn, which had historic connections, although not definitely known, with the old Guildhall, which existed before the one in the Market Place was built in 1607.

 

The "Dover Tavern" has since been erected on the site for Ind Coope.

 

LICENSEE LIST

BOND William 1826-28+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

HOUGHTON Thomas 1828 Batchellor 1828 (Guildhall Tavern)

FOORD George 1832-47+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34Pigot's Directory 1839Pigot's Directory 1840Bagshaw's Directory 1847

WALL 1857

BIRD George Herbert 1874-82+ Post Office Directory 1874Post Office Directory 1882

HILLS Johnathan 1888-91+ Next pub licensee had

POFFLEY Frewin 1893-38 end (Late Sergeant Major, Royal Artillery)

WARD James 1898-June/1912 Dover ExpressKelly's Directory 1899Post Office Directory 1903

WHITING Walter June/1912-13+ Dover ExpressPost Office Directory 1913

TOWNSEND John Robert 1914-Jan/38 Post Office Directory 1922Pikes 1924Pikes 1932-33Dover Express

MORECROFT Neville Jan/1938-Dec/39 Pikes 1938-39Dover Express

MORECROFT Mrs Dec/1939-Mar/42 Dover Express (wife)

APPLETON Miss Freda May Mar/1942-43 end Dover Express

 

Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-9

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

Pigot's Directory 1839From the Pigot's Directory 1839

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

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Post Office Directory 1874From the Post Office Directory 1874

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Kelly's Directory 1899From the Kelly's Directory 1899

Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Pikes 1924From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1924

Pikes 1932-33From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1932-33

Pikes 1938-39From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1938-39

Dover ExpressFrom the Dover Express

 

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

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