Sort file:- Folkestone, December, 2022.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 17 December, 2022.


Earliest 1780

Jolly Sailor

Latest 1819+

(Name to)

Dover Hill



Originally built as a farmhouse on land leased from Lord Radnor, and by 1780 it ran under this name, just after 1840 it changed name to the "Valiant Sailor."

There was another "Jolly Sailor" found in Folkestone in the 1832 Pigot's directory, but by this time, this one had changed names and so is a different one to this.


Kentish Gazette 20 August 1819.

As Mr. Clement of Dover, baker, was going up Folkestone Hill, with his two sisters, on Monday evening about 7 o'clock, they were attacked by man employed on the Preventive service; who when about 6 paces distant, cried out stop you b-----d, levelled a blunderbuss, through the trigger, and its snapped; he then cocked it, presented it as before, drew the trigger, and it flashed in the pan; he then pulled out his powder horn, and attempted to prime the blunderbuss; when, Mr. Clement stepped up and seized the powder horn and asked if his intentions were to murder, or rob, or to which the fellow replied, he had been insulted some little time before, and would be damned if he would not kill some one, he cared not who.

Mr. Clement perceiving the danger he was placed in, asked him what would do to disable him from his purpose, which replied, six-pence, or a pot of beer, would soften the matter.

Mr. Clement then gave him six-pence, and went with him to the public house, at Folkestone Hill; where, liquor was refused in. Mr. Clement was informed there, that he had presented the blunderbuss at the landlord, as also to the man at the toll gate.

Shortly after, two of his companions arrived in order to secure him, to convey him to Eastware watch-house; from the frequent occurrence of his nature, we suppose the matter will rest without further proceedings against the villain.


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

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

Lot 32. A Messuage called the "Jolly Sailor," with the stable, lodge, yard, garden, and appurtenances, situate on the top of Folkestone Hill, in Folkestone aforesaid, and now in the occupation of William Major.

N.B. This lot is held by lease under the Right Honourable the Earl of Radnor, for the residue of a term of 61 years from Michaelmas 1786, at 2s. 6d. per annum.


Folkestone Herald 16 May 1931.


Of course we have been reminded if we needed reminding – of the “sailor” described as “valiant” standing isolated alone on the edge of the cliff on the Folkestone-Dover Road, and standing all these years four square to all the winds that blow, and hundreds of feet above the level of the sea. Of course, I am referring to the famous inn “The Valiant Sailor”, owned by Mr. A.C. Aird as it was also by his father, the late Mr. W. Aird. Of course this particular “Sailor” is on the main road to Dover – six miles distant. Outside the establishment was at one time a toll house or turnpike gate. So rapid is the flight of time that the present generation can hardly realise that every horse and vehicle, besides droves of sheep and cattle, were compelled to pay toll before they could pass through the aforesaid gate or similar gates on the main roads. A carrier van, and an occasional horsed bus – that was all the communication that existed in those days, which many of us can recall. And so it comes about that our “Valiant Sailor” on Dover Hill has witnessed a revolution. He has seen the old gate abolished, a ten minute motor bus created between the two towns, whilst hundreds of motor vehicles pass by every day of the year. Here is progress if you like. I may be perhaps pardoned for mentioning it, that I made the first journey ever made from Folkestone to Dover on a motor vehicle named “The Pioneer”. It was driven by Mr. Ernest Salter, motor engineer, and son of the late Alderman W. Salter, J.P., of Folkestone. Those of us who braved that journey, especially up Dover Hill, were proud of ourselves on that day. I often gaze on a photo which depicts the old “Pioneer” on its way to Dover. I could write a story – an exciting one, too – of an experience I had on this self-same “Pioneer” as it did a sprint down the famous Whitfield Hill. Space, however, just now forbids.

I am informed by the present proprietor, Mr. Alfred C. Aird (whom I have already mentioned) that the old inn alluded to was originally designated the “Jolly Sailor”. Why its name was altered I cannot tell, and my friend, Mr. Aird, cannot throw any light on the subject. Certainly there is something very jolly associated with that word “Jolly”. But from what I can gather from a volume that I have before me, there were certain people in other days that did not approve of it. Thus I read; “The use of the word “Jolly” on the signboards of various inns formerly so common in our now “Merrie England” is now gradually dying away. Whatever be the opinion on the subject of national good humour it seems people no longer desire to be advertised as jolly”. Why object, for instance, to the “Jolly Britisher”, the “Jolly Farmer”, or the “Jolly Sailor”? What a funny world this is. It would seem then that in the Merrie England of those other days they had their killjoys with their sour faces and their canker of envy, malice, and uncharitableness ever gnawing at their hands. However, when we pause to think, the word “Valiant” is a very fine one.


Folkestone Herald 6 June 1931.


With reference to a recent note appearing in this weekly contribution, and having reference to the approaching visit of H.M.S. Valiant, I mentioned the fact that the old Valiant Sailor had stood solitary these many years on the edge of the cliff on the Folkestone-Dover road. I also stated that the famous wayside hostelry was once known as The Jolly Sailor, but that its name, for some reason, was altered to the Valiant Sailor. Why, no-one appears to know. Mr. A.C. Aird, the present proprietor, since my paragraph appeared, has had an opportunity of looking up the deeds of the property with the result that he kindly informs me that the designation of the house was altered from “Jolly” to “Valiant” in 1826. Mr. Aird also states that he is unable to explain the change in the name. As he truly remarks he has always found the sailor to be both “Jolly” and “Valiant”, and so either one fits in as well as the other. However this may be, our old friend declares that the same spirit prevails in the ranks of the 20th century sailors as it did in that of their forefathers when ships of war depended entirely on sail rather than coal and oil, and when navigation, too, depended alone on the compass and flag signals.

Note: Date of name change is at variance with More Bastions.


Folkestone Herald 10 February 1973.

Local News.

Why was the name of the public house at the top of Dover Hill changed in 1820 from the Jolly Sailor to the Valiant Sailor? The question is asked by Mr. G. W. King, of Painters Forstal, Faversham, in the hope that somebody will be able to explain the intriguing change made more than 150 years ago.

Mr. King, who makes a study of English inn names, recently visited the Valiant Sailor. “It was built”, he tells me, “in 1780 as both a farmhouse and inn and was originally known by the more usual title of The Jolly Sailor. The reason for the change of name appears to have been lost in the mists of time. The present licensee, Mrs. Flora Ransford, now a widow, who moved into the house with her late husband 20 years ago, told me that at the time there was a derelict cow shed in the farmyard, which now forms the inn’s car park. Until a few years earlier the house had been noted not only for its fine brew but for its very excellent strawberry and cream teas. Mr. Alf Aird, who was born in the house and retired from it 27 years ago, was unable to explain why the jolly sailor became a valiant sailor”.




BAKER Thomas 1780-87 Bastions

TIMS John 1787-1819 Bastions

MAJOR William 1819+

Renamed "Valiant Sailor"


BastionsFrom More Bastions of the Bar by Easdown and Rooney


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



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