Page Updated:- Sunday, 25 November, 2018.


Earliest 1896-

Leather Bottle

Closed 1919

Meadow House

Moon Hill


Leather Bottle

Above photo, early 1900s.

Leather Bottle, Shepherdswell, 1997

Above photo is of the "Leather Bottle" although this photo doesn't show it when it was open as a pub. The photo was kindly sent to me by the owner. See email below.


From an email received 21 Ma, 2009

I was starting to try and research my house and found your website.

I have in fact be living in what was the leather bottle public house since 1997.

It is located on the North Downs Way.

I have little in the way of concrete facts, but have been led to believe that it was at 1 time thatched and there is evidence that it was weather boarded.

We think it was built in 2 sections - the first dating from the early Georgian period and the 2nd part we believe to be Victorian.

Whilst renovating the house (which we are still in the process of doing) we found coins dating from 1649 and a cartwheel tuppence dating from the 1790's.

We have 2 outbuildings and in 1 is a brick bakers oven.

I am unsure as to when it ceased to trade as a pub, but the building was taken over by the observer core during the 2nd world war.


I am informed that the two photos show different building. The one you have is now Meadow House - the other end of Moon Hill. I'm told that both were pubs - both with "Leather Bottle" in the name! Perhaps they were all under the same ownership etc and people just moved!


Originally I hadn't seen this one in any research, but did hear mention of a "Leather Bottle" in Shepherdswell by Jenny Bushell, landlady of the "Bell" in Shepherdswell from an article that appeared in the Dover Express in 1999.

Some time later I luckily found a snippet from a 1919 local paper.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 25 September, 1896.


The Kent Coroner (R. M. Mercer, Esq.) held an inquest on Monday evening at the “Leather Bottle,” Shepherdswell, on the body of Fanny Gilham.
William Thomas Gilham, a plate-layer, of Shepherdswell, stated that deceased was his wife, and was aged 42. She was hopping at Littlebourne, and left home at 6 p.m. on Sunday, to go by train to Bekesbourne. Her little girl went with her, and was getting her mother's ticket, deceased waiting on the platform.

George Coomber, porter at Shepherdswell Station, deposed that on Sunday, the 20th inst., he saw deceased on the up platform about 9.05. He spoke to her. He was on the down platform, and she on the up. He turned to go into the porters' room when he heard a thud, and looking round saw the deceased lying in the four-foot way. He ran to assist her. He believed she just breathed and that was all. No one was near her to push her; in fact he never noticed anyone but deceased on the up-platform.

Mr. John Leopold Rubel, Surgeon, deposed that he could find no signs of bruising on the body of deceased. In his opinion she died of syncope. In all probability she suffered from heart disease.

The Jury returned a verdict accordingly.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 21 March, 1919.


Superintendent Stone gave the population of Shepherdswell as 305, and the number of public houses as four, one of which was within 130 yards, and the next a quarter of a mile. There were no complaints against the tenant, but the house required repair.

By Dr. Hardman -  There was a scarcity of accommodation for the population in Shepherdswell, as regards cottages, and the severity was likely to increase.

Messrs. Flint and Co's agent, Mr. Wiley, submitted trade figures, and said the firm were prepared to do what was necessary to put the house in good repair.

The tenant, Mr. Harvey Stone, said he had been at the "Leather Bottle," for nearly ten years, and the house had been in the family altogether for about sixty years.

 Dr. Hardman submitted that the reasons he had given (increase in population) in the two previous applications, applied considerably more to this case. Snowdown, Tilmanstone, and Guilford being within easy distance.

The application for the license was granted.



Unfortunately, the new licence granted in 1919 was short lived as the pub closed at the end of the year due to redundancy.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 29 November 1919.


At the supplemental meeting of East Kent Compensation Authority held at Canterbury last week, under the presidency of Lord Harris, the amounts awarded by the Committee's valuer (Mr. Cobb) were apportioned among owner and tenants, as follows:—

"Leather Bottle," Shepherdswell, £668 10s. (Messrs. Flint and Co., £633 10s.; Henry Stone, £35).


The premises was then owned my a man named Frank Belsey. He died on the 16th April 1922, and his will has recently been seen for sale on Ebay. Details given are as follows:-

This will was extracted by The Solicitors Emmerson and Co of Potter Street Sandwich.

The outer cover, folded in the fashion of a legal document says “PROBATE OF THE WILL AND 2 CODICILS OF FRANKLIN BELSEY DECEASED DATED 9TH JUNE 1922.

This document measures 13 inches by 8 inches and has 12 pages or six leaves

THE WILL (This is just a short précis)


This is in clerk's copy hand- hand written in black ink over 6 full pages- including the two codicils.

Franklin Belsey of Updown Farm in the Parish of Ham in the County of Kent Farmer hereby revoke all Wills and testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last will. I appoint my friends Thomas Medgett of the Parish of Eastry …Kent, retired farmer and Charles Davison of the parish of Whitfield in the same county… to be Executors and trustees:

To my daughter Catherine Belsey £100

To my daughter Grace Catherine Richards £100

To Thomas MEDGETT £50

To Charles Davison £25

To my wife Christian Belsey all house hold goods, furniture, plate, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints and other chattels…

My freehold dwelling house with stables, outbuildings, land 3 acres 1 rood and 24 perches in Shepherdswell- in the occupation of F Prebble- and also two cottages in Shepherdswell now occupied by Mr Pierce- to the use of my wife, and after her death to my daughter Catherine Belsey.

All the residue of my rural estate shall be converted into money by the trustees- to pay funeral, debts, expenses, the legates. And this to be put in a trust and the interest paid to my wife, and on her death to my four children: Catherine Belsey, Jabez Belsey, Christian Richards and William Smith Belsey. And a fifth part to be paid to my son Richard Belsey- if he shall be living- but if dead- other conditions apply.




I give to my son William Smith Belsey the option of purchasing the freehold of the premises formerly used as a beer house and known as the leather bottle in Shepherdswell which I bought last month from Flint and Company for £550. He has 3 months to decide and if he neglects so to do and the property becomes part of the former will.

Witnessed by George W Grigg Printer of Dover

R W Wilson of 123 Alderney Street, Warwick Square London, pianoforte manufacturer.



I REVOKE THE BEQUEST MADE IN MY WILL IN FAVOUR OF MY WIFE and bequeath the same (household goods and chattels) to my trustees who shall give her use of the same during her life and then on trust to Catherine Belsey. I bequeath to my grand daughters Elizabeth Kitty Richards £50

Now witnessed by R E Norris a retired farmer of Sheperdswell

Thomas Medgett a retired farmer of Eastry



In his Majesty's High Court of Justice Franklin Belsey of Moonshill Shepherdswell in Kent- formerly of Updown Farm Ham died 16th April 1922 at Moonshill and the estate is given as £12608 in an IR affidavit and £624 9/- are taken in duty.

Seal of the High Court, probate division at bottom left, signed off by the registrar Mr Quiteville.



Mr Belsey lives at Moonshill Sheperdswell but was a farmer at Ham

He has two cottages, a farm, now tenanted (as is a cottage), a dwelling house and a disused pub at Shepherdswll called the leather Bottle. Which he buys circa 1917.

His son Richard Belsey has a provisional bequest different from the other 4 with the words “If he is living”. This cannot be because he is in the Great War because no codicil is written after 1918. Is he missing? Is he a prisoner of war not known to be missing or dead? Is he estranged from the family?

The effect of the codicil taking the chattels from his with Christian and giving them to the trustees is negligible if she wished to remain living with them but it effectively prevents her from disposing of them in her life time for her own needs. Perhaps she did not care to write her own will and preferred this simple arrangement.

He has a grand child only by one daughter and they have the surname Richards. Catherine Belsey, being unmarried gets preferential treatment.

Jabez Belsey (a son) gets no special provision or option on property.

Interesting witnesses, local farmers of Shepherdswell, a Dover printer and a London Piano maker.



STONE family 1860s+

COLTHUP J 1901+ Post Office Directory 1903

STONE Harvey 1909-19 Dover ExpressCensus


Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1901

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:-