18 Limekiln Street
Knowles kept a pub with this sign in 1725 and old records indicate that
the bricks and mortar were purchased by Susan Nichols that year for £3 5s.,
she being the highest bidder. Durtnall is our next contact, with the house
in Limekiln Street in 1826. It had been closed by 1859 but was reopened that
year when the licence was restored. I have no knowledge of it after 1862.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 27 February, 1836. Price 7d.
DOVER DEBATING SOCIETY
The anniversary supper of this Society took place, a short time
since, at the "Plume of Feathers." In the course of the evening some of
the members expressing a wish to join in a bottle of wine, a person
being present who had authority to take orders for the article, some was
procured. One of the company, Mr. R. Hamilton, an officer of Excise,
knowing that "mine host" had no wine license, gave information of this
supposed breach of the law, but it was proved that the Landlord had not
received the money for the wine. At a special meeting convened on
Wednesday evening it was unanimously resolved, "That Mr. R. Hamilton be
no longer considered a member of the Institution the members not
reconciling themselves to sit in company with an individual who sought
an opportunity of punishing their error, rather than honourably
endeavouring to prevent it.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 20 April, 1844. Price 5d.
An inquest was held on Thursday, at the "Plume of Feathers," Dover,
before G. T. Thompson, Esq., Coroner for the Borough, on the body of an
unbaptized infant, the son of Jane Mann, spinster.
Mary Knott, wife of William Knott, mariner, deposed, tat she was
lodging at the house of Luke Smithett, in Limekiln Street. That on
Monday week Jane Mann came to the house, and in the evening was suddenly
taken in labour, and delivered of a child. Mr. Hunt, th surgeon, was in
attendance. On Saturday and Sunday the child cried very much, and she
gave it, on two occasions, a spoonful of weak gin and water. It was
better on Monday, till the evening, when it began crying, and continued
all night. In the morning it appeared more composed, till noon, when it
began to kick and cry violently. She then gave it half-a-teaspoon of
Baby's cordial, which she purchased at Mr. Cottrell's. As it did not get
better, she gave it a similar dose about half-past four o'clock. At five
o'clock it was taken in a fit, which lasted about a quarter of an hour.
It then recovered, but had a similar attack shortly afterwards. It again
recovered, but had a third attack, which lasted half an hour, when the
By the Coroner:- No medical man was called in.
In reply to a question from a Juror, witness produced a phial,
containing the remainder of the mixture, which she said Mr. Hunt had
Luke Smithett corroborated part of the above evidence, and, in
addition, stated that from hearing the woman say the child had taken
several doses of Godfrey's Cordial, he wished Mrs. Knott and Jane Mann
to send for a surgeon, to examine the child; but as they seemed
declined, he went to Mr. Hunt the following morning (Tuesday.) His wife
and Jane Mann both told him the child had taken Godfrey's Cordial. In
reply to a question from Mr. Brockman, the foreman of the jury, witness
stated that he went to Mr. Hunt for his own satisfaction, and that it
might not afterwards be said the child had been made off with.
Mr. R. T. Hunt, surgeon, deposed that he attended Jane Mann at a
premature confinement. The child was very healthy, and he had since seen
it when attending the mother. On Wednesday, Smithett came and asked him
to come and examine the child, saying it had died rather suddenly the
day previous, and he was not satisfied as to the cause of death, as
Godfrey's Cordial had been administered. On going down he found the
child presented a perfectly natural appearance. Was told by Mrs. Knott
and other women that the child had strong convulsions. Asked Mrs. Knott
what had been given to the child, and she gave him a bottle, which he
examined, and found the contents perfectly simple, being composed of
syrup of poppies and caraway seeds. This mixture was perfectly harmless,
and would not cause death if a much greater quantity had been given. He
had on that day, (Thursday) made a post mortem examination, and found
the stomach perfectly healthy, containing only a small quantity of
bread, which smelt slightly of medicine which had been administered. On
examining the head - found the vessels of the brain highly congested,
which might excite convulsions and cause death.
The Coroner, addressing the Jury, observed that he considered the
conduct of Smithett very popular, and from the reports afloat considered
it necessary an inquest should be held. From the evidence of Mr. Hunt,
however, there appeared no truth in the rumours; and the Jury, without
hesitation, returned a verdict of "Died of natural causes."
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser, Saturday, 27 February, 1847. Price 5d.
On Monday last an inquest was held at the “Plume of Feathers,” before G.
T. Thompson, Esq., Coroner for the Borough, on the body of Elizabeth
pain, aged 5½, whose death was occasioned by her clothes having caught
Mary Lane, wife of Elias lane, deposed: On Saturday afternoon, at three
o’clock, I heard loud screams, and my daughter cried out “Mrs. Pain’s
child is on fire,” and I then saw the child running down the lane in
flames. I took the door mat and threw it upon her. Some man came to my
assistance, and we extinguished the flames. The clothes were then burnt
off the child’s back. Mr. Hammond then took the child to Mrs. Pain’s
house. Shortly after Mrs. Pain came up the lane.
William Hammond, mariner, deposed: I saw a crowd round Mrs. Lane’s door,
and on going towards it, saw the child standing there with its clothes
burning. I tore off the upper part of the frock, and took the child in
doors. There was no one but the eldest daughter in the house, and she
was crying. There was a fire in the grate, and the sister told me she
was reaching a doll off the mantel, when her (the child’s) clothes
caught fire. Mrs. Pain came in and took up the child in her arms, when
the skin came off. I advised her to go for a doctor, or get some linseed
oil. I have lived next door to Mrs. Pain about four months, and have
often known her children to be sitting up alone till 11 or 12 o’clock at
Susannah Pain, wife of William Pain, mariner, deposed: Deceased is my
daughter, and is 5½ years old. I left home about 3 o’clock on Saturday
afternoon, leaving two children there. I went to the “Two Brewers” to
ask Mrs. Cullen for a piece of fish, when a little girl told me my child
was on fire, and I ran home. The child was put to bed; and in the
evening she said that she was reaching a doll from the mantel, when her
pinafore caught fire. I have often left the children alone for two or
three hours, when I have been going out for errands, or I have left them
at night, it has been while I took my husband’s supper. The child died
about half past ten the same evening.
Rachel Pain, a child 12 years of age, was the next witness, but after
stating that she had been only two weeks at school, and that she did not
know the nature of an oath, the Coroner told the Jury he could not take
It was stated by some of the Jury that Pain, the father of deceased, was
a sober, steady man; and that when he first took the house he had well
furnished it, but that from the intemperate habits of his wife the
furniture had been made off with, and he had for some time been
compelled to sleep on board the vessel in which he sailed.
The Jury then, after a short consultation, returned a verdict “That
deceased died from injuries received from her clothes accidentally
At the request of the Jury, Mrs. Pain was again called in and feelingly
addressed by the Coroner on the impropriety of her conduct, and the
neglect of properly educating her children; the Coroner observed that he
hoped the unfortunate accident would be a lesson to her for the future.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser, Saturday, 22 May, 1847. Price 5d.
MELONCHOLY SUICIDE AND VERDICT OF FELO-DE-SE
A Coroner’s inquest was held on Saturday evening at eight o’clock,
before G. T. Thompson, Esq., Coroner for the Borough, at the “Plume of
Feathers,” Limekiln Street, on the body of James Hewitt, aged 25 years,
who was employed as malt-man at Messrs. Pages’ brewery, and whose body
had been that morning discovered hanging in the malt-house.
The Jury having been sworn and appointed Mr. W. Westrope, foreman,
proceeded to the malt-house where the body of deceased was found, lying
on the floor with a thick rope suspended from a beam above. On ascending
the floor above, and from which it is supposed deceased threw himself
from the beam down an opening into the room below, the following writing
was found chalked on the floor boards, on which a silver watch and some
money were found lying.
“God Bles you all.”
“Please to let my dear Child Robert have my Watch.
“Dear father and Mother, brothers and Sisters, God Bles you all.”
“I have your unhappy Sun.”
The body presented the appearance of a robust and strongly muscular man;
and, on the return the Jury to the inquest room, the following evidence
Samuel Barnes, tun-man in the employ of Messrs. Page, deposed: Deceased
was malt-man in the same business. This morning about 10 o’clock, one of
our boys in the brew-house, named Podevin, came and asked if I had seen
“Jim,” that being the name by which deceased was known. I replied that I
had not seen him since 7 o’clock, when he skimmed the tun with me. I
made enquiry among the other men, but none having seen him, I went and
searched the premises, thinking he had gone to lay down, and having told
me in the morning that he had been out drinking the night previous.
After searching some parts in vain, I went to the barley loft and called
him several times, but receiving no answer, I searched round, and behind
a partition I found deceased hanging from a beam. I immediately ran down
and told Mr. Page, who went for a surgeon, and I ran back to the loft
with Podevin, and cut the body down. His toes just touched the ground.
He was quite dead, but the body was warm. On going to the floor above, I
saw some writing in chalk on the floor, beside which his watch and some
money were lying. Close to the rail the dust appeared to have been
brushed off towards the beam, from which the deceased must have thrown
himself. The rope by which he hung was similar to some used in the
brewery. I have known deceased about three months, and have never
observed any change in his manner, even up to the last time I saw him
this morning. He was a sober, steady man, and of a jocular disposition.
He was quite sober in the morning, but said he met friends last evening
with whom he remained drinking till 2 o’clock.
Charles Podevin, deposed: I am employed in the tun-room with Barnes.
Deceased and myself usually have our breakfast together in the
cooperage, at 8 o’clock, but he not being there this morning, about 10
o’clock I asked Barnes if he had seen him. He said he had not since 7
o’clock, and he then went in search of him. He shortly returned saying
deceased had hung himself, and I went with him and helped cut down the
body. I have seen no difference in the manner or conduct of deceased
since he has been employed at the brewery.
John Lincoln, waggoner at the brewery, deposed: Deceased came to work
this morning at 6 o’clock, when he appeared very cheerful and was joking
with the other men. At 10 minutes before 8 o’clock, deceased and myself
had a pint of beer together in the cooperage, when I saw no alteration
in his manner. Deceased left work with me last night at 10 o’clock, and
after supper I went with him to the “Duke of Cornwall,” where we had a
pint of porter each. He left shortly after 11 o’clock, saying, he was
going to the “Kent Hotel” to get the number of a cask, which he had
delivered that day, and which he had forgotten. He was then quite sober,
but said this morning that he had been out and spent 3s. 9d.
Richard Ayres, smith, deposed: Deceased was my brother-in-law, and was
25 years of age. The writing in chalk on the floor, in the barley loft,
was that of deceased, and the watch is similar to that worn by him.
About 11 weeks since he came to lodge at my house, where he remained 5
weeks. He supped at my house on Thursday evening last. I have observed a
difference in his manner lately. He appeared distracted in his thoughts,
although jocular I his manner. When he was at my house on Thursday, he
said he was quite happy, and had got a good master. He was of a sober,
steady disposition, but I have ascertained that he did not go home last
night. I know of no family matters or other cause that could have
Superintendent Correll produced a watch, and 10s. 8d. in silver and
copper, which were lying on the floor close to the chalk writing.
Mr. Peake stated that soon after 11 o’clock deceased came to the “Kent
Hotel,” and asked me to let him see the number of a cask which he had
left that day, and had forgotten. I got a candle and went with him to
the cellar. After he had taken the number, he had a glass of gin, which
he drank at the bar. He then left and was quite sober. There was no one
with him when he came, and I saw no one when he left.
Mr. Alfred Page said that deceased had been in the employ of the firm 3
months, during which period his conduct had been unexceptionably.
The Coroner summed up the evidence at considerable length, explaining
the law of Felo-de-se and temporary insanity, and then left the Jury to
consider their verdict.
After a lapse of nearly half an hour, the Coroner was called in, when
the foreman stated that he regretted to say that the majority of the
Jury were in favour of a verdict of “Felo-de-se.”
The Coroner then directed Superintendent Correll to take the body in his
charge, and see that it was buried within 24 hours, between the hours of
8 and 12 o’clock at night, without burial service.
Deceased, whose body was interred in the Old Buriel-ground on Sunday
night, as directed, has, we regret to hear, left a widow and two
children, to lament their untimely bereavement.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 23 January, 1858. Price 5d.
On Tuesday afternoon, at two o'clock, an enquiry took place before
the Dover Coroner, George Thomas Thompson, Esq., at the "Plume of
Feathers," Limekiln Street, touching the death of John Firth, a gunner
of the Royal Artillery, who died on Sunday evening from injuries
sustained by a cartridge exploding while firing a salute from the Drop
Redoubt on Saturday morning, on the departure from Dover for London of
her Royal Highness the Princess of Prussia. Mr. G. Bennett was chosen
foreman of the jury; and after viewing the body, which was lying at the
Western Heights Hospital, the following depositions were taken:-
James Davis, bombardier, Royal Artillery - I knew John Firth, who was
a gunner of the Royal Artillery. On the 16th instant, at about eleven
o'clock in the morning, a salute was fired from the Drop Battery. I had
charge of a gun. Deceased and three other gunners were with the gun; he
was at No 3, and his duty was to put the cartridge into the muzzle. We
had fired one round, and were in the act of loading for the second
round, when the cartridge exploded. To the best of my knowledge,
deceased must have been in the act of leaving the gun when the explosion
took place. On the gun being fired, the vent was pricked, and served by
No. 4, the cartridge put in by the deceased, and No. 2 (the other gunner
injured) was in the act of ramming home, when the cartridge exploded.
The rammer was blown over the parapet to a long distance, and deceased
and No. 2 were blown into a ditch below, which I take to be nearly forty
feet deep. We directly left firing from that gun, and several of the men
ran round to where deceased fell, but some of the officers' servants got
there first. I did not go. The cartridges contain about 2lbs. of powder,
and are enclosed in thick flannel bags, sewn together, and so
constructed that loose powder cannot escape. I should say that the
cartridge had not been rammed in above two feet. I cannot say exactly
how the explosion took place. Mp opinion is, that the cartridge had
ignited before it was put into the gun. The gun was so run out, that the
muzzle extended twelve or eighteen inches over the grass, which was
about a foot below it. I have seen the grass ignited by guns being
fired, but I don't know whether the grass was ignited by the first
discharge on Saturday. It is my opinion that deceased, either in getting
upon the parapet with the cartridge in his hand, or in stooping down to
put it into the muzzle, brought it into contact burning grass, and
caused its ignition. The gun is not faulty; and if the vent was well
served, and the gun properly sponged, I believe no spark could have
remained in it. I saw the gun properly sponged on the first round being
fired. It was my duty to do so.
By the Jury: It would have been much easier, and more safe, to have
run the gun back to load it. We have run them back to load since the
explosion of Saturday. I don't think any one looked to see whether or
not the grass caught fire after the first round. The gun has been fired
from since, but was not fired after the explosion during the salute. We
have six guns for saluting. There are 15 seconds allowed for the loading
of a gun; there is an interval on one minute and fifteen seconds before
our turn would come round to fire again.
Edward Protheror, surgeon, Royal Artillery: On Saturday morning last,
I was within fifty yards of the men on the occasion of their firing the
salute. I heard that some of the men had been injured, and on going up
found John Firth in the ditch of the Drop Redoubt. I saw that he had
lost both arms, and on his being raised up the hilt of his sword came
out of his abdomen. He was taken to the hospital immediately, and
amputation of both arms performed. He died at a quarter past nine on
Sunday night. I have since opened the body of deceased, and I find the
cause of death was from rupture of the intestines, by the hilt of the
sword. He was 37, I believe.
John Harding: I am a gunner of the Royal Artillery, and I was
stationed at No. 2 gun on the firing of the salute on Saturday. I was
No. 4 at the gun, and my duty was to serve the vent. Following the first
discharge, I stepped in, pricked the gun, and served the vent, while No.
2 sponged the gun. I saw him go through the motion of sponging the gun.
I cannot say whether he sponged it effectively, or not. I saw deceased
go to the muzzle with the cartridge in his hand, and also saw him stoop
down and put it into the gun. Upon his having done so, I saw No. 2 in
the act of ramming home. At that moment the gun exploded, and I believe
the cartridge was not further down the gun than eighteen inches. I do
not know where No. 3 was when the gun went off; if he was before the
gun, he had no business there, for after putting the cartridge in he
ought to have left the gun, and fallen back instantly. I do not know
whether the grass below the muzzle had ignited on the first discharge of
the gun, but I have often seen it ignite, and on the evening of the same
day, when firing another salute, I saw sparks on the grass while I was
loading the same gun. The brick parapet is about two feet high; the gun
was run close up to it, and its muzzle extended over the grass for
nearly two feet. The gunner loading had to step on to the parapet with
the cartridge, and might have put his hand on the grass to assist him,
having the cartridge in his hand, when a spark on the grass probably
ignited the flannel. To load the gun properly, it ought to have been
run back. I have never known guns to be loaded while out as those were
at the Drop Redoubt on Saturday.
By a Juror: There was an officer in command, who kept the time. It
was my duty to serve the vent until the ramming had ceased, and then to
prick the vent and retire. No. 5 then approached with the port fire. My
thumb was on the vent when the explosion took place. the sponge and
rammer are separate; the latter was blown away. At another part of the
day, on firing another salute, we had a different sponge.
This was the whole of the evidence adduced; and after a few
observations from the Coroner, the Jury returned the following verdict:-
"That the deceased, John Firth, was accidentally killed by the
explosion of a cartridge, while firing a salute." The verdict was
accompanied with a request from the Jury that the Coroner would write to
the Commander of the Garrison, expressing the Jury's hope that in future
salutes the guns might be run back for loading. We understand that a
report of the accident was forwarded to the Horse Guards, a telegram was
despatched in reply, ordering the guns to be always run back, in future,
The remains of the deceased were interred on Thursday in the cemetery
at Copt Hill. The coffin was conveyed on a field piece drawn by six
horses; and in addition to the company to which deceased belonged, the
funeral cortege embraced a field battery fully equipped from
Shorncliffe, which rendered the procession very imposing, and attracted
considerable attention in the line of march. The bands of the Sussex
Militia also attended.
In reference to the other unfortunate gunner, who was blown over the
parapet with Firth, and also sustained the loss of his arms, and other
injuries, we were informed on Tuesday that his case could not then be
spoken of very favourably. His name did not transpire at the inquest.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 10
A man named Riggs, the landlord of the "Plume of Feathers," Limekiln
Street, applied that his licence might be restored to him, in favour of
which a memorial from the inhabitants of the street was read, pointing out
the necessity which existed in the neighbourhood for a house of this
description. On the last general licensing-day, th magistrates had suspended
the license of the house in consequence of the disorderly way in which it
had been kept; but it appeared from the Superintendent of Police that it had
been conducted in every respect satisfactorily during the past twelve
months, the Bench decided to hand over the license to the landlord, hoping
this would act as a caution to him to take better care of the house and to
endeavour to keep it in a respectable manner, so that no further complaints
respecting it might be received.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 9 February, 1861.
DOVER POLICE COURT
Ann Hall v. James Rigg:- The defendant in this case, the landlord of
the "Plume of Feathers" public house, Limekiln Street, was summoned for
assault upon the complainant, an unfortunate. The defendant pleaded not
The complainant having been sworn, said - On Wednesday night I
was in the company of two young men in Limekiln Street, when the
defendant, who was standing outside the door, came up. Both young men
were the worse for liquor, and one, a little fellow, particularly so.
The little fellow offered to fight any man, and Riggs, responding to the
challenge, took off his coat. He first struck the other man, Hedgerly,
and knocked him down, cutting his head open. He was then about to strike
the other, who was the more drunk of the two, when I stood before him
and said, "Don't strike this one, Mr. Riggs." Riggs then said, "Get out
of the way, or I will strike you," and with that he struck me a blow in
the eye, causing the bruise it now exhibits.
The defendant said he had been much annoyed by persons congregating
near his house, and that complainant and the other men were making a
noise underneath his window when he went out and removed them. He denied
assaulting the complainant; but there was a general scuffle, and he
might have got injured in the course of it. He called
Charles Revell, fireman, living in Oxenden Street, who said - I was
at the "Plume of Feathers" on Wednesday night and heard a row outside.
Two young men assaulted Mt. Riggs, and he struck one of them in return.
The woman interposed to prevent the other getting at Riggs, and that was
how I think she got a black eye.
The Magistrates thought the defendant to blame in pulling off his
coat and offering to fight. As the landlord of a public-house he ought
to have known better. He would be fined 3s. and costs.
Defendant paid fine, considering, however, that he was very badly
dealt with, and denying that he took off his coat at all.
The Magistrates said he should have questioned the complainants on
that point when opportunity of doing so was afforded him. The case was
now settled, and the facts could not be re-opened.
From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 8 February, 1862.
THE POLICE AND THE MILITARY
Charles Lamb, a private of the 64th regiment, was charged with
assaulting police-constable Corrie in the executions of his duty.
It appeared from the policeman's statement that between one and two
o'clock the same morning he had taken the prisoner into custody on the
complaint of Mr. Riggs, landlord of the "Plume of Feathers," and handed
him over to a picket of the Shaft guard. The prisoner was very violent,
and although the picket had taken charge of him he escaped fro them and
assaulted Mr. Riggs in witness's presence. Witness told the
non-commissioned officer in charge of the picket to do his duty. The
prisoner was then taken into charge by the picket, but he escaped a
second time, and then assaulted witness, the picket looking on. He
(witness) then got the assistance of police-sergeant Stevens, and having
handcuffed the prisoner conveyed him to the station-house.
Mr. Riggs having confirmed the statement of the constable and
informed the Bench of the cause of his complaint to the police, which,
it appeared, had been occasioned by the prisoner and some other soldiers
breaking a number of windows in his house.
The prisoner was called on for his defence. In answer he said he was
drunk and did not recollect what occurred.
A corporal of his company was in attendance, and gave him a good
character, which the Magistrates probably took into consideration, as
they fined the prisoner in the small sum of 3s. and 7s. costs; or, in
default of payment, seven days in the House of Correction.
The prisoner declined to pay the money, and he was therefore
The Magistrate instructed the clerk of the court to communicate with
the military authorities with respect to the laxity with which the
picket had performed their duty.
DURTNALL John 1823-29
PREBBLE Richard 1832-39+
BROCKMAN Thomas 1849+
LANE Elias 1847
TERRY Richard 1851
DOYLE 1851 end
RIGGS William 1859
RIGGS James 1859-61
From an email received from Stuart Kinnon, 2 September 2009.
From the 1861 census, James Riggs 33 was a publican. His brother
William 42 was a tobacconist and pipe maker. Both James and William's
wives lived with them along with William's two children. They are named on
the census as living at number 18, The Plume Of Feathers.
From the Pigot's Directory 1823
From the Pigot's Directory 1828-9
From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34
From the Pigot's Directory 1839
From the Pigot's Directory 1840
From Bagshaw Directory 1847