Sort file:- Canterbury, July, 2023.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 18 July, 2023.


Earliest 1600s

Three Tuns

Open 2019+

24 Watling Street / St Margaret's Street / Castle Street


01227 458014

Three Tuns 2000

Above photo August 2000 taken from

Three Tuns 2006

Above taken from same site in 2006.

Three Tuns 2009

Above picture taken from Google maps March 2009.

Three Tuns 2009

Above photo, 2009.

Three Tuns matchbox

Above matchbox, date unknown.

Three Tuns sign 1991

Three Tuns sign July 1991.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis


From the Kentish Weekly Post, 17 May 1741.

Wednesday May 20.

To the worthy FREEMEN of the City of Canterbury who are Interest if Sir THOMAS HALES.


You are desired to meet the Friends of Sir Thomas, tomorrow Morning, being the Day of Election, at either of the following Houses, viz.

The "King's Head," in High Street,

The "Fountain," St. Margarets,

The "Dolphin," Burgate,

The "Rose," St. Georges,

The "Black Boy," Burgate,

The "Flying Horse," Dover Lane,

The "Three Compasses," St. Peter's,

The "Golden Lyon," St. Peter's,

The "Mitre," High Street,

The "Rising Sun," St. Dunstan's,

The "Black Swan," North Gate,

The "White Swan," North Gate,

The "Tolerated Soldier," North Gate,

The "Fox and Seven Stars," St. Alphage,

The "Saracen's Head," St. Pauls,

The "Maiden Head," Wincheap,

The "Two Brewers," St. Mildred's,

The "Seven Stars," St. Alphage,

The "Three Tuns," St. Margaret's.


Kentish Post, 22nd January 1757.

"...To be Lett and Enter’d upon at Lady Day, or before, if required. An Old Licenc’d House, with a good Brewhouse, and Utensils for Brewing their own beer, a large Store-house, and two Cellars, with good Stabling and Yard. Any Person taking the said House, is expected to buy the Goods therein, at a reasonable Appraisement. For further Particulars inquire of Samuel Sankey at the said House..."


Kentish Gazette, 14 April, 1781.

To be Let, and entered upon immediately.

The old accustomed public house called the "Three Tuns," situated at the end of Castle Street, in the City of Canterbury, where there is exceeding good Stall and open Stabling, with good Cellars.

The rent is easy, and it is in every respect well-adapted both for Country and City Trade.

For particulars enquire at Mr. Jackson's Brewhouse, Canterbury.

This will not be advertised any more.


From Inns of Canterbury by Edward Wilmot, 1988


Landlord's name John Bedford acknowledges to owe our Lord the King the sum of ten pounds.

To be levied on their several goods and Chattells, Lands and Tenements by way of Recognizance to his Majesty's use.

The conditions: whereas the said (John Bedford) is this Day licensed to keep a Common Ale House or Victualling House at the Sign of The "Three Tuns" in the City of Canterbury for the Term of One Year only from the twenty-ninth Day of September instant.

It therefore, the said John Bedford shall keep good Order and Government, and suffer no Disorder to be committed or unlawful Games used in the said House or in the Yard, Garden or Backside thereunto belonging. during the Continuance of the said licence, then this Recognizance to be void or else to remain in Full Force.

Taken and acknowledged 20th Day of September 1757 before us.

(Signed) John Lade Mayor

Mark Thomas.



The pub was housed in a 15th century building on the corner of Watling Street and Church Street.

Known as the "Queen's Head" since the 18th century the pub reverted again to its original 16th century name I believe some time in the 1970s or 80s.

Another of the Punch Tavern houses that closed in 2009, and has recently been refurbished by the Original Pub Company.


Three Tuns interior Three Tuns interior

Both photos showing the interior of the pub, photos taken from


From an email received 19 November 2012.

Dear Mr. Skelton,

My brother, Frederick E. Johnson, was tenant of the "Three Tuns" back in the 1960's when it was still known as the "Queen's Head." He ran the pub with his wife Joan, and they had two sons, Christopher and Richard, who lived there with them. Both boys attended St. Edmund's School. Fred died in about 1980, but his wife, Joan, is still living in Canterbury. She remarried Bob Rixon and Bob died about two months ago. The purpose of travelling all the way to Canterbury is to visit Joan who is now 87 and quite frail. We shall only be stopping for about an hour, but I shall certainly show her a printout of your web site concerning the "Three Tuns."

My wife and I will be meeting Christopher and Richard for dinner in Reading on November 23rd and I will try to refresh my memory of the "Queen's Head" with their help. My brother served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. His first business venture was a grocery shop in Reading. From there he purchased the "Bethersden Hotel" near the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. As I understand it, he helped Brigadier Mackeson in his successful campaign to become an MP. As a reward he was given the tenancy of the "Queen's Head," which at that time belonged to Mackeson Breweries.

I have only vague memories of Fred's period at the "Queen's Head" and I am not sure whether I have any photographs from that period. I do remember that there was a plan to enlarge the premises which was foiled when it was discovered that the pub was built on the site of a Roman amphitheatre. Another tidbit which I remember is that, allegedly, there is a now bricked-off tunnel from the pub to the cathedral.


Dr. Alan A. Johnson.


From an email received 21 January 2013.

Dear Mr. Skelton,

I confirm that there was a priest hole in the dining room at the time I lived there and this led down a tunnel that led back to the Cathedral. This tunnel was said to have been used by the monks. also the hotel was allegedly haunted.

During our time we met many celebrities that stayed with us while performing at the Marlowe Theatre. We also had several of the DJ's off the pirate radio ships drink in the pub at the time. Tony Blackburn and possibly Dave Lee Travers and Noel Edmonds from I believe radio Caroline. Also Jane Asher/Paul McCartney.

We also had Bruce Reynolds stay with us for a night after the Great Train Robbery. It was not until my parents got a visit from Scotland yard that they realized who had stayed with them. No doubt he paid in cash.!!!!!

Hope this is of use to you and please contact me if you need any further information.

Kind regards,

Chris Johnson.


From an interview with Chris Johnson and his mother. 27/May, 2013.

Various people who have frequented the "Three Tuns" during the time Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Johnson were licensees include:- Bill Maynard with his Australian wife and children. The disk jockeys from Radio Caroline, such as Tony Blackburn who was originally from Bournemouth so I am informed. Stuart Damon from the Champions. The Czechoslovakian, Jan or perhaps Vlasta Dalibor, not sure which, who produced Pinky and Perky in the 1960s. The detective who used to take the Kray twins from Canterbury Prison to Court in London. The Red Arrows aerobatic team. Mick McManus of wrestling fame along with the rest of the wrestlers; incidentally the wrestling used to take place in the Old Marlow, and it was this that actually saved the place from closing; the Marlow at the time was a really run down shabby theatre and almost falling to pieces. The premises was so short of cash that it was the televisation of wrestling that kept it afloat with the World of Sport.

Edward Fox and Jane Asher stayed there during various productions and used to cash their cheques for 2 10s.

Another famous person who frequented the pub was the Australian Johnnie Hoskins who bought speedway to Canterbury in 1969 with the Canterbury Crusaders and continued his involvement with them 10 years later at the age of 85. I was told that at the end of every race meeting the bikers used to burn his hat.

Three Tuns 2019

Above photo March 2019, kindly taken and sent by Rory Kehoe.




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