Sort file:- Canterbury, December, 2023.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 16 December, 2023.


Earliest 1828-

Two Bells

Latest 1938+

59 (3 in 1871Census) Military Road



Another pub listed in the Military Road, this one at number 59. Traced so far from between 1828 and 1838, but to date that is all the information I have on the premises.

The Dobson's who ran the pub during the early 1900s also ran a bakery business, Thomas being the baker. Although he is mentioned as licensee in 1901 his wife took charge of the business from between 1903 and 1913 and perhaps longer, her husband taking on the roll again in 1922, he would have been 55 then. Thomas Dobson, Adeline's husband is also brother of Arthur, who ran the "Three Cups" in 1903.

I have seen mention of Hardres Dairy Stores, but as yet don't know in what context that is related to the pub.


From the Kentish Gazette, 21 February 1843.


An inquest was held by T. T. DeLasaux, esq., at the "Two Bells" public-house, in the Military-road, Canterbury, on Tuesday evening last, on the body of John Townley, aged 20 years, a private in the 7th Hussars, whose death had been caused oy the kick of a grey mare belonging to that regiment. The deceased had recently joined the corps, having enlisted at Liverpool, about three months since, and was in expectation of being discharged, by his friends buying him off. By the evidence of Sergeant J. Wilby, it appeared that deceased on Saturday last was doing his stable duty between the hours of twelve and one, when the mare kicked out and struck him a violent blow on the arm, and immediately after he received another kick in the stomach, which threw him on the ground, from whence he was conveyed to the Military Hospital, where he died on Tuesday morning. The above evidence was corroborated by Alfred Whitfield, a comrade of deceased, who was on duty in the stable at the time. Deceased had no been teazing the mare or doing anything to her that might induce her to kick; she was considered rather a vicious animal. Dr. J. Warren, surgeon, deposed that death was occasioned by the kicks received.

The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death," and levied a deodand of 5 on the mare. The foreman stated to the coroner that they had put a heavier fine on the animal than usual in such cases, but they had done so with a hope that the military authorities would see the necessity of having her destroyed, and thus avoid the chance of similar consequences.

The coroner explained to the jury that the fine levied by them as a deodand was in fact a fine to the Crown and passed to the Exchequer in the following manner. The constable of the district demands it, with authority to compel payment of the proprietor of the property on which it is laid, and then passes it into the hands of the coroner, who pays it to the sheriff, and he remits it to the crown, the sheriff having the power of even distraining on the goods of the coroner, for the amount levied by the Jury. The foreman of the jury said he thought that the fine would be mere properly applied according to the terms used as a "fine to God," were it used for charitable purposes and given to the poor, and particularly in the present instance where the party to whom the property belonged, and to whom the fine was to be paid, are the same, the mare being Crown property.


Kentish Gazette, 10 January 1854.

An inquest was held yesterday at the "Two Bells," Military Road, on the body of John Freshner, a pensioner, who was found suspended in a lodge, in a field near the Barracks, on Sunday last. As he has not been seen since Thursday, it is conjectured the act was committed on or about that day.

Verdict:— "Temporary insanity."


South Eastern Gazette, 14 August, 1860.

Shocking Suicide. Effects of Drink.

Early on Friday morning last, a sergeant in the 90th Regiment of Light Infantry, named William Thomas, committed suicide, at the barracks, by cutting his throat nearly from ear to ear with a common table knife. The deceased had recently returned from India, and would have completed his 21 years’ service at noon on the day of his death. He had been indulging in drink over since his arrival in England. He was a married man, but without any family. On Friday evening T. T. Delasaux, Esq., coroner for the city, held an inquest on the body of the deceased, at the "Two Bells," in Military-road, when the following account of the transaction was given by the witnesses examined. The deceased, a fine-looking man, with a splendid beard, was 41 years of age.

James Milligan, a private in the 90th Regiment, deposed:— About a quarter-past four o’clock this morning I was in bed in the same room as the deceased, when I heard a person groaning, and a gurgling noise, as if some one was choking. I jumped out of bed, and found deceased lying on his back, with his throat cut. He had a knife clasped in his hand over the bed. The knife had been recently sharpened. The deceased had recently returned from India. I believe he was irregular in his conduct.

Edward Clinch, also a private in the 90th Regiment, deposed:— At a little before four on Friday morning, I awoke, and saw the deceased sitting on the side of his bed. I asked him if the reveille had sounded. He replied, "No, my boy — it has not gone yet," I then went to sleep again. At a little past four I heard a groaning in the room, proceeding from the deceased’s bed, and I heard the previous witness call out "Sergeant Thomas has cut his throat." Deceased expired in about five or ten minutes after the discovery. The deceased has taken a good deal of drink lately, but he appeared perfectly sensible.

Sergeant Alexander Allen, 90th Regiment, deposed:— I have known the deceased for about two months, when he returned from India. I have seen him almost daily during that period. He has been a very hard drinker ever since he came home, being drunk nearly every night. For the last five weeks, I believe he has hardly known what he has been doing. He was much dejected at times. This was produced, in my opinion, by drink. I am not surprised at what has occurred. I expected it long ago. I have a letter which he sent to his wife, which was returned by her to Canterbury, in consequence of its contents, with an inquiry as to his state of mind when he wrote it.

The Coroner read the letter as follows:- "17th July, 1860, Canterbury Barracks."

"My dear Hannah, — I received your letter of the 16th. Shall I tell you that I have forgotten to write in consequence of having forgotten you; but don’t you for one moment forget that my remembrance of you is just as vivid as that of the day I first fell into your company. Shall I say all that I feel or think, or shall I say what will be more to the purpose, that I have forgotten you. Hannah, can you believe this? No I could almost fancy myself coming before you, and saying 'Hannah, you will have to forgive me once almost again,' will you tell me that you have forgiven me for having contracted debts to the amount of about 3. These, let me observe, are debts of what some people call honour — but I think that it amounts to something like swindling. But you must not take any notice of this at the present moment, for I am in such a state of excitement that I scarcely know what I am writing about. But above all things, Hannah, believe this, that you, and only you, have hold power sufficient to make me acknowledge that I have been anything but a husband. God forgive me, Hannah, for I shall never be able to forgive myself. But perhaps you will not at the last moment refuse me subscribing myself your own best loving,

"Wm. Thomas."

"P.S. — If you can by any possibility send the amount, send as soon as possible, to relieve me from my difficulties and then I will tell you something as to our future movements. Don't take a house, until I [something omitted] something. God bless you my own best beloved Hannah. Forgive me. Good night."

Sergeant Allen added:— The deceased was placed in the Military Hospital about five weeks since, suffering from delirium tremens produced by drink.

After a few words from the coroner, the jury found that the deceased destroyed himself while in a state of mental derangement.


From the Kentish Chronicle and General Advertiser, 11 January, 1862. Price 1 1/2d.


Superintendent Davis, at the Canterbury Police-court, on Tuesday, told the Magistrates that the mystery was now entirely cleared up. It appeared that the child belonged to a man who was the father of eleven children, that it was still-born, and that its father had it placed in a coffin, and himself took it to the sexton of St. Gregory’s, and gave him a shilling to inter it in a decent manner, which was done. Yet that very sexton had made a report of finding the child! The father had since been there, and recognised his own child in the coffin. Consequently he (Mr. Davis) had been to the coroner and stopped the inquest which was about to be held on the body. Mr. Rigden attended the man's wife in her confinement.

An inquest on the body was, however, after all, held on Wednesday evening, at six o’clock, by Mr. Delasaux, coroner, at the “Two Bells,” Military-road. Mr. G. Ladd was foreman of the jury.

Before the body was viewed, the Coroner gave a brief explanation of the reason why the inquiry had been delayed. On Sunday he was informed of the discovery of the coffin in the church-yard of the Ville of St. Gregory, and that the body of a child was found in it; and when this information reached him he gave instructions for a post mortem examination to be held. But the day after it was stated that the child was the child of a person named Francis, and that it was stillborn; that Mr. Rigden had attended the mother of it; and that Mr. Cole had made the coffin for it. Under these circumstances no inquiry was thought necessary; but afterwards it transpired that Mr. Francis had made a mistake; that his child was a male, whereas this was a female; and that the coffin was a different one from that which had been made for him. In consequence the enquiry was rendered necessary. He thought this explanation was due to the public, as they might else be surprised that the inquest had not taken place earlier.

William Keel:— I am sexton of St, Gregory's Cemetery. In that capacity I inter, without burial service, the bodies of still-born children in the churchyard. I have recently interred some such bodies—as many as five bodies of still-born children in the church-yard.

I have recently interred some such bodies—as many as four within the last fortnight. I receive no certificate to state that they are still-born. It was not necessary. On Saturday last, at three o’clock in the afternoon, I was in the church-yard looking for a place for a grave, when I observed that a recently made grave had been disturbed. I had my shovel in my hand, and was about to remake the grave, but the shovel struck against something, which proved to be a coffin. It had not been placed there by me, and I knew nothing about it. I gave information on Sunday morning to the police. On that morning the coffin was opened in my presence, and the body of a female child was discovered—the same as the jury have now viewed. I have not, and cannot from, the Slightest idea as to who put the coffin there, or made it. All I know is, that I did not.

Mr. Cooper asked whether the sexton was justified in burying a still-born baby without a certificate. He believed that he was not.

The witness said he sometimes had a certificate, sometimes not. He formed his own opinion us to whether the child was still-born or not.

The Jury, the Coroner, and Mr. Cooper concurred in condemning this practice, as both improper and illegal.

Mr. T. S. Cooper, surgeon, said:— I was called upon to see the body of the infant on Sunday morning last. I found that it was a female child. My impression at the time was, that it was not still-born; but the post mortem examination has not confirmed that opinion. It was a full-grown child. I made the post mortem examination this day. I opened the body. I examined the chest, and took out the lungs. They did not appear as if they had ever been inflated. They immediately sank upon being put into water. There was no trace of any nourishment having passed into the stomach. My opinion is that the child was still-born.

After this evidence, the jury, of course, returned a verdict of “Still-born.”

The Superintendent said:— I found a napkin round the body of the child, which perhaps may lead to the discovery of the person who placed the infant there without properly burying it. The napkin now produced was round the body of the child. It has the initials M. J. H., and the No 9. The letters are worked in cotton, and by the needle.

The coffin was apparently, made by a competent, man, and is lined. There was no appearance of haste about it. It seems strange that the maker of it cannot be found but every inquiry has been made of the coffin makers in Canterbury.


From the Kentish Chronicle, 7 May, 1864.


Thomas Bradford, landlord of the “Two Bells” public house, was charged, under the Act 23 and 24 Vic., cap. 113, sec. 37, for selling beer at the new quarters for married soldiers, in connection with the Barracks, whereby he had rendered himself liable to a penalty of 29.

The information was laid by Mr, Hamilton, an officer of Inland Revenue, and Mr. Delasaux appeared for the defendant.

The particular offence charged was committed on the 23rd of February, when the defendant was seen with a can at the entrance to the married men’s quarters. A girl in the service of Mr. Beck, landlord of the “Canteen,” was sent by her master to ask him for “a pint.” The defendant supplied her with a pint of some kind of liquor, which she took to her master, who, on tasting, found it to be porter. Mr. Beck proved sending his servant to the defendant, and said he heard her ask him for a pint of porter, and saw him serve her.

The defence was that the defendant only supplied liquor which had been previously ordered, and that, in serving Mr. Beck’s servant, he did so under the impression that she was the daughter of a soldier who had previously given him an order.

A soldier who was on guard on the day in question deposed that he saw Mr. Beck and his servant go to the married men’s quarters. They went into the quarters, and the first witness afterwards went out and bought some beer of the defendant.

Samuel Boon, a farrier in the 8th Hussars, said he was in the habit of having his supper beer from the defendant. On the Saturday preceding the 23rd February he went to the defendant’s house and ordered him to bring him a pint of beer every night. His daughter generally fetched the beer from the gate, defendant not being allowed to go into the quarters. On the 23rd his daughter was ill and unable to fetch the porter. On his going, however, for his usual supply, defendant told him he had sent it. He replied that he had not, and defendant then said, “Then some one else has got it.” Defendant had not any more beer with him.

Mr. Hamilton said the Bench had not to look to the intent with which the defendant committed the crime; all they had to decide was whether he did or did not effect a side.

The Mayor said there was no doubt at all that the defendant had sold the beer, and that it was done under a mistake; but as they were precluded from taking this into consideration, they had no alternative but to fine him in the mitigated penalty of 5.

Alderman Philpott advised defendant to petition the officers of Excise for a further mitigation.


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 12 February 1870.


T. T. Delasaux, Esq., held an inquest at the "Two Bells" public-house, Military-road, (Canterbury) on Monday evening, on the body of a female infant, unknown, which was found on the previous day lying in St. Gregory's churchyard.

William Keel, the sexton, said he was in the churchyard on Sunday morning, when he found the body of the deceased lying near the wall.

Mr. Holttum, surgeon, said he believed the deceased had been dead about ten days or a fortnight. The mother of deceased was not attended in her confinement by a medical man, the umbilical cord not having been tied. From its size and general appearance he believed the child was born alive.

The jury, however, returned a verdict of "Still-born."


Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 19 March 1870.


Monday. (Before the Mayor, Alderman Austin, J. Hemery, Esq., and W. J. Cooper, Esq.)


John Quinn, a discharged soldier, was charged with assaulting a man named Bradford, landlord of the "Two Bells," Military Road.

Complainant stated that about ten o'clock on Saturday night defendant went in his house and called for a half-pennyworth of beer. He told him he did not serve half-pennyworths, and defendant shortly afterwards left. He subsequently came in again and appealed to the company for some beer and tobacco. One of them gave him a pipe of tobacco, and he then asked witness for some change that was due to him. As the defendant had not spent any money, however, there could be none due to him, and complainant informed him of this fact. Defendant then struck him on the face.

Defendant stated that he did not strike complainant but he admitted that he was "nearly tight."

He was fined 1s. and costs, 5s.



HOLMAN William 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

KEMP Richard 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

MILLER Thomas 1840+ Pigot's Directory 1840

PEPARDY George 1847+ Bagshaw's Directory 1847

BRADFORD G Thomas 1862-71+ (age 61 in 1871Census) Post Office Directory 1862Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Whitstable Times

SINDEN Charles 1874+ Post Office Directory 1874

TILLY William T 1881-82+ CensusPost Office Directory 1882

TILLY Mrs Emma 1891+ Post Office Directory 1891

DOBSON Thomas 1901+ (also baker) Census

DOBSON Adeline Jessie Mrs 1903-13+ (age 45 in 1911Census) Post Office Directory 1903Kelly's 1903Post Office Directory 1913

DOBSON Thomas 1922+ Post Office Directory 1922

BUTLER Albert 1930+ Post Office Directory 1930

BIGNELL James 1938+ Post Office Directory 1938


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

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

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

Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862

Post Office Directory 1874From the Post Office Directory 1874


Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Post Office Directory 1891From the Post Office Directory 1891

Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1903

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Post Office Directory 1930From the Post Office Directory 1930

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938

Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald

Greens Canterbury Directory 1868Greens Canterbury Directory 1868


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