Page Updated:- Tuesday, 04 July, 2023.


Earliest 1488-

Woolpack Inn

Open 2022+

The Street


01227 730351

Woolpack Inn

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Woolpack Inn

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.

Woolpack Hotel

Above postcard, date unknown, kindly sent by Mark Jennings.


Above photo, date unknown.

Woolpack 1933

Above postcard, circa 1933, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack Inn 1935

Above postcard, circa 1935 kindly sent by Doug Pratt, and Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack 1935

Above postcard, circa 1935, kindly supplied by Rory Kehoe.

Chequer 1937

Above postcard, circa 1937, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack 1949

Above postcard, circa 1949, kindly supplied by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack 1951

Above photo, 1951, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack 1958

Above photo circa 1958, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe. From "Famous Old Inns of East Kent" the pub's description runs thus. "...The 15th century Woolpack Inn takes its name from the days when wool was smuggled out of the country in the "wool-sack" on ponies and donkeys." Accommodation, Bar Meals, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. Telephone: Chilham 208. In this photo, the Woolpack is shown in what would have been the recently updated livery of Shepherd Neame's Faversham Brewery. Until the 1956 takeover, the Woolpack was tied house of E Mason & Co's Waterside Brewery, Maidstone.

Woolpack 1969

Above photo, circa 1969, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack 2009

Above picture, taken from Google Map, 2009.

Woolpack Inn 2011

Photo by Oast House Archives 2011 from

Woolpack 2022

Above photo 2022 by Paul Skelton.

Woolpack Inn sign 1934

Above sign 1934.

Woolpack sign 1991Wool pack sign 1992

Woolpack Inn sign left July 1991, sign right June 1992.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Woolpack sign 2010Woolpack sign 2011

Above sign left 2010, sign right 2011.

Woolpack Inn sign 2021

Above sign 2021, kindly sent by Leigh Hatts.

Woolpack beermat 1954

Above beermat, circa 1954, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack beermat 1963

Above beermat, circa 1963, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack flagon 1891

Above 1/2 gallon flagon circa 1891, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Woolpack flagon 1891

Above 1/2 gallon flagon circa 1891, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


I have reference to this pub from the Kentish Gazette or Canterbury Chronicle September 1768, when the paper advertised the sale of household furniture of Colonel Parr, at his House in Burgate Street, Canterbury. It was stated that catalogues could be obtained from this public house. See Notes of 1768. However, their web site infers that they have been welcoming travellers since 1488.


Another earliest mention found from the Kentish Gazette July 1769, when catalogues for an auction held at the "Saracen's Head," Canterbury could be obtained from this establishment.

One time a Mason's tied house, but the brewery was bought out by Shepherd Neame in 1956 and the brewery was subsequently closed and demolished.


From the Kentish Gazette, Wednesday, 20 July to Saturday, 23 July, 1768. Price 2d


All the Stock in Trade of Mr. Thomal Abbly, of Ashford; consisting of Mercery, Woollen Drapery, Linen Drapery, haberdashery and Hosiery. The Goods will be divided into two Weeks Sale. The Goods to be viewed on Thursday the 28th, and the Sale will begin on Friday the 29th, and continue Saturday the 30th of this Inst. July, in the Assembly-room at the “Saracen's Head.”

Catalogues may be had of Mr. Apsley at Ashford; the “Swan,” Charing; Cranbrook. Mr. Ingram; at the “Flying Horse,” Wye; the “Woolpack,” Chilham; “Dog and Bear,” Lenham; of Mr. Baker, Folkestone; Mr. Stokes at Hythe, Romney; Mrs. Pike, the “George” at Lydd, Tenterden; Mr. Hall; Biddenden, “Red Lyon,” Smarden; “Chequer,” Bethersden, “George;” Faversham; Mr. Walker, Elham, “Rose”; and at Thomas Roach's, Cabinet-maker, Upholder, and Appraiser, in St. George's Street, Canterbury.

N.B. Messrs, Ramsden and Creed, who have taken the Shop of the above Mr. Apsley, propose laying in an entire fresh Assortment of every Article in the Woollen and Linen Drapery, Silk Mercury, Haberdashery and Hosiery Business.


Kentish Gazette, 23 March, 1774.


On Wednesday 22nd of March instant, between the "Woolpack" at Chilham and Chartham Bridge, a bit of muslin, wrapped in whited brown paper.

Whoever has found the same, and will bring it to to Thomas Sutton, at the "Woolpack," Chilham, shall be well satisfied, for their trouble.


Kentish Gazette, 13 February, 1779.

Friday morning died Mr. Sutton, master the "Woolpack" at Chilham.


Kentish Gazette 22 September 1812.


Begs leave to return his most sincere thanks to his Friends and the Public in general for the numerous favours he has experienced from them while at the "Flying-Horse," Canterbury, and informs them that he has removed from thence to "Woolpack Inn," Chilham, where he hopes that by continuing his exertions to render every accommodation, and by keeping good liquors, to have a continuance of those favours, which it will ever be his study and pride most gratefully to acknowledge and maintain.

Neat Wines, good Beds, Stabling, etc.


Kentish Gazette 05 April 1836.

DEATH. March 29th.

At the house of her neice, Charles-street, Soho-square, London, Mrs. Chappell, widow of Mr. Chappell, many years landlord of the "Flying Horse," Canterbury, and of the "Woolpack Inn," Chilham.


From the Kentish Gazette, 18 February 1840.


(The following was in response to Queen Victoria's recent marriage to Prince Albert on 10 February 1840. Paul Skelton.)

The inhabitants of the village attended their attachment to their sovereign by raising the standard of England on the pinnacle of their venerable church tower, from which the fine tolled bells went forth merry peals. At intervals during the day mine host the Inn also had the national colours flying on the top of his house, in compliment to whom the inhabitants have conferred upon the inn the dignified title-of the "Royal Woolpack." In the evening the inhabitants assembled at the inn, and drank health to the Queen, Prince Albert, and the Royal family, with long life and happiness to them.


From Kentish Gazette 19 March 1850.


March 10, aged 74, Mary, wife of Mr. W. Dence, formerly of the "Woolpack Inn, Chilham.


From the Faversham Times, Saturday 25 February 1939.




A man who took over the "Woolpack," Chilham, when he had a capital of his own of 10, and who finished up with a deficiency of 1,260, appeared for his public examination at Canterbury Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday.

He was Jack Richard Plimmer Goold, and his statement of affairs disclosed liabilities of 1,737 8s. 7d. and assets of 475, leaving a deficiency of 1,280 2s. 5d.

Under examination by the Official Receiver (Mr. F. C. Wells), debtor stated he had been at the "Woolpack" since December, 1932. He had 10 of his own when he started but had certain loans.

He first trained for the Navy, and became a ship's officer in the Mercantile Marine for a time. Later he went into the leather trade in London, starting as an ordinary worker and becoming works manager. Subsequently he was employed in the transport industry in the position of a manager. He had had no actual experience of the licensing trade when he took over the "Woolpack." The ingoing was between 700 or 800 and apart from 10 he raised most of the rest through a bank guarantee. Part of it had meant a charge for interest for some years.

When he started business he thought it would take three years to pull it round. He spent a lot more money than he expected to put the premises into a reasonable state of repair for the type of business he wanted. He again had to borrow.

Asked if he considered it wise to embark upon such expenditure having regard to his capital position, debtor said it was done with the knowledge of the people to whom he had borrowed the money. They were chiefly relatives.

For the first three or four years he had increasing sales. He did not have a profit and loss account prepared for the last two years, partly because he contemplated taking in a partner at the beginning of the year. He carried on the account only in a rough way. Last year the turnover did not continue to increase. The year before it was steady. There was practically no trade at the house when he went there.

Interest on borrowed capital had been a great handicap, and it would not be putting it too high to say that interest on borrowed money since he had been at the "Woolpack" had cost him 300, That he considered was the chief cause of his failure.

The balance sheet of 1933 showed a deficiency of 354 and by the end of 1936 that had increased to 561.

Asked for an explanation as to why he continued to trade for two years after this debtor said he always thought, and still did so, that if he had been able to clear off all loans which he was paying off under repayment schemes covering principle interest, he would have been able to make the business pay satisfactorily.

Questioned which was the bigger part of the business - the hotel side or the inn side - debtor said that the license side fluctuated rather badly. Some years it was up and other years it was down. The hotel showed the chief increase. He did not cater for charabanc trade - only for high-class trade.

The Official Receiver:- Have you said that the cause of failure are inexperience, lack of capital, interest or borrowed money, insufficient net profits and the illness of your wife?

Debtor:- I should hardly say inexperience. I do not think much can be said to be due to inexperience.

Did your wife's illness handicap you?

Yes, greatly for two years. I could hardly rely on any support from her. She used to conduct the hotel side of the business.

It is suggested you ran the place on two expensive lines. Was there not a great gap between gross and net profit?

Considering that it was a very old fashioned house without a modern work saving device in the place I do not think there was.

Did you work personally in the inn?

Yes, approximately 18 hours a day.

You suggest you ran it as economically as you could?


You admit knowledge of insolvency from this account three or four years ago, because that showed a deficiency?

I admit that showed a deficiency but even until the morning of the filing of my petition I had hopes we should be able to carry on and get out of trouble.

Had you endeavoured to find a partner?


And arrangements had gone forward for a limited company?


And this failed at the last moment?

Yes, owing to the proposed partner failing to produce the money.

To other questions debtor said his mother had lent him altogether 295, but the arrangements were that as soon as everybody else had been paid off he should start repaying the family.

The public examination was closed.


Today this hostelry contains an inglenook fireplace and is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady. The building is said to be 600 years old and now offers functions such as weddings, birthdays, private parties etc. as well as accommodation with its 14 bedrooms and restaurant facilities.


From an email received 29 January, 2013.

Dear Sir,

My Great Aunt was a barmaid at The "Woolpack," Chilham at the time of the 1881 Census. Her name was (Ellen) Kate Daniels. Her brother, Albert John Daniels, was the licensed victualler of the "Lord Nelson," Waltham, noted in both the 1881 and 1891 Census's.


Tony Daniels.


Further historical information, hopefully to follow.


From accessed 17 June 2015.


Haunted by a grey lady.


From the By Secret Drinker, 3 January 2020.

Secret Drinker visits The Woolpack Inn at Chilham near Canterbury.

There might be a few older pubs out there but I can’t believe there’s another in Kent which can trace its landlords back to the middle of the 15th century.

The Woolpack Inn has been welcoming visitors to Chilham, near Canterbury, for half a millennium and, judging by the quality of its offering and popularity, has every chance of doing so for another five centuries.

The Woolpack Inn is a large, impressive hotel and hostelry surrounded by a number of other buildings which house guest bedrooms.

Steeped in history, the place oozes tradition from the second you walk through the door to the moment you finally drag yourself away from the log burner in the fantastic fireplace.

You might reasonably expect stripped wooden floorboards, hops hung from beams, homemade chutney for sale on the bar and barmaids in neat black uniforms. But, unless the heart and soul of such historic pubs is right such things are mere window dressing.

There’s nothing more traditional than the board proudly listing every custodian the place has ever had, but on the opposite wall was a large TV screen, set to silent, displaying the latest update on Trump’s impeachment.

So, does this hunking historic hostelry, currently part of the Shepherd Neame family, maintain the values created over the centuries?

I started with a pint of 4.5 per cent Howling Woolf. The latest offering from Kent’s oldest brewer is a warm winter ale with a slightly red colour. It has been created in collaboration with a Finnish brewery and is easy drinking despite being full bodied and full of flavour.

There was also mulled wine on offer at 3.95 for a medium and 4.95 for a large glass, the Tattinger Brut Reserve was a good bit steeper at 8.50 a glass.

There is a large restaurant at the side, as you might expect in an impressive 14-bedroom hotel (only three of them are in the main building) and, although not busy, it looked inviting. However, having secured a fireside seat I was going nowhere so we ordered our food to be delivered to the bar.

There was a radio station playing gently in the background at the right level, just loud enough for me to first recognise a Blondie hit and then Goodbye Blackberry Way by The Move (the first song ever played on Radio 1) – now there’s history for you.

At the Woolpack, Chilham the fish finger sandwich was well presented on a trendy wooden board but it didn’t come cheap.

Before the food arrived Lizzie the barmaid delivered a second drink and we got chatting. She’s worked here for 10 years so the place has certainly impressed her and when she got married in September she used the green hops, now in the Woolpack bar, around the church. She was even happy to share the photos and informed me the price of hops has doubled recently from a tenner to 20. Apparently they have to go up green, the same day they are cut, or they dry out and are impossible to handle.

You could immediately tell she has a real love for this pub and if the staff are this happy then you know the boozer is getting most things right.

We went on to have a very interesting conversation about the number of Europeans who cancelled bookings because of Brexit, particularly the Germans and the Dutch, but as she was about to host a private party for a group of Government officials and planned to install a swear box for the dreaded ‘B’ word I kept my thoughts to myself.

Tiled floor to ceiling, the toilets were spotless and immaculately maintained.

By now the food had arrived, which was excellent, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, though you do pay for what you get and this sort of quality isn’t cheap.

During lunch a hairy mutt by the name of Hagrid came bowling into the bar and I took an immediate shine to the bouncing, boisterous fellow. He’s bright too - his owner, who was in for a swift one (or two) before the dreaded school run, says he’s learned the word pub and as soon as it’s mentioned he’s by the door. In fact, he’s even brighter than this because when she spelt out ‘p’ ‘u’ ‘b’ he knew exactly what she was saying.

There are plenty of good reasons to praise the Woolpack Inn and, for me, it retains and respects its proud history in exactly the right way. It’s a great pub in a typically chocolate box Kent village, but it certainly knows how to charge.

When all’s said and done, regular Hagrid is a great judge of a ‘p’ ‘u’ ‘b’ – if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.


From the By Secret Drinker, 29 May 2020.

Secret Drinker's best Shepherd Neame inland Kent pubs.

The fantastic response to my top five seaside pubs, added to the fact many locals are already planning for the glorious day they can reopen, has persuaded me I must also bring you my top Shepherd Neame inland pubs.

Just imagine the joy of sitting in a beautiful pub garden, a freshly pulled pint in your hand, while the sun blazes down and the birds twitter sweetly in the background.

I took some flak for daring to dream of the time we can revisit a lovely seaside boozer and gaze upon the waves again, but why shouldn’t we have something to look forward to?

If seven out of 10 people reckon the thing they’ve missed most during lockdown is the pub then just imagine getting back to these five fantastic pubs.

The only rule I set to be an inland pub is that if you look out of the window you can’t see the sea.

By its own admission, pub No.3 is sitting pretty in something of a chocolate box village.

Woolpack 2019

The 600-year-old Woolpack Inn can be found in the shadow of the Norman castle at Chilham.

The Woolpack at Chilham certainly looks the part and the welcome I received was warm and inviting. You do have to pay for what you get, but this pub’s got history flowing from every hop-covered beam. Tracing its landlords back to the 15th century is a neat trick and I was howling like at wolf at how good the beer was.

And, as I said at the time, if the pub is good enough for hairy mutt Hagrid then it’s good enough for me. The staff weren’t bad either and Lizzie was clearly appreciative of the part she was allowed to play in this great pub’s history. Save up and treat yourself to a great fish finger sandwich.



SUTTON Thomas 1774-Feb/79 dec'd

Last pub licensee had CHAPPEL Solomon Sept/1812+

DENCE W Mr pre 1850

BEKEN Alfred 1858-62+ (age 35 in 1861Census) Melville's 1858Post Office Directory 1862

Last pub licensee had MILLER William 1871-91+ (age 61 in 1891Census) Post Office Directory 1882Post Office Directory 1891


DICKSON William Archbold 1903+ Kelly's 1903 ("Ye Olde Wool Pack Inn")

FILL Arthur Charles 1911-22+ (age 26 in 1911Census) Post Office Directory 1913Post Office Directory 1922


SHEPHERD L M Mrs 1930+

GOOLD Jack Richard Plimmer Dec/1932-39

ALBURY M Mrs 1963+

Last pub licensee had COPESTAKE Jerry to 1985 Next pub licensee had


Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862

Post Office Directory 1882From the Post Office Directory 1882

Post Office Directory 1891From the Post Office Directory 1891

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


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