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A Foxy One.

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

I have to start by saying that you were warned!

The 'little late lockdown project' mentioned at the end of my last post has extended itself into a 'little move to Tier 3 with no pub to go to and let's stay indoors out of the snow project'. In that post we saw that the King's Arms in South Street used to lie in close proximity to two other named pubs on the 1896 Ordnance Survey map, the Fox Inn and the Sondes Arms, and I wondered if they were still serving. Well, it probably comes as no surprise to discover that neither is.

Taking them in order, the Fox Inn used to be found on Fox Lane, in Oversland. The building now houses two cottages. The one on the right has a fireplace in the dining room with its original bressumer bearing a carved date, 1665.

The former Fox Inn in March 2009. © Google 2020

Whether the building was operating as a tavern as far back as the seventeenth century I've no idea for the earliest record of it that I've managed to dig up is in the 1851 census which shows that John Chambers, a master blacksmith, is supplementing the earnings from his forge with a sideline of beerhouse keeping. It's still named in the head count of 1911, now under the charge of a Frederick Castle. Whether Fred is earning extra by doing some metal-bashing or anything else I can't tell. Kelly's directory of 1913 informs us that he's still there but that's the last reference I can find to the Fox. Their 1918 edition makes no mention of the place and it doesn't make it into any subsequent editions either. Perhaps it fell victim to the effects of the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act.

The second of the pair survived a bit longer although it was a little later to arrive on to the scene.

The Sondes Arms in 2007 © John Law

In December 1860 the London, Chatham and Dover Railway opened the stretch of line between Faversham and Canterbury which included a station at Selling. Shortly after, the Sondes Arms Inn sprung up in its vicinity. There's no record of it in the 1861 census and its first landlord was probably one William Amos who is shown at the inn in Kelly's 1862 directory. Apparently he was also 'licensed to let horses'. By the time that the 1871 census comes round he's moved on to the still-serving Halfway House at Challock and Elizabeth Miles is now mine hostess at the Sondes.

Roll on a century and a half from William's time and the former Shepherd Neame house lost its garden to housing and was auctioned off in 2012. It didn't fare well in new ownership and was soon back on the market but failed to attract much interest. In the end it went to sealed bids and was fortunately snatched away from a developer and is now back serving the community as the Sondes Tea House and General Stores.

The Sondes Tea House in the summer of 2020.

Whilst it has been lost as a pub it's pleasing to see that it hasn't been flattened, or become a Tesco Express, and remains a centre for the community. I wish the enterprise well. If you happen to find yourself swanning around Swale and fancy a light bite, then try popping in. After all, it still sells beer too! Lots of beer!


More beer!!

And even more beer!!!

Well, that's my virtual visit 'down south', brought on by that old postcard and Facebook's memory, over. The next post will feature a bygone boozer that I have at least passed by, if not actually entered.

Thanks to John Law for the photograph of the open Sondes Arms and to the Sondes Tea House for the use of their shots.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Like me, you must have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already you can subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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