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Gone South.

Facebook, as is its wont, throws up the odd memory or three and it's just informed me that eight years ago I was 'down south', floating around the Swale region of Kent. I don't think I'd fancy floating around there now with its current top of the table infection rate, I'll take my chances in the Derbyshire Dales, but back then it offered a couple of days of exploring an area I didn't know at all before descending to stay with a sibling in Wadhurst.

Facebook's reminder coincided with the arrival of this postcard - Royal Mail's service just doesn't seem to get any better - so I headed south in a virtual manner to see if the King's Arms is still in operation.

The King's Arms in the early 1900s.

Of course it's not. Robin Webster captured the view from a similar angle a century and a bit later and all signage has disappeared, from both the pub and the Post Office.

South Street is both the name of the road and also the name of the hamlet which lies about 3 miles south-east of Faversham, so it comes as no great surprise to find that the King's Arms was once a Shepherd Neame house. The hamlet and the pub are named on the 1896 Ordnance Survey map of the area.

Ordnance Survey 6" map, revised 1896.

Although it appears that insurance was acquired in 1789 by Julius Shepherd - a brewer of Faversham - for the King's Arms in Boughton, occupied at the time by a victualler named William Parker, the earliest reference to it that I've managed to dig up is in the 1851 census. That gives master wheelwright James Hills as the innkeeper in residence. It's his son William who was the postmaster and grocer at the time that the photograph for the postcard was taken.

Junction of South Street and North Lane. © Steven Craven 2009

The King's Arms was still operating in the mid-1970s but things obviously went south for it sometime after that. The OS extract above shows another two pubs in the same square kilometre, the Fox Inn in Oversland and the Sondes Arms by Selling Station. I wonder if either of them are still operating. A little late lockdown project. Watch this space!

The colour images are copyright and are reused under this license.

The map extract is also licensed for reuse and is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

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