The Pubs of Farningham - A History, by Hilary and Wilfred Harding

The Pubs of Farningham - A History, by Hilary and Wilfred Harding

Published by the Farningham & Eynsford Local History Society, 30 pages. A4 Size Booklet (N7003)

Farningham is a small village in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, and this booklet provides a fascinating history of it's pubs and inns.

From the introduction: Situated as it is, halfway between London and Maidstone, Dartford and Sevenoaks, Farningham has been a convenient meeting and resting place for travellers over the centuries, and many inns and alehouses have made good trade here. It is as a road and bridge village that Farningham has acquired its comparative importance.

The Romans were probably the first people to sell their ale or wine in the village. We know that there were taverns in the Roman Empire, advertised by a bunch of grapes or vine leaves hung outside the house. There was a large Romano-British population in the Darent Valley with six villas or farm sites in Farningham alone, so it is not too far fetched to imagine a small tavern here too.

The next occupants of the valley, the Anglo-Saxons, were huge imbibers of alcohol. No doubt mead and ale were sold here, but these were the Dark Ages and little is known about the daily life of those pagan Saxons who are buried on the hill at Charton, to the east of the village.

An Anglo-Saxon Archbishop, Alphege, gave land in Farningham to Canterbury Priory in 1010. This was probably Charton Manor which later provided rents for the Canterbury monks. This association with Canterbury may easily have led to the provision of an inn or hostelry of some kind. It was the custom for a bulla or seal to be issued by ecclesiastical establishments to certify a house as a suitable place for travellers to stay, and many inns called the Bull owe their original name to this practice.

The Farningham Pied Bull is an ancient inn with records dating back to 1587. It once belonged to the monks, and this is pure guesswork, another point to make is that Canterbury Priory had several vineyards in Kent, and there are two fields near Charton Manor called Hither and Nether Vineyard that suggest a secondary source of income for the Priory. In the Middle Ages the sign for an alehouse was a pole with a sheaf of barley on the end, the 'alestake', which hung outside a house when brewing had taken place. By the 13th century there were probably several alestakes hanging out in Farningham, because in 1270 the Lord of the Manor, Ralph de Freningham, was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair in the village, and markets and fairs were great destinations for all kinds of travellers in need of a rest, a drink, a meal or a bed for the night.
Contents include:

The Bull
The Lion Hotel, or Black Lyon Inn
The Chequers
The Farningham Hotel
The Two Hop Poles
The Bricklayer'S Arms
The White Hart
The Farningham Social Club and Institute

The condition of the booklet is generally very good. The cover has one or two very minor scuffs and creases, but the staple spine is tight and intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is an old printed price inked out and a small price sticker, both on the rear side cover.