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The Blue Boys Inn

A Grade II Listed Building in Brenchley, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1349 / 51°8'5"N

Longitude: 0.3523 / 0°21'8"E

OS Eastings: 564675

OS Northings: 139918

OS Grid: TQ646399

Mapcode National: GBR NR6.ZW4

Mapcode Global: VHJMX.2Q4W

Plus Code: 9F3249M2+WW

Entry Name: The Blue Boys Inn

Listing Date: 15 May 2014

Last Amended: 1 August 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419679

Location: Brenchley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN12

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Brenchley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Matfield St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Late C18 purpose-built inn and some remaining parts of the C16 north wing (originally a farmhouse).


Late C18 purpose-built inn, and some remaining parts of the north wing which dated from the C16 and was originally a farmhouse. Single-storey additions were added to the east in the mid-C20 and a two-storey north-west extension and a further porch were added in the 1980s. These C20 additions are not of special interest.

MATERIALS: constructed of red brick in Flemish bond with some grey headers, but the entrance front has been painted; there is some tile-hanging to the east and west side elevations; it has a tiled roof and end brick chimneystacks. An inserted brick chimneystack and some ground floor brick external walls also survive from the north wing. The east extensions are rendered brick, the north-west extension is weather-boarded to the first floor and painted brick to the ground floor; these roofs are tiled.

PLAN: originally there was a three-bay C16 farmhouse, with an entrance on the west at right-angles to the road, and an outshot to the east. A chimneystack with open fireplace was inserted towards the south end in the C18. In the late C18 a two-storey, three-bay, purpose-built inn wing was added onto this, facing south directly onto the road with a central entrance, altering the plan to an L-plan. In the mid-C20 extensions, including toilets, were added on the east side, and in the 1980s the bar was extended on the north-west side with living accommodation above. In May 2014 the C16 wing was largely demolished.

EXTERIOR: the south or entrance front has a central bay projecting slightly forward of the end bays with a raised panel above inscribed 'BLUE BOYS'. The windows have been replaced by uPVC sash windows within the original window openings. There is a wide gabled central porch to which a further later C20 porch has been added. There is a bracket eaves cornice. The east and west side elevations of the south wing are of red brick in Flemish bond with some grey headers, some tile-hanging to the gables and external chimneystacks. The west side of the north wing has a weather-boarded first floor and painted brick first floor. The first floor has two casement windows with multiple lights. The ground floor has three C20 windows and a C20 door. The north end has a steeply hipped roof with a penticed dormer window and brick ground floor. The west side is mainly concealed by the single-storey C20 extension but has an outshot with a catslide roof. The 1980s west extension has a weather-boarded first floor with two metal casement windows with diamond panes, and the painted brick ground floor has patio doors and small windows. Some ground floor brickwork remains to the earlier north wing on the north and east sides.

INTERIOR: the ground-floor room divisions have been removed but on the west side the C18 spine beam and some ceiling beams remain near the end chimneystack and the C18 brickwork of the chimney is exposed internally. A ledged plank door survives and there are some C20 bar fittings and brick fireplaces. In the cellar the brickwork of the end chimneystack is exposed. On the ground floor adjoining the north-east side is a large brick open fireplace with spice alcoves, built-in seats, a wooden bressumer retaining the marks of a crane and a moulded plate shelf. This fireplace is probably of C18 date and remains from the earlier north wing. The C18 brick floor to this room also survives.

The first floor contains three bedrooms, the eastern one containing a C19 wooden fireplace with a late C19 tiled interior and metal fire-grate, and the western room containing a late C19 tiled fireplace interior and metal fire-grate but a C20 fireplace. The roof structure is reported to have paired rafters with a ridge board and nailed-on side purlins.


According to a history of the building, researched on behalf of the inn, the earliest part of this property dated from at least 1584 when it was a farmhouse, part of an estate owned by Thomas Wickens, a yeoman of Brenchley. By 1600 the building was occupied by Jacob Fuggle, farmer and bailiff of that estate, who lived here with his wife Naomi and seven children. After his death in 1628 the widow Fuggle and four of her children remained here on a peppercorn rent until 1634. During the next thirty years the occupants are not known but the property remained tied to the Wickens estate, now owned by Olivia Dorothe (sic) Wickens.

By 1665 Samuel Jarret a thatcher, bow maker and equine keeper lived here. He appears to have acquired title to the property and remained here until 1682. This date seems to be the beginning of the building's occupation by craftsmen connected with travelling because of the importance of the adjoining road to Tonbridge. After that date his sons, Joseph a saddler and Peter an equine keeper, are recorded here and their trades were conducted from the premises. By 1690 a Maria Gizzard, harness maker, was also recorded here.

By the beginning of the C17 Maria Gizzard, now Maria Bonnick, lived here with her husband Thomas Bonnick, a carpenter and wheelwright of Goudhurst parish. A building in this position is shown on the Strip road map of 1720. In 1724 the local turnpike trust extended the turnpike from Woodsgate to Kippings Cross. This building was situated where the turnpiked Hastings Road met the treacherous unimproved part, and travellers could stop here for refreshment and repairs. In 1736 Silas Bonnick, a wheelwright, applied for and was granted a licence to sell ales from the house which was registered as an ale house on the Hastings Highway. Bonnick was now a tapster and keeper of the alehouse in addition to carrying on his trade as a wheelwright. In 1740 an Act extended the turnpike trust from Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst Pound and Flimwell Vent. A building in this position is shown on an 1753 map. In 1762 a further Act provided for the erection of new bars, gates or turnpikes at Kippings Cross, Lamberhurst Pound, Bewl Bridge and Flimwell, for toll houses at each and for tolls to be paid separately at each. Silas Bonnick died in 1763 and the property was sold in that year to Richard Lawrence, a tavern keeper of Tonbridge who had kept an inn called the 'Half Moon' there.

In 1765 the house became a receiving house for mail and by the end of the year Richard Lawrence had a full licence. At the hearing he registered his house under the title of the 'Blue Boys' after the postboys who collected and dispatched the mail wearing blue riding coats. Their job was to ride out to inns along a given route to collect the mail and deliver it to a main government office, at first in a room at the Chequers Inn at Lamberhurst but from 1800 at Staplehurst. It was probably at this time that the symmetrical front range was added to the Blue Boys.

By the 1780s, at the height of the coaching era, the Blue Boys had become a boarding point for passengers to pick up a through coach or transfer to a private or local coach, and the stabling facilities increased accordingly. Richard Lawrence became a livery keeper in addition, and his son Edward a saddler and currier at the Blue Boys Yard. In 1808 the latter took over on the death of his father. The building is shown on the Mogg map of 1817 just north of the turnpike. The Prince Regent is said to have stopped here to have his horses shod on the way between Penshurst and Bedgebury. Edward Lawrence sold the business in 1824 to Robert Chesson who ran it until his death in 1835 and his widow Anne kept it until 1846 selling it in that year to Henry Whiteman.

Whiteman kept the house until 1853 when it was sold to the partnership of William Allcock, described as a publican and farmer of 20 acres in the 1851 Census, and William Chittenden. The Alcocks kept the house until 1888 when it was sold to the Smith Brewery of Lamberhurst. John Smith ran the house until his death in 1902; his son took over until 1907; and it then passed to John Head. He was succeeded in 1918 by Harry Hartnup and he in turn in 1936 by George S Moss.

On the 1885 25 inch Ordnance Survey (OS) map the building, then labelled post office, is shown almost to its full present extent with the symmetrical C18 front to the south-west with a projecting porch. There are also a number of outbuildings shown to the south-west, probably stables. On the OS map of 1898 there is no change in the outline of the buildings but the public house is no longer labelled post office. There is no change on the 1908 map. On the 1938 OS map the outline of the outbuildings is shown reduced in size. Some extensions were added to the building to the east in the mid-C20 and to the north in the 1980s.

The C16 wing of the Blue Boys Inn was substantially demolished in April 2014 when it was still under the 21-day listing consultation period.

Reasons for Listing

The Blue Boys Inn, Kippings Cross, registered as an ale house in 1736, licensed to receive mail in 1765 and comprising a late C18 purpose-built brick inn range, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Intactness: little altered except for the loss of the original ground floor room divisions;
* Survival of historic fixtures: ledged plank doors, some ceiling beams and a large C18 axial open fireplace survive;
* Signage: there is a raised panel incised with the name of the inn on the entrance front;
* Historic interest: it has considerable social historical interest as a former ale house and coaching inn, and as a place of public gathering since 1736;
* Documentation: there is an unusually complete record of owners and tenants from the C16 onwards.

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