Pub Index

The Cause is Altered

"On the north side of the top of Queen Street is an ancient inn, bearing the curious name 'The Cause is Altered.'  This house was just within Cowgate, and the building as it now exists must have been there long before that gate was removed.  At present, the name is in bold raised letters over the door, and an old inhabitant told us that he saw that particular sign fixed there before he went to sea in the year 1826.  The sign of this house was originally 'The Black Horse,' and being situate in a lonely spot on the walls, was a resort of smugglers, but when Mr. Bourne took the house at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he resolved to make a change for the better, and put up the new sign 'The Cause is altered.' "  (J.B.J. 1907)

According to Smith (1991), this establishment had previously been known as the Blacksmith's Arms and later as the Carpenter's Arms.  It was a licensed house before 1826 and was said to have been more than 300 years old when time was called for the last time on 22nd March 1969.  It stood just inside the old town wall at Cow Gate; a stone in the wall recorded the removal of the gate in 1776.  It is reputed to have been linked by a tunnel to at least one other local hostelry to enable the smugglers to escape capture.  Smith suggests that it was known as the Carpenter's Arms as early as 1805.

There are a number of accounts of how this pub came to get its name: one suggests that the landlord changed his allegiance in the Civil War.

My favourite explanation derives from the position of the house adjacent to the Cow Gate in the old town wall, through which cattle were brought in to market.

It is said that, when questioned as to why they were drinking on their way to market, the cowmen would reply "The cows is 'alted, so why shouldn't I?"

The plaque on the corner read:

"Here stood Cow Gate
Taken down by order of
the Corporation 1776
W Taylor"

The large sign read:


The pub was demolished to make way for a dual carriageway linking Folkestone Road to Townwall Street to take the dock traffic away from the town centre.  It was claimed that the site was needed for one end of a pedestrian footbridge across the new road and it was because of this that Dover Corporation gave permission for its demolition; no bridge was ever built across this road.

After it had been demolished, the course of the road was altered, and any bridge would have completely missed the pub!  The picture below (left) shows the same corner after the new road was completed.


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The view above (right) shows clearly how far the pub was from the new road.  It stood opposite the row of shops at the top of the hill in the centre of the picture, behind the walled seat on the green.