Pub Index



"Inns are the handmaids of locomotion.  When the stage-coaches were in full swing roadside inns were a necessity; but when coaches went off the roads at the opening of the railways, those old inns suffered, and only a few of them remained to reap the advantages to be derived from the cyclist and motor-car traffic.  Those old inns afforded a warm welcome to the travellers of their day, but a different style of comfort on the road is now required.

"The accommodation for travellers at Dover in ancient and modern times is a fruitful topic.  Owing to Dover's position on the Continental Passage route, there have been inns here from a very early period; and they became more necessary after the Guest House of Dover Priory and the Hospital of the Maison Dieu ceased to entertain strangers.  These religious houses had not been giving much hospitality to travellers for a good many years before the Reformation, consequently the inns and victualling houses were numerous in Dover all through the reign of Henry VIII.  Near the close of his reign, in the year 1545, special regulations were made that all inns and victualling houses in this town should have signs painted on boards, one foot square, hung over the hall doors, so that the public might know which were public-houses and which not.  All innkeepers and victuallers had to give a bond of 10, which was immediately forfeited in cases of disorder in any of the houses.  The order as to the painted signboards was enforced but with two exceptions, it being mentioned that 'The Lion' and the 'Arms of England' had had their special signs from time out of mind, therefore they were not required to alter them."  (J.B.J. 1916)

"In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, innkeepers were prohibited from going to the seaside on the arrival of Passage Boats to procure guests.  In the Stuart times the 'Shakespeare' Inn, then called 'The George,' was established.  'The Cock' Inn and 'The King's Head' (still existing in the Pier) were established in the Reign of James I.  'The Ship Tavern,' 'The London' Hotel, and 'The Yorke' Hotel, all notable houses for travellers, flourished in the Pier District at the close of the Eighteenth Century.  To 'The Ship' the Duke of Wellington was carried on the shoulders of Dover Burgesses when he landed at Dover after the Peace of 1914, and when His Grace had been set down in his room he ordered the landlady to provide for them all an unlimited supply of buttered toast.  'The Yorke' Hotel is mentioned in Miss Berry's Journal as 'a cheerful house overlooking the sea.'  At the 'London' Hotel, in Council House Street, Madame Bonaparte stayed in 1805, when, owing to a family quarrel, she was not allowed to land in France.  'The Ship' Hotel was kept in later years by Mr. John Birmingham, who was afterwards the well-known host of the 'Lord Warden' Hotel.

"Inns and ale-houses very rapidly increased in Dover in the early part of the Nineteenth Century.  At the annual Licensing Sessions in the year 1837 twenty-one new licenses were granted; and in 1846 the public-houses averaged one for every one hundred of the inhabitants.  The tide of travel through Dover very largely increased during the latter part of the Nineteenth and the first decade of the Twentieth Century; but, owing to the hurried way in which Continental travellers have been coming and going in recent years, without much waiting for wind and tide, a smaller proportion of them sought the hospitality of the inns of Dover. (J.B.J. 1916)


  In 1890 there were 220 licensed premises in the Dover area: 15 in Buckland, 30 in Charlton, 2 at East Cliff, 9 in the Borough portion of Hougham, 24 in St. James and 117 in St. Mary's.

It is often said that there were once 365 pubs in the town, but this is the highest number I have found in Barry Smith's extensive research.