The White Horse, later The Hawks Head, in Church Street, Nonington.

From 1522 the licencing of alehouses became mandatory by law and alehouse proprietors had to apply for a licence from the Quarter or Petty Sessions. At the Canterbury Petty Sessions on April 15th, 1599, Edward Willsfred of Nonington, victualler, was bound over for £5 not to victual, with sureties from Thomas Cocks of Christ Church, Canterbury, gentleman and William Willsfred of Sandwich, surgeon. As he was recorded as being a victualler he must have originally had a licence and not renewed it at the licencing sessions, usually held in September, or he had taken over an ale-house without having the licence transferred. Unfortunately there is no mention of where his premises were, but this is the earliest record of licenced premises in Nonington.

Just over a year later at the Canterbury Sessions of 22nd July, 1600, Alice Godden, widow, of Nonington, was licenced to run an alehouse with £.10.00 sureties from  James Castle and Anthony Wythers, both yeoman of Nonington. Presumably the alehouse licenced was “The White Horse” next to St. Mary’s Church in what was then called Church Street [now Pinner’s Lane]. Possibly Alice took over the premises from  the above mentioned Edward Willsfred.
Alice Deale had been baptized at Nonington on January 11th 1542 (1543), and married William Goodin at Nonington on September 8, 1561. Her husband was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Nonington on January 30th 1591 (1592).
The following extracts are from records of the Canterbury sessions and contemporary to Alice Goodin’s tenure at “The White Horse” and would have had a direct bearing on to her business. The first is from the same sessions that granted Alice’s licence:-

Inquisition taken at the General Session by the oath of John Robins, Mathew Atwell, William Stringer,………………………… ,………….. Combe, Robert Attwood, John Bate, John Glover, Robert Watyer, Thomas Brooke, Thomas Watson, Thomas………………………….. Burvill and John Austen (these last two are believed to be from Nonington), Jurors for the Hundred of Eastry and others, that on 20th July, 1600, and for three weeks before, a quarter of barley was sold in Kent for 26s. and no more, so that, in accordance with the assize of beer by common custom established a gallon of the best ale and beer and more should have been sold at fourpence, and pro rata; but Anthony Lumpkyn of Eastry, tippler, on 20th July, 1600, and during the three weeks before, at Eastry, sold beer by a smaller measure than the quart, that is containing no more than a pint and a half, and not amounting to a quarter of a gallon, for one penny, and so broke the assize”.

The first record identifying an actual alehouse premises is a tragic entry in the Nonington parish register for June 22, 1607.
“John Hickmore a bachelor and a mason ript his own bellie lyeing upon a bed at Mother (Widow) Gooddins’ (spelt variously: Goddin, Goodyn, Godden) the alewife by Nonington Church, which acte he did upon the Saturday about five of the clock in the afternoone and he died on the next day at noone. ‘Qualis vita finis ita’” ( ‘As his life, so his end’).

Alice was possibly succeeded by one of her sons, John, baptized on January 4th,1561 or Sylvester, baptized September 24th,1563, but there are no known records recording the licencee until later in the century.

In 1659 the “parcels-messe or tenement called “The White Horse” together with the barne stable buildings dove houses courtyards gardens orchards and piece of land containing by estimation 2 acres now in the occupation of the said John Deane” (with Thomas Prebble and William Bean, both of the Nonington, as guarantors), ” a common alehouse or victualling house,” was sold to John Deane, a victualler of Nonington and Thomas Petit, a yeoman of Knolton, by Daniel Pingle, a mariner of St. John the Baptist parish, Thanet; Henry Pingle, a butcher of Nonington; and Thomas Pingle, a bricklayer of Nonington,  who were the sons and heirs in gavelkind of Thomas Pingle, deceased, of Nonington.
John Deane and wife Elizabeth appear to have occupied the premises for some time before 1659 and continued to do so until 1674 when they were succeeded by Thomas Osbourne and his wife Joan, whom he had married in 1672.

Thomas Petit appears to have gained sole possession at some time after 1659 as a year after his death in 1699 his sons: Thomas Petit, yeoman of Knolton; William Petit; Gabriel Petit; and John Petit sold the “The White Horse” to William Hammond, a younger son of the Hammond family of nearby St. Alban’s Court.
The premises were described in the 1700 sale document as “all that messuage or tenement with the barns stables smiths forge buildings courtyards gardens and all that part or parcell of arable land enjoining by estimation two acres more or less…called or known by the name of “The White Horse” “.
In the document the premises were described as being bounded by the lands of Thomas Marsh esq., to the east and north (Thomas Marsh at that time occupied Old Court and Church Farms), the highway to the south (then called Church Street, now Pinner’s Lane) and the churchyard to the west. William Sharpe was the licencee at the time of the sale and lived there with his wife Sarah, whom he’d married on March 12th, 1697.
The 1705 tax register for Froghamborough in Nonington lists William Sharp and his wife with his servants George Gambrel, Thomas Rouse, and Jane Monehan.

Following William Sharpe as licencee were:

1706 (and possibly before) Laurence also Laurance Austen/Austin/Asting.

House-holder and Innkeeper, buried in November 12th, 1716.

1717.Elenor Austen, widow of Laurence.

1720.Elizabeth Austen, daughter of the above.

1725.Richard Perry.

1726.William Harrison, also a licenced brandy retailer.

1727.Henry Hopper.

1736.Thomas Rye.

1739. Susan Rye. The Wingham Division Ale Licence list records that The White Horse was re-licensed by Susan Rye for the sum of 8 shillings in 1740. Susan’s husband appears to have died before this date, although there is no record of his burial in the Nonington Parish Register.

1742.Henry Spaine. There is reference in a 1746 legal document to a hopground at the White Horse, so beer appears to have been brewed on the premises at that time.

1748.John Copper.

1749.Thomas Prebble.

The alehouse changed ownership again in 1753 when William Hammond of St. Albans, Nonington, purchased it for £.130. 10s 8d, from Elizabeth Beake, a widow from Stourmout, who had inherited “The White Horse” from her brother, William Hammond of St. Ann’s Parish, Westminster. The premises sold in 1700 had occupied two acres but by 1753 it been divided into an alehouse and a smithy occupying half an acre each. The alehouse consisted of “that messuage or tenement situated at Nonington in a place there called Church Street and called or known by the name of “The White Horse” with outhouses buildings orchards gardens about half acre previously occupied by Laurence Austen now occupied by Thomas Prebble”. The now a separate blacksmith’s forge consisted of: “stables outhouses yards gardens backsides and lands previously occupied by Christopher Spain now occupied by Henry Spain”.  The remaining acre of land appears to have been separated at some time, possibly for agricultural use.

The successors of Thomas Prebble were:

1762 John Ellis.

1768 Thomas Sladden.

1771 William Morris.

1785 James Makey.

In 1790 a twenty-one year lease was signed between brewers William Baldock of Canterbury and John Rigden of Faversham, and William Hammond of White Friars, Canterbury, at an annual rent of forty pounds payable in four parts on January 5th, April 5th. July 5th, and October 10th. William Hammond retained the rights to timber, free liberty, egress, ingress, and regress.

James Holtum, sometimes written as Holton, took over the alehouse licence from James Makey in 1798 and held it until his death in 1824 when Mary, his wife, briefly held the licence until William Wood took it over in 1825.

The Woods were a prosperous local family of master brick-layers and small holders who had been prominent in Nonington and adjoining parish affairs and administration from at least the early 1700’s.  William’s nephew, was at this time licensee of “The Rose and Crown”, now “The Two Sawyers”, at Woolege Green.

It was under William Wood’s tenancy that “The White Horse” changed its name to “The Hawks Head” in 1826. A hawk’s head was the crest of the Hammond family of nearby St. Alban’s Court who owned the alehouse.

William Wanstall, junior, took over the licence from William Wood in May,1831, but he had only had a brief tenure as “The Hawks Head” closed suddenly in March, 1832, apparently because of the views on the sale of alcohol of William Osmund Hammond. Wanstall moved to “The Royal Oak” in the Drove, Lower Holt Street which was owned by John Pembleton Plumptre of Fredville.  “The Royal Oak” received its first licence from Wingham Petty Sessions in September, 1831 and is probably named after the “Majestie Oak” in nearby Fredville Park. Since the early 1700′s the Parish Vestry, the predecessor of the modern Parish Council, had held it’s meetings at “The White Horse” and on its closure these were now moved to “The Royal Oak”.

After the closure the old alehouse premises were occupied by Andrew Morgan who was also the tenant blacksmith at the adjacent forge who subsequently became liable for the taxes for both premises which now once again became one property under his occupancy.

The smithy, one of its doors can be seen on the left in the picture, continued to operate until the mid-1900′s when the last full time blacksmith, George Beer, hung up his striking hammer for the last time. The forge was demolished in the late 1950′s and a post box and a car park now occupy the site.  The old alehouse premises were bought by Mr. Scothorne, the local milkman, when the Hammond estate was dispersed in the late-1930′s and Abbot’s Dairies of Canterbury leased them for some years before finally buying them in the late 1940′s and using them as their local distribution centre until “The Dairy”, as it became known, closed in the late 1980′s.  The old alehouse is now a private residence.


  • Caroline

    Thanks very much for this information. Thomas and Susan Rye (who ran the alehouse 1736-42) were my 7x Great Grandparents!

  • admin

    Thanks for the information. I would be grateful for copies of any photographs you have for use on this website.

  • sarah

    Mr Scothorne was my great grand father. i have pictures of the White House when my great grandad owned it

Please feel free to comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.