The Three Horseshoes is a charming little country pub in Mongeham Road. Like so many of its kind this once flourishing hostelry is now much quieter. The older part of the building, with its low profile and dormer windows, is characteristically late seventeenth-early eighteenth century in appearance, so it likely dates from the year shown on the sign hanging from its eaves. Originally thatched, it now has a Kent peg tile roof. The weatherboard extension with its slate roof and higher profile was clearly added much more recently.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the sign was painted gilt. However by the end of that century it was looking rather the worse for wear. It was taken down, and was missing for several years. It has since been returned, resplendent in its new colours of silver horseshoes on a black frame.

In the mid nineteenth century thatch was a much more common roofing material than it is now. The risk of fire and cheaper alternatives have meant that most of the thatched roofs in the village have been replaced. The nineteenth century saw the introduction of more efficient flued fireplaces and coal used instead of wood. Soot accumulated in the chimneys and often resulted in chimney fires. Through the second half of the nineteenth century several fires in the village were reported in local newspapers, including one at the Three Horseshoes on the afternoon of 5th December 1881. It broke out in a large thatched kitchen at the back of the house. It appears that the fire originated in the chimney. The Deal Fire Brigade were quickly on the spot, but the fire had already been put out by about forty men with buckets. Their prompt action saved the fire spreading to the roof of the main building. This could well be what prompted the replacement of the thatch with Kent peg tiles.

So many histories

Records show three premises, at least two licensed, going under the name of “the Three Horseshoes”, other than the one which stands in Mongeham Road to this day. In the Pigot’s Directory of 1824 one Henry Stokes is landlord of a pub of that name in Upper Deal. I understand that this pub later changed its name.This alehouse is recorded in a document of sale dated 1823 of 22 lots of which 13 were in Deal. The pub, lot 1, is described as pub with stable outhouses yard grounds etc in the occupation of Henry Stokes. Apparently the sale took place in the pub. The name was changed from the Three Horseshoes to the Liverpool Arms , possibly on the death of Lord Liverpool in 1828. He had been a local militia commander and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.The Liverpool Arms is now a private dwelling in Manor Road near the mini-roundabout at the junction with London Road.

In 1882 Kelly’s directory records William Fagg, a blacksmith, as landlord of “The Three Horse Shoes” in East Studdall. A deed of 1812 relating to lands of Joseph Noakes records “…all that messuage or tenement (formerly called or known by the name of the sign of the Three Horseshoes and now in two dwellings divided)…….. being in the parish of Great Mongeham”. This property was bought in 1744 by Daniel Sutton, Joseph Noakes’ uncle. I have not yet discovered where exactly it was situated, whether it was ever licensed, or even if it might have been the forerunner of the present pub, and moved premises in 1735.

Hanging on the wall of the Three Horseshoes in Great Mongeham is a potted history of the pub. It is a fascinating story, beginning in 1676 when it was built as a blacksmith’s. It was occupied by a succession of blacksmiths until in 1801 a smith, Samuel Bray, was granted a license to sell ales. And so the story continues until the mid-twentieth century. Unfortunately none of the early names coincides with any of those on the annual lists of licensed victuallers at the Centre for Kentish Studies, although several of them are of local families. It would be interesting to know which documents were the source of this “history”.

The Allens at the Horseshoes

The first appearance of the Three Horseshoes, Great Mongeham is in the list for licensed victuallers 1735, coincidentally the year recorded on the sign still hanging from the pub (reputedly the oldest pub sign in Kent). That first licensee, Joseph Brown, remained until 1749 when his daughter, Mary, took over. In 1752 she married John Noakes who continued as landlord until 1770, in which time it was upgraded from alehouse to inn.

John Noakes died in 1812 at the age of eighty-six. However the inn had passed on to other hands. In 1771 William Allen became licensee. Whether William bought the inn immediately or later has yet to be established, although by his death William was the owner and licensee. Over the next one hundred years the Three Horseshoes passed on to three more generations of Allens.

An indenture of 1807 records the purchase by Shadrack Allen from his brothers of their one third shares in the Three Horseshoes. They had inherited it in gavelkind from their mother Ann, widow of William Allen, victualler (almost certainly the same William Allen). A Dover St. Mary Settlement notice shows Shadrack Allen senior and his wife, Susannah, moving from Ringwould to Dover St. Mary on 2nd February 1793, so he must have moved to Great Mongeham to take over the ‘Horseshoes’ when his father died.

Shadrack became a pillar of village society. He was a member of the parish Vestry (forerunner of the parish council) and overseer of the poor, in spite of his daughter, Mary, having two bastard children and ending up in the Martin Workhouse. While Mary was in domestic service her first, a daughter, was christened Mary Bishop in 1821. Presumably the father was a Mr Bishop. The Vestry minutes of 4th October 1820 record that “Thos. Bishop proposed to give the parish twenty five pounds in consideration of being discharged from the charges of his bastard child which the Parish objected to and then they proposed to him to pay thirty pounds including the court fees for his discharge from this affair and gave him until St ­ Mich to consult his friends on the subject”. The child died in 1821 so Thomas petitioned the Vestry for the return of his money. The following year a son was born to Mary. This time Mary was in the Martin Workhouse, no doubt turned out of home by her father. The Parish vestry decided not to pay her relief unless she would “swear the child of which she is now far gone to its father and to make every enquiry respecting the place of his residence and as V. Small had been with the Overseer respecting Mary Allen being at his house it was ordered that he should not relieve her unless she would swear the child”. She was just twenty one years old. Vincent Small was the superintendent of the Martin Workhouse. Shadrack Allen was the parish overseer of the poor.

Shadrack had three sons besides, the eldest of whom, also Shadrack, took over the Horseshoes when his father died in 1835.

A Vestry minute of 1819 records a certificate being granted to Allen as “Publican of this Parish”. This is presumably why, in 1836, his widow Susannah was paid six shillings and fourpence for beer prescribed to a sick pauper. Shadrack had been buried the previous July and his son, also Shadrack, was now the licensee.He had married Mary Court (from Acrise), and had two daughters, Susannah and Paulina who were 15 and 9 respectively in 1841.

Throughout the nineteenth century the Horseshoes was a hub of village activity. Vestry minutes record several meetings taking place there. The Vestry “On 25th November the Vestry was duly held at eleven o’clock and Mr J R Bray was chosen the Chairman and having business of consequence to take into consideration the Vestry was adjourned to the Horse Shoes Public House at six o’clock in the evening”. The venue was clearly more comfortable than the church vestry because in November 1820 the minutes record “the written order for a Vestry was duly given to the Clark for him to call it regularly for the last Thursday in every month at this place”.

A somewhat raucous meeting was held in January 1834 when a number of the ‘working paupers’ of Great Mongeham attended the Vestry meeting ‘to complain of the wages they received’. The 1830s were times of great hardship among agricultural communities. In Great Mongeham unemployed labourers could get 8 shillings a week from the Parish if they worked on the roads. On Boxing Day the Vestry reduced it to 7 shillings, hence the deputation to the January meeting.

Several inquests were also heard at the inn. In 1873 William Page, a 46 year old farmer was found early one morning floating in a pond (now filled in and built on) nearly opposite the Three Horseshoes The jury’s verdict was “That deceased drowned himself when in a state of mental derangement”. In 1881 the inquest on Jane Philpott was held. This event is recorded more fully in the history of the Village Bakery.

On a less sombre note the inn hosted several wedding parties. Traditionally the wedding party set off for the church, passing under a festoon of objects relating to the trade of the groom stretching from the Three Horseshoes to the field opposite. The wedding of John Hopper, a gardener, and Emily Norris, a dressmaker, 1n March, 1881 was particularly festive. Two carriages with horses and drivers decorated with wedding favours took the happy couple to and from St. Martin’s Church. The church bells were rung after the service and in the evening and hand bell ringers made a tour of the village. A rope was also stretched from the Three Horseshoes to a post on the opposite meadow, on which was suspended a rake, spade, hoe, pickaxe, scythe, pitchfork, a bunch of parsnips, cabbages etc. in recognition of John Hopper’s trade Presumably festivities continued in the Horseshoes well into the evening.

The Kentish Gazette reported another wedding in October 1888 when Stephen Philpott, grandson of the founder of the village bakery, married Minnie Augusta Friend. It reported “The Union Jack was hoisted at the Church, and in the village a string of flags and various emblems of the bridegroom’s trade were stretched across the road from the ‘Horseshoes’ Inn …… The ringers showed their kindly feeling by ringing several merry peals”. Since the bridegroom was a baker we can only surmise what emblems festooned the street.

The Three Horseshoes saw other festivities. In 1840 the Dover Telegraph reported the annual Duck and Green Peas dinner held at the inn. Whether it was the same venue every year is not recorded.

When Shadrack Allen died in 1879 his widow moved in with her daughter, Susannah, who had married a local farmer, Edward Bass, in 1852. In 1816 Shadrack the elder had mortgaged his property to George Noakes. When George Noakes died in 1828 the mortgage passed on to Thomas Bass, and thence to his son, Edward. Their daughter, Mary, inherited full title to the inn.

After Shadrack’s death the Basses put a tenant, William Moat. He And his wife, Julia, had 4 children, Emily, William, Ethelbert Thomas and Leonard Charles. In 1874 William was entered in the register of christenings as a groom and gardener and in1879 as a coachman. By 1891 the license is taken over by Alfred J. Ratcliffe who is listed as a licensed victualler and gardener in the 1891 census. Mrs Mary A. Ratcliffe is his assistant. They have three children, Pauline Beatrice and Albert. Alfred was born in Dover. In 1881 he was licensee and carpenter at the Havelock arms, Charlton.

Susannah died on 2nd September, 1887 and John died 20th October the next year.

Mary Bass sold the inn to Leney & Co. of Dover in 1898, thus ending more than a century of Allen involvement with the Three Horseshoes. William Wraight was installed as publican in 1899. He lived there with his wife Annie and sons Arthur and Florrie. Later Minnie May Fowler married William’s son, Walter. For years Minnie kept the village shop which later became the Post Office. Although the Kelly’s Directory of 1903 records George Latham as publican, the 1901 census shows that William was already in place there and remained for many years.

In 1926 Leneys were taken over by Fremlins, and they in turn were taken over by Whitbreads in 1967.

The Allens also acquired additional land. The tithe map of 1840 shows an orchard beside the pub and a field opposite which were owned by “heirs of Susannah Allen”. The Great Mongeham tithe map only shows land within the parish boundary which until 1901 followed the dotted line. The Sholden Tithe Schedule shows that Shadrack Allen also owned two and a half acres in Sholden, a meadow, a garden and an acre of arable. It is probable that this land was adjacent to the plot in green on the map above as the 1906 map shows no field division suggesting this was the other part of Rose Meadow. The 1906 OS map still shows the pre-1901 parish boundary

By 1906 part of the orchard had become allotments. They continued in that use until the late nineties when they were left to become overgrown. The land has since been used to build a group of town houses.

Between the wars the meadow opposite the Three Horseshoes provided avenue for a number of entertainments. Dog shows and a vegetable competition were held on August bank holiday.

Three_horseshoes_1906A family of travelling players would set up a large marquee where they would put on the latest melodrama. The caravan, which was horse drawn, was used as the stage and the audience sat in the tent. The actors performed traditional melodrama – a firm favourite being ‘Maria in the Red Barn’. Frank Court could remember being in the audience as a lad in 1925. Henry Fowler also remembered them.

Penfold’s travelling fair made regular visits. They were a small family fair based in Wingham. It featured many of the old favourites; a chairoplane, swingboats and a ‘dobby set’, like a galloper carousel only it didn’t go up and down. There were the inevitable sideshows and a penny arcade with ball bearing slot machines.