History of The Walnut Tree
The Inn known as the Walnut Tree was built during the reign of
Richard II (1377-1399) in the year of the crusades. Five years
before, seventeen horses fetched 19 shillings each and six 15
shillings each at auction held in St Martins church.
When first built, the house was no more than a timber framed,
wattle and doubt hut with a thatched roof. A fire burned in a
central hearth and an aperture in the roof, a louvre, acted as a
flue. The floor, of the only room (called the hall) was covered
with straw, there were no bedrooms, cupboards or furniture.
Supplies and possessions were kept in baskets or boxes. Everyone
in the family lived, ate and slept in this one room. The average
cost of a dwelling of this type was about six pounds.
In the mid fifteenth century a small bedroom was added at a
higher level. Reached by ladder, here the children of the family
would sleep on wooden cot beds, often suspended from beams.
In 1456, one Septimus Longbarrow, a yeoman of Ashford. purchased
the house and 10 acres of arable land for 11 pounds. In 1502 one
Joseph Silver, yeoman, resided here with his wife Rebecca and
seven children, by the turn of the sixteenth century great
improvements had been carried out to the property and the main
dwelling enlarged. In 1611, the property was purchased by one
Nicholas Marren a former bailiff of the Manor of Aldington.
Sometime during the seventeenth century ale began to be brewed
here, for in a sale document of 1687, a "brew-house" is included
in the inventory. In 1704, the property was purchased by one
In August of the same year Quilter stood before two justices at
Ashford and was granted a license to sell ales and ciders, from
the premises which at this date bore no title but was registered
as an ale house under ownership. In 1749, the property was
purchased by Thomas Gadhew, who upon being granted a license
registered the house under the title of the "Walnut Tree".
During the Napoleonic wars Aldington was the stronghold of the
"Aldington Gang", an infamous band of smugglers that roamed the
marshes and shores of Kent plying their nefarious trade. The
gangs prolific leaders one Cephas Quested and one George Ransley
both natives of Aldington, made the "Walnut Tree" their
headquarters and drop for their illicit contraband. High up on
the southern side of the inn is a small window through which the
gang would shine a signal light to their confederates up to
The Smugglers Song
The Walnut Tree's association with lawlessness did not end with
the demise of the smugglers for as late as 1904 the inn was
centre of the cock fighting contests.
The Walnut Tee has seen and undergone many changes since first
it was built but the historic character remains unchanged. The
food and liquor served here these days is strictly legal... so
stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.