pub history

Nestled away halfway down shrubbery road, you’ll find our homely establishment: The Windmill Tavern. The Windmill Tavern started life in the late 17th Century as a farmhouse on the outskirts of Gravesend. The building is a classic example of a Dutch Style Farmhouse, first made popular in Gravesend when the area was popular with Charles II and his brother James.

 

The site first became a tavern in 1798, catering for thirsty workmen as they embarked on their journey to London. The Old Dover Road to London avoided the centre of Gravesend crossing Singlewell Road instead, with a popular inn was located at this junction. This inn became a staging post for a change of horses and for passengers to go from Gravesend up the River Thames to London. As trade grew and in turn the popularity of the inn, the landlord began sending tradesmen he was able to accommodate to the nearby farmhouse to recover overnight. The hostelry trade became increasingly lucrative and the farmer, a Mr. George King, decided to make his old house into a full-time tavern, The Windmill Tavern was born!

 

The wider expansion of the area surrounding the pub took place in the early Victorian era, when Windmill Hill (just a stones throw from us) was a popular tourist destination, with flocks of tourists arriving from London. The Windmill and its camera obscura - the famous viewfinder that offered incredible panoramic views - offered a unique experience for day trippers. Other activities that drew in tourists included penny trips on paddle steamers to seaside towns for shrimp, teas, and the best view of the river. The hill still also offers impressive views across the Thames - do take a look, after your visit to us!

 

In an 1844 guide, The Windmill Tavern was described as ‘a house of long-established celebrity’, thanks to its ‘spacious lawns, archery... and recesses for athletic sports and rural sports‘. Who is to say that Dickens a great frequenter of the hostels of the area would surely have wanted to often view the river and must have drunk at the Windmill Tavern many a time?

 

During your visit, you’ll notice a lot of the hallmarks from bygone eras still remain: the boules lawn (opened in 1923), the striking WW2 memorial in the nearby Windmill Hill garden and so many other original features throughout the interior of the pub. 

LICENSEE LIST

KING George 1835+

BUSBY Thomas 1840+

ANDREWS Thomas 1842+

GLADSTONE Thomas to May/1853 

GILBERT Henry May/1853+ 

GILBERT Lewis 1855+

WADDELL William Robert 1859-74+ (age 23 in 1861)

SIMMONDS Ernest 1913+

PERSHOUSE William 1858+

WADDELL William Robert 1862-74+

WILLIAMS Richard Henry 1878+

PITTAWAY George 1881-82+ (age 34 in 1881)

SAXBY Richard 1891+

POPE Joseph 1903+

SIMMONDS E 1913+

COCKLEY Abraham 1922+

BARRETT R A J 1988-90+

BRIDGES Paul & WELLS Natalie 2013-17+

SHOVLAR Paul 2018