The Red Cow Pub
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In 1683 during the reign of Charles ll, Charles Gittens, an innkeeper from Middlesex, bought the newly built inn, known as The Red Cow, from James Shrivers. At that time it consisted of the inn, a barn, stable and other buildings nearby, together with a garden, an orchard and another piece of land. This purchase tells us that there has been an inn on this site since 1682 and details of the various landlords licensed to sell liquor have been found from 1741 to the present day. The Red Cow is Folkestone’s second oldest surviving public house still in its original building, elements of which can be found behind the present Victorian facade.
The Red Cow sits at the centre of the once separate village of Foord, a natural transport hub. The old road to Canterbury is northwest from here and the old route to Dover runs to the northeast. Due south, following the course of the Pent Stream, is the road to the Harbour. Travellers needed a place to drink rest or water their horses and the Red Cow developed as a travellers’ rest as well as a social centre for village residents. Stabling was offered for horses and a saddler also operated from there.
It was hoped that the discovery of a chalybeate spring nearby, would bring new business as Seymour, in his Survey of Kent of 1776 reported: “At a place called Foard, a quarter mile distant west from Folkestone, is a fine salubrious spring of water, which has all the virtue and efficacy of the chalybeate, being impregnated with iron in a degree equal to the Tunbridge water. If a subscription was opened by the inhabitants of Folkestone, and the gentlemen of the vicinity, to make this place convenient for public resort, it would greatly contribute to the benefit of the town and its environs.”
In 1815, the landlord of the Red Cow, William Holmes, obtained a license to bottle and sell natural spring waters. Unfortunately the spa resort did not materialise and he did not make his fortune. Spring water did, however, provide the basis for another commercial enterprise: Silver Spring Mineral Water Company, which moved to Foord Road in the 1890’s. If you look carefully on the left of the front window of Crown European Upholstery next door, you will find a plaque commemorating the opening of the business.
James Quested was landlord for a short time from 1823 to 1825 and may have purchased the pub with proceeds from smuggling which was rife in Folkestone. His brother Cephas was hanged for smuggling in 1821 and James was transported to Tasmania for the same offence in 1827. Last year his great-grandson visited from Australia. In the past the Red Cow has been the focus for numerous other court cases ranging from drunk and disorderly conduct to the theft of items from stools, to blankets and even trousers!
Joe and Teresa offer a warm welcome! www.redcowfolkestone.co.uk
More Tales from the Tap Room, Martin Easdown, Eamonn Rooney & Linda Sage, 2004
TR 22977 36250
The site was formerly occupied by the Congregational Church, built in 1856 and demolished in 1974. When the Channel Tunnel was first mooted, several speculative buildings went up in Folkestone and this former office block, called Tontine House, was first occupied in 1986 by The Channel Tunnel Group Limited and France Manche S.A . In August 1994 by first-day cover specialists Benham’ s moved in and the name changed to ‘Benham House’.
The property was one of the first renovation projects undertaken by The Creative Foundation and is now known appropriately as The Cube. This now glorious raspberry edifice occupies a prominent position on Tontine Street and symbolises by its shape and colour the artistic regeneration of the quarter. It is home to a thriving community of adult learners and as might be expected includes a substantial number of arts based options in its offering. Details of the wide range of courses can be found at www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/aboutus/where-to-find-us/shepway.aspx.
Rocksalt, 4-5, Fish Market
Commissioned by Folkestone Harbour Company, Rocksalt was designed by Guy Holloway Architects. The building sits on the quay next to railway viaduct and connects the Old Town with the seafront and the harbour.
Its architecture references the old sail lofts and fish sheds which used to line the Stade to create a feeling of belonging in its harbour setting. Three curved walls clad in black larch echo the fish market behind it.
On the seafront all is spanking new: the whole edifice sits upon a new sea wall and it is protected by a slate plinth to prevent flooding. Huge wooden poles, reminiscent of Venice’s Grand Canal, protect the glass frontage from stray boats. The floor to ceiling windows slide back unifying the restaurant with the cantilevered balcony, where you can eat al mare. The pebbled filled roof terrace provides views over the harbour and on a clear day as far as France.
Martello Tower no. 3
TR 24059 36630
Seventy-four Martello Towers were built between 1805 and 1808 as a defensive measure against an expected invasion by Napoleon. The first was No.1 on the Warren at Folkestone and the last in this series is at Eastbourne. There are also twenty –nine towers in Essex and Suffolk.
The idea for this form of defence was advocated by Captain W.H. Ford, an officer in the Royal Engineers, who had seen the tower at Mortella Point in Corsica withstand a British naval attack. Support for his idea came from General Sir John Moore, who had been given command of the South East with the defence of the coast from Dover to Dungeness. In addition to the towers, The Royal Military Canal was built from Cheriton to Cliffe End in Sussex to halt a French infantry attack. General Sir John Moore’s training methods at nearby Shorncliffe laid the foundations of the modern British Army.*
Martello Towers are essentially small forts designed to withstand naval attack. Built from a mixture of lime, ash and hot tallow, which sets extremely hard, their sloped sides allow cannon balls to bounce off. Doors and windows open landward while sea facing walls are some 13 feet deep.
A single 24-pounder gun was placed on the roof behind a 6 foot parapet, with the ability to swivel round to face attack from any angle. “24-pound” refers to the weight of the shot; the cannon weighed about two and a half tons.**
Tower No. 3 stands on the cliff at Copt Point. Following the Napoleonic wars, it was used by the coastguard and then as a residence and later still as a golf clubhouse. It returned to active duty during the Second World War, when it was used as a control centre for mines. More recently it was a museum and visitor centre before being leased by The Creative Foundation.
Today the watching brief, previously undertaken from Tower No. 3, is operated by the National Coastwatch Institution Folkestone Lookout Station close by. Manned by volunteers, it is open to the public from 10.00am each day. Visitors are most welcome!