The Goat’s Head
Harry Lucas has given The Historical Society a stone jug and framed notice about the Leigh pub “The Goat’s Head”. This article outlines the background to the two articles.
In 1979 Hilary Magnus, who had lived at “The Gate House”, as it was then called (Porcupine House now), rushed into Harry Lucas’s house. He was moving house that day and they remembered that Harry Lucas’s mother, who had helped in the house, had particularly mentioned two things in the house as being of historical interest. The first was a one foot high stone jug with a cork stopper with “Geo.Martin. The Goats Head. Leigh” on the top side. The second was a notice about the forthcoming sale of the lease of the pub dating from 1864. The Goat’s Head was in what is now Porcupine House and from the notice, it is clear that it was a flourishing business. It had a Bar and Bar Parlour, a Taproom and a Spirit Room, a Club Room, and a Skittle Alley for its patrons. The landlord had a sizeable house with eight bedrooms and there was an underground cellar as well as stabling for eight horses and a coach house. The rent was to be £50 per annum.
Mr Magnus made Harry promise that both items would not leave the village and Harry has given the items to the Historical Society on that basis.
Harry’s family memories go back to the time when George Martin was the landlord of the pub in 1870. Harry’s grandfather used to tell Harry about the new railway line which was to run from London to Sevenoaks and then through a long tunnel to Tonbridge. The story went that when they started building the tunnel at Sevenoaks, beer was supplied to those digging with spades and buckets from a Sevenoaks public house. However, when they started digging from the Tonbridge end, the Sevenoaks beer provider did not want to go all the way over the hill and the builders looked for someone who was prepared to do so from the southern end. George Martin won the licence and stone jugs including the one we have been given – were used to take the beer.
The pub did not survive for long afterwards, however. Samuel Morley, having bought Hall Place in 1870 “was horrified” (in the words of his great grandson, the Third Lord Hollenden) that every time he drove into his new estate, he had to pass drunken villagers. He therefore closed the pub – which he owned – later relenting and allowing George Martin to open the Fleur de Lis. However, the stone jar must have remained in The Goat’s Head as Harry’s mother remembered it on the hall table and remembered it one day when it had disappeared. She later found it in the cellar in a pile of rubbish to be thrown away and told the Magnuses the story behind it. Clearly, Mr Magnus remembered the background to the jar and consequently gave it to Harry.
Parish Magazine Article: Mar 2005: by Chris Rowley