Snippets from before 1900

Although a long time ago, the things that made news in Capel in the 19th century perhaps weren't that different to today...


On Monday the 19th the Rt. Hon. Lord le Despencer relieved 400 poor persons in the vicinity of his residence at Mereworth Castle by a charitable donation of two oxen with flour and fuel for each and on Friday last his charity was extended to the poor of Tudeley, Capel and places adjacent whom were proportioned out one bullock with equal quantity of flour and fuel.

The act of benevolence will be continued weekly at the above places as long as the severity of the conditions may continue and we learn that the gentlemen and farmers in those parishes much to their credit have entered into a subscription for their further relief in aid of which his lordship has subscribed liberally.

Equally moved by the same human adversity, the farmers in the neighbourhood have lent out their waggons to convey the fuel given by his lordship to the door of each poor person.

With great pleasure we also find a spirit of emulation prevails among all ranks in this uncommonly harsh season to relieve the suffering of their unfortunate and distressed fellow creatures.

November 1829 EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE-Otters brought up by a Spaniel.

A few days since, Mr. Eastford, of Capel, being out on the land, discovered two otter cubs, which he took and carried home. Some difficulty was apprehended in bringing up the animals, but a black spaniel bitch, belonging to Mr. Garing of the King's Head public house, Five Oak Green, Capel, having lately had pups, the otters were placed with her. First she seemed little disposed to nourishing them, but some butter being rubbed over the cubs, she soon became reconciled to them, and now nurses them with as much care as if they were her own. The hounds were taken the next day to endeavour to find the mother, but without success.

April 1840 STAG CHASE

TONBRIDGE. A stag from Leigh park was uncarted just by our town last Tuesday. After dodging hither and thither, he took refuge in Mr. Wm. Scoones' garden, when dislodged from there he dashed into Mr. Wise's wharf, in gallant style, and crossed to the crane; after considerable difficulty he was got out and then started for the railroad, Somerhill, Tudeley church, Five Oak Green and Matfield Green, and was at last captured near Brenchley. There was a motley set of dogs, horses, boys and men, in full cry for many miles ; most sincerely do we hope that the eagle-glance of a certain surcharger did not rest on any of them, for a two years' tax for one day's hunt would be no joke.* The eldest son of Mr. Chalklin, when jumping a ditch at Five Oak Green, dislocated his knee.

*The reporter is alluding to a 5 shilling (about £15 today) tax in force at the time on any dog used for hunting purposes.


On Saturday evening, as two young men were "larking," near Five Oak Green, Capel, one of them fell on to the rails of the South-Eastern Railway. The train of ballast waggons came on before he could get up, and completely severed the poor fellow's left arm and right leg.

February 1845 - INSOLVENT DEBTOR

To be heard at Maidstone, in the county of Kent, on the 6th day of March, 1845, at the hour of Ten in the forenoon precisely. SILAS NEWMAN, formerly of Five Oak Green, in the parish of Capel, in the county of Kent, grocer, and an ensign in her Majesty's East Kent Militia ; and late of Capel aforesaid, out of business or employment.

April 1871 - CAPEL: Sudden Death of a Bricklayer

On Tuesday morning, a man named John Tully, died very suddenly, at a public house called the King's Head, Five Oak Green, the parish of Capel. The deceased, who was a bricklayer, and 62 years of age, went to his work in the morning as usual, but feeling rather unwell about seven o'clock he left off work and went to the King's Head. He told the landlady there that he had a pain under his heart, and called for three pennyworth of brandy, which he drank, and almost immediately afterwards fell down and expired. Mr. Bishop, of Tonbridge, was sent for, and he gave it as his opinion that the deceased died of disease of the heart, and that had been suffering from it for some time.

April 1871 - CAPEL: Drunk and Riotous

At the Tonbridge Petty Sessions, on Tuesday, two labourers, named James Langridge and John Jarrett, pleaded guilty to being drunk and riotous, at Five Oak Green, Capel, the 4th March. P. C. Haines with others saw the men come out of a public house and commence quarrelling. They refused to sway, although they were usually very quiet men. The Magistrate inflicted a fine of 1s (about £3 today) and 8s. 6d. costs (around £25) and cautioned the men as to their future conduct.


15-year-old Mary Ann Godden was declared guilty of stealing at the shop in Five Oak Green of Mary Ann Playfoot who found her till short by four florins and a shilling (nine shillings altogether, around £40 today).

Mary Ann told the local policeman she had gone in to settle a bill and the money in her purse was the change but the bench, while describing it as a sad case, found her guilty and jailed her for 14 days.


Tudeley Parish Church is in a very dilapidated condition and the internal arrangements render it wholly unfit for the due celebration of the public worship of God.

It has been resolved therefore that efforts shall be made by voluntary contributions for its immediate restoration. It is estimated that to carry out the work in a satisfactory manner at least £600 (about £30,000 today) will be required.

The parish being almost entirely agricultural, it is hoped that the desire to promote the glory of God may animate many not particularly connected with Tudeley to subscribe to good work.

November 1877 - A SANITARY TALE

The Rural Sanitary Authority of the Tonbridge Union was concerned about the conditions at Five Oak Green which were described as "wretched" and had caused several cases of "low fever." The cause was the foul water supply in the village.

The Rev. Mr. W.E. Hayman pointed out that the source of the water supply was pure but as it neared the village five cottages poured the whole of their drainage into it and further, in the summer young Five Oak Greeners delighted to perform their ablutions.


On Monday, Police Constable George Parker, of the Kent County Constabulary, stationed at Five Oak Green, in the Tunbridge division, was presented by Capt. Ruxton, the chief constable, on behalf of the South-Eastern Railway Company, with a silver keyless watch, as a mark of their appreciation of his skill in having effected the capture of the man Henry Taylor, who was convicted before Mr. Justice Hawkins at the last assizes and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude for attempting to wreck a train, by placing a sleeper across the rails, at Five Oak Green, in November last.

November 1881 - FIVE OAK GREEN Reformatory School Case

At the Tonbridge Petty Sessions on Tuesday last, David Taylor, charcoal burner, Five Oak Green, was summoned to show cause why an order should not be made upon him to pay towards the support of his son, who is detained in the Red Hill Reformatory School. The defendant, who made a rambling statement that he got his living by the sweat of his brow, offered 2s. (around £7 today), per week and the Bench made an order for that amount.


The Kent Water Company wrote stating that they were willing, under certain conditions, to supply the parish of Pembury with water, in bulk, the Rural Sanitary Authority to lay the pipes, as the parish was within the limits of the Tonbridge Wells Corporation supply. They were making arrangements to lay the water on to the Mid Kent Jam Factory at Golden Green, and if they had a guarantee from the parish, or from the inhabitants of Five Oak Green, they would extend their pipes to that parish.


Shortly after eight o'clock on Sunday night week, a stack of hay at Bank Farm, Capel, in the occupation of Mr W. Tolhurst, was found to be on fire. A messenger was despatched to the Tonbridge Volunteer Fire Brigade, but as the steamer was in London undergoing repair through the accident caused to it last week on a fire at the same farm, the large town manual was speedily horsed, and proceeded to the spot. Before starting, however, Superintendent Flood, knowing from last week's experience the difficulty of obtaining water, telegraphed to the Tunbridge Wells Brigade, for their steamer. Pending their arrival, the Tonbridge Brigade did what they could with buckets of water to prevent the fire spreading to the adjacent outbuildings and stacks, but the flames attacked another of the stacks which was in close proximity. On the arrival of the Tunbridge Wells steamer, the two stacks were found to be well alight, and although the combined brigades worked with a will throughout the night, both were completely destroyed, but the farm buildings were saved. The damage is estimated between £2OO and £3OO (around £16,500 - £24,500 today) but Mr Tolhurst is unfortunately not covered by Insurance. Considering that the previous fire occurred only a week ago through some unknown cause, it is believed that these conflagrations are the work of an incendiary.

August 1891 - CAPEL - Treat to the Board School Children

Through the kind thoughtfulness of Lady Goldsmid, the children attending the Capel Board Schools, to the number of between 180 and 190, had their second annual treat in Somerhill Park on Friday last, when they were accompanied by the Master, Mistress and assistant teachers, Mr Tink, the Misses E. and H. Tink and Mr C. J. Turner. The day was gloriously fine, and the little ones thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The capital band of the Tonbridge Volunteers, under the conductorship of Mr Cockerell, was in attendance, and played some excellent music, and an enjoyable tea was provided in a marquee in front of the mansion. Sir Julian and Lady Goldsmid delighted their youthful visitors with their kindly presence whilst several servants of the household did all they could to promote the happiness of the party. Prizes were distributed from a bran tub and when the time arrived for returning home all were sorry that it had to end so soon.

November 1891 - Tonbridge Police Intelligence

P.C. Burbridge, who has done very efficient duty in the town for some time, is about to transfer his efforts towards the prevention of crime in Five Oak Green, near Tudeley.

January 1892 - Rural Sanitary Authority: FIVE OAK GREEN

Mr. Brown, the sanitary inspector, brought up a report as to the disposal of the sewage of Five Oak Green, which at the present time ran into open ditches, but no action was taken in the matter, and the Board adjourned.

February 1896 - RETRIEVER IN "PIG-NAP"

A singular occurrence is reported from Five Oak Green where Mr H. Jones has a retriever bitch which recently had a litter of ten puppies, five of which died.

It was subsequently found that the new mother had managed somehow to appropriate eight young pigs from an adjoining sty.

It is reported that it was only with some difficulty that she was induced to part with this additional burden.