The Bo Peep Restaurant

Our Story....

...as we know it.
 
This is the history as it was passed on to us. We are currently in the process of doing some research of our own. If you have any information you would like to add please contact us - we would love to be able to add to this document.
 
The inn known as "The Bo Peep" was built during the reign of King Edward VI (1547-1553), in the year 1548 and was originally called "The White Hart". The original inn sign of "The White Hart" dates back to the reign of King Richard II (1377-1399) who wore the crest as a favoured symbol. Though not of that period, two windows engraved with a hart are to be seen in the front bar.
 
When first built the property was a farm dwelling forming part of a considerable estate. The earliest recorded occupant is one Anthony Quayffe who is mentioned in the Tythe Roll of 1605, when Cedric Elfike purchased the property. The transaction is recorded as thus:
"One massuage and 12 acres of arable land formerly held by one Henry Wooten and previously by Anthony Quayffe purchased by said Henry Elficke from James Kitchell, rent 2s and 4d for a plough share, 1d for one hen and 12 eggs and service of two men for one day.
"
 
In 1627, the property was purchased by one Caleb Seagrave, recorded as a hop grower and farmer of the parish of Knockholt. In 1633, Seagrave applied for and was granted an Ale and Cider License. A Quarter Sessions Roll and Order book from that period then records him as a Hop Grower and Beer Retailer of the parish of Chelsfield. In the same two sources the property bears no title but merely recorded as "Seagrave's Bere House". At this time Seagrave probably brewed and sold his own brand of ale.
 
In the year of 1709, one Joshua Hickmutt, purchased the property and registered it under the title of "The White Hart".
 
During the mid eighteenth century this part of Chelsfield became known as "The Bo Peep", and is still shown as such on some recent maps. The name was derived from the nursery rhyme penned by smugglers of the period, known as "Owlers", infamous for their illicit trade in wool smuggling, much of which took place from a small cove near Hastings known as "Bo Peep".
 
Smugglers were known to frequent Chelsfield using the labyrinth of caves and tunnels the area was once abound with, as hiding places or "drops" for London bound contraband. One such tunnel is reputed to have run from "White Hart" and came up in a disused well in a garden at Crockenhill. From this the ale house was known, to the locals, as "Bo Peep".
 
"The White Hart" often came under the scrutiny of Customs’ Riding Officers and in 1783 the inn was mentioned in a statement made by one John Kelly, a Riding Officer, to his superiors at Hastings. It reads: 
"We are in possession of sufficient facts to know that smugglers are taking every method to improve their trading and also conveying immense quantities of spirits to London. They have warehouses at proper distances on the roads. One such place of hiding is a dense wooded area near Orpington called "Bo Peep". My men and I have been watchful of a drinking house there called "The White Hart".
 
In September 1785 Riding Officer Kelly was shot and killed when with other Riding Officers and a company of dragoons ambushed a gang of smugglers near Battle, Sussex.
 
In 1815, the inn was purchased by a Henry Brooker and a Wine License obtained. Then in 1868 during the reign of Queen Victoria a full spirit license was granted to another Henry Brooker, grandson of the aforementioned. England was involved in many parts of the world during the following years while "The White Hart" continued to serve the farming community with little change. The hop pickers were paid their wages here, in tokens and an annual cake bake was held but the origin and reason for the latter were not recorded.
 
In 1971 Leonard Shepherd, a distinguished sportsman of the parish, obtained the license and in 1972 changed the name officially to "The Bo Peep".
 
In 1987 the house was transferred to James Ellard, a retired constable of the parish, and his wife Joy. In 1989 they were joined by their eldest son Chris and for the first time in its history three names were recorded on the register by the Licensing Justices.
 
In 2006 the inn was transferred to Graham Buckley and Kate Mansfield.
 
A timeline shows the list of past Inn Keepers since records began in 1627.
 
The inn has seen and undergone many changes since it was first built but its history remains unchanged so stay and enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days......