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Red Lion Public House

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Originally a Wealden Hall House it originates back to the date on the wall. It achieved its place in history in May 1838 when the last battle on British Soil took place in the woods above.

The Battle of Bossenden Wood was the culmination of the uprising of a Cornishman by the name of John Nichols Thorn who proclaimed himself Sir William Honeywood Courtney messiah of the masses.

After recruiting followers primarily from the agricultural community he was sought for taking these people from their work and constable was sent from nearby Canterbury to arrest him at Bossenden Farm. Nicholas Mears, upon serving the summons, was shot dead and when news reach Canterbury of the crime the troops were mobilised and surrounded the farm and its neighbouring woods. In attempting to discuss the matter Leutenant Bennett was also killed by Courtney and the troops opened fire.

Another eight people were killed including Courtney himself. 25 others were arrested of which many were transported for their crimes.

The bodies of the dead rebels were taken to the Red Lion Inn where the inquest took place but not before more followers had ripped pieces of the body and clothes from Courtney.

The dead were buried in Hernhill Churchyard opposite the Inn where only a modern wooden board marks the spot. Men guarded the burials initially as it was thought followers would return and attempt to dig up Courtney – he did preach that he was immortal. The graves remain unmarked to this day.

As a final twist to the story Courtney had adopted the emblem of the red lion on his standard of arms. Many relics including his musket ball sack and red lion standard survive .

Artwork Comments

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