Pembury History

People - Charles & Robert Harris     Farmer and Beer Retailer

Charles Herbert Harris and family as reported, by email, by Katherine Kelly (Great, Great Grand Daughter).
This is a part of Kath's research into her family history and she has generously shared it on this web page.
The Swiss Cottage beerhouse data is shown in better detail on the Retail, Pubs & Beerhouses page.

 Hello Tony,

I have some information about the "Swiss Cottage" which was situated in Rumford Road, Pembury.

My Great, great grandfather, Charles Herbert Harris, was the licensee holder in 1881 (see clip of the 1881 census attached). My great grandfather was born there in 1885 and, according to a letter he sent to his son, it was an "off licence beerhouse". A year later the family moved, and the licence was transferred to Peter George Sheeley (see newspaper clip).

I hope this is of some use to you,

Kath Kelly,


 I cannot be 100% certain but I do not think that there are any Harris's (at least of this family) left in Pembury. The mentioned Charles Harris was 1 of 12 children, 8 of whom survived to adulthood. I have been researching my family tree and have followed his siblings down to their children but not beyond, and they all seem to have left Pembury.

You may however be interested in the previous generation. Charles's father, Robert, who lived in Pembury for about 40 years, mainly at Pastheap farm. I have found a number of newspaper articles mentioning him and he seems to be quite a character.

Robert was born in Worth, Sussex in 1816. His father, a farrier, died 2 years later and his mother, Ann, remarried to another Harris, not related as far as I can tell. He marries Hannah Peacock in Tunbridge Wells in 1836 and in the1841 census he is listed as a labourer living down the road from his father-in-law in Tudeley. By 1848 he appears to be living at Broadwater Farm in East Malling and in the 1851 census he is the bailiff there "superintending 350 acres and 60 labourers".

Robert is in Pembury by the next census (see first attachment), at Pastheap Farm, but from newspaper articles, I think that he arrived there 2 years earlier. The farm is 221 acres in size and must have included the oast house: a newspaper article in 1831 states that hops were grown there at that time. He must have made an impression on the community as, in 1865, he is appointed overseer (see 2nd attachment).

On 29th May 1868 there was a fire at the farm, luckily only involving a haystack as the Tonbridge engines were sent for and extinguished the fire before it had a chance to spread to the adjacent barn and farmhouse (attachment 3). Despite being insured, later that year Robert is compelled to pay the costs. The farm was on the Bayham Estate owned by the Marquis of Camden and in 1877 a grand ball was held for the tenantry, which Robert Harris attended.

There are more miscellaneous articles about minor disputes along his lifetime at the farm that I have not included here.

By 1871 the size of the farm has reduced by about 80 acres (see attachment 5) and it remained about the same size in 1881. He is still there in 1891 (attachment 8) but moves to live with his daughter in Tudeley about 15 months before his death in 1896. The announcement of his death and description of his funeral are also recorded in local newspapers.

One last connection with the Swiss Cottage is that the application to sell beer from the property is addressed to Robert Harris in 1879.

Additional notes sent later -

It looks like it was 1879 that the occupier of Swiss Cottage, Jesse Young,  first applied to sell beer on the premises. In the  newspaper clipping (attachment 11) he addresses the notice to Robert Harris who was an overseer of the poor and also my great,great grandfather. The license was granted at the end of September / beginning of October that year. Swiss Cottage was an off-license beerhouse. 

My great great, grandfather, Charles Herbert Harris, took over the license of "The Swiss Cottage". He and his family must have moved there somewhere between April 1880 and the 1881 census on the 3rd April since his 6th child was born at Pastheap Farm on 28th April 1880. The family appears on the 1881 census. The name "Swiss Cottage" is not given on the census return and the address is given as Romford Rd, but Charles is noted as a beer retailer. Since the beerhouse is on the corner of Henwood Green Rd (formerly Lower Green) and Romford Rd, it may have formerly been assigned that address. 

Charles's first wife, Elizabeth, died at the Swiss Cottage in June 1884 (1884 attachment) leaving him with 6 children. He remarried my great, great grandmother, Agnes Blake, in 1885. My great grandfather, Edwin was born at Swiss Cottage in August of the same year ( 1885 attachment ).
In September 1886 the family moved to "The Rose and Crown" at East Peckham and the license was transferred to Peter Sheeny (1886 attachment).
From Peter (or Thomas in 1 newspaper) Sheeny the license is transferred to a Charlotte Harris in Dec 1886 / Jan 1887    (1887 attachments).  However only a few months later the license was transferred to a James Fry.

                                                                                                                                                             Kath Kelly,   Birmingham


The following cuttings and notes are listed in chronological order

Attachment 1 -  1861 Census     Click image for full document.
Robert Harris a Pastheap Farm with wife Hannah

Attachment 2    Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser   3 April 1865
Robert Harris appointed as a magistrate.

Attachment 3      Fire at Pastheap Farm
Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser  1 June 1867

Attachment 4          Fire at Pastheap Farm
Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser  9 Sept 1867

Attachment 5 -  1871 Census     Click image for full document
Lists Robert Harris as head, with wife Hannah, sons: Charles H, Edwin, Henry, Joseph,
and daughters Sophia and Jane.

Attachment 7 -  Grand Ball at Bayham Estate   1877
Kent and Sussex Courier    19 January 1877

Attachment 11 -  Swiss Cottage license to Jesse Young
The Kent & Sussex Courier  10 Sept 1879
The full chronology of Swiss Cottage licensing is on the Pubs & Beerhouse page

Attachment 6 -  1881 Census     Click image for full document
Robert Harris at Pastheap Farm

Death Certificate of  Elizabeth Forman Harris      13 June 1884
Wife of C.H. Harris, Swiss Cottage

Edwin Harris   Birth Certificate    10 Aug 1885
Mother shown as Agnes Harris, formerly Blake

Transfer of Swiss Cottage license from C.H. Harris to Peter Sheeny
The Kent and Sussex Courier     3 Sept 1886

Transfer of Swiss Cottage license from Thomas Sweeney to Charlotte Harris
Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser    3 Jan 1887
There is no evidence that Charlotte Harris is related to Robert or Charles.

Transfer of Swiss Cottage license from Charlotte Harris to James Fry
Kentish Times     7 May 1887

Attachment 9 -  Death Announcement of Robert Harris aged 81  
Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser    22 Oct 1896

Attachment 10 -  Funeral of Robert Harris 
Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser    29 October 1896
Mourning family -  S. Harris, H. Harris, Edwin Harris (sons),  Mrs Beech and Mrs Z. Buggs (daughters)

Sophia Harris, Robert Harris's eldest child (aunt to Charles Harris of Swiss Cottage), married
William Beach, a widower, in 1874 in Hanover Baptist Chapel, Tunbridge Wells.

Jane Harris, younger sister of Sophia (by 12 years) married Zippor Buggs in 1874 at
Matfield Green Baptist Chapel, the same place where her father was buried.

Charles & Robert Harris

IMPORTANT !!!     This needs your help.  All contributions will be credited.  If you have any further information or corrections please contact me –
Tony Nicholls      email:   or