A traveller descending Crockham Hill will see in the far distance the spire of St Peter’s Church at Hever. The parish is typical of the Jutish-Saxon period when the inhabitants lived in scattered farms and not in a close community as in normal village life.
“The Henry” – was originally called “The Bull & Butcher”. Some people maintain that the name of the inn was changed after the execution of Sir Thomas Bullen’s daughter, Anne Boleyn, to “Bull’n Butcher”. The parish records show that it was given its present name of “The Henry VIII” in 1848.
The inn was owned by the Meade-Waldo family, and came up for sale in 1919. It would appear that it was not sold at that time, but was eventually bought by the Astor family, and re-designed by Charles W Baker, assistant to F L Pearson, the architect employed to carry out the complete restoration of the Castle.
In days gone by the pub saw many meetings of the village overseers and churchwardens. Throughout the years the church records show the amount that was spent on refreshment. The ringers were regaled on beer and the “wrighting” of the books was never complete unless two shillings was spent. Since this was also the sum given to the clerk who did the work, the entertainment doubled the liability of the Wardens. In 1749 a quart of beer cost 3d (1¼ pence in our money). The ringers of the parish were a favoured group and seemed to require payment for beer, but that was not the only expense. In 1784, this item appears –
“Paid for the Minister’s Dinner 9/8d.”
Beer money was paid to grave diggers, bell hangers, road menders, carters, etc. It is interesting to see that a Mr Moon, “mine host” of The Henry VIII was also a churchwarden. Could that have anything to do with all the beer money that was paid? John Claus de Passow, instituted as Rector in 1799, and whose incumbency lasted for 50 years, also enjoyed the comfort offered by “The Henry VIII”, for on more than one occasion when the congregation was small and the church was cold he would exclaim:
“My friends, Old Harry’s warm ale will, no doubt, suit you much better than my cold prayers; we will, I think, adjourn.”
Today, The Henry VIII only sells “cold” ales which can be enjoyed in the spacious garden in the summer, or in front of a log fire in the winter. The distinctive carpet, by the way, was specially made by Harrods in the 1980’s at a cost of £17,000.
(With acknowledgements to E R Moore’s “The Parish of Hever”.)
Derrick Sofio tells us a little more about the Rector, John Claus de Passow, in his book “In Earlier Hever”:
“… a strange character … whose incumbency lasted for over 50 years in spite of the events of the first 20 of them. Rector de Passow showed a marked tendency to absent himself, and in 1804, the churchwardens of Hever, their patience exhausted, took the drastic step of complaining to the Archbishop. Archbishop Moore sent an admonition demanding his return, with an instruction that the document be acknowledged by the Rector in the Register of the Deanery of Shoreham at Doctors’ Commons in London, within 35 days.”