The Worlds Wonder is an imposing pub situated just off of the Romney marsh between Hamstreet and Tenterden and who’s modern looking facade hides a history that reaches back over a century.
Below is an article written in the Kent Messenger in December 1951, outlining the history to that date, of what is an enigma among local public houses.
The property is now in the village of Warehorne, however, it was, at one time, the part of the parish of Kenardington, as per an ordinance survey map of the late 1800s, and is nearer to Kenardington than Warehorne; which is not surprising given how the pub came about...
The article outlines the how and why the pub is so called, and from the text it is determined that the original purchase of the 2 cottages and their transformation was made in approximately 1861, and had only 4 landlord up to and exceeding the time of the article.
The new ‘Dutch Barn’ style building was erected on the site in approximately 1932, after it was acquired by Style and Winch, a Maidstone Brewery, who were eventually taken over by Barclay Courage (later Courage). It is not know currently exactly when the building was sold back to become a Free house, but it was when under the stewardship of Tom and Louise Beanie, post 1973, when it is alleged that Tom Beanie made the pub unprofitable form the breweries point of view, and made an offer to buy the pub; it remains non-tied to this day.
Various changes have been made from the picture containing Jack (J.P.). Thomas; the Toilet block has been incorporated into the building, where it can be seen as detached, and the Landlords Mr Pete & Jan Watts had the restaurant extension added to the east elevation of the main building.
The main entrance has moved to the other side of the bay window and a throughway added inside the building to interconnect the 2 bars.
Part of the Garage that Jimmy Homewood sold beer from is still standing and is to become a servery to the garden for special functions, and has come full circle in this respect.
A large part of the land adjoining the property was sold off to private development in the form of housing which means that the pub is no longer the last property in Warehone before Kenardington.
development and as such is no longer a lone outpost on the Warehorne /Kenardington border.
Recently, (2006 March) the daughter of Jack Knight visited the pub and told of her memory of Jimmy Homeward, and retailed of the method of knocking down the old cottage beer house, owned at that time by Style and Winch.
She recalled of a chain being placed around the two cottages and attached to a tractor, and the demolition of the cottages that ensued.
Article from the Kent Messenger (December 28th 1951)
How “the World’s Wonder” came to the village of Warehorne
Back in the days when women of 80, or even younger, were stylish in black bonnets, capes and high crocheted neckwear and some young bloods of the countryside still boasted their swashbuckling boots and long revered jackets and toppers, the parochial dignitaries, and indeed the villagers of Warehorne, and Kenardington and many parishes around, were aroused to a pitch of wonderment.
It started when the Parish Council wondered what they could do about a pair of cottages which they had rented out to tenants.
They wondered if they could sell them when they became empty and eventually this was found permissible. It was noted abroad and folk wondered who would buy them.
One Thomas Night, a humble man, had his bid accepted this set the wonderbug to work again.
“Where had Tom got the money from? Why had he bought them? What was he going to do with them?”
The first question has never been answered, for Tom was a secretive kind of a fellow.
He puzzled the people again when alterations began on the cottages, two rooms knocked into one, passages and doorways appeared and so on.
At his leisure Tom let it be known that he intended to apply for a justices’ licence and run a beer house.
That sounded good for some, for at the time the “village pub.” as it were, for Kenardington was, was the far off railway hotel at Appledore Station, though there was the “local” at Warehorne, but that was more than half-a-league away for many residence.
But would the justices grant a licence? Villagers wagged their heads, chatted and wondered again, that if they did would the place pay Tom for his trouble?
Biggest Wonder of all
Tom, who it is said was sufficiently far-seeing to ensure the success of his venture from the start – and keep it to himself – did get the licence, then came the biggest wonder of all - what was tom going to call the place?
Taxed on the point among an assembly of parishioners at some occasion - maybe a church meeting or service, for Tom was sexton at Kenardington church – he had a ready reply.
“Why dammit.“ he said “you’ve all been a-wondering what I been up to all along; you’ve wondered here and so they have for miles around- everybody’s wondered, so what better name than “The Worlds Wonder.”
Host James Bourne
Tom had thought of that as well.
And for 90 years now this quite famous inn, now entirely rebuilt, has had it’s justices’ licence and Thomas Knights legacy to his birthplace has been a worthy place of sociability.
For 20 years, Tom himself was host. Other notable characters followed him and served a generation.
First came James Bourne who presided there for 26 years.
He had a little nephew, Jimmy Homewood, left fatherless at the age of
four, and he took him into the inn. When his uncle passed away, Jimmy became the landlord and beat the tenancy record staying there for 39 years – 20 in those old converted cottages and 19 in the modern building.
James Bourne with his wife Martha and a young Jimmy Homewood.
Jimmy Homewood died in July 1949 some 12 months after retiring from the inn. He was a delightful character, proud of the tradition of the house.
His widow who lives hale and hearty, in a modern house a few yards up the road, was an equally charming hostess.
“We had some grand time in the old place,” she says, “and such hosts of visitors, including many Americans, to see it and ask about the origins of the name. In a way we were sorry to see it go when the brewery rebuilt is some 19 years ago.”
Happily, no change of the name was ever contemplated and locals often intrigue strangers with an offer to show them “The World’s Wonder.”
While the place was being rebuilt, Jimmy carried on the business from an adjoining garage, serving beers and wines and food in a long, cheery and warm room for over six months.
There are still many veterans who can tell stories of the days of the old cottage inn and retail the wonderment of the its conception, picturing the activities of a past age thus giving truth to tradition.
Ex-Police officer now host
It is only fitting that another well known character should follow Jimmy Homewood, and when ex-police officer P.J. Thomas of the Ashford division, took over in 1948, the future of “The Worlds Wonder” was assured.
Mr. P.J Thomas and 2 of his regular customers.
Among those who thought so were the licensing magistrates, who smilingly put the formal question to the police superintendent officiating in court: “Any objections?” and authorised the clerk to say “That will be granted Mr. Thomas.”
Many years before Mr. Thomas had visited the old inn in the course of his duties accompanied by another office on an inspection tour and he recalls how a very tall colleague bumped his head on the low doorways.
Today the house is fully licensed and is the home of darts and social clubs and a successful thrift club.
As the accompanying picture indicates the house has always been associated with the Kent brewers Style and Winch.