Victorian Eagle Inn of London Road and Last Public Execution in Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on December 20, 2010

This view of the Eagle Inn at 324 London Road (A256) in Dover, England, was taken just after 8 am on Monday, 13th December, 2010, when the reflection of the early morning sun gave the white-painted upper storeys this lovely golden colour.

The Victorian Eagle Inn (ex-Black Horse, Denmark Arms; aka Eagle Tavern, Eagle Hotel, the Eagle) is located at the junction of Tower Hamlets Road (on the left) and London Road (on the right). The other two components of this crossroads are the High Street (behind the viewer to the left) and Bridge Street (out-of-shot to the right).

An entry in Barry Smith's 1991 edition of, "By The Way: The Dover Pubs" reads:

Eagle Hotel: 324 London Road and 2 Tower Hamlets Road

On a commanding corner position, the original was built on the former site of the "Black Horse", shortly after 1839. It possessed a tea garden but that attraction was discontinued when it was rebuilt in 1863. Brockman served in 1843 and might well have been the first to do so.

The new house had teething troubles from the start and by 1868 the licence was suspended. It next operated as the "Denmark Arms" but the new name did little to change its fortunes. The licensees changed every year up to 1877 and by 1893 the sign was once more the "Eagle".

It was an outlet for many years of John Smith`s Tadcaster Brewery but changed in 1946 to Courage (Elders).

To the left of the window immediately below the Eagle Inn pub sign is an oval plaque which reads:

"Near this spot stood Dover's Gallows where criminals were executed until 1823" (1)

In August, 1872, the Dover Express newspaper reported (2):

It will be fifty years ago on the 23rd of the present month since the last execution took place in the Borough of Dover. The culprit was an unfortunate youth of respectable connections John Spence and he had been convicted of shooting with intent to murder a young man (Lieutenant Philip Graham, a Coastal Blockade Officer) who had been paying attentions to his sister against his (Spence’s) wishes.

The execution took place on the corner of Black Horse Lane, Charlton near the spot now occupied by the Denmark Arms and was witnessed by a crowd of spectators, the fate of the poor lad exciting much commiseration at the time. It was the custom at the time to convey to the place of execution the coffin in which the remains of the culprit were to be interred with his name and age painted on the plate and this barbarous and unnecessary piece of torture was duly observed in the case referred to.

The Eagle Inn Contact Details and Licence Registers Details (may take a few seconds to load, then click on "History" or "Operating Schedule")

(1) A Dover Society "Blue Plaque": The actual site of the gallows was diagonally opposite the Eagle Inn but apparently there was a problem in putting the plaque on the building(s) currently there. (2) From The Last Execution in Dover - Alexander John Spence

Click to see all Dover Pubs photos.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on December 20, 2010

Another Dover instance of capital punishment by hanging appears in a genealogical chart under an entry for "William Turmaine", a shoemaker who lived from 1781-1813 (1):

He was then indicted feloniously and burglariously for breaking and entering and for the theft of four blankets from William Abbott and William Kosley in December 1812 in Margate. He was committed for trial 31 December 1812. His trail took place on 17 February 1813 in Dover and he was convicted to be hanged by public execution at the Town Boundary, opposite the Eagle Inn.

(1) Genealogy: Turmaine Chart 0700: Jean Turmaine and Elizabeth Marsh

John Latter on December 20, 2010

From "The History of the Castle, Town and Port of Dover" by Reverend S. P. H. Statham, Rector of St Mary-in-the-Castle (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899):

When the occasion demanded it the mayor passed sentence of death, and, so far as we can learn, the last time he did so was in 1823, when a smuggler named Spence was executed for firing at a coastguardsman, although he did not injure him. The execution took place in Black Horse Lane. (Page 153)

John Latter on January 13, 2011

The Eagle Inn also appears in the background of An Autumn Rainbow at the end of Dover High Street.

John Latter on April 10, 2011

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 20, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/12/13 08:12:42
    • Exposure: 0.006s (1/160)
    • Focal Length: 21.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/7.100
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash