WHISKY AND SODA
The Three Daws, Gravesend, Kent
THERE is one feature of this ancient house which is, so far as I
know, unequalled anywhere. This is the fact that it possesses 164
doors. Why the house was not called One Hundred and Sixty-
Four Daws is beyond me. There are missed chances. . . .
The Three Daws is one of the quaintest and oldest in the south
of England. It was built three hundred and eighty-four years
ago, and was originally a row of ﬁve cottages. It was the work
of – unemployed ships’ carpenters, and it was hewn out of wood out
locally. No time was wasted in drafting plans. Windows and beams,
together with its 164 doors, were made to ﬁt as the work pro-
ceeded. The pleasing result was that no window or door was the
same size. All were made to ﬁt the hole they had to ﬁll, and that
was all there was to it.
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But it says much for the ancient craftsmanship, that the building
still stands sturdily to the four winds, and moreover there is an
absence of draughts. We have all seen some of the modem houses
which run to one or two doors, but which give rise to about 164
In short, The Three Daws would have horriﬁed the planner
with his insistence on drab uniformity at all cost.
We have all (have we not?) met the dog owners who have
expressed the heart-felt wish that they could train their pets to
close doors. They are joined in that by Mine Host of The Three
Daws where Whisky and Soda have shown no marked ability in
that direction, though there is plenty of scope for it. And as both
of his dogs are now ﬁve years old, there doesn’t seem all that much
The two dogs are lovable characters. Soda (a smooth-haired
black and white terrier) arrived one morning just like a little ball
of ﬁuﬁ‘ in the arms of a navvy. The navvy asked the landlord
if he would look after the little thing while he did some
What happened during that shopping expedition in the narrow
cobbled High Street of Gravesend we shall never know”although
it must be remembered that there is no shortage of inns in this
Shopping is a broad, all-embracing term. Be that as it
may, from that day onwards _ no sign has been seen of the
Whisky was as delighted as the landlord’s wife at the new
arrival. (Whisky is an airedale.) Here was a companion. There
would be canine fun and games!
The Two Dogs
A happier couple of dogs it would be impossible to ﬁnd.
Despite the fact that their likes and dislikes are entirely opposite,
Whisky and Soda are inseparable, a sentiment which is widely
adopted in other circumstances. Whisky likes cakes and chocolates,
and wouldn’t give you a “thank you” for meat. Soda, on the other
hand, is extremely partial to meat and somebody e1se’s ration of
butter. Give him a piece of bread and butter, and you’re his friend.
for life. And if you think that margarine has the same taste as
butter, you just try to put a “fast one” over on Soda and see what
The Three Daws stands on the bank of the Thames at the foot
of the High Street. For centuries it has served as a second home for
river pilots.Before that time, it was also highly favoured by smugglers,
and the Press Gangs found many an unwilling recruit to ﬁght
Boney in this same house.
It has one of the richest counters of any pub in England. It is
protected by a sheet of pewter-like metal, rubbed thin and bright
by the elbows of countless seamen during the last four centuries.
Prior to the last war, a metallurgist offered to replace the counter
with one of the best mahogany, and pay £100 in addition, in
exchange for the old one.
According to him, the metal contains a
higher proportion of silver than was in the old silver coinage.
With the counter measuring twenty feet long and two feet wide, it
was calculated that the counter would realize about two thousand
sixpences. Taking the silver content of our “silver” coinage today,
the amount of sixpences is a calculation that makes my head reel.
But I do happen to know that because of its value, the landlord
has ceased to rub it too vigorously.
It appears that when the shelves at the back of the bar were
designed, spirits were drunk like beer, for there are taps made for
drawing spirits. But these were the happy days when your rum
came from a barrel (or hogshead) rather than from a bottle.
Don’t even attempt to look over T71: Three Daws without Whisky
or Soda (or both) otherwise you are»in extreme danger of losing
yourself. You go up one staircase through three or four rooms and
then down into the kitchens.
Then up another staircase through some more rooms,
and down an entirely different staircase into
the same kitchens.
There are, in fact, six different staircases, with over thirty rooms,
with, of course, windows at all the odd intervals. Passages, twisting
and turning, ceilings curved in all directions, ,oors at different
levels and great beams showing here and there”-all this is the
charm of The Three Daws.
What tremendous fun kids could have playing hide and seek
in this house! It may have been useful for another more serious
hide and seek when the Press Gangs appeared. The Admiralty
gave a waming on the subject:
“The Three Daws is never to be raided by. Press Gangs, except
with two Press Gangs, as so many seamen escape through its
Quaint old house
Cellars run beneath the whole house. Situated as it is at a strategic
point on the river front and by the old Dover Road, these same
cellars were of great assistance to smugglers. It is said that if the
walls of the cellars were pulled down, bricked-up underground
passages would be disclosed.
So if at any time you want to inspect this quaint old house,
don’t trouble to look for the saloon bar door. Pick the ﬁrst. door
you come to”and you have about a dozen to choose from. And
the delightﬁil result of entering any of the dozen doors is that you
will inevitably arrive at the saloon bar. What, I ask you, could be
fairer than that?
When I was travelling down to The Three Daws I passed (but
unwillingly) some pubs with fascinating names. These include:
The Fox in the Hole, The Crooked Log, We Anchor in Hope, The Bear
and Ragged Stag and The Little Wonder. –
Clearly, you and I must visit them one of these ﬁne days. Most
assuredly shall we anchor in hope.