February Newsletter


The 4th February marked the club’s 50th anniversary.  Members of the first committee were: John Moffat, chairman; John Musgrove, secretary; Wyn Priestley, treasurer; Mrs E Eaves, social secretary. Meetings were held at the George & Dragon, Shipbourne Road.

What a shame we couldn’t have been together to celebrate it, as the February meeting would have fallen on the actual date of the 4th.


The NAWB committee have reluctantly decided that the 2021 show cannot take place this year.

Coventry has been booked for 18-20 March 2022.


There are records of the Dorset Hotel (also known as the Dorset Arms), 34-36 High Street, going back to 1839. Mr Powell was landlord in 1847 when it is recorded that the Dorset Arms Inn consisted “of a bar, parlour, tap, cellar, kitchen, 4 chambers, and a large clubroom, used by the Society of Odd Fellows, with a stable and large yard, and possessing a frontage of about 24 ft to the High Street, and within a convenient distance of the railway station”. In 1860 Thomas Tomey, a whitesmith residing in the town, was charged at the Petty Sessions for the theft of a brass candlestick belonging to Caroline Jane Wells of the Dorset Arms. (More about Mr Tomey’s exploits to be found in next month’s newsletter.)

The above photo of the building circa 1911 (courtesy of http://www.tonbridgehistory.org.uk/) shows Charles Buxenstein, proprietor, standing on the right. He was a former waiter from Camden, London, who came to Tonbridge to take over the High Street hotel. He held the license for about 6 years. Records indicate that the Dorset Arms continued to trade until 1961. In 1963 the plot is logged as vacant and in 1967 it became J Manson, Butcher. Today we know it as Café Nero. The original architecture remains unchanged on the upper façade of the building, but the ground floor now has a modern frontage. An interesting point to note on this building is that of the Victorian dragon finial. When you next pass Café Nero take a look at the righthand apex of the roof. These ornate finials were typical of the Victorian era. As well as being a decorative device to emphasise the apex of a roof, they were believed by the superstitious to ward off witches and other evil creatures. I suppose it is reassuring to know that we can enjoy our cappuccinos or lattes in safety without being troubled by witches.

(Acknowledgements: Tonbridge Daily, Tonbridge Historical Society, Dover Kent Archives)

Recollections of the Station Tavern

Tom remembers Stan Noakes, the son of long-serving landlady, Annie, running the pub with his wife in the late 1960’s. Stan also had a daytime job as a binman. Annie was by then quite elderly, but was often present sitting behind the bar keeping her eye on things.


This recipe makes a sweet wine.

Almond Wine, TV Times - Make your own Wine

2 oz almonds           1 gallon water      Yeast

2 lb sugar                2 lemons

1 lb raisins               Nutrient

Mince the almonds and raisins, add the thinly pared lemon rind (in a muslin bag) and simmer gently in the water for 1 hour. Strain the liquor on to the sugar, stir well to dissolve and add strained lemon juice. Allow to cool to 21oC and add yeast and nutrient. Put in a demijohn and fit an air-lock. After the first vigorous ferment has subsided, top up with water. When the wine clears, rack.


A classic cocktail using only three ingredients.

White Lady

4 parts Cointreau

1 part lemon juice

1 part gin

Shake the three ingredients together and serve.


Blood oranges are plentiful at this time of year. Their rich crimson hue is accentuated in this truly scrumptious cake.

Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake, The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi, featured in the Telegraph Magazine

75g light brown sugar

2 blood oranges

150g caster sugar

90ml plain yoghurt

2 eggs

45ml extra-virgin olive oil

165g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4. Grease a round loose bottom 23 cm cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of water to make a thick paste and spread it evenly and thinly onto the base of the cake tin and set aside.

Zest one orange and add this to a large bowl with the caster sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar. Set aside.

Slice both oranges thinly with the skin on and arrange the slices on top of the brown sugar base in the cake tin. You can cut some of the slices in half to create a different pattern and to fill in any large gaps.

Add the yoghurt to the bowl with the sugar and whisk briefly to combine. Whisk in the eggs and olive oil. Stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Gently pour the batter on top of the orange slices being careful not to disturb the oranges underneath. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the sponge is firm to the touch and golden brown.

Leave the cake in its tin to cool completely before turning it upside down onto a serving plate.


Kent Cherry Brandy

www.kentorchards.org.uk The manufacture of cherry brandy was a speciality of Kent long ago. Thomas Grant senior of Sutton Valence, near Maidstone started Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy after receiving a small quantity of Morello cherries from a local fruit grower.  These richly coloured cherries were very distinctive in flavour. He began to experiment with the cherries and produced the well-known delicious liqueur which was popular for many years. Its distinctive nutty flavour was obtained by the kernels being added to the mixture.  He also used wild hedgerow cherries, many grown in the area of Lenham Heath and Charing Heath.  Grant purchased cherry orchards with 20,000 trees that in 1892 were said to be “now in their prime and serve to furnish a very considerable proportion of the fruit used in the production of this famous cordial”.In 1847 Thomas Grant became the sole proprietor of the Grant’s business which was first sited in Limekiln Street, Dover, in 1774. Following a chalk fall from the cliffs onto the factory they relocated to Lenham and opened another site at Maidstone in 1853. The family lived at Shirley House next to the factory in Maidstone, which was close to the railway. In fact, the railway was built at the same time as the Lenham factory and serviced both sites.

The product was well advertised with the catchy slogan: “Welcome always – keep it handy, Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy”.

Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy was also recognised as a tonic and considered invaluable for its medical properties. It was even used at St Thomas’ Hospital, and other eminent institutions. This, no doubt, was a medicine that few would refuse!

(Article kindly supplied by Les Bates)

Genuine Belgium Trappist Beers under threat

Daily Telegraph: Over recent years there has been a significant decline in the number of new Cistercian monks. This has already led to one Belgium brewery, Achel, losing its authentic Trappist Product label after the last two monks at St Benedict’s Abbey in the province of Limburg retired. Although other breweries can produce this mix of blonde and dark beers, which can be as strong as 8%, the term “Trappist” can only be used if brewed in the immediate vicinity of an abbey under the supervision of monks or nuns. There are currently six Trappist breweries in Belgium and 14 worldwide.


Definitition of a Whitesmith, Wikipedia

A metalworker who does finishing work on iron and steel such as filing, lathing, burnishing or polishing. The term also refers to a person who works with "white" or light-coloured metals, and is sometimes used as a synonym for tinsmith.

Mr Tomey’s occupation – see “Where are they now?”.

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05.10 | 15:57

Just to let you know we are up and running again. Our next meeting is on Thursday 7 Oct, a commercial wine tasting. Pls let me know if you would like to come.

05.10 | 15:53

Thank you for visiting our website. We will ask our members at our meeting on Thursday and let you know if anyone is interested.

05.10 | 15:00

Good afternoon. We have a lot of black grapes ready for harvesting. Just wondered whether anyone would like them?
We’re based in Sevenoaks

09.09 | 18:31

Looks yummy! You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed oni

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