The John Brunt V.C.
is a public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...
in Paddock Wood
Paddock Wood is a small town and civil parish in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and county of Kent in England, about southwest of Maidstone. At the time of the 2001 census it had a population of 8,263, and is the centre for hop growing in Kent.-History:...
in Kent. Originally named The Kent Arms
, on 3 September 1947 the pub was formally renamed John Brunt V.C.
in honour of an English soldier, John Brunt, who won the Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....
in the Second World War who spent his teenage years in the town. It is the only pub in England to be named after a Victoria Cross holder.
The early years
The Brunt family settled in Paddock Wood in the 1930s and their son, John, was a frequent visitor to The Kent Arms as a teenager. He was killed fighting in the Second World War, on 10 December 1944, in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
. On 3 September 1947 a naming ceremony took place, and a new sign (designed by Kathleen M Claxton, and built at Whitbread's Wateringbury
Wateringbury is a village near the town of Maidstone in Kent, England. The Wateringbury Stream flows into the River Medway just above Bow Bridge. It formerly powered three watermills in the village, one of which survives. Wateringbury railway station is on the Medway Valley Line.- Demography :As...
brewery), bearing a portrait of John with his name underneath, was unveiled by his father, Thomas Brunt. A miniature replica of the sign painted in oils was presented to Brunt by Sir Sydney Nevile, Managing Director of Whitbread and Co Ltd
Whitbread PLC is a global hotel, coffee shop and restaurant company headquartered in Dunstable, United Kingdom. Its largest division is Premier Inn, which is the largest hotel brand in the UK with around 580 hotels and over 40,000 rooms. Its Costa Coffee chain has around 1,600 stores across 25...
In May 1949 Whitbread began issuing 2" x 3" plaques
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...
featuring pub signs of Kent and the south-eastern portion of Sussex. Known as Whitbread's Inn Sign Miniatures, five series of 50 each were produced between 1949 and 1955, the first three series in metal, the third series reissued in card, and the last two series issued only in card. Number 43 of the first series was The John Brunt, V.C.
The "Hooden Horse" controversy
By the late 1990s, the pub had gained a reputation for drugs, trouble and after-hours drinking and the Whitbread brewery sold it to the Inn Business pub chain. On Sunday 1 June 1997, after a final night disco, the pub closed. The new owners announced that it was going to be renamed The Hopping Hooden Horse
because of the hop cultivation in the area, and that it would have the initials JBVC
after the name to retain the history of the town. Within a week work had begun on renovating the pub, and no more than two days after an article in the local newspaper revealed the plans a campaign to retrieve the pub sign, and a petition to retain the original name had been started.
The new owners of Hooden Horse Inns ltd, Inn Business PLC, after receiving some letters of complaint announced that: "most of our pubs contain the corporate Hooden Horse name and there was simply no way we could have made the place work under the name John Brunt V.C."
and the newly-renamed pub opened 6 days before the 50 year anniversary of the original naming ceremony on 28 August 1997. Bob Akehurst, a Paddock Wood resident, threatened to stand against the existing Paddock Wood councillors in the local elections if they didn't take appropriate action to ensure that John Brunt's name was remembered.
Some former customers refused to enter the pub now that the name had changed and Mr. Akehurst, who remembered John Brunt, said that to "call the place The Hopping Hooden Horse is, frankly, ridiculous."
John Brunt in the 21st century
In June 2001 Rita and Terry Dixon took over the pub from Hooden Horse Inns and immediately decided to revert to the old name, which was greeted with enthusiasm by Paddock Wood residents. Several customers who had refused to drink there under the Hooden Horse
name now returned (although even during that time, the pub was still known by local residents simply as The Brunt
). Unfortunately the original signs had been lost when the pub changed its name, although the "John Brunt V.C." brass wording that used to hang on the outside wall was found at the nearby hop farm
The Hop Farm Family Park is a Country Park in Beltring, near East Peckham in Kent, England, is over 450 years old, and has the largest collection of oast houses in the world.-History:...
. On 9 November 2008, a new sign designed by an art student at Mascalls School was unveiled by Eric Knight, who knew John Brunt when at school.