The Bear and Key has been a familiar and welcoming site in Whitstable for many years. A succession of past landlords including the Brannan's and the Appleton's carried on the tradition of first class service to the more affluent of visitors to the town and played mine host to the locals in the bar since the days of the London stage coaches. As you can see from the exterior shots, along with the Duke of Cumberland, nothing has changed much in the last 100 years.
Sadly, even in Whitstable, nothing stays the same for ever. No-one is able to run the Hotel economically and so plans are being made to redevelop the site. The upper floors are to be made into flats and the rear buildings into mews houses.
Before the inevitable becomes a reality Oystertown has been able to record some images of the Bear and Key as it is today. The following pictures are just a few of the collection made and include some internal shots that may never exist in the future. Some of the pictures are shown here in monochrome and at low resolution for copyright reasons.
The front of the building will not be altered.
The rooms and view from a top dormer window.
The original bar including gas light fittings.
The bar again and the stairs leading up to the rooms.
Towards the rear including the original stable.
Looking back to the rear of the main building.
The ground floor area which includes the bar and reception we are told may once more become a public house. Somehow we doubt the validity of this as the resultant noise would tend to devalue the possible income from the sale of the flats above.
We will be keeping an eye on any further developments and will post news on the site. In the meantime our efforts are being concentrated in saving as much of the chattels of the building for posterity and the people of the town.
On the 9th November 2004 the planning committee of Canterbury City Council granted permission for the conversion of the top floors into flats and conversion of the rear buildings into houses. No change of use or planning permission was requested or granted for the lower bar area. We shall continue to monitor events.