The Bottle House Inn
The Bottle House Inn at Smarts Hill was built during the reign of Henry VII in the year 1492. When first built it was a farm dwelling forming part of the estate of one Robert Grubbe esq. of Edenbridge, who possessed of it until his death in the 10th year of Henry VIII, 1519, where after it passed by right of descendancy to his nephew Thomas Wylcombe of Frant. He in 1526 installed his bailiff into the property, one Henry Trevale and from that day forth there remained here a bailiff in tenure until the property and the estate passed by sale in 1602, to one Jonathan Corbey, yeoman of Sevenoaks.
Corbey in 1608, leased the property to one Josias Qyll, farmer of Penshurst who remained in occupation here until his death in 1621.
In 1625, Corbey carried out extensive alterations to the property to form it as two dwellings. By 1626, both of them were occupied by tenant farmers, Thomas Martyne and Nysall Kempe and their families. Jonathan Corbey died in 1648 and the bulk of his estate including this and other properties in the area as well as others at Westerham passed to his son William, who in 1652 passed this property with 10 acres of arable land adjoining and two cottages nearby to one Augustus Stebbins of Tonbridge. He possessed of the property until his death in 1683, where after by the terms of his will it passed to his two eldest children Lucrece and Anthony.
In 1724, the sole surviving Lucrece, sold 6 acres of adjoining land to one Robert Sole, farmer of the parish. In occupation at this date was Thomas Leman, farmer and his family, and Richard Fagge, farmer and his family. In 1730, 3 further acres of land were sold off Lucrece Stabbins died in 1734 and the executors of her estate in 1745 sold to one Thomas Berewick, cattleman and auctioneer of Tonbridge. He possessed of it until 1769 after which he passed it by sale to one Edward Coltrap. In occupation in 1771 was one Peter Hope, harness maker and John Stacey, baker. Edward Coltrap owned the property until 1803, in which year he passed the freehold to his son William. In 1806 William Coltrap leased one cottage to one Thomas Scraggs, common beer seller of Speldhurst. Two years later with the consent of Coltrap and two justices, Scraggs was granted a license to sell ales and ciders from the premises. At this date and for many years to follow the house was afforded no title, but each time registered as an alehouse under ownership.
In 1842 William Coltrap sold the house to one George Carver, brewer of Tonbridge. Thomas Scraggs died in 1856 but in 1894 his grandson Richard Pope Scraggs took over the tenancy from one George Totman.
At one time parts of the Bottle House were a shop a farriers and a shoe menders, and to the rear of the pub was originally a skittle alley which in Nov 1865 was given to the church. A small chapel was built and to this day there are two graves in the grounds!! Needless to say we have a ghost, a lady supposedly called Elisabeth, she often makes her presence felt rather than seen!
Penshurst was in the heart of hop growing country, sadly now very few hop farms still exist locally, but marks in the stonework around the fireplace are said to be made by the pickers sharpening their knives, originally an ale house, where cider was made on the premises, with an old bakery right next door closed about ten years ago it is said to be one of the first pubs to make ploughmans, the Canadian soldiers based in nearby Crowborough provided the Canadian Cheese!
In 1938, extensive refurbishment and alterations were carried out, during which the two cottages were made again to form one house. Upon completion of these works the house was granted a full license and registered under the title of 'The Bottle House'. The name is said to have derived from the unusual and numerous assortment of bottles that were found during refurbishing. The first tenant of 'The Bottle House' was one Arthur Burney. 'The Bottle House' Inn has seen and undergone many changes since first it was built. There is said to be the ghost of a lady in grey that stalks the house, but ghosts and changes have done little to change the inns historic atmosphere. So stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.