Cooling History

Cooling is the smallest populated parish in the Strood rural district. Besides being nestled between two RSPB Nature Reserves and surrounded by nautical History like Chatham Dockyard, Charles Dickens often came to Cooling and the village plays a large part in the book “Great Expectations”. 

In the churchyard where Pip meets the escaped convict ‘Magwitch’ from the prison ship (Hulk) laying in the Thames just off the Cooling marshes, you will find the little lozenge shaped tombstones that are destined as being Pip’s brothers and sisters. They are in fact, from two families’ the Comport and the Rose-Baker.

Cooling Castle

Cooling Castle was built between 1380 and 1385 by John Cobham on the edge of the marshes at Cooling to guard the Thames. The castle was besieged in 1554 by Thomas Wyatt the younger and was damaged by cannon fire. The siege only lasted about eight hours.

The outer ward was rectangular in shape which was completely walled with horseshoe shaped towers on three corners. Some of the stunning castle grounds are now used as a popular wedding venue.

23 April 1914

The original pub was a timber construction and on the 23rd April 1914 a fire broke out. With the pub being a wooden construction the fire took hold quickly and the pub was decimated. The village policeman of the time had arrived before the fire brigade and bravely entered the burning pub but it was too late to save anything except a bottle of whisky. 


In 1987 the pub was faced with closure, developers had decided to build houses in the car park and turn the pub into a private dwelling. A campaign by the villagers was successful and the plans for the development were altered to build three houses in the site of the pub’s car park and turn the pub’s garden into a car park.

Book your stay…

Opening Times

Monday-Thursday | 11:30-23:30

Friday-Saturday | 11:30-23:30

Sunday | 12:00-22:30

The Horseshoe & Castle, Main Road, Cooling, Kent, ME3 8DJ

01634 221691