4 June 2016

Samuel Peto and H. G. Wells in Folkestone, Kent

As non-purpose-built pubs go, the Samuel Peto in Rendezvous Street, Folkestone, Kent, must surely rate as one of the most impressive in the country:
Samuel Morton Peto (1809–1889) was a civil engineer, a railway contractor and a Member of Parliament. He was a also a Baptist who lent money towards the building of Salem Chapel in Folkestone, which is now this superb pub named after him.
Wikipedia includes a few interesting sentences on him: 'An extremely unfavourable portrait of Peto is included in the Appendix to George Borrow's Romany Rye, where he is described as "Mr. Flamson". When Peto promoted the Lowestoft Railway and Harbour Company in the 1840s, the railway split Borrow's estate at Oulton Broad, just outside Lowestoft. Borrow deeply resented this and bore a grudge against Peto thereafter."'
One of several plaques on the walls is also noteworthy, although 'most important novels' is obviously a surely subjective statement:
The author H. G. Wells lived at Sandgate on the coast to the west of Folkestone. He moved there to recuperate following a painful illness, and decided to stay. Wells had Spade House built with royalties from novels like First Men in the Moon and The War of the Worlds.
Whilst at Spade House he wrote three of his most important novels – Kipps, which is set in Folkestone, The History of Mr Polly and Tono Bungay. They were written in what is now a tool shed, and Wells would start as early as 4am to escape from his young sons.
He lived at Sandgate between 1890 and 1910 and throughout his stay many of the leading literary figures of the time came to visit. Among them, Sir James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, the authors G. K. Chesterton, Henry James and George Bernard Shaw.
Whilst at Sandgate, Wells enjoyed a brief period of respectability as a Borough Magistrate. He attended "boring lunches" at Sir Edward Sassoon's house, where he met the young Winston Churchill.'

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