Original Inn signs from The Upper Bell and The Lower Bell
Blue Bell Hill is a chalk hill which is part of the North Downs between Maidstone and Rochester in Kent and which overlooks the River Medway.
In 1820 development of Blue Bell Hill Village was started. The Turnpike Road had been in existence since 1790 and the Turnpike Trust was about to take over responsibility for the road to Chatham. Stage coaches ran from Maidstone to Chatham, Brompton and Rochester. Blue Bell Hill Village was built up around the road.
In 1820 ‘The Old Blew Bell’, at the top of Warren Road, was replaced by ‘The Upper Bell’ Inn, which remained in this position until its demolition in 2013. At the bottom of the hill was an inn called ‘The Lower Bell’ (which remains there to this day). The steep road between the two Inns was too narrow for horse and coach teams to pass each other, so a bell was rung at either pub when a coach was about to depart, to warn those taking refreshment at the other end.
Then, the chalk pits did not exist and in an age dominated by agriculture, there was little farmland and a lot of the land around was tithed common land where people grazed their sheep and cattle (unemployment was high). The whole area was common land and was almost entirely covered over with scrub oaks and brambles.