George William Staples

Blackfen’s oldest pub is re-opening on Thursday after a refurbishment. But who was George Staples (the pub name since 2008)? George William Staples was born in Knockholt, Kent in 1791. In 1814 he married Jane Maria Godsave and they had three children. George worked as an inn keeper and a wood dealer. He rented woodland in Bexley and was the landlord of the Blue Anchor pub in Bridgen 1838-1841.

In 1838 George Staples bought a cottage on the north side of Blackfen Road which he rented out. In 1845 he built the Woodman Inn (naming it after his occupation) and he lived there with his wife, a domestic servant and two lodgers. He also built more cottages alongside the pub which were rented out, providing an income for his family.

George Staples died on 24 January 1859. His widow Jane and their son William continued to run the Woodman for some years afterwards. Their son Michael ran the Tower Inn (later the Railway Tavern) in Bexley village.

In 1931 the Woodman Inn was rebuilt to serve the large number of new residents who had just moved to the area.


The Woodman, 1845-1931

The original Woodman Public House was built by George Staples, a publican and wood merchant, in 1845. At that time there were only nine families living in the hamlet of Blackfen, so he must have been catering for the passing trade on the road from Eltham to Bexley. After his death in 1859 his wife and son took over the running of the pub. There was a tradition that Charles Peace, a notorious burglar around southern London, frequented The Woodman and treated all the customers to a drink. (He was put on trial and executed in 1879).

From 1914 the landlord was John Alfred Harvey, a retired slaughterman who was known for keeping a pet goose. By 1930 it was clear that the old pub no longer met the requirements of the district – farmland was being sold off and hundreds of houses were being built. The new Woodman Inn was built in 1931, erected behind the old one so that business could continue – this explains why the present pub is at an angle facing the crossroads.