On 6th June 1849, William Horn Harvey, of Hammill Court, parish of Woodnesborough, farmer, put up for auction twenty lots, at the Bell Inn in Sandwich. Lot 15 was described in the Kentish Gazette of 16th May 1849 as having “excellent stable, garden, arable land … and the Crown Inn … containing 6 acres, 3 rood and 4 perches in the occupation of John Ladd at an annual rent of £47 and 10/-“. Lot 15 is shown in the picture attached, with plot 183 being Church Field and the buildings of the Crown Inn and its grounds being in plots 198 and 199. Also on this plan is shown Long Acre (in the triangular piece of land), Langdown House and what are now numbers 5 and 7 Sandwich Road. John Ladd (born in Ash) was landlord of the Crown Inn and was the highest bidder for the lot, paying £800 (but borrowing the money).
The Crown Inn was an important part of the village. Not only did it provide food, drink, lodging and stabling but it was also where sporting events, club meetings and auctions of land, buildings and livestock regularly took place. For example, there was an auction (annual stock sale) in October 1863 at which 500 sheep were auctioned and one in May 1866 at which 1,900 sheep as well as pigs, horses and other livestock were auctioned, the animals occupying the meadow adjoining the Inn.
John Ladd was a well-liked and respected landlord and the quality of his fare and hospitality well regarded. John Ladd also suffered from theft and drunken behaviour, as perhaps would be expected at an inn. In 1857 Michael Clifford (a groom, 24) stole a coat belonging to John Ladd. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment (17th March 1857).
On the 30th May 1854, John Ladd, innkeeper of the parish of Eythorne wrote his will. Unto his “dear friend” Harriet Smithson, also of Eythorne, Housekeeper, he left all his land and properties and “all his Household Furniture, Plate and Linen, China, Glass and Stock in Trade, Goods and Chattels, Monies and Securities for Monies and all other his Estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever”
John Ladd died on the 4th July 1869. He is buried in the graveyard of St Peter and St Paul Church, Church Hill, Eythorne. His gravestone gives his age at 80 at death and that he was landlord of the Crown Inn from 1847 – 1866. The inscription on his gravestone reads “Much Respected By His Friends”.