Stag Cottage

Front view of Stag Cottage Whitstable
Sea Wall, Whitstable, Kent
... And The Stag Cottage Affair
The history of this cottage -

the mystery of...
how it has been severed in Two.

And the serious consequences of this affair on the present and previous elderly occupants of...
Stag Cottage

Read this page to gain an overall understanding of the position and then-
if you are interested...
click on the various
links to the history of the tortuous details that have created
this peculiar tragi-comic circumstance.

The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company's men at work.

In a legal dispute over where the Company's fishery lands lay, the Court found Stag Cottage had been-
e x t e n d e d seaward-
into -- 'the fishery'.
A Single Joint Expert in his report to the Court said- he had
'Found' - a Joint,
at the supposed start point of...
the hypothesised extension.
(this, of course, assumes the pre-existence of an original 'old' gable end)

This picture shows Company workmen preparing for the construction of a wall up through the house- at the supposed line of the supposed extension... Mr Bensted, the occupant, looks on... checking progress. He would not allow access through his portion and so they (Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company) removed 'their' window to gain access to the rear.
-- Now --
on entering the bathroom there is a wall across the end of the bath,
beyond which and inaccessible are the WC and wash basin.

Just imagine if this had happened to your elderly relative!

The property is shown on the 1840 Tithe map and other maps of similar date.
It was formerly the storehouse belonging to-

John Deane and William Edwards
the famous Whitstable Divers.
(Historical Divers Association - Dr John Bevan - His Book 'The Infernal Diver')

In 1858 John Deane
sold to Flint & Co, the Canterbury Brewers, and it became the Stag Public House,
subsequently becoming a private residence shortly after 1900.

Later in the 20th Century...

The local Oyster Fishery Company claimed ownership of a 'rear portion' of Stag Cottage as they argued that -

an unsigned copy of a supposed
'agreement'dating from 1860
was for land beneath the cottage's
rear end.

Company claimed that 'Stag' had been
extended ...onto Company land.
The supposed 'extension' being attached to what existed

evidenced by means of - the alleged

In 1860 ...the Company owned no land above the High Water Mark (HWM) and
the Stag Pub was over 40 feet inland at that time
( dry ).

In 1861 Lord Chief Justice Erle confirmed...
the Fishery lands were only below HWM or even possibly Low Water!
( wet )

In 1997 the company lodged an application for Voluntary Registration at the local Land Registry: the application included the rear of the Stag. The Occupant of Stag Cottage Lodged an Objection. The Application to register was rejected in December 1997 - a new one was lodged in Jan 1998. Land Registry had indicated they would be in touch were a new application lodged. However they omitted to do so for two and a half years whilst they processed that application. Finally registering to the applicant company ...overruling the protestations of the occupant of Stag Cottage who had only recently discovered the new application affecting his house.

The Occupant of Stag Cottage then sought to rectify the register and protracted negotiations ensued. It looked as though Land Registry were about to rectify the position but ...
Unknown to Land Registry, in 2002, the
Company had issued a claim for possession in the County Court: Land Registry then said they were forced to stand aside.

The 78-year Occupant was then taken to court
(He and his wife were left the property by the previous occupant, a 96year old widow, who in the circumstances, faced by the company's title claim- had not known what else to do, asking, as a condition of her bequest, that the claim continued to be resisted).
Sadly -The Claim was successful in the Court.

The Defendant
(now a widower)
lost Court and other costs in excess of £30,000... furthermore-
his house is blighted- its value being greatly diminished by
the blighter.

The whole claim relied on Plans produced by the Land Registry and these
were not a correct representation of the Deeds of the respective properties.
Seemingly, of those involved, none properly understood the history, geography or physical evidence.
(they also had problems with their compass)

The deeds on superficial examination seem to support the Court's finding, however the words
of the deeds in certain phrases say the opposite of what initially seems their meaning.
The language is, if you can believe, more refractory than is the usual in legal writing.

(If Escher had been a lawyer it would have been his style)

The Independent Reviewer criticised Land Registry procedure and the Registry has paid the occupant £2000...
as well as sending an apology from their Chief Executive Officer -
(A Companion of the Order of the Bath).

Following the 2004 Judgment, the
Company entered with Bailiffs and constructed a plasterboard stud wall up through the house.

The George III Fishery Act, 1793, defines the Company's lands as bounded by

Median High Water Mark.

The Company's claims to title of the land have all cited this as root title.
The line through the cottage claimed by the Company runs through the upstairs bath,
presumably this was not the location of ...
'High Tide Marks' -envisaged by GeoIII- or any other C.E.O.
(Fortunately the taps are at our end)

For a good understanding of the awful position look at the images below

In 1978 The Company claimed all seaward of the mistaken line
... their previous 1971 position
They just aligned their claim to the erroneous Land Registration plan

In the 1971 first registration two company agents administered the sale of -
the property-
to the Purchasers - on the basis of 'a plan' appearing to sever a small portion of the kitchen. The Vendor's solicitor was also the Company's too... and the estate agent was
not only a Company Director...but
also their Land Agent.
The Plan they created was sent to Land Registry with the Original Documents. Although Land Registry then Created a different erroneous plan, the Company Solicitor confirmed that it was his plan that was to be taken as representing titles.
my view this was not correct either... as argued in the 'agreement' link above...
In 1867 land behind the Pub was recorded to be 38ft deep measured twixt HWM & pub.
In the interval between then and the 1930's, approx 60 years...
MHWM moved closer inland - measuring the 38ft recorded previously would intersect the house...
In the Hearing the Judge did ask whether there was 38 feet in the Pub ... I suppose one cannot exclude the possibility of 19 happy sailors...

That is one possible scenario - that I believe influenced conveyancing in 1971
others equally banal and equally possible do exist - based on misunderstood documents

This '38ft' - if it was the mechanism, is a miss-understanding of the operation of the supposed 'agreement'- the true meaning of Sea-beach and shore and The Root Title 1946 Deed. ( see voluntary registration)

In truth no portion of Stag is really on land that did not belong to ... Flint & Co.
The Company's fishery lands in 1860 were bounded by SeaBeach ...
which at that time was
further out than shown in the above...
1976 aerial photo

A Stud and Plasterboard 'Sea Wall' Aug 23 2004

The stud and plasterboard wall
was built without any of the necessary permissions.
Stag Cottage is in a conservation area and although not nationally listed is locally, being one of the few mid- Victorian storehouses still standing.

The wall has been condemned by building control, not having passed the necessary regulations...
Nor was any party-wall agreement sought.
However, no enforcement action has been attempted.The separate elements of the wall on different floors are not even in vertical alignment and there is no real possibility of them passing the necessary regulations.

The rear portion has no planning status, is in a designated flood risk area and therefore has no likelihood of separate residential use. Permission was sought by WOF to create a separate dwelling unit but this was withdrawn... officer recommendation was for refusal on the basis it would unacceptably affect the domestic amenity of the existing occupied portion. It is doing so anyway as a result of loss of light, lack of maintenance, pigeon infestation and all that one would expect from neglect.

Images below taken on 10/4/2013 show how company neglect and actions are affecting the building.


It would seem from the evidence, when correctly understood, that the Whitstable Oyster fishery Company's Registration, K781262, is not correctly mapped.
A former director of the Oyster Company characterised the Company's claims as ridiculous.

A current Director said
"...we never thought it would come to this"

We are investigating all possible means to challenge this desperate
and unjust situation.

The content of this site was prepared from some of the available evidence and
original documents.
Any errors of fact or history or argument- or further information that may be of use
please contact.

This site is currently under construction so please revisit soon to see...

whether it has been... extended.

Contact us:-