The Three Daws, a Grade II listed building on the east side of the Town Pier Square, has a very long and colourful history. Early records indicate a public house was located at this site as early as the 15th century. The Three Daws is now the oldest public house in the town and probably the oldest pub in Kent with its mixture of timber framing, weatherboarding and tiled roof.
The Three Daws and the Old Pilots' House to the rear (now demolished) are reported to have had seven staircases and three underground tunnels enabling sailors to escape the press gang and smugglers to ply their trade.
By some miracle, in spite of its wooden construction, the Three Daws escaped the many fires that destroyed much of Gravesend. Its earlier name was the Cornish Chough (1488 1707), and later the Three Cornish Choughs (1707 1778). In 1582, the innkeeper was a Ralph Wellett.
Adjacent to the pub is the original landing place, or hythe, used by pilgrims crossing the river on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. The Cornish Choughs are associated with Saint Thomas Becket and would have been familiar to those making a pilgrimage to his resting place at Canterbury (three Cornish Choughs appear in the arms of Canterbury City).
Choughs are a bird related to jackdaws and no doubt sometime in the past were misidentified as jackdaws, which was corrupted to the now familiar name ‘daws’.
Links to relevant websites: