Joss Snelling and The Callis Court Gang (1803 - 1830).

Joss Snelling was also known as 'The Broadstairs Smuggler'. His Gang was run from his cottage at Callis Court in Broadstairs and Joss Bay, one of his favourite landing sites, just North of the North Foreland lighthouse will perpetuate his name. A tunnel which ran from Callis Court to this beach was rediscovered in 1954 when a bulldozer fell through the roof.

Snelling and his Gang are perhaps most well known for an affray at Kingsgate known as the "Battle of Botany Bay" when they were attacked by a force of Revenue men while in the process of unloading a lugger, "The Lark". Joss Snelling and four of his men escaped by climbing the ciffs, by way of Kemp's stairs, at the back of the Bay and then shot and killed a Revenue officer who tried to impede their their escape across the field to the nearby hamlet of Reading Street. after a house to house search one smuggler was found dead and another dying. In all, ten smugglers were killed during the pursuit, six (another account says eight) were taken alive and later hung at Gallows Field in Sandwich, just down the coast.

To emphasize the length of the career of Joss Snelling, he was actually captured by Revenue men on Kingsgate beach while in the company of another smuggler, Jeff Mutton, and sixty-one kegs of spirits. The two friends pleeded 'not guilty' stating that they had just found the kegs while out for a walk. They were given a fine of £100 and very reluctantly released. There was a similar incident at St. Mildred's Bay in 1830 resulting in a further fine of 𧴜. Snelling actually spent so many years smuggling that he eventually assisted by his son, George, and his Grandson. In 1829, Joss Snelling was presented to the future Queen Vistoria, being introduced as "the famous Broadstairs smuggler". He died peacefully at the age of ninety-six.

There was a rather noteworthy incident on 16 September, 1817 when George Snelling and his son arrived aboard a smuggling vessel at Dumpton Gap. Seeing no signal from the beach the two crept ashore only to find seven horses abandoned at the top of the cliffs. It transpired that seven revenue men that had left their horses and lain in wait at the foot of the cliffs had been buried alive by a land slide.


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