BANK, Lloyds – In the 1930s, one room in the cottage next to the Post Office, was let to Lloyds Bank, firstly by Mrs Hitchcock and then by Mr Woodman. This was for 1 hour each week on Thursday mornings, so that local businesses could bank their takings.
BIER – was given to the church by Mr & Mrs Stewart of The Hurst, Coldharbour Lane in 1908. It was used in the village until 1949, to transport coffins a short distance to the church, and also from a hearse at the lychgate along the path into the church. The frame stood about three feet high and its six-foot length was fitted with a platform of rollers for easy manipulation of the coffin. It had projecting handles like a barrow and wooden wheels with attractive spokes. The surface was varnished and along the side was painted the words “LORD OF LIFE AND LOVE WE PRAY GRANT US MERCY IN THAT DAY”.
BOSANQUET SILVER CHALLENGE TROPHY – presented by Commander Raymond Bosanquet, son of one of the founders of the Gardeners’ Society (R.A. Bosanquet), in July 1946 when the society staged its jubilee summer show, the first since the end of the Second World War. It is awarded annually to the member winning the highest cash prizes at the summer show.
George CHILDREN CHARITY – There is a bread shelf in the entrance to the church with a plaque referring to “12 fourpenny loaves every week, the gift of George Children, Esq. in 1718”. It is believed that when George Children bought Datchurst, he took over the Skeffington Charity 1684, which reads “£210 to purchase an annuity to provide 12 x 4d. loaves of bread weekly forever for 12 people of Tonbridge and Hildenborough constant frequenters of the Church”. Mr R.G. Vinten recalls, “I can plainly remember dear old Mr Frank Old, the verger*; he was always at the church door each Sunday when, as a boy, I used to collect a loaf of bread from him. I couldn’t reach the shelf that they were on. There used to be 12 loaves issued by the parish to the poor. I used to get one for my grandmother, and after this my mother when grandmother no longer needed it.” * Frank Old was Parish clerk and verger from 1906 till his death in 1936. This charity is no longer in existence.
COLEGATES – a variety of hops named after Mr Colegate who grew them at Limes Farm. Mrs Colegate lived to a great age. She became blind, but at the age of 100, she regained her sight and was able to do sewing and knitting for her family.
COMMUNAL LAUNDRY – A Laundry, used at one time by the occupants of Mount Pleasant, can in 2006 still be seen in the rear garden of Number 24.
CRICKET BALLS – In 182- ball making in the village was started in part of a house called Treberfydd, at Watts Cross, by Robert Dark, who produced first-class handmade cricket balls and supplied Lords cricket ground. An item in the local paper of 1871 records that about 40 workmen employed at Mr Dark’s Cricket Ball Factory, met in the Flying Dutchman. “Good old English food” was served by Mr Spratley the host, and Mr Francis (foreman) took the Chair as Mr Dark was unwell. Among the employees were Jack Nightingale, Sam Card, Tickle Thorne, Weasel Owen, Billie Neal, Spindle Wells, George Cooke, Mr Ives and Mr Hadley. Thomas Francis took over the business from Robert Dark. In the 1960s, some discarded balls and materials were found when floorboards were removed. About 1875, Mr Horace Hitchcock decided to leave Mr Dark and set up in business on his own, first in a shed at the bottom of his garden and then in Mount Pleasant, opposite the Green. At one time, there were five brothers and two sons of Horace working with others at the ball shop. In 1887, he sent his first shipment of cricket balls to Adelaide, South Australia. (As a result a niece born that year was named Adelaide.) When he died in 1915, his son Ned took over the business which was eventually sold to Gray-Nicholls Ltd. Ned died in 1937: he had been a ballmaker for 51 years. An employee, Albert Seal, a brilliant cricket ball stitcher, demonstrated his skills at the Festival of Britain Exhibition in 1952. The factory was closed in 1962 and Mount Pleasant Court was built on the site.
ELLIOT & SPEAR – a firm manufacturing lamp shades which moved to Hildenborough during the Second World War. In 1944, they applied for permission to use Hollanden Park for light industry but their request was turned down. At the time they were at Orchard Mains and in 1945, when Insurance Engineers returned to London, they moved to Oakhill House. The firm closed in 1981.
EVENING CLASSES – In the spring of 1898, the Kent County Council was approached by the Parish Council with a request for technical education. The following classes started in October: 6 weekly lectures on practical gardening in the Institute and 10 fortnightly classes in wood-carving in the school. For many years since then evening classes have been held in the village.
GAS LIGHTING – Gas supplies reached Hildenborough in 1901. However, gas had been used for lighting the church during the previous decade, supplied from the private gas works at Foxbush. Miss Chaplin in her story of Hildenborough wrote “The first little flaring gaslights in the church were considered very pretty by the children”.
GOODHUGH CHARITY – In his will dated 17th December, 1662 Robert Goodhugh left 40/- (forty shillings) “of lawful English money” to be distributed by Tonbridge Churchwardens “at the feast of St. Michael the Archangel…amongst the most aged poor people which have been laborious and other people who are impotent or charged with children”. The owner of Mountains took over the charity when Hildenborough became a parish, and the money paid to Hildenborough churchwardens, for the poor of the parish. This charity is no longer in existence.
GRAVEL EXTRACTION – Hall & Co, were given permission in 1977 to extract gravel from Hawden Farm. Work commenced in October, 1981 and ended in June, 1987 and by the end of that year, the site was cleared of machinery and stockpiles. Even while work was in progress, great crested grebes, herons, mallards, geese and swans were attracted to the area.
HELEN GEORGIE HILLS CHARITY – The Helen Georgie Hills Charity exists to provide one-off grants for residents of Hildenborough to help relieve the needs of persons who are sick, convalescent, disabled, handicapped or infirm. It is able to provide payment for items, services and facilities which are calculated to alleviate suffering and assist with recovery. It started when the Nurses House in Foxbush was sold once it was no longer needed for that purpose. The two trustees are Mrs Sandra Armstrong and David Williams who would be very happy to hear from any parishioner requiring a Grant that would help their personal situation.
HILDENBOROUGH HORSE SHOW – In 1965 in response to a call to raise money for the Village Hall Mrs Finzi asked Anita Fleming to run a Horse Show which took place in Mr & Mrs Barkaways field, the show went from strength to strength and had to move to a larger field at Chequers Farm by kind permission of Mr Streeton and then to be limited to a 10 mile limit for entrants, but even then many tried to falsify their address. In later years Mrs Doris Church took over from Mrs Fleming.
Until the show on June 13th 1982 when several of the committee wanted to retire and a new Venue was needed as neither that or volunteers came forward the 18th Hildenborough Horse Show was the last.
LEIGH UNITED CHARITIES – The endowment is small, i.e. three cottages (let) on Leigh Green and a piece of land near Donkey’s Fields. The only part of Hildenborough parish eligible is that which was in the parish of Leigh before 1840, i.e. from behind the Bow Window including Riding Park, up to the Grenadiers. In 2007 the Charity continues to assist the elderly needy of the designated part of the village and at present 25 people including 4 couples receive assistance with their electricity and gas bills as well as cash at Christmas/. The Trustee is appointed by the Parish Council.
LIBRARY – In 1894, the library was housed in the school. It contained 800 books and the most popular were those of “an adventure nature”. In 1896, it moved to the Institute, then to the new Village Hall complex (1971), until the present premises were obtained in Riding Lane when the Post Office built their new telephone exchange in the Tonbridge Road, in 1980.
MEDICAL CARE – In 1879, Dr Walter Hardin practiced from his home in the High Street, Leigh. He was succeeded in 1881 by Dr. Fraser who moved the surgery to Park House, Leigh, where he remained in practice until after the First World War. He was eventually joined by his son, Dr. Beaufort Fraser, who moved to Mountains, Noble Tree Road, where he saw his patients – private patients in the sitting room, “panel patients” in the servants’ quarters. When old Dr. Fraser retired, Dr. Rochester Berkeley joined Dr. B. Fraser and he settled in Leigh where he had his surgery. In 1937, Dr. B. Fraser left Hildenborough and Dr. Stanley Davison joined Dr. Berkeley. As Mountains was no longer available, Dr. Davison bought the baker’s shop on the corner of Mount Pleasant/Tonbridge Road (which was later used by the Vitasan Clinic) and converted it into a surgery where the practice was based for the next 30 years. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Dr. Berkeley was called up, leaving Dr. Davison to cope single-handed throughout the years of the war and until 1954, when his son Guy could join him. Tragically, Dr. Guy Davison was killed in a shooting accident two years later. (The flowering cherry trees in front of the Church Hall were given by Dr. and Mrs. Davison in memory of their son.) It was after this tragedy that Dr. Peter. V. Skinner joined Dr. Davison as a partner. In 1947, after demobilisation, Dr Cecil Glaisher set up in practice at “Froxfield” in Tonbridge Road but later moved to Woodfield Avenue. In 1957 he was joined by his brother Brian and they continued together until 1969 when they merged with Dr Skinner’s practice and moved to 79 Tonbridge Road (a converted and extended shop, formerly housing Home Counties Dairies). Although extended twice these premises soon became inadequate and the practice moved to a new Medical Centre in Westwood in 1991. As Hildenborough Medical Group the practice has grown steadily in size, now serving nearly 16, 000 patients in Hildenborough, Tonbridge and surrounding villages. In 2006 there were 11 partners. See also Medical Centre.
PARISH MAGAZINE – When first published in 1893 it was called “Home Words”. The editor was the curate Rev. Walter Brown, and Miss K. Johnson was treasurer and distributor for 44 years. District visitors were asked to see that no one was left out in the distribution. Now it is called “Keys” and is still delivered to nearly every home in the Parish. Its aim is “to foster a spirit of unity between the Church and the parish, in a broad and positive sense”, Until it became self supporting through carrying advertisements a proportion of the production costs were met by the Parish Council.
POPULATION – in 1851 there were 187 houses and a population of 1033; in 1881 the population was 1239; in 1901 it was 1407; in 1911 it had risen to 1607; in 1921 it had increased by only 120 to 1727 and in 1931 it was 2078. The 2001 census, however, showed the population as 4588 with 1928 properties. 3784 people were entitled to vote in 2006.
SHOPS & SERVICES – In 1950 local businesses started advertising in the Parish Magazine and some of them are below. By 2007, like many other villages throughout the country, has lost several shops There are s however still several hairdressers, a Convenience Store which incorporates the Post Office, as well as a Pharmacy, an Estate Agent, a Newsagent, a Hand painted furniture shop, a Pet supplier and a shop concerned with cake decoration. In 2005 a web site was established which carries some detail of all of the businesses in the village who wanted to appear- although not all have.
SMALLPOX – records show several deaths during 1871 and 1872.
Sir Thomas SMYTHE CHARITY – Sir Thomas Smythe lived from 1558 – 1625. He was a member of Haberdashers and Skinners Companies and endowed Tonbridge School and local charities. In 2007 this charity is still active and looking for applicants to support, by way of one off grants. The applicants must be 60 or over and have lived in the village a reasonable time. Mr Tony Langdon Down is the present Trustee dealing with Hildenborough recipients.
WASTE PAPER COLLECTION – During the 1970s and 1980s these collections were organised first by Mrs Joan Dash and subsequently by Mrs Andy Hay. The money raised was given to many organisations in the village. The collections were discontinued when Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council set up recycling centres in Tonbridge.
WEATHER BOARDING – A popular method of cladding the lathe and plaster buildings in areas where there was plenty of timber. It was particularly fashionable in the early part of the 1800s.
WHITE HORSE GIFT – was given to poor children under the age of 11 years in 1854, and 71 children received amounts between 1/- and 3.6d, each from Mr Lambert.
WILLING HANDS – Mrs Pauline Wilson and Mrs Andy Hay undertook to do light housework, shopping, gardening, changing library books, collecting prescriptions, etc. for reasonable rates. When they started in 1989, it was intended mainly for senior citizens of the village. By September 1990 they had over 70 clients in the area but by 2007 no longer operate.