Fred G. BALCOMBE – (1890 – 1976). For 35 years, from 1929 – 1964, he was Clerk to the Parish Council. In 1929 he was Chief Officer of the local fire brigade. A skilled shoemaker, he had a shop called “Cobblers” overlooking the Village Green. Later he took over the adjoining grocer’s shop and off-licence which had been run by Mrs Haines and called it the Handy shop. He was Hildenborough’s first “lollipop” man, seeing the children safely across the main road during the 1950s.
Charles BARKAWAY (1852-1939) – He lived at Abnerley Villa, next to his butchers shop- now an office ( 2006)- on the corner of Tonbridge Road and Half Moon Lane which had a slaughterhouse at the rear. He also owned substantial areas of land and property in the district.
Rev. William Henry BASS, M.A., B.D. – Vicar of Hildenborough from 1935 – 1939. In 1938, the land adjoining the churchyard was bought and he worked hard to raise money for this purpose.
Rev. Robert J. BAWTREE Vicar between 1991 and 2004. He was ordained at Canterbury in 1967, and after three curacies he became team vicar with the Bramerton Group in Norfolk. Before coming to Hildenborough he was Rector of Arborfield and Barkham, Berkshire.
R.A. BOSANQUET – during the 1890s, the family lived at Mardens, Philpots Lane. He was a lay reader and Vicar’s Church Warden from 1899 to 1906. He took a keen interest in life in the village and in 1895 he supplied the cricketing requisites for St. John’s Cricket Club, newly-formed for the youth of the village. When the Gardeners’ Society was formed in 1896, he was the first chairman. His wife held Bible Classes for maid servants on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. and in 1895, together with Miss Lawson and the Vicar’s wife, founded a branch of the Mother’s Union. In 1896 when the church was reopened after restoration, Mr and Mrs Bosanquet supplied 150 hymn books for parishioners.
Rev. M.J.T. BOYS, M.A. – Vicar of Hildenborough from 1881 – 1894. He came to Hildenborough in 1879 as curate, and upon the death of Rev. E. Vinall in November 1880, succeeded him as Vicar. The Rev. Boys introduced the first issue of “Home Words” in this way: “In circulating the first issue of “Home Words” in which it is proposed to give information every month concerning the Parish of St John, Hildenborough, thereby constituting it a Parish magazine, it seemed right to introduce it with a few words from your Vicar. Originally a small hamlet of Tonbridge, Hildenborough is now a separate Ecclesiastical parish. When the Church was consecrated by the then Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Murray (but was subsequently transferred to the See of Canterbury), I happened to be serving my first curacy at Holy Trinity, Maidstone and as I had never witnessed the consecration of a Church, came over to see it. I little thought at the time that I should ever be the Incumbent of Hildenborough.” For 5 years, from 1889 – 1894, he had a curate to assist him in the parish, the Rev. Walter H. Brown who lived at Chestnut Cottage. In 1893 Mrs Boys ably superintended the soup kitchen which was “a great means of alleviating the sufferings of the poor of the parish”. When Mr and Mrs Boys retired to Brighton in 1894 he was presented with a gold watch and Mrs Boys received a piece of blue china.
Gentle BROWN – of Nizels. One of the members of the Committee of Management formed in 1842 to plan and organise the building of Hildenborough Church. Also resident at the house in 1845 were Peter Brown, Surgeon and Rev. Thomas Brown, 2nd master at the Grammar School in Tonbridge.
Wm. CASTLE – owned the bakery at 170 Tonbridge Road. In 1904, he was secretary of the Institute and Slate Club.
Lord Arthur and Lord Lionel CECIL – owners of Orchard Mains, Coldharbour Lane and Horns Lodge Farm at the turn of the century. They are among the 24 persons/establishments listed in the Tonbridge telephone directory of 1898-9, and the only ones in Hildenborough. In 1900, Lord Arthur was appointed a member of the horse breeding committee in India as the English expert.
Rev. L.G. CHAMBERLEN, M.C., M.A., Hon. C.F. – Vicar from 1924 – 1934. during the First World War, he served on the Somme was Senior Chaplain with the Tank Corps and was awarded the Military Cross. He was the first young vicar to come to Hildenborough and his daughter, Pamela, was the first child to be born at the vicarage, although it had been built 60 years previously. A fine all-round sportsman he did much for the Hildenborough Cricket Club, and his prowess as a billiards player was well-known to members of the Men’s Club.
CHILDREN family – son of George Children, born at Ferox Hall,Tonbridge in 1777, who with his friend Sir Humphrey Davy (inventor of the safety lamp) built the gunpowder mill near Ramhurst on the boundaries of Tonbridge, Leigh and Hildenborough in October 1812. See also Power Mill Lane.
Ewan CHRISTIAN – architect of Hildenborough Church. This was his first commission. He also designed St Stephen’s Church, Tonbridge and the school in Riding Lane.
Sir Henry COOPER – the heavy weight boxer came to live in the village when the Hildenbrook Farm development replaced Princess Christian Hospital.
Rev. David R. CORFE – Vicar from 1980 – 1990. During this time restoration work was carried out on the church building and the organ. Four curates helped in the Parish during that time: Rev. Simon Stephenson until 1982, Rev. Barry Edmunds, 1982 – 1986, Rev. Alan Tostevin, 1986 – 1989 and Rev. Simon Jones from 1989.
Chas CROWHURST – coachbuilder, wheelwright and blacksmith at Webber’s Forge beside the Half Moon. He was elected to the Parish Council in 1898. He lived at Fir Side, London Road, and owned other property in the district.
Roger CUNCLIFFE – (1856 – 1922). Lived at Meopham Bank. Elected to serve on first Parish Council, 1894. Appointed as Hildenborough trustee for Leigh Charities, 1895. Vicar’s Warden, 1898. The brass cross and a pair of brass altar vases were given to the church by his wife, Bertha, in 1896. They moved away from the village in 1899. The Roger Cuncliffe Memorial prize is awarded each year at the village school, Riding Lane, to the best boy and best girl, in memory of his son, Roger, who died in 1898, aged 11, from measles followed by influenza. Bertha died in 1964, aged 100 years.
Lord DERBY – owned substantial property in Hildenborough from 1870-1909, including Fairhill estate and properties in Riding Lane and Coldharbour Lane. Derby Close is named after him.
FELLOWES WILSON – this family moved to Hildenborough in the early years of this century and lived at Oak Lodge on the corner of Tonbridge Road and Leigh Road. Mrs Fellowes Wilson was well known to many residents of the village as she was a parish visitor and spent much time visiting the sick and elderly. Mr John Temple Fellowes Wilson was a lay reader and died in 1937. There is a memorial plaque in the church. Their daughter Miss Hilda Wilson opened a children’s home in the house in 1948. Fellowes Way and Wilson Close are named after this family.
Mrs Margery FINZI – (1897 – 1978). Founder of the Hildenborough Youth Club and actively involved in the organisation of the Darby & Joan club when Mrs Davison left the area. She lived for many years at Forge Farm, Riding Lane. The upper room at the Village Hall has been named in her memory.
Charles FITCH KEMP, J.P., D.L. – while visiting Mr Lawson at Bourne Place with his friend Mr J.H. Johnson, they saw the Mountains estate for sale, which they bought and divided between them. Mr Johnson rebuilt Mountains and Mr Fitch Kemp lived at Little Foxbush with his wife Sarah and their two eldest children, while he built Foxbush in 1866. He had 10 children and a staff of 20 servants and 6 gardeners. The gardens, park and shrubberies were laid out by George Bennett who worked on the estate until his death in 1882. The “Tonbridge Free Press” of 1877 gives an account of the celebrations to mark the 21st birthday of the eldest son C. W. Middleton Kemp: 3000 lamps decorated the gardens and gatehouse; the elite of the village and Tonbridge attended the ball; the staff gave him a silver hunting flask; and at 10.30pm the Tonbridge Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived, the engine in full steam, and gave a tableau and fireworks display. Mr Fitch Kemp was the first chairman of the Parish Council when it was formed in 1894. Between 1869 and 1907 he was People’s Church warden and in 1895 was chairman of the Church Restoration Committee. Many fittings and furnishings in the church were given by the family, including a brass book stand, altar vases and altar frontals. The windows in the west wall of the church, depicting the saints of England, Scotland and Ireland were a gift from his many friends when he died in 1907, aged 78 years. When the estate was sold in 1912, Mrs Sarah Fitch Kemp with three daughters, Kathleen, Ethel and Maud, leased Mardens. After Sarah died in 1921 in her 90th year, the three unmarried daughters moved to Little Foxbush. Grandson Geoffrey Charteris, a naval cadet, died at Osborne in 1917, aged 13 years. He was the son of the youngest daughter, Dorothy, who married Mr William Duncan in August 1899.
Harold FITCH KEMP – donated the oak eagle lectern to the Church in 1896.
L. R. A. FITZ – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1931 – 1952.
Rev. A. R. FOUNTAIN – Vicar from 1951 – 1959. He was married just one month before his institution as vicar of this parish and a daughter, Elisabeth Anne, was born in 1956. During his time here, the dream of a church hall became a reality in 1956.
Thomas FRANCIS – (1791 – 1879). He lived at the Poplars (now called The Cottage, Watts Cross), a house/shop which had belonged to the Francis family since the 17th century and remained so until the early 1960s. Mr Francis was the Surveyor of Highways and Highway Rate Collector for Tonbridge Parish. It is interesting to note that in 1843, a man’s daily wage for stone-breaking and highway clearing was 1s.8d. (8p approximately) for an 11-hour day! His wife Jane, ran the shop, the only one between Tonbridge and Sevenoaks prior to 1881, when it closed. He was the Minister at the Wesleyan chapel in Stocks Green Road until Hildenborough church was built and circa 1853 he became a church warden. His eldest son Thomas, was a cricket ball maker and foreman at Dark’s cricket ball factory.
John FRANCIS – (1838 – 1908). Second son of Thomas Francis. He was a councillor on the first Parish Council in 1894 and re-elected in 1898. A member of the first committee of the Gardeners’ Society in 1896, and also on the Church Restoration Committee that year. For 36 years he was Inspector of Weights & Measures. During that time he covered 100,000 miles in one trap, though he had three horses. He was an ardent gardener and poultry fancier.
Edwin (Ted) FRANCIS – Grandson of Thomas Francis. He was an active member of the Church, serving on the Parochial Church Council, a sidesman and also a member of the choir. For many years he was chairman of the Gardeners’ Society and responsible for many successful flower shows. A member of the Parish Council, he was an authority on the history and geography of the Parish, being associated with local government administration for over 50 years. In 1901 he was gardener to R.G.T. Nevins at Pembroke Lodge. He specialised in irises. He was also the local agent for the Sun Fire Insurance Co. and the Tunbridge Wells Equitable Friendly Society. In 1911 he conducted a census for the parish. He moved from the area during the 1950s. Francis Road is named after this local family.
Rev. E. W. FRASER – Vicar during the very difficult years of the Second World War. With many of his congregation engaged in war work or in the forces, with the blackout requiring constant changes in times of services and air raids causing disruption to the normal routine of the village, he did much to keep the life of the Church as normal as possible. He was here from 1939-1951 and for some of the time was assisted by the Rev. F. Cecil Smith who lived at Oakgates, Leigh Road. Between 1946 and 1950 he was chairman of the Parish Council. The gathering arranged to say farewell to the Rev. & Mrs Fraser was “so quickly turned into the saddest of occasions” with the sudden death of Mr John Coutanche who had served the Church in various capacities for 17 years.
Tom FRIEND – known in the area as Tinker Tom. With his pony and trap he toured the area, peddling his wares including kettles, saucepans and other ironware which he made himself. He also sold cane chairs. He lived in one of a pair of cottages on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Tonbridge Road, which were demolished late 1920s. He died in 1927, aged 84 years, and is buried in the churchyard.
Robert GOODHUGH – Yeoman. Owned much land in the early 17th century. In 1614 he sold Mansers and Lemmans, which he had bought from Sir Francis Fane, to Roger Nicholl (alias Webb) for the sum of £22. In 1634 he was churchwarden at Tonbridge Parish Church. When he died in the 1660s, he owned land around Noble Tree Cross which he had bought from William Saxby of Leigh.
Leslie R. HAISELL – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1952-1979. During this time, the school was extended and a swimming pool was added. School Journeys for 4th year pupils and Saturday morning visits to Robert Mayer concerts in London were introduced. In the sixties the number of pupils increased to an all time high, so a second primary school was built in Stocks Green Road.
Frederick HARE – member of the Committee of Management set up in 1842 to look into the possibility of Hildenborough having its own church. He lived at Oakhill House.
Edwin HENDRY – (1861 – 1953). As a young man he was apprenticed to a grocer in Tunbridge Wells. He married Emma Brown, daughter of Ed Brown the publican of the Gate and they lived at Rochford, Tonbridge Road. Their two sons, Monty and Patrick, went tobacco farming in Nyasaland in the 1920s. In 1894, he was a member of the first Parish Council and in 1896, a member of the first committee of the Gardeners’ Society. From 1907 he was People’s Church warden for 45 years, during which time “he gave his faithful help to seven vicars”. Until 1996 his name appeared on the village Post Office in London Road which he bought, along with two adjoining cottages, for the sum of £460, when C. Fitch Kemp’s estate was sold in 1912. See also Post Office.
John Frederick HERRING – lived at Meopham Bank for 12 years from 1853 – 1865, and many of his paintings include farm buildings and animals from there. Because of asthma and gout, he was pushed around in a wheelchair. He is buried in the churchyard (almost opposite the vestry door), together with his wife and much loved son. In 1965 the owner of Meopham Bank, Lady Violet MacFadyen, held an exhibition of his paintings in his old home to mark the centenary of his death. Many of his descendants and their friends gathered to honour him.
A. HILLIER – Headmaster of the primary school, Stocks Green Road from when it opened in January, 1969, until 1977.
Mrs HILLS (nee Helen Georgie Fitch Kemp) – lived at Bourne Place from April, 1893 until 1918. Her husband died in 1895. In 1896, when the church was restored, she donated the oak pulpit. By 1919, when she became the first president of the Hildenborough Women’s Institute, she lived at Crossways. She became the first woman magistrate on the Tonbridge bench in 1922. She died in 1937, aged 71 years. See also Mrs Henry Hills Memorial Cottage.
Horace H. HITCHCOCK – was a ball-maker employed by Robert Dark at Treberfydd until 1875, when he opened his own ball-making shop which continued in his name until the 1940s, when it was taken over by Gray-Nicholls Ltd. In 1894, he was a member of the first Parish Council and when the Gardeners’ Society was formed in 1896, he was vice-chairman. He died in 1915.
R.F. HODDER – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1913 – 1931. During this time the playground was constructed. The compilers of the Church Centenary booklet (1944), made the comment that “many of the Hildenborough men now serving their country passed through the school during this time; their fine record of distinguished and devoted service owes much to his influence and training”. From 1917-1921 he was Parish Clerk.
Dame Kelly HOLMES The double Olympic champion of 2005 was brought up in Hildenborough and still lives in the Village.
W. HOLMWOOD – Builder and undertaker, with premises on the site of the present Chemist shop. His bill for the funeral expenses of the late Mr (John) Francis, dated may 5th 1908, reads thus; Coffin & attendance £3.0.0., one horse hearse £1.1.0, bearers 16s and Church fees 11s total £5.8.0. In 1901, he was treasurer of the Slate Club.
F.W.H. HUNT, F.R.I.B.A. – Architect appointed in 1895 to remodel and transform the interior of the church. Married Mary Louisa, one of the daughters of the Reverend Edward Vinall, the first incumbent.
J.H. JOHNSON – (1827 – 1900). He bought the Mountains estate. Pulled down the old farmhouse and built Mountains in 1866. He had married Frances Lawson in 1856 and of their 8 children only two married, and one grandchild was born. For 30 years from 1867-1898, he was Vicar’s Warden and for the last 10 years of his life he was a semi-invalid. The main three-light stained-glass window in the sanctuary of the church, was given by Mr and Mrs Johnson in memory of their eldest daughter, Frances Ann, who died in 1897, aged 39 years. She had been an active worker in the Sunday school and in the management of the Clothing and Coal Club.
G.W. JOHNSON – third son of the above. He was elected to the Parish Council in 1894, becoming chairman from 1907-1938, he was a member of the committee which organised the restoration of the church. Vicar’s Warden from 1906-1943 and a licensed lay reader for 47 years. He was associated with the Village Players whose productions became widely famous. He took a prominent part in most events which were connected with the welfare of the community, including Captain of the C.L.B. (Church Lads Brigade) and Superintendent of the Sunday School. He died in 1945 aged 78 years.
Sir Thomas KINGSCOTE – while owner of the Trench, Coldharbour Lane, he would invite local people to special services held in the private chapel at his house. In 1870 he was wine taster to Queen Victoria. When the church was restored in 1896, he and his wife gave alms dish (still in use today) and 100 hymn books for the poor. They left the village in 1899.
LAWSON family – lived at Bourne Place, Nizels Lane, for over 50 years. The stained glass window in the south transept of the church was a gift of the Lawson family in memory of Ann, wife of William, who died in 1863, aged 65 years. William Norton Lawson and his wife Frances are commemorated in one of the series of 8 stained-glass windows in the nave which were inserted between 1903 and 1911, and two commemorate Mary Ann who died in 1906. The font cover, designed by Mr Burke Downing, who also designed the oak panelling in the choir stalls, was given in memory of “Ellen Anne Lawson at rest 17th April, 1933” aged 96 years.
Rev. Thomas MAY – Vicar of Leigh from 1830 – 1876, who owned much land in Leigh and Hollanden. He donated “one acre of land and £50 towards the purchase of another acre for the site of the Church, Parsonage House and School, etc.”
M.C. MORRIS – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1897-1913. Writing in the Hildenborough Parish Church Centenary booklet in 1944, he recalls the 200 children between the ages of 3 and 13 years in this way: “Generally speaking they were truly representative of their homes. The sturdy independence of the cricket ball makers, the refinement of the estate employees, the stolid, matter-of-fact outlook of the agricultural workers, plus the varied interests of a sprinkling of artisans, made a happy blend and resulted in a community of children who were sensitive, receptive and critical.” The local newspaper reported that on 19th March, 1903 he saved one of his pupils, 3-year-old Alfred Bartlett, from drowning in the pond close to the school. During his years at the school the children were introduced to nature study, gardening and beekeeping, and encouraged to take part in sports, singing and music.
Sir Philip MORRIS, C.B.E., M.A., LL.D. – son of the above-mentioned. He attended the school during the time that his father was headmaster and his mother was the infants’ mistress. Sir Philip returned to the school 50 years later to perform the opening ceremony of the new extension in June, 1964, when he was Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University.
Sir Richard NICHOLSON – owner of Oakhill House in the 1870s until the early 1900s. He entertained many well-known political figures of the day and also played his part in village affairs.
PARISH NURSE – Nurse Currie was the first parish nurse and came to the village in 1894; she was followed by Nurse Welch in 1895 and these rules for her are quoted in “Home Words” of that year: The persons employing the nurse for confinement cases are to lodge her if necessary, and let her share their food, and to pay for her serves at the following rates: Farmers and trades-people 5s per week, Cottagers 3s per week. Notice must be given 3 months beforehand for a confinement. When night nursing is required, the nurse shall have some hours rest during the day, and shall be off duty one night in three. The nurse will undertake occasional nursing, dressing wounds, burns, etc. For this a charge of 6d a day or night will be made. Should she attend for a week 1s 6d is charged. On no account must she attend infectious cases. Payments must be made in advance to the District Visitor except in cases of emergency. In no case must the nurse receive her fees, or any gratuity.
At one time, there was a voluntary savings scheme which enabled families to contribute weekly to meet nursing costs when needed.
D. PERRY – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1979-1990.
Rev. R.L.G. PIDCOCK, M.A. – Vicar of this parish from 1894-1900. During this time the church was completely restored, the school was enlarged and the Institute was bought for the parish. He set up a Mission Room at Nizels Farm Cottage, Nizels Lane and also gave religious instruction at the village school. The infants loved him; he had such kind eyes and a lovely smile. He died, aged 55 years, in December 1900 and is buried in the churchyard. There is a memorial window in the church depicting the Good Shepherd. Another window, in memory of his wife Louisa, was given by the women of the parish.
Rev. Stanley PLUNKET – Vicar from 1962 – 1968.
Jack SADLER – joined the Church choir as a boy and remained a member for 66 years. In 1969 he became Verger. As a young man he was roundsman for Wm. Castle the baker and it was while delivering bread to Hollanden Park that he met Alison his wife, who was a kitchen maid there at the time. He died in 1982, aged 78, and a memorial seat has been placed against the south wall of the church.
Rev. F.A. & Mrs STEWART SAVILE – lived at Hollanden Park for 13 years from 1894 – 1907. The annual school festival was held at their home in 1896. They provided seats in the school playground in 1898. He gave a silver watch annually to the Sunday school pupil who gained the highest marks in a written examination of the lessons taught during the year. There are memorial windows in the church to the Rev. Stewart Savile who died in 1907, aged 87 years, and Sophia his wife who died in 1904.
Frederick G. SMITH – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1847 – 1873. It is recorded that the managers had to reprove Mr Smith in this way, “That while the Managers approvingly acknowledged the devotion of the Master to the School and the advancement of the scholars, they must seriously advert to a fresh instance of unguarded and excessive punishment, and admonish the Master of its inevitable tendency to bring discredit on himself and disrepute to the School”.
H.J. SPARKES – Headmaster of the primary school, Riding Lane from 1874 till he resigned in 1897. During that time, as his own children grew up, they were found places on the staff and when he left, no less than 6 of them were, or had been, members of staff. A purse containing £16.12.0 subscribed by some of the parents of the scholars and the residents of Hildenborough, was presented to Mr and Mrs Sparkes before they left the parish. In 1892, the headmaster’s salary was £80 per annum.
R.A.R. STAMPER – gave the lighting in the nave of the church in memory of his wife Marie who died in 1942, aged 48 years.
Rev. J. STONE – Vicar from 1901 – 1918. in 1910, he appointed Mr S.L. Stonely to be organist and choirmaster. Two years later, the Rev A. H. Strand became his curate. When in 1913, the Church choir won the St. Cecilia banner at the West Kent Music Festival for sacred music for the third time in succession, they were allowed to keep it and it is still in the church today.
S. Lovell STONELY – was appointed organist and choirmaster in 1910, a post that he held for more than 50 years, during which time he served 6 vicars. In 1954 Mr Stonely and members of the choir made two short recordings for a BBC television documentary film called “War in the Air”. One recording came in a Harvest Festival sequence, and the other in a scene of soldiers singing carols in the desert. The film was produced by the son of Mr H.B. Elliot, who became a churchwarden in 1955. Mr Stonely was a keen cricketer and became captain of the local club in 1932. He died in 1973, aged 88 years.
Rev. G.A.R. SWANNELL – Vicar from 1968 – 1980. During this time the extension to the church hall was built. Two curates assisted him, Rev. Karl Wiggins from 1972 – 1976, followed by Rev. Simon Stephenson who left in 1982.
Rev. P. TADMAN – Vicar from 1960 – 1962 when he died, aged 41 years. He is buried in the churchyard.
Thomas THORNE – was Parish Clerk and Verger for 22 years. A cricket ball maker in employment of H.H. Hitchcock at Mount Pleasant, he lived at Gresham Villa, Half Moon Lane. He died five weeks after his wife in 1902, aged 55 years. His son, A. Thorne, who lived at Oak Cottage, Mount Pleasant, succeeded him as Parish Clerk and Verger.
Commander A. W. TOMLINSON – a man of many parts. As well as owning the Old Barn teahouse, he owned an old Thames barge, the Saucy Skipper, trading between Tonbridge and the mouth of the Thames. He was Captain of the local volunteer Fire Brigade and used his old Wolseley car to tow the pump. During the Second World War, he was a member of the Home Guard. He was a coal merchant and owner of the petrol station with refreshment room attached called the Boiling Kettle. See also Old Barn.
Philip H. TOY – was Chairman of the Parish Council from 1965 – 1981 and an Hon. Alderman of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council in 1974. A founder of the Friends of Kent Churches; he was secretary from 1949 – 1968. From 1975 – 1983 he served on the Rochester Diocesan Advisory Committee and on the Committee for the Protection of Rural Kent from 1950 – 1976. He died in 1993.
TREE WARDEN – Trees for Kent was set up after the 1987 hurricane, to keep alive in people’s minds the need to plant more trees and look after them. A request for volunteers to be tree wardens resulted in Richard Walkley becoming the first tree warden for this parish. Two tree nurseries have been established in local schools, at Riding Lane and Bourne Place.
Rev. Edward VINALL – was the first Vicar of the Parish of Hildenborough, from 1844 until his death in 1880, at the age of 77 years. There was commemorative windows in the church dedicated to himself, his wife Letitia, and two daughters, Frances Letitia Dummelow (destroyed 1944) and Mary Louisa Hunt. He is described in early records as “perpetual curate”. The average number of persons attending Divine Service during the twelve months of 1851 was 330 at the morning service and 260 in the evening. He is buried in the churchyard.
Rev. E. H. WADE – Vicar from 1934 – 1935. He came in July while still a bachelor and stayed at Hollanden Farm. After this marriage in September, he moved into the vicarage where his son was born in July, 1935. (His daughter Virginia, Wimbledon Ladies Champion 1977, was born 10 years later.) He left in September to take up an appointment as Chaplain of the Oxford Pastorate.
Rev. H. WARDE – Vicar from 1918 – 1924. During these 6 years following the First World War, the W.I. was formed, also the Parochial Church Council, the War Memorial erected, the churchyard extended, a billiard room added to the Institute and kitchens added to the Drill Hall. He is remembered for his ability as a preacher and his “genial and handsome presence”. He died eleven days after his wife Eleanor.
Lieut. Col. C.E. WARNER, O.B.E. – founder of the Kent Cyclist Battalion in 1908. His father was a well-known Tonbridge solicitor and his mother was the daughter of J.F. Herring of Meopham Bank. In 1913 he lived at The Trench, Coldharbour Lane but later moved to Bassetts, Mill Lane where he died in 1937. His widow and family gave a processional cross to the Church in his memory. The Kent Cyclist Battalion was formed for coast defence work, but in November, 1915, they were reformed as an infantry battalion prior to departure for India in February, 1916. They were disbanded in 1920.
Pastor WELLS – Minister at the Gospel Hall for over 40 years, he retired in 1927. He lived at “The Chestnuts” on the corner of Mount Pleasant and Tonbridge Road. Later this was an off-licence, then an estate agents and now (2006) an office.
Robert WINGATE, J.P. – rebuilt The Bank in 1873 and called it Oakhurst, where he lived for 27 years. He was the first man in the village to drive a motor car, which often broke down and he had to send for a horse. In 1895, he became a District Councillor and was instrumental in arranging for a “pay station” in the village, for those who were in receipt of Parish relief. Formerly the poor had to walk, or send someone to fetch their pay from Leigh or Tonbridge. He was also chairman of the Tonbridge Rural District Council, treasurer of Hildenborough Parish Council, treasurer of Hildenborough National Schools, trustee of Smythe’s Charity and a “splendid chess player”. He died in 1906, aged 70 years and there are two memorial windows in the west wall of the church; a single light (St. Raphael) given by his wife, Bertha and the bullseye window above (St. Michael).
Bobby WOODMAN – he was about 4ft tall, well-known and well-loved in the locality, a greengrocer and pimp maker about 100 years ago. Pimp was a term for a faggot or bundle of firewood. He started his working life as an apprentice at the Uridge windmill, Watts Cross. Although small in stature with disproportionately short legs, he was very strong and when he worked at the mill he carried sacks of wheat without effort. He died in 1892, aged 46 years, and is buried in the churchyard with other members of his family.
Frank WOOLLEY – Kent and England cricketer. He was capped 64 times for England and retired in 1938. He lived at Oakfield, Stocks Green Road where he ran an indoor cricket training school from 1931 until the Second World War.