MANSERS FARM – Nizels Lane. In 1614, it was sold to Roger Nicoll, alias Webb, together with a piece of land called Lemmans. During 20th century alterations, a hoard of George III guineas was found when the staircase was removed and in an upstairs cupboard, a blue silk slipper with high heel and curled up toe was found which, unfortunately, crumbled to dust when exposed to the air.
MARCHANTS BARN – Coldharbour Lane. Built by Sir Thomas and Lady Butler in the 1920s from two 500-year-old cottages and a more recent barn, brought from either Mayfield or Matfield. According to their younger son, Sir Thomas and his wife entertained frequently and many of London society and members of the government visited the house. Tea and tennis parties were great favourites. During the Second World War, the house was used to evacuees and later, Canadian troops were billeted there. After the war it was bought by the well-known grocers, Mr and Mrs W.H. Cullen.
MARDENS – Philpots Lane. Part dates from 1623; enlarged and modernised in 1893, when the owner was R.A. Bosanquet, Esq. More recently the home of Col. & Mrs Nicholson.
MARDEN COTTAGES – Philpots Lane. Now known as the Old House, built about 1550. Believed to have been weavers cottages at one time. A receipt for work done for widow Barber in 1692 makes interesting reading:-
March 19th 1692 Day work dun for the widow barber in Hildenborrow for whighting the old house William Dudson 2 dayes Will Dudson 2 dayes
0 – 4 – 0
0 – 2 – 8
March 24th Day for making the great oven and hanging the furnace and building the flew
William Dudson 4 dayes
Will Dudson 4 dayes
0 – 8 – 0 0 – 5 – 4
June 27th Day for plaisering and whighting the walls of the old house and beame filling and meaning the wall of the barn
William Dudson 2 dayes and 3 quarters
Will Dudson 2 dayes and 3 quarters
For building a stack of chimneys of 4 fiors
0 – 5 – 6
0 – 3 – 8
2 – 10 – 0
MASTERS CAFÉ – Tonbridge Road. The property was previously a grocer’s and general store which between 1906 and 1920 had been leased by Mr I. Thompsett from C. Fitch Kemp Esq. Before the Sevenoaks/Tonbridge by-pass was built, the café, owned by Mr Masters, was a popular stopping place for cars and coaches heading to and from the coast. During the Second World War, young soldiers billeted in the village congregated here to play table tennis. In 1962 the café was bought by Frank Horner. It was demolished in 1973 after being an eyesore for many months and replaced by a building occupied by a B & Q Do-it-Yourself shop. This building was itself demolished in 1990 and an office block, Weald Court, erected.
MEDICAL CENTRE – Westwood, Tonbridge Road. By 1989 the premises at 79, Tonbridge Road, although extended twice, had become inadequate for the needs of the practice and a suitable site was sought for a new centre. One acre of land adjoining the service road in the north corner of Westwood was purchased from Mr D. Barkaway and a two-storey, timber-framed, Kentish barn style building, designed by the architect Anthony Teale, was erected by G.B. Thathan & Co. Ltd. It was opened in 1991.
MEOPHAM BANK FARM – was built in 1819
MEOPHAM PARK – now known as Meopham Bank off Leigh Road. A Georgian mansion built in 1830 on the site of a much older house, thought to have been designed by Septimus Burton. When the artist J.F. Herring saw it was “to let with immediate possession” in 1853, he moved from his London home without delay and lived there until his death in 1865. The rent at that time was £180 per annum. Later residents included Mr & Mrs R. Cuncliffe and Sir Eric and Lady MacFadyen.
MILL GARAGE – Mill Lane/Tonbridge Road, Watts Cross. Occupying the site of a forge, it became a garage when the motor car took over from the horse. In the early 1940s the owners, Bryan and Aubrey Smith, set up a light engineering firm called Mill Productions Ltd. On premises adjoining the garage, employing about 12 men. The firm moved to Tonbridge in the 1950s. See also The Forge, Watts Cross.
MILL LANE – prior to the building of the mill, this was known as Hollanden Road.
MILLENIUM – A volunteer Committee raised funds and to celebrate the event organized a two day Carnival, Parade, Art Exhibition and a special open air service. The money raised funded the provision of adventure play equipment in the Recreation Ground. At Midnight the Beacon by the Church Hall was set alight.
MORLEY’S CAFÉ – originally Morley’s Farm Hut. In 1939, Mr Eric Mackney owned the café. It grew up around the gypsy caravan, selling cups of tea. The café also sold potatoes, honey and eggs from Morleys Farm. Some famous customers include: Alfie Bass and his parents, Tommy Steele, Dick Emery, Pete Murray, Harry H. Corbett and Dermot Walsh. Popular with lorry drivers. Now having been modernised and extended it is known as the Pit Stop Motel.
MOUNTAINS – Noble Tree Road. Appears on an ordnance survey map of the area dated 1901. In 1845 the estate belonged to Stephen Turley. He sold it to J.H. Johnson Esq., who pulled down the existing farmhouse and built the present house in 1866. People came from miles around to see the “carpet bedding” in the garden. The family lived there until it was sold to Dr. Fraser in 1927. While Dr Beaufort Fraser lived there, he saw his private patients in the sitting-room and “panel” patients in the servants quarters. After a short period in the 1990s as a Health and Fitness Centre it now houses Fosse Bank School with other enterprises in the grounds.
MOUNT PLEASANT COURT – Flats for the elderly were built in 1962 by the Rural District Council as sheltered accommodation on the site of the cricket ball factory. Opened by Cyril E. Clarke, Chairman of the Parish Council from 1961 – 1965. The site was redeveloped as houses in 2004 by the Housing Association.
NETHER STREET – see Lower Street.
NEW COCK INN – also known at one time as Upper Cock (1788), then named Thirst and Last (1983). Neddie Wickens, one-time owner, was the last person to have an animal impounded in the Pound at Watts Cross. The site, which is next to the Stormont Garage, was redeveloped for housing in 2005.
NIZELS – or NYSELLS, NIZELLS or NEWSOLES. Little is known of the early history of this estate and its manor house. In 1327 the name was changed from Newsoles. Previous owners of the estate have included Richard Children Esq., Gentle Brown Esq. and Baron Goldsmid of Somerhill. While staying in England in 1847, Louis Napoleon (later Napoleon III) visited Samuel Cartwright, J.P. for Kent (who had been the Prince Regent’s dentist) who was then resident at Nizels. The Dowager Lady Downshire and her sister Mrs Balfour rented it in the late 19th century. In 1899 the house was almost totally destroyed by fire, believed to have started in Lady Downshire’s bedroom. Both the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge fire brigades attended but to no avail. The house was rebuilt and following the death of Lady Downshire, the estate was sold in 1919, in 33 lots. The house was sold for £10,000 and was described as a “commodious Family Mansion, portions of which have recently been rebuilt”. The grounds are delightfully described as comprising “Tennis, Croquet, Bowling and Tea lawns, with Rose pergolas and gravel paths, protected by a well-trimmed Yew hedge. The Flower Gardens consist of long herbaceous borders, Rosary and Rockery and the kitchen garden is chiefly enclosed by an excellent protecting wall, on which are trained some of the finest wall fruit in the neighbourhood.” In 1926 the owner was Walter Lloyd Thomas, who had 13 gardeners and a boy to look after the 14 acres of garden. Subsequently bought by Mr B. Nimmo. Now Nizels Hotel, Golf & Leisure Club, opened in 1992.
NIZELS HOATH – originally called Shynes. This house was built in 1587, of wood and plaster around a central chimney. It is now clad in brick and tiles. Ten acres of adjacent heath land was a popular site for travelling fairs and gypsies. A Field nearby adjoining the London Road, in 1415 referred to as “Great Tooth” or “Great Tote”, was the site of Whiteleggs Nursery prior to the building of the Sevenoaks/Tonbridge by-pass.
NOBLE TREE CROSS – where the tree is said to have stood in the middle of the crossroads. In 1585 it was known as “Nobodie Tree”, but became known as Noble Tree after a Mr Noble was hanged from the tree for sheep stealing. One of the cottages on the corner of the cross roads was a beershop for the navvies when the railway was being built. An interesting extract from the “Tonbridge Free Press” of 31st March 1877 reads: “E.B. Chittenden charged with being owner of a steam engine and it being used on road at Noble Tree with no man being in front of it with a flag.” He was fined £1 and £1. 4s. 6d. costs.
NOBLE TREE CROSS HOUSE – was built by Mr J.H. Johnson in 1870 for his sister-in-law, Miss Ellen Ann Lawson. When the Mountains estate was sold in the 1920s, G.W. Johnson, his sister Katherine and brother James lived there with their aunt. After the death of Katherine in 1949, the house was bought by Mr & Mrs Hutton in 1950.
OAK COTTAGE – Tonbridge Road. Built mid-16th century, with fine oak beams and inglenook fireplace.
OAKHILL CRICKET GROUND – Westwood. The open area of Westwood was the village cricket ground prior to the opening of the recreation ground in 1932. An annual event in the early years of this century was the cricket match between the indoor and outdoor servants of the numerous large houses and estates in the parish. Afterwards there would be a dinner with, as on one occasion, “roast beef, plum pudding and copious quantities of ale to liven up the proceedings”. A concert might follow, carrying on well into the night. A photograph taken around 1906 includes the following; Mr Ted Chaplin, huntsman of the Foxbush harriers at the kennels at Little Foxbush; Mr Norris, coachman for Mrs Johnson of Mountains; Mr Bill Burgess, farrier and blacksmith at Crowhurst’s; Mr Arthur heath, ballmaker, who had a sideline as an amateur dentist; Mr Pink, coachman to Mr C. Finch Kemp of Foxbush; Mr Bill Webb, footman and later butler at Mountains; Mr C. Kemp, head gardener at Foxbush; Mr Callow, coachman at Nizels; Mr G. Robinson, coachman to Mrs Henry Hills of Bourne Place and “Scraggs” Killick, who was a ballmaker at Hitchcock’s Cricket Ball factory in Mount Pleasant, one of the best-known characters of the village at the time.
OAKHILL HOUSE – was one of the few large houses built before the church and the building of the railway. In 1804, Francis Hare owned it and lived there. He was a member of the committee set up in 1842 to look into the possibility of Hildenborough having its own church and becoming a parish. Owned by Sir Richard Nicholson in the early part of this century. During the Second World War, Insurance Engineers were evacuated here from London. Later Elliot & Spear arrived and it was used for light industry, i.e. lampshade making, and both provided useful employment. In 1981 an application was made to demolish the house – it was refused. It was bought and extended by Fidelity International in 1986.
OAKHURST – The Bank.
OAKLANDS – Vines Lane. Owned by Mr & Mrs Turnbull from 1860 when they returned from Shanghai, until early 1900’s when they bought Vines. Other residents have included Mrs & Miss Stanley in 1893, Mr & Mrs Bryer in 1917 and in 1934 it became a hostel called Oaklands International Centre. Now known as Alexander House, once part of Princess Christian Hospital.
OAK LODGE – stood on the corner of Leigh Road and Tonbridge Road. In the early 1900’s it was the home of Mr & Mrs Fellowes Wilson. While it was the his home from the early 1960’s until 1975 Dr Skinner held surgeries at the house. Fellowes Way and Wilson Close have been built in the grounds.
THE OLD BARN – Stocks Green Road. The barn itself, formerly a tithe barn, dates from about 1590. The other buildings were added in the 1920s, when Commander A.W. Tomlinson bought Stocks Green Farm and turned the barn into a teahouse. At the time it was very fashionable to motor into the country for tea and The Old Barn became very well known for its cream teas. In the grounds stood a windmill which had been brought from Sussex in 1926 (by a Foden steam wagon) and the sails were retrieved from a derelict mill at Sissinghurst. There was also a bakehouse where all the cakes and bread were baked from Kent grown, stone-milled wholemeal flour, a boating lake, a pottery and a brickyard. Visitors were told not to miss seeing the grave of the famous milking cow called Buttercup. She died after eating a length of fencing wire. On her gravestone these words were carved: “Pause stranger and shed a tear for Buttercup, one of the best cows that ever kicked the bucket”. The stocks which once stood in the forecourt were not relics of the past but made by Mr Tomlinson himself. In the 1930s, the British Empire Air Display was held at the Old Barn flying field and was attended by a large crowd who saw Capt. E. W. Bonar do advanced aerobatics in the Hawker Tomtit and Mr Harry Ward make a parachute jump. Seven free flights were won in various competitions. At about this time, as well as a Tower of Babel fashioned from empty bottles, the ballroom was built and became very popular for Saturday afternoon tea dances and dinner dances. In the early part of the Second World War, a German aircraft was forced down and landed on the airfield. It was brought up to the Half Moon where the wings were cut back to enable it to be taken through Sevenoaks to a dismantling depot at Sundridge. The Old Barn was leased by the Tomlinson family in 1993 for use as a night club. It was subsequently burnt down and later sold. The site now contains housing.
OLD COCK INN – See The Cock Inn.
OLD FORGE HOUSE – Mount Pleasant. When the toll-gate and house at the Flying Dutchman were demolished, the materials were used to build this house.
OLD HOUSE – Philpots Lane. See Marden Cottage.
OL’JOHN BARLEYCORN – Stocks Green Road. A beerhouse from 1865 to 1878, near Barleycorn bridge, used by the men building the railway. Now a private house called Barleycorn Lodge. Dates back to the 17th century, with walls of plaster and horsehair.
ORCHARD MAINS – Coldharbour Lane. At one time owned by Lords Arthur and Lionel Cecil, who brought with them from their farm in Scotland, men and women employees and a herd of cattle. They also bought Horns Lodge farm. When Lord Lionel died, everything was sent back to Scotland and it was bought by Lord Derby for his famous herd of Sussex cattle. In March 1903 the wife of a farm bailiff at Orchard mains committed suicide by drowning in a tank. In the early 1940’s it housed the lampshade factory who had been evacuated from London prior to their move to Oakhill House. Later it was the home of Mr W. Tillman who had a reproduction furniture business.
PEMBROKE LODGE – Tonbridge Road. Like Oakhill House, it was built before the church, in 1804, and the first owner, D. Peck Esq., lived there for 71 years. He was people’s Church warden from 1865 – 1869. When the convent school moved to Foxbush in 1949, the house was used for a time as the kindergarten.
PEST HOUSE – is referred to in the Tonbridge Poor Law accounts of 1754 as being in use at Nizels Hoath, where people with infectious diseases were kept in isolation.
PINE COTTAGE – 182 Tonbridge Road. Parish nurse’s house before the Hills Memorial Cottage was built in Foxbush.
PHILPOTS – or PHILPOTTS. The manor is recorded in 1300 when John de Philipott left land to Robert Charles, bailiff of Tunbridge forest. It passed by marriage about the time of Henry VIII to the Childrens, one of the oldest families in the Tonbridge district. In the time of Charles II, it belonged to Richard Polhill, one of whose ancestors was bow-bender to Elizabeth I. It is said to be haunted by two men.
PHILPOTS RAILWAY BRIDGE – the bricks to build this bridge and most of the railway bridges through the parish were made in a brickyard near here.
The PLOUGH INN – Leigh Road. Built in 1570 on the site of Hadloe Place (see foreword). In 1893, the 14-month-old son of the landlord and his wife, Mr and Mrs G Jempson, was drowned in the stream by the side of the road: the verdict was accidental death. Their nephew, Noel Jempson, became the licensee when his uncle died in 1928. He was there for 50 years until his death in 1975. The house was noted for homemade cider.
POLICE HOUSE – was at 180, Tonbridge Road until the house in Foxbush was built in the 1950s but with the end of “the village policeman” the house no longer is used to house him. This is a record dated 2nd April 1823, of the expenses incurred by the constable of Hildenborough, James Couchman:
For refreshments for Self & assistant at Hadlow when in Search of Samuel Aynescomb who was charged with having Stolen a sheep the property of Mr Hilder of Tonbridge………….…….…2 /-
…& the like at Wateringbury …………………………………………….5 / 7
…for horse & cart to convey prisoner…………………………………..10 /-
…for guard for the night …………………………………………………2 / 6
…for guard for the day …………………………………………………..2 / 6
…journey to West Peckham to serve summons, horse & self……………7 /-
The above was authorised to be paid on 1st January 1825 (nearly two years later) by William Bailey Esq. POPLARS – is now known as The Cottage, Watts Cross. At one time the only grocer’s shop in Hildenborough, which closed in 1881. The house belonged to the Francis family for about 200 years. In July 1787, Thomas Francis paid 5 / 4d. for a licence to sell coffee, tea and chocolate. Another licence exists dated October 1789 and costing 2 / 6d. to sell tobacco and snuff. Nearly 100 years later, records show 11 lbs. mutton cost 8 / 5d., 12 lbs currants cost 5 /- and raisins the same, 7 lbs of sugar cost 2 / 7d. and the price of cheese was just over 8d. per lb.
POST OFFICE – 186 Tonbridge Road. This was originally a grocer’s shop and did not include the post office until circa 1890, soon after the arrival of Mr E. Hendry. In the 1870s the business was run by Mr Norington and in the 1880s by Mr Cutbush. The census of 1851 names Mrs Mary Ann Luck as Postmistress/receiver of posts, and a directory of 1858 confirms that she still held this position at that time. The post office was then in a private house adjacent to Leyton House. In 1891 it is Mr Edwin Hendry who is referred to as the receiver of posts. About 1898-9 it became the Post & Telegraph office. In May 1925 a small manual telephone exchange was installed which was operated by Miss Doris Hoare until December 1939, when the automatic exchange was built in Riding Lane. The grocery shop, with which Mr Hendry was associated for about 60 years, was later run under his name by Mr Neal, Mr Chapman, Mr Alder, Mr Chattwall and Mr and Mrs C. Raker until it was sold in 1996 as a convenience store, when the name was changed to that of the new owners One Stop.
POUND – an area 12 ft. square surrounded by a 6 ft. fence was situated at Watts Cross, opposite Mill Garage. A fine had to be paid to redeem stray animals. The key was kept at manor Pound Cottage (now called Colorado). The last animal to be impounded was Neddie Wicken’s donkey – for a joke – “and he had to feed the donkey for two days and stand drinks all round in his beershop at Noble Tree Cross before he was told where the key was” (from W.I. local history). A much earlier pound, c. 1295, was in Stocks Green Road near the Old Barn, but this had fallen into disrepair about 1692, and was no longer in use after 1780.
POWDER MILL LANE – named after the gunpowder mill built in 1812 by John George Children. The machinery was operated by water power. A small railway carried the explosives from the site to the barges of the Medway Navigation Company. These barges, each flying a red flag to warn of their dangerous cargo, carried the gunpowder via a canal which ran into the river Medway. In 185 an explosion at the mill killed two men, in 1864 four men were killed and one man was killed in 1885. At the beginning of this century a popular sporting powder was made. Then, during the First World War, power was made for the armed services, and local women were employed to fill the shells. Local residents still remember hearing the boom of the testing gun. The mill closed in 1934.
PRINCESS CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL – Riding Lane. An extract from “The Grapevine”, a journal of Leybourne Grange and Princess Christian’s indicates how and when the colony was established.
“In 1846 Princess Helena Victoria, the fifth daughter of Queen Victoria, married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and took, as was the custom not only her husband’s title but also the Christian name. Princess Christian, ….became especially interest in mental deficiency and formed a d charity which brought properties and opened them up as homes for the feeble-minded. A trust was formed in 1895 and was called the National Association for the Promoting the Welfare of the Feeble-minded.” When the Princess turned her interest in this direction she formed a committee consisting of herself, her sister Princess Marie Louise and four local residents. Dr. Reginald Langdon Down (the son of the man who described Mongolism as a syndrome and this is still taught today), became the first chairman. The quote continues: “They bought land from Lord Derby on which already stood the Farmhouse, Farm Buildings, two labourer’s cottages, the Main buildings and the Oast House.* It was envisaged that a farming community should be formed and named Princess Christian Farm Colony, and that it should be self-supporting, growing vegetables, keeping cattle and poultry. In the early days, a milk round was started, operated by the “colonists”, as they were called. This was done on foot. Later, a pony and milk flat were bought and the round continued until 1935. The girls did all the laundry for the Hospital, using wooden wash tubs for coppers, and flat-irons heated on special stoves. Apparently the coppers were used at Christmas for cooking the plum puddings. They were scrubbed out on Christmas Eve, the first lighted very early Christmas morning so that the puddings were cooked in time for dinner. It was not until 1950 that sinks and electric irons were installed. The present Girl’s Home, now called Glen House, was built in 1916.”
* Purchased in 1909 it was known as new Trench Farm and described in the particulars of sale as “a bijou residence, with farm premises and lands”, and sold at auction for £3400.
Clough William. Ellis, who also designed Portmeirion in N. Wales, designed Glen House and one of the dormitories. When the Hospital was closed it was redeveloped for housing with Glen House being preserved but the dormitory could not be reused. * Mrs Ruth Langdon Down, his wife, is now commemorated by a tablet dated 1924 by the entrance.
QUINNELL’S – sweet shop, on the corner of Riding Lane and Church Road, “a port of call for us school children to buy sweets” (circa 1914) recalls a local resident. A popular place for the young lads of the village as Mrs Quinell served up hot drinks made from fruit juice on Sunday afternoons. When the fire-brigade was required, Mr Quinnell was the one to fire a maroon (rocket) from the corner of the Village Green (where the launching stone with a central hole can still be seen) to summon the rest of the men. Later it became a newsagents and was a popular meeting place for the ladies of the village during the years of the Second World War.
RAILWAY – The South Eastern Railway line from Sevenoaks to Tonbridge, passing through Hildenborough, was completed and open for goods trains in February, 1868. The station was built on land given by Mr J.H. Johnson of Mountains, and passenger trains commenced on 1st May 1868. Originally the station was called Watts Cross, then Hildenborough & Watts Cross, but according to the late Mr E. Francis “the nobs did not like Watts Cross so they got round Sir Hart Dyke, the manager, to alter it to Hildenborough”. In 1871 the Station master was Henry Burgess. On 1st April, 1898, George Upton (father of Alix and grandfather of Bryan) and James Goldsmith, two plate layers on the South Eastern Railway, were killed instantaneously while engaged in their work near Black Arch. They are buried together in the churchyard.
The RAPHAEL MEDICAL CENTRE – Hollanden Park, Coldharbour Lane. A modern residential medical centre offering an holistic approach to individual treatment and specialist rehabilitation. Opened in 1983, it is managed by Mr G. Florschutz. In recent years Raphael Court and St. Michaels Court, blocks of self-contained flats for retired or disabled persons, have been built in the grounds. A hydrotherapy pool has also been added.
RECREATION GROUND – Riding Lane. At their March meeting in 1897, the Parish Council discussed ways in which the Parish might celebrate the Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Three projects were brought forward: a recreation ground, acquiring the Institute and a dinner or treat for all the parish. Lord Derby was approached with a view to obtaining a piece of land for a recreation ground, but instead he offered £250 towards the purchase of land and the Institute. However it was not until 1931, after 2 months of tiresome wrangling with the Ministry of Health and other official bodies, that the present site was purchased from Mr G. Barkaway. The following year a gift of £150 was received from the Kent County Playing Fields Association towards the completion of work on the playing field. The erection of the pavilion was carried out by local builders Messrs R. Woodhams & Son. The official opening by Mr F.O. Streeten took place on 4th June 1932. The Parish Council provides equipment for children play, swings and the like. Hildenborough Tennis Club leased land and built first two hard courts with a third being added later. In 2005 the Housing Association provided money to build a Ball Court.
REX TEA STORES – was a grocer’s shop in Riding Lane, next to the butcher’s shop. The business was started by Rex Ravensdale in a shop in Church Road, which upon his sudden death in 1937 aged 26 years, was taken over by his sister and run as a wool shop. The grocery business moved to Riding Lane with Mr A. McIvor as the proprietor. Rex Ravensdale was the son of the deputy head teacher when Mr Hodder was headmaster at the Primary School.
RIDING LANE – once known as Shipbourne Road. It was part of Leigh until 1894.
RIDING PARK – an estate of houses and flats built by Tonbridge Rural District Council on land bought from Mrs Hubble of Hollanden Farm. The building took place in five phases, starting in 1947 with the flats in Riding Lane and the houses in Mount Pleasant. The last phase completed the estate in 1960/61.
RIDING STABLES – Riding Farm, Riding Lane. Started by Ian (Jock) Hayley in the 1940s and taken over by Mr Slinn, who made many improvements and built up the riding school, in the 1960s. Mr Ray Howe, an international show jumper for 25 years who represented England 17 times, succeeded him in 1986. In 2006 owned by Mr & Mrs J. Gosling.