Page Updated:- Sunday, 22 January, 2023.


Earliest 1510-

Half Moon

Open 2020+

144 Tonbridge Road London Road 1881Census)


01732 832153

Half Moon

Above postcard, date unknown.

Above postcard, postmarked 1909, showing the pub on the right.

Half Moon 1959

Above postcard, 1959. The pub is not in shot here but is on the right. The postcard just shows the car park.

Half Moon 1995

Above photo April 1995 by Graham Smith Creative Commons Licence.

Half Moon 2002

Above photo, circa 2002, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Half Moon 2006

Above photo 2006 by Chris Whippet Creative Commons Licence.

Half Moon 2015

Above photo 2015.

Half Moon Whitbread sign

Above aluminium card issued 1950. Sign series 2 number 16.

Half Moon sign 1960sHalf Moon sign 1992

Above sign left, 1960s, sign right, September 1992.

With thanks from Brian Curtis

Half Moon sign 1986

Above sign, 1986.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


The original building can be traced back to the 1500s, but the front we see today was added about 1707.


From the Maidstone Telegraph and West Kent Messenger, 18 December 1869.

Tunbridge Intelligence. PETTY SESSIONS.—TUESDAY.

Before Sir David Salomons (in the chair), Major Scoones, C. Powell, Esq, and A. Powell, Esq.


Frederick Tickner applied for the license of the “Half Moon,” Hildenborough, to be transferred to John Boakes.

Chairman:- Is there a seat outside the house used by men, who chaff passers by.

Applicant:- I have got a seat outside, but do not allow chaffing.

Chairman:- Some house does.

The service of the proper notices was proved,

Chairman:- What business has Mr Boakes carried on before?

Mr Boakes:- Gardener at Quarry Hill.

Supt. Dance said he had known Mr Boakes for several years as a respectable man.

The transfer was granted.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier. 29 August 1873. Price 1d.


The Bench consented to Mr. Boakes, of the "Half-Moon Inn," Hildenborough, keeping open his house until two o'clock on the occasion of G. D. Tyser, Esq., having an evening party.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 19, December 1873.


The Chairman, addressing Mr. Warner, said he wished to call attention to what had been said at the Tunbridge Wells Bench respecting extension of time allowed to publicans. It was there stated that this Bench granted extensions only for a particular purpose, and that the public should not be admitted.

Mr Warner said that what he meant to say was that in the case in which he had the honour to appear, the magistrates accompanied the extension with a direction that the landlord was, as far as possible, to confine the extension to the carriages, persons, and servants attending a ball. Their worships had no power to say the house should be used for that purpose only; it was merely a sort of instruction to the man in charge to use his own discretion.

Mr Moore remarked they could not make exceptions, and the houses were open to the public when an extension was granted.

The Chairman was not aware they allowed this house (the "Half Moon," Hildenboro’) to be open until five o’clock, but he was assured it was so.


From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 2 January, 1880.


Mr. Thorn, of the “Half Moon” public house, applied for an extension of time on the occasion of a ball, which the Bench refused, the Chairman remarking that the public had a right to shelter, that was to say, to put up their horses and carriages. The application had been refused before, and they could make no exception.


From the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 24 October, 1919.


"Half Moon Inn," Hildenborough. Temporary phone 324 Tonbridge.


Taken from their website June 2015.


Parts of the "Half Moon" or "Old Half Moon Inn" are 500 years old. First built circa 1510 it was known as the "Half Moon Inn," it was initially a small Tavern a fraction of its size now. The front section was added about 1707, when the licensee was Samuel Peckham.

In the days when the mail went by coach, the horses were changed here & it is rumoured that Dick Turpin frequented the "Half Moon" on numerous occasions.

An inventory of the household furniture, tenant's fixtures, trade fittings & effects on the premises, transferred from Mr Arthur Beaney to Mr Frederick Oaten on the 13th November 1895, gives us some idea of the domestic history of that time:

Main downstairs:-

2 Wash Basin's, A 6” form, 4 Bowles, 2 Warming pans, & Sundries.

In the attic:-

A feather bed, 2 Chaff pillows, Bedsteps, Commode & chamber ware (faulty).

In the back room:-

Bedsteads in some rooms, Palliasses in others.

On 7th September 1904, after the 39th Servents Annual Cricket Match on the village ground, there was a supper in a Marquee behind the "Half Moon," provided by Mr Austen & the host Mr F Oaten, the teams were captained by G Robinson, coachman to Mrs Hills of Bourne Place & E. Jelley , bailiff to Chas. Stewart Esq. of the Hurst Coldharbour Lane (now Roughetts). Mrs Robinson's side won by 29 runs.

In 1913 the Landlord was a Charles Thos Thorne and in the 1930's his son ran a taxi service.

On Sunday 27th October 1940 at 08.30 a Spitfire II piloted by Pilot Officer John Romney Mather of 66 Sqadron Gravesend, crashed in the grounds and the pilot was killed. He was born at Blackheath in London & is buried at St Margaret's Churchyard in Ifield, Crawley, Sussex.

In 1972, P7539's engine was recovered by Malcolm Pettit with the help of Don King, a local farmer. The engine was found at a depth of 15 feet. Don tried at first to lift the engine with a JCB type digger but couldn't manage it so they chained it up to the arms of Don's skip lorry and lifted it out that way. Don says even though it was more than thirty years after the crash, the excavation stank of fuel.

This was a particularly special moment as Don was one of the crowd of onlookers at the crash scene in 1940. He was 9 years old then. He's in his 80s now and remembers it vividly.

Half Moon Spitfire 1971

The above writing on the picture says:- 1971 at the back of the "Half Moon" public house crash site in Hildenborough, Malcolm and the team dig deep to recover the wreckage of Johnny's Spitfire.

Spitfire artefacts

Above photo showing Malcolm with some of the artefacts recovered from the crash site.

Spitfire engine

Malcolm cleaned the engine up and still has it to this day.


The Tonbridge Road was an important route from London to the coast and by the 16th century several public houses, including the "Half Moon" served the travellers by serving food and providing fresh horses.

Hildenborough stood on the first road in Kent to be turnpiked in 1710: the highway from Sevenoaks through Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells; carrying much traffic en route to “the Wells”.


From the book: Barber alias Nynne: Five Hundred Years of Family History in Rotherfield, Tonbridge and Brighton.

By Geoffrey Barber. Published 2014. Available at:

Page 242.

Transfer of Mary Barber's House to her Great Grandson, Thomas Barber, under Guardianship by Elizabeth, 1764.

On 23 October 1764 the “infant” Thomas Barber (i.e. under the age of 21 years) was admitted to the property under the guardianship of his mother Elizabeth until he is 21 years of age. It is interesting to note that the court was held at the "Half Moon Inn" across the road from the Barber's property.

Manors of Datchurst Lamport Martin Abbey and Nizel.

The Court Baron of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King Defender of the Faith and Lord of the said Manor, held at the house of John Galt and called or known by the name or sign of the "Half Moon" on the twenty third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty four. Before Francis Austen Gentleman Deputy Steward to his Grace the Duke of Dorset High Steward there.

Essoins: None.

Homage: John Children, Thomas Webb, Joseph Maynard. Sworn.

First the said Homage being sworn and charged upon their oath do present and say that Thomas Barber, Infant Son and Heir of Thomas Barber deceased, came into court and by Elizabeth his Mother and Guardian prayed to be admitted to all that customary messuage Tenement Guardian and two orchards lying to the Highway leading from Tonbridge to Sevenoaks towards the East and to the lands of [blank] Wickenden and later Mr Whittaker but now Eldridge to the South late his Fathers the said Thomas Barber deceased, which he held by copy of court roll and yearly rent of sixpence. To whom the Lord by his said Deputy Steward granted and delivered seizin thereof by the rod. To have and to hold the said customary messuage or tenement garden and two orchards with the appurtenances unto the said Thomas Barber is Heirs and Assignes for ever by copy of court roll at the will of the Lord according to the custom of the said manor by the rents and services therefore due accustomed. And he gave to the Lord for a fine for such his estate sixpence and fealty is respited [postponed] until the said Thomas Barber shall attain his age of twenty one years. And afterwards sitting the same court the custody of the body of the said Thomas Barber the Infant as also the rents and profits of the said messuage and premises were granted and committed unto the said Elizabeth barber until the said Thomas Barber the Infant should attain his age of twenty one years. She rendering to this court a just amount of the said guardianship when thereto required. (Transcribed by G. Barber, 2014).

Quit Rent receipt 1712

Above showing the Quit Rent receipt of 1712.

1866 map

Above map 1866, showing the location of the "Half Moon."


October 27, a Sunday, started with a Mk11 Spitfire (P7539) diving to earth behind the "Half Moon" pub killing the Pilot John R. Mather. (Investigations of the crash site in the 1972 did not reveal any battle damage. The cause of the crash was probably mechanical failure).



Wednesday 11 September, 1940 is one of the red letter days in Leigh wartime history The ARP logbook gives the official account of what happened.

1510-1650, warning. Large enemy forces attacked London. Met by heavy fighting and barrage. Planes seen coming down and 1 parachute. One German plane attacked by 3 Spitfires passed behind church and low down and crossed over Upper Kennards and landed in Old Barn large field. Heavy bursts of machine gunfire as he passed church. 5 on board, 3 wounded. Plane not smashed up. Wardens, police and military on spot. Many planes reported down in district.

Two German bomber groups, 1 and 76, escorted by several hundred fighters, launched a raid on the London docks in the mid-afternoon. They got through and dropped their bombs, but as they were turning south, the bombers were pounced on by at least three squadrons of British fighters. The squadron diary of 1 RCAF Squadron tells how the interception was made.

12 Hurricanes of Number 1 Canadian Squadron left Northolt 1542 hours. The squadron led by Squadron Leader McNab in sections in line astern sighted a formation of about 20 Heinkel-111s northwest of Gatwick at 1615 hours. The enemy was about 300 feet below and proceeding south, and the attack was opened from the beam and moving to astern, breaking up the formation on the original attack, after which the combat developed into individual dogfights.

One Canadian pilot, Flying Officer Yuille, attacked a lone Heinkel-111 piloted by Corporal Steineck of Bomber Group 1. According to his own after-action report, Yuille made a number of attacks on the Heinkel and seems to have worried it like a terrier with a rat, pursuing the bomber down and blazing away at it as it lost altitude. He was joined by two other Hurricanes, one of which was flown by Sergeant Scott of 222 Squadron. Scott charged headlong into the attack, completely oblivious of any other British fighters nearby; Yuille complained later of getting shoved out of the way by Scott while he lined up to make his own attack. In this fashion they pursued the hapless bomber down over Leigh, low over the church and virtually grazing the roof of Upper Kennards, until it made a crash landing behind Old Barn. Corporal Steineck managed to put the plane down more or less intact, sliding between two rows of poles which had been put up to prevent glider landings, and finally the Heinkel came to a stop, riddled with bullet holes and with three of the live crew injured.

Several people remember seeing the bomber go over, including a man who was part of a party picking hops in a field near Meopham Bank. “We saw it coming in,” he recalls, “and we knew it was going to crash. We ran straight across the fields to get to it.” The duty Home Guard had also seen the plane come in and had run along the railway line, but were ultimately beaten to the scene by some soldiers who had come along the road from the Hildenborough direction, arriving in time to receive the surrender of Corporal Steineck who had walked across the fields towards Meopham Bank.

Most of the village seems to have gone out to see the plane, and by the time Sir Eric Macfadyen arrived home from London his farm appeared to have suffered an invasion. “I arrived home yesterday to find an enemy bomber,” he wrote in his diary “a Heinkel-111, dividing barley corn meadow from the Old Barn big field. It had been driven down by four Spitfires, and had taken the ground in the big field... Of the crew of five, three were slightly hurt. ...This happened about 3.45 pm. By six o'clock when I got home, several hundred sightseers had collected. A man was at the gate into the road with a hat, collecting for the Spitfire Fund.” A woman who remembers being taken to see the wreck as a small girl recalls that after it was removed from Sir Eric's field it was kept, minus its wings, on show for some time in the car park of the "Half Moon" pub in Hildenborough. She also remembers vividly seeing a blue and white badge on the side of the aircraft, which she was astonished to learn after the war was the insignia of BMW.


Excerpts from Source:

Except from Des Sheed's war memoirs:-

"On September 11th, a Heinkel 111 was hit by AA fire over London and lost an engine; it was attacked by three hurricanes and forced to land in the village. The crew tried to set fire to it; Two crewmembers were captured unhurt and two were wounded. The wings were taken off the plane and the body was loaded onto a Queen Mary trailer (60 feet long). It was taken further up the village but they realised it was too wide for the main road. It was then parked outside the "Half Moon" pub for a few days. I cycled down one morning and stood gazing at it and the solder guarding it said “Look after it while I go and have a cup of tea.” I was speechless."

Heinkel 111

Above photo showing the Heinkel 111.

You cannot see the "Half Moon" apart from a small projection and the building you see is actually the shop on the junction in front so the bomber is pointing towards Sevenoaks and parked outside roughly where the pavement/road is, only the sign on the corner can be seen.



The "Half Moon" has long been associated with ghosts and is rumoured to have had a number of hauntings over the years, be it a young hooded Victorian lady or many of the previous landlords and landladies. There have been many reports over the years of customers being poked or prodded, although it could be down to the beer.

We have even been investigated by Ghost Connections UK ( On the 3rd of June 2005, an investigation was held & although nothing conclusive was found voices are still heard and things still happen with no explanation as to why, Ooooooh Spooky.

From Ghost Connections UK

The Half Moon Hildenborough

The Investigation 3rd June 2005

11.45pm: Team arrive and set up base in the conservatory.

12.00am: Team install equipment.

1.00am: Temperature at base 20.5c. Team talk to landlady Sharon and take photographs of the bar areas.

1.40am: Team and Sharon attempt table tipping. Communication is asked for my all members of the team. No response. The team then attempt an experiment with a glass. Kim calls for spirit by a name associated with the "Half Moon." Frederick was called for. A loud noise is heard from the gents toilets. Colby, Paddy and Ian leave to investigate the noise. The sound could not be replicated by the team and is unexplainable. Further on in the investigation Dean slid the lock across in the gents toilets and some members of the team think that this could have been the sound heard.

2.15am: Team take a break. Dean and Sharon are talking in the bar, they claim they can hear Kim taking on the walkie talkie. Kim was writing notes at base with no walkie talkie in the area. There is no explanation for this.

2.30am: Sharon retires to bed. Team continue.

2.36am: Temperature at base 20.6c. The team sit quietly. Clicking noises are heard from the area near the fruit machine and also a loud click from the back bar. These noises could be due several appliances behind the bar. Dean moves to the back bar to listen for more noises. None were heard.

3.15am: Team take a break.

3.20am: Temperature at base 21.7c

3.25am: Another sťance is attempted by the team. Tapping noises are heard by the team coming from the bar area. The team move to the pool area to continue. More noises are heard. Tapping and clicking noises heard could be from the air vent.

4.20am: Sťance ends.

4.30am: The whole team are at base taking a break. Colby places his coffee on a chair next to the fire exit. As he does so both the doors come open. All the team witness this.

The team can confirm that the fire exit doors were closed prior to the investigation. Sharon had showed the team around to make them aware of all fire exits. The team then check all photographs taken before the event to rule out them being open. All pictures taken showed the doors firmly closed.

4.35am: The team feel strange and an unease descended around them. Emf 1.0mg.

4.36am: Emf 1.5mg.

4.38am: The team feel a presence in the front bar area. Emf 2.0mg.

4.40am: Dean feels sick and disorientated. Paddy hears a voice coming from the bar. No one in bar area.

4.45am: Paddy thinks Blue the landlady's dog is uneasy as he wouldn't leave his side.

4.50am: Emf 2.5mg Temperature 21.1c

5.00am: Team enter the front bar and all the team can smell furniture polish. This could be the intermittent spray of the air freshener situated in the ladies toilet, the door was open at the time.

5.20am: Emf 3.0mg.

6.00am: Emf 3.5mg Dean and Paddy check the cellar and take photographs.

6.10am: Investigation Ends.

We would like to thank Sharon and Nigel for there hospitality and kind permission in allowing us to investigate the "Half Moon."


From the by Mike Thompsett. 27 March 2015.

Half Moon, Hildenborough, will host the charity event for Clic Sargent before Becky Rose runs London marathon.

A woman from Tonbridge is hosting a charity event this weekend to raise money and spread awareness for Clic Sargent.

The "Half Moon" pub, in Hilenborough, will be playing host to the event which will see a large number of people coming along to join in.

Becky Rose will be running the London Marathon this year, and is hoping that the event will be able to help bolster the amount she can raise.

Becky said: "I have two kids of my own, so raising money for children is something I am passionate about. A lot of pain and hard work has gone in to training, I just hope that it will be worth it when I cross the finish line."

The "Half Moon" is inviting people to join the event, Clic Sargent raises money for children with cancer - every penny raised at the event will be donated to the charity.



PECKHAM Samuel 1707+

JOHNSON Rose 1732+

GALT John 1764+

RICHARDSON Richardson 1830+

BENNETT Richard 1851-58+ (age 62 in 1851Census) Melville's 1858

BOAKES John 1862-74+ (age 55 in 1871Census) Post Office Directory 1874

BOAKES John Dec/1869-78+ CensusKent and Sussex Courier

THORNE Charles 1880-81+ (age 25 in 1881Census)

COLLINS G 1882-1887

HUMPHREY Mary 1891+ (only listed as grocer and draper age 45 in 1891Census)

EDWARDS J George Jnr to Apr/1892 Thanet Advertiser

BEANEY/BEENEY Arthur Apr/1892-Nov/1895 Thanet Advertiser

OATEN Frederick Nov/1895-1905+ (age 51 in 1901Census)

SAVAGE James 1905-11+ (age 57 in 1911Census)

THORNE Charles Thomas 1913-40+ Post Office Directory 1913Post Office Directory 1922Post Office Directory 1930Post Office Directory 1938

CROWDY W 1948-1957

Last pub licensee had CONWAY Ernest John Mar/1973+

SMITH Rod 19??-19??

???? Steve & Jeanette 19??-1999

MILNER Sharon & STOKES Nigel 1999-2007

MEW Daniel 2007-20??

HARRIS Nikki 20??-20??

GADD Suzanne 20??-20??

SCHMIDT Pierre 20??-20??

MACKIE Jill 20??-2017



Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862



Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier

Post Office Directory 1874From the Post Office Directory 1874

Post Office Directory 1891From the Post Office Directory 1891

Post Office Directory 1913From the Post Office Directory 1913

Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Post Office Directory 1930From the Post Office Directory 1930

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938

Thanet AdvertiserThanet Advertiser


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-