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:
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 Servants 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.
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”.