Milestones were a common feature of old roads. They showed basic distances to the next town, in both directions, and the distance to London. The old maps featuring Pembury show milestones and the distance markers if a stone was not present. Pembury has at least one milestone, and there are a few more outside the village. The scope of this piece ranges from Tonbridge to Kippings Cross. Some maps show markers at every mile, and the reference point is London. For the roads running into London from the south east the reference point is London Bridge. Some large scale maps will also show quarter mile markings. On a map they are shown as single dots, with a double dot indicating a full mile. Railway mileposts still use a similar system of one, two or three dots to indicate quarter mile markings, so next time you catch a train and you see a track side marker showing 25 … you will be 25 and three quarter miles from the London terminus.
Back to the roads. The first printed maps showing roads and milestones were published in 1676 by John Ogilby with Pembury featuring on the London to Rye map. See section below. One frightful piece of news is that in those days miles were not standardised. There were many variations on the length of a mile. Robert Morden’s maps of 1699 to 1722 show 3 scales for long, standard and short miles. The gory details of this subject are dealt with in the Old Maps section of this web site. Luckily for us Ogilby’s survey was conducted with 1760 yards to the mile – the standard mile. Most road maps for the next 100 years or so were copied from Ogilby with minor additions and local corrections.
Please note the orientation of the first few maps below – South is at the top – North is at the bottom.
The map above shows the original map section to the left and an edited version, removing some of the visual clutter for greater clarity. Note that each of the full milestones is numbered 33 near Tonbridge to 36 at Kippings Cross. A few of the side roads have been extended and annotated to clarify the picture. On this map the road to Bayhall is marked as ‘to the Wells’. The road to Bayhall starts at Chalkett Lane on today’s maps. It is possible that in those days the road did extend to Tunbridge Wells.
The map above is from 1796 and has a little more clarity of the surrounding counrtyside, but lacks the quarter mile markers. Again, a modified version has been produced to aid with today’s navigation.
The map above is from Edward Hasted’s survey and is the digital
blending of 3 maps that unfortunately split in the centre of Pembury.
It shows where milestones 34, 35 and 36 were located in c1780. It also shows us where milestone 35 is located today. It is assumed to be milestone 35 but it has no inscription and is located halfway between 34 and 35.
It is recorded by the Milestone Society as National ID: KE_LR35 GridRef: SZ 4862 7721
This milestone appears on the 1868 OS map ( and later maps) at the ‘bus stop’ location inscribed Tonbridge 5, Hastings 26.
The map above shows the combination of the old and new locations of the milemarkers and milestones as they appear on old maps. The regular half a mile difference in location stems from the early maps surveyed from Cornhill in London, and the later surveys conducted from the south side of London Bridge. The roadside milestones were set in place during the late 1700s based on the London Bridge origin.
The original version of this web page was produced in Jan 2014 as the detective work was progressing, and it did contain a lot of ongoing notes and red herrings. The heavy going stuff has been edited out of this page, but the original can be found here – Milestone Maps.
The very brief list below shows the locations of existing, lost or listed milestones between numbers 32 and 36.
35 .. High St Pembury. Behind the electrical cabinet next to the bus stop near Woodhill Park.
. blank sandstone – metal plate is missing. National ID: KE_LR35 GridRef: SZ 4862 7721
. Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3
32 Possibly 32 . Top of sliproad A2014 leading to the A21 from Pembury Road, Tonbridge.
. There is a tarmac rest / parking area. In the hedgerow is a fallen milestone – no metal plate.
. National ID: KE_LR32 GridRef: SZ 486 882
. Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3
34 This link comes from the Listed Buildings web site. National ID: KE_LR34 GridRef: TQ 612 622
. TQ 64 SW PEMBURY TONBRIDGE ROAD
. 5/429 Milestone at TQ 612 422
. Milestone. Probably late C19. Limestone tablet-shaped slab standing approx
. 750mm high with an iron plaque fixed to the front. It has a segmental arch
. top and records the mileages to London (34) and Tonbridge (4). Both towns are
. in capital letters in a curve over the distance.
. The link shows a map of the A21 roundabout at Longfield Road / Tonbridge Road.
. The location of the milestone is placed on the shoulder of the road, heading south, just south of the roundabout.
. The location may relate to its original site on the old Tonbridge to Hastings road prior to the dual carriageway. Map Link
. The Milestone Society database lists this milestone as ‘may be lost’. It may be there, but hidden from view.
. It is assumed that the road shown close to milestone 34 on the 1796 map is today’s North Farm Road, leading south-west toward
. Tunbridge Wells.
33 This data comes from the
Milestone Society database of lost milestones.
National ID: KE_LR33 GridRef: TQ
. ‘Lost since the 1960s’ ‘Castle Hill, opp entrance to Castle Farm’ ‘A21 location by the road’
The map above comes from the 2014-2017 A21 Dualling project where milestone 34 is recorded as an antiquity.
Although its location was recorded it had not been seen for years.
The Milestone Society sent a representative to find it around 2012, but there was no sighting.
Many disappeared from roadsides over the years, finding new homes as quaint garden ornaments.
Please advise of any updates or corrections.
Related Links –
Page compiled by Tony Nicholls 2014, 2017, 2021