The Flying Horse is a family owned pub run by Daniel Gibbs and Nathasha Hartfield, as well as, Daniel’s wife Louisa Gibbs (Nathasha’s Sister).
This pub has had a long line of landlords over the years with a rich history to match
The Flying Horse was built in around 1790 on a section of St Michael's Churchyard; this part of Smarden was called Nub’s Green.
The pub started life as “The Hog and Donkey” this was probably due to the amount of pigs and donkeys that were brought to Smarden for grazing. Smarden actually means “Fat Pasture” presumably because of the amount of pigs that roamed the fields.
The Hog and Donkey later changed its name to The Flying Horse. It’s first recorded landlord was Richard Giles around 1841 on a village map of the time. Richard was born in 1790, he was a local dealer and trader and he would travel to Canterbury market for pigs as well as Rye’s market for Fish.
It’s believed “The Hog and Donkey” changed its name to “The Flying Horse” because of the racecourse that was in the field opposite. The then famous racecourse attracted huge crowds and the countries top jockeys during the 1800s. Smarden Raceday was held on the 3rd Monday in July. The pub would have profited very well out from this yearly event. The last race was in 1852 after a professional rider named Paget was thrown from his horse and injured.
The pub once a had forge which took care of horses that had been swapped over at the Nules Green exchange point found at Smarden town bridge. At the time coaches between Ashford and Headcorn were run by Calehill Hundred.In the 1890’s the mail was brought into Smarden from Cranbrook in a trap by a man named Osbourne. He would leave his horse in good care at The Flyer while he sorted out all the incoming and outgoing mail. In the afternoon he would return to Cranbrook with all of Smarden’s letters.
During 1958 - 1960, the pub was owned by husband and wife Bryan and Margaret Hills-Johnes. At that time, what is now the car park that sits opposite the pub, was a vegetable garden that supplied The Flying Horse with fresh veg.
This was also around the time floods of Londoners from the East end would descend on Smarden to help harvest the hops. Farmers would setup hop huts for the hop pickers, mainly women and children during the week and joined by the men at the weekend. This was their holiday. A chance to get out of smokey, sooty London and enjoy some fresh country air. The Flying horse was the hop farmers choice of drinking establishment as well as the hop pickers!
The Flying Horse proudly hangs hops from the rafters of the pub to embrace the long history of hops grown within the local area. Hops are sold to the local brewery Shepherd Neame in Faversham which go into the beer that is served in the pub.