History - Earliest References
Medieval Robertsbridge was granted a market charter in the 13th Century, and quickly became prosperous. The Seven Stars dates from before this era of early prosperity. The current building was erected in 1400: the earliest surviving building in the village is only 10 years older. Put in its historical context, the Seven Stars was built 13 years after Chaucer published the Canterbury Tales, 15 years before the English archers put paid to the heavy cavalry of the French at the Battle of Agincourt, and a hundred years before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.
Bodiam Castle, built at around the same time to defend the area against French raids is now in ruins; the pub survives. It is almost sobering to reflect that a Welsh longbowman could have downed his pint, gone to France and still have been 14 years early for the Battle of Agincourt.
There are rumours and snippets of folk history associated with the building. Charles II is said to have been confined there for a time during his escape from England following the Battle of Worcester. This is unlikely: Charles eventually escaped by ship from Shoreham, having travelled from the west.
The Seven Stars is listed as one of the Top Ten Haunted Pubs in England. Experiences include phantom footsteps, shadowy apparitions and dogs reacting to sights unseen. The Inn was frequented by 18th Century smugglers, so strange noises in the middle of the night might have another explanation.
Robertsbridge was within the area controlled by the Hawkhurst Gang who ran the smuggling in the area between 1735 and 1749.
John Amos, a prominent gang member, lived in Robertsbridge. Their influence extended from Kent to Dorset and they operated freely enough to use as many as 500 pack-horses to carry contraband, and to raid a government customs house near Southhampton to recover captured goods.
Robertsbridge itself was the site of a famous ambush: 30 smugglers assembled, fortified themselves with drink, and ambushed a wagon-load of seized contraband tea on Silver Hill, killing a customs officer in the process.
Horace Walpole reported a miserable journey that ended at Robertsbridge in one of his letters to Richard Bentley, dated 5 August 1752. Arriving in "Rotherbridge" after passing Silver Hill, they found only one available bed, "all the rest were inhabited by smugglers". The next pub they looked at was full of Excisemen, so he still had nowhere to stay. Which of these was the Seven Stars isn't known.