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Aylesford

From Academic Kids

Aylesford is a large village on the River Medway, Kent, 4 miles NW of Maidstone, England. Originally a small riverside settlement, Aylesford has expanded rapidly over the past thirty years to gain a population of around 11,000. It has a long history.

Contents

History

There has been a settlement in the area since neolithic times. There are a series of megaliths north of the village, of which Kit's Coty, 1.5 miles to the north is the most famous; others have been destroyed during farming operations. Kit's Coty is one end of a long barrow, and is the false entrance to it. A similar structure, just south of this, collapsed during an earthquake in prehistoric times. Little Kits Coty - also known as the Countless Stones is lower down the same hillside.

Bronze Age swords have been discovered near here.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a battle near this town in AD 455, where Hengest defeated Vortigern, although his brother Horsa is said to have fallen in this battle; Alfred the Great defeated the Danes in AD 893; as did Edmund Ironside in AD 1016.

Religion

Parish church

The manor of Aylesford was first owned by William the Conqueror : the church of St Peter and St Paul is of Norman origin. Here there is a memorial to the Culpeper family, who owned the nearby Preston Hall.

Aylesford Friary

In 1240, Ralph Frisburn, on his return from the Holy Land, founded a Carmelite monastery under the patronage of Richard, Lord Grey of Codnor: the first of the order to be founded in Europe. He was followed later by Simon Stock; who, in 1254, was elected Superior-general of the now mendicant Carmelites. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536, the Friary was rebuilt in 1675, but the main part of the house was destroyed in the 1930's. The Carmelites took it over in 1949 and have successfully restored it to its former glory: it is now a place of retreat and a conference centre.

River Medway

The village has long had river connections. Aylesford takes its name from an Old English personal name, and literally denotes ‘Ægel’s ford’. Its first recorded use is from the tenth century, as Æglesforda.

It was also the place where one of the earliest bridges was built, believed to be in the 14th century (although the wide central span is later). Upstream from Rochester Bridge it became the next bridging point. The river was navigable as far as Maidstone until 1740, when barges of forty tons could reach as far as Tonbridge. As a result wharfs were built, one being at Aylesford: corn, fodder and fruit; and stone and timber were the principal cargoes.

The old bridge has now been superseded by a modern structure, although the old one remains for pedestrians.

The village

The oldest parts of the village lie north and immediately south of the river. Many of the buildings are of great antiquity: the Chequers Inn and the George House (formerly a coaching inn) and the almshouses among them.

Major construction took place during the Victorian era, when houses were constructed to serve the nearby quarry. The brick and tile industries have been replaced by a large area of commercial buildings; and what was once the huge Aylesford paper mills site is now shared between television studios and a leading newsprint recycling plant.

Recent expansion has been to the southern side of the river, where a substantial suburban housing estate has grown up, partly because the village is served by the railway, with connections for Maidstone and London. Many of these homes were originally owned by employees of the paper mills.

Railway

Aylesford station, opened on 18 June 1856, is on the line connecting Strood with Maidstone (West). The station buildings are gabled and highly decorated, built in Kentish ragstone with Caen stone dressings. Windows replicate those at Aylesford Priory.

British Legion village

The British Legion village is located here.


Aylesford is also an incorporated village of Nova Scotia

External links

  • Photographs of Aylesford (http://www.ukvillages.co.uk/ukvillages.nsf/b?open&v=Royal+British+Legion+Village-Kent&s=frith)
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