Posted by: madkentdragon | March 19, 2011

Aylesford Part 1


Hi, I’m so glad you followed my instructions and came off the A20 at Hall Road and came past the Royal British Legion Village to get
here, I didn’t want you to get the wrong impression by coming from Junction 6 of the M20 and having to travel through all those industrial estates, as you would have been put off! Junction 5 brings you on a far better route! I’m not against industrial estates, they are a necessary part of life but this little village seems surrounded by them!

We are standing on the original bridge, built in the  late 14th, early 15th Century but as heavy traffic was making it crumble, it was decided in
1976 that it could only be used as a pedestrian route and a Bailey Bridge was erected with a diversion off the Forstal Road
onto it, unsurprisingly it’s now called the Bailey Bridge Road. Oh yes, the Bailey Bridge was meant to last two years but was finally replaced twenty years later with a more permanent bridge! See the church tower on the left, up the hill? That was mentioned in the Domesday Book! But the early Saxon church was rebuilt by the Normans, the church stands on a hill just behind the medieval and tudor houses that line
the High Street. The tower was probably used as a watch tower with a wooden church beside it.

Inside St Peters and St Pauls Church there are some eye-catching memorials one is to Sir Thomas Colepeper (Culpepper) and his wife
who lived in the original Preston Hall. Yes another branch of the Culpepper family! There is another magnificent one to a John Banks he lived in the former Aylesford Priory which had been closed and sold off during the reformation to Sir Thomas Wyatt, father of the Sir Thomas who rebelled against Queen Mary! It was forfeited and went back to the crown and eventually passed to “John Banks, of The Friars”, a friend of Samuel Pepys and there is a grand memorial to the man in the church as well.

A memorial plaque to by Henry Arthur Brassey (1840-1891) is on a wall there; Mr Brassey restored the tower and bells in 1885 and replaced
the old manor house at Preston Hall building a large gothic building. He also built the first proper school in the village, which has now been replaced and the original building is now the parish meeting rooms and offices. The site of the original school room built in 1773 is unknown but was believed to be in the grounds of Preston Hall.

Another plaque is to Sir John Sedley who left in his will a provision for his brother Sir William Sedley to build a poor hospital for 6
poor elderly persons and a warden, he also left provisions for an income for the upkeep of the hospital and the care of the in-patients; this did not mean that the people were ill, but in need of care in their old age, more in the style of the Chelsea Hospital. The property has been converted into 14 small flats and is under the auspices of the Church Council as Almshouses, however the outside still looks the same as it did when it was built.

There are quite a few other memorial brass plaques on the walls, one to a John Cossington who died in 1426 and despite him being
commemorated here, it was rumoured that he had “disappeared supernaturally”. In the churchyard amongst some well known Kentish names is a memorial to Arthur Thorndike who was vicar here from 1902 – 1909 and was the father of the actress Dame Sybil Thorndike
and her brother Russell Thorndike who wrote the Dr Syn novels. The sad sight of some war graves bring us back to the present century, but I will tell you more about those another day.

One final point the church was not supplied with electricity until the 1930s!

We’ll have some battles next time and some standing stones!

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Responses

  1. So much history, thank you


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