Leybourne Tourist Guide
Leybourne is a small village situated off Junction 4 of the M20 Motorway. It is neighbouring Larkfield and West Malling.
In the past, the area was comprehensively quarried, leaving a number of flooded gravel pits. These have recently been developed into LeybourneLakesCountryPark, and a housing development.
Leybourne Church is a small church which was built in Saxon times. However, the church building was changed significantly in 1874. When the ancestor of the Leybourne family came over with William the Conqueror from France he was granted land by William I in Yorkshire and lived there with his family for a long time. His descendent, Sir Philip Libourne, decided to live in a village in Kent called Lillieburn. The names mixed to call the place Leybourne. He built LeybourneCastle and was the first baron of Leybourne. Two people who were quite important were barons of Leybourne. Sir Roger de Leybourne, great grandson of Philip, was good friends with Prince Edward (later to become Edward I). Roger de Leybourne or Roger Leyburn was a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Sheriff of Kent, and was known as a general administrator. He is thought to have served twice in the post of Lord Warden, once from 1264, and from 1271. In 1271 Roger de Leybourne embarked on a crusade with Prince Edward, returning a seasoned warrior. When Edward was made a prisoner of the barons at WallingfordCastle, Leybourne at some length brought about the prince's escape. When the prince became King Edward I he visited the castle at Leybourne on the 25th of October 1286 to stay with Roger de Leybourne's son, William, who was the first Englishman to be called an admiral. They left two crowns as gifts.
In the church tower there used to be three bells, now there’s only one. It is because the tower collapsed in the year 1580 and they only restored two bells. On Friday 10th June 1966 a bolt of lightning hit the tower and it caught fire - they decided then only to have one bell. The tower was Norman but in 1874, architect Sir Arthur Blomfeld, encased it in an extra layer of wall. One of its rectors, John Larke, was hanged, drawn and quartered in March 1544 for denying Henry VIII’s new title of Supreme Head of the Church of England.
13th century Leybourne Castle was a significant manor before the Normans arrived and 700 years ago the castle belonged to one of Kent’s most powerful families. The ruins of LeybourneCastle consist of the remnants of a gatehouse and part of a round angle tower dating from the late 13th century. The gatehouse has been partly incorporated into a house of 16th century date which was rebuilt in the 1931. The shell of a chapel remains but it has been modernised and re-roofed and few original features survive. There are two broad semicircular bastions with a triple-chamfered depressed arch between with the beginnings of an opening area. There are loop-holes on the ground floor with widish square windows above. Internally, there is evidence of upper floors, and vaulted cupboard in addition to a west bastion. A low wall, probably reconstructed in right-angle to west and south, connects with a 2-storey random rubble gabled outbuilding, which is probably also 14th century with an arched doorway in the north gable end and a two- light window arch. The castle has been occupied by the estate of Leybourne Grange, a private manor converted into an hospital (also now long since closed). It is situated beside the parish church.
Pubs and Restaurants
The Old Rectory Pub in Oxley Lane is situated in the middle of a housing estate in the village. Originally known as the Chimneys, as it has 12 enormous chimneys which cannot be missed, the pub was renamed the Old Rectory and has many distinguishing features. Since 2004, it offers a fantastic new menu as part of the Two For One brand. Inside it had a refurbishment in 2006. The main bar area, has nooks and crannies - suitable for holding good conversation amongst friends. The food is very popular and can be enjoyed in the separate restaurant or elsewhere in the bar. With a good trouble free atmosphere and being female friendly this nice old building is well worth a visit.
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015