Marden Tourist Guide
Marden is located about 8 miles south of Maidstone. The parish, which includes Chainhurst, consists of mainly mixed farming and has a population of around 4000.
Marden lies on the B2079 Goudhurst to Maidstone road. It is in the heart of the rich farmland of the weald, and has many orchards, oast houses and old buildings surrounding the village. The centre of Marden is attractive with many buildings dating from the weaving era.
The Parish of Marden, which includes Chainhurst, consists of mainly mixed farming and has a population of around 4000. Marden lies on the B2079 Goudhurst to Maidstone road. It is believed that a wooden church was here before the invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066.
Marden is not named in the Domesday Book of 1086, although Meredenne, as it was known, had a wooden church by the time of the Norman Conquest and was Crown property until the reign of James 1. Marden prospered with the Kentish wool trade until the late eighteenth century. By the 1800s Marden had developed into an agricultural community, predominantly with the farming of hops and, later, fruit.
Although Marden is not in the Domesday Book, the church was listed in Domesday Monachorum (1085), as a daughter church of St. Mary's, Maidstone (now All Saints). Marden was part of the great Forest of Anderida covering the Weald and started life as a pig pannage area for the men of Milton Regis. In the Domesday Book, it is recorded that Milton (owned by the Kings of Kent) was paid 50 shillings by ‘the Men of the Weald’. Marden was Milton’s only Wealden land and consequently became a royal possession until the end of Elizabeth I's reign.
Edward I (1272-1302) seized the lands of Leeds Castle and added the parts which were in Staplehurst and Goudhurst to his Marden estate. He gave Marden to his mother Eleanor who then had the right to profit from the weekly market and the annual fair. The wooden Saxon church had now been replaced by a stone building, of which the chancel arch is thought to be the oldest part. The North aisle of St Michael and All Angels was added in the early fourteenth century, followed by the South aisle and the Lady Chapel. These two aisles have round and octagonal pillars and traditional Kentish flat roofs. The crown post in the nave dates from about 1450. The North Chapel was added early in the fifteenth century and was dedicated to St. John. The bells were recast in 1909 and two more added. Other features you will see include an early English chancel arch; the thirteenth century tower; the striking Reyntiens stained glass in the east window; three fine fourteenth century window frames including a striking cinquefoil in the North aisle; a seventeenth century font with an unusual cover and the porch with its ancient benches and the linenfold oak door. The windows which date from the 15th century are manufactured from stones from the quarry at Boughton Monchelsea.
In 1331 the export of unwashed wool was proscribed by King Edward III. He encouraged weavers from Flanders to move here, so bringing their weaving and dying techniques to England. Marden and some of its neighbouring villages Biddenden, Cranbrook and Tenterden soon became vital centres of the Broadcloth manufacturing industry.
The village still keeps its stocks which were initially positioned in the village centre but later moved to the church to prevent vandalism.
Once the weaving industry declined, the village returned to its former agricultural tradition, but as time went on the villagers became poorer and a number emigrated. By the 1800s Marden had developed into an agricultural community, particularly with the cultivation of hops and, later, fruit. In the early 1830s the population attacked farms and the new machinery which they felt were taking their jobs.
To see what a Marden cottage in the 19th
century might have looked like, track down the painting by Helen Allingham (1848-1926) entitled ‘A Farmhouse at Marden, Kent’. It is often found on cards and prints. Bear in mind it may romanticise the reality.
At the present time, Marden is mostly a commuter village with about 20% of its occupants working in London, and travelling via the speedy Ashford line into the city; the remainder work in the surrounding area.
Marden has a number of shops and amenities, and a bus service runs through the village from Goudhurst to Linton and then on to Maidstone. The main line Dover to London train travels through the village, providing a fast and regular link to the City of London. The Eurostar service runs to Europe from Ashford, only about 15 minutes away by train. The nearest main shopping centre is at Maidstone, with smaller ones at Paddock Wood and Staplehurst.
Marden Meadow is between Marden and Staplehurst on Marden Road near Mountain Farm. The three fields total 5.6 hectares. The western-most field is one of the best remaining examples of unimproved haymeadows in Kent. In May it is covered with several thousand green-winged orchids, together with similar numbers of adder’s-tongue. Later in the year pepper saxifrage, dyer's greenweed and yellow rattle are common amongst the buttercups, vetches, daisies and wild grasses. The smaller of the two ponds is overshadowed by a large wild service-tree and, in some years, has an abundant show of water violet. The larger pond, with its dense stands of bulrush and marginal vegetation, provides nesting habitat for reed warblers and various feral ducks and geese. The two adjacent fields were purchased in 1999. These have been ‘agriculturally improved’ in the past and are now being restored using hay and seed from the old unimproved meadow. The hay is cut and removed from the meadow each year in late July-August, after which the meadow is grazed by sheep. The meadows are surrounded by hedgerows, which contain a diversity of shrubs and hedgerow trees. There is a small car park at the eastern end of the reserve off the Marden Road-open from May to July.
There is a monthly Farmer's Market held on the 1st Saturday of every month in the Memorial Hall, 9-12, with bread, cheese, chocolates, vegetables, cakes, alpaca wool, quiches, meat, honey flowers and plants and many crafts.
Dr Minett N P & Partners Marden Medical Centre, Church Green 01622 831257
Marden Pharmacy, The Square 01622 831495
Marden railway station serves Marden in Kent, England. The station, and all trains serving it, is operated by Southeastern. The typical off-peak service from the station is one train per hour to Ashford International and one train per hour to London Charing Cross.
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