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History of Aylesford

Aylesford comes from the Old English ‘ford’ meaning a ‘ford’ combined with a personal name; therefore ‘Ægel’s ford’. The Domesday Book records Aylesford as Elesford. Edward Hasted supplies a brief history of previous spellings, commencing with ‘The Saxon Chronicle, supposed to be written about the time of Bede, names it Ægelesford; Nennius, the British historian, who flourished about the year 620, says, the Saxons called it Episford, and the Britons, Sathenegabail, from the overthrow of the Saxons here; Asserius, who lived in the time of king Alfred, calls it Ægelsthrep, as does the Saxon historian, Æthelwerd. In the record of Domesday it is written, Elesford, by later writers, Aillesford, and now, most commonly, Aylesford.


A number of infamous battles took place at Aylesford; between the Britons and Romans, then against the Jutes, Alfred the Great also, supposedly, won a victory there, as did Edmund Ironside in 918AD.

The first recorded bridge at
Aylesford is one of wood, in 1287, although rebuilt using stone in the 14th century. Aylesford had the only Medway River crossing after Rochester.


Aylesford parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Normans built the church in the 12th century with additions and extensions in the following 300 years. In 1518, Thomas Cossington bequeathed 20 shillings for the purchase of a bell to augment the existing three. Michael Darbie added a treble in 1652. The bells were augmented to eight with the addition of three trebles by Gillett & Co in 1885. The Victorians carried out an expensive restoration in 1887, leaving little of the earlier church visible…. more


In 1240 Richard de Grey, Lord of Cudnor, together with Richard Earl of Cornwall, on their return from the Holy Land, introduced a group of Carmelites to England. Richard de Grey provided a house for them on his manor and, with the assistance of the Bishop of Rochester, built a church, which came to be known as The Friars.

During the reformation, Sir Thomas Wyatt purchased The Friars. He subsequently lost all his lands for opposing the marriage of Queen Mary to the Catholic King of Spain. In 1670, Sir John Banks redesigned The Friars in the style of a Caroline mansion. In 1949, the Carmelites again purchased The Friars and restored it to former glories. 

Aylesford railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s Strood extension to the Paddock Wood to Maidstone branch line, on 18 June 1856…. more


A paper mill opened on the side of the river in 1684, and survived until 1922, when it closed, and demolished in 1950.