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The History of Kent

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History of Harbledown

Harbledown comes from the Old English ‘dūn’ meaning a ‘hill’ combined with a warlord’s name; therefore, ‘Herebeald’s hill’. A record of Harbledown exists in 1175 as Herebolddune.


Lanfranc - Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070 to 1089 – built the Hospital of St Nicholas, Harbledown as a twin to the hospital of St John, in Northgate, Canterbury. Where St John’s cared for the poor and infirm, the Harbledown hospital catered for lepers, ‘with wooden houses, instituted clerks to minister to them, and assigned victuals and rents to them’. With the gradual disappearance of leprosy, Harbledown - as the foundation became known - developed into an Almshouse.


Harbledown parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Michael and All Angels. The Normans originally built it as a simple nave and chancel, adding a north transept in the 13th century. Around 1450 William Chamberlain cast and hung a tenor bell, Joseph Hatch added a treble in 1603, and Thomas Palmer a third in 1670. The architect St. Aubyn rebuilt a new chancel, nave and north porch along the north side of the old chancel and nave in 1881…. more