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History of Orlestone

Orlestone comes from the Old English ‘tūn’ meaning an ‘enclosure, a farmstead, a village’ combined with a warlord’s name; therefore, ‘Ordlaf’s farm/settlement’. The Domesday Book chronicles Orlestone as Orlavestone. 


Orlestone is a small village with just a handful of houses and the parish church. Much of the population moved to Hamstreet (originally known as Ham) when the Ashford to Hastings railway opened in 1853; Ham also had a better source of water.

Orlestone parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built it in the late 12th or early 13th centuries, with further alterations in the next 100 years. In 1552, there is a record of three bells in the tower, of which John Cole recast the tenor in 1591 and John Wilnar recast the remaining two in 1631. In 1799, Edward Hasted described St Mary’s church as a ‘very small building, consisting of one isle and one chancel, having a very low pointed steeple of wood at the west end, in which are three bells’. In 1884, the Victorian architect Mr T Blashill heavily restored the Orlestone church.