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History of Rusthall

Rusthall comes from the Old English ‘Rustwellae’ as recorded in a charter of 765AD, meaning the area of ‘spring waters’. However, by 1264 the name has evolved to ‘Rusthalle’, the suffix probably referring to a manor house.


The Saxons first developed the Commons as Wealden ‘dens’ or swine pastures, becoming a small settlement. By the 12th century, Rusthall had become a sub-manor within Wrotham Manor, which belonged to the archbishop of Canterbury until 1538. It had a Lord, Freeholders, and Wastes.


Following the discovery of the chalybeate spring, Lord Abergavenny sank the first well on the site. By 1682, the manor belonged to Thomas Neale, who built the colonnade, later known as the Pantiles, on a strip of the common adjacent to the spring. In 1732, Maurice Conyers the new Lord of the manor had a dispute with the Freeholders over continued compensation, following the expiration of Neale’s original contract. The Freeholders successfully asserted their rights over the Pantiles site, and the settlement became embodied in the Rusthall Manor Act of 1739. The Act legislated against further encroachment of the commons without the mutual consent of both parties, ensuring its survival as an open space.


Rusthall parish church is dedicated to Saint Paul and built by Lord Abergavenney in 1849, following the establishment of the parish from Speldhurst in 1868. Charles and George Mears cast and hung a bell in 1850, the year of consecration. The church soon needed to be extended, due to overcrowding.