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The History of Kent

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History of Smarden

Smarden comes from the Old English word 'smeoru' meaning ' fat, grease, lard; alluding to rich pasture, productive of butter, etc.' with 'denn' as a ‘woodland pasture'; therefore, ‘woodland pasture where lard is produced’.

Smarden parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. The Normans constructed the church in the 11th century, although rebuilt it around 1325. There is a record of four bells in 1552, with a new bell added in 1601, by Robert Mot. In 1798, Edward Hasted described St Michael’s church as consisting ‘of one isle or body, and a chancel; the former is of a most curious structure, being forty feet wide, with a span roof over it, singularly constructed. At the west end is a tower steeple, with a beacon turret, in which there are five bells’. In 1922, Alfred Bowell recast the five bells into a ring of six.


In recognition of the cloth trade that the village had helped to develop, King Edward III granted Smarden a Royal Charter in 1333 permitting them to hold a weekly market and an annual fair, thus elevating the status from village to Town. Elizabeth I, en route from Sissinghurst Castle to Boughton Malherbe in 1576, ratified the previously granted Charter.