Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Staplehurst
Staplehurst comes from the Old English ‘stapol’ meaning a ‘post, pillar’ and ‘hyrst’,
as a ‘wooded hill’; therefore, ‘wooded-
Staplehurst parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to All Saints.
The Normans built the church in the late 12th century, with additions and rebuilding
in the following three centuries. Robert Mot cast and hung a bell in 1594, with Joseph
Hatch supplying another in 1605. Casting of a tenor, by John Palmer, took place in
1649, with a second bell from William Hatch in 1663. Thomas Lester completed the
ring of five with a treble in 1748. In 1798, Edward Hasted describes the church in
his topographical survey as ‘a large handsome building, consisting of two isles and
two chancels, having a tower steeple, with a beacon turret at the west end, in which
are five bells’. Further restoration took place between 1853 and 1876. Mears and
Stainbank augmented the bells to eight with three trebles in 1885. Dedication of
the bells took place on 25 April in the same year. Whitechapel added a further two
trebles in 1996, making a total of ten bells…. more
John Wesley preached at a house in Staplehurst in 1763. Magistrates charged and sentenced the owner of the house together with 14 others, under an act of 1664, repealed in 1693. The Maidstone Quarter Sessions rejected on appeal, however, the Kings Bench finally granted the appeal and quashed the sentences.
On 9 June 1865, a ganger failed to warn the to London Express of maintenance
work being carried out to a bridge, just outside Staplehurst. The engine and first
carriage jumped a 43 feet gap in the rails, with the remaining eight coaches crashing
over the bridge, some falling into a river and the surrounding swamp, causing death
and serious injury to many passengers.
Charles Dickens, his mistress and her mother, traveling from a holiday in Paris, in the first derailed coach, ended hanging from the bridge. Dickens climbed out of the carriage and having rescued his travelling companions, returned to help other passengers to safety. It has been suggested that Dickens suffered greatly from the experience, with many finding it significant that he died five years later, to the day.