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History of Swalecliffe

Swalecliffe comes from the Old English words ‘swalwe’ meaning a ‘swallow’ with ‘clif’ as ‘escarpment, a hill-slope’; therefore, ‘swallow cliff’. The Domesday Book chronicles Swalecliffe as Soaneclive.


Swalecliffe parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The Saxons built the first church on the site, which the Normans rebuilt in stone. In 1799 Edward Hasted described the church as consisting of ‘one isle and one chan cel, having at the west end a flim spire steeple, covered with shingles, in which hangs one bell. The church and isle are both ceiled; the latter was done in 1789, by Mr. James Lypeatt, when the church was pewed and completely repaired by the parishioners’.  Robert Wheeler, the 19th century architect, designed the current building in the Gothic style in 1875.

Southern Railway opened a halt at Swalecliffe on the former London Chatham and Dover Railway’s London Victoria to Dover mainline, on 6 July 1930. The name later changed to ‘Chestfield & Swalecliffe Halt’, and in 1987, the nationalised British Railway’s Southern Region dropped the suffix ‘Swalecliffe Halt’, although reinstated the name ‘Swalecliffe’ two years later…. more