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History of Boxley

Boxley comes from the Old English ‘box’ meaning a ‘box-tree’ with ‘lēah’ as a ‘forest, wood, clearing’; therefore, a ‘box-tree wood/clearing’. The Domesday Book records Boxley as Boseleu, and the Textus Roffensis as Boxele and Boxle.  

On 28 October 1146, Cistercian monks, from Clairvaux in France, founded the Abbey of St Mary, in Boxley. King Stephen gave William of Ypres, an evil man who ruled most of Kent under the king, the manor of Boxley, for the foundation of a monastery. The Cistercians promised William absolution from sin in exchange for the manor. The abbey closed in 1538.

Boxley parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and All Saints. The Normans built the first church, which the monks of the Abbey subsequently rebuilt and extended in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the construction of the west tower in the next century. Michael Darbie cast and hung four bells in 1652. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Boxley church as standing on the ‘east side of the village; it is not large, but neat, and contains three isles and a chancel, with a handsome square tower at the west end, in which hang four small bells, which were cast in 1652, by M. Darby. In this church, before the Reformation, was a famous rood, called the Rood of Grace, which was held in great esteem for the miracles it was supposed to work. It was broken to pieces by the king's command at St. Paul's cross, in London, on Sunday, February 24, 1538, in the presence of John Hilsey, bishop of Rochester, and a vast concourse of the populace’. Thomas Mears recast the bells into a ring of six in 1804. The Victorian architect, Ewan Christian, rehung the six bells, as part of a major restoration, which he completed in 1876.