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Kent Past

The History of Kent

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History of Brenchley

Brenchley comes from the Old English ‘lēah’ meaning a ‘forest, wood, glade, clearing’ combined with a personal name; therefore, the ‘wood/clearing of a man called Brænci’. The Textus Roffensis records Brenchley as Btaencesle.

Brenchley parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to All Saints. Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford, built the church as a Chapel-of-Rest to Yalding in the 12th and 13th centuries, with the addition of the porch and reroofing of the nave in the 14th century. Henry of Sandford, Bishop of Rochester, confirmed Brenchley as an independent parochial church in 1227. Joseph Hatch cast and hung four bells in 1610. Richard Phelps added another in 1729. John Montier, of Tunbridge Wells rebuilt the chancel in 1814. In 1849, Joseph Clarke carried out a major restoration. George Mears cast a treble in 1863 to total six bells. In 1883, the parishioners installed a clock and chimes in the tower. John Taylor added two treble bells to complete the ring of eight in 1924.

King Edward III, cut down 105 large oak trees from the area, to help restore the castle at Rochester, between 1367 and 1370.

During the 17th century, the area between
Brenchley and Horsmonden, boasted one of the largest Wealden Iron Works and employed over 200 men.

With the demise of the Iron industry, the area turned to agriculture with extensive orchards and hop fields.