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History of East Farleigh

East Farleigh comes from the Old English ‘fearn’ meaning a ‘fern, ferns, ferny place’ with ‘lēah’ as a ‘forest, wood, clearing’; therefore, a ‘wood/clearing where ferns grow.’The prefix ‘east’ distinguishes it from West Farleigh. The Domesday Book records East Farleigh as Ferlegga, and the Textus Roffensis as Fearnlega.

East Farleigh parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built it late in the 11th century, with alterations and extensions over the next 400 years, including a west tower in the 14th century. In 1610, Joseph Hatch cast and hung a bell, with a tenor five years later. John Hodson added a third bell in 1674. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the East Farleigh church as a ‘handsome building, with a spire steeple at the west end, stands at the east end of the village, and consists of two isles and two chancels’. The Gothic Revival architect John Loughborough Pearson heavily restored the church in 1891. In the same year, Mears and Stainbank added three trebles to total six bells. In 1979, Whitechapel added a further two trebles to complete a ring of eight.

A bridge crossing the Medway River at East Farleigh has spanned the waterway since the 14th century. The bridge played a major role in the defeat of the Royalists in 1648. The Royalists, camped on Penenden Heath, expected the Roundheads in Rochester to attack from either the north or west. However, Fairfax, who led the Roundheads, sent his men over Rochester Bridge, re-crossing the Medway at East Farleigh, taking the Royalist by surprise and defeat followed, with the loss of Maidstone.

East Farleigh railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s Medway Valley Line, between Paddock Wood and Maidstone West, on 25 September 1844…. more