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The History of Kent

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History of Goudhurst

Goudhurst comes from the Old English ‘hyrst’ meaning a ‘wooded hill’ combined with a personal name; therefore, ‘Gutha’s wooded hill’, as can be seen from the 11th century recorded spelling of Guithyrste.

Goudhurst parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built the church around 1120, with alterations and additions over the next 300 years. In 1640, they rebuilt the 14th century tower, following a lightning strike in 1637. In 1707, Richard Phelps cast and hung a ring of six bells, with Pack and Chapman adding two trebles in 1775 to make eight. The Victorian architect Richard Carpenter restored the church in 1870. During the Battle of Britain in 1940, two parachute mines destroyed most of the glass in the church.

In 1309, the wife of Roger de Bedgebury established a weekly market and two annual fairs. 

The amount of smuggling in Kent during the 17th and 18th centuries, led to a complete breakdown of law and order, with the feared Hawkhurst Gang. In 1747, ex-army corporal William Sturt raised a militia to take on the smugglers. The gang threatened to burn Goudhurst to the ground and murder all the villagers, unless Sturt disbanded the militia by Monday, 20 April 1747. However, when the gang arrived, at the appointed hour, the villagers beat them off in a pitched battle resulting in the deaths of one of the leaders and two gang members. The event became known as the ‘Battle of Goudhurst’, and law and order returned to the county.

Goudhurst railway station opened on South Eastern Railway’s Paddock wood to Hope Mill section of the Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst extension on 1 October 1892, although originally 'Hope Mill', the name changed to ‘Goudhurst’ on 4 September 1893, when the final part of the line came into service. The station closed on the 12 June 1961 due to lack of use, passenger numbers having dropped to less than 200 per day…. more