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History of Staplehurst

Staplehurst comes from the Old English ‘stapol’ meaning a ‘post, pillar’ and ‘hyrst’, as a ‘wooded hill’; therefore, ‘wooded-hill at a post’. The location of the church at the boundary with Marden and Cranbrook Hundreds, suggests ‘stapol’ refers to a boundary marker.

Staplehurst parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to All Saints. The Normans built the church in the late 12th century, with additions and rebuilding in the following three centuries. Robert Mot cast and hung a bell in 1594, with Joseph Hatch supplying another in 1605. Casting of a tenor, by John Palmer, took place in 1649, with a second bell from William Hatch in 1663. Thomas Lester completed the ring of five with a treble in 1748. In 1798, Edward Hasted describes the church in his topographical survey as ‘a large handsome building, consisting of two isles and two chancels, having a tower steeple, with a beacon turret at the west end, in which are five bells’. Further restoration took place between 1853 and 1876. Mears and Stainbank augmented the bells to eight with three trebles in 1885. Dedication of the bells took place on 25 April in the same year. Whitechapel added a further two trebles in 1996, making a total of ten bells…. more

John Wesley preached at a house in
Staplehurst in 1763. Magistrates charged and sentenced the owner of the house together with 14 others, under an act of 1664, repealed in 1693. The Maidstone Quarter Sessions rejected on appeal, however, the Kings Bench finally granted the appeal and quashed the sentences. 

Staplehurst railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s Tonbridge to Ashford section of their mainline from London to Dover, on 1 December 1842…. more

On 9 June 1865, a ganger failed to warn the Folkestone to London Express of maintenance work being carried out to a bridge, just outside Staplehurst. The engine and first carriage jumped a 43 feet gap in the rails, with the remaining eight coaches crashing over the bridge, some falling into a river and the surrounding swamp, causing death and serious injury to many passengers. 

Charles Dickens, his mistress and her mother, traveling from a holiday in Paris, in the first derailed coach, ended hanging from the bridge. Dickens climbed out of the carriage and having rescued his travelling companions, returned to help other passengers to safety. It has been suggested that Dickens suffered greatly from the experience, with many finding it significant that he died five years later, to the day.