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History of West Malling

West Malling comes from the Old English ‘ingas’ meaning the ‘people of, people called after’ combined with a warlord’s name; therefore, ‘people of Mealla’. The ‘west’ prefix distinguishes it from the neighbouring East Malling. The Domesday Book records West Malling as Mallengetis/Metlinges and the Textus Roffensis as Mellinges.

West Malling parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. In the late 11th century, the Normans rebuilt the wooden Saxon Chapel, using stone, with the tower separate to the chancel. They lengthened the chancel in the late 13th century and rebuilt the tower early in the following century. In 1637, John Wilnar cast and hung three bells. In 1677, John and Christopher Hodson added a tenor and treble to make five bells. James Bartlett added the sixth bell in 1698. Lightening set fire to the spire on 17 November 1712, causing damage to the tower and chancel. In 1782, George Gwilt rebuilt the nave, which had become unsafe in 1778. In 1798, Edward Hasted describes St Mary’s as being ‘a handsome building, with an elegant spire steeple,’ and continues ‘At the latter end of the year 1778, some of the main pillars of the body of it giving way, the whole roof of it fell in, leaving only the steeple and chancel at the two extremities of it standing. It has since been repaired, and thoroughly finished by a brief, which was obtained for that purpose’. In 1884, Mears and Stainbank cast and hung two treble bells, bringing the total to eight. Architect John Thomas Micklewaite rebuilt the nave and aisles in 1901-3…. more

West Malling railway station opened as ‘Malling’ on the Sevenoaks, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Railway’s extension from Otford to Maidstone, on 1 June 1874. In 1949, the Southern Railway added the ‘West’ prefix, and in 1999, the suffix ‘for Kings Hill’…. more

A private airfield opened at West Malling in 1930 and in 1932 named it Maidstone Airport. In 1940, the RAF acquired it as part of its Fighter Command crucial 11 group. German bombing prevented its participation in the ‘Battle of Britain’, although, not as a night fighter-station. In 1944, the RAF used the airfield for ‘Operation Diver’, its protection against V1 attacks. The RAF decommissioned the airfield after the war. A private developer acquired the land building a housing estate in the 1990’s.