Weatherboarded houses, Rolvenden
Rolvenden shown within Kent
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
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|EU Parliament||South East England|
The village of Rolvenden dates from at least Saxon times. The name 'Rolvenden' may originate from a chieftain Hropwulf, and would refer to the 'den or pasture of Hropwulf's people'. Den is the jutish word for swinepastures with associated hamlets, isolated farmsteads and cultivated land.
Rolvenden village originally consisted of the Street, located along what is now the A28 Ashford to Hastings road, which was almost entirely burned down in 1665 during the Great Plague (except for the church, pub and some farms). This caused the villagers to abandon the Street and move a mile down the hill to the common land of the Layne during the 1660s. Already there was the Tudor house, where John Wesley later preached in the 18th century. The villagers later returned to rebuild the Street, resulting in the two small hamlets, the Streyte and the younger, smaller and quieter Layne that you see today.
The population declined between 1830 and 1850, when many people left during and after the Swing Riots. This was caused by Rolvenden parish making the conscious decision to provide the poor with a single payment for assisted passages to the colonies, as opposed to large ongoing payments for parish relief.
Rolvenden is now approximately ten square miles in area, consisting largely of farming and rural activities, with an increasing number of professional, craft and tourist services. Rolvenden is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the South Kent development area.
Places of interest
The parish church was built by monks from Canterbury in around 1220, has remained largely unchanged since 1480 and is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. The 14th-century font has the arms of the Culpeper family on it. The war memorial in the churchyard was designed by Edwin Lutyens. One of the most interesting places in the church is the Squire's pew, a room upstairs furnished with a table and chippendale chairs, built for the Gibbons family from Hole Park, separately and looking down on the main congregation.
Lady Jane Grey, who was the first queen of England for nine days in 1554, until Queen Mary beheaded her before she could be crowned, lived at nearby Halden Place. The Reverend John Frankesh of Rolvenden became one of the Kent Marian Martyrs when he was burned at the stake in Canterbury on the 12th July 1555 - he is named among the 41 martyrs inscribed on the Martyrs' Memorial, near Wincheap Street, Canterbury and in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
Frances Hodgson Burnett rented Great Maytham Hall, located down the hill towards Rolvenden Layne, in 1898 and a blocked-up door in the old walled garden inspired her to write the well known children's novel "The Secret Garden". After her departure in 1907 the mansion was rebuilt in 1910 by Edwin Lutyens for the Rt Hon H.J. Tennant. The estate dates from Saxon times and at least four Norman lords had manors here. The Lutyens hall has since been divided into apartments and is used a retirement home. The gardens are open to the public via the National Gardens Scheme on listed dates and on the first Wednesday of the month, from April to October.
Hole Park on the Benenden Road regularly opens its gardens to the public under the National Gardens Scheme. Edward Gibbon lived at Hole Park and became famous as the author of "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", which was published between 1776 and 1788.
Rolvenden Windmill is a familiar landmark that can also be seen on the Benenden Road. Rolvenden's restored post mill, first mentioned c.1580 and of a type now rare in Kent, is now probably the best surviving example in the county. Its restoration was carried out in 1956 as a memorial to John Nicholas Barham who, according to the inscription, 'lived his short life within sight of it' and died in August 1955, just before his eighteenth birthday. The mill, which is privately owned and does not open to the public, stands on a little hill and was featured in the Tommy Steele film "Half a Sixpence".
The C.M. Booth Collection of Historic Vehicles is located in the middle of Rolvenden High Street at Fallstaff Antiques. It specializes in Morgan three-wheeler motor cars, and has a variety of other vintage cars, motorcycles, bicycles, displays of toy and model cars etc.
Rolvenden also has a thriving Farmers' Market which takes place every Thursday morning between 10 am and 12 pm in the church and the new village hall opposite. It aims to help local farmers sell their produce to local people, keeping down "food miles" and giving customers direct contact with the farmer/producer.
The Kent and East Sussex Railway has its workshops near Rolvenden station, which is some distance from the village itself.
A more recent industry based in Rolvenden is Jim Hoad's Korker sausage factory. This started as small butchers on Rolvenden high street and is now situated behind the high streyte and produces some 15 tonnes of sausages a week.
There is also a village shop owned and run by Ken & Judith Linklater. Ken,Judith and their three sons Alexander, John and Max Linklater are mainstays of the community and their shop promotes and sells all manner of local produce from honey and beer to local plants. The shop also houses a Post Office and newsagents.
- Ashford Borough Council Census 2001
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rolvenden.|
- Rolvenden Parish Council
- Rolvenden Parish Church
- Rolvenden Primary School
- Hole Park Garden
- C.M.Booth Motor Museum
- Korker Sausages Ltd.
- 'Parishes: Rolvenden', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (1798), pp. 183-200.