Aldington shown within Kent
|Area||18.23 km2 (7.04 sq mi)|
|Population||1,248 (Civil Parish)|
|– density||68/km2 (180/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Folkestone & Hythe|
Aldington is a village and civil parish in the Ashford District of Kent, England. The village centre is eight miles (12 km) south-east of the town of Ashford. As with the village centre, set on a steep escarpment above agricultural Romney Marsh and the upper Stour is Aldington Knoll, which was used as a Roman burial barrow and later beacon; it has a panorama towards the English Channel and of low land such as Dungeness.
The parish is bounded to the north by the M20 motorway and the straight rail links that include High Speed 1. To the south it drops to the Romney Marsh (about 10% of the parish lies there) to the north bank of the Royal Military Canal. It covers 3,400 acres (1376ha) and has a population of 981. The parish, part of the North Downs), is considered an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a large area is also part of the Old Romney Shoreline Special Landscape Area. The main road across the parish follows the path of a Roman road
Aldington Frith is difficult to separate from the village proper and forms a salient to the west along the village's main street where it has a further but smaller pub.
St Martin's church
The area's church (the ecclesiastical parish having approximately the same boundaries as the civil parish) dates from the 12th century: its 16th-century tower became a landmark for seamen. It is built in Perpendicular style.
The village of Aldington is steeped in history: more than 50 buildings of historical or architectural interest are in the civil parish. Beside the church was one of the Archbishop of Canterbury's palaces, of which only ruins remain. Court Lodge Farmhouse was its manor house and hunting lodge, particularly favoured and improved by Archbishops Morton (1486-1500) and Warham (1508-1532), both of whom also embellished the adjacent parish Church of St Martin. The house, park and chase (1000 acres) were bought and extended by Henry VIII of England in 1540, the whole complex said to have 5 kitchens, 6 stables and 8 dovecotes.
After the Napoleonic Wars, Aldington was the stronghold of The Aldington Gang, an infamous band of smugglers who roamed the marshes and shores of Kent plying their trade. The gang's leaders, Cephas Quested and George Ransley, natives of Aldington, made the Walnut Tree inn (see below) their headquarters and drop for their contraband. High up on the southern side of the inn is a small window through which the gang would shine a signal light to their confederates on Aldington Knoll.
Aldington Knoll was one of a chain of viewpoints used for the Anglo-French Survey (1784–1790) linking the Royal Greenwich Observatory with the Paris Observatory. This ground-breaking example of early international scientific co-operation was led in England by General William Roy.
Aldington Knoll itself is the subject of local and wider legend. Traditionally, it is said to be the burial site of a giant and his sword and is protected by murderous ghouls who will kill anyone attempting to flatten the area. Ford Maddox Hueffer's poem "Aldington Knoll" is inspired by this legend. Others, including HG Wells, with is lush wooded slopes have suggested that it is the entrance to a fairyland.
In 1511 Erasmus of Rotterdam, the theologian and scholar, was appointed rector of Aldington by Archbishop Warham. He lived at the rectory next to the church in what is now called Parsonage Farm. Erasmus spoke Latin and Dutch but no English. He could therefore not preach to the English congregation, and resigned one year later after a kidney complaint, which he blamed on the local beer.
Elizabeth Barton, the 'Mad Maid of Kent', was born in the village in 1506. She became a maid to one of the local families, but claimed she had visions. She was provided a place in the convent at Canterbury, and through some manipulation by Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, she prophesied that King Henry VIII would die a villain's death if he divorced Catherine of Aragon. She was beheaded in 1534.
Many famous literary figures have made their home here, including
- Joseph Conrad (December 3, 1857 – August 3, 1924), the Polish-born novelist.
- Ford Madox Ford (December 17, 1873 – June 26, 1939) the novelist and publisher.
- Sir Noël Coward (December 16, 1899 – March 26, 1973) the actor, playwright, and composer of popular music.
In June 1365 the poet John Gower acquired the manor of Aldington from William Sepvanus. In September 1373 he sold a half interest in the manor to Sir J. Cobham.:xi,xiii There is no evidence that Gower ever lived there.
In Aldington and its outcrop locality, Aldington Frith, the amenities include a primary school; a large pub The Walnut Tree (with restaurant); and a post office/village store. There is a village hall and a recreation ground including a tennis court and children's play area. 2010 saw the civil parish council pay for a gym area on the Reynold's Playing Field and playground equipment for children.
- Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 10 May 2014
- Ashford Borough Council notes on the parish
- St Martin's church
- Aldington: A Village History by John Wood and Christine Rayner
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1071209)". National Heritage List for England.
- Scheduled Ancient Monument: Aldington Knoll Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1012216)". National Heritage List for England.
- G.C. Macaulay (ed.). "Introduction, Life of Gower". The Complete Works of John Gower, Vol 4 The Latin Works (PDF). p. vii-xxx.
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