Benenden is a village and civil parish in the borough of Tunbridge Wells in Kent, England. The parish is located on the Weald, 6 miles (10 km) to the west of Tenterden. In addition to the main village, Iden Green, East End, Dingleden and Standen Street settlements are included in the parish.
The parish church is dedicated to St George, and is a 19th-century building on the site of a medieval building destroyed in a fire. Benenden School, a private girls boarding school is located to the north of the village.
Origin of name
The place name of Benenden (pronounced Ben-en-den) derives from Old English meaning Bynna's wooded pasture. Bynning denn became Benindene (1086) Binnigdaenne, Bennedene (c1100) Bynindenne (1253) then the current spelling from 1610.
- A more detailed history can be found in the pdf file as part of a Conservation Appraisal carried out by Tunbridge Wells District in April 2005
The Wealden iron industry probably existed in the area from before the Roman period, but evidence of two Roman roads built to take the cast iron from the Weald have been discovered, as well as other finds from the period. The evidence of one road, that between Maidstone and Hastings at Iden Green, is in the form of a paved ford.
The Domesday Book surveyors remarked that Benindene was one of only four places in the Weald to have a church; although like most of the other such, the buildings of the settlement were scattered. From the 14th century places such as Benenden became of industrial importance. The Wealden ironmasters continued what the Romans had done; and the other major industry, cloth-making, also helped to make the village prosperous. By the late 18th century, however, both industries had moved to the industrial north, and Benenden's prosperity was at an end. Benenden had four mills at various times. Wandle Mill, a watermill on the River Rother; East End Mill, a post mill at the site later occupied by the chest hospital, demolished c.1870; and a pair of mills to the east of the village, one of which, Beacon Mill is still standing.
In 1860 Gathorne Hardy, later to become the 1st Earl of Cranbrook (1814–1906), a prominent politician, rebuilt the house in Hemsted Park, one of the Tudor buildings; in 1912 Lord Rothermere made further alterations. It now houses Benenden School
In 1907 a consortium of trade unions and friendly societies established a chest hospital in Goddard's Green Road, Benenden for the treatment of tuberculosis. Today the hospital is an independent organisation, for most medical and surgical specialities and mainly treats members of The Benenden Healthcare Society as well as some NHS and private patients.
Creag may well have been played in Benenden from medieval times, however cricket has been played on the traditional village Green since the 18th century, although the first known mention of an organised club was not until 1798. The club still plays cricket on the Green in front of the St. George's parish church and between the Bull Inn and King William IV public houses. The village sign on the Green commemorates the English professional cricketer John Wenman.
In December 2018 the village hit the national news in the UK after a family of wild swans was shot and killed by an unknown attacker. Newspaper reports stated that two adults and five cygnets were shot dead in the village, then wrapped in plastic bags and dumped on a river bank.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- Benenden Parish Council
- St George's church Archived May 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- The Place Names of Kent, Judith Glover ISBN 0-905270-61-4
- The Origin of English Place Names, P.H.Reaney ISBN 0-7100-2010-4
- Conservation Appraisal on Beneden and Iden Green[permanent dead link] (PDF)
- The Kent Village Book Alan Bignell, 1986, Countryside Books ISBN 1-85306-571-4
- Coles Finch, William (1933). Watermills and Windmills. London: C W Daniel Company. p. 160.
- History of Benenden Hospital Archived 2008-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
- Henry Vaughan, 'Yobs slaughter family of swans in "senseless" air gun attack' in The Mirror (UK newspaper), 2 December 2018
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