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Stone church surrounded by graves
All Saints Biddenden Church
Biddenden is located in Kent
Location within Kent
Area29.12 km2 (11.24 sq mi)
Population2,574 (Civil Parish 2011)[1]
• Density88/km2 (230/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ850383
Civil parish
  • Biddenden
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townASHFORD
Postcode districtTN27
Dialling code01580
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
51°06′50″N 0°38′39″E / 51.1139°N 0.6441°E / 51.1139; 0.6441Coordinates: 51°06′50″N 0°38′39″E / 51.1139°N 0.6441°E / 51.1139; 0.6441

Biddenden is a large, mostly agricultural and wooded village and civil parish in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. The village lies on the Weald of Kent, some 5 miles (8 km) north of Tenterden. It was a centre for the Wealden iron industry and also of clothmaking.

The parish includes the hamlet of Woolpack Corner (51°06′N 0°38′E / 51.10°N 00.64°E / 51.10; 00.64).

Origin of Name[edit]

The place name of Biddenden is derived from the Kentish dialect of Old English, meaning "Bidda's woodland pasture". It is associated with a man called Bida, was originally Biddingden (c993) Bida + ing + denn, eventually evolving into the current spelling.[2][3]


All Saints Biddenden is the parish church, built mostly in the 13th century. There was likely an earlier Saxon church here. During the half-century reign of Edward III, Flemish clothworkers were settled in the area. The ready availability of raw materials led to the establishment of a flourishing textile industry for the production of broadcloth. Wealth from this industry built many of the fine houses in town.

Biddenden Place was the ancestral home of the Mayney or Mayne family: the village school, originally founded in 1522, is named after its benefactor John Mayne. [4]

Biddenden Maids[edit]

In 1100, Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, a pair of conjoined twins, were supposedly born in the village. The origin of the perpetual charity of Biddenden is celebrated in the village signage of the Biddenden Maids, as they became known. The Biddenden Consolidated Charity provides Biddenden pensioners and widows with bread, cheese, and tea at Easter, a cash payment at Christmas, and distribution of Biddenden cakes.[5]


Biddenden compared
2001 UK Census Biddenden Ashford district England
Population 2,434 102,661 49,138,831
Foreign born 5.8% 5.5% 9.2%
White 98.7% 97.6% 90.9%
Asian 0.3% 0.9% 4.6%
Black 0.5% 0.4% 2.3%
Christian 78.6% 76.5% 71.7%
Muslim 0.1% 0.6% 3.1%
Hindu 0.2% 0.3% 1.1%
No religion 12.7% 14.6% 14.6%
Unemployed 1.7% 2.4% 3.3%
Retired 18.8% 13.8% 13.5%

At the 2001 UK census, the Biddenden electoral ward had a population of 2,434. The ethnicity was 98.7% white, 0.4% mixed race, 0.3% Asian, 0.5% black and 0.1% other. The place of birth of residents was 94.2% United Kingdom, 0.4% Republic of Ireland, 1.6% other Western European countries, and 3.8% elsewhere. Religion was recorded as 78.6% Christian, 0.3% Buddhist, 0.2% Hindu, 0% Sikh, 0% Jewish, and 0.1% Muslim. 12.7% were recorded as having no religion, 0.3% had an alternative religion and 7.9% did not state their religion.[6]

The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 32.8% in full-time employment, 12.5% in part-time employment, 16.9% self-employed, 1.7% unemployed, 1.1% students with jobs, 2.4% students without jobs, 18.8% retired, 9.4% looking after home or family, 2.5% permanently sick or disabled and 2% economically inactive for other reasons. The industry of employment of residents was 13.9% retail, 9.5% manufacturing, 10.3% construction, 14.3% real estate, 10.3% health and social work, 7.2% education, 4.7% transport and communications, 5.2% public administration, 4.9% hotels and restaurants, 5.7% finance, 5.8% agriculture and 8.2% other. Compared with national figures, the ward had a relatively high proportion of workers in agriculture and construction. There were a relatively low proportion in manufacturing, transport and communications. Of the ward's residents aged 16–74, 19.6% had a higher education qualification or the equivalent, compared with 19.9% nationwide.[6]

An important cottage industry has developed to the west, where numerous vineyards and orchards produce varietal wines, ciders and juices. Biddenden is also the trading name of Biddenden's Cider. Biddenden's Cider is made by Biddenden Vineyards Ltd.[7] whose premises are close to the clustered village centre.


Biddenden was served for nearly five decades by Biddenden railway station, on the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The station opened on 15 May 1905 and closed on 4 January 1954.[8]

Bygone Buses was based in Biddenden during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was sold to Maidstone & District Motor Services.

Notable people[edit]

Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, the Biddenden Maids

Notes and references[edit]


  • Bondeson, Jan (2006), Freaks: The Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square & Other Medical Marvels, Stroud: Tempus Publishing, ISBN 0-7524-3662-7


  1. ^ Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 10 May 2014
  2. ^ The Place Names of Kent, Judith Glover ISBN 0-905270-61-4
  3. ^ The Origin of English Place Names, P.H. Reaney ISBN 0-7100-2010-4
  4. ^ "Parishes: Biddenden Pages 130-141 The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798". British History Online. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  5. ^ Bondeson 2006, p. 241.
  6. ^ a b "Neighbourhood Statistics". Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  7. ^ Biddenden's Cider, Biddenden Vineyards
  8. ^ Garrett, S R (March 1980). The Kent & East Sussex Railway (Revised ed.). Tarrant Hinton: The Oakwood Press. pp. 9, 23.

External links[edit]