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For other uses, see Cowden (disambiguation).
Cowden is located in Kent
 Cowden shown within Kent
District Sevenoaks
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
List of places

Coordinates: 51°08′41″N 0°05′36″E / 51.144765°N 0.093459°E / 51.144765; 0.093459

Cowden (/kˈdɛn/[1]) is a small village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. The parish is located on the northern slopes of the Weald, south-west of Tonbridge. The old High Street has Grade II listed cottages and village houses, and there is an inn called The Fountain.


The Romans built the London to Lewes Way across what is now the garden of Waystrode Manor. The first owners of the manor received it from King John in 1208.

Crippenden Manor, built in about 1607, was once the home of another ironmaster, Richard Tichborne (1568-1639), related to the Tichbornes of Tichborne, Hampshire. This branch of the Tichbornes descend from a younger son of John Tichborne and Margaret Martin, who inherited his mother's lands in Edenbridge and around, including Crippenden. Richard was the son of John Tichborne (c1549-1620) and Dorothy Chaloner, daughter of Thomas Chaloner of Lyndfield and Alice Shirley. Richard married Dorothy Saxbie, circa 1592, and had at least ten children, including Dorothy who married John Tillinghast (1604-55) son of the Rector of Streat and involved in the iron industry. Richard formally leased Crippenden from 1612 and built the house there. It descended to Captain Edmund Tichborne who sold the manor after 1721.

The village appears as Cudena in Textus Roffensis.[1]

In 1649 Robert Tichborne a nephew of Richard Tichborne, petitioned the House of Commons in favour of the execution of Charles I. He was one of the Commissioners who, in 1651, prepared the way for the union with Scotland and he was knighted in 1655 by Cromwell and made a peer in 1657. After the Restoration he was arrested and sentenced to death, but he was reprieved, imprisoned in Dover Castle and died, in 1682, in the Tower of London. The family, however, did not die out in Cowden until 1708, when John Tichbourne was buried there.

This is old Wealden iron country, recalled by the cast iron memorial slab in the church, to John Bottinge, dated 1622. This was a time when the area was producing guns for the Army and navy, as well as domestic and agricultural ware. Cowden had its own blast furnace from 1573 until sometime in the 18th century. The rumoured second 'upper' Cowden Furnace is now known to have been Scarlets Furnace nearby in East Sussex.[2]


The ancient parish church is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, and has a restored shingle covered spire.

Parts of the parish straddle the Kent Water which forms the border with East Sussex and Surrey where the three counties meet.

It is centred on a 13th-century church of St Mary Magdalene with its slender, wooden shingled spire, bomb-damaged during World War II and since re-shingled. The spire is barely perceptibly out of perpendicular, which gave rise to a rhyme:[3]

Cowden church, crooked steeple,

Lying priest, deceitful people.

The church is built of sandstone, its tower and steeple timber-framed inside. The old bells were recast and rehung in 1911 to commemorate the reign of Edward VII and a sixth bell was added at the Coronation of George V.

A stained glass windows given to the church in 1947 celebrates 'the remarkable preservation of this village during the years 1939-45' and features figures of St Bridget (representing the women of the parish), St Nicholas (for the sailors), St George (the soldiers and airmen) and St Mary Magdalene, all the company of Sir Walstan (the farmer bishop of Worcester Wulfstan 1062-95 representing the local farmers). Below them are 20th-century figures: a sailor, soldier, airman, a nurse and others making up a representative group of World War II characters, all turned towards a Christ-figure whose protection they seek.

The Queen's Arms[edit]

The Queen's Arms

The Queen's Arms is a mid 19th century Grade II listed public house at Hartfield Road.[4] It is on the Campaign for Real Ale's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.[5]


Its railway station was the scene of a fatal crash in 1994. There is a regular service to London and Uckfield.

Notable residents[edit]

The English author and illustrator of children's books, Roger Hargreaves, best known as the creator of the Mr Men and Little Miss series of books, lived at Sussex House Farm in Hartfield Road from 1982 to 1988. He is buried in the graveyard of the parish church, in an extension of land which he had donated the year before his death.

The English actor Sir John Mills lived in Cowden for several years.


  1. ^ Edward Hasted (1797). "The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3". pp. 203–210. 
  2. ^ Pearce, H, Hammer and Furnace Ponds, Pomegranate Press (2011)
  3. ^ "St Mary Magdalene, Cowden". Church of England. 
  4. ^ Historic England, "Queen's Arms, Cowden Pound (1387747)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 20 August 2014 
  5. ^ Brandwood, Geoff (2013). Britain's best real heritage pubs. St. Albans: CAMRA. p. 50. ISBN 9781852493042. 

External links[edit]