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Cowden shown within Kent
|Population||818 (2011 Census)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Cowden (//) 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. At the 2011 Census the population of the village was 818.
Crippenden Manor, built in about 1607, was once the home of ironmaster, Richard Tichborne (1568-1639), related to the Tichbornes of Tichborne, Hampshire. This branch of the Tichbornes descended from a younger son of John Tichborne and Margaret Martin, who inherited his mother's lands in and around Edenbridge, including Crippenden. Richard was the son of John Tichborne (c1549-1620) and Dorothy Chaloner, daughter of Thomas Chaloner of Lyndfield and his wife, 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, who was also 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.
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; he was knighted in 1655 by Cromwell, and was elevated to the peerage in 1657. After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, he was arrested and sentenced to death, but 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 the last member of the family, 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.
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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:
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 window 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 people involved in World War II, all turned towards a Christ-figure whose protection they seek.
The Queen's Arms
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.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Edward Hasted (1797). "The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3". pp. 203–210.
- Pearce, H, Hammer and Furnace Ponds, Pomegranate Press (2011)
- "St Mary Magdalene, Cowden". Church of England.
- Historic England, "Queen's Arms, Cowden Pound (1387747)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 20 August 2014
- Brandwood, Geoff (2013). Britain's best real heritage pubs. St. Albans: CAMRA. p. 50. ISBN 9781852493042.
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