Eccles, Kent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eccles from Blue Bell Hill
Eccles is located in Kent
Location within Kent
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townAylesford
Postcode districtME20
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
51°19′08″N 0°28′48″E / 51.318900°N 0.480010°E / 51.318900; 0.480010Coordinates: 51°19′08″N 0°28′48″E / 51.318900°N 0.480010°E / 51.318900; 0.480010

Eccles is a village in the English county of Kent, part of the parish of Aylesford and in the valley of the River Medway.


It is near to the site of a Roman villa estate and pottery kiln, excavated between 1962 and 1976. The site was occupied from a decade or so after the Roman invasion up until the end of Roman Rule.[1] The villa underwent at least four main phases of construction. There is possible evidence of a military influence in the initial period[2] and latterly it comprised 37 rooms or more. It was preceded by an earlier development represented by a small, rectangular granary and an associated length of boundary wall, dating to AD 55-AD 65. The discovery of large-scale pottery manufacture in the immediate post-conquest era suggests the likelihood of industrial installations such as workshops, stores and wharves along the Medway.[3] The villa has been described as a particularly large and grand example of its kind and one of the most important villas in Britain from several points of view.[4] Situated beneath and around the villa are traces of an earlier, Iron Age farmstead, represented by a group of linear boundary ditches and pits.[5]

A large Saxon cemetery was discovered adjacent to the south-east wing of the villa formed by 200 or more graves aligned east–west and containing extended human skeletons. Up to three layers of burials were recognised during excavation. Grave goods were found with some of the lower and outlying burials, giving them a likely mid-seventh century date. Some of the skeletons showed evidence of having suffered fatal weapon injuries probably originating from a single hostile event. Towards the south east of the cemetery are a group of post holes which have been interpreted as a shrine, temple or small chapel. Signs of reuse during the medieval period include cesspits and rough cobbling beyond the courtyard boundary wall.[6]

The archaeological site incorporates evidence of Roman and Medieval tile kilns, dating from AD 180 to AD 290 and from the mid thirteenth century respectively. Additionally, large quantities of waste material indicate the site of a Roman pottery kiln with a terminal date of AD 70.[7]

Further details of the archaeology in this area can be found in The Romano-British Villa and Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Eccles, Kent. [8]

Origins of the village[edit]

Prior to 1850, the area now occupied by Eccles was mostly farms and arable land.[9] Around that time, the builder Thomas Cubitt bought two farms near the river and opened a brickyard and cement works.[10] The brick works was the most advanced in the world producing up to 30 million bricks a year. Situated on a gentle slope, the buildings were positioned along tram lines so that each stage of manufacture moved closer to the quay; with this arrangement production progressed by gravity rather haulage.[11] Piped water was provided to the works from a large reservoir. At its peak, the works employed almost a thousand men and boys.[12] The plant formally closed in 1941 and was later demolished.[13][14]

As the brick works was established, a local farmer Thomas Abbot built a terrace of 22 cottages to house the workers, the settlement soon increased to 300.[15] The area was known as ‘Bull Lane’ before it adopted the name of ‘Eccles’. The former name still appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1897.[16]

Although the village did not acquire the name ‘Eccles’ until some time in the second half of the 19th century, the name is not new. In her book The Place Names of Kent,[17] Judith Glover traces it in its present form back to 1208 and suggests that it derived from the 10th-century 'Aecclesse', meaning the 'meadow of the oak'. The Domesday Book of 1086 records Eccles as ‘Aiglessa’.[18] At that time, it had a population of 22 households, putting it in the largest 40% of recorded settlements.[19] It has also been suggested that the name 'Eccles' comes from the Latin word 'ecclesia' meaning 'church', implying that a post-Roman Christian community existed in the area, although there is no evidence for this.[20] Volume 4 of The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, published in 1798, reports that Eccles was a manor of the parish of Aylesford, "which was of some note in the time of the Conqueror, being then part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king's half brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the book of Domesday".[21] The site of the manor of Eccles was lost to public knowledge by the 18th Century, but it was surmised to be somewhere at the eastern extremity of the parish, near Boxley Hill.

A detailed history of the village of Eccles can be found in The Medway Valley: A Kent landscape transformed.[9]

Current amenities[edit]

There is a school, a church,[22] a pub, a convenience store with post office services,[23] and a doctors’ surgery.[24] There is also a church hall, which is used by the village pre-school, and a drop-in centre for the over-50s in Cork Street.

At the centre of the village is a large park (‘the Rec’) with a skate park, children's play facilities and exercise equipment for adults. On weekends there are junior football games. Nearby, there is a sports field which has been used by Eccles Football Club since the 19th century.

There is now just one pub in Eccles, the Red Bull, which is grade II listed.[25][26] The Walnut Tree was demolished in early 2012 and the site developed into private housing.[27]

St Mark’s School,[28] Eccles, is a small mixed-year group, Church of England Primary School. It was rebuilt in 2002 on a green-field site close to the small Victorian building that it replaced.[29] It is set in attractive grounds, with solar roof panels, large gardens, allotment beds and a sports court.[30]

A library bus visits every Tuesday afternoon.[31]

A farmers’ market is held on every third Sunday of the month[32] at Aylesford Priory which is within walking distance of the village.

Location and surroundings[edit]

Eccles is three miles from junctions 5 and 6 of the M20 motorway, and the same distance from junction 3 of the M2 motorway. Maidstone East Station is 4+12 miles away. The village also has road access to communities on the west bank of the Medway by way of Peter's Bridge which was opened in September 2016.[33]

Eccles sits between the villages of Aylesford (one mile away) and Burham (also one mile away), below the North Downs whose shelter provides a favourable micro-climate for both the village and the adjacent vineyards.[34]

There is a network of footpaths around the village providing access to the surrounding countryside, vineyards and the River Medway. There are all-weather footways south to Aylesford Priory and north to Pilgrims' Way and thence to Burham. Beyond Burham, there is a combined footpath and cycle way down to the Riverside Walk at Peter's Village.

Eccles features on a number of ramblers' routes. For example, it is part of the 'Ancient Sites of Aylesford' walk,[35] which incorporates the ancient monuments of Kit's Coty House and Little Kit's Coty House.

Three major long-distance trails pass within a mile of the village. They are the Pilgrims' Way, the North Downs Way and the Medway Valley Walk.

Kit’s Coty vineyard[edit]

The vineyard adjacent to Eccles village is located on land acquired by the wine producer Chapel Down in 2007.[34] It is named after the ancient monument which is situated on the slope of the North Downs immediately above.[36] The conditions for viniculture are reputed to be similar to those of the Champagne region in France.[37] By coincidence, the route of the 2007 Tour de France through Kent included a section of Pilgrim’s Way that lies immediately along the northern boundary of the vineyard.[38][39]

At one time, prior to its acquisition by Chapel Down, the land had been designated as the site for the Mid Kent Parkway Station on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.[40][41] However, following strong opposition from PEFTT (Protect Eccles From The Train) and other local groups,[42] it was eventually decided that the rail route would not run along the Medway Valley past Eccles and Burham but would instead pass through a 4 km tunnel under Blue Bell Hill, and run alongside the M2.[43] Among those claiming credit for this decision were a coven of White Witches from Hastings who had previously performed a ritual at Little Kit’s Coty House on the Countless Stones to protect them from any disturbance by the railway.[44][45]

The 95 acres of the vineyard are planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Bacchus grapes.[46] The Chardonnay grape is used in a premium single-vineyard range of wines which are marketed as the Kit’s Coty Collection.[47]

Notable people[edit]


  • Detsicas, A, The Cantiaci, Sutton, Gloucester, 1987


  1. ^ Palmer, Lyn. "Roman Kent". Exploring Kent's Past. Kent County Council. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  2. ^ Blanning, Elizabeth Denise. "Landscape, Settlement and Materiality Aspects of Rural Life in Kent during the Roman Period Volume Two: Dwelling, Subsistence and Remembrance: Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" (PDF). University of Kent. p. 204. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Monument Details: Eccles Roman Villa, Eccles". Exploring Kent's Past. Kent County Council. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  4. ^ "MONUMENT NO. 416441". Pastscape. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Romano-British villa, Anglo-Saxon cemetery and associated remains at Eccles". Ancient Monuments. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  6. ^ Shaw, Rachel (1994). "The Anglo saxon Cemetery at Eccles: A preliminary report" (PDF). Archaeologica Catiana. Kent Archaeological Society. pp. 165–188, Vol 144. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Monument No. 416521". Pastscape. Historic England. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  8. ^ STOODLEY, NICK (2021). The Romano-british villa and Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Eccles, Kent a summary of the excavations by Alex Detsicas with a consideration of the archaeological, historical and linguistic content. [S.l.]: ARCHAEOPRESS. ISBN 9781789695878.
  9. ^ a b Newman, Andrew Hann ; with contributions from John; Vigar, John; Dunster, Sandra (2009). The Medway Valley : a Kent landscape transformed. Chichester: Phillimore. pp. 110–116. ISBN 978-1-86077-600-7.
  10. ^ "Towns and Villages Around Maidstone | Eccles". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Friends of Medway Archives | Home" (PDF). p. 20. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  12. ^ Barker, N. "The Geology of the Blue Bell Hill Chalk Pits" (PDF). Kent Geologists' Group. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  13. ^ Sallery, Dave. "English Bricks: Br to By". Old Bricks - history at your feet. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  14. ^ Moore, Dylan. "Cement Kilns: Burham". Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  15. ^ "History of Eccles - Kent Past". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Map: Eccles, 1897-1898". Francis Frith.
  17. ^ Glover, Judith (1976). The place names of Kent. London: B.T. Batsford. ISBN 978-0713430691.
  18. ^ Archives, The National. "The Discovery Service". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  19. ^ Powell-Smith, Anna. "Eccles". Open Doomsday. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  20. ^ Ward, Alan (2004). "Church Archaeology 410 to 597: The Problem of Continuity" (PDF). Archaeologia Cantiana. 124: 377. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Parishes: Aylesford | British History Online". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  22. ^ "Church". North Kent Methodist Circuit.
  23. ^ "Opening Hours Post Office Eccles - Aylesford (Kent)". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Doctors – Burham Parish Council". EiS - Kent County Council. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Red Bull, Eccles". What Pub. Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
  26. ^ England, Historic. "THE RED BULL PUBLIC HOUSE, Aylesford - 1363110| Historic England". Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Walnut Tree, Eccles, Aylesford, Maidstone". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  28. ^ "St Marks CE (VC) Primary School, Eccles". St Marks CE (VC) Primary School, Eccles. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  29. ^ "St Marks Primary School, Kent, UK - Atelier Ten". Atelier Ten. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  30. ^ "TM/08/1896". Kent County Council Committees. Kent County Council. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Mobile library timetable search". Kent County Council.
  32. ^ "Calendar | KFMA". Kent Farmers’ Market Association. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  33. ^ Smith, Alan. "New £19m bridge declared open". Kent Online. KM Media Group. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  34. ^ a b Donaghay-Spire, Josh. "Behind the scenes at Chapel Down, the UK's leading winery". The Week Portfolio. Dennis Publishing Limited. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  35. ^ "Ancient Sites of Aylesford - The AA". Automobile Association Developments Ltd. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  36. ^ "Chapel Down Kit's Coty Estate Chardonnay 2011". Majestic Wine Warehouses Ltd. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  37. ^ Sturt, Sarah. "7 of the best vineyard tours in Kent". Kent Life. Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  38. ^ "Tour de France 2007: Stage One Route". BBC. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  39. ^ Atkins, Fred (2009). Tour de Kent : the day the world's biggest bike race came to the Garden of England. Breedon Books. ISBN 1859837387.
  40. ^ Tudor, Sean (2017). The Ghosts of Blue Bell Hill & other Road Ghosts. White Ladies Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780995736313.
  41. ^ Glasspool, David. "Mid-Kent Parkway". Kent Rail. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  42. ^ Kent Messenger, September 21, 1990, Page 8.
  43. ^ "Channel Tunnel Rail Link (Hansard, 22 March 1993)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  44. ^ Originally reported in the Local Kent Messenger at the time. Details clarified by email correspondence with a participant.
  45. ^ Arnold, Neil (2010). Paranormal Kent. Stroud: History Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780752455907.
  46. ^ "Chapel Down's Kit's Coty Chardonnay 2013 - Product Launch". just-drinks. Aroq Ltd. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  47. ^ "English Wine Producers :: Chapel Down launches a Prestige Cuvée from its award-winning single vineyard estate Kit's Coty". English Wine Producers. Retrieved 17 August 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Eccles, Kent at Wikimedia Commons