View over the Medway Gap from Blue Bell Hill with Snodland and the Horseshoe Reach meander of the River Medway with the paper mills in front, and the North Downs behind
|Population||10,211 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Snodland is a small town on the River Medway, located between Rochester and Maidstone in the English county of Kent. It is about 27 miles from central London and at the 2011 census had a population of 10,211 people.
"Snoddingland" is first mentioned in a charter of 838 in which King Egbert of Wessex gave "four ploughlands in the place called Snoddingland and Holanbeorge" (Holborough) to Beornmod, the Bishop of Rochester. Since -ingland names are mostly derived from personal names, the name appears to refer to 'cultivated land connected with Snodd' or Snodda. The Domesday Book refers to it as "Esnoiland".
The first Roman advance in the conquest of Britain may have crossed the River Medway near Snodland, although there are other possible locations. The supposed crossing place is marked by a memorial on the opposite side of the river from Snodland, close to Burham. Near this spot, a ferry later carried pilgrims bound for Canterbury along the Pilgrims' Way.
Lime working had been carried out at Snodland for centuries, but expanded dramatically in the 19th century, as building boomed. The firm of Poynder and Medlicott began quarrying on the Snodland-Halling border in the early 19th century and the company was taken over by William Lee in 1846. Others followed and the last one was built in 1923 by W. L. H. Roberts at Holborough. Lime for building Waterloo and other London bridges came from the area.
The paper-making industry came to Snodland around 1740, when the May family built a mill which the Hook family took over in 1854. New manufacturing techniques and the coming of the railway in the 1850s improved paper production from five to 70 tons a week. Snodland's population doubled between 1840 and 1857. After the Medway Valley railway was opened on 18 June 1856, the village trebled in size between 1861 and 1881. As a result, the parish boundary was re-aligned in 1898 and again in 1988, both changes absorbing areas of Birling parish, known locally as "Lower Birling".
Snodland is now under a 10-year development plan by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to redevelop and expand the Holborough part of Snodland. In 2005, Berkeley Homes began the construction of around 1,200 houses on the former Holborough Quarry.
Fifteen members sit on Snodland Town Council. Snodland East ward elects two councillors and Snodland West three councillors on Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. In the 2011 election, the West ward elected three Conservative councillors, and East ward elected one Conservative and one Labour. Sarah Hohler is the town's member on Kent County Council, and the town is part of the Chatham and Aylesford constituency, represented at Westminster by Conservative Tracey Crouch.
The town is situated between the North Downs to the west and the river Medway to the east. Leybourne Lakes Country Park was created from disused gravel pits to the south that have been flooded and landscaped to make fishing and wildlife lakes; across the river is the Burham Marsh nature reserve, a tidal reed bed.
At the 2011 census, Snodland had a population of 10,211 people.
Since 1903, Snodland was the home of the Mid Kent Water Company. After privatisation of the water companies, the owners of Mid Kent Water in October 2006 also bought South East Water, although regulatory issues dragged on until 2007. The two companies were then merged under the name South East Water, whilst retaining the headquarters facilities in Rocfort Road. The company supplies 2.1 million customers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
Culture and community
Since 1986, Snodland has been twinned with Moyeuvre-Grande, a town of similar size, located near Metz in North East France. The towns planned to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the partnership in May 2016.
Snodland has two public houses, The Freemasons Arms and The Monks Head, and two working men's clubs, Snodland WMC and Ham Hill WMC.
The Roman villa in Church Field has survived quite well and has been partially excavated. Aside from the churches (see below), Woodlands Farmhouse on Constitution Hill is a Grade II* listed building dating to the early-mid 15th century. The Mulberry Cottages on the High Street were originally a classical Wealden hall house dating to c1450; there's another hall house at 72 Holborough Rd. There are a number of more recent listed structures, perhaps the most unusual is a mock ruin, built c1850 to the south of the water company headquarters on the High St.
The town is situated on the A228 road connecting the Medway Towns with Tonbridge. The M20 motorway junction 4 is two miles south of the town and affords good access to London and the Channel Ports. The Snodland by-pass takes heavy commercial traffic away from the town centre (an area commonly referred to as "the village" by residents). The railway station was opened on 18 June 1856, on an extension of the North Kent Line from Strood to Maidstone (SER) along the Medway Valley Line. There are peak-time services via HS1 direct to St Pancras; otherwise, passengers for London need to change at Strood or Maidstone Barracks/Maidstone East.
The Holmesdale School is a Foundation school formerly known as Holmesdale Technology College. It still specialises in technology and is linked to The Malling School in The Malling Holmesdale Federation Trust.
The town continues to support two active Anglican churches within the Archdeaconry of Rochester, but Roman Catholic, Methodist, United Reformed and Swedenborgian churches have all closed since the 1970s. The parish church of All Saints dates from the 12th century, with many additions since then. The population growth in the 19th century led to the requirement for a new church in the south of the town, Christ Church, which was designed by Percy Monkton in Early English Gothic Revival style. St Benedict's Church, Paddlesworth is a Norman church on the Pilgrim's Way about a mile west of the town. It dates from the early 12th century but has spent much of its life as a farm building and is currently in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
There is a Kingdom Hall on Church Field, used by local Jehovah's Witnesses. In the late 1940s, the defunct Grand Picture Palace cinema on Holborough Road was converted into the Catholic Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury, but it was closed in 2007 and redeveloped. A Primitive Methodist Chapel on Chapel Road closed in 1976 and is now a car showroom. The Swenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem on the High St was used until the 1980s but is now a private house. The United Church on the High Street closed in 2011 after becoming structurally unsound. The cemetery was opened in 1896, with the house and chapel being designed by Hubert Bensted of Maidstone.
The Snodland Sports Association was set up in 2008. The 2012-13 season saw the merger of all the senior and junior football clubs in the town. As of 2016-17,[update] Snodland Town F.C. competes in the Southern Counties East Football League, Division One. The other 13 teams include Snodland Town Reserves FC, Snodland Town Sunday FC and Snodland Town Nomads FC.
Snodland Community Cricket Club play at Rectory Meadow, just off Rocfort Road car park. The Snodland Chess Club, established in 2003, uses the Cricket Pavilion as its playing venue. The chess club has been national champions in two sections of the National Chess Club Championship.
The postal pioneer Thomas Fletcher Waghorn (1800–50), shortened the mail route to India from three months to between 35 and 45 days by going through the Egyptian desert. He is buried in the churchyard.
The white reggae singer Judge Dread (real name Alex Hughes, 1945–98) lived in Snodland. Alex Hughes Close is now named after him. Several Judge Dread songs refer to Snodland, such as "Belle of Snodland Town" and "Last Tango in Snodland".
"Before I could do anything he disappeared. That meant she had won. That slut! I couldn't credit it. I lay stricken for weeks. Then I drove over to her place. It was all bolted and barred. All grey with frozen dew. On the way back by Ash and Snodland"
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- "A village sacrificed to industry", by Stephen Rayner, Memories page, Medway News, August, 2003.
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