The Larkfield Historical Society

Where memories are recalled

Aylesford

Aylesford village signAylesford is a village and civil parish on the River Medway in Kent, 4 miles NW of Maidstone in England.

Originally a small riverside settlement, the old village comprises around 60 houses, many of which were formerly shops. Two pubs, a village shop and other amenities including a hairdresser, estate agent, two restaurants, a chiropodist and a coffee shop are located on the high street. Aylesford has expanded rapidly over the past thirty years and its current population is around 5,000.

 

 

The Parish of Aylesford covers more than seven square miles, stretching north to Rochester Airport estate and south to Barming, and has a total population of over 10,000, with the main settlements at Aylesford, Eccles, Blue Bell Hill Village and (part of) Walderslade.

Aylesford Newsprint was a long-established major employer in the area and was the largest paper recycling factory in Europe, manufacturing newsprint for the newspaper industry. In 2015 Aylesford Paper Mill, as it was known by local residents, was closed down and stripped of all its assets. Many local families who had been employed there, sometimes for several generations, were affected.

 

Aylesford: is a picturesque village, on the upper reaches of the Medway, famed for its medieval bridge, and of course the friary. Not to mention the belching industrial behemoth of the paper mill ( formerly Reeds). But peel back the layers of modern industry relentless development, and see it as it was when the People of Aella a powerful Saxon chieftain and later Bretwalda of Britain around 455 AD first settled here. The river here was a well known fording place and so They gave the early settlement the name Ælla s ford. Low flat and surrounded by water meadows (Hamms) some full of skylarks (lāwerece feld) later larkfield. Aella was a powerful chieftain who came over as a mercenary in the warband of Hengist and Horsa. Taking part in crushing Vortigern the Iron Age king of Kent. Aella made is home at the ford, providing security against a retaliation across the Medway. Later as his wealth and clan increased his people followed the river and made another large settlement at Allington (Ælling tūn) farm of Aellas folk. So Aylesford was a place at the heart of the kents struggles as hoards of invaders sailed over the Germanic seas to settle England and gives us the identity of being English (Anglesce). Later still as more people came over and sailed their invading ships up/down the Medway they arrived a little further down from Aylesford to land at a new landing place, shallower and probably gravelly enabling jettys to be built and a trading post. This place was named nīwe hyd(th) new landing place eventually New hythe. So this little stretch of our Medway was a very busy place indeed!

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