The Larkfield Historical Society

Where memories are recalled

Eccles

Eccles comes from the Old English ‘aecclesse’ meaning the ‘meadow of the oak’. The Domesday Book records Eccles as Aiglessa.

Eccles is the site of an Iron Age settlement, and a Roman villa estate with pottery kiln. Following Roman rule, it reverted back to agriculture.

In 1850, Thomas Cubitt opened a brickyard and cement works in Eccles. Local farmer, Thomas Abbott, foresaw the workers in the new industries would need homes, and built a row of 22 houses, this soon increased to 300. In 1861 Thomas Kemsley, built the Walnut Tree public house.

Workers came from all over the country, drawn by the promise of high wages. They earned £5 a week and spent most of it in the Walnut Tree. A strong temperance movement grew up and in an effort to wean the men from their alcoholic ways they built a church, dedicated to St Marks, a Chapel-of-Ease to Aylesford, at the end of the 1880’s. By the 1930’s, Eccles had its own cinema, pubs, working man’s club and a recreation ground. In 1979, the church closed.

Eccles Village Sign (545x800)The Eccles Village Sign* was painted by local artist Mrs Bobby Francis whose design was chosen in a competition. It is painted in smooth Hammerite paint on wood donated by Travis Perkins The total cost of the sign was £700.

The sign was a Millennium project although it was two years before it was completed as represented by the XXII

The design features the village clock tower, the North Downs above the village and Roman villas in the area. Local farming is represented by the bull, as well as well as apples and pears on the brick wall.

The railway line represents the one that used to run into the village brick at the turn of the 19th/20th century when the village’s main industries were a brickworks and cement works. Many of the bricks produced there were used in building the London Embankment.

Source: *Village Sign Society

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