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(The Maids of Biddenden)
Biddenden is on the old A274 Tenterden to Maidstone road, and
is a small very attractive village with a few local shops, and
a small village green.
The village name derives from a Jutish freeman named Bidda whose
pig herders had made clearings(dens) in the forest of Andredsweald.
Local legend has it that in 1100 twins were born into the Chulkhurst
family , who were joined at the hips and shoulders. Elisa and Mary
lived together for 34 years when one of them died. As it was
impossible to separate the twins, the other died soon after. It
is believed they were carried to Battle Abbey where they were buried.
As part of their will, they bequeathed about 20 acres of land to
be used to help the poor. This charitable event has been recorded
by the church since 1538 and it is probable that it started from
In 1331 the export of unwashed wool was prohibited by King Edward III. He
encouraged weavers from Flanders to settle here, thus bringing their
weaving and dying techniques to England. Biddenden and some of its
neighbouring villages soon became an important centre of the Broadcloth
manufacturing industry. The majority of the high street was built
during this period, and the stone paved footpath was built from
Biddenden to Tenterden to take the traffic.
Once the weaving industry had moved on, the village reverted to
its old agricultural heritage, but as time went on the villagers
became poorer, and many emigrated. In the early 1830's the population
attacked farms and the new machinery which they felt were taking
their jobs these were known as the swing riots. The area was involved
with the smuggling industry due to the villages proximity to the
Dungeness marshes .
In 1905 the railway came to Biddenden, as it was on the branch
line from Headcorn to Biddenden , Tenterden , Northiam , Bodiam
and finally Robertsbridge . This line was closed in 1954, but
nowadays the Kent & East Sussex Railway have opened up the stretch
from Tenterden to Bodiam , and populated it with Steam Trains .
| Biddenden is a small very attractive village with a few local shops.
The main shopping centre is at Tenterden about 6 miles to the south,
or Maidstone with its main supermarkets about 8 miles north.
The nearest rail service is at Headcorn about 3 miles north, which
has a station on the Ashford to London line giving a very frequent
service to the city.