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(The Maids of Biddenden)

Name Derivation

General Details

Biddenden Kent - The magnificent old high street
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 the maids.

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 dyeing 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 Kent - The village
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.


Biddenden Kent - All Saints church 
Biddenden is a very pretty village, with a wealth of black and white and old tile hung cottages. The road from the village centre towards the church is beautiful this leads to Sissinghurst and the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle .

The whole village centre although small, can keep you occupied for a long time, just admiring the houses.

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