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(Mays Folly - 150ft tower)

Name Derivation

General Details

Hadlow lies on the A26 between Tonbridge and Mereworth in the Vale of Kent, the Medway valley . The old name for the settlement is Haeselholte, a Saxon word which is found in the Textus Roffensis and then Haslow in the Domesday Book , the middle ages it became Hadloe now Hadlow.

The Romans are believed to have settled here as coins and pottery have been found in the village.

In 1018 the village was granted to Queen Eddeva the consort of Edward the Confessor. After 1066 the land was given to Richard de Clare, who in turn granted it the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem in 1166 who were based at nearby West Peckham. The Knights held the land until Henry VIII dissolved the order and the Monasteries in 1536 - 37 .

The Fane family bought the land from Henry VII and built Hadlow Place. They in turn sold it to the May family in 1647. The most famous family member was Walter Barton May, an industrialist from the late 1800's who created Hadlow 'Castle' a late Victorian Gothic home, with a tower now known as Hadlow Tower or May's Folly . It is said that the tower 170ft tall was built to allow May to view the Channel, however the channel cannot be seen from here. He also had a mausoleum built in the churchyard where he was to be buried sitting up above the ground, but he was buried in a normal manner, and the mausoleum remained empty.

The area has been one of the centres of the hop growing industry, and in 1858 the river Medway overflowed at Hadlow, and 30 hop pickers were drowned when their cart fell off the bridge into the flood water. The hops were turned into beer in the village, as the remains of the old brewery shows , nowadays it has been converted into luxury flats.

Mays folly fell into disrepair and was saved from demolishion in 1951 by the painter Bernard Hailstone. It has recently been repaired, but has lost much of its Gothic splendour as the pinnacles have been removed for safety reasons.


The village is well served by local shops, and lies on the main Maidtone to Tonbridge bus service.

The nearest main shopping centre lies about 3 miles to the west of Hadlow at Tonbridge, from where the main line London to Dover railway service runs.


Hadlow has Mays folly, which can be seen from many miles away, together with the gothic entrance to Hadlow castle.

The church has a large number of very interesting hatchments originating during the 18th and 19th centuries.

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