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    Newenden
(Alfred the Great's Fort)


Name Derivation

General Details

Newenden is situated about 3 miles south of Rolvenden , and north of the River Rother, which forms the county boundary between Kent and Sussex.

For a small village, Newenden holds a lot of history.

In 1242 Carmelite monks established themselves in Newenden . The first mention of the game of cricket referred to a game played in Newenden around 1300! The picturesque church of St Peter also dates from this time, and contains an older Norman font of great interest.

The earliest recorded mention of Newenden appears in 791, when Offa, King of Mercia, granted the manor of Newenden to the Priory and Monks of Christ Church Canterbury.

South of the church, Lossenham Lane leads eastwards from the village. The lane leads to a knoll known as Castle Toll, an alledged Pre-Roman earthworks. In September 1971, an important discovery was made, that there had been a late 9th century fort possibly built by Alfred the Great . Experts from the Department of the Environment believe it to be the fortress of Eopeburner / Eorpeburnan, the last of the forts of King Alfred the Great along the English South Coast, the fort is about 70yards long.

(It is possible that it may have been further inland at Burgh Hill in Hurst Green , as the river Limen / Rother was navigable up to this point, and it is where the fledgling Wealden iron industry would have despatched its iron products. Looking at a map of Alfreds forts as defined in the Burghal Hidage we see that Hastings and Southwark were defensive positions, Hurst Green is between the two, and would make a better border position than Newenden. Finally the Vikings based themselves at nearby Appledore which would have been too close to Newenden as Alfreds troops could have covered the few miles relatively quickly).

Newenden was important because it was the lowest crossing point of the River Rother, an arm of Romney Marsh, on the road from London to Rye and Hastings.

It was an important river port for sea-going ships until the beginning of the 16th century, when it is said, there were sixteen taverns in the town, of which only one - 'The White Hart' survives.

(We are greatful to Phillip Lacey for providing the following) I was a little sad to see there was no mention of the 14th century Old Toll Cottage that once stood opposite the White Hart Inn.

I believe the cottage was torn down about 1963 by the then owner of the attached garage that was the stable at the back and coach house for the Inn's over night customers.

The Toll Cottage was just two rooms up stairs used as bedrooms, you had to open a wooden door with a wooden latch to get access the small almost vertical stairs that turned sharp to the right when you were on the second step. When you entered the main bedroom through the floor you had to turn right pass to the small bedroom, in this room the water tank was kept.

To look out of the main bedroom windows of which there were two (one looked to the Rother and the other to the Church) it was necessary to kneel down, but the small bedroom window it was necessary to stand up to look down the road in the direction of Lossenham.

Down stairs there were also two rooms, the sitting room where the stair door was had an open fire place for a wood burning grate and had three windows looking to the Rother, the Inn and the Church. The other room was used as a kitchen dining room with a small galley for a bath. The toilet was outside next to the garage. There had been a small fire place at the rear of the cottage, possible a cooking range.

As with all old cottages big or small as this it was necessary to mind your head when one entered past through the door ways, and some very tall people had to put their head between the exposed beams to stand up.

The beams of the cottage had come from old wooden boats as it was possible to see the old shapes and fixing points, the ceiling was the up stairs floor.


Services

Newenden has very limited services, Northiam is the nearest large village.

There is a frequent bus service through the village from Tenterden to Hastings.

The trains can be caught in Battle about 9 miles south east, or Etchingham about 9 miles west.

The nearest shopping is in Tenterden about 6 miles to the north.

The nearest large town is Hastings , about 14 miles south.


Views

Newenden is best visited by foot, as the road only passes quickly through the village. The petite and pretty medieval church is worth a visit.

Look south east over the playing fields and try to imagine a bustling and busy port on your left, with sea going ships in full sail heading for Europe, the South Coast ports and London.

 
       
 
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