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On a visit to the Weald and Downland Museum, I came across a 15C Hall House, as it would have been when first built. The similarities to Elmscroft were striking.

An "en suite" had been added to the side wall. This appeared to be a cupboard with a shelf. On closer inspection the shelf had a hole cut in it, directly above the midden!

The corner post with the wood and plaster is very similar to that, which was uncovered in Elmscroft. See earlier article below.

The King post was also very similar.

The photo below shows how the master bedroom would have looked.

A four poster with curtains to keep out the draught. No glass in the windows, just shutters.

Note the truckle bed under the main bed. Was this for the children or the maid?

The photo below shows the hall, going up to the roof, where there would have been a fire burning in the middle of the room, for heating and cooking. Note the smoke blackened roof.

The room directly above the hall in Elmscroft, has no ceiling and goes straight up to the roof. A previous occupant commented that the roof looked sooty and wondered if there had been a fire in this room which had destroyed the ceiling!  There probably has never been a ceiling and the soot was many centuries old!


What else will be discover? We would love to find out who lived there, over the centuries. We may need to backwards with this research!




Part Two


As the renovations have progressed, some of the original external walls of the Hall House have been exposed. The corner post and part of the original east wall were uncovered, stabilised and left to indicate the houses age. Everything to the left of the old wall is 18th Century.


The room above the hall has no ceiling and goes up to the roof. This may have always been the case. The ceiling in the hall being of a later date. This would have been the centre of the old Hall house where the fire would have been in the middle of the hall and the smoke would have risen up to the roof.

A small maids room has been found in the attic, which appears to have been accessed by a ladder.

No records have been found of who originally lived in the house. We are still looking! However, in 1746 a Mary Charlton was born and baptised in West Farleigh. Her father Thomas Charlton was born in Linton and probably moved to Elmscroft to start his family.

It seems as if Thomas Charlton, may have initiated the encasement of the house and the extensions. There is an extension to the back of the house built at the same time as the northern extension.


Looking at the close up of the house below, you can see below the chimney stack, where the extension was added to the brick encasement.




The plan below shows the later additions to the house. The area outlined in red is the original house, which was built in the 15th Century. The area 1.5 is unusual for a Hall House. They were usually simple rectangular buildings.

The area outlines in blue is the part that ws added in the 18th Century, possibly by Thomas Charlton. The bay outlined in yellow was added in the 19th Century to give this room a smart Georgian appearance. The room still has a georgian feel, but some of the artefacts are just in a "georgian style". Never the less, a very smart room!

The area marked in green was added in the 20th Century.

It is typical that the house has been added to and altered over the year. New owners wanting to use the house for different things, or create a different impression.




Where the garages are, in the court yard shared by Dandelion, There used to be a least one small two up two down cottage. Phyllis Smitherman, who was an Evergreen, told us that she live there with her parents. Who both worked for the Fletchers. Her brothers had one bedroom and she shared a bedroom with her parents. When she left school, she went into service at Elmscroft. She can recall looking out of the windows of the big house and waving to her future husband, who was working as an Agricultural labourer in the fields opposite. She lived in the village all her life.


The current owners, William and Alex Norman, have renovated the whole house, to preserve its history and to make it suitable for 21st Century living.

We hope they have many happy years there.






Tutsham Mill             


Many of us will have seen Tutsham Mill on the bank of the Medway from the weir in Teston Country Park.





Perhaps, you have heard rumours of its mysterious underground tunnels, verified recently by Kent Archaeological Society’s underground

Group. As you can see from the photos they are now silted up.




This is a brief summary of the mill’s history.


The first evidence of a mill at West Farleigh comes from Domesday Book. It is possible that it was on the same site as now, where the Ewell stream enters the Medway. During the 13th century it was owned jointly by a local landowner, James, son of Gilbert de Tutesham, and Leeds Priory.


The mill then disappears from the historical record until the famous engineer, John Rennie, working for Teston’s Charles Middleton, the first Lord Barham, was the project engineer who extended the then existing mill. Charles had obtained the Barham title after being called from retirement by William Pitt to be the First Sea Lord at a critical time in the Napoleonic Wars. He was Nelson’s boss in 1805 when there was a small naval battle at a place called Trafalgar. Despite the reputations of both Rennie and Middleton they encountered much resistance in extending the mill from  the Medway Navigation Company, which had controlled the Medway since it was made navigable in the mid-18th century.


The mill changed hands frequently after Middleton’s death until it reverted back to Barham Court and was extended again in 1880 by Roger Leigh, using the very latest machinery. This was the subject of articles in The Engineer and across the Atlantic in Scientific American. However, it was not a commercial success even before it burnt down in 1885.





In its heyday the mill’s sheer scale would have dominated the scene, and have generated considerable activity on the river with barges arriving and leaving. The noise of its machinery would have been intrusive, 24 hours a day at some times. When it burnt down the noise of 100 tonnes of oil exploding must have been terrific, and local villagers assembled in large numbers “to witness the grand and exciting spectacle”.


It has attracted visitors since it first burnt down.

The remains of the building falling into disrepair and falling down has left an intriguing ruin, which has attracted visitors since its demise.


What we see now is just a small part of the original mill


Like at least 18 other mills in Kent, Tutsham was an oil mill. Not petroleum but linseed oil. It imported linseed, the seed of the flax plant, crushed it and converted it to oil and cake. The oil was used in soaps, candles, paints, lubricants and, after 1870, in margarine. The cake was mainly fed to cattle, particularly in winter, but also used as a fertiliser. The commercial failure of the mill was probably due to its location: competition in Strood, with deep water facilities, could import the raw material in large ships at a lower cost.




View from the garden of Mill Cottage. Formerly the Mill offices.


Since the 1885 fire, the mill has decayed gracefully and romantically.    


Many thanks to Terry Bird, who originally wrote this article for Tapestry, Teston’s Village New letter. He also supplied the photos except the one of the mill from the lock, taken by Ed Boyd.









Part one


We have all walked or driven past Elmscroft, up until recently the home of Dandelion Time.

Many of us have visited on Open Days and Summer Fayres. Some of us have also enjoyed Shakespeare in the garden.

I expect you saw a large Queen Ann farm house. With barns, ragstone farm buildings and farm cottages. The house has the typical windows and main door of a Queen Ann style house.




But it is not what it seems.



 The house was originally a medieval Wealden Hall House. It would have looked similar to the house pictured below.




Built in the 1400’s. The centre part of the House would have been the hall and double height, with a vent in the roof to let the smoke out from the fire lit in the middle of the hall. This would have been for heating and cooking.


At one end there would have been 2 parlours and at the other a kitchen and pantry.

There would have been bedrooms above these rooms. There was no access from one set of upper rooms to the other.


 Many of the original roof timbers can still be seen. Some in situ and others reused when the house was enlarged, modernised etc over the centuries.



 The vestigial lower part of the crown post is visible at the north end of the original house.

You can also see that many old timbers have been reused, at a later date.























This is the original crown post from the south end of the original house.


The house would have been built by a yeoman farmer, who would have owned and farmed the land round it. A yeoman was a free man. Nobody’s servant but also not gentry. He would have employed local men to help him work the land. The farm labourers would probably have been housed and employed throughout the year. When no actual farming was being done, they would lay hedges and clear ditches.


 In the 1500’s the house was “modernised”. An inglenook fireplace with a proper chimney was installed. This fire place is still inexistence in the entrance hall.

Over the years it has been altered many times but the carved wooden beam over the fireplace is thought to be original, but the back and side walls have been

altered (modernised by our Victorian friends )etc.



This meant the building of a chimney. Look at the photo of the house today. The central stack serves this fireplace. However, the chimney has probably been replaced, when other adaptations were done.



Round about the same time a floor was put in joining up the upper rooms.


The house was altered and enlarged in the 18th Centuary, but you will have to wait for the next instalment to find out what was done!





O the Grand Old Duke of York

He had ten thousand men

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And he marched them down again.

And when they were up they were up

And when they were down they were down

And when they were only half way up

they were neither up nor down.


Who was this Duke of York? He was the second son of George the III and put into the army by his father. He was posted to Cocksheath Camp to oversee the training of thousands of men.


A camp was established there, at the start of the Seven Years War, in 1756. Cocksheath was an area of rough heathland 3 miles by 1 mile, 3 miles from Maidstone. The camp was established to train raw recruits. The Camp was seasonal. The soldiers moving to winter quarters in November. Clock House was built as the Head Quarters and The Officers Mess.


From 1778 with the threat of invasion by France. The Camp became very large. Soldiers from Hanover and Hess were brought over by the King to augment our army, to protect our country.  Coxheath was ideally placed to protect London. (There was a similar camp at Braintree Essex). Raw militia were trained to use weapons and drilled to work together as an army


















As can be seen from the sketch, the tents were set out in rows separated by “streets”. 15,000 men were accommodated.

There were also more tents put up at the back of the camp for the women!


All the officers would have bought their commissions and be from the nobility.

The officers would have been well bred and educated, but not necessarily with the right skills to train and run an army!

The Duke of York was sent in to sort things out! Although put in the army by his father, he proved to be a good officer and was instrumental in modernizing the army.


  The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire visited and apparently       stayed in tented accommodation. Georgiana the Duchess           was very taken with the office’s uniforms and had a gown             made emulating a uniform. As she was a trend setter, many of     her contemporaries copied her and a new fashion was l               launched!

   The photo is of a costume, made for the film “The Cut”,               inspired by the dresses made for Georgiana.








Evidence of the military can still be seen in Coxheath. Have you ever wondered why Heath Road is so straight. No other country roads are so straight. It was built by the Army, while they were there! When the army arrived there would have just have been roads going North to South. An East-West road would have been necessary to get to all parts of the camp.


The Clock House is still there, now a farm house.


There is a replica beacon on the junction of Heath Road and Westerhill Road. Why? There was a chain of beacons from the coast to London, to warn of impending invasion.


So! Why the nursery rhyme? It is thought that the Duke of York drilled his soldiers, not only on the flat heathland, but up and down the hill. Was it Linton Hill, Westerhill or Vanity Lane?










 (as far as we know it)


 In feudal times, areas of land (called manors) were given by the Crown or the 

church as rewards to those in favour! Each manor would have a “manor house,” where the lord of the manor lived and from which he administered the affairs of the villagers or serfs, and ensured that his tithes or taxes were paid by them in exchange for the use of land for growing food and grazing livestock. The villagers and serfs living away from the manor house in the nearby village.


The manor of Tutsham gets its name from John de Totesham ( one of the judges at the "Great assize" in the reign of King John. It decended in a direct line to Anthony Totesham. 



At the latter end of Henry VIII reign, Anthony Totesham alienated (gave away) the manor, to Thomas Chapman, one of the grooms of the Kings chamber. It was then sold to, during Queen Elizabeth I reign to John Laurence, Captain of Tilbury Fort. His son died in 1605 and his heirs sold the manor to Augustine Skynner from Devon, who came to live in the Hall. His eldest son, also Augustine, lived in the hall and on his death, his heirs gave Tutsham Manor AND Ewell Manor to Edward Goulston. Edward Goulston was the MP for Maidstone. Edward died in 1720, leaving the Manor to his wife and on her death to his nephew Francis Goulston. In 1726 it was sold to Sir Philip Botolier and on his death, it was bequeathed to Elizabeth Bouverie of Teston House, formerly called Barham Court. What is now Barham Court was formerly Court Lodge.

(But that’s another story!) 

Teston House was a more modern House (It is still there divided into apartments), with fantastic views across the river to Tutsham.

Elizabeth had Tutsham partly demolished, to leave romantic ruins in her vista. The cascades were also left as they also enhanced her view.


(This was also done at Scotney as well. The original house there, down by the lake was turned into attractive ruins when the new house was built, by the Hussey family.)


From the drawing below, it looks as if the house might have been built in the Tudor period. However, this is only a drawing not an architect’s plan or a map.



If the Hall dated back further, which it may well have done, the grounds were definitely to a Tudor design, with elegant formal gardens.


The pool cascades were formed by taming the river Ewell, which flowed into the Medway. (The river Ewell in the late 1800s was used to power a mill, the ruins of which are still visible from Teston Lock.)


From the drawing you can clearly see the line of Mill Lane and the track up to the present day Tutsham Hall. It looks as if the cascades came down to the west of where Mill Cottages are now. Or is the map not to scale and the cascades came down through where the mill pond and the mill race are today?


Comparing the drawing with a current photo taken from a microlite, it appears that the original Hall was built on the site of the American Oast and Barns etc .



To the west of the Hall two building can be seen on the old drawing. 

One of these may have been incorporated into the present Tutsham Hall (see above) which was built in the 1800s. The present Tutsham Hall has a grade 2 listing and it states that, it might incorporate an older building!


Historical information from “British History on line." 






From the Census return.


There were 58 Agricultural workers, most of them with families, of up to 8 children. 5 being  the average number of children.


Tutsham had 95 people living on the estate, 13 families with 38  children between them.

There is no indication of where they were housed the address for all of them is just Tutsham.


The Alms houses were occupied with families with a working head of the family.

The original almshouses were on the site of the present Oliver North Flats.


Farleigh Green was rather different, as it had tradesman living there. A Shoe Maker, Dressmaker,  Bricklayer, Blacksmith, Baker and two gardeners, as well as some Agricultural labourers.


There was a School Mistress with two servants living at Spittle Crouch. (This was before the school was built) It was probably a Dame School for those who could afford to pay. Does any one know where Spittle Crouch was or is?


Some properties were occupied with families of Independent Means. All of whom had servants. Smiths Hall had 16 servants!


By 1911 Tutsham looked a little different.


There were 44 adults and 34 children living on Tutsham. With an average of 2.4 children per family. There was one family of 5.


By this time not everyone living on Tutsham were farm Labourers. For example in Mill Cottages, there was family of Blacksmiths, a lock keeper, a railway flagman and several people working at the cricket Ball factory in Teston.


What was surprising and upsetting, there was a family of mother, father and 4 month old baby, recorded as living in a shed on Court Lodge Farm. A Widower living in the Lodge, ( this would have been a log or storage shed) at the Good Intent and a single man living in the Chequers Stables (Tickled Trout). Let’s hope this was not a grim as it sounds.


Village History


Listed in 1085 in the Domesday book as Ferlaga, the website "British History Online" suggests the name Farleigh is from Saxon times when it took its name from the passage across the River Medway since 'Fare' signified a journey or place and 'Lega' a place, i.e. the place of the way or passage.


The entry in the Domeday book notes that Ferlaga was given by Wlliam the Conqueror to his half-brother, Odo, Bishop of Baieux soon after 1066. The Bishop became "disgraced" in 1084 and Ferlaga was confiscated back to the crown prior to being given to Robert, son of Hamon de Crevequer who took part with the rebellious barons against the King at which point Ferlaga was again seized by the crown.


It appears to have remained in the hands of the crown until Edward l gave it to his queen, Eleanor, who in 1290 gave it to the priory of Christ Church in Canterbury in exchange for the port of Sandwich. 


The parish continued as part of the possessions of the priory of Christ Church until the dissolution under King Henry Vlll in 1540 when it was again surrendered into the King's hands and he granted it to Sir Thomas Wyatt. However, Sir Thomas' son raised a rebellion in 1553 against Queen Mary and the parish once again was seized and the ownership was passed to her attorney general, Sir John Baker, in 1554. 


The parish continued to be owned by their family until 1649/1650 when it passed into the ownership of Robert Newton, described as "grocer of London" who conveyed it to Augustine Hodges, described as "gentleman" who sold the parish to John  Amhurst. "esq of East Farleigh Court Lodge" who by his will in 1711 devised it to his brother, Nicholas Amhurst, "gentleman of West Barming." 


Currently the name change to West Farleigh has been difficult to date. A comment in British History Online states "West Farleigh, so called to distinguish it from the adjoining one of East Farleigh." Additionally the phraseology in older records alternates between 'manor' and 'parish' and it is therefore somewhat diffcult to determine whether more recent comments are about the village generally or a particular property.


The primary school which had one classroom was located on Lower Road and closed in 1976. One of its two teachers at the time was Miss Whittle, the daughter of Sir Frank Whittle, co-inventor of the jet engine. The village's post office and only stores at the top of Charlton Lane closed in 1986.

Teston Bridge


Teston Bridge is built of coursed rag-stone with ashlar capping stones to the parapets. The bridge is narrow, only wide enough to permit traffic to pass in one direction at a time and the parapets feature pedestrian refuges continued up from the cutwaters on each side. It carries the B2163 road, which is crossed on the level by the Medway Valley Line just west of the bridge. 



All Saints Chruch


The church was begun in the late 11th century or the 12th century with further work carried out in the 15th century. The church was restored in 1875 and is constructed of roughly coursed or uncoursed rag-stone with pebbledashed render to the nave and chancel. The roofs are plain tiled. It is a Grade I listed building.



Ewell Manor, Ewell Lane


Village manor house known to date from the mid 17th centuary. Rebuilt in 2014.



Dove Cottage, Ewell Lane


Dove Cottage was built in the early eighteenth century, it appears on a plan of Smiths Hall. It was then called Smith’s Cottage. All the buildings in that area were :”Smiths”. Smiths Hall, Smiths Croft, Smiths Oast, Smiths Farm etc. It belonged to the Estate of Smiths Hall.





Monkey's Hole, Charlton Lane


From 'Monkey's hole' to 'The Hollow'





Good Intent, The Green


This Inn known by the name and sign of the Good Intent was built in part in the 13th year of the reign of George 11 in 1740, though the original structure has been altered and added to over the years.


Read more here...

Listed Buildings & Monuments


Hisotric England has numerous listed buildings and monuments in West Farleigh, some of them might surprise you.


Read on to find out more. 

Image Placeholder

Days Gone by, Image Archive


See our collection of local photos from years past. Here





With thanks to Pam Clark (who wrote a history of the WI in 2007) and to Diane Scott for more recent rummaging through the archives!)


The women from East and West Farleigh formed The Farleighs WI in 1919.  Their meeting place was the Iron Room, a building in front of Court Lodge Oast Houses in Lower Road, East Farleigh. Mrs Littlewood, wife of the Vicar of East Farleigh was the first President and Miss Tapsfield from Kettle Farm was the secretary, there were 29 members.



 Anna Tapsfield, probably dressed for one of their pageants.


                                                      Miss Tapsfield lived in Kettle Farm, Kettle Lane. East Farleigh (Just!) She was the Registrar for Births and Deaths. The vicar would have been registrar for marriage, as he is today.

This photo is still hanging in the lobby of the WI hall, today.


It was all very formal, but women from all classes were welcome and were treated as equals (as in deed they were).

Committee meetings were held in the afternoon and there were no monthly meetings in September, because of hop picking.  The format of the monthly meeting was as it is today, except that the speaker usually arrived on a bike having travelled miles in all sorts of weather.

The Womens’ Institute was formed for the education of country women.

In 1921 members welcomed speakers on the subjects of shoe mending, chicken rearing, bee keeping and washing and drying a new baby!

In 1922 they set up a clinic for children starting school.

In 1931 Mrs Parker of Court Lodge, West Farleigh, the then President and members from East and West Farleigh helped raise the funds to build The Farleighs WI Hall.  It was owned and maintained for the benefit of the two villages by the WI, as it is today.  The Hall is regularly used by the community as well as the WI.

The land cost £80 and the final cost was £940 6s 7p. This was a huge undertaking and a magnificent achievement by the ladies. Especially remembering the financial problems there were in the thirties.

However, the initial Trustees of the Hall were local business MEN. It wasn’t until 1971 that the management of the hall was taken over by charity Trustees under the umbrella of the WI constitution.(WI ladies)

As there was a lack of transport and opportunity the members had to make their own entertainment.  The result was an excellent Drama Group, there are photographs in the archives, taken at various venues including Linton Place and The Priory East Farleigh where they presented a pageant in magnificent Henry VIII costumes. 

A choir, craft and produce guilds were also popular. Miss Wakefield, headmistress of West Farleigh School, was choir mistress and pianist for many years. 




























In April 1939 committee minutes show that members took along their respirators to be fitted.  Their war effort included making Jam, 21cwt, was ordered in April 1940.  Scrap iron, steel, paper, bottles and jars were collected for the war effort.

Social half hour was spent knitting for the troops, including those on the Russian Front.   The County wrote asking if the WI would help the national vegetable supply by growing onions as part of West Kent’s promise of 12 tons.

The Hall was used for a time as a school for evacuees.

Just like today, new house building developments in the intervening years since the war have brought in new members from East and West Farleigh and further afield all enjoying what the WI have to offer.

Members are involved in giving help in their local communities as well as raising funds towards the upkeep of the hall, a never-ending task.  Our hard-working committees ensures that it is maintained to a high standard and keeps up with the never-ending rules and regulations.

Currently, as well as the traditional skills such as craft, and Art, there is keep fit, tenpin bowling, Whist Drives, petanque, Darts, singing and dancing.  There are many outings to  places of interest.

However the WI is still supporting the community. Making and selling teas and cakes at East Farleigh Fete. Listening to reading at the local school, knitting blankets for dementia patients in hospital and all the while making new friends, who support each other.

They celebrated their centenary with a lunch at The Cornwallis Suite in Tovil.























And their centenery meeting was conducted as it would have been 100 years ago, even the Treasurers report was given in Pounds, shillings and pence! Members all wore hats, many in Edwardian costumes. Refreshments were a Cream Tea.


There was definitely a good reason to celebrate our first 100 years. There will be a role for the WI in the next 100 years.