Aylesford (St. Peter)

AYLESFORD (St. Peter), a town and parish, in the union of Malling, hundred of Larkfield, lathe of Aylesford, W. division of Kent, 3½ miles (N. N. W.) from Maidstone; containing 1344 inhabitants. This place was called Saissenaighobail by the Britons, in commemoration of their having here defeated the Saxons; and by the latter, after their settlement in the country, Eaglesford, of which the present name is a corruption. In the battle above mentioned, which took place in 455, Horsa, the brother of Hengist, on the side of the Saxons, and Catigern, the son of Vortigern, on the side of the Britons, were slain. In 893, Alfred defeated the Danes at Fenham, in the parish; and in 1016, Edmund Ironside, in a fierce encounter with those invaders, pursued them to this place with great slaughter, and drove them hence to Sheppy. In 1240, Ralph Frisburn, on his return from the Holy Land, founded a Carmelite monastery, under the patronage of Richard, Lord Grey, of Codnor: many parts of the building are entire, though the greater portion of the site is occupied by a mansion erected by Sir William Sedley, and now the residence of the Earl of Aylesford. The parish contains 4260a. 2r. 29p., of which 1721 acres are arable, 628 meadow and pasture, 1428 woodland, 152 hop plantation, 53 orchard, and about 196 common and waste: the surface is marked by numerous chalk hills. In the northern part the soil is various; the southern part, which is often overflowed by the Medway, has a soil of loam and gravel: the substratum abounds with stone, which is quarried for building sea-walls and for the roads. The town is pleasantly situated on the northeast bank of the river, over which is an ancient stone bridge of six arches; and has one principal street, on whose north side the ground rises abruptly to an elevation of 100 feet. A paper-mill, by the side of a small stream, is the only manufactory. A pleasure-fair is held on the 29th of June.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £10; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Rochester. The rectorial tithes have been commuted for £630. 15., and the vicarial for £597. 11.; the glebe contains 14 acres, with a house. The church is an ancient structure, and contains monuments to the memory of Sir Paul Rycaut, Sir John Colepepper, and Sir Caleb Banks. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. An hospital, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was founded in 1617, for a warden and six aged persons, by Sir William Sedley, partly in performance of the will of his brother John, dated in 1605, and partly of his own free gift; it is endowed with two farms in the parish of Frittenden, let for £135 per annum. Fragments of military weapons are frequently discovered here. At Horsted is a monument of upright stones, erected, as is supposed, to the memory of Horsa; and three miles distant is another, called Kit's Cotty House, to the memory of Catigern. Sir Charles Sedley, a celebrated wit and poet in the reign of Charles II., was born at the Stoars, in the parish. Aylesford confers the title of Earl on the family of Finch.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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