A History of YALDING, Kent, England

REV. James Rashleigh HALE.


He was Vicar of Boxley for 27 years, then Vicar of Yalding from 1934 to 1944, he was buried here on 2nd August  1944, an authority on native and foreign birds of nation-wide repute, and many times chaplain to the High Sheriff at Kent Assizes, the Rev. James Rashleigh Hale, M.A.,  had been in poor health for some time.

Mr Hale had made a life study of birds and many societies in Kent will have memories of the delightful lectures and talks which he gave, for he was always ready to pass on his knowledge to others and try to instil into both young and old that love of wild life which gave him so much happiness.

He spent long hours in birds haunts watching and carefully noting their habits of life. His vigils in woods and fields and by lakes provided him with an amazing store of interesting experiences.


He noted the arrival and departure of birds, and one of his best lectures was that on bird migration. In the course of years he learned to make realistic imitation of bird notes. Indeed, he once told a story against himself. He was in a wood by a roadside imitating the call of the cuckoo when a passer-by hurled a large stone at him.

He was not only a fine bird observer, but also had a splendid collection of Kentish eggs, that now reside at the Maidstone museum. While at Boxley Mr Hale found no fewer than 84 varieties of birds. He was one of the first to discover that the Grey Wagtail, Crossbill and Marsh Warbler built their nests in Kent.

He believed that unless common species of birds were controlled, the rarer ones would disappear, and held that the increase in gulls in the Dungeness district was a serious menace to rarer Kentish birds, especially the Kentish Plover, Little Tern and Norfolk Plover.

The Rev. J R Hale was born on March 14th 1874, and educated at Charterhouse School, Keble College Oxford, and Wells Theological College. He married Madeleine Tovey Holden and had two sons and one daughter.


This photo shows Rev Hale outside the north porch of Yalding church.


He was ordained in 1898 and after being curate at Yalding he held similar positions at St Mary’s church Dover, from 1900 to 1901 and Horton Kirby from 1901 to 1908, when he became vicar of Boxley. In October 1934, he accepted the living at Yalding, vacant by the death of Canon J R Leigh, Rural Dean of Malling. His father was curate at Yalding from 1865 to 1867.

Mr Hale had been Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Kent on no fewer than 24 occasions, which is believed to be a record for the country. Among his duties were to attend the High Sheriff at Assizes, pronounce the “Amen” when a murderer was sentenced to death, and preach at All Saints Church Maidstone, when the Judge attended service before the opening of the Assize. But he never attended at an execution for although it is the duty of the High Sheriff and the Chaplain to do so, it is normally left to the Under-Sheriff and the Prison Chaplain.


On leaving Boxley, Mr Hale, who was described as a “friend and faithful priest of the people”, had a remarkable farewell from his parish. It had been arranged to present Mr and Mrs Hale with parting gifts on the village green, but the afternoon being inclement, the ceremony was transferred to the oak panelled hall of Boxley House.


Here Mr Robert Style, who promoted the testimonial fund, addressed a large gathering from the gallery running round the hall. He announced that £ 203 had been collected, and with this were purchased a Hillman car, an oak cupboard, and an easy chair, as well as a book illuminated with names of subscribers, beautifully written in Old-English characters.

In the name of the church choir, Mr Tom Peters, organist and choirmaster, presented a framed portrait of the choir to the departing vicar, who at Yalding was soon equally as popular, and there also his passing will be deeply mourned.             Next.


Mr Hale was in the Naval Intelligence Department 1914-15, and chaplain to the Forces (Territorials), 1916-30, both at home and abroad. He had served as chairman of the Maidstone and District Guardians Committee, was a member of the Hollingbourne Rural Council, the committee of the Kent County Ophthalmic and Aural Hospital, Kent Friendly Society, Maidstone Museum Committee, and the Kent Archaeological Society.