A History of YALDING, Kent, England



Our church clock, which still regularly chimes the hour, was installed by William Gill of West Malling, who was paid £ 25, “for  new church clock and one small dial”, in 1728. It was regularly painted and repaired, but the minute hand was not added until 1880.

We already had our own clockmakers at that time, and one record is of a 30-hour birdcage movement of a 10inch dial with two hands, contained in an oak case, credited to a Thomas Gladdish of Yalding at about 1720. He was possibly buried here on 13th May 1744. His grandson rather than son, continued in this profession, when the name of William Gladdish was recorded as a clock and watchmaker here from 1788 to 1794, with the note of a clock with passing strike and strike/silent, 566v11 c1790.

William had married Sarah Stone on 14th Feb 1790, then they had three children, before he was buried here on 8th March 1795 aged 25.


One other craftsman who was busy in this century was Richard Cheesman, whose products did not come to light until a tall case clock was bought by a German doctor, wanting to know more about him.

These photo’s show the clock, and its face with the engraving of Richard Cheesman, Yalding. The clock required some repair, and the craftsman estimated its date as around 1740.

Richard had married Ann, with whom they had four children between 1748 and 1758. He was buried here on 12th Nov 1790, and we have these photo’s to prove that he passed this way.

There is also another record of a thirty-hour birdcage movement, with it’s ten inch square brass dial signed David Connor of Yalding, also with a calendar aperture, but no date.

Another 18th century horologist was John Engeham, who had been apprenticed to James Warren of Canterbury in 1771. He married Mary Pattenden on 19th August 1787, and settled in Yalding where they brought up five children.


The first indication I had that the village was a source of tall case clocks was when a lady from Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, wrote saying that she had bought one dated 1804, with “Mrs French, Yalding”, named on its face. Jeremiah French and his wife Phoebe, and son John, arrived here close to the end of the 18th century, but Jeremiah was not to survive long, and he was buried here on October 31st 1800 aged 26.

Phoebe continued the business of Watchmaker and Ironmonger in her name, hence the one bought in America. Less than two years after Jeremiah’s death, on the 21st January 1802, Phoebe married Isaac Chittenden, but obviously continued to use the name French in the business, that was on the site of our present bakery and Post Office.                                          Next.