1784 VILLAGE GREEN.
This central village meeting point must have witnessed many events and celebrations over the centuries, displaying all strains of emotion. Greens are a common feature of English villages and usually date from before the Norman Conquest or soon after. Often the comparatively small central ones like Yalding are of an early date, and may still have been encroached upon afterwards.
Its first mention in our records was in our baptismal register when in 1577 a vagrant named Jone Lenit, gave birth to a daughter on the Green.
The local constable, an office that has its origins in manorial medieval times, maintained Law and Order. In dealing with the petty criminal, it was agreed in Vestry that a village ‘Lock-up’ should be erected on The Green to hold people overnight, before their appearance with the local Justice of the Peace the next morning.
The Churchwardens gave out a notice on June 10th 1785, that ‘the CAGE which is to be built, will be put out to any Carpenter that will take it on the lowest terms, and to be built on the same plan of that at Marden’. They had been to Marden in 1784 to check the cage at a cost of 1s. 6d. An allowance was paid towards building the cage of 7s. 6d., and it was actually built in August 1786 for £ 13 5s.
One record of its use from the Maidstone Journal of 1845 reads, ‘On Friday last May-day, the dancing sweeps and their lassies, a goodly number altogether were performing near the bridge in this town, when an express came from Hunton, stating that just before they had plundered Mr W Mercer’s oast of his workmen’s dinner and a pair of shoes, which were found on one of them. Stykes our constable lodged the batch in the cage, and on Saturday morning they were taken before T T Alkin Esq., who discharged all but the man who wore the shoes, who was committed for trial.’
The ‘Cage’ or Lock-up as we call it, was used again when on Tuesday morning of September 25th 1855 a number of Mr Bannerman’s hop-pickers at Hunton, struck for advanced rates and pending the settlement some of them went to a beer house at Yalding and drank freely. Then they went to Mr Mill’s hop garden and tried to incite the pickers there to strike.
The bailiff required their immediate departure upon which two of them named George Forster and Ellias Job Muggeridge threatened to break his head and used much abusive and threatening language. Upon the constables being sent for they took themselves off, but after great exertion they were apprehended and taken to the lock-up on the village green. The next day they were taken before Colonel Fletcher and were remanded until Thursday when they were taken before the magistrates in Malling and committed.
During the last half of the nineteenth century another item of village furniture adorned this public place as recorded in the Churchwardens accounts:-
‘1846. On the 20th August, the Vestry agreed that Stocks be erected on the Village Green near the Cage, and to be paid out of the Highway rates.’ It is not known when these were removed.
Also on the Green was a Well that had been in a dangerous condition for some time until the Parish Council had paid 15s, for