Since the founding of the Royal Society in 1660, which made inquiries into agriculture in its early years, many other societies were established, and in 1838 the Royal Agricultural Society of England was formed. Numerous local societies were formed throughout Britian, amounting to about 400 by 1840.
The Yalding Agricultural Association that had been established in 1845, held its Annual Ploughing Match in 1852 for the parishes of Hunton, Nettlestead and Yalding on Wednesday the 10th of November. Its president at the time was the Rev. Richard Ramsay Warde.
The site was a clover leg in the occupation of Mr Robert Ridge Ellis, called the Kintons, near the Vicarage, where each piece of land to be ploughed was half an acre with four horses. The teams permitted to compete were those belonging to rate payers of the above parishes, who subscribe to the amount of 10s. per annum, and are to meet in the field by a quarter before nine o'clock in the morning.
No ploughman, hop-dryer or servant, with a description of the plough intended to be used, was allowed to compete unless six days notice had been given.
The committee met the subscribers and friends to dine on the occasion at the Bull Inn Yalding. Dinner was on the table at three o'clock precisely, and tickets were three shillings each.
On November 15th 1853 the annual ploughing match was held in a clover ley occupied by Thomas Milles Esq. Near Downs House. A great number of people witnessed the match, and a spacious marquee was erected in the field where an excellent luncheon was provided under the direction of Mr Holder. Of the eleven four-horse ploughs, first prize went to John Day ploughman to J Philpot Esq. of Mill Place Farm, John Ashby was driver. Winner of the three-horse plough teams was Charles Exile ploughman to E French Esq. of Yalding, with driver George Fancett.
For servants equal prizes of £ 1.15s were given to Charles Marsh in the employ of T Mills Esq Burston, and to John Lambert in the employ of F B Elvey of Bowhill, both for bringing up a family of ten children and neither having received parochial relief. Equal prizes of 17s 6d were given to Henry Solman for 51 years in the service of T Mills Esq Burston, and to Thomas Weston for 51 years in the service of W Tomkin Esq of Yalding.
For the organisers and supporters an excellent dinner was provided at the George Inn at about half past four when 30 gentleman assembled under the presidency of Rev'd R R Warde.
Ploughing matches are still a regular feature of the Kentish events calendar, but do not now occur in our immediate vicinity.