The VILLAGE of YALDING.
Yalding lies at the northern edge of the low weald, and partly on the slopes of the greensand ridge, at a point where these hills are breached by the River Medway. The village was established in the Saxon area of the Twyford Hundred, and vertical region across Kent, of the Lathe of Aylesford. There are three Medieval bridges here, that add to the local character, but can be a nuisance to traffic flow. One is Twyford Bridge near where the local Hundred meetings were held, Town Bridge in the village centre, and Laddingford Bridge crossing the river Tiese.
The village has three rivers flowing through it. One is the main Kent river of the Medway, which rises near East Grinstead in West Sussex. One other is the river Beult which flows under Town Bridge, has its source at Woodbridge, near Ashford, and joins the Medway half a mile, or 800 metres, below Twyford Bridge. Just above this bridge the Medway is also joined by the river Tiese, which flows from south of Tunbridge Wells. This makes in total a watershed area of over 200 square miles, or 500 square kilometres, that has contributed to the history of local flooding throughout the lower parts of the Parish every few years.
The village and its manors passed through several hands in its history, starting from the Norman Conquest with Richard Fitz Gilbert, to be known as Richard de Tonbridge. The possession then passed to Richard de Clare and his son Gilbert, and by marriage through the families of de Audley and Stafford. Records that survive from when Hugh de Audley was Lord of the Manor provide a unique glimpse at rural life in feudal England.
In this Yalding coat of arms, the right hand chevronny shield, a symbol of accomplishment or faithful service represented the Clare family, whilst the Audley quartered shield from joint family backgrounds, with a single chevron, and mascle interlaced by a saltire, signifies a diplmatic or persuasive force.
Like most English parishes our records contain some good examples of how the Poor Law system was implemented, and illustrates how many villagers became involved with the care of others. The Churchwardens and Overseers also organised various maintenance tasks, and attempted to keep out those who could become a liability to the parish.
Agriculture has been the main activity in the parish, which includes Collier Street and Laddingford. Of the total of 5,770 acres, 72 were claimed by the rivers, and at its peak at the start of the 20th century, 1,400 acres were devoted to the cultivation of hops. The harvest season of Hop-Picking, from late August until early October, vastly transformed the village when its population was trebled. The season was launched when the farmer’s signal was given that the crop was ready, and twelve trains a night brought Londoner’s for their annual holiday, that is up to the early 1950’s when the hand picking method was mechanised.
People whose roots are here in Yalding, have spread around the world. In the late 1800’s when our local school teacher William Galpin was granted leave of absence through ill health, he was to carry on teaching in the Yukon. Our local doctor’s daughter Millicent Wood married a Cornish clergyman in 1905, and set sail to become a missionary in Madagascar.
Our village has been home for many talented minds, and one in particular is that of the poet Edmund Blunden, well known for his lines on life in the 1914 trenches, and images of Japan. In that same war another local volunteer was to win a V.C.