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East Farleigh Bridge and Church

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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East Farleigh, Kent, UK

In 961, East Farleigh manor was given by Queen Ediva, the mother of king Edmund, to Christ church Canterbury. Following the conquest, the manor is listed in the Domesday Book and was held by Bishop Odo of Bayeaux (also Archbishop of Canterbury), William’s half-brother. Mention is made of 110 villagers and slaves, (but probably only counts the men of the parish), 4 mills, 6 fisheries producing 1200 eels pa, woodland for 145 pigs and a church. In the Domesday Book the village is called Ferlaga; usually translated from Saxon as “the way of the passage” (over the river) or from Gaelic as a “clearing in the woods (or grass, or alder)”. By 1300 it is referred to as Fearnlega in the Book of the Church of Rochester and on a map of 1575 as East Farly.

In about 1120, The Normans rebuilt the Saxon church; all that remains of the original is a little tufa stonework on the outside of the north-west corner. The tower was added in the 12th century and the aisles in 1835.

The medieval bridge is said to be the finest in Southern England. Although it is unsure exactly when it was built, the earliest known mention of the bridge dates from 1324. General Fairfax crossed Farleigh Bridge on 1st June 1648 to outflank the Earl of Norwich whose Royalist troops were camped on Penenden Heath. Significant numbers of cannon balls have been recovered from the area surrounding the bridge together with a handgun (now lost). Trenches dug on the Barming side of the bridge produced many bones of men and horses as well as a canon which was kept outside the Victory pub for many years. It is clear that there was Royalist opposition at the bridge but Fairfax reported the crossing was relatively easy. The subsequent Battle of Maidstone was one of the fiercest fought of the civil war starting at 7pm and finishing at midnight in St Faith’s churchyard with the Royalist surrender.

5 exposure HDR from one RAW file shot using a Canon EOS1000D and processed in PS8.

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Artwork Comments

  • Photography  by Mathilde
  • Dave Godden
  • TheBaldyMan
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