parish of Aldington in the English county of Kent lies between
the town of Ashford to the west (5 miles distant) and the
coastal town of Hythe to the east (6 miles distant). To the
north, the parish is bounded by the M20 motorway and the Channel
Tunnel high-speed rail link. Beyond lies the City of Canterbury.
To the south, the parish stretches into the low-lying coastal
region of Romney Marsh. The parish covers an area of around
3,400 acres (1,376 hectares) of which area about 10% forms
part of Romney Marsh.
50% of the parish's landmass is officially designated, and
protected, as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This
is the United Kingdom's highest landscape designation and
has been awarded to only 47 areas in England and Wales. The
parish's "Outstanding" designation reflects the
fact that much of the area is the geological and ecological
continuation of the famous North Downs.
addition, more than 80% of the parish lies within an area
designated, and protected, as the Old Romney Shoreline Special
Landscape Area. This Kent County Council landscape designation
reflects the fact that before Romney Marsh was drained, the
parish lay directly on the coast of England and this former
proximity to the sea is still evident in the coastline features
which survive in the east of the parish.
designations aside, the beauty of the parish lies in its diverse
and contrasting mix of physical features - the Ragstone (Greensand)
Ridge surmounted by an ancient Roman Road; the remnants of
the ancient, and once vast, Weald Forest; the former heathland
of the Frith; the fertile East Stour valley; the rugged former
coastline; the ancient and mysterious Knoll; and, separated
from this high ground by the Royal Military Canal, there is
the openness of Romney Marsh.
parish is home to about 1,200 people living in around 400
houses. About one quarter of the population is under 18 years
old. Approximately half the population of the parish lives
in the modern-day village that stretches alongside the old
Roman Road from the Post Office Stores at Clap Hill to the
local primary school near Aldington Corner.
principal local industry continues, as has been the case for
1,000 years or more, to be agriculture. This predominance of
agriculture is reflected in a local landscape that is characterised
by a total absence of industrial development and an abundance
of open farm land inhabited by sheep, cattle, and a variety
of wildlife. However, modern-day farming techniques, coupled
with the national farming decline, mean that only a very small
proportion of today's parishioners is locally employed. By far
the majority work in nearby towns such as Ashford, Canterbury
and Folkestone, or further afield in London and beyond. Agriculture
aside, there also exist within the parish a growing number of
small businesses based around niche skills.
parish's facilities include: a Primary School, a Post Office,
a general store, a butcher and baker, two pubs, a mobile library, a village hall, recreation grounds,
public transport, St. Martin's Church of England parish church,
the Evangelical Mission, fire station and numerous clubs and
a settlement, the parish predates Roman times. During the
Roman occupation of England the parish was of significance
largely because of its close proximity to the Roman fortified
port at Lympne. The Roman Road that runs through the parish
is the east-west connection to the famous Stone Street Roman
Road that runs from Lympne to the City of Canterbury. Roman
remains are scattered throughout the area - including villas,
coastal beacons and burial mounds.
Manor was granted to Christ Church, Canterbury in 961 and
thereafter was held by the Archbishops of Canterbury until
the time of King Henry VIII, during which period it became
the largest Manor in Kent.
Parish church, which was the site of Archbishop Lanfranc's
miracle, dates back to Saxon times and is the only church
in England of which Erasmus was Rector. In the 16th century
the parish was home to Elizabeth Barton (the Holy Maid of
Kent) and, in the 17th century, to Bishop Thomas White - a
key figure in both the Glorious Revolution and the Non-juror
movement. The parish also has a long tradition of providing
a safe haven to dissenters, whether they be religious, such
as Quakers, political, such as Jacobites or social non-conformists.
the 19th century the parish was infamous for its smugglers
- most notably the Ransley Gang. In more recent times, the
parish has been home to many famous literary and theatrical
figures including Noel Coward, Joseph Conrad, Lord ('Bill')
Deedes, Ford Madox Ford, Jon Godden, Roderic Jeffries, Erica
Marx, Eileen Marsh, Vic Reeves and Lily Savage.
1934 the small civil parish of Hurst (also known as Falconhurst)
was abolished as part of a local government reorganisation,
and the bulk of its area was incorporated into the parish
of Aldington. The last Chairman of the parish of Hurst was
Noel Coward and his father, Arthur Sabin Coward, was the last
District Councillor for Hurst. In the late 1700s the famous
historian Edward Hasted described the parish of Hurst thus:
are but two houses in it, nor is there any thing worth further
mention in it."
rich history has resulted in a legacy of more than 50 buildings
being officially designated as being of national special historical
or architectural interest.
recently, Aldington parish has gained national media attention
from two events. First, the spectacular overflowing of the
Aldington Flood Relief Reservoir. Second, the parish's prolonged,
and ultimately successful, opposition to the government's
proposals to construct an Immigration Detention Centre in