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Aylesford

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"AYLESFORD, a parish and small town in the hundred of Larkfield, lathe of Aylesford, in the county of Kent, 4 miles to the N.W. of Maidstone, and 6 S.W. of Rochester. It is situated on the banks of the river Medway, over which is a bridge of six arches, in a rich and pleasant country, and contains the hamlet of Millhall. It has a station on the North Kent railway. The Saxon form of the name of this place is Aegelesford, and in Domesday Book it is named Elesford.  ... A monastery for the Carmelites, or White Friars, was founded here in 1240, by Richard, Lord Grey, of Codnor. It was given at the Dissolution to Sir Thomas Wyatt, and subsequently, by Queen Elizabeth, to John Sedley. The present town consists of one street, and the inhabitants are mainly employed in the manufacture of mill-board and brown paper, and in an extensive brown stone pottery, which is situated about 0½ mile to the east of the church. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester, of the value of £531, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Rochester. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a handsome Saxon building, with a square tower at the west end.  ... There is a brass to John Covington, of the year 1426; a fine monument to Sir John Banks, and monuments to the families of the Colepeppers, Rycauts, and Sedleys. To the last-named the manor of Aylesford once belonged; and Sir John Sedley, wit and poet of the 17th century, was a member of this family-. Sir Paul Rycaut, who was a native of the village, and is interred here, was a distinguished traveller. The parochial charities consist of an almshouse for a warden and six poor persons, founded in 1605, by John Sedley, the revenue of which is £135; a free school, endowed by Milner with an income of £20 a year; and several smaller endowments. Aylesford contains several curious relics of ancient times. The most interesting is the cromlech, well known by the name of Kit's Cotty House. It stands on a hillside not far from the village, and is visible from the London and Maidstone road.  ... Other stones are found in its neighbourhood, which may be the ruins of cromlechs overthrown. A free chapel formerly stood in this parish, the remains of which are converted into a barn, and named the Hermitage. Aylesford Priory is a modern mansion erected by Sir William Sedley, on the site of the ancient friary, and including some remains of it. It is the seat of the Earl of Aylesford. Aylesford is the seat of a Poor-law Union, and about 1½ miles to the north-east of the town on the Rochester and Maidstone road is the new lunatic asylum, the cost of which is estimated at £50,000. Hops are cultivated in the neighbourhood. A fair is held on the 29th June."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 by Colin Hinson ©2010]

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