A History of Langton Green
We have taken several sources to give an overview of the
history of Langton Green. If anybody has any interesting stories
of our history that they think should be included please contact
The following is an extract from the booklet “Langton
Green in Bygone Days” by Leonora Hayne
The Old Pack-Horse Lane from Newhaven to London used to run
straight up through the grounds of Holmewood from where it
crossed the stream in the valley by an old plank bridge, to
Gipps Cross on the crest of the ridge. Even when eventually
the railway was built to run alongside the stream a level-crossing
was made for Pack-Horse Lane, however in 1958 a Government
Order decreed that most level-crossings should be closed as
an economy measure, the bridleway was diverted so as to enter
Kent from Broadwater Forest by way of Broom Lane, and then
to turn right after the crossing the stream so as to join
the original route at Adams Well. It is still a bridleway
as it runs up through the wood, but above that it has been
given a hard surface and is now known as Barrow Lane (named
after the Barrow family who lived at Holmewood).
These long distance Pack-Horse Lanes were few and far between
in olden times as they had to thread their way through the
huge dense forest, called by the Saxons “Andredsweald”
and by the Romans “Anderida”, which covered this
part of Kent and Sussex almost as far as the coast. It must
have been especially difficult to find a possible route across
the High Weald because of the many deep clefts and rocky outcrops
which had to be avoided. So the tracks that did exist were
well known and much used, and the travellers must have been
thankful that while passing through Langton Green they found
springs of pure water with which to quench their thirst.
The first of these springs was at Adams Well and the second
drinking well was Gipps Cross, or as it was known Gibbets
Cross, because in olden times the bodies of highwaymen or
other armed robbers were hung in chains as a warning to others.
The Pack-Horse Lane runs down the northern slope on the ridge,
now known as Farnham Lane, and the spring rose in the bank
above the entrance to Speeds Farm, but on the opposite side
of the lane. A stone basin and canopy was built in honour
of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and before piped water became
available, those living in cottages on the main road used
to fetch all their water from the well in buckets slung from
wooden yokes across their shoulders. The Jubilee well unfortunately
disappeared when new houses were built. (see map below).
In 1863 a Chapel at Ease was built by public subscription
on the Green, on land provided by the Powells (of Baden Powell
fame) as Lords of the Manor of Hollonds, which has connections
with the fair Maid of Kent, later wife of the Black Prince
(see the Village Sign).
In 1864 Rusthall Parish became independent of Speldhurst and,
in 1880 so did Langton Green and at that time the boundary
ran to the County boundary in the valley to the south of the
ridge on which Langton is situated. It ran right in to Tunbridge
Wells, including the Pantiles, to meet the boundary of Tonbridge
Parish, where it ran through the middle of King Charles Church
(see the slab in the pavement outside King Charles Church).
In 1894 local government was reorganised and power was removed
from the ecclesiastical parishes where it had traditionally
been and given to new civil parishes. It was then that the
villages of Ashurst, Groombridge, Langton, Rusthall and Speldhurst
were all joined together to form Speldhurst Parish Council,
a civil parish then under the newly formed Tonbridge Rural
District Council. In 1898 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
proposed to take over “New Town, Rusthall” against
the Parish Council’s wishes.
The main road running through Langton Green along the ridge
on which it grew was the toll road from Tunbridge Wells to
Maresfield, and it was much later that, with changing priorities,
the main road (A264) became the one from Tunbridge Wells to
East Grinstead. Even then though, until the mid-1960s, the
A264 still ran through Groombridge. Then the A264 and the
B2110 changed numbers, so the road through Ashurst, referred
to by William Cobbett as “a mere cross-road” when
he rode it in 1832, became part of the main east-west route
without any significant improvement. That the A264 runs through
Langton may have preserved some of the shops when surrounding
villages have largely lost theirs.
Well into the 20th century there were still a number of active
sandstone quarries in the village from which stone had been
extracted to build parts of Tunbridge Wells and most of the
collection of big houses and the church in Langton Green.
However, in the 1891 census the area of First Street and Salisbury
Road was referred to as Building Ground. Although the returns
listed the names of those living there, none of the roads
and houses was named. Until then the centre of gravity of
the village, with most of the trades and shops, was round
the Green, but this New Town development on the main road
to the east caused the new shops to be opened there. As land
became available from some of the big houses a little development
took place just before World War Two in the Dornden Drive-Monteith
Close area. After the war a certain number of local authority
houses were built and the land for the Recreation Ground was
acquired. It was not until the early 1960s that Langton really
expanded, mainly in the Dornden Drive area, and within a short
time the population of the village had doubled. It was then
that the system was adopted of naming Langton’s new
roads after the field names on the old tithe maps, hence the
names Great Courtlands, Upper Profit, Rushetts and Oxlea (to
name a few) came to be, largely at the instigation of Mary
Chattell (who founded the Rural Society and was a prominent
member of the Parish and District Councils).
Green’s main claim to fame in recent years is as the
place where subbuteo, the famous table football game, was
invented and made for many years (see photo).
The following is an extract from the booklet “Speldhurst
Parish Council Centenary 1894-1994”.
The first mention of any proposal to split the parish occurs
in February 1946, when a letter from four electors in Speldhurst
asked for a parish meeting to request that the villages of
Speldhurst and Langton each have its own Parish Council; the
subject attracted no further attention for over 20 years.
In July 1967 clubs, societies and institutions in Speldhurst
asked for a separate Parish Council for the village. This
was put to a parish meeting on 22 January 1968, at which representatives
of speldhurst gave their reasons for the proposal:
- Development at Langton Green had changed the character
of that village.
- Each village had independent clubs, societies and institutions.
- Parish Council meetings were mainly devoted to the affairs
- Apportionment of Revenue from the parish rate is difficult
to assess, because the needs of the two villages are different.
About 300 parishioners attended, and voted overwhelmingly
to divide into two parishes, whereupon a poll of all electors
was demanded. Shortly before the poll, the Langton Green Rural
Society, claimed that the parish rate for a reconstituted
parish of Langton “might increase to as much as two
shillings and eight pence.” (14p) The result of the
poll was 616 against, to 467 in favour, and the Parish Council
resolved to take the matter no further.