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A Histoyr of Langton Green
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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 secretary.lgrs@btinternet.com.

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).

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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).

Click For A Larger ImageLangton 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”.

Parish Split

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 of Langton.
  • 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.

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