The Marden Library and Heritage Centre


Hops and Hopping Exhibition Official Opening

Saturday 11th July at 1.00 pm by Marden Farmer Peter Hall

Hops have been a major crop in Kent, Sussex and other counties for centuries and they are the sole reason for Kent’s unofficial “badge” – the Oast House. The flower of the hop plant not only adds flavour to beer, it is an effective preservative for the beer but, sadly, there is now only one hop garden in the Parish of Marden (Farmer Peter Hall’s).

In previous centuries, the absentee owners of the land would impose taxes on the people who farmed their land so some hop growers started to call their hop fields “hop gardens”, in the hope that the owners might assume that they were the equivalent of cottage gardens and limit the tax to be imposed. Until just a few decades ago, the Autumn saw hundreds of people coming from the East End of London to many of the Wealden villages and the character of Marden was changed due largely to the labour-intensive methods then needed to harvest the hops in September and into October if required. Marden Medical Centre stands on the site of the Hoppers’ Hospital and it replaced the Red Cross temporary first aid post that was set up for the hopping season. Hopping and fruit picking were very popular with the people of the London Docks as it was the only holiday they got and, although the accommodation was primitive comprising a corrugated iron hut for the whole family with no “services”, they were away from the toxic air of London’s East End and they could make money! There are many references to hops and hopping in several of the History Group’s 20-odd publications and in other books we have collected.

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An article by Eunice about the currently in-bloom Marden Meadow

Please visit… the page and the meadow!

general view of meadow


The Robert & Phyllis Highwood Collection

A new exhibition opened at 2.00pm on the 7th March & will run until 7th July, 2015

Marden History Group are proud to announce that its new exhibition at the Heritage Centre will celebrate the collection provided by this notable Marden family. The exhibition features illustrations and photographs collated by Robert Highwood, a former farmer, who was also: Chairman of the Parish Council for 24 years, Vice Chairman of the Marden Fruit Show Committee, Chairman of the Staplehurst Branch of the NFU and a governor of Marden School.

Robert also assisted Phyllis Highwood and Peggy Skelton with the research for their MARDEN A WEALDEN VILLAGE book.

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Bugler on November 11


This is a photo of Mo Gillis-Coates playing the Last Post at Marden cemetery where the parish council and villagers remembered the dead of both World Wars.

A cherry tree was planted by Dorothy Reed, the chairman of the Parish Council.
Several councillors read poems, children and adults scattered poppy seeds and there was singing from a village group.

This all followed a special church service, the opening of the Heritage Centre’s second part of their exhibition on WW1 and the sounding of the the ‘Alert’ and ‘All Clear’ on the newly installed WW2 siren.

And the sun shone from a brilliant blue sky on a warm November
day.


PREVIOUS EXHIBITIONS:


ww1_part2WW1centenary

You are welcome to come and see the opening of the next Exhibition – WWI – Stage II

This will be on Sunday 9th November and will be part of the Village Remembrance Day

  • 10-50am – Bell ringing at the Church
  • 10-15 to 12noon – Church Service
  • 12noon – WWI Stage II Exhibition at the Library to be opened by Nigel Hammond at 12-15pm with WWI music followed by Firing of WWII Siren (2mins) to the music of Vera Lynn
  • 1-15pm planting of tree with poems and songs at the Cemetery
  • 2pm – The Village Club invite everyone for tea and coffee


Welcome to the website and archive of the Marden History Group.

The village of Marden is situated 9 miles south of Maidstone in Kent, England. In the Dark Ages herdsmen visited the uninhabited thick forests and marshes of the Weald of Kent in the autumn to feed their pigs on acorns & beech mast. During these visits they lived in clearings known as “dens”. In time these developed into permanent settlements, and so Marden grew. Over the centuries the woollen cloth trade, hops & fruit orchards brought prosperity to the village.

The Marden History Group has adopted this engraving of a den, by Vic Symonds of Marden, as its logo. Through this web site we seek to tell the story of the village from its earliest days to times within living memory, through parish records, oral histories and photographic and written archives. If you have a connection with Marden and have a contribution to make please get in touch.

Join the History Group – become a MEMBER (see below). We have members throughout the world.


Award for village history group

Dr Nick Barrratt, David McFarland and Eunice Doswell with the award certificate
Marden History Group has won a national award for its community archive.

Some 63 submissions from across the country were entered into six categories of the competition, run by the National Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) supported by the Archives and Records Association, UK and Ireland.
The history group won the inaugural overall Community Archive of the Year title.
In addition to the award, the work of the volunteers at Marden’s Heritage Centre was also recognised with the prize for the Most Interesting Community Archive for solving the location of the Marden Bronze Age hoard.
The announcements were made at the CAHG‘s 6th annual Conference in London.
Marden History Group chairman David McFarland made a presentation in support of the submission and was joined by archaeologist John Smythe, who displayed items from the Bronze Age hoard to the conference members.
CAHG chairman Laura Cotton, who was also chairman of the competition judges, said: “The Marden story was inspirational. The enthusiasm and dedication of the Marden volunteers leapt from the submission; their achievement in opening and running the heritage centre was substantial.”
Mr McFarland said: “We are just a village, but we believe we may be the only such centre in the UK to operate in this way and be open for 18 hours each week.”
The following evening, John Chambers, Laura Cotton and Marie Owens of CAHG, and family historian Dr Nick Barrratt visited the Marden Heritage Centre, where Dr Barratt presented the awards.
The guests, and members and history group volunteers were joined by Cllr Paulina Stockell and parish councillor Dorothy Reed for a celebration.
KCC, Marden Parish Council and Maidstone Borough Council were instrumental in funding the original 2008 set up of the Heritage Centre, which is based in the library.

(the article above is reproduced by permission of Downs Mail August 2012, Photograph copyright of Ian Newton)

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