The Marden Library and Heritage Centre


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Two new books 

There is a brilliant book now available in the Marden Heritage Centre or via the website. Sir Nicholas Fenn and his wife Lady Susan, or Nick and Sue to all those who knew them, travelled the world as diplomats. Nicks’ career covered most area of the world including India, Burma, China & Ireland to name but a few. I loved the casualness of their tales involving many famous names, politicians included.

Of Shreds and Patches  such an apt name knowing their love of Shakespeare ( a quote from Hamlet as well as the Mikado) and an equally modest title reflecting the nature of this couple. The world was saddened by his unexpected death.

David McFarland said, “It flows like a mountain stream.”

We are selling it at a reduced price of £10.50. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

















Our other latest book is also fascinating –

Percy Day’s Boer War – an original account of the Boer War told through letters to Percy Day’s mother. Find out what the troops really felt about the actions they had to take. Again available in the Heritage Centre  for £10.00 or you can order from our website + p&p.













Remembrance Day 2017 ceremonies



The world’s first postcard appeared in Austria in 1869 and in Britain a year later. The picture postcard began to appear a few years later and during the Paris Exhibition of 1889 they received a big boost in popularity as a means of sending messages. It triggered off a craze for postcard collecting and caught the public’s imagination, so much so in fact that in their heyday between 1890 -1920, they even took the place of traditional family photo albums.
Virtually every country in the world produced cards in ever increasing numbers. In 1902 Britain was the first country to divide the back thus allowing the address and message on the back and a complete picture on the other side.

One of the attractions of the postcard was that it was sent at a cheaper rate than a letter.  From 1870 to 1918, the postal charge was ½ d, and from then until 1940, just 1d at a time when letters cost 1d and 2d respectively.  When a separate charge for postcards was abolished in 1965, the rate was still only 3d.

The years before the First World War have been called ‘The Golden Age’ of picture postcards as everybody used them for messages before the telephone was widely in use. Cards of all descriptions and subjects were produced and personal collections were popular, many of these cards being produced in Germany. Of course with the outbreak of hostilities this supply came to an end.  And if you think instant communication is something from the modern technological age, there used to be 11 post boxes in and around Marden, emptied 3 times a day (with deliveries to match) as well as on Sundays and even Christmas Day.  I remember as a child the postman calling (it was normally Monkey Redman) and being offered a glass of something for the day.  Often, he had already had several such offers before arriving at our house!

Cards such as those published by ‘Valentines of Dundee’ and ‘Raphael Tuck’ in particular, were especially sought after as these were of the highest photographic quality. During this golden period, postcards featured every conceivable subject, including hand painted picturesque views of famous sites and buildings, and photographic images of major political and sporting events, as well as recording and celebrating important moments such as early aviation. They were also an extremely useful and popular way of advertising your business or product.

After the First World War, the role of the postcard changed becoming increasingly associated with the holidays or visits to friends and relations in other parts of the country.  Photographers made good business by travelling their locality and taking photos of villages, landmarks and beauty spots that could be turned into picture postcards.  Sweetman’s of Tunbridge Wells and Salmon’s of Sevenoaks (still in business today producing postcards and calendars are just 2 examples).  Some they published themselves, but more often they were sold on to shops in the area for onward sale.  My grandfather did just that, as did other Marden retailers such as Bailey’s and Dovey’s.  Their name would appear on the bottom of the card as additional advertising.  The shops could also request specific photographs to be taken adding a certain exclusivity to the card.

Nowadays, such topographical postcards are of particular interest to the more historically minded collector. They are an excellent way of showing how a particular resort may have changed over the years, how people dressed and which modes of transport were available there at that point in time. Some collectors specialise in cards from a handful of resorts only, thus building up a pictorial and social history of each place.

Later still, after WW2, the cartoon-like “Seaside” postcard made popular by such artists as Donald McGill, master of the double-entendre were a must buy, but do not form part of the scope of this exhibition, amusing though they be.

The History Group have many such Post Cards – showing how the Village used to look, and many have interesting ‘snippets’ on the back which shows how times have changed.



In early June the Chair of the Marden History Group received a copy of a publication called ‘Meantimes’ from its author Kim Taylor Parker.


It is the story of her family’s life in the Greenwich/Deptford area of south-east London from the First World War to about 1945. Our receipt of the book was prompted by the family’s love affair with hopping in Marden on Hall’s farm – the highlight of their year for so many years.

Kim’s ability to capture the flavour of the life of her London family suffering near poverty and domestic uncertainty through two world wars is captivating.

Intrigued by the story the History Group invited Kim and her family to Marden. The party of seven included her husband David, her father Ray and Uncle John, her brother Lee and her young nephew and niece Sam and Brooke. The Library and Heritage Centre was specially opened on Sunday 21 August so that their visit could include a sight of the soon to be changed exhibition focused on Marden shops past and present.


The story involved a family, grandmother Mags, parents Sukey and Bill and children Maggie, Billy, Terry and our visitors Ray and John.

They were welcomed by the Chair, Eunice Doswell, Colin Whittle, Ian Grimes and Ian Newton.


Steve McArragher, Geoff Burr and Colin Addison had cleared the public footpath leading from the Goudhurst Road just passed Spring Grove to allow the family to re-enact their traditional walk from the West End Tavern to their workplace Hall’s farm. John Hall gave his permission to allow the family the freedom to roam.

John Brooke, Kim & Ray where once hops grew

John Brooke, Kim & Ray where once hops grew

Looking across "Tap Field" - Brooke, Pat Whittle, Lee, Ray & Colin Whittle

Looking across “Tap Field” – Brooke, Pat Whittle, Lee, Ray & Colin Whittle

After a splendid Sunday roast at the West End Tavern the family, accompanied by Eunice, Colin and his wife Pat, retraced their journey from pub to their hut. This included the unplanned but welcome meeting with Nick Hall, grandson of the H E Hall with whom they were familiar. Peter Hall, sadly, was on holiday. We believe he would have thoroughly enjoyed showing the family around.

The brothers had drawn a map of the area as it was in their day, using names for the various locations such as ‘The Piggery’.


Brooke and John smelling the hops which are still left

Brooke and John smelling the hops which are still left

The enthusiasm shown by Ray and Johnny in recapturing their youth was seemingly matched by the younger generation Brooke and Sam, in exploring the oft discussed site of part of their family history.

The day concluded with afternoon tea, i.e. coffee or tea, and cakes from the farm shop at the Chair’s home, appropriately an oast house.

It would appear that the family had never actually entered an oast house so, together with a detailed painting of a cross section of the oast as it was, the group explored the oast as it is now.


Ray and John Taylor in the old apple store

Ray and John Taylor in the old apple store

After much fun and reminiscences, the family departed. Kim and David I believe arriving back home in Norwich past midnight.

Emails were exchanged immediately and their flavour indicates what a splendid day it had been for all concerned.

We suspect and hope that it won’t be our last meeting in Marden.

David McFarland

A prize for our new garden

When we heard that our piece of Pluto pipe was surrounded by a lump of concrete one of our members suggested that a rockery around it might disguise the starkness of the concrete. Other members set to and more rocks were assembled and earth and plants were added.

Marden had entered a competition and the judges for Cranbrook in Bloom have awarded us the prize for the best entry in Business/Community Group – another plaque to put up!

We are also waiting patiently for the hydrangeas from Golden Hill nursery, planted along the fence in the car-park, to bloom. This area is becoming quite a feature and the Heritage Centre has had many visitors coming in to enquire about our piece of Pluto.

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P.L.U.T.O. Pipeline Underwater Transport of Oil

Subsection:      P.L.U.P.O.M.   Pipeline Under the Parish of Marden

We discovered that there was a section of the PLUTO pipeline, relaxing most of the time, at Gatehouse Farm in the Parish of Marden, preserved and moved from time to time by farmer Robert Day with the help of Lennie Furnell. This prompted speculation about its suitability for a place on the Library & Heritage site, already adorned by a K6 red telephone box and a World War II air raid siren.

In February 2015 the Marden History Group was granted a licence by Maidstone Borough Council to locate the PLUTO pipe and its concrete joint on the site.

PLUTO’s history has been recorded by Chris and Marie Gosling in the Marden History Group’s publication “Marden and PLUTO”.  This route map recording PLUTO’s route through the parish is based on one drawn by Richard Wells, a former chair of the Marden Society, with his permission.


Early in 2016, encouraged by the prospect of the Marden in Bloom event, the Marden History Group arranged with Robert Day and our local firemen to try to transport and install the very heavy PLUTO section on Saturday 30 April 2016 at 3.00pm.


Peter Kershaw, Marden History Group (MHG), Andy Wardley and Grant Oliver, local firemen, prepared the site. A 9” deep hole was excavated to somewhat flawed measurements taken by the Marden History Group chair.


Robert Day and Lennie Furnell arrived at 2.15pm to reconnoitre the site and meet the team. Reassured, Robert driving a large lorry with the PLUTO section aboard, and Lennie driving a large fork lift truck, returned at 2.45pm.

With a few hasty changes made to the size of the excavation, the “section” was dropped into the cavity without difficulty.


After a few tentative strokes by the Chair, the pipe was painted by Andy Wardley and Grant Oliver using Hammerite metal paint – smooth dark green. The site was tidied up by Peter Kershaw ready for the anticipated creation of a rockery, based on the concrete joint, which will include pieces of stone from the recently damaged and replaced village mounting block.


This 15 foot section, with the concrete joint, indicates we believe that the joint was created in order to allow the pipeline to slightly change direction, as portrayed on the “map” at the junction of Murzie and Gatehouse farms.


PLUTO was one of the major engineering achievements of World War II. The History Group believes that this “section” has a significant place in our Parish and national history.

David McFarland   – Chair – Marden History Group


Laura Cox, David McFarland, Peter Kershaw & Alan Nicholls resting after their hard work. Photo by Ian Newton who also assisted heaving rocks around.

Shops in Marden, Past and Present Exhibition Official Opening

Saturday 2nd April at 1.00 pm by Marden shop keeper Bev McGaw

The Shops in Marden, Past and Present exhibition will run in the Heritage Centre, Marden Library for 4 months.

The Exhibition will cover how Marden was able to supply the Villagers with most of their needs by the number and variety of Shops.

The whole village used to be alive with shops and you could get everything you needed from Butchers, Bakers, Grocers, Tailors, Drapers, Shoe-makers and Repairers, Stationery and Post Office, Watch and Clock maker, Coopers, Blacksmiths, Jewellers, Wheelwright, Carpenter, Fruitier, Confectioners and Hairdressers. Goods unable to be purchased were supplied from Maidstone using a horse-drawn ‘Carrier’.

Shops past and present


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.

Hopping 2015 lores

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.



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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