The Marden Library and Heritage Centre

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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


PREVIOUS EXHIBITIONS:

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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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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