A Short History Of Frittenden

Despite the fact that Frittenden is not specifically recorded in the Domesday Book (1086), though it is recorded in a Saxon Charter of 804. The den element of the name indicates that it was an area providing temporary pasture, probably from the 6th century, on an annual basis for swine driven down from a place in north Kent. This pasture would have been recorded as a possession of that place in Domesday. There is more doubt about the derivation of first part of the name, but it may come from the name of the man or ‘free coerl’ who used the den, possibly one named Frith. 

 
The Roman route from Rochester to Hastings via Maidstone passes through the Parish at Knoxbridge. Two Romano-British urns were discovered close to this road in Leggs Wood in 1857. During the rebuilding of the church in 1846-8 several lumps of Roman concrete and fragments of brick were discovered.
 
Early documentary evidence suggests that the early permanent settlements were on the ridge above the flood plain. The church also stands on this ridge and is first recorded in the White Book of St Augustine’s c1200. By the thirteenth century, dens were becoming satellite communities of the manors to which they belonged. Cole Farm, c1400, is the first surviving indication of settlement in the flood plain. The 1524-5 tax subsidy suggests that the Weald had seen great prosperity during the previous 200 years. This is reflected in the number and quality of medieval listed buildings in the parish. Frittenden was on the margin of the cloth making area centred on Cranbrook and probably benefited from proximity to this industry. The 1806 and 1839 tithe maps show that the village consisted of two main nuclei, the first grouped near the church and the other around the Bell Inn and the forge. Since then these nuclei have been linked by new building.
 
Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII there was an explosion in the creation of charities. In 1566, under the will of Thomas Idenden, a charity was established for “the use of the Poor Maidens Marriages, to the relief of the poor Householders” in Frittenden. The property left to support this charity was later to become the parish workhouse and farm. The charity disposed of the property in 1953 and the house is now known as Charity Cottages. The charity continues to make small payments to certain parishioners on St Thomas’ Day.
 
Farming in the parish has normally been a mixture of pastoral and arable, though the balance has changed considerably over time, notably in the depression following the Napoleonic War when there was a significant movement into arable. This resulted in a longer and deeper depression, well into the 1840s, than might otherwise have been the case. Hops, always a risky crop, became a major crop during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, but no hops are grown in the parish today. 
 
Until the 1970s there was a small brickworks in Dig Dog Lane and bricks and tiles from this site were used in many nineteenth and twentieth century buildings.
 
The Church was almost totally rebuilt by the Revd. Edward Moore and rededicated in 1848. Edward Moore, together with his wife Harriet, had a major impact on the village and indeed how it looks. Their hand can be seen not only in the church, but in the creation of the school, a Provident Society, a Penny Bank and much else besides. Edward Moore, was a major landowner, second only to the Cornwallis Estate. He was also responsible for many buildings in the parish, including the creation of Parsonage Farm, the largest farm at that time.