The history of Chiddingstone Village
Now one of the country’s best-preserved Tudor villages, Chiddingstone dates back to pagan times. The village has witnessed invasions, rebellions and plenty of local upheaval, and even played host to Anne Boleyn’s family. Discover more about the history of Chiddingstone Village.
The origins of Chiddingstone
Legend has it that Chiddingstone is named after the distinctively shaped rocky outcrop that sits at the centre of the village. The Chiding Stone is said to have been used, at various times, as a druid altar, an Anglo-Saxon boundary marker and a place of punishment or chiding.
Similar names were recorded as far back as the 12th century, when the village was known as Cidingstane, stane being the Middle English word for stone.
In 1072, following the Norman invasion, Chiddingstone was handed to William the Conqueror’s half-brother Bishop Odo as part of the Earldom of Kent. Odo’s greedy and tyrannical behaviour made him so unpopular that no one took up the Earldom after him.
The church at Chiddingstone – which has since been re-built several times – is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the nationwide survey ordered by William.
The Middle Ages
Chiddingstone was on the fringes of some notable historical events during the Middle Ages. In 1450, local men Roger Attwood and William Hunt joined the ranks of Jack Cade’s Rebellion against the English government and were arrested, but subsequently pardoned.
During the early 16th century, Sir Thomas Bullen, father of Anne Boleyn, bought property in Chiddingstone, prior to the family's fall from grace after Anne’s execution by Henry VIII.
The Streatfeilds of Chiddingstone
The Streatfeilds were major landowners in the area. Their wealth came from the local iron industry, which mainly provided munitions for warships, as well as building materials for local infrastructure.
In 1584, they bought a house on the main road through Chiddingstone, named High Street House. It was rebuilt in brick in the late 17th century and was the site where the family later constructed Chiddingstone Castle.
In the early 19th century, Henry Streatfeild changed the face of the village forever. High Street House was demolished and Chiddingstone Castle built in its place. Streatfeild then blocked the high street at the Castle Inn and diverted the road around the castle’s lake and garden to prevent villagers gaining access to his land.
Chiddingstone and the National Trust
The National Trust has owned Chiddingstone Village – excluding the school, the castle and the church – since 1939. Conservation work has helped it remain one of the best-preserved Tudor villages in the country and it’s been used as the location for a number of films and TV programmes.
Explore this beautifully preserved Tudor village, complete with a 15th-century inn, a 17th-century church and the mysterious Chiding Stone that reputedly gives it its name.
Visit a charming tea-room and restaurant, a local shop that could be the country’s oldest and even a small furniture store.