Benenden

Parish Review

The website gets some questions (emailed) that are answered by other readers.

See below for notes and queries on (click on query to go straight there)...

John Muggleton asks ....

My great-great grandfather William Chapman was a hop farmer at Pump Farm, Goddards Green, Benenden. He lived there with his wife Ann from about 1870 until 1920. One of his sons also lived in an adjoining property known as Red House. I know that Pump Farm itself was later moved brick by brick to Ightham near Sevenoaks. I'd be interested in any feedback from people who could provide more information.
(John attached some photos - see them here)

Jill French asks ....

Writing re the German Heinkel bomber crash on September 15th 1940.
George Sinden (and unknown friends) attended the scene and proceeded to disarm and take the surviving airman into custody (all but one died later from the impact of the crash).
Do you know of any further information regarding this incident?

Simon Blackwell writes ....

I have been researching a german aircraft shot down in my village in East Sussex on the same day and came across this about "your" Heinkel.

The bomber was from the Gruppe (Unit) - II/KG53 (i.e. #2 wing of Kampfverbaende (Bomber Unit) 53) based at Lille.

Aircraft was a Heinkel He111H-2 (serial no.5718) Fuselage serial A1+LN

It was shot down during a weather recce sortie and force landed at Trafford Farm at 2.30pm. Aircraft was a write-off. I suspect as it was on a weather recce it would have been operating singly prior to the next heavy raid. This was a day of heavy attacks targeting London. and the highest German Losses since Aug 18th.

Sources...

  • The Battle of Britain Then and Now - Ramsay
  • The Battle of Britain - Bickers
  • The Narrow Margin - Wood and Dempster

Frances Attree writes ....

My mother wrote of the day in an East Kent Within Living Memory book of memories by Members of the East Kent Federation of Women's Institutes in 1993 published by Countryside Books, Newbury. She was a WI member and as she always loved writing was thrilled to be included. We also knew some of the details as children about the event.

My parents Walter and Doris Daw lived at Trafford Farm [east of Dingleden Lane] during the war.

On the day of the crash they were resting as my father had been on duty with the Home Guard during the night and my mother was pregnant with their first child.

They heard the sounds of the air fight going on which was not unusual at the time. When they heard the sound of the Heinkel plane crashing nearby my father went to the scene along with the lodger next door Tom Masters and another man from Bromley down for the weekend with his family and staying with relatives next door . At the crash site one German airman tried to shoot at them but his rifle jammed. This was just as well as although my father had picked up his rifle he had forgotten to load it.

There were four airmen in the plane, one dead and two died on the way to the hospital at Benenden School. Apparently one of the women next door had used strips of her petticoat to bandage one airman. My mother saw an English plane do a victory roll in the sky.

The ambulance soon came and a policeman, other villagers and the military arrived and the wreck put under guard.

The wreck in the field was there for months before being taken away. The photo is of the Heinkel wreck (from our family album - the original is only 2 1/4 ins x 3 1/4 ins.) I also have a grey 37cms zip that we were told came from the wreck.

My father's oldest brother lost his wife and daughter when another German aircraft crashed onto their farm barn at Ruckinge on the same day.

Ernie Pollard writes ....

I can't add much to the Heinkel story, but it is mentioned in the Home Guard journal of Collingwood Ingram, local Commader of the Home Guard at the time.

He writes 'On Friday last I received a letter from Folkestone written by a stranger who happened to be staying at Trafford Farm when the Heinkel bomber crashed there on Sept. 15th. In this letter he says "I feel it is incumbent upon me to bring it to your notice, as the Officer in Command of the Home Guard at Benenden, the calm & masterly way John Masters handled the situation. There is not much wrong with the Old Country so long as she can produce this type of man!" I congratulate Masters on having created such a favourable impression & am very glad that he was able to uphold the reputation of our Company. I understand Masters was ably supported by W. Doar.'

You will see he mentions different people, perhaps because they were members of the Home Guard while your husband's ancestor and others at the scene. may not have been?

The crash is recorded in a book called "Aircraft Casualties in Kent", Meresborough press 1990, as follows

Benenden, Trafford Farm, Shot down by the RAF. Fw Mayer and Gfr Hoffmann killed, Lt Baench, Uffz Bauer and Buttler POWs. Based Lille-Vendeville (?)

Again the details differ slightly from yours, saying that there were three survivors, but that is not unusual.

David Williams asks ....

I visited Benenden yesterday and took a photo of the Queen's Well. I cannot find any information regarding the well and wonder if you know the history regarding it?

Ernie Pollard writes ....

You will find some information on the Queen's Well in "Benenden Trail"
number 2 on the High Weald website; specifically at
http://www.highweald.org/about/visitor/walks_details.asp?routeID=91

Julia Collard writes ....

Two wells in Benenden are mentioned in "Benenden, A Pictorial History" compiled by Michael Davies and the following information is quoted in it.

There are wells in Benenden and Iden Green and were built to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, 1887 and Diamond Anniversary in 1897. The Iden Green well stands at the crossroads in Iden Green, Benenden.

The Benenden well is located at the village crossroads on the site where the old Toll Gates used to stand, ie at the junction of New Pond Road and The Street. The old Toll Gates were pulled down in 1876 and the well was built eleven years late

Susan Heron asks ....

My husband as boy, just after the war used to go to Benenden hopping with his mother and grandparents. He remembers hop picking on a farm owned by John Bridgeland. My husband remembers that Mr Bridgeland was a very nice kindly man, and he has very happy memories of hop picking days. We cannot seem to find any evidence that the farm still exists, my husband also remembers the local pub he thinks it was called the Castleton Oak, is this still around.

AM writes ....

The Castleton Oak is certainly near Benenden, but not in the village itself. It is at the crossraods of Cranbrook, Tenterden and Benenden.

In his book Benenden: Pictorial History, Michael Davies (a local historian) briefly writes about hop-picking locally.

Ernie Pollard writes ....

This would be Beston Farm on Halden Lane, farmed by the Bridgeland family for many years although I think always part of the Hole Park estate. Castleton Oak not far away.

Edward Barham writes ....

Just to add my pennyworth to this, the farmers name was Bridgland (no "e") and they farmed at beston from approximately 1865 until 1976, always as tenants of the Hole Park Estate. Following the death of John Bridgland in 1975 (?) his 2 sisters surrendered the farm tenancy and remained at Beston until old age forced the last survivor to move to a home in about 1997. the house was then renovated and still remains part of the estate. Mrs Neve, of Coggers, prepared a brief history of the family which I think was published on the net which your hop picker may find interesting to locate.

Tom Ainsby writes ....

I remember Bridglands farm.I used to buy apples from them as a boy, bright red from the tree outside the farmhouse.
Some years ago I met one of the Miss Bridglands who said that Mr Bridgland had died and that how much he had enjoyed growing hops and particularly the hop picking.
Early in 2011 I was in Kent and took a nostalgic detour past Mount Pleasant farm and Bridglands. All the hopfields had gone and it appeared that the house had been sold and the land sold off.

To find "Bridglands farm.. Take the road up the side of the Oak , After about half a mile there is a turning to the left. Take this turning and continue past whaty used to be Avery's Farm on the right. Down a fairly steep hill until you come to a triangle in the road where there is a fairly sharp turnto the left. take this turn into what is a country lane. You will pass a pair of semi detached houses on the left . Keep going and you will pass another house on the left then the road bends and you will see a farmhouse on the right hand side opposite a duckpond on the left. That was Bridglands farm. I knew a number of the hoppickers on Bridglands farm and would be happy to pass on any memories of those very happy days

Matt Millen asks ....

I was wondering if perhaps you may be able to shed some light on the New Pond. I have always wished to have a local place to fish, however there are lots of private water and "NAC" signs around the pond.

Rod Lebon writes (collaborated by Peter Blockley and Steve Hockney)...

Presuming that the New Pond referred to, is the dammed lake at the bottom of the hill north of Benenden cross-roads, as far as I know it's still part of the Manor House land.   I knew Caroline Richardson, the previous owner of the Manor House, whose family owned it going back about 50 years, since our childhood; she sold it c2005 so and I have no idea who the present owner is - heard it had been sold on a second time, but that may be rumour.   In Caroline's time there was definitely an active angling club on the lake, which presumably leased the use of it from her, and I think kept it stocked.

Patrick Conway writes ...

The previous owner (Caroline Richardson) of the Manor House permitted Northiam Angling Club (NAC) to fish the lake one Sunday per month.

Jackie Maggs writes ...

As a child, my mother went hopping in Benenden before and during the WWII, and in fact her aunt (my great aunt) collapsed at the bins and died, and is buried in St George's Church. I remember visiting Benenden myself as a child (over 40 years ago). We couldn't find where she was buried over 70 years ago although we did find the memorial to the young boy killed by a train in 1925 which Mum remembered. Mum often speaks of playing with the Watson girls (their family owned a farm - possibly the hop farm they worked on), the old Mill and the Oak. She has very fond memories of her summers spent in Benenden, and I wonder whether anyone else who went hopping in the 30s and might remember the Westbrooks from Bermondsey.

Benenden Fete
Sat 24th Jun, 12pm
Including silent auction
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Benenden Church Fete
Sat 24th Jun, 12pm
Fun and frolics for the whole family
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Quiz night
Sat 24th Jun, 8:15pm
Come and try your luck
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Tchaikovsky celebration charity concert
Sun 25th Jun, 3pm
Cranbrook Symph. Orchestra
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Merry and Bright Club
Tue 27th Jun, 3pm
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Refuse Lorry for Domestic Waste
Sat 1st Jul, 8am
For non-compostable things
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Refuse Lorry for Domestic Waste
Sat 1st Jul, 9:40am
For non-compostable things
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Copyright Tim Dwyer 2004 - timdwyer@benenden.org.uk