A brief history of Langton Green
We have taken several sources to give an overview of the history of Langton Green. If you have any interesting stories regarding the history of the village, please feel free to contact us.
The following is an abbreviated extract from the booklet ‘Langton Green in Bygone Days’ by Leonora Hayne
‘The Old Pack Horse Lane from Newhaven to London used to run straight up through the grounds of Holmewood, after having crossed the River Grom in the valley, to arrive at Gipps Cross on the crest of the ridge. When eventually the railway was built to run alongside the river, a level-crossing was made for Pack Horse Lane but in 1958, the Government decreed that most level crossings should be closed as an economy measure. As a result, the old lane, now a bridleway was diverted so as to enter Kent from Broadwater Forest. It is still a bridleway but as it emerges from the forest, it has been given a hard surface and is now called Barrow Lane (named after the family who lived at Holmewood).
These long-distance Pack-Horse Lanes were few and far between in olden times as they had to thread their way through the huge dense forest, called by the Saxons ‘Andredsweald’ and by the Romans ‘Anderida’ which covered this part of Kent and Sussex almost as far as the coast. It must have been exceptionally difficult to find a route across the High Weald because of the many deep clefts and rocky outcrops which had to be avoided. Travellers must have been grateful when passing through Langton Green for the springs of pure water that were to be found there.
The first of these was at Adam’s Well and the second at Gipps Cross, or as it was known Gibbets Cross, because in olden times, the bodies of highwaymen or other armed robbers were hung in chains as a warning to others. The Pack-Horse Lane runs down the northern slopes on the ridge, now known as Farnham Lane which was where the second spring was located.
In 1863 a Chapel of Ease was built on the Green, on land provided by the Powells (of Baden Powell fame) and some thirty years later, local government was reorganised and power was removed from ecclesiastical parishes, where it has traditionally been, and given to new civil parishes. It was then that the villages of Ashurst, Groombridge, Langton. Rusthall and Speldhurst were all joined together to form Speldhurst Parish Council, a civil parish then under the newly-formed Tonbridge District Rural Council.
The main road running through Langton Green, along the ridge on which it grew, was the toll road from Tunbridge Wells to Maresfield. Much later, with ever changing priorities, the main road became the A264 Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead road. Because of the importance of this road, many of the shops in Langton Green have survived, when surrounding villages have largely lost theirs.
Well into the 20th century, there were still a number of sandstone quarries in the village, from which stone had been extracted to build parts of Tunbridge Wells and most of the larger houses in the village, including the church. At the turn of the 19th/20th century, the area in Langton referred to as the Building Ground was started to be developed, and the ‘centre’ of the village moved to the area around where the shops are today, away from The Green. Just before the Second World War, a small development took place in the Dornden Drive/Monteith Close area and in the 1960’s, development within the village really took off with the population doubling in size. First, it was the area around Dornden Drive, followed by Hither Chantlers.
The Village Society, via this website, is often asked about a large property in Langton Green which was taken over by the authorities to serve as a nursing hospital and home for expectant mothers during the Second World War. 'Northfields' as it was known, was situated just off of the main Langton Road (A264) down a driveway near to where Farnham Lane starts. Please click the button lower down this page for further information on this important piece of history in many people's lives, some of whom now live overseas.
Langton Green’s main claim to fame in recent years is as the place where ‘Subbuteo’, the famous table football game, was invented and made for many years before being sold to Waddingtons. There are still very active Subbuteo Clubs around and World Championships are held.
There are still many fine listed buildings in Langton – the oldest farmhouse is believed to be ‘Searles’, which used to be Lampington Farm and dates from the 15th century. ‘Stonewall’, now divided into two cottages could be even older. ‘Manor Cottage’ is Grade II* Listed and carries the red diamond as an historic building of Kent.
History Book – 'Langton Green Through the Ages'
This evocative 84 page book covering the last 100 years or so of Langton Green’s past was produced to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Langton Green Village Society. Containing almost 150 photographs and historical information, it is the perfect keepsake or as a gift for family and friends.
To order ‘Langton Green Though the Ages’ at a reduced price (plus approx £2.30 post and packing or delivery free if to a Langton Green address), please in the first instance contact the Village Society via email to firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your name, address and telephone number.