Lenham in Kent, is a village nine miles east of Maidstone, situated close to the main A20 London to Folkestone road. It is at the foot of the North Downs and the Pilgrims Way is on the Downs above the village. It has many historical buildings and was granted the right to hold a market in 1088.
The centre of the village is a picturesque square, surrounded by shops, inns, a tea room and houses, many of which display timber construction dating from the late Middle Ages. The Dog & Bear Hotel in The Square, was built in 1602 and was visited by Queen Anne in 1704. Her coat of arms are over the main entrance. Further along, is The Red Lion, a traditional 14th century village inn with a log fire and oak beams. Across the road from The Red Lion is the Pharmacy, which bears an unusual name, Saxon Warrior. This commemorates the fact that three skeletons, together with swords, daggers and spearheads, were discovered within the structure of the building. The skeletons were dated to the 6th century and believed to be the remains of Saxon warriors.
North of The Square, is a lane of 18th century red brick cottages, including the building which was once a mortuary for the workhouse and later the village lock-up (prison) in the 19th century, before becoming an air raid shelter during the Second World War. The High Street leads off from The Square. On the north side is a half-timbered house called, Honywood. It was built in 1621 for Anthony Honywood, the son of Mary Honywood. She died in 1620, aged 93 and was buried near her husband in St. Mary’s Churchyard in the village. Incredibly, at the time of her death, she had 367 descendants! She had given birth to eighteen children, two of whom died. She had 114 grandchildren, 228 great grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren. She had lived through five royal reigns, including twenty years of Henry VIII and all of Elizabeth I’s forty five year reign.
On the North Downs, looking down on the village, is Lenham Cross, a cross carved from the chalk in 1922 as a War Memorial to those residents who lost their lives in the First World War. It is two hundred feet long and sixty feet wide. In 1977, the original commemorative stone from the site of the Cross was moved to St. Mary’s Churchyard in Lenham, where it is now a memorial to those villagers who also fell in World War II. The stone was moved, as some of the surviving relatives had become too old to climb the hill to attend the memorial services.
St. Mary’s Church in Church Square, was built in several stages. The nave and chancel were started in the 12th century. The tower, which is one of the best examples of a Kentish tower, was built in the 15th century.
When modern day vehicles are removed, Lenham presents a typical picturesque Kent village. It is ideal for filming and in 1982, was used as the wartime village of, “Market Wetherby” for the London Weekend Television series, We’ll Meet Again, starring Susannah York.