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EYNSFORD | Eynsford Events | Eynsford Forum

Eynsford Village Sign

Eynsford Village Sign

Eynsford is first mentioned in writing in 864, as Egenes homme. The derivation is unclear, but one possibility is that it represents ‘Ægen’s river-meadow’, from the Old English hamm ‘river-meadow, enclosure’. In 1801 the village had the highest population in the Dartford area at 841 persons.

In the centre of the village, which is six miles (10 km) south of Dartford, is a ford over the river, with a picturesque hump-back bridge alongside. There are many old buildings including the 16th century Plough Inn and the Old Mill.

The church is dedicated to St Martin. In about 1163, Thomas Becket is reputed to have excommunicated William de Eynsford, the owner of Eynsford castle. The excommunication was cancelled by King Henry II and the issue became part of the quarrel that led to Becket’s murder in 1170.

John Wesley is thought to have preached here: he was a friend of the then vicar of Shoreham, the next village along the valley. The Wesley Stone by the bridge commemorates the spot.

The railway station is situated on the Swanley to Sevenoaks railway line, opened on 2 June 1862.

It was near Eynsford village (Austin Lodge) that Percy Pilcher constructed and flew successful lightweight gliders. On 30 September 1899, having completed his triplane, he had intended to demonstrate it to a group of onlookers and potential sponsors in a field near Stanford Hall. However, days before, the engine crankshaft had broken and, so as not to disappoint his guests, he decided to fly the Hawk instead. The weather was stormy and rainy, but by 4pm Pilcher decided the weather was good enough to fly. Whilst flying, the tail snapped and Pilcher plunged 10 metres (30 ft) to the ground: he died two days later from his injuries with his triplane having never been publicly flown.

Another famous resident was Arthur Mee who built and lived in Eynsford Hill, a grand house overlooking the village. Mee edited both the weekly Children’s Newspaper and the Children’s Encyclopaedia, in which the design and construction of Eynsford Hill was chronicled. Whether the name of Eliza Doolittle’s husband Freddy Eynsford-Hill in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is connected to the house is a matter of conjecture.

The village was scandalized in the 1920s by the antics of composers E.J. Moeran and Peter Warlock who rented a house there; Warlock’s habit of riding his motorbike round the village naked was matched by his housemate’s singing sea shanties on a Sunday morning to try and drown out the congregation in the Baptist chapel next door. Although the time spent in Eynsford was productive for Warlock, Moeran never really recovered.

Graham Sutherland lived for many years in the 17th century Willow Cottage opposite the old village school.

Within the village are three impressive sites: Eynsford Castle, Lullingstone Castle and the Roman villa.

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