West Malling

Street Map

West Malling (historically Town Malling) is a historic market town in the Tonbridge and Malling district of Kent, England. It has a population of approx. 3,000 – 5,000.

West Malling contains many historic buildings. Including St Leonard’s Tower, West Malling, a Norman keep, was built by Bishop Gundulf c.1080. He also built the White Tower of the Tower of London, the castles of Rochester and Colchester, the Priory and Cathedral of Rochester. In c.1090 Gundulf founded St. Mary’s Abbey in West Malling for Benedictine nuns. This historic site contains significant buildings from the Norman, medieval, Tudor and Georgian eras. There is also a Grade II* Listed 1966 Abbey Church which is used by the Anglican Benedictine nuns who have made Malling Abbey their home since 1916. Other buildings of interest in West Malling include the Prior’s House, once a residence for those with leprosy; Ford House, over 600 years old; a mainly Georgian High Street; the Swan Hotel, an 18th-century coaching inn (Grade II listed), and Went House, built c.1720 and noted for its elegant brickwork. Manor Park Country Park is located just to the south of the town close to St Leonard’s Tower and Douce’s Manor, whose grounds the park once comprised.

This new parish is a mixed residential housing estate and commercial development formed from parts of West Malling, Mereworth, East Malling and Wateringbury. The 2004 Wealth of the Nation report lists Kings Hill as having the highest average income and the highest proportion of households earning greater than £100,000 per annum in Great Britain.

West Malling is some 35 miles (56 km) from central London, next to the main road between London and the coastal ferry ports of Folkestone and Dover and with good links by road and rail the area has become a popular commuter location.

Originally established on the main road to London from the coast, West Malling is about a mile (1½ km) from Junction 4 of the M20, and from Junction 2 of the M26 which leads on to the M25, encircling London.

In the 1930s, Maidstone Airport was established two miles from the town, at Kings Hill. During the Second World War, RAF fighters were based at the then-named RAF West Malling, and several US Navy squadrons were based there during the 1960s. After closure as an operational air station in 1967, several commercial air-based activities moved onto the site, and a number of popular airshows took place – the last being in 1987. By this time work had started to convert the area to non-flying use, developing into the new parish of Kings Hill.

West Malling station, situated on the outskirts of the town, provides a regular service, operated by Southeastern Trains up to Victoria, and down to Maidstone and Ashford. Journeys into London take around one hour. Direct services to London Bridge and Cannon Street were withdrawn in January 2010.

With the recent development of Kings Hill, the station was renamed West Malling for Kings Hill, and in 2007, road access was provided from the West Malling bypass, taking commuter traffic away from the High Street.

West Malling is reputed to be the site of the first recorded cricket match in Kent. The ground, off Norman Road, was once the home of inter-county cricket in Kent, and it is known that In 1705, “West of Kent” played Chatham at Malling.

In 1967, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour was filmed around West Malling, including in the High Street and at the airfield. The Beatles were once owners of Douce’s Manor, between the town and the airfield. The 18th Century Manor House has since been converted into retirement homes, and part of the former estate is open to the public as Manor Park Country Park.

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