Leeds village in Kent cannot, of course, be compared with Leeds in
Yorkshire which is probably the first 'hit' you get when searching for
Leeds on the web. We are a small community with fewer than 1000
inhabitants, nestling at the foot of the North Downs in the heart of the
Kent countryside five miles south east of Maidstone.
The village may have taken its name from the stream known in early times
was known as the Hlyde…… the loud or noisy one. We know the original
settlement was called Hlydes – 'belonging to the noisy one' and is
recorded as Esleades, 1086, Hlydea, Hledes c.1100 and Leeds 1610.
Sadly, the noisy one has now been muffled by being diverted through
an underground conduit – the sound of merry water being replaced by the
rumble of traffic.
If this is the true origin of the name, it would pinpoint the
location of the original settlement as being in the hollow where now
stands the George Inn and the cluster of delightful period homes.
Of course, much of Leeds fame is due to its proximity to Leeds
Castle. Nowadays a Mecca for tourists but up to 1974 it was privately
owned, keeping many people in Leeds and nearby Broomfield employed both
in the castle and on the surrounding farmland.
There was an Anglo-Saxon fortress on the site of Leeds castle as
early as 978 AD and, as you would expect, has had a colourful history
through the ages with much of the British monarchy passing through its
portals. Now many thousands of people from all over the world are
attracted to its moated magnificence, to the beauty of its surroundings
and to attend the many concerts - classical, jazz and pop – held in the
grounds throughout the summer.
As you come into the village from the busy A20 you are aware of
another landmark – our ancient Norman church its suggestions of earlier
Anglo-Saxon origins. It is a beautiful building with its surrounding
churchyard which in spring time displays a marvellous carpet of
snowdrops and later daffodils – worth a journey in itself. Do take time
to walk round the graveyard and read some of the ancient gravestones
which give us fascinating glimpses of social history through the years.
In the middle of the village, behind the George Inn on the rise of
land and set back from the road is the site of the old Leeds Priory. We
understand that it was founded in 1119. The Priory flourished for 420
years until King Henry VIII with his relish for purging the land of
Papal error and replenishing the royal coffers at the same time, ordered
its dissolution. Not surprisingly, the site is reputed to be haunted.
Around the turn of the century a retired policeman
recounted seeing a ghost that changed into four different
figures before vanishing in broad daylight. Opposite the Church
is the Leeds and Broomfield Church of England Primary School –
opened in 1874. Today, it is still thriving.
Supply Stores - Upper Street, Leeds, Kent
A Potted History of Leeds - Continued
Historically, Leeds would have provided employment for the majority
of its inhabitants on the land, in the castle, or in the many trades
that proliferated before the advent of the motor car.
Its inhabitants now travel to London – by car and train – to all
places around the M25 and to Maidstone and its surrounding area.
The road through Leeds has become a major access to the M20.
There are no longer any shops in Leeds but there is always a warm
welcome in our two public houses, the George Inn and the Ten Bells.
We are a friendly village with many activities in which to take an
interest. The Parish Council meets on the second Tuesday in the
month in the Pavillion at 7.30pm with the exception of January and
August. Everyone is welcome to come and time is given for the
residents to comment on their concerns. Residents also receive a
free copy of the Church & Village News, which is published by the Leeds
& Broomfield Parochial Church Council.
This is only a potted history of Leeds village. There are links
to Leeds Castle, the village school, church, the local pubs and the many
other organisations and societies that make up our community.
Why not take time and look at life in Leeds circa 2013, see the photo gallery