Maps of Leigh
‘Maps of Leigh’ as a title has at least two problems. First, Leigh was often spelt differently; and secondly the maps may have the village on them from the mid-1500s on but there was virtually no detail – nothing about what the village had in it.
About the spelling: Lawrence Biddle’s 1991 book “Leigh in Kent 1550-1900” has fifteen spellings for the village taken from various maps and documents before 1770. In one of the earliest detailed maps of Kent – the 1596 one shown on the cover of this magazine – Philip Symonson spelt it as ‘Leygh, as you can see. It lay between ‘Tunbridge’ (this spelling continued to be used for a further three hundred years) and Chiddingstone with its bridge over the Eden. The map of the whole of Kent is said to be one of the greatest achievements in England cartography before the 18th century – but it does not tell us anything about the village.
For a more detailed look at the village, one has to wait until 1778 when the famous Kent historian, Hasted, has ‘Lyghe’ unfortunately cutting the village in half because half of it came in the Somerden Hundred and half in the Tonbridge Hundred. (This is the reason why part of the village on the Chiddingstone side from the Pinnacles and present drive to Hall Place used to be called West Leigh). However, Hasted does show reasonable details of Hall Place and its park, the Church and the central part of the village. It even shows a footpath, much as it is today, from the Church to Leigh Park Farm.
From there on, there are various maps, one by Andrew Drury and Herbert and the first Ordnance Survey in 1801 – which did not cover the whole of the country but did cover Leigh. The Historical Society has a large collection of maps – the most interesting are on our website. However, if anyone needs to look at the collection do contact us and we will see what we can do, particularly now that we have our new archive cupboard in the Large Village Hall.
The fifteen spellings of the village’s names:
La Leye Leigh Lye
Leaga Leighe Lyeghe
Legae Leygh Lygh
Legh Ligh Lyghe
Leghe Lighe Lyght
Chris Rowley (Nov 2019)