Local History Month

Local History Month | Benenden Hospital

Local History Month is an annual event that runs from the 1st to the 31st of May. The aim of the month is to raise local history awareness, promote history in general to the local community, and encourage everyone to participate.

Trips, library exhibitions, and local talks are among the activities that take place around the United Kingdom. It's a fantastic opportunity for groups to highlight local history while also allowing people to connect with their communities.

Both our hospital and the surrounding community are rich in history, so to celebrate Local History Month, we’ve put together a short guide to our local history.

A short history of Benenden village

Benenden is a beautiful village in the heart of the Wealden countryside, surrounded by picturesque walks, farms and parkland. It boasts a village green popular with cricketers, several places to eat and drink as well as a Community Shop run by volunteers.

But did you know that it has a varied history dating from the 11th century?

Fact 1: The place name Benenden is derived from Old English Bynning denn, meaning ‘Bynna’s wooded pasture’.

Fact 2: The Domesday Book notes that Benindene (the village’s name from 1086 to c.1100 BC) was only one of four places in the Weald to have a church. The historic church of St. George is still standing to this day!

Fact 3: Benenden was an important industrial centre from the 14th century onwards. Many residents were involved with cloth-making, including weaving, dyeing, fulling to smooth the fabric and shearing to remove the fuzzy ‘nap’.

Fact 4: In 1940, Benenden School was evacuated from Kent and moved to Newquay, Cornwall so that the building could be used as a military hospital during the Second World War.

Fact 5: Benenden had four watermills – a pair of mills to the east of the village, Wandle Mill and East End mill on a site which was eventually occupied by our hospital.

[Source: Wikipedia]

The history of Benenden Hospital

In 1905 Charles Garland set up the National Association for the Establishment and Maintenance of Sanatoria for Workers Suffering from Tuberculosis Friendly Society (known today as Benenden Health).

The hospital’s foundation stone was laid the following year in 1906 (this still has pride of place in the hospital today) and in 1907 we began welcoming Post Office workers who recovered in the peaceful and naturally beautiful surroundings that patients of Benenden Hospital still enjoy today.

With declining TB cases the Benenden Healthcare Society expanded to include treatments for cancer and chest complaints, a theatre, x-ray department and surgical wards were built shortly after.

Find out more about our hospital’s history.

If you have a story about or photographs of the Benenden area or our hospital, and would be willing to share them, please send them to marketingbht@benenden.org.uk.

Published on 11 May 2022