Protect West Malling

Posted on Aug 15, 2019

Protect West Malling exists to protect and enhance the historic market town of West Malling in Kent, England. It was formed in response to threats of unplanned development. If you want to help please join us at the Protect West Malling...

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St Mary the Virgin Church Poem

Posted on Jun 10, 2019

The original spire was hit by lightning in 1712, caught fire and damaged the church. The present spire was built in 1838 and the copper ball and weather vane from the older spire were placed at its pinnacle when it was rebuilt. When the ball and vane was taken down in 1930/31 for cleaning and repair, the ball was found to contain two pieces of parchment. One was a list of names. On the second was a ‘Song for the Ball’, which is as follows: A song for the Ball, the Brave Old Ball who hath stood on the Church spire long Here’s a health and renown to his old Copper Crown and his many supporters…There’s a gay smile plays when the Sun’s last rayson his broad and glittering headand the moon’s fair light on the tombstones whitecheers his gloomy abode with the dead.In the days of Yore long long beforeYou and I drew the breath of lifeHe hath often heard Steal the merry merry pealthat announces the Young Maiden a wife;and tales he could tell of the funeral knelland the tears that the friendless have shedwhen the greed sod press’d on the cold clay breastand the last rays of hope had fled.He saw the rare days when the old-fashioned waysdiffered widely to what they are now,when the proud boasted frame and England’s namewas unpressed on each warrior’s browNow might conquers right…… [illegible]reversed by a wise Legislation." the remainder had sadly perished by 1930 and could not be transcribed.It was written by R.W. Humphrey, November 1838. There are rumours that it was a drinking song in the local pubs of Town Malling at the time and rumours also that when the ball was taken down from the old spire and then put onto the new one, in the interim period it may have been used as something of a Punch Bowl at the Bear Inn by the tradesmen tasked with restoring it to the spire, and from which people would drink!  Rev’d David GreenVicar, St Mary-the-Virgin, West Mallingand Rector, St Michael & All Angels,...

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William Perfect (1731/2–1809)

Posted on Jun 1, 2019

William Perfect (1731/2–1809) was a physician specializing in the treatment of the insane, he was the son of the Revd William Perfect (d. 1757), from 1745 vicar of East Malling, Kent, and his wife, Sarah (d. 1769). He was probably born in Oxfordshire. In 1749 he was apprenticed to William Everred, a London surgeon. During his apprenticeship he attended lectures by Colin Mackenzie, a Scot specializing in obstetrics, and many years later published his correspondence with Mackenzie, relating to various difficult births at which he had assisted. Three editions of this, entitled Cases in Midwifery, appeared between 1781(?) and 1787. In 1754 Perfect was working in Dartford, probably as assistant to a surgeon, having married the previous year Elizabeth Shrimpton (1730/31–1764), descended from a Penn, Buckinghamshire, family. The Perfects moved permanently to West Malling, Kent, in 1756, where William took over an established practice in the High Street. On his wife’s early death in 1764 Perfect was left a widower with five children: Elizabeth, Sarah, William, Huntley, and George—a sixth, Daniel, had died shortly after his mother. One of his daughters married the artist Silvester Harding (1745×51–1809); George Perfect Harding was their son. Grief at the loss of Elizabeth seems to have resulted in Perfect’s becoming a freemason about 1765, and it was in freemasonry that he obtained his greatest social distinctions. He was promoted to the office of provincial grand orator in 1787, and eight years later became provincial grand master of the county of Kent, an office which he retained until his death. During the 1760s Perfect threw himself into what was becoming virtually a crusade throughout the country to eliminate smallpox through the introduction of inoculation. Working with another local doctor he undertook the general inoculation of whole parishes in Kent and elsewhere, and appears to have travelled widely for this purpose until about 1769. Perfect had already become interested in what was then termed lunacy, and now began to specialize in this, accommodating patients in his own house. Gentleness and common sense seem to have characterized his approach, whether dealing with women in childbirth or the insane. A keen believer in the value of advertising, he frequently publicized his medical services in the newspapers. An account of various mental afflictions which he had treated successfully, Methods of Cure, in some Particular Cases of Insanity, which was probably written originally for the purpose of advertisement and first published about 1778, was later expanded and, under various titles, including Annals of Insanity, had reached some seven editions by 1809. The book helped to establish his reputation in this field. Perfect obtained his MD from St Andrews University in 1783. Perfect’s lunatic asylum remained the principal private asylum in Kent for many years, although it does not appear to have been very large. On Perfect’s death his son George, who had worked alongside his father for some years,...

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Little snippets from yesteryear

Posted on Dec 10, 2018

Uses of West Malling Accommodation Block at airfieldHi,I was reading through the history if the airfield on your site. It was very interesting and I do remember when the Ugandan asian fefugees where homed there for a while. I had made best friends with one of the young girls that been relicated there with her family. I often went to visit her before her family were rehomed. Families had been seperated by hospital curtains in large rooms. They all used to eat in a large mess room.When the mill where my father worked in Snodland closed, my family became homeless because we were in a mill house.My mother, myself and brother were homed at Kinghill airfield in what I assume now as being (officers?)airmen quarters. I was only 5 at the time. Each family had two small rooms. One living area and one bedroom. We had to share other facilites with all the other families in the block. No men were allowed in the blocks…so we were seperated from our father. He had to find his own accommodation as a lodger in Maidstone.He didn’t drive, so we didn’t see him often.The large gates were locked at night to prevent intruders and keep us in. The milkman used to give crystal jelly for our bones, cod liver oil and malt syrup.We had mice holes in all of the rooms, where my mother used to have to put mousetraps out all the time. The sound of the traps snapoing in the night used to wake us up,as they were under our beds too!We lived there in the hostel, as it was called then in 1964/65 until the housed were finished being built in Larkfield.Hope this little snippet fills a gap in the history of the...

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