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Darenth lies approximately 3 miles to the southeast of Dartford and at the time of the 2011 Census had a population of 4,851. The Parish Council has nine Councillors representing three Wards, namely Lane End with six; Darenth Valley with two and Green Street Green with one.
Darenth is sometimes known as “The village that simply moved somewhere else” as, if you visit Darenth to where it is shown on an Ordnance Survey map, you will not in fact find a village at all but just the quiet and picturesque little church of St Margaret of Antioch on a hillside. It would have been different in Saxon times, where Darenth is shown on the OS map, Horsa and his son Oisic based their rule of Kent. Their royal lineage was to continue for the next 500 years placing Darenth at the heart of Kentish history!
Today Darenth still includes the ‘Little church over the hill’, as St Margarets is known to some of the older residents, but most people take the Village to be the sprawl of houses that run the length of Green Street Green Road from its junction with Princes Road to the boundary with Longfield. Despite this common thread the Parish still can be identified as having four separate areas being –
· The ‘old’ Darenth around St Maragaret’s Church which the 1871 Census showed as being where the majority of the population of 670 lived
· The two distinct hamlets of Lane End from Trollingdown Hill to Ladywood Road and Green Street Green from Ladywood Road to Canada Farm Road and
· The Darenth Village Park development on Darenth Hospitals site
Although the late 19th Century saw very few people living in Darenth the area proved to be attractive to the Metropolitan Asylum Board which saw a number of large hospitals being built under a variety of evolving names such as Southern; Darenth Park; Darenth Training Colony, Gore Farm and Mabledon. When the Hospitals closed, the land released led to the building of the Darenth Village Park development; Darenth Valley Hospital and The Arrow Riding School; the creation of Darenth Country Park and the soon to be built Crematorium.
Mention has been made of the Parish Church of St Margaret of Antioch Church which is believed to be the third oldest in Kent and the sixth oldest in the entire country and is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon document of 940AD. St Margaret’s boasts one of the finest Norman fonts in Kent sculped from stone brought over from Bishop Gundulf’s home town of Caen. The Church is well worth a visit as are the two Public Houses – The Chequers Inn, a Grade II Listed building with some fine wooden panelling around which a local story (or myth!) exists and The Ship Inn.
Although not large in size there is a lot more to Darenth than you would think - whether it is a walk along the Darenth Valley Path; reflecting on the fact that nearly all of Hitler’s pre-war Nazi swastika Germany’s flags were made at Darenth Fabric Printing Works; wondering whether Rats Castle was so named because the village rat-catcher lived there or that the multitude of the resident’s children were feral like vermin; anticipating the arrival of the Circus on the Green every Spring; looking forward to a refreshing bottle of the beer produced at the brewery in St Margarets Road; wondering what happened Darenth’s Drum and Fife Band instuments or pondering how the congregation of the Tin Church heard the sermon when it was raining!
Although Darenth’s character is urban it sits entirely in the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Parish Council is committed to ensure that development is kept to a minimum to ensure that it remains a village in a rural setting despite containing one of the busiest B-Roads in the Southeast
The Parish Council would be pleased to receive any photographs of Darenth in days gone by or stories of the village’s characters or events.