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MARKET TOWNS OF KENT (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Cranbrook in 1836

Cranbrook, the principal town in the Weald of Kent, is in the hundred of Cranbrook in the lathe of Scray, 48 miles from London Bridge. The parish comprehends 10,460 acres, and had in 1831 a population of 3,844, about half agricultural. Cranbrook is irregularly built. The church is a large and handsome edifice in the perpendicular style, with good buttresses and fine windows ; it is advantageously situated on a small eminence near the centre of the town. There are several dissenting meeting-houses. Cranbrook was once the centre of the clothing trade introduced by the Flemings, whom the policy of Edward III induced to settle in this country.

Since the removal of this branch industry to the north and west of England, Cranbrook has been a mart for the agricultural produce of the neighbourhood, especially hops. The market, which is now held on Wednesday, is chiefly for corn and hops ; every fortnight there is a cattle market. The living is a vicarage in the diocese and archdeaconry of Canterbury, of the clear annual value of £163, with a glebe-house. There were, in 1833, eleven day-schools (two of them endowed) with 299 scholars; and six Sunday-schools with 449 children. In the parish are the ruins of Sissinghurst, a fine mansion formerly the residence of the Baker family. From having been used as a French prison during one of the wars of the last century, it acquired the inappropriate name of Sissinghurst Castle.

In the hamlet of Milkhouse Street, in this parish, are the remains of an ancient chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Cranbrook is one of the polling stations for the western division of the county.