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Farningham and Eynsford
Local History Society
Farningham and Eynsford Local History Society
Publication Review
Wilfrid Duncombe
£3.00   A4, 28 pages, 2 A3 maps, 1 illustration, published 1995

This excellent work is essential reading for everyone who is interested in our local history. The first part of the paper is a translation from the Latin of a Canterbury document which gives the boundaries of the two parishes in 1431. It is followed by a transcript of the original and a facsimile of the actual document. The description traces the boundary on the ground, from field to field, tree to tree, hedge to wood to lane. The names of these landmarks are fascinating, especially as the second part of the paper gives the boundaries of the two parishes as they were recorded by the villagers at the annual ceremony of Beating the Bounds during several years between 1770 and 1828. Amazingly enough, many of the names have not changed in 400 years and, with the aid of the good notes and maps that Wilf Duncombe has appended, the reader can trace much of the route taken, as an armchair detective. The perambulation was usually led by the vicar and, traditionally, boys were ceremoniously beaten at certain markers to make sure that future generations knew where their territory began and ended. All the leading villagers who took part, including unnamed 'boys', are listed and there are even some celebrities such as Admiral Bligh who walked the bounds on May 20th 1816 and Vicar Van Mildert, later Bishop of Durham, who led the procession in October 1807. No women are mentioned - perhaps it was considered too vigorous and muddy an exercise. One interesting feature on page 21 says 'up a lane through wood leading to Calfstock called Smuggler's Lane' which bears out Edward Cresy's claim in 1857 that trains of 50 or 60 horses loaded with contraband would use this route on their way to London. The paper is rich in interest; as the reviewer in the Journal of Kent History says, 'Farningham and Eynsford are indeed fortunate to have a scholar such as Dr Duncombe to take our local history to heart'.

Hilary Harding
Review reprinted from The Trident magazine.