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27 Water Lane, West Malling, ME19 6HH

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History

For centuries this ancient timber and stone building has stood within the precinct of West Malling Abbey. It has been witness to tumultuous times of upheaval and treason. Our own century has not been uneventful and yet the building known locally as the Tithe Barn survives intact.  

In 1066 William of Normandy acquired the throne by conquest. He appointed the famous architect Gundulf as Bishop of Rochester. Work on building St Mary’s abbey, St Leonard’s Tower and a small building nearby started in West Malling. By 1080 it is thought work was complete and the First Abbess named Avicia was appointed. The abbey prospered despite plague and fire It became of the wealthiest in England owning many premises in the growing town.

Between 1536 and 1541 King Henry V111 dissolved the monasteries confiscating their wealth. The nuns of Malling resisted bravely to the last. After various tenancies Queen Elizabeth 1st awarded Malling Abbey and lands to the Brooke family of Cobham. In 1603 English Courtiers plotted to depose King James 1st. The Brookes were ringleaders with Sir Walter Rayleigh.  Sir George Brooke was executed and his brother Lord Cobham imprisoned in the Tower of London as was Sir Walter Rayleigh. Malling Abbey was confiscated and granted to the Brett family by James 1st .On the extinction of the Brett Family the Abbey and lands were granted to Sir John Rayney and the grant was later confirmed by King Charles 2nd. 

In the 19th C the Abbey came again into ecclesiastical hands and re-established as an abbey and monastery. Nowadays the Tithe barn is home to the Pilsdon community and their fine work.

Peter Cosier