The pretty village of Biddenden is set in the picturesque Kent countryside – a typical Wealden village with plenty to offer.
A key feature of the village is the latticed windowed weavers cottages that run the full length of the south side of the high street, which is flanked on both sides by fossilized stone quarried a long time ago from nearby Bethersden.
Upon entering the village, there is an attractive sign which has been carved and painted by a local crafts man. The sign features a set of Siamese twins known as the Biddenden Maids who were born conjoined at the shoulders and hips in 1100.
The village is famous as the birthplace of the Biddenden Maids, a story which rests on legend as well as on fact. These two sisters, Marie and Eliza Chulhurst, are believed to have left about 20 acres of land to the church wardens so that the rent from farming it could pay for a dole of bread and cheese to be given at Easter to the most needy villagers. This charity was given High Court approval in 1656 and has continued its work ever since.
In remembrance of the twins, the tradition Biddenden biscuit or ‘dole’ is distributed each year on Easter Monday bearing an effigy of the two female figures it represents.
The village high street is lined with some extremely attractive half-timbered medieval and Jacobean buildings, aligned on either side of a cobbled pavement. Many of these are old weavers cottages, as weaving was once the core economic activity of this area of the Weald for many years. This clothing heritage is remembered in the impressive Cloth Hall, just north of the green along with a collection of memorial brasses that features in the 13th/14th Century All Saints Church.
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