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The History of Kent

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History of Halstead

Halstead comes from the Anglian word ‘hald’ meaning ‘refuge, shelter’ with the Old English ‘stede’ as a ‘place, site, locality’; therefore a ‘place of refuge or shelter’.

Halstead parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Margaret. The Architect William Milford Teulon built it in 1881, close to the site of the medieval church it replaced. J P St Aubyn and Wadling extended it further with the vestry just 16 years later.

The older church dates back to 1609, when Sir Thomas Watson, lord of the manor, rebuilt it as a private chapel located on what became Halstead Place. In 1612, William Carter cast and hung four new bells. In 1797, Edward Hasted described St Margaret’s church as consisting of ‘one isle and a chancel, with a small chapel on the north side, and a pointed steeple, in which are four bells’. In 1846, the Revere3nd Edward Heawood sold the four Carter bells to Whitechapel. The Victorians carried out extensive restoration work in 1866 and 1873. They subsequently took the decision to rebuild the church again, except on a separate public site, close by.

Halstead railway station opened as 'Halstead for Knockholt', on the South Eastern Railway’s Chislehurst to Sevenoaks section of the Tonbridge cut-off line, in 1876. The name changed to ‘Knockholt’ in 1900, despite being over three miles from the village centre. In the 1870’s the adolescent Edith Nesbit, author of ‘The Railway Children’ lived in Halstead Hall, which backed onto the railway line, and from where she based her book.