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Kent Past

The History of Kent

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History of Swanscombe

Swanscombe comes from the Old English ‘camp’ meaning a ‘field, an enclosed piece of land’ combined with a Danish warrior; therefore ‘Swaine’s enclosure’. The Domesday Book chronicles Swanscombe as Suinescamp.

Bone fragments and tools, representing the earliest humans to have lived in England, were at the 'Barnfield Pit' about 2 km outside the village. Swanscombe Man (now thought to be female) is a late Homo Erectus or an early Archaic Homo sapiens. Lower levels of the 'Barnfield Pit' yielded evidence of Clactonian Man, an even earlier, human. Nearby digs on land for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link revealed a c. 400,000 years old site with human tools and the remains of a Straight-tusked Elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), there is also evidence of water vole, pine vole, newts, frogs etc., indicating a site with standing water. 

Swanscombe parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The 12th Century stone building replaced a Saxon Chapel. The Saxon altar, with some consecration crosses, carved there by Saxon Bishops, remained after the rebuild. The partially Saxon tower had a spire until 1902, when lightning caused extensive damage. The Invicta Monument stands in the churchyard, recording the meeting, at Swanscombe, in 1067 between the Men of Kent, Kentish men and William the Conqueror, who confirmed the county’s ancient rights and liberties. The county then added the motto ‘Invicta’, (unconquered) to the county badge.

Robert Catlin cast a ring of six bells in 1751. After the destruction of the bells and frame in the lightning strike of 1902, Mears and Stainbank cast a new ring of eight in 1904.

Swanscombe railway station started life as a ‘halt’ on the South Eastern and Chatham Railway’s North Kent Line on 2 November 1908. Later on the 6 July 1930 the Southern Railway made Swanscombe into a fully-fledged station…. more