Photographs are copyright 2017 Fr Dane Batley-Gladden

St Mary's Vicarage, London Road, SWANLEY, Kent, BR8 7AQ

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Swanley

We are tucked on the London side of the M25 where junction 3 of that motorway meets the beginning of the M20.

Our parish covers the town
of Swanley but even we have to admit the parish is a bit
of an odd shape!

 

The railway came to this area in 1861.  Before the railway, it was noted that Swanley consisted of three homesteads.  In 2011, the census recorded a population of more than 16,200 people.  And many animals...

It is thought that the name Swanley came from a resting place (a lay) for pigs (swine) as it was on a busy route for taking pigs to the Kent markets.  The town grew up quickly around the railway, being referred to as Swanley Junction as opposed to Swanley which is now known as Swanley village.  After the trains began, a horticultural college opened (later merging with Wye College near Canterbury) and from that flowed a whole industry around flowers, orchards and horticulture generally.

Three hospitals were established here, two offering respite care for Londoners after surgery and the other dealing with eye problems in children.  Over time, the town centre established itself as Swanley and the original settlement found adding 'village' was convenient. 

The main A20 ran straight through the centre of town until the bypass was built and then Asda came and the town centre was remodelled and so modern Swanley developed and grew.  And is still growing.

The foundation stone of St Mary's was laid in 1900 but the church was not built as originally designed: a shortage of money meant that it was never finished.  It was consecrated on 12th December 1901 by Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury. 

 

Its prominent position in the town, together with the War Memorial and the only burial ground, mean that it is a focus for the town's people in many different ways.  The annual Service of Remembrance, under the auspices of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, draws crowds from across the local area and it is well supported by Swanley Town Council and our uniformed organizations. 

Although only it is only a short hop to the boundary between Kent and London, Swanley is a town where it is possible to see the beginnings of rural Kent but with many conveniences of town living.  The railway station (now part of the Oyster network) is served by Thameslink trains (which go up through Blackfriars and St Pancras all the way to Luton and Bedford) and South Eastern trains up to Victoria.  Coast-bound we have destinations to Sevenoaks, Dover, Ashford, Rochester and Maidstone.  We are close to Bluewater and to the Dartford Crossing as well as villages such as Farningham, Eynsford, Shoreham and Otford.  The District Council is Sevenoaks and county services are provided by Kent County Council.