There is a fairytale looking place very close to Maidstone in South East England, conveniently spread out on the banks of the Medway River, with a stone bridge and a ragstone tower visible from a distance.
The stone structure combines two river banks with five, wide, attractive spans and adds charm to the entire place. The black and white buildings of the village remember the times of Elizabeth the First. Above the river and village dominates the tower of a local parish church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. The name of the village – Aylesford – is supposedly derived from the legendary, cruel Mr Aegel, who charged tolls in this place from people crossing the river. Hence the whole land was named his fort: Aegel-fort, later reworked at Aylesford. This place is deeply written in the history of England. A long time ago in 455by the shallow ford of the Medway river, there was a battle between the Anglo-Saxons and Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of these lands. Three centuries later, another battle took place here in 893. King Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings, and in 1016 Anglo- Saxons defeated them again. After the invasion of Normans in 1066, Aylesford became the private property of new king William the Conqueror. And in subsequent years of peace barges and boats constantly floating on the river made the village flourish and prosper.
In the town, there are some beautiful examples of Tudors architecture.
The church on the hill dates back to Norman times, however, the oldest remains are visible only in the lower part of the tower. The interior consists of two aisles, supported by a row of elegant columns. Stained glass windows were put in Victorian times and are devoted mainly to the twelve apostles. There are two tombs in the church and inside them are buried the previous landowners of the surrounding lands. Life-size figures of the Colepepper family tombs are visible from a distance. The male is dressed in armour, and the woman in a long straight robe, wrapped in a cloak, with a huge quilted collar. On the side of the tomb, there are carved the kneeling figures of sons and daughters. The oak doors to the north-eastern side of the church are apparently over five hundred years old. After leaving the church, it is worth taking a stroll around the cemetery. The yew tree growing there was supposedly planted in 1708. Near the southern portal is the beautiful stone tomb of the Spong family, apparently, a member of this family served the famous writer Charles Dickens as the prototype of the character of Mr Wardle in the Club Pickwik’s book. Apparently, Dickens himself had bought a burial place here, however, his fame did not allow it, he was assigned a well-deserved place in Westminster Cathedral in London.
Aylesford is located south-east from London and you can arrive here by train from the capital. This place definitely is worth a visit and not far from the town centre is a working Carmelite Priory decorated with amazing mosaic.