Friday, September 29, 2006


Cowden and the Godfrey Ancestors.

Cowden lies just across the border - just into Kent.
Bill's grandmother, Lousia Monk (nee Godfrey) was born in this parish in 1878. Her father, John was an agricultural labourer and he moved from farm to farm to find work. We don't know where he was in Cowden or how long he was there. It may not have been very long, for Louisa was the only one of his children to be born there and by the time she was three she was living in Quaker's Platt Lingfield/Dormansland.

Cowden is a small village and like many others has lost much of its rural past to the new upwardly mobile people who can now afford the old cottages. There is no shop there now and I believe the children travel to Edenbridge for their schooling. There is just one pub now, where there had been two.

The village has an interesting past, based on the local iron industry. There are some lovely cottages.

We had never been to the village before.

We parked the car at The Fountain.
We sat inside and enjoyed a drink and a packet of crisps. We might have ordered more to eat, but the menu was limited and they served smart meals at smart prices. We needed only a snack.
We wondered if John Godfrey, Bill's great grandfather had called in there some evenings. Perhaps on special days he might have taken his wife, Sophia carrying the baby Louisa in her arms.
It was good to imagine that we were supping ale where they might also have been.

We then walked through the quiet main street, enjoying the cottages.
The nearest would have been converted from the stables I think. The steps outside would have been used for getting onto a horse without the need to heave oneself up - very useful for an older person. The edge of the top stone was well worn down by feet at the edge.
You can see from the watery pale sky that we were not enjoying the best of weather.

The church is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.
The original 12th century building was replaced in the 14th century.
The tower and spire are considered to be unique, covered with wooden shingle tiles.

There is a rhyme about the spire of Cowden church:
Cowden church, crooked steeple,
Lying priest, deceitful people.
The second line is thought to reflect the opinions of those in the neighbouring parish of Hartfield over its defeat in a dispute with Cowden about the settlement of a pauper.

This picture looking towards the bell tower (with the altar behind us) shows well the simple old constuction.
The church has a good set of bells and the bell ringers have won competitions.

The font.
We can assume that Grandmother Lousia was baptised at this font.
The guide book which we bought, tells us that the font is in a medieval style. The writer surmises that an exact replica was substituted towards the end of the 19th century.
Perhaps Louisa was given her name at the earlier example.

We walked around the churchyard - three separate fields.
There were no expectations of finding family laid to rest there.
So we just wandered.
I liked this stone aganst the autumns reds of the virginia creeper.
Yes, I know its a bit tilted!

I liked the view of the cottages from the church yard.

The Old Forge - a link with the medieval iron industry past.
It is now a dwelling of course.

So, we enjoyed just a brief trip to Cowden. Don't forget it is pronounced Cow-Denne. I had told Bill that, but still Cowdun slipped out when we were chatting in the post office in Dormansland. It was quickly pointed out that he had got it wrong.
Lousia would have had no memories of the place - having left there before she was 3 years old.
And I expect John and Sophia were glad to get away - back the 4 or 5 miles to Dormansland, part of Lingfield. They had both been born in Lingfield and their parents would have been quite close by.