The Cascade

Following the closure of the Abbey by Henry VIII, it seems the associated industries fell into private ownership. It is documented that in Medieval times the Abbey among, other industries, owned extensive tanning works (which probably also produced Vellum) and a mill. The Cascade is fed via an artificially elevated leet from the spring at the foot of St Leonards Tower and served these industries. The following precis of a fascinating MARRIAGE BOND of 1718 (now filed in Maidstone) describes the tanning works and mill with details referring to at least the 1600s. The Cascade is probably the site of a very ancient watermill.

Anne Sedgwick and William Addison the younger are planning to marry.

He is to receive £300 as a marriage settlement.

If he, William Addison the younger, dies Anne’s father, Edward Sedgwick, is to receive £600 for the benefit of Anne and any children she has by William. The £600 is to be paid within six months.

If the estate of Anne’s husband to be, William Addison the younger, can not raise the £600 in the event of his death, William’s father William Addison the elder will pay all or the shortfall to Anne’s father.

To underwrite the security arrangement William Addison the elder puts up properties as collateral to be granted all or in part to Anne’s father in the event of Anne’s husband’s estate being unable to pay the £600 for the benefit of Anne.

The properties used as collateral have lately been bought by the father of the husband to be from the father of the bride to be.

Note It seems the average yearly wage of an artisan or labourer was rather less than £20 per year. £600 was perhaps worth £1,000,000 in terms of average wages today.


The Tanhouse in or near Frog Lane and the associated holdings as follow (note frog has many meanings) barns, stable, millhouse, mill, millstone, outhouses, edifices, buildings, gardens, orchards, tanyard, tanfatts (probably vats) backsides, timber trees, closes feedings, ways, passages, water, watercourses, etc.

All being earlier owned by Thomas Martin* followed by Edward Sedgwick who sold them to William Addison the elder the father of the husband to be.

Additional information - sons and daughters frequently were given their parent’s christian names.

One Thomas Alchin was born approximately 1650 and died in 1717. He left 22 shillings to his friend Edward Sedgwick for the making of a commemorative ring (source - his will on the Internet)
1718 Edward Sedgwick sold his property (The Tanhouse, barns, stable, millhouse, mill, millstone, outhouses, buildings, tanyard, tan vatts, orchards etc. all situate lying or being near a certain lane called Frog Lane West Malling) to William Addison the Elder. (Source – marriage bond)
1718 The above properties and stone were used as collateral for the marriage bond of Anne Sedgwick and William Addison the Younger. (Source – marriage bond)
1729 Thomas Alchin bought a share of properties from John Taylor, these being as follows:- One house with the Workhouse, Gatehouse and buildings, yard, garden, Orchard, Piece of ground sometime fenced off from a meadow and Toll of trees in the occupation of Harris Brooke, Gent. (This is very probably the land and canals described in the famous correspondence between Brooke and Samuel Johnson). One other house with Oasthouse and Hophouse adjoining and also one other house or Millhouse all lying or being in or near the Abby Yard (as spelt) West Malling plus other land etc. (Source - marriage bond)
1754 Mr George Alchin passed the above properties to Mr Thomas Alchin. (Source- deed of lease and release)
William Addison the Younger and his wife Anne, the subjects of the Marriage bond, had two daughters Ann Maplesden (having married Jarvis Marplesden) and Margaret Addison. Mrs Anne Addison herself died in September 1763 seemingly before her husband William.
The Marplesden family were very important in Maidstone once living in what is now the Museum and sometime later founding the Maplesden Noakes School (source – Mr F.D. Johns historian of Offham 1989). At least two members of this family were leaders of the earlier 1554 Wyatt Rebellion in support of Queen Elizabeth I and lost a great deal. Wyatt lost Allington Castle (source family history - Ann E. Marplesden, Ontario Canada). Queen Elizabeth I restored many of the lost lands to her supporters on becoming queen. Elizabeth I granted the dissolved abbey of Malling to Brooke (source – Booklet The History of Malling Abbey).

* The deeds of Town hill Cottage, 58 Town Hill show a probable connection with Thomas Martin, the earliest stated owner of the mill etc. A very large Tan stone (not the cornmill millstone which is behind the wall in the Abbey) was unearthed opposite Town Hill Cottage and photographed.

The Cascade in Swan Street (the subject of the precise and beautiful painting by Turner entitled The Tower Of a Ruined Abbey With a Water Gate 1792, Tate Britain) is possibly the millrace of a vanished mill (with the attendant infrastructure of watercourses) of great age stretching right back into the Country Park. The tailrace passes under the rooms of the 17th century (at least) Went house meaning that the entire man-made water course is ancient. What a story is woven around the millstone laying in the weeds!