Hayes Kent history is a website that began life with two book volumes: ‘Hayes – A history of a Kentish Village volumes 1 and 2’ written by Jean Wilson and Trevor Woodman. Published in 2012, they are now out of print. The books summarised over 40 years of research into the growth of Hayes from a small village to the present-day community. Not all the details could be included at the time and additional information has since been discovered on the fascinating history of Hayes.
Hayes is situated near the county of Kent, 12 miles southeast of London. It has a population of around 16,000. Today it is part of the London Borough of Bromley. However, for almost 800 years it was a small village in Kent. Its parish boundaries extended to Westmoreland Road in the North and Keston in the south, covering about 1000 acres of arable and woodland.
Hayes is no ordinary village. This is due in no small part to its proximity to the City of London and Westminster. It is unique in that not one but two of Britain’s Prime Ministers – William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham, and William Pitt the Younger lived in the village, opposite the parish church. Even Cabinet meetings were held in Hayes.
In the 19th century, Rev. Thomas Hussey was the first to suggest the existence of the planet Neptune from his observatory in Hayes Rectory. His successor Rev. George Varenne Reed tutored the sons of Charles Darwin, who lived in nearby Downe. Landowners, farmers, merchants, bankers, judges all shaped the history of Hayes and influenced the lives of all who lived in the village.
This is an ongoing project to provide insight into the development of Hayes from the Stone Age to modern times. It includes such themes as people, buildings, churches and individual memories.
Explore the timeline guide or the particular topic you are interested in.
If you have a personal memory of living or working in Hayes or photographs or documents you would like to share, please let us know. Click on Contact Us. We would be delighted to hear from you and include your contributions on this website.
The header photograph of the old school and forge