The village of Sissinghurst grew up along an old drovers’ route. It was known as Mylkehouse or Milk House Street until 1851 when it was renamed after the local Sissinghurst Castle to shake off its reputation for cockfighting, outrage and robbery!
Here is a brief timeline of the village created by local historian Peter Mellor:
12000 – 4000 BC. Flint working tools of the Mesolithic period found at Golford indicate early settlement in the area.
AD 46 – 410: Roman occupation. The line of the Old Roman Road that ran from Rochester to Bodiam cuts through the village by the side of The Milk House. It is probable that from those early times a small community grew in the woodland clearings and formed the beginnings of Sissinghurst as we know it today.
1150 -1200: Saxenhurst (or Saxinghurst) Manor had come into being on the site of the present Sissinghurst Castle.
1305: King Edward 1 spent a night at Milkhus on 1st July en route to Chichester (first record of the village changing its name to Milkhus or Mylkehouse Street).
1573: Queen Elizabeth 1 spent three days as a guest of Richard Baker at Sissinghurst Manor (Castle) during her perambulation of Kent.
1760: “Sissinghurst Manor” renamed “Sissinghurst Castle” by the French Prisoners of War held there during the Seven Years War with France.
Mylkhus, Mylkhouse, Mylkehouse, Milkhouse, Milk House Street had a terrible reputation for mugging etc particularly after dark. “Rogues infested every corner of the road.”
1824: Rear Admiral King purchases Angley Park and the clean-up of the Village begins through his generosity and that of his married sister Lady Louisa de Spaen, and her only daughter Caroline Cleaver.
1838: Admiral King, his sister and her daughter finance the building of Trinity Church at a cost of £1900 and the ecclesiastical parish is formed
1841: The family start the local village school
1842: Plummers Place is bought by Lady Louisa de Spaen who pulled down the old timber framed Tudor house and built Sissinghurst Place.
1851: It was decided to re-name the village “Sissinghurst” after the local Sissinghurst Castle Estate as the name “Milkhouse Street” sounded rather common to educated Victorian ears and in an effort to elude its undesirable reputation
1880: “Mylkhouse Thread” ceased production. It was a stiff waxed twine used in the sewing of hop pockets and was made in or behind the present village shop.
1908: Lake Chad was given its name to commemorate the mapping of the lake in Africa by Boyd Alexander, son of the owner. It was previously known as the Mill Pond as a water mill had been situated at the Chapel Lane end.
1930: Purchase of Sissinghurst Castle by Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West – creators of the famous garden; The National Trust took over in 1967.
2007: Tour de France came through the village. The Penny Farthing erected to commemorate the event.
2013: The former “Bull Inn” reopens as “The Milk House”.