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Cranbrook

Trip Planner Europe  /  UK  /  England  /  Kent  /  Cranbrook
Cranbrook is a small town in the Weald of Kent in South East England. It lies roughly half-way between Maidstone and Hastings, about 38mi southeast of central London.HistoryThe place name Cranbrook derives from Old English cran broc, meaning Crane Marsh, marshy ground frequented by cranes (although more probably herons). Spelling of the place name has evolved over the centuries from Cranebroca (c. 1100); by 1226 it was recorded as Cranebroc, then Cranebrok. By 1610 the name had become Cranbrooke, which evolved into the current spelling.Edward III brought over Flemish weavers to develop the Wealden cloth industry using wool from Romney Marsh; Cranbrook became the centre of this as it had local supplies of fuller's earth and plenty of streams that could be dammed to drive the fulling mills. Iron-making was carried on at Bedgebury on the River Teise, an industry which dates back to Roman times. The tributaries of the River Beult around Cranbrook powered 17 watermills at one time. In 1290 the town received a charter from Archbishop Peckham, allowing it to hold a market in the High Street.Baker's Cross on the eastern edge of the town is linked to John Baker, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Queen Mary, a Catholic. Legend holds that he was riding on his way to Cranbrook in order to have two local Protestants executed, when he turned back after the news reached him that Queen Mary was dead. Different versions of the legend have it that he heard the parish church bells ringing, or that he was met by a messenger. The place where this happened was, in the words of biographer and historian Arthur Irwin Dasent, "at a place where three roads meet, known to this day as Baker's Cross". Popular legend also has it that Baker was killed at Baker's Cross; although in fact he died in his house in London.
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