Gentlefolk on the Loose
|Maidstone and The Weald|
A fast flowing river, the Loose Stream which rises near Langley, runs through the centre of the village and once supported a paper making industry, evidence of which can still be found today. The name of the village is loosely sued for a wider area, but the village itself is within the valley, extending along Busbridge Road towards Tovil.
Loose is pronounced 'Looze' to rhyme with 'choose'. A local tale has it that the village is named from the Loose Stream, which 'loses' itself for several miles under ground from the point where it rises in Langley. The more orthodox opinion is that it is from the Old English hlose, meaning "Pigstye".
Loose originates from Saxon times but its main period of development was during the Industrial Revolution when Loose, Boughton Monchelsea and Bockingford developed around the seven mills which were driven by the Loose stream. There are several remains of the mills, including millraces at Leg O'Mutton pond, Gurney's Mill, Loose village mill in Bridge Street, the mill ponds at Little and Great Ivy mills and further down the valley in Crismill and Hayle, where the old paper mill stands with its only remaining chimney. This site has now been redeveloped as housing. Further south are disused mine pits where ragstone was once mined, some of which was sent for use at the Tower of London. South along the Loose Road (A229), terminating at the Post Office, ran a tram track which transported Loose residents to and from Maidstone.
Old Loose Hill descends into Loose village and the valley, the hill being so steep that in the 18th and 19th century consecutive landlords of The Chequers public house kept horses which were hired out to help haul carts to the top of the hill. The road is still lined with haul stones around which ropes were tied to help relieve he horses of the weight of the carts. Across the stream from the Chequers is Brooks Field.
In the village the Brooks path, a picturesque causeway along the Loose stream which joins the two ends of the village, divides the mill pond which once fed the village mill. All Saints church, of the Diocese of Canterbury, overlooks this section of river. A local tradition has it that if one sticks a pin in the old Yew tree in the churchyard then runs around it anticlockwise at midnight one will, if one looks through a small window above the Charlton memorial against the church wall, see a gruesome vision of a woman killing a baby. The Reverend Richard Boys was vicar here and also chaplain of St Helena during Napolon Bonaparte's exile on the island. The Reverend Boys is buried in the churchyard.
To the east of the village is the Loose Viaduct, attributed to Thomas Telford and built in 1830 to carry the Maidstone to Hastings road (the present day A229) across the Loose Valley. The village has two public houses. The Chequers is in the valley beside the river and The Walnut Tree is on the main A229 opposite Loose Infant school and Loose Junior school; separate schools but sharing the same site. New Line Learning Academy is a secondary school located in the village. A third pub, The Kings Arms, was closed in 2005 and is now a private house.
In the centre of Loose Village there is a large 14th century house, Church House. It is a beautiful house and full of history.
World famous 'Gonzo' illustrator Ralph Steadman lives in Loose. In 1989 he caused a local scandal with a calendar of scenes from around the village with such descriptions as "Loose women" and "Loose Bowels Club".
The Women's Institute was long known as the Loose Women's Institute, and features in curiosity piece for Pathé News in 1937. Eventually the jibes became too much and it now operates as the 'Loose (West Kent) Women's Institute'.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- All Saints' Church Loose
- BBC Kent page about Loose
- Photos of Loose on Flickr
- Loose Women Morris Dance Team
- Edward Hasted
- "Historic Kent - Villages and Towns". historic-kent.co.uk. http://www.historic-kent.co.uk/vill_l.html. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Napoleon's chair found in storage", BBC Kent, 6 July 2009
- British Pathé News – Loose
- Loose (West Kent) Women's Institute - Registered Charity no. 227739 at the Charity Commission