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Bells Yew Green
(The ruins of Bayham Abbey)
Bells Yew Green lies about 3 miles to the east of Royal Tunbridge Wells
, 2 miles north of Frant and about 7 miles west of Lamberhurst. The village
is very small, with most houses being of modern design. The name is
derived from the medieval french Bels Lieux which meant beautiful place.
Bells Yew Green is within the area of the Bayham woods, which were
thick and impassable until the trees were cut down to make charcoal
for the charcoal to power the iron industry.
In the early 1200's the monks of Otham Priory in Polegate which
was built in 1175, moved to settle Bayham Abbey (between
Lamberhurst and Bells Yew Green ) together with the monks of
Brockley near Lewisham. The abbey was built by the Premonstration
Order on the borders of two dioceses hence benefitting from
exemption from both. From 1260 the monks were involved in a small
scale bullying of the monks at Michelham Priory , and nearly closed
the Priory down with the costs of the defense. In the 1400's the monks were
accused of robbery, rape and other offenses, but in 1494 this was
brought under control by Richard Redman one of the greatest
Premonstratensian commissaries. In 1536 - 37 Henry VIII dissolved
the monastries and the Abbey was largely destroyed.
Originally there was a settlement at Ley Green about 1/4 mile
south of the railway track on the Frant road. This was a farming
community, but in the 1500's most of the population were involved
in some way with the iron industry , either in the forges at
Benhall, Breechers and Dundale ( towards Pembury ), or those
towards Lamberhurst , Tollslye furnace and Bayham Forge .
From the early 1600's smuggling was rife in the area, as the iron
industry declined, with the area towards Pembury known as Bush
House being a distribution centre for the smuggled good from the
continent to the towns to the north.
| Bells Yew Green has only a public house in the village
the nearest major shopping centre is in Royal Tunbridge Wells about
3 miles west.
The village has a station on the main line from London to Hastings
which provides an hourly service to the capital, and more frequently
during the rush hour.
| Bells Yew Green is out in the country, and has many trees and woods
in the surrounding area. The Green is quite attractive, surrounded
by trees and cottages.
Bayham Abbey is very old and attractive and is well worth visiting,
the road from Bells Yew Green to Bayham is tree lined, and deer are
often seen crossing the road.