Istead Rise gradually became recognised as the name of an area from the turn of the 19th Century. Prior to this Istead Rise was the name of one (that still exists) of four roads that formed the southern tip of Northfleet (the others being Wrotham Road, Lewis Road and Downs Road).
Isteads was the name of one of the 28 plots of land that formed Downs Farm as shown on the map when it was put up for auction in 1897. The earlier tithe map of 1839 shows this same plot named Highstead (a high place). It is likely that the Rise refers to the steep climb to it from Wrotham Road.
Part of Istead Rise is mentioned as early as Saxon times through the area known as the hundred of Toltingtrow (subsequently reputed to have been a site used for the hanging of sheep stealers). Records of the area known as Downs Farm have been traced back to around 1600.
An agreement dated 14 February 1755 leased land that included Downs Farm from Sir Charles Sedley (of Nottingham) to Henry Edmeades (of Nurstead) for 21 years at a rent of £112 per year. Henry Edmeades owned the farmhouse known as Downs Hall that remains as the oldest property in Istead Rise (build estimated in first half of 18th Century). Downs Hall was a regular meeting place for the Camer Hunt.
Records exist from 1763 of a licensee of a public house on the corner of Lewis Road called the Dover Castle. The nearby section of Wrotham Road (A227) is still known as Dovercastle Hill. The demolition of the Dover Castle is likely to have been in the late 18th or early 19th Century. The site is now occupied by the Flint Cottages (the second oldest building in Istead Rise) that are first recorded as being occupied by Rev. W. Price in 1825.
The first record of a bus service to Istead Rise is dated 1880. It was part of the route from Gravesend to Meopham Green known as The Surprise that was drawn by two horses.
The Rise of the Rise by Ken Jones (December 2007).