Today much of Luddesdown’s charm still lies in its quiet and remote character.
The parish of Luddesdown was of some considerable importance in early history, from the Iron Age, when traces of an important settlement of circa 200BC have been found to the Middle Ages, when it was part of the territories owned by Odo of Baieux, half brother of William the Conqueror. The old Manor House at Luddesdown, now called Luddesdown Court, dates from about 1100 and is reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in England. The building is very interesting, having features from Saxon , Norman, Tudor, Jacobean and even later periods. It has been in possession of a number of important men, including Odo of Baieux, Aymer de Valence and subsequent Earls of Pembroke and Owen Glendower. It is now a private residence.
Luddesdowne* Church, dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, is situated adjacent to the Court at the former manorial centre. The original Saxon church was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 but this was replaced by a stone Norman building in the 12th century. This was added to and rebuilt on a number of occasions so that the church today is essentially a Victorian rebuilding of a 13th century structure with a 14th century tower. Interesting features include a medieval log ladder in the tower, a 13th century solid stone coffin lid, the 15thcentury Montacute brass, and a fine set of Victorian pre – Raphaelite wall paintings and stained glass windows.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a school in the village which acquired quite a reputation under Rev. Stephen Thornton, the rector from 1681-1744. One of its more famous pupils was John Thorpe MA, who published ‘Registrum Roffense’ in 1769, which is still used as an historical source book.
Luddesdown has an extensive network of public footpaths and bridleways and is a great favourite with ramblers, cyclists and horse riders. The long distance footpath from Gravesend to Eastbourne, the Wealdway, runs the length of the parish.
"Discover - Gravesham and The North Downs Villages", leaflet available from Towncentric.
*The church is spelt with an ‘e’ but the village is without it