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Archaeologia Cantiana - Vol. 127   2007 page 454

Book Reviews

study, but it does occasionally fall between two stools. Economic histories tend to provide macro conclusions from micro details and the local historian of a particular location may find the choice or omission of detail distorts their familiar perceptions. Nevertheless, this book will provide much for both those who are interested in the broader economic and social analysis and those who prefer to search through the index for more local evidence.


Farningham and its Mill. A History of a Village in Kent. By Hilary Harding. 352 pp. Numerous b/w illustrations and photographs. Wadard Books, Farningham, 2005. £25. ISBN 0 9550858 0 2.

Images of Horton Kirby Paper Mill. 64 illustrations, line drawings and two maps. 62 pp., Horton Kirby and South Darenth Local History Society, Horton Kirby, 2006.

The River Darent in its 30 mile (50km) course from near Westerham to the tidal Dartford Creek steadily falls from 350ft (100m) to sea level as it enters the Thames. For many centuries the river, with its small tributaries, was a source of power for numerous water mills employed in grinding corn and cattle feed, fulling and metal working, sawing timber, the production of paper, silk, and gunpowder. Even in the late decades of the nineteenth century water power continued to be extensively used as an industrial source although often supplemented by steam engines when water levels were unsuitable. By 1900 many water mills had ceased production or drastically adjusted their product and market, and the process of decline accelerated as increasing imports of raw materials from overseas were processed at new industrial locations for mass markets.
   Hilary Harding’s account of Farningham and its mill has been a labour of devotion to the village in which she has lived for nearly half a century. The book is well-written and attractively illustrated. Farningham may have been the site of a Roman water mill so when the present mill building, rebuilt in 1790, ceased grinding corn in 1900 it brought to an end a local industrial process that had probably continued with few interruptions for nearly two millennia. The mill is the central focus of this village history which in 16 chapters covers earliest times to the present day, although the last 60 years, perhaps the time of greatest social and economic change, are hurriedly rushed over in a mere three pages. There is an attempt to place the village in the context of national history but this is not always successfully done, especially in the second part of the book, where much of the emphasis is on the actions of local people and particularly the Colyer family who have owned the mill since 1722. The book undoubtedly will

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