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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 1
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary

THE Kent Archaeological Society was born in the old State Bed Room at Mereworth Castle on 19th September, 1857. On that day a party of eleven noblemen and gentlemen of the county met at the Castle, at the invitation of the Viscount and Viscountess Falmouth, and decided to form a Kent Archeological Society. Thus the origin of the Society is chronicled in the official records. However, a less official journal, kept by the Rev. Lambert B. Larking, Vicar of Ryarsh and the Society’s first Honorary. Secretary, shows that he, in fact, was the only author and true ‘begetter of the Society, and that the initiative in its formation lay elsewhere than with Lord Falmouth.1
   It is scarcely to the credit of Kent that, with its richness of archaeological and historical material, it was not amongst the first of the south-eastern counties to possess an archaeological society. The Sussex Society was established in 1845, to be followed within the next decade by the Surrey, Middlesex and Essex Societies. Apparently there were some unsuccessful attempts to form a Kent

Society in the early 1850’s, one of them associated with the name of J. J. Howard, and another with which Roach Smith was concerned, but they came to nothing. By 1857 the Surrey Society, then three years old, was firmly established, with 470 members, and its Honorary Secretary, George Bish Webb, put forward a proposal for an Archeological Society for the United Counties of Surrey and Kent, for which he sought the support of a number of men of Kent and Kentish men, including Larking. On 9th August, 1857, Larking received a letter from Bish Webb suggesting that the county of Kent should be joined to the county of Surrey, on the ground that, for some years, a fruitless attempt had been made to establish an independent Kent Society and that such
   1 Larking’s Journals are in the possession of the Society. They, contain the Minutes and other official records, correspondence at Maidstone Museum, and the reports of proceedings in Archaeologia Cantiana are the main sources of the information on which this paper is based. It has benefited from the comments and suggestions of the Honorary Editors and of Sir Edward Harrison; for their kindness in reading the paper in MS. I am very grateful.—F.W.J.

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