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A Downland Parish - Ash by Wrotham in Former Times by W. Frank Proudfoot

                                Chapter 9 - At the Rectory  continued   page 111

1787, Sophia was to have her first baby, but both she and the baby died. He never re-married. Two years later, with happier outcome, his brother Multon married Sophia’s sister, Aurea. That marriage lasted more than thirty years. Multon and Aurea had many children, amongst them a future lady of Ash Rectory.
   The rector’s years in Ash saw stirring events in the world at large, from some of which no part of Kent was all that remote. As matters turned out, war came no nearer than the Channel ports and its most direct impact on the parish would have been by way of the resurgence in agriculture that, in this island, war brings in its wake. Almost certainly, some of the smaller farmers must also have benefited from the smuggling industry, which flourished exceedingly in these parts. Ash was no great distance from the Gravesend marshes, where vast quantities of contraband were landed and carried thence towards London. It seems unlikely that Ash itself was on the smugglers’ regular route, although the 

adjoining parish of Longfield, where reputedly the smugglers had a depot at Red Cow Farm, probably was. The hamlet of Green Street Green was certainly on the route, which went from the cross-roads there by way of Gills and then across the Darent valley to Swanley. Edward Cresy, writing in the eighteen-fifties, recalled that as a boy he had seen on occasion at South Darenth a train of as many as fifty or sixty horses loaded with all sorts of contraband. It would have been surprising if some of the Ash men had not participated, in so extensive and rewarding an enterprise and, indeed, there is, or was, a local tradition associating with it the long departed Ash pub called The Crooked Billet.30  It would, however, ‘be equally surprising if the conscientious and diligent rector of Ash and any of the highly respectable parish clerks who successively served under him were ever the recipients of ‘Brandy for the parson’ or ‘Baccy for the Clerk’.

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