Garlinge is possibly the earliest Saxon name on the Isle of Thanet after the wave of colonisation in the 6th century. The village name in its original form of Old English was Geon-ling (gren-hlinc), meaning green lynch, (green hill or green bank) first mentioned in a charter for land in 824. Its name transformed over the years to Grenling (c.1254), Grelinge or Gerlinge (c.1275), Grellnch (c.1327), Garlyng (c.1474) and Garlings (c1800).
This once tiny hamlet was, like many hamlets, not given mention in the Doomesday Book. Its naming occurred in a charter of the ninth century but does not reappear until 1254. It has evolved over many centuries and since village recognition in the 1800’s with the erection of St. James’ church, the High Street and its shops, transpired into a congested blend of increased housing, schooling and infrastructure much to the detriment of the countryside, and other than the southern aspect, it is now completely overwhelmed and languishing as yet another constituent of a rapidly deteriorating Margate. However, for the villagers and local traders alike, Garlinge remains exceptionally treasured and its identity optimistically resolute.
The 1872 Ordnance Survey (1st Edition), depicts two roads leading off the existing High Street: Crow Hill Road (which now extends to Brooke Avenue) and the now absent Rodney Lane, running parallel toward Woodchurch and Hengrove, and sited between the original Rodney public house and the Old School Hall. The High Street remains the core artery of the village proceeding south from Canterbury Road to Shottendane Road with a profusion of little cul-de-sacs added over recent years.
Although Dent-de-Lion and Mutrix (originally called Mutterer), were never part of the original hamlet their inclusion is justified considering their long and close farming association since Garlinge became a village.
In a book dating 1723 it is noted that Garlinge consisted of some twenty to thirty houses in fine fertile country around Bethlem Farm (also known as Garlinge Farm), belonging to the hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlem in London. The forty acre farm was on and around the site of the present garage on the Canterbury Road. This land was later requisitioned for Westgate aerodrome by the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War, though the farm buildings being some way from the site, were not used.
In 1796, Garlinge was ‘a pretty hamlet’ growing fruit and vegetables for the market in Margate.’ The escalation of farming in and around the village is proven in the 1841 census, which lists some 48 agricultural labourers living in the area, and in the later 1871 census, lists many laundresses coming to Garlinge, reflecting the rapid growth of Margate’s boarding houses in and around that period.
Through the following years drainage, plumbing and water supplies were severely lacking on the expanding village and even up until the late nineteenth century the local children would fetch fresh water from the public pump sited near Nayland Rock in Margate, charging a modest halfpenny a pail or one penny a yolk.
The village possessed wooden cottages – known locally as the ‘Art Cottages,’ with one in particular nicknamed ‘Noah’s Ark’. They were wheeled into position in 1863 and sited at Crow Hill Road just behind the old Post Office as temporary accommodation for Irish platelayers working on the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.
The late 1800’s and early 1900’s brought radical changes to Garlinge and an increase in population forced a surge in housing. A tall pipe towering out from the ground in the square in 1894 let out the smell from the drains, known locally as the ‘Stink Pipe.’ By now the village had its own school and transport by tram and bus became frequent. Even steam trains were running from London into Westgate-on-Sea and Margate making the village increasingly vulnerable. The borough of Margate had taken siege of Garlinge in 1930 and main roads were widened and minor roads laid fanning out from the High Street forsaking arable farming land for bricks and mortar of new housing. Even existing dwellings surrendered to the rapid growth of Garlinge and these local much-treasured landmarks began to vanish: Garlinge Farm, ‘Jack’s Alone’ (a house in the High Street so named after a retired publican called Jack became widowed and resided there), ‘White Cottage’ (Crow Hill Road, the last thatched cottage in the Margate area), faced demolition in 1930.
Despite fierce squabbling at parish meetings held in the Old School Hall, progress could not be withheld and opposition failed to halt the inevitability of street lighting. Further development began impinging on small family businesses and these along with local shops, began diminishing and continues to do so today by falling foul to greedy magnates enticing village shoppers away. Whilst some enterprises strive ardently to survive, gone is the butcher, the cobbler, the ironmonger and their like. Moreover, their shop-fronts with them; some converted into bland dwellings destined never to trade again.
In 1913, Garlinge was added to the municipal area of Margate and additional roads were made up between 1926 and 1931, and by 1953 Balmoral Road, Coronation Crescent, Edinburgh Road were built to coincide with the Queen’s coronation. The local councillor Cyril Hoser in the early 1960’s, had Alicia and Michelle Gardens named after his daughters; a privilege one would presume, acquired when one is on the council housing committee!
Even in more recent times, the rapacious, expanding maws of Margate and Westbrook take continual exasperating nibbles out of the defenceless village boundaries and now it seems the tide of unwanted development threatens Garlinge yet again with the fearsome prospect of a thousand new homes on green-belt land in Dent-de-Lion. Should this scheme be approved you can say goodbye to the village!
Extracted from ‘The village and beyond’ by David Greely.
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