The name Todenham comes from Old English and means Teoda’s water meadow. Teoda is the name of the landowner at the time the land became recognised as a settlement, and hamm refers to the low-lying land bordering the Knee brook.
Todenham is first mentioned in a charter dated 804 AD, when the area was part of the kingdom of Mercia. The charter records that a man called Aethelric bequeathed the village of Todenham to Deerhurst Abbey in return for being buried there.
Deerhurst Abbey owned Todenham for the next 200 years.
In the late 10th century, a Mercian earl seized Deerhurst Abbey’s assets, and they later passed to a relative, King Edward the Confessor. In 1065 the dying King granted Todenham to Westminster Abbey which held it for over 460 years.
The land was used for farming, mainly sheep and grain. As early as the 1290s, merchants from London travelled to Todenham to buy wool.
A church was first built in Todenham in the late 12th century. Later, the present church was built over two periods in the 14th century. [Click to go to church website here]
The village’s layout is based on the location of its two open fields: Homestall Field to the north and east and Todenham Field to the south and west. By the 14th century the village had developed in two parts by the two fields.
Sir William Petre was Thomas Cromwell’s deputy and had a major role in implementing the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He was secretary of state to three monarchs. Westminster Abbey surrendered to him in 1540, and he was given the manor of Todenham, among others. It remained in his family until 1783, although there is no evidence they ever set foot here.