These three villages lie on the trade route between Faversham and the market town of Ashford, their churches a familiar landmark in the Kent countryside. The villages grew as part of the thriving agricultural community.
Sheldwich was first recorded in 784 and the name means a dwelling place on a low hill. St James Church, Sheldwich has been a place of worship since the 11 th century. It contains fine 14 th and 15 th century monuments. There are three ancient sun dials just inside the door. Lees Court was built in 1654 for Sir George Sondes, who was in prison at the time. It was the scene of a murderous crime, when one if his two sons murdered the other one there. It was gutted by fire in the 20 th century but has been rebuilt. It is Grade 1 listed. It is privately owned and has now been converted into flats.
Badlesmere – the mere refers to a pool, belonging to a person called Beadel. St Leonards Church, along with Badlesmere Court is some distance from the main village and is small, narrow and high, truly rural, peaceful, well cared for. It has medieval bench ends, Georgian box pews and a two decker pulpit. Under one of the yew trees in the graveyard is an old churchyard cross made of Bethersden marble. The oldest tombstone is a memorial to Thos Weldeth who died aged 80 in 1679, on it is a scull and crossbones and an hour glass.
Leaveland is derived from ‘land belonging to Leofa. St Laurence Church is a predominantly flint church consecrated in 1222. Octagonal crown posts, with massive beams support the roof. There is a beautiful marble monument in the chancel.
Signposted off the A251 between Faversham and Ashford - 3 miles south of Ashford.