Because the village is near where I grew up, I was surprised I hadn't noticed this particular structure crossing the River Darenth before.
What is it?
Did you guess a bridge? No. I took the picture from the bridge.
Yes this is indeed taken from the other side. As you can clearly see from this angle there is no place to cross. Could it be one remaining wall of a medieval bridge?
There is nothing to suggest it once tied in to another structure at all. It puzzled the experts for years.
Do you give up?
All right, humor me, it's Thursday and my edits are just about done.
What if I said it has something to do with cows?
I expect you have either googled it, or figured it out by now.
The function of this structure is to serve as a cattle screen. That is to stop cows from the adjoining field who use the river to drink or who crossed at the ford here, from wandering downstream and ending up where they were not supposed to be when the climbed out again. They might have ended up wandering around Farningham village, or wandering along the road where the traffic would have been busy.
This extraordinarily ornate structure for such a mundane purpose was built between 1740 and 1770 when the Hanger family owned Farningham Manor. It was a testament to the wealth of the family at this time.
In the 1800's the Darent River was known as one of the finest trout streams in England and Charles Dicken's is known to have fished it. It is very shallow at this point, and likely because it could be forded here, it was the reason for the village being established at this point. The water is also lovely and clear and fishing does not seem at all out of the realm of possibility. A lovely location for setting a scene in a story.
Until next time................