Kenward Trust has a national reputation for excellence in the field of drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation. Every year we help transform the lives of more than 200 men and women.
The Kenward Trust was founded in 1968 by Ray and Violet Sinden, who had a strong Christian faith. Here is how it happened.
The couple had five daughters and two sons and they all worked hard together on the family farm in Weald (near Sevenoaks), which became a prosperous one. But Violet had another concern in her heart and her daily prayer was that Ray and the children might come to know the love of God in their lives.
In 1965, at the age of 48, Ray became a Christian when he began to read the Bible, after years of neglect. He had attended church with his grandparents, who raised him after his father’s death; each Sunday they would walk to a Baptist Chapel at Crowborough, which was a distance of 3.5 miles from Eridge (East Sussex).
Ray found that there was a God who loved and cared for him, and his attitude to life began to change. He was no longer interested in making as much money as possible for himself, but wanted to help people realise that there was a God who loved them, even if no one else did.
Ray and Violet’s eldest daughter, Olive, was friendly with a young Church Army Captain named Paul Deeming, who worked amongst the homeless people on the streets of London. Many of them had been sober for some weeks and wished to remain in recovery, but there was no place that would give them shelter once they left and the future was bleak, often leading back to the old habits.
Ray decided to take some of these men home for rehabilitation. He offered them a four-roomed flat over a garage block and they joined the family for meals, bible study and leisure at the farmhouse. The first man came in June 1967. He was a Canadian war pensioner who was able to pay a small amount towards his keep and did some work in the garden. He stayed with the family for about one year and was soon joined by three others.
The farm became overcrowded and the family decided to sell up the farm in order to purchase a much larger house, to help a greater number of homeless people. A large country estate near Maidstone called ‘Kenward’ was up for sale. It was a most impressive dwelling, with 37 rooms, standing in 15 acres of farmland and overlooking the river Medway (although it needed renovating). It had recently been vacated by Dr. Barnardo's Homes, because they had moved to smaller premises. In July 1968, Ray and Violet moved into Kenward House, with five children and five men.
From those modest beginnings, the Trust today takes in around 200 residents each year across eight buildings, as well as reaching hundreds of young people through prevention initiatives and helping others with advice and support.
History of the House
This estate, nestling where our greensand hills are breached by the Medway, derives its name from the family who enjoyed their own woodland view and curve in that river, from 1533 to 1749. This was from a date of 1533 when John Kenward, had land conveyed to him, and became a Yeoman of Yalding. In 1700 one John Kenward gave three silver vessels to his parish church at Yalding, and the estate passed in marriage to Sir John Shaw, when his grand son also John Kenward died in 1749.
In the early nineteenth century it was in the tenancy of Thomas White. Kenward remained a country house until the second world war, and run similar to that by Lady Frances Fletcher who in 1881 had six maids, plus footman, butler and groom. Her husband Major-General Edward Charles Fletcher J.P. and son Lionel John William Fletcher J.P. both served several years as churchwardens, as did the Kenwards before them. The Major died on the 31st of August 1879 and by will left the property to his wife who passed away on the 29th of December 1901.
In 1902 Kenward was sold to Henry de Courcy Agnew of Winchester House, Old Broad Street, London E.C.
Mr Agnew sold the property in 1908 to the Honourable Richard Eustance Bellow of Jenkinson Park in the County of Kilkenny Ireland.
On the 1st of March 1911 Mr Bellow sold Kenward to Mr Robert Ernest Alexander of 24 Lombard Street London.
Then on the 10th of March 1919 Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Evan Boulton purchased the property from Mr Alexander.
When the Colonel died in 1942, Kenward was bought the following year by Dr Barnardo’s who used the grounds until 1967, when on December 6th that year, the children were sent to school as usual, and when collected were taken to a new home in Maidstone.
A Mr Sinden knew the house had become available and moved in his family in 1968 to start the initial work of the Kenward Trust that we know today. Ray and Violet Sinden came from Sevenoaks Weald, already with five men they had taken in after Ray had visited an elderly homeless man who lived on the London Embankment.
Today the Trust’s work has grown, and there are now (2017) eight houses for men and two for women in Kent, providing rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness, in a Christian context. They also now have an Outreach team that ventures into schools, shopping centres, night clubs and wherever there is an opening to advise on alcohol and drugs.