From Stamps of the World
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Maidstone is a large, historically important town in Kent, England, of which it is the county town. The River Medway runs through the centre of the town, linking it with Rochester and the Thames Estuary. Historically, the river carried much of the town's trade as the centre of the agricultural county of Kent, known as the Garden of England. There is evidence of settlement in the area dating back before the Stone Age. There has been a shift in the economy since the Second World War away from heavy industry towards light industry and services.
Saxon charters (c975) show the first recorded instances of the town's name, de maeides stana and maegdan stane, possibly meaning stone of the maidens or stone of the people. The latter meaning may refer to the nearby megalith around which gatherings took place. The name evolved through medestan/meddestane in the Domesday Book with possible variation Mayndenstan, in 1396. The modern name appeared by 1610. It has been suggested that the name derives from stones set into the river to allow clothes to be rinsed in the cleaner water away from the banks.