Betteshanger parish (with variation 'Betleshangre') has existed at least since Domesday times. It remained a small scattered parish until the advent of the Kent Coalfield. St Mary's church sits almost alone in woodland in the centre of the parish. At 'Little Betteshanger' a cluster of houses surround Betteshanger Farm. In 1935 the parish merged with the neighbouring Northbourne parish.
Betteshanger colliery opened in the late 1920s and was the largest of the Kent collieries. It had two shafts of almost 2300 feet, plaques can still be seen where the shafts were once sunk. Betteshanger had a tradition of union militancy; it was the first pit to come out on strike during the second World War and took active part in the miners' strikes of 1972, 1974 and 1984/5. It was the last Kent colliery to close, closing for good in 1989.