Ightham is famous for the nearby medieval manor of Ightham Mote (National Trust), although the village itself is of greater antiquity. Ightham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but place-name evidence implies the name is derived from the Saxon 'Ehtaham'. 'Ehta' is a Jutish personal name, while 'ham' means settlement. The source of the River Bourne is within the parish.
The parish church dates from the 12th century, and in 1336 Edward II granted a request for permission to hold an annual fair in the village.
Ightham was famous for growing Kentish cob nuts. These seem to have been cultivated first by James Usherwood, who lived at Cob Tree Cottage. There was a public house nearby called the Cob Tree Inn, which has now reverted to a private house. There are still a number of cob trees in and around the village, but the work of pruning them and picking the nuts is labour intensive, and the industry has fallen into decline.
Ightham also has its own football team, Ightham FC. Home games are played at the recreation ground adjoining the A25 motorway.