Tovil has approximately 5,000 residents and being on the Loose Stream fed by the River Medway, has a rich history of paper mills, the last of which ceased operation in the 1980s. Mills in Tovil included Great Ivy Mill, Hayle Mill, Upper Tovil Mill, Lower Tovil Mill and Bridge Mill. These and other mills located along the Loose Stream which flows through Tovil were formerly used for fulling, paper, flour, corn and in one case gunpowder. A considerable paper making industry grew in Tovil which led to the building of new housing for those who worked in the mills. Of particular interest, Hayle Mill was only one of two mills in the Country using the old method of making handmade paper. A well known landmark for Tovil were the 180 foot chimneys of Tovil Mill which were demolished in 1984 when the mill closed.
In the 17th and 18th centuries a small Baptist community centred on Bydews Place flourished, establishing a burial ground in Burial Ground Lane. This burial ground still survives and is proudly maintained by Tovil Parish Council.
Until 1943, Tovil was served by rail, and Tovil Railway Station was situated on the Tonbidge Road side of the Medway, now the site of a modern footbridge.