Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

KENT

Kent is my home county. They say you never see what's on your own doorstep - which probably accounts for there not being much on this page yet. I promise to improve it!

A BALLOON FLIGHT OVER EAST KENT
Something I love is hot-air ballooning. The following pictures were taken on a flight over East Kent, in particular, the Elham Valley, early one evening.
This is Broome Park, between Canterbury and Dover, where the flight started.

the verdant Kent countryside
looking down on Lyminge


ASHFORD
Ashford is my home town. Once a busy little market town, in recent years it has been developed out of all recognition.
However, the central part of the town, the oldest part, is quite picturesque. Here you can see the parish church of St. Mary, as seen from the Lower High Street, looking towards Middle Row.

AYLSFORD
Originally a small riverside settlement, the old village comprises around 60 houses, many of which were formerly shops. Two pubs, a village shop and other amenities including a hairdressers, estate agents, two restaurants, a chiropodist and a coffee shop are located on the high street.
Due to the village's location on its banks, the River Medway has been a key influence on its development. Aylesford takes its name from an Old English personal name, and literally denotes ‘Ægel’s ford’. Its first recorded use is from the tenth century, as Æglesforda.
It was also the place where one of the earliest bridges across the Medway was built, believed to be in the 14th century (although the wide central span seen today is later). Upstream from Rochester Bridge it became the next bridging point. The river was navigable as far as Maidstone until 1740, when barges of forty tons could reach as far as Tonbridge. As a result wharves were built, one being at Aylesford. Corn, fodder and fruit, along with stone and timber, were the principal cargoes.
There's a lovely green park between the car park and the village, right next to the bridge, and a handy path from there into the centre of the village. The village has been by-passed, so will remain unspoilt.

BARHAM
This pretty village stands on the major road that connects Dover, Canterbury and Folkestone, at the head of the beautiful Elham Valley. It contains many historic buildings, and as yet, I've not had time to explore it fully.
The parish contains 77 listed structures, not only buildings but walls, a footbridge and -
...a 1936 classic telephone kiosk.
It provided the home for one of the four knights who, in 1175, murdered St Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral.   As a result the family adopted the name of this village and descendents with that family name can be found in many countries of the world
For a start, this is the Old Valley Road, now just a quiet lay-by.

BIDDENDEN
Biddenden is a pretty village, lying between Maidstone and Tenterden. It is largely untouched, with the majority of the buildings lining the main road being of Tudor and medieval heritage.
The village sign depicts conjoined twins, known as the Biddenden Maids.


Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst (or Chalkhurst), commonly known as the Biddenden Maids, were a pair of conjoined twins supposedly born in Biddenden, Kent, England, in the year 1100. They are said to have been joined at both the shoulder and the hip, and to have lived for 34 years. It is claimed that on their death they bequeathed five plots of land to the village, known as the Bread and Cheese Lands. The income from these lands was used to pay for an annual dole of food and drink to the poor every Easter. Since at least 1775, the dole has included Biddenden cakes, hard biscuits imprinted with an image of two conjoined women.
Although the annual distribution of food and drink is known to have taken place since at least 1605, no records exist of the story of the sisters prior to 1770. Records of that time say that the names of the sisters were not known, and early drawings of Biddenden cakes do not give names for the sisters; it is not until the early 19th century that the names "Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst" were first used.
Edward Hasted, the local historian of Kent, dismissed the story of the Biddenden Maids as a folk myth, claiming that the image on the cake had originally represented two poor women and that the story of the conjoined twins was "a vulgar tradition" invented to account for it, while influential historian Robert Chambers accepted that the legend could potentially be true but believed it unlikely. Throughout most of the 19th century little research was carried out into the origins of the legend. Despite the doubts among historians, in the 19th century the legend became increasingly popular and the village of Biddenden was thronged with rowdy visitors every Easter. In the late 19th century historians investigated the origins of the legend. It was suggested that the twins had genuinely existed but had been joined at the hip only rather than at both the hip and shoulder, and that they had lived in the 16th rather than the 12th century.
In 1907, the Bread and Cheese Lands were sold for housing, and the resulting income allowed the annual dole to expand considerably, providing the widows and pensioners of Biddenden with cheese, bread and tea at Easter and with cash payments at Christmas. Biddenden cakes continue to be given to the poor of Biddenden each Easter, and are sold as souvenirs to visitors.

BILSINGTON
Bilsington lies on the Tenterden to Hythe road, just north of Romney Marsh.
There's a priory dating to 1253, and a strange obelisk standing high on a hill. This was built by the family of Sir William Cosway, who was a local landowner, and a great benefactor to the village and surrounding area. In 1834, he was on the London to Brighton coach, when it overturned and he was killed.




BROOKLAND
Brookland is a tiny village on Romney Marsh, just off the A249 from Brenzett towards Rye. Thankfully, it was by-passed a few years ago, so now is quiet and unspoiled. 
The parish Church of St Augustine has the unusual, if not unique, feature of an entirely wooden spire being separate from the body of the church. Popular myth is that the steeple looked down at a wedding service to see such a beautiful bride marrying such an unpleasant groom that it jumped off the church in shock. A more popular story is that one day a virgin presented herself to be married and the church spire fell off at the unusual occurrence. And it is said that it will remain on the ground until another virgin marries there.
Another legend is that the architect didn't have a big enough piece of paper when he drew up the plans for the church, so he drew the steeple alongside the church, and that's how the builders built it!
In fact, it is separate as the weight can not be supported by the marshy ground.




CHATHAM DOCKYARD
Chatham, being part of the ever-growing Medway conurbation, has precious little to recommend it, apart from the wonderful Historic Dockyard, Set in an 80-acre estate with stunning historic architecture, historic ships and museum galleries
Chatham Dockyard played a vital role supporting the Royal Navy for over 400 years.

From the Spanish Armada to the Falklands Crisis ships built, repaired and manned from Chatham secured and maintained Britain’s command of the world ocean’s and the global position it has today.




CHILHAM
The village of Chilham is in the valley of the Great Stour River and beside the A28 road 6 miles (10 km) southwest of Canterbury. It is centred around a market square, where until recently, a traditional annual May Day celebration took place. At each end of the square are its major buildings: Chilham Castle and the 15th-century parish church, dedicated to St Mary. It is believed that Thomas Becket was buried in the churchyard. The village has a number of period houses such as the former vicarage, which dates from 1742. The castle was owned by the Viscounts Massereene and Ferrard until its sale in 1997. As of 2013 it is owned by Stuart Wheeler, founder of the spread-betting firm IG Index.






The statue above represents pilgrims walking the Pilgrim Way to Canterbury


There has been a castle at the site of Chilham, on the edge of a wood, in the heart of Kent, for over eight centuries; perhaps thirteen or more.
It has changed hands many times, having been home to a host of colourful and sometimes eccentric families.  Held from time to time by Kings of England, it was also once occupied, briefly, by the heir to the French throne on his way to invade London (he wasn't successful).
The house was built in 1616 on the site of the ancient castle, and bears its name.

CLIFFSEND & PEGWELL BAY

Cliffsend is an unremarkable hamlet on the coast road between Sandwich and Ramsgate. However, the coastline opposite is remarkabke. This is Pegwell Bay, home to a complex mosaic of habitats of international importance for its' bird population.  I remember in the 70s going there to watch a pair of nesting flamingos!
It is also home to the Viking Long Ship 'Hugin'.
This  was a gift from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the A.D. 449 migration from Jutland (modern Denmark) to Kent of Hengist and Horsa, Jutes who became leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The ship is a replica of the much later ca. 890 Gokstad ship.
The boat was built in Denmark from where it was sailed by 53 Danes to England in 1949. The ship landed at Viking Bay in Kent, before being moved to its current site. In 2005 the ship underwent repairs.


DOVER
Dover is known as the 'Gateway to England', and its' main attraction is the majestic castle, sitting high on top of the famous White Cliffs, overlooking both the town and the Eastern Docks, where the cross-channel ferries ply their trade.

At the other end of the harbour area, are the Western Docks, once the terminus of the boat-train service to France, the Western Docks have recently seen a return of the bigger cruise liners.




But walking around the town reveals far more than the Castle.
This is a statue to the miners of the Kent Coalfields which have all now disappeared. Ir used to stand outside Richborough Power Station, which was fed by coal from the Kent pits. It currently stands on the seafront, but will shortly be moved to a new Country Park, which is being devised on waste land once belonging to the coalfields.



High up on the Western Heights, close to the Citadel, lies the remains of a church, once belonging to the Knights Templar.
The chapel, built in the 12th century, had a circular nave 10 metres (33 feet) in diameter and a rectangular chancel. It was discovered in 1806 during construction of the fortifications on Dover Western Heights, according to Matthew Paris the site of King John's submission to the papal legate Pandulph in May 1213.
At an early hour on the morning of the 15th May 1213, King John and Pandulph- the Papal Legate- left the House of the Templars and retired to the precincts of the Round Church. There, surrounded by Bishops, Barons, Knights and various Nobles of the Realm, King John took an oath of fealty to the Pope on his knees before Pandulph. The occasion was the surrender of the Crown to the Pope. King John then made his submission, in the House of the Knights Templar…to the Envoy….After this was done, King John then put into the hands of Pandulph, a Charter recording the Act.





DUNGENESS & THE RHDR
Dungeness is one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe, and is classified as Britain's only desert by the Met Office. It is of international conservation importance for its geomorphology, plant and invertebrate communities and birdlife. This is recognised and protected mostly through its conservation designations as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay.
There is a remarkable variety of wildlife living at Dungeness, with over 600 different types of plant: a third of all those found in Britain. It is one of the best places in Britain to find insects such as moths, bees and beetles, and spiders; many of these are very rare, some found nowhere else in Britain.
The short-haired bumblebee, Bombus subterraneus, was last found in the UK in 1988, but has survived in New Zealand after being shipped there more than 100 years ago. After unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce the New Zealand bees at Dungeness in 2009-2010, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Hymettus, Natural England and the RSPB teamed up with the Swedish government in a second attempt and introduced 51 of them in 2012 and 49 in 2013 to the Dungeness Reserve. This will be continued each year to ensure a successful integration.
The flooded gravel pits on Denge Beach, both brackish and fresh water, provide an important refuge for many migratory and coastal bird species. The RSPB has a bird reserve there, and every year thousands of bird watchers visit the peninsula and its bird observatory.
One of the most remarkable features of the site is an area known as 'the patch' or, by anglers, as 'the boil'. The waste hot water and sewage from the Dungeness nuclear power stations are pumped into the sea through two outfall pipes, enriching the biological productivity of the sea bed and attracting seabirds from miles around.
There have been five lighthouses at Dungeness. At first only a beacon was used to warn sailors, but this was replaced by a proper lighthouse in 1615. As the sea retreated, this had to be replaced in 1635 by a new lighthouse nearer to the water's edge known as Lamplough's Tower.
As more shingle was thrown up, a new and more up-to-date lighthouse was built near the sea in 1792 by Samuel Wyatt. This lighthouse was about 35 m (115 ft) high and of the same design as the third Eddystone Lighthouse. From the mid-19th century, it was painted black with a white band to make it more visible in daylight; similar colours have featured on the subsequent lighthouses here. This lighthouse was demolished in 1904, but the lighthouse keepers' accommodation, built in a circle around the base of the tower, still exists.
In 1901 building of the fourth lighthouse, the High Light Tower, started. It was first lit on 31 March 1904 and still stands today. It is no longer in use as a lighthouse but is open as a visitor attraction. It is a circular brick structure, 41 m (135 ft) high and 11 m (36 ft) in diameter at ground level. It has 169 steps, and gives visitors a good view of the shingle beach.



As the sea receded further, and after building the nuclear power station which obscured the light of the 1904 lighthouse, a fifth lighthouse, Dungeness Lighthouse was built.


There are two nuclear power stations at Dungeness, the first built in 1965 and the second in 1983. They are within a wildlife sanctuary deemed a Site of Special Scientific Interest and despite high safety risks posed by the station, birds do flourish in the warmer water created by the station's outflow
The older power station closed on 31 December 2006, while the newer station has had its licence extended to 2018.



The RH&DR was the culmination of the dreams of two men; Captain J. E. P. Howey — a sometimes racing driver, millionaire land owner, former Army Officer and miniature railway afficionado and Count Louis Zborowski — eminantly well-known racing driver of his day (famous for owning and racing the Chitty Bang Bang Mercedes) and considerably richer, even, than Howey.
The Count was keen to build a fully working express railway using the 15" guage, and Howey — well known in miniature circles for owning large locomotives to the gauge — was inspired by the vision also.
The official opening took place on 16th July 1927, with Hercules hauling that inaugural train from Hythe to New Romney.

The Little Railway, as it is known locally, is the world's only narrow guage railway, running a fully-scheduled service, mostly by steam. It does, however, have a diesel loco that is used to haul the daily School trains during term time. Lucky those children who use it every day to go to school!








ELHAM
Elham is a very pretty village, laying between Folkestone and Canterbury, which can trace its' history back to the Domesday Book of 1087.  It is well worth taking a walk around the village. Afterwards you can always take a break at the Abbot's Fireside.


The Duke of Wellington used the hotel as his headquarters whilst preparing his final battle with Napoleon at Waterloo. King Charles II and the Duke of Richmond hid from Cromwell's 
Roundheads in the main fireplace, during a clandestine visit to England during their exile.

Just off the main road, opposite the Abbot's Fireside, is St. Mary's Road, which leads to Church Square, and the church, of course.



EYNSFORD
Eynsford is a pretty Kentish village in the lovely Darenth valley. Its ancient ford and a hump-backed medaieval bridge across the river are still in use.You will find the ford from the turning off the main street opposite the church, on the road to Lullingstone and Crockenhill. Although there are double yellow lines on the road after crossing the bridge or ford, nobody seems to care if you park alongside the road.Lorries and coaches bound this way have to splash through the ford, as the bridge is only wide enough for light vehicles. The riverside here is a nice place to linger, with a broad lawn of grass, and watch the ducks, and children can paddle in the shallow water.
On the day I went there, it was warm and sunny, the depth marker on the ford indicated depth of just under 12", and the water was full of children splashing about in the river, with its' two little weirs


FAIRFIELD

St Thomas à Becket Church in Fairfield stands alone in a field on the Marsh, surrounded by water courses and sheep. A causeway was built in 1913, and until then the church was more often than not surrounded by water during the winter and spring.
Fairfield, the village it once served has long since disappeared, but the church has survived and is now part of a parish which includes the villages of Brookland, Brenzett and Snargate.
The church is dedicated to St Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. The church was built as a temporary structure of timber lath and plaster in c1200 to support the local farming community. From the outside it looks rather severe – the 13th century timber frame was encased in brickwork in the 18th century, and its immense roof covered in red tiles.
But entering the interior is like going back in time – the Georgian interior feels as though little has changed for over 200 years. 
In 1912 the fabric was in a very poor state and a complete rebuilding within the timber framework took place. However, the inside of the church was, fortunately, left untouched. It is Georgian, with a three decker pulpit, box pews and texts boards. The pews are still painted white with black linings.
Services are held there on the first Sunday of every month. It is quite difficult to find. If you head from Brenzett on the A258 towards Hastings, you will come to a sharp left hand bend. If you turn right there (where it says 'Joe's Cafe) and follow the narrow lane, you will eventually see it out in the fields on the right.


FOLKESTONE
Folkestone is a nice enough town with a pretty harbour and a lovely sandy beach. It is currently undergoing major (and much needed) rejuvenation, which promises to make the best of what it has.
It was once an important cross-channel port, with daily boat trains, which ran across the inner harbour directly to the ferries. The railway line is now defunct, and nobody seems quite sure what to do with it......

GOUDHURST

Goudhurst is a village in Kent on the Weald, about 12 miles (19 km) south of Maidstone. It stands on a crossroads (A262 & B2079), where there is a large village pond. The land surrounding the pond, is known as The Plain. The word Goudhurst is derived from the Old English guo hyrst, meaning Battle Hill, or the wooded hill on which a battle has been fought. The name apparently commemorates a battle fought on this high ground in Saxon times. Whichever road you take from the crossroads, will be a steep one! The church is often known as the Cathedral of the Weald. 



HAM STREET


Ham Street is a pretty ordinary village, just south of Ashford. It does, however, have one point of interest - the Johnsons Corner Memorial. You can fine this at the lower end of the village, where the road through the village joins the A2070 Ashford to Brenzett road. 
Lieutenant William “Bill” Johnson was the pilot of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Spare Parts, which was part of the 711th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, of the United States Army Air Forces.
On Thursday, April 13, 1944, having ordered his crew to abandon the plane, which had been heavily damaged over Europe, Lt Johnson intentionally crashed to the south of Hamstreet to avoid killing villagers.
When the village received a bypass in the mid 1990s, a junction off the road towards Hamstreet, close to where he crashed, was named Johnson’s Corner. A memorial was also erected in his memory.


HERNE BAY
The town rose to prominence as a seaside resort during the early 19th century after the building of a pleasure pier and promenade by a group of London investors, and reached its heyday in the late Victorian era. Its popularity as a holiday destination has declined over the past decades, due to the increase in foreign travel and to a lesser degree exposure to flooding that has prevented the town's redevelopment.
The town of Herne Bay took its name from the neighbouring village of Herne, two kilometres inland from the bay. The village was first recorded in around 1100 as Hyrnan. 
One of the oldest buildings in Herne Bay is the late 18th-century inn, The Ship, which served as the focal point for the small shipping and farming community which first inhabited the town. During this time, passenger and cargo boats regularly ran between Herne Bay and London and boats carrying coal ran from Newcastle. From Herne was easy access by road to the city of Canterbury or to Dover, where further passage by boat could then be obtained across the English Channel to France.
During the 1840s, steamboats began running between Herne Bay and London.  During the early 19th century, a smugglers' gang operated from the town. The gang were regularly involved in a series of fights with the preventive services until finally being overpowered in the 1820s. 
In the 1830s, a group of London investors, who recognised Herne Bay's potential as a seaside resort, built a wooden pier and a promenade on the town's seafront. This and the subsequent building of a railway station led to the rapid expansion of the town. In 1833, an Act of Parliament established Herne Bay and Herne as separate towns. In 1837, Mrs Ann Thwaytes, a wealthy lady from London, donated around £4,000 to build a 75 feet (23 m) clock tower on the town's seafront. It is believed to be the first freestanding purpose built clock tower in the world.
In 1912, the first "Brides in the Bath" murder by George Joseph Smith was committed in Herne Bay. During World War II, a sea-fort was built off the coast of Herne Bay and Whitstable, which is still in existence. The coastal village of Reculver, to the east of Herne Bay, was the site of the testing of the bouncing bomb used by the "Dam Busters" during the war.
The original wooden pier had to be dismantled in 1871 after its owners went into liquidation and sea worms had damaged the wood. A shorter 100 metres (328 ft) long iron pier with a theatre and shops at the entrance was built in 1873. However, it was too short for steamboats to land at. The pier proved to be unprofitable and a replacement longer iron pier with an electric tram began to be built in 1896. At 3,600 feet (1,097 m), this pier was the second longest in the country, behind only the pier at Southend-on-Sea.
1963 marked the end of steamboat services from the pier. In 1970, a fire destroyed the pier's pavilion and plans began to replace it with a sports centre, which was opened in 1976 by former Prime Minister Edward Heath. The centre section of the pier was torn down by a storm in 1978, leaving the end of the pier isolated out at sea. It has not been rebuilt due to the cost; however, residents and businesses in the town have campaigned for its restoration. The sports centre was demolished in 2012, leaving a bare platform. 

the isolated seaward end

the sea end of the landward piece


HEVER CASTLE
The oldest part of the castle dates to 1270 and consisted of the gatehouse and a walled bailey. In the early 1500s the Bullen family bought the castle and added a Tudor dwelling within the walls and so it became the childhood home of its most famous inhabitant, Anne Boleyn. It later passed into the ownership of Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. From 1557 onwards the Castle was owned by a number of families including the Waldegraves, the Humfreys and the Meade Waldos. Finally, in 1903, William Waldorf Astor invested time, money and imagination in restoring the Castle, building the ’Tudor Village’ and creating the gardens and lake.





HIGH HALDEN
High Halden is a village on the A28 road between Ashford and Tenterden, 3 miles (5 km) north of the latter town. 
A very large quantity, fifty tons, of oak was used as the material to build the tower and spire of the 10th–14th-century church, St Mary the Virgin, in 1470–1490. The large pub The Chequers on the Green, circa 1620, is known to have been used by smugglers and the various gangs such as the "Hawkhurst and Cranbrook gangs" that were active in the mid-18th century. The parish is recorded in the Domesday Book and parts of a Norman manor house can be seen at Tiffenden Farm

HYTHE
Hythe is a small coastal market town on the edge of Romney Marsh, in the District of Shepway (derived from Sheep Way) on the south coast of Kent. The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old English word meaning Haven or Landing Place.
The town has Medieval and Georgian buildings, as well as a Saxon/Norman church on the hill and a Victorian seafront promenade. The church of St. Leonard is particularly interesting for the large ossuary in its' crypt. The Town Hall, a former Guildhall, was built in 1794, its fireplace designed by the Adam Brothers.
Hythe's market once took place in Market Square (now Red Lion Square)
As an important Cinque Port Hythe once possessed a bustling harbour which, over the past three hundred years, has now disappeared due to silting. Hythe was once the central Cinque Port, between Hastings and New Romney to the west and Dover and Sandwich to the east.
In 1348 the black death afflicted Hythe, and in 1400 the plague further reduced the population.
Hythe is also the birthplace of Mackeson Stout. The Fremlin brewery was once the largest employer in the town. The malt house still exists and now hosts an indoor market of antiques and collectibles.
The Royal Military Canal, known locally as 'Pitt's Ditch' runs parallel to the High Street, and has been turned into a very fine walkway and attraction. 
There are two statue groups surrounding information boards along this walk. One, by the bridge leading to Lady Walk, depicts two 'navvies' digging the canal, the other, a little further along, shows two soldiers of the Napoleonic era, who would have been tasked with defending the coast along the canal.


KINGSNORTH

There are two places in Kent called Kingsnorth, but the one documented here is now a suburb of Ashford. A transcript of the Domesday Book of 1086 indicates that there was a settlement at Kingsnorth controlled by the Manor of Wye.
Not of great significance, the village does boast a tiny little house, known as Mouse Hall, a Grade II listed building which dates from the 15th. Century


LYMPNE
Well, this is where I spent my childhood. When we first moved there, it consisted of more or less just one main road, Stone Street, and a small council estate called Belcaire Close. It had an airport, a couple of small engineering businesses, a castle, roman ruins, church, post office, general stores, and one pub, (although there was a pub in the tiny hamlets at either end of the village). Now it is a lot bigger. The airport has gone, replaced by an industrial estate, there are more houses, there's Port Lympne Wildlife Park at what was once a big private house, the castle is used for weddings, and there's now just one general shop.
Some things have not changed though..................

The castle is actually a palace built by Archbishop Wolseley. My son was married there. When I was a child, it was a private residence, owned and lived in by a family who ran a stud farm. It then passed to an American family, and is now part of the Aspinall organisation, who also own Port Lympne.




From the terraces at the rear can be seen the whole of Romney Marsh.
It stands bang next door to the parish church of St. Stephen. 



At the other end of the private lane from the castle, at the top of Lympne Hill, which leads down steeply to the Marshes, stands the Shepway Cross. The Shepway Cross was built in 1923 for Earl Beachamp. The Cross is a memorial to a cross road. There is a plaque on the bottom which says: 'The right honourable Sir Robert Menzies, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, came to this ancient site on the 6th of August 1967 on his visit to Hythe'. It also has written: 'To the glory of God and in memory of the heroic deeds of the Cinque Ports.' On one side of the Cross is the virgin Mary holding Jesus. On the other side are two priests on either side of Jesus, who is being crucified. There is a shield on each side of the Cross.
The Shepway Cross was paid for and unveiled on 4th August 1923 (the same day that the Great War started in 1914) by Earl Beauchamp KG the then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports upon ground donated free of charge by the then owner of Lympne Castle. 
Most people (including most regrettably the inhabitants of nearby West Hythe and Lympne) seem to think that this monument exists to merely mark the spot where traditionally the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports held his Court for Shepway. It is invariably referred to as the “Shepway Cross” by those who are 
ignorant of its real purpose. Its true title should be the Cinque Ports War Memorial. Whilst it does reside on a spot traditionally used by the Cinque Ports Court, its purpose was to commemorate the great deeds of the men of the Cinque Ports in all British conflicts (with special emphasis on the Great 
War). 

MARGATE
Margate is a typical British seaside holiday resort. Although over the past few decades it has been allowed to get a little run down and tatty, it is now on the up and up, with the building of the new Turner Centre for Contemporary Art, and a regeneration of the Old Town area.
The harbour arm is a pleasant place for a stroll in the sunshine, and the Old Town is full of quirky, independent shops and little cafes
Add to this the town's wonderful, almost flat, expanse of sandy beach, and the coming of a rejuvenated Dreamland pleasure park, and Margate will have a lot to offer in the very near future.
Meanwhile, here's some shots of the seafront, taken on the day of the annual Motorcycle Meltdown event.

the Clock Tower


the sands at low tide



The Turner Gallery & the Harbour Master's Office

NEWCHURCH
Just south of Newchurch on Romney Marsh, is a small grave-like marker by the side of the road. It commemorates Pilot Officer Arthur William Clarke, who crashed near there during the Battle of Britain. He was just 20 years old.



NEWNHAM
Newnham is a tiny village between Doddington and Sittingbourne. It's not overly remarkable, with the exception of Calico House.  This is a Grade II listed building, described as 'new' in a will of 1617. It was later extended in the early 18th. Century, and the terracotta calico painting on the side of the house shows the date as 1710.


OTFORD
Otford, near Sevenoaks has the distinction of having the only roundabout in the UK to be granted listed status!
This may sound odd, but slap bang in the middle of this pretty village is a large roundabout which consists of a large, beautifully manicured duck pond, complete with duck house.
The pretty pond, which is circled by willow trees, is thought to date back to Anglo Saxon times, when it was possibly used as a drinking hole for local livestock.
In 1951 it was repaired by villagers for the Festival of Britain and in 1960 a duck house was placed on the pond, which is fed from a spring by the village station.
The pond was granted grade two listed status in January 1975 after plans to concrete it over were met with protest from villagers.
The pond even has its' own pond keeper







THE PHILLIPINE VILLAGE
The Phillipine Village lies on Romney Marsh, midway between Rye and Brenzett. It was set up to import crafts from the Phillipines, and supply them with much-needed money. It's a bright, sparkling place, full of colour, and has shops and a nice tea rooms. This is one of the highly-decorated 'Jeepneys' a sort of local Phillipine cross between a taxi and a bus.



RECULVER
Reculver once occupied a strategic location at the north-western end of the Wantsum Channel, between the Isle of Thanet and the Kent mainland. This led the Romans to build a small fort there at the time of their conquest of Britain in 43 AD, and, starting late in the 2nd century, they built a larger fort, or "castrum", called Regulbium, which later was part of the chain of Saxon Shore forts. The military connection resumed in the Second World War, when Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs were tested in the sea off Reculver.
After the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century, Reculver became a landed estate of the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. The site of the Roman fort was given over for the establishment of a monastery dedicated to St Mary in 669 AD, and King Eadberht II of Kent was buried there in the 760s. During the Middle Ages Reculver was a thriving township with a weekly market and a yearly fair, and it was a member of the Cinque Port of Sandwich. The twin spires of the church became a landmark for mariners known as the "Twin Sisters", supposedly after daughters of Geoffrey St Clare, and the 19th century facade of St John's Cathedral in Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, is a copy of that at Reculver.
Reculver declined as the Wantsum Channel silted up, and coastal erosion claimed many buildings constructed on the soft sandy cliffs. The village was largely abandoned in the late 18th century, and most of the church was demolished in the early 19th century. Protecting the ruins and the rest of Reculver from erosion is an ongoing challenge.


The light there is fantastic, and so it was the obvious choice for me to go and try out my new camera!

ROLVENDEN
Although it's just a village on the A28 that you drive through on the way to somewhere else, Rolvenden is worth stopping to see in its own right. Full of traditional Kentish weatherboarded houses, and with a stunning church at the end of the main street, and a nice little motor museum, don't just dismiss it. Also, there's a stop on the Kent & East Sussex heritage railway not too far from the village centre.
Oh, and Lady Jane Grey, the Queen of 9 Days, lived at nearby Halden Place, and Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden, lived at Maytham Hall.



SISSINGHURST
Sissinghurst is a rather pretty village in between Biddenden and Goudhurst. It is famed mostly for Sissinghurst Castle, the former home of Vita Sackville-West, and its world-renowned gardens.
Vita Sackville-West, the poet and writer, began the transforming Sissinghurst Castle in the 1930s with her diplomat and author husband, Harold Nicolson. Harold's architectural planning of the garden rooms, and the colourful, abundant planting in the gardens by Vita, reflect the romance and intimacy of her poems and writings.
Sissinghurst Castle was the backdrop for a diverse history; from the astonishing time as a prison in the 1700s, to being a home to the women’s land army. It was also a family home to some fascinating people who lived there or came to stay.
Originally called Milkhouse Street, Sissinghurst changed its name in the 1850s, possibly to avoid association with the smuggling and cockfighting activities of the Hawkhurst Gang.





SMALL HYTHE
Small Hythe is a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of Tenterden, most notable for Smallhythe Place, once home to Dame Ellen Terry.
It stood on a branch of the Rother estuary and was a busy shipbuilding port in the 15th century, before the silting up and draining of the Romney Marshes.
Small Hythe's quays and warehouses were destroyed in a fire in 1514 and were never rebuilt.
Smallhythe Place is a half-timbered house built in the late 15th or early 16th century. The house was originally called 'Port House' and before the sea receded it served a thriving shipyard: in Old English hythe means "landing place". It was the home of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry from 1899 to her death in the house in 1928. The house contains Ellen Terry's theatre collection, while the cottage grounds include her rose garden, orchard, nuttery and the working Barn Theatre.
Terry first saw the house in the company of Henry Irving, the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London's Covent Garden, with whom she shared a famous theatrical partnership for nearly 24 years. The house was opened to the public by Terry's daughter Edith Craig in 1929, as a memorial to her mother. The National Trust supported Craig in her running of the museum from 1939, and took over the property when she died in 1947. Smallhythe Place contains many personal and theatrical mementoes, including two walls devoted to David Garrick and Sarah Siddons. Other exhibits include a message from Sarah Bernhardt, a chain worn by Fanny Kemble, Sir Arthur Sullivan's monocle and a visiting card from Alexandre Dumas. There are also several paintings by the artist Clare Atwood, one of the romantic companions of Edith Craig.
In an adjoining room is a letter from Oscar Wilde begging Terry to accept a copy of his first play. There is also a selection of sumptuous costumes dating from Terry’s time at the Lyceum Theatre. In 1929, Craig set up the Barn Theatre in the house's grounds, where the plays of William Shakespeare were performed every year on the anniversary of her mother's death. This tradition continues to this day.

TENTERDEN
Such a pretty town, rightly called 'The Jewel of The Weald'
 It was one of the Cinque Ports. Its riverside today is not navigable to large vessels and its status as a wool manufacturing centre has been lost.
The town's name is derived from the Old English "Tenet Waraden", meaning a den or forest clearing in the forest which belonged to the men of Thanet.

In 1903, Tenterden Town railway station was opened. It closed in 1954, but half of it reopened in 1974 as the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The route starts at Tenterden Town Station and finishes at Bodiam station, near Bodiam Castle. The main line track is being extended to Robertsbridge (near Hastings) in East Sussex.

ST-MARY-IN-THE-MARSH
This tiny village lies in the heart of Romney Marsh, to the north of St. Mary's Bay. In the graveyard of the pretty church, is the grave of  The Railway Children, Edith Nesbit. Her grave is marked by a simple wooden marker, made by her second husband, Thomas Terry Tucker, but there is a memorial plaque to her inside the church.




TUDELEY
The village is home to All Saints' Church, the only church in the world that has all its windows in stained glass designed by Marc Chagall. The East window was commissioned by Sir Henry and Lady D'Avigdor-Goldsmid in memory of their daughter Sarah, who died aged 21 in a boating accident in 1963. The other 11 windows were added later, the final ones being installed in 1985, the year of Chagall's death. Today the church also hosts the Tudeley Festival, an Early Music event which has been running since 1985.

The church lies up a lane off the B2017 between Tonbridge and Five Oak Green. The lane leads to a large car park, and a beautifully kept churchyard. Inside, the church is small and relatively plain - with the exception of those breathtaking windows. The vibrant colours stain the plain flag floor in areas of pink, blue and gold. In the vestry can be found the original stained glass windows which were removed to make way for the Chagall ones. They can be backlit by the simple push of a button. But to me, beautiful though almost all stained glass is, they paled into insignificance against the Chagall windows.

Forgive my indulgence of displaying several of the windows!





WEST MALLING

West Malling contains several historic buildings, including St Leonard's Tower, a Norman keep built by Bishop Gundulf c.1080. He also built the White Tower of the Tower of London, the castles of Rochester and Colchester, and the Priory and Cathedral of Rochester. In c.1090 Gundulf founded St. Mary's Abbey in West Malling for Benedictine nuns. This historic site contains significant buildings from the Norman, medieval, Tudor and Georgian eras. There is also a Grade II* Listed 1966 abbey church which is used by the Anglican Benedictine nuns who have made Malling Abbey their home since 1916.

Other buildings of interest in West Malling include the Prior's House, once a residence for those with leprosy; Ford House, over 600 years old; a mainly Georgian High Street; the Swan Hotel, an 18th-century coaching inn (Grade II listed), and Went House, built c.1720 and noted for its elegant brickwork. Manor Park Country Park is just to the south of the town, close to St Leonard's Tower and Douce's Manor, whose grounds the park once comprised.
Whereas it used to be on the main road from the M20 towards Tonbridge, West Malling has now been by-passed, which makes it a very pleasant place to visit indeed. There's plenty of nice shops and places to eat. 
The Abbey - the main part of which lies in ruins - has a charming waterfall, known as The Cascade, which lies outside the Abbey walls, and which is thus easy to view. It was once painted by JMW Turner.











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