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History 1 - Written history of Thanington Without, Milton and Environs

   Go back to Top

Eastward, beyond the water meadows, look
There Canterbury, now a neutral grey,
Stands Credo high, wearing the time of day.

CHRISTOPER HASSALL.

Quick Menu - Click on subject below

  1. Earliest Times  I   2. Bigbury  I   3. Local Place Names  I   4. Cockering Manor  I   5. Iffin Farm  I   6. Howfield Manor  
  7. Lords of the Manor at Milton  I   8. Milton Church  I   9. New House Farm  I   10. Priory of St. Jacob  
  11. Thanington Church - history  I   12. Thanington Church - building  I   13. Thanington Court  I   14. Sir James Hales  
  15. Tonford Manor  I   16. The Hearth Tax Returns  I   17. Electoral Rolls - 19th Century  I   18. Thanington 1838 Tithe Maps  
  19. Local roads  I   20. Railways  I   21. Larkey Valley Wood  I   22. River Stour and ford  I   23. Two World wars  
  24. Health & Education  I   25. Development in Thanington  I   26. Agriculture and industry  I   27. Sources  I


1. Earliest Times   Go back to Top
Reed Cottage, Thanington Without
From earliest times wandering Stone Age people were arriving from the east and south in search of food and shelter in the area we call Thanington and Milton. These primitive people were hunters of animals and plants and crossed the land bridge across the Channel before the sea finally broke through.

By about 2000 B.C. further newcomers had arrived who used improved stone tools. These people had become farmers and knew how to keep animals and till the soil. Many flint tools and weapons have been found in the Stour valley. Later arrivals brought the knowledge of bronze (an alloy of tin and copper) and by about 500 B.C. this was replaced by iron. A more settled existence was possible and a Bronze Age burial mound has been found at Iffin farm. Small settlements began in the valleys and on lighter soils. Crude pottery and weaving was being done, and coins were used for trading. River crossings were of great importance for communications, but tracks followed the higher well-drained slopes where refuges were built for times of danger.

When the first settlements at Thanington and the surrounding area were being made the population must have been very small, and life must have been very hard and often dangerous and short.

2. Bigbury (Bigberry)   Go back to Top Excavations at bigbury on the northern edge of the parish have proved that the earth works there belong to the Belgic period and are therefore pre-Roman in origin. As no other site of comparable size is known elsewhere east of the river Medway, it is possible that it was the chief settlement of the cantii who had settled in the area around from the time of the Belgic migration to Britain about 75 B.C. As such it was the capital until, with the annexation of Kent by Cunobelin, settled conditions allowed the inhabitants of the site to occupy Canterbury.

It is also possible that this is the Iron age fort stormed by the Roman Seventh Legion under Julius Caesar in the course of his advance during his invasion of Britain in 54 B.C.

This site was evidently chosen for its strategic value on high ground astride the so-called Pilgrims Way, which runs through it from west to east. It also commands the crossing of the River Stour and the Tonford crossing. From the ramparts just south of the east entrance there is an uninterrupted view of a long stretch of the river, which in olden times must have been wider than it is today. The strongpoint is situated on a gravel capped spur of ground at a height of 220 feet above sea level. Around this spur the Belgae laid out the line of the rampart which follows the 200 foot contour. The area thus enclosed is roughly polygonal in plan and contains about 25 acres, with a crescent shaped annexe to the north enclosing a further 7 or 8 acres which may have served as a cattle compound. There seem to have been two entrances. That at the east end can still be seen, but the western entrance has been much mutilated by gravel digging. The east entrance was defended by a system of banks to provide an indirect approach, with obvious advantages for the defenders against attack.

Numerous iron implements and tools have been found and clearly show that the people, besides being warriors, were also farmers, for they include sickles, horse bits, ploughshares and wheel trims. Gang chains and manacles have also been found, showing that the Belgae dealt in slaves, and it is known that a flourishing slave trade existed between Britain and the Continent in pre-Roman times. It is therefore certain that Bigbury Iron Age stronghold was an important place in Belgic times as the main stronghold of the people who later founded the site of modern Canterbury.

3. Local Place Names   Go back to Top Many local place names, taken from old records, maps, surveys, registers, deeds, Domesday etc., go back well over a thousand years to Anglo-Saxon times and earlier. Following the breakdown of Roman rule in the Fifth Century A.D. new farming peoples arrived in east Kent from across the north sea bringing with them a new language and customs.

The English newcomers stamped their impression firmly on the map of east Kent by their place names. These names show us quite a lot about their way of life. A "ton" or "tun" was a farmstead or manor; "den" was a forest clearing; "bury" or "borough" a stronghold, etc., and these were common.

COCKERING - The "quiver" or "sheath" people, OE Coceringas, Cokeeringe 1240; Cockering 1270.

HANDWOOD - This appears to be a corruption of the name Honeywood, the family who own Cockering Farm 1770.

IFFIN - "The youthful dwellers". Ithynge 1336; Yffyng 1465. OE meaning youth, young people, junior warriors.

MILTON - "Farm with mill attached". OE Mylen, a mill. Melentun and Meletune 1044; Middeltune 1086; Meltone 1247; Meletone 1249; Mylton 1611.

STOUR - Celtic "water". Stur 686; Sture 811; Stoure 1264; Stowre 1661.

THANINGTON - maybe a Link with Thanet (Ekwall). Taena's place, a farmstead. OE taening, tun or ton. Taningtune 833; Tenitune 1000; Taninton 1249; Tanyntone 1327; Taneton 1380; Thannnyngton 1570; Tannington 1612; Taen - the offspring or descendent, may have been members of the tribe or people who settled at Teynham near Faversham.

TONFORD - OE a river crossing. Tuniford 1215; Twyniford 1254; Tuneford 1278; Toniford 1313.

WINCHEAP - A wagon market. OE waen ceap. A wagon or farm market was held in the broad roadway outside the castle gate, i.e., the Worthgate.

OE - Old English

4. Cockering Manor   Go back to Top Cockering Farm lies on the high ground half a mile south of the parish church on what was once the oldturnpike road from Canterbury to Ashford.

Robert de Cockering is reputed to have helped Eastbridge Hospital in the reign of King John in the 13th cantury. He also glazed his house - a rare thing in those days - which stood in "Wynchepe" where the children's platground now stands.

The farm at Cockering is mentioned in documents dated 1235. The Honeywwods of Essex were in possession by 1770 when the two rooms at the north-east end, one upper and one lower, were used as the vicarage. This vicarage apparently included a stable and 13 acres of land, together with tithes of corn, hay,hops and wood to the value of £ 128.

In Hasted's history of the county he states that the hops of Thanington were renowned for their quality, and were in great demand by the London brewers. The oast house on the farm was moved from the manor at Milton, which the Honeywoods also owned. A new farm house was built nearby in 1903 and the old house was divided into cottages. It is now being restored and used as a dwelling again.

5. Iffin Farm   Go back to Top Very Little is Known about Iffin farm except that in the early days it was known as "Aethynges". The name underwent several changes for in 1336 it was "Ithynge" and in 1465 it was "Yffyng". It is said that Vitalis, a Norman Knight depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, and who is mentioned in the Domesday Survey as residing at Canterbury, had a daughter, Matilda, who married a William Caevel and they possessed the land later. This William Caeval is probably the man who was Portreeve of Canterbury about 1100 and founded Saint Sepulchres Nunnery in the Old Dover Road.

A survey of Iffin Woods done in 1983 when the woods were threatened with destruction revealed the site of the medieval manor which was apparently deserted in the 15th century. No manoral site in Kent has ever been fully excavated and it is hoped that this site will be protected.

In May 1945 a Bronze Age burial mound was discovered at Iffin Wood. When excavated it was found to contain several inverted burial urns with a few human cremated remains. They date from 1700 to 1100 B.C.

6. Howfield Manor   Go back to Top Howfield Manor near Milton Church is one of Kent's most interesting and historic houses. The house is principally built of brick but the older parts are of dressed stone, all under a clay tiled roof. The original portion, which now forms the kitchen and breakfast room, is believed to date from 1181 when it was a chapel in the possession of the Priory of St. Gregory in Canterbury. Archbishop Lambert, who died in 1206, confirmed the manor then known as HAGHEFEIDE, to the Priory where it remained until Henry VIII's reign. At the Dissolution of the monasteries it was passed to Sir Christopher Hales, Master of the Rolls. On the death of Hales it passed to his daughter Mary and her husband Alexander Colpepper. Later it was sold to the Fane Westmorland, widow of Sir Francis Fane, Earl of Westmorland, to William Man who was later knighted. During the 17th century the building was considerably rebuilt and a north western wing was added. In 1688 it was sold to John Denew and it remained in his family until 1796 when it was sold to George Gipps, M.P. for Canterbury. On a map of 1726 the river is shown as passing near to the house. In modern times there has been much work done and much of the original dressed stone has been uncovered. However, it is probable that there are features of the original building still to be uncovered.

The old house has been enlarged and it is now a private hotel.

7. Lords of the Manor at Milton   Go back to Top The Domesday entry for Milton is interesting. The manor is entered under the general title of Archbishop's lands as part of seven sulings being held by Hamo de Crevequer who had long been the Sheriff of Kent and was a man of great eminence. The entry tells us that the manor was of two carucates *, with five borderers, one servant and two mills (hence "Milton") of fifteen shillings, worth in total one hundred shillings. The mills were probably small water mills.

After this the manor was held by the great family of Clare, Earls of Gloucester and Hertford as one half of a knight's fee, and was held of them by the Septvans family. This Norman family who were to be associated with Milton for the next 250 years came from Sept Vents near Bayeux. By the reign of Richard I the manor was held by Sir Robert de Septvans who had fought with the King in the Crusades. Sir Robert was sheriff of Kent as well as a knight of the county. He lived a long life for he died in 1253

After this the manor was held by the great family of Clare, Earls of Gloucester and Hertford as one half of a knight's fee, and was held of them by the Septvans family. This Norman family who were to be associated with Milton for the next 250 years came from Sept Vents near Bayeux. By the reign of Richard I the manor was held by Sir Robert de Septvans who had fought with the King in the Crusades. Sir Robert was sheriff of Kent as well as a knight of the county. He lived a long life for he died in 1253

His descendants lived at Milton for many years and his son, another Sir Robert, was custodian of Rochester Castle in the reign of Edward I and fought in the wars against the Scots. He died c. 1306 and is commemorated by a very fine brass in the nearby Chartham Church. It shows him in crusader's armour, his legs crossed and his feet resting on a dog. It is one of the oldest brasses of knights in armour in the country. His son, Sir William Septvans was also Sheriff in Edward II's reign. Yet another Sir William was Sheriff in the reigns of Edward II and Richard II, and legend has it that Wat Tyier's rebels attacked the manor in 1381 and destroyed many records and poll returns. This Sit .William died in 1407 and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral where the coat of arms of the SEPTVANS family of Milton can be seen.

The arms consist of a blue shield with three wicker winnowing baskets or fans sometimes called fruttles. Originally there may have been seven as it is a pun on the family name which is Norman French for "seven winds". On the crest is a fish, probably a dolphin. The motto, which is also a pun, is SIC.

* A carucate was a measure of land, as much as could be ploughed with one plough in a year. A borderer was a peasant who often paid no rent, but was bound to his lord by service for his land.

DISSAPABO INIMICOS REGIS MEI, meaning "Thus {like the chaff before the fan} will I scatter the enemies of my King". This coat of arms is in the cloisters of Canterbury and in St. Peter's Church, as the family were great benefactors of both.

According to Somner, Sir William in his last will gave his serfs and vassals their freedom. He seems to have had two sons, William and John. The eldest son died in 1448 leaving a daughter as heir, and by her marriage the manor passed to the Fogge family. John, the younger son, had moved to Ash. From the Fogge family the manor passed to Sir George Browne of Beechworth Castle in Surrey. In troubled and unsettled times of the wars of the roses he appears to have lost the estate for a time by backing the wrong side! However in 1485 he regained it on the accession of Henry VII. His son, Sir Matthew Browne later left the estate to his son in Queen Elizabeth's reign. This son, Sir Thomas Browne, gave it by sale and dower to his daughter on her marriage to Robert Honywood * of Charing. The manor of Milton remained in the Honywood family until the early years of the nineteenth century. One of the last of the Honywoods there was General Philip Honywood who died in 1785. In Hasted's time (c 1800) there was only one house, the Court, in the Parish. Old foundations show a very much larger building once existed, and certainly some parts of the farm buildings are older that the rest. The house is now demolished. At one time a stream was diverted to run beneath the kitchen floor, and water was drawn up through a trap door. This trap door may have been used for fishing.

Honeywood crest, Thanington Without
On the death of General Honywood in 1785 the manor passed to Sir Filmer Honywood, formerly of Markshall, later to become M.P. for Kent. Since then the manor at Milton has been owned by various families - the Sankeys, Chalks and Bells. Three members of the Bell family are buried in the vaults of the church, and in the small churchyard are several graves of the Lake family.

One of the nineteenth century patrons was John Bell who lived at Street End House and Bedford Square, London. He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, local magistrate, one of the Masters of the Honourable Society of Grays Inn whose "learning, industry and integrity raised him to the highest rank". There are memorials to him and other members of his family mounted on the church walls. His son Matthew, also a magistrate, followed his father as the patron from his home at Bourne Park, Bishopsbourne. He died in 1903.

Recently the farm has been in the hands of Mr. Tolputt, but now the area is being used for gravel extraction by Mr. Brett and his company, and a large house has been built overlooking the site of the old manor. Several lakes have been left in the water meadows, and will one day form a home for wild life.

8. Milton Church   Go back to Top Milton Church, Thanington Without Hasted, writing just before 1800, tells us a little about the small 12th century church at Milton which was within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the diocese and deanery of Canterbury. The tiny church was once dedicated to St. Nicholas but later it was rededicated to St. John the Baptist. It consists of a small aisle and chancel and is hardly more than a chapel, which indeed it was throughout the middle ages when it as part of the nearby manor *. It has a small stone pinnacle at the west end with a single bell. It has changed little over the centuries, and today is rarely used except occasionally in the summer. It is now redundant.

In 1384 it was valued at 66/8p. And by 1588 it was valued at £ 20, when recorded that there were only twelve communicants, all probably from the manor.

An entry from the Church records of 1569 reads:
"Rectory in the patronage of ..Browne, Esq.< rector dom robert rose. he is not married has no other benefices, does not preach, not a graduate. he is undermaster (inferior informatos) of the grammar school in the town of sandwich, where he resides. house holder 1, communicants 17."

In 1640 the value was £ 30 and there were 10 Communicants. The patrons since the reign of Elizabeth were the lords of the manor.

The church was restored in 1829 by the local patron John Bell who installed a new font. The church was further repaired in 1851. In 1893 two parishioners shared all the parish offices and by this time (1934) the rectory had been added to Thanington.

* Given by Egelric Biggs in 1044 to Christ Church, Canterbury.

There are several graves in the cemetery:

Alfred Lake d. 1860
Mary Lake d. 1861
Robert Lake d. 1883
and his wife
Thomas Lake d. 1888

The Vaults are now close for Health and Safety reasons

Vaults at Milton Church, Thanington Without

Jane Bell 1855 - John Bell 1836 - Elednor Bell 1827 (aged 20) Recently the church has been made redundant, but has been repaired by Brett's. Its further use has not been decided.

The very old tithe barn at Milton is one of the largest and finest in Kent.

Date Patrons Rectors
1576
1597
1604
1661-1669
1669-1684
1684-1715
1715-1737
1737-1764
1764-1770
1770
Thomas Browne Esq.
The Queen, by lapse
Robert Honeywood Esq.
Sir Thomas Honeywood
Thomas Honeywood Esq
John Honeywood Esq
Is Rebow and his wife
Robert Honeywood Esq
Philip Honeywood Esq
Simon Somerfall
William Hawkins
Thomas Jackson
Gregory Fulford A.M.
John Crocker A.M.
Alexander Middleton A.M.
Robert Nunn A.B.
William Brodrip A.M.
John Tucker A.M.
John Gostling A.M.
9. New House Farm   Go back to Top The earliest dates connected with New House Farm are in 1270 and 1278. The farm stands about half a mile to the south of Cockering. The history of the house seems to consist mainly of the names of the different owners. It was once the residence of a Captain Terry from whom it passed to the Roberts of Harbledown and thence by marriage to Robert Meade Willmott who sold it to Sir Thomas Hales who died in 1583. A George Gipps - probably the George Gipps M.P. who later bought Howfield - was still the owner in 1840. He seems to have owned much property in the area. In December 1949 farm workers engaged in planting fruit trees discovered a Romano-British grave a little way west of the farm building It was only 9 inches below the surface and consisted of a circular spread of flints marking the mouth of a shallow pit containing pottery dating from about A.D. 80 - 100. The largest vessel was an urn of soft grey ware and containing a bone (human) which had been smashed by a plough. A Samian platter bearing a potter's stamp was unearthed and a one-handled jug. A few more pieces of pottery were found in the grave area. The urn and other finds are in the Royal Museum in Canterbury.

10. The Priory of St. Jacob   Go back to Top This priory or hospital was situated just outside the western bounds of the City in what is now Ada Road, and was founded c. 1188 for 25 leprous women by a Master Feramin (or Firmin), a doctor, before the reign of King John in the early l2th.century. Archbishop Hubert - who died in 1206 - recorded that "The Prior and Convent of Christ Church in Canterbury by their letters of protection at the request of a Master Fermin master of it, took the hospital into their custody and protection and engaged themselves for a perpetual term for the government of it. The agreed to maintain three priests and one clerk for the service of religion, each at four pounds a year, and twenty-five leprous women. These to be provided for out of the profits of Bredgar Church which Henry III afterwards confirmed to this hospital "in pure and perpetual alms for ever". No tithe was paid but money was given yearly to the vicar of Thanington. Master Firmin, the founder, must have been quite a character. He was physician to the monks of Christchurch Cathedral, and also claimed to have had visions of St. Thomas. Archbishop Robert of Winchelsea who died at Otford in May 1313 was brought to Canterbury for burial. His body rested here for a while. In 1360 King John of France, who had been captured by the Black Prince, was ransomed. It is said that he spent the night at St Jacob's on his way back to France, and left a gift.

In 1414 the Prior of Christ Church, Dom John Wodnesburgh, visited the place and ordered that the canonicals were to be said in the church on ordinary days after the sounding of bells, while the sisters were forbidden to sit round or near the altars during divine service, or to serve the priests at the offices or hours, since this ought to be done by a clerk in holy orders. In 1535during Henry VIII's reign, the priory revenues were valued at £ 531 on the whole, or £ 321 clear annual income. In 1546 it had become an alms house for six poor women with a chapel and a hall. Later in the same reign the hospital escaped dissolution but was surrendered in 1552. It.was then granted to a Robert Dartnell. By this time it was almost empty. In Hasted s day, c 1800, the hospital with its appurtenances was the property of Mr. John Sankey of Milton. Deeds 1589-1674 are available for inspection at Maidstone. There are now no traces of the hospital except the street names.

* Jacobus is Latin for James so perhaps it should be called the Priory of St. James.

It appears that the curate's income of £ 23 p.a. in 1637 was not large enough to satisfy the needs of the Rev. John Rogers for, having got himself into various financial troubles, he wrote to ask for money owing and for an increase in his stipend.

By the 18th. Century the priests at Thanington were also priests at Milton, a mile or so away up river to the west. The vicarage at this time was at Cockering Farm at the top of Strangers Lane

In the old records of the church it states that alms were given to "strangers" who left the main road above to get to the church to obtain money or food. This road is now called Strangers Lane (? Chestnut Lane earlier).

Priory of St Jacobs, Thanington Without
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11. Thanington Church - History   Go back to Top There is little doubt that Thanington is a place of great antiquity, for in a charter dated 791 A.D. Offa, King of Mercia, conferred "the right of pasturage of one flock near THENNINGDEN". This charter was granted to Christ Church, Canterbury.

Throughout Anglo-Saxon times Thanington is constantly referred to, but with many changes of spelling. The Domesday Survey of 1086 shows the area to have been thinly populated with many small hamlets. A church existed by 1100 when East Kent was divided into several lathes or hundreds. Thanington was in the Lathe of Borowart and in the Westgate Hundred. Thanington (Tenitune) is among the list of churches making payment to the Christchurch, Canterbury, in the Domesday Monachorum of 1100. We are therefore safe in thinking that a settlement existed in 1086.

In the 12th century Thanington Church was part of the ancient possessions of the Priory of St. Gregory which was founded by the great Archbishop Lanfranc and stood in Northgate, Canterbury. The church was confirmed to it by Archbishop Hubert in the reign of Richard I (1189-1199). In 1385 the church was appropriated to the Priory and was then valued at £ 11. 6s. 8d. and the vicarage at £ 4. In 144 Thomas Byng left 20d. for a light of the Holy Cross in the church, for it was the custom for people to leave gifts for lights.

At the Dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 16th century the priory was dissolved and Thanington Church fell into the King's hands for a short time. Soon afterwards it was returned to the Archbishop of Canterbury in exchange for the site of the Priory and other estates. The priests were known by various Latin names. In the early records we find, for example, Dominus John Marreys in 1374, dominus being the Latin for master. It was a term of respect. Later the parish priest had the rank of ecclesiastical knighthood and the priest in 1418 was called Sir Thomas Kymburke. The church register dates from 1558 and the list of incumbents can be traced back to 1316 but with a break from 1460 to 1560. In the middle of the 16th century when Protestants were being persecuted by Queen Mary, a court at Hythe was held before which many were brought to answer for various religious offences. Among them was the wife of the priest of Thanington. The following is a record of her "crime".

THANNYNGTON: The priest's wife, late of Chartham, for saying "if Christ were here agayne He sholde be new torne and she will not come to church".

12. Thanington Church - Building   Go back to Top The little church at Thanington is beautifully situated about a mile west of Canterbury near the banks of the River Stour, and it commands a fine view of the Cathedral across the meadows. The first church was probably built of wood and thatch in Saxon times but a stone building was built in the 12th. Century, not long after the Norman conquest and was dedicated to St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and Patron Saint of children. There are few Kentish churches dedicated to this saint.

Floor Plan and Windows details of St Nicholas Church, Thanington Without

At the entrance to the churchyard is a timber lych gate which was erected by the Rev. Canon C. Pearson, vicar of the parish, in memory of his brother the Rev. William Pearson who was vicar also, in the years 1848-1862, and probably replaces an earlier lych gate. "Lych" is derived from the Saxon "lie" meaning a dead body as it was the custom to rest the coffin at the gate until the arrival of the clergyman. In ancient times a watchman was employed to watch over the dead, as was the custom in other parts of Kent. In the churchyard is a very old yew tree, which is probably more than 900 years old. Yews were often planted in churchyards as signs of everlasting life. Their wood was used for longbows in the Middle Ages, the bows being stored in the tower and practice taking place in the churchyard. Yew was also used to decorate the church at festivals and as a substitute for palm on Palm Sunday. The yew at Thanington has a circumference of about 22 feet. A tradition, much disputed, has it that it was this yew that inspired the poet Gray to write his famous Elegy. The cemetery has been greatly extended in recent years

At the south entrance of the church is the porch and the notices posted there remind us that the porch was the usual place for much civil business in the parish years ago. In olden days the first part of the marriage service also took place there. Inside the porch the 14th.century doorway has pilgrim markings on it.

Taken from the Thanington Without W.I. Embrodered panel, Thanington Without

The church building itself is of a cruciform shape with the choir or chancel at the top of the cross. On the left, or north, is the tower and on the right, or south, is the small Lady Chapel. The architecture is chiefly Early English with pointed arches and long narrow windows, but the walls are thick and show traces of Norman masonry. There are also two very small round-headed Norman windows high up on either side of the chancel. At the east end of the church are two beautiful lancet windows, so called because they are pointed like lances. Legend has it that there may be a vault. At one time the nave must have been much wider than it is now, for some years ago an interesting discovery was made. It was found that the arches in which the present south door and adjoining window are built originally formed part of a south aisle. The blocked up arch in the west wall of the Lady Chapel also formed part of this aisle. The original entrance to the church was in the west of the nave, but not evident in the stonework today.

An unusual feature of Thanington Church is the position of the tower for there are very few churches with their towers on the north side. The tower was built in the 13th century but in 1856 it had to be almost completely rebuilt. Three hundred years before it was also in a bad condition for in Archbishop Farrer's Visitation in 1573 he reported "the steple is in greate decay, and cannot be repayred without great cessment". Some repairs must have been made after this.

The chapel on the south side of the nave is named after Our Lord's Mother. On the floor is a perfect monumental brass of a soldier in full armour. It is in memory of Thomas Halle Esquire of Thanington Manor who died in 1485 *. This brass was in the nave originally. The chancel was very rich in memorial brasses and among them were two to the memory of Sir Charles Hales (1623) and his wife Anne (1617) and in the north wall is a small tablet to their memory. There were also memorials to the Kingsfords of Tonford Manor. In the south wall of the Lady Chapel is a piscina or water drain with an unusual horseshoe-shaped hood. This piscina was placed near the altar so that the priest could wash his hands and rinse the chalice and any other vessels which he had used or held after the celebration of mass. Within the niche is a stone shelf or credence table on which the sacred vessels were placed previous to their being required at the altar. There is a similar piscina on the south wall of the chancel.

The font in the nave near the door is of unusual design, the base being 13th. Century or earlier. The rest is 19th. Century restoration.

Most of the coloured glass in Thanington is modern having been made in the 19th. Century. The only piece of any antiquity is in the west window of the nave and represents the head of Our Lord and is 14th. Century. The lancet east windows were filled with painted glass in 1871 by Miss Betty Sankey in memory of her family. The small Norman windows in the chancel are filled with glass depicting royal martyrs, and are in memory of James Browne, 1855, and Jane Browne, 1846. The window in the south wall of the nave was given by Mrs. Thomas Powell of St..Dunstan's, Canterbury in memory of her brothers and sisters. In the wall opposite is another window in memory of her husband who died in 1855. The other window on the north wall depicting the Good Samaritan is in memory of Mr. Crossdill and others of the family who lie buried almost immediately beneath and was given in 1883. The windows in the Lady Chapel were given in 1934 as a memorial to the late Mrs. Lillywhite. There are two marble wall memorials of the 19th. century to the Cooper family.

It is obvious that so ancient a church as St. Nicholas has been much restored and altered over the years. Thus the tower had to be rebuilt in 1856 after restoration work carried out under the direction of the famous church architect Mr. Butterfield a few years earlier. This-restoration work included the brass lectern and oak pulpit. More extensive restoration work was necessary in 1882 at a cost of some £ 1,200 by Mr. John Cowell who took great care to preserve the ancient character of the building. At that time the nave and chancel were continuous, and the chapel opened without arches in the nave, but was divided from it by a wooden screen. The chapel was in such a bad condition that the roof had to be supported with wooden uprights. The restoration included the erection of the arch between the chancel and the nave, and the arcade of two arches to the chapel. The chapel was also greatly improved by the removal of an incongruous square window inserted in a previous restoration, and two lancet windows were added. The north wall of the nave was pierced by two additional windows. These and the additions throughout were in the Early English style to harmonise with the rest of the building. The heating system was installed by Mr. Lillywhite in 1940 in memory of his parents.

The Incumbents of Thanington
Edward I William de Clingham
Stephen de Riholle
1316 - 1325
1325 - 1449
Edward III Robert de Stodwold
Thomas Atte Hille
Robert Bartholot
John Marreys
Edmund Godefrey
Thomas Webbe
1349 - 1359
1359 - 1365
1365 - 1370
1370 - 1374
1374 - 1386
1386 - 1409
Henry IV John Walters 1409 - 1417
Henry V Geoffrey Mustard
Thomas Kymburke
Henry Atte Watere
1417 - 1418
1418 - 1420
1420 - 1424
Henry VI Nicholas Claxton
William Andrewe
Andrew Lassell
Nicholas Mason
Thomas Barton
Thomas Arnole
Thomas Bonour
Andrew Whitehede
1424 - 1431
1431 - 1440
1440 - 1443
1443 - 1447
1447 - 1456
1456 - 1458
1458 - 1460
1460 - *     
Elizabeth I Thomas Panton
Thomas Grene
John Stubbs
James Bissell
1580 - 1585
1585 - 1590
1590 - 1593
1593 - 1637
Charles I John Rogers 1637 - 1663
Charles II James Arderne
Paul Boston
William Hawkins
Simon Baylie
Richard Slater
Richard Maplesden
Thomas Skinner
1663 - 1666
1666 - 1671
1671 - 1676
1676 - 1680
1680 - 1682
1682 - 1683
1683 - 1686
James II Andrew Middleton 1686 - 1715
George I Robert Nunn 1715 - 1737
George II William Broderip 1737 - 1764
George III John Tucker
Francis Gregory
Charles Graham
1764 - 1777
1777 - 1801
1801 - 1833
William II John White 1833 - 1840
Victoria William Vallance
George (Charles?) Pearson
Thomas Darling
William Pearson
John Wise
John Garland
William Holman
Mathew Evans
1840 - 1842
1842 - 1843
1843-1848
1848-1862
1862-1869
1869-1876
1876-1894
1894-1918
George V William Williams
Stanley Wilson
Vincent Macy
1918-1925
1925-1932
1932-1937
George VI Gilbert Finch
Arthur Stevens
1937-1946
1946-1957
Elizabeth II Albert Blake
Joseph Skepper
Philip Baycock
Len Cox
Tim Herbert
Ian Aveyard
Clive Todd
1957-1963
1963-1976
1977-1985
1985-1993
1993-1998
1999-2009
2009-        

The Church Bells

The early church in Thanington had bells, but in common with many other churches, there were probably only three. Two of them, the tenor and the present No. 4, were recast from earlier ones by the famous Kent bellfounder Joseph Hatch of Ulcombe near Maidstone in 1623/4. Many local bells came from this foundry. The middle bell was recast in Canterbury in 1638 by John Palmar in St. Dunstan's where the West Station now stands.

In 1928 the Croydon foundry of Gillett and Johnson took the bells down, quarter-tuned them because of excessive wear, and renewed the fittings and framework entirely. These were rehung in 1929. In 1948 two more bells were added as a war memorial, this time with modern steel frames and iron fittings. The old bells were not retuned because of lack of money. In 1966 a further bell was added in memory of the late Mr. Campbell Ashenden. Although the three modern bells were perfect they did not blend with the older untuned ones. In 1979 defects had become apparent, and it was decided to take all six bells back to John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough who had cast the last bell in 1966.

While the bells were away the teak frame installed in 1928 was cleaned and tightened, and the steel frames scraped and painted. At the foundry new headstocks were provided for the three older bells; two of these retain their ancient canons or supporting loops. All the wheels were rerimmed, the clappers refaced and rebushed, and the pulleys and ball bearings overhauled. Most important of all, the bells were carefully tuned for all six to be in perfect harmony.

Description of Bells

Bell Weight Diameter Cast Founder Inscription
Treble 2-3-20 22 1/2 Inches 1968 John Taylor & Co * John Taylor & Co. *
Founders * Loughborough
1966/The Ashenden Bell
Second 3-0-8 24 Inches 1948 Gillett & Johnston In memoriam/1939-1945
19(G)/Gillett & Johnson/
Croydon
Third 3-1-12 25 Inches 1948 Gillett & Johnston In memoriam/1939-1945
19(G)/Gillett & Johnson/
Croydon
Fourth 3-2-13 26 5/8 Inches 1624 Joseph Hatch ioseph hatch made me (H)
1624
Fifth 4-3-22 29 1/2 Inches 1638 John Palmer John Palmar - Palmar..made..
This bell.. George Hooper.
Arter.. Rvck.. Wardens/1638
Tenor 4-2-5 31 1/4 Inches 1623 Joseph Hatch joseph hatch made me (H)
1623

The Graves at Thanington

The cemetery at Thanington lies mainly to the south of the church and is quite small. The famous old yew and the Victorian lych gate are described elsewhere. The old cemetery was last used in the late 1930's when it became full and an extension to the east was given by Mr. W. E. Lillywhite, a local farmer and benefactor of the church.

As the ground near the church has been used for burials for the best part of a thousand years most of the graves are unmarked and lost. Indeed, the ground must have been used many times over as grave diggers have found.

The oldest known gravestone is that of Nicholas Estes, a yeoman who died in 1651 at the age of 40. Another very old grave is that of Robert Seaman who died in 1684 and his wife Elizabeth who died four years later. The limestone has an hour glass skull and cross bones carved on top. Both these early graves lie near the south-east corner of the chancel.

Altogether there are just over 200 marked graves in the old part of the cemetery, and of the 380 or so the average age was 56. About a third lived to be over 70 but probably many babies were buried without a trace.

A very old-established local family were the Penns for they appear in the Hearth Tax return for the area in 1664. A Mehetabell Penn, wife of Philip, died in 1685. A descendant, George Penn, who died in 1852 was Clerk of the Parish for 50 years.

The Kent Family History Society has recently completed a thorough survey of the entire cemetery, and all known graves have been mapped and recorded. However, over the years, many of the inscriptions have become very worn and the stones eroded and broken.

Thomas Gray - The Poet

Thanington churchyard has literary interest concerning the poet Thomas Gray (1716-71) who wrote the famous Elegy in a Country Churchyard and is buried in Stoke Poges Churchyard, Buckinghamshire. There is doubt, however, whether he referred to Stoke Poges and there is a strong case for Thanington being the churchyard he describes.

A Miss. A. M. Lukyn, daughter of an 18th century rector of St. Michael's, Canterbury and Reculver, was 17 years old when Gray made his last recorded visit to Canterbury. Here he had numerous friends including the Rev. William Robinson, Rector of Denton and his brother Matthew Robin son, M. P. for Canterbury. Miss Lukyn lived in St. Gearge's Place and as her father was a local minister it is certain that she knew Gray and had occasion to meet him and his friends whenever he visited the city. She is known to have told her doctor that Thanington churchyard was definitely the place that gave rise to the poem as "Well acquainted with the author Mr. Gray". The doctor communicated this fact to the Rev. William Pearson, then Vicar of Thanington.

Weight is added to the belief when the poem is studied. The first line "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day" could refer to the 8 o'clock curfew rung every evening from the Bell Harry Tower of the Cathedral and easily heard in certain weather conditions in Thanington. So far as is known the curfew bell never rang across Stoke Poges churchyard. Another line says "The lowing herd wind slowly over the lea". This fact has stayed unchanged for over 200 years as cattle still graze in the same pastures below the church in the Stour valley.

It must also be remembered that in the eighteenth century the church was farther away from the road to Ashford which passed over the downs at Cockering. Visitors to the church in those days reached it along a footpath that led to the very old surviving yew tree.

Another factor is that Thomas Gray did not use poetic licence in his poetry, but wrote in his lines the impressions of what he had heard or seen.

13. Thanington Court   Go back to Top In the reign of William I, Godefridus Dapifer is recorded to have held one suling of land in Tenetune, valued at one hundred shillings as part of that manor. (One suling was about 200 acres). This is recorded in the Canterbury Domesday Book.

Later the manor was held by the eminent Norman families of Valynes and Septvans. In the 20th year of Edward III's reign a William Septvans of Milton paid aid for it at one knight's fee, and in the reign of Richard II was owned by William Waleys Knt. From him it passed by the marriage of his daughter to Peter Halle of Herne who left it to Thomas, his eldest son. This son, another Thomas, died unmarried in 1485 and was buried in Thanington Church (see Brass in the Lady Chapel).

Then it passed to his sister Joane and her husband Thomas Atkins. In 1526 it was held by John Hales of the Dongeon, Canterbury, who had four sons, the eldest being Sir James who committed suicide. John Hales left the manor to his second son Thomas, and from him it passed through his descendants until in 1775 Sir Philip Hales "passed it away" to George Gipps, the same man who owned New House Farm at the time and was Member of Parliament for the City of Canterbury. Hasted writes that a Court Baron was held for this manor.

The present Thanington Court is largely Georgian but the rear building is much older and partly medieval.

Hales Crest, Thanington Without

14. Sir James Hales   Go back to Top Sir James Hales was the eldest son of John Hales, of the Hales family, prominent in Kentish history, and late of the Dongeon, Canterbury, who by 1526 was in possession of Thanington Court. Sir James Hales was a Justice of Common Pleas in King Henry VIII's reign but was removed from office during Queen Mary's counter reformation. He was imprisoned in many places including the notorious Fleet prison. When he could no longer bear the treatment and tortures he lost his mind and never properly recovered. When he was released he retired to his nephew's manor at Thanington and drowned himself in the river in 1555. This is reported in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and may have inspired Shakespeare to write the lines about suicide in the gravediggers' scene in Hamlet: "But if the water come to him and drown him he drowns not himself; he that is not guilty of his own death shortens nor his own life". There is a memorial to this tragedy on the north wall of Canterbury Cathedral. It shows the River Stour and four men carrying poles. In the foreground stands Thanington Church across the river is the ancient manor house.

His grandson died in 1589 fighting against the Spanish.

Tudor Cottages, Thanington Without

15. Tonford Manor   Go back to Top Tonford Manor is a most interesting house situated in Thanington Without to the north side of the River Stour, with half-ruined flint and brick walls, round flanking towers, a timbered roof and carved corbels of the 15th century. There is a fine Tudor gateway. Records reveal the existence of a dwelling on the same site since the time of Henry III. Some of the original flint walls, bastions and mullioned windows dating from 1449, together with the timbered roof constructed in the same century, still exist. Sir Thomas Browne, the lord of the manor, was given permission to crenelate the walls in 1449 by King Henry VI. The present house is half 15th century and half Queen Anne, the later part is built of warm red bricks and a Kentish tiled roof. It contains a charming white panelled room of the period. The older part of the house is all that remains of the original building and it is believed that the rest of the structure was destroyed by fire in the 17th century, possibly during the Civil War. One tower has interesting remain of a medieval drainage system into the moat, which was not filled in until the last century.

The owners of the manor can be traced back to a certain John be Toinford who lived towards the end of the reign of Henry III. A later John de Toniford alienated Tonford to Sir Thomas Fogge (see Milton) about 1377. His son, Sir John Fogge, was the Keeper of the Wardrobe to Henry VI, and founder of Ashford College, the last collegiate church in England before the Reformation.

It is briefly recorded in the Chamberlian's accounts of the City of Canterbury for 1512-1513 that Henry VIII "when he made his way into France with his army royale was entertained together with his wife, Katherine of Aragon, and a retinue of nobles in a tent in the Blean of Harbledown, paid a visit to Tonford at which manor the King changed himself ". Henry VIII and his party were given a gun salute from the tower as they arrived. Also "a dozen cheesys and six white cuppes were sent with a quantity of wine, costing the City 11s 2d." Another item runs "for wine had thither and given to the King and his lords, for which the City had great thank". He had been on the throne for three years. He enjoyed the falconry in the marshy area nearby. King Henry VIII and his large party of courtiers and retinue only stayed for three nights, doubtless to the great relief of the lord of the manor.

In 1799, when Hasted wrote about it, the estate consisted of 229 acres, but the two centuries have seen it diminish to its present six acres. Up to recently the manor was the home of the well-known writer Christopher Hassall after whome a local road is named. He died in 1963.

Tonford Manor, Thanington Without

16. The Hearth Tax Return for Thanington   Go back to Top The Hearth Tax Return for Thanington in the Kent Archives in Maidstone is under the "Borough of Cockering" which is most interesting. This unpopular tax lasted from 1662 to about 1691, and lists householders together with their hearths. On the assumption that the richer the person the more hearths he possessed a rough idea of the spread of wealth may be obtained. Generally speaking houses with only one hearth may be regarded as an indication of humbler inhabitants, and those with seven or more hearths may be taken as affluent. However, some houses with a large number of hearths were inns, poorhouses etc. In addition sizes of population may be estimated by allowing four or five persons per household. With some thirty entries Thanington's population three hundred years ago was about 150 or so.

The constable's work was to deal with law and order, taxes etc. and was abolished in 1872. Constables, churchwardens, surveyors of roads, borsholders (a petty constable) were unpaid local officials, elected by the villagers, all of whom had to share the duties in turn.

Isaac Terry
Edmund Young
Thomas Wraight
Robert Soames
Thomas Mare
John Bramley
Michael Crasnall
John Penn Junr.
John Blish
8
6
2
2
4
2
2
1
2
Mr. Nicholas Sympson
William Seath
Thomas Milles
Thomas Harris, constable
Hugh Bore
William Hiller
John Pason
John Penn Senr.
Thomas Strong
8
4
2
2
4
2
2
1
2

Not Chargeable [i.e. too poor]

Katharine Penn, Widow
Whittingham Fogg
Widow Tossell
John Browne
James Arnold
Widow Cranford
John Artherton
2
4
3
1
2
2
2
Esward Cobb
John Muggell
John Irwin (?)
Edward Kitchen, borsholder
Nicholas Old
Robert Carter
4
2
2
2
2
2

Richard Barber and Thomas Harris, Constables.
Edward Kitchen, Borsholder.

[See photograph of the original in the Archives, County Hall, Maidstone]

17. Electoral Rolls - Poll Books   Go back to Top Before 1832 very few men had the vote, and these were usually men of property and/or freemen. This right was extended by the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884, and by the end of the century most men had the vote. Women gained the vote after the First Great War.

Name 1802 1816 1830 1847 1865
Ashenden William x
Bell Matthew x x x
Brewsher Rev. Charles x
Bing Henry x x x
Ford John x
Godden Edward x
Harvey James x x x
Hogben John x
*** Lake Robert x x x
Leggett John x x x
Mace Edward x
Mount Thomas x
Pain Stephen x
Penn Edward x
** Penn George x
Pope John x
Read Francis x
Sankey Robert x x x
Taylor Thomas x
Viney John x
* Vincent Frank x
Wise Rev, William x
Wood Frederick x
Worsley John x
*
**
***
Gentleman
Carpenter
Owner of Milton Manor
Thanington was in the Lathe of
St. Augustine and the Hundred
of Westgate


Before 1872 the vote was not secret, and the election might last for several days.

The names for the 1802 election are taken from the Poll for the Knights of Kent.

18. Thanington 1836 from the Tithe Maps   Go back to Top Tithe Maps of the parish of Thanington are in the Canterbury Cathedral Library and show the area in detail in 1837 and 1838. These maps show Thanington to have been a small rural community with few houses apart from farms and workers' cottages. The river meandered through the marshy valleys with fords for the far animals. The railways had not yet been built. A toll gate still existed in Wincheap (where Ada Road joins Wincheap) but few houses apart from a few on the north side of the street.

The growing of hops is clearly marked on the map in several areas to supply the local breweries in Canterbury, and to be sent to London. The moat at Tonford Manor had not yet been filled in on the south and east side. The only house marked on the map beyond the church is Reed Cottage on the banks of the river.

The payment of tithes, that is one-tenth of farm produce for the upkeep of the church and the parson's stipend, goes back to Anglo-Saxon times. It was very much disliked.

May parishes had a tithe barn near the church for the storage of the produce. No such barn has been recorded in Thanington (see Milton Church).

In 1836 an Act was passed whereby payment in kind ceased and was replaced by cash. Later, further Acts made the landlord of the land responsible for payment and not the tenant. In modern times the payment of tithes has ceased.

19. Thanington roads   Go back to Top The prehistoric track (known as the Pilgrims Way) crosses the northern edge of Thanington, keeping to the high ground above the river valley and following the contours on its way to Canterbury. Later, in Roman times, the roads of East Kent met at Canterbury and several pass through the area. The road from Lympne (Lemanis) followed the line of the present Iffin and Hollow Lanes whilst the road to Ashford avoided the low ground of the river at Shalmsford Street. Up to Georgian times the roads were neglected although local people were expected to work several days of the year on their roads, and by 1700 many parishes were levying a rate for road repairs.

The Ashford road over the downs was turnpiked by 1780 and there was a toll gate near Ada Road in Wincheap which was unpopular with local residents. It is said that a certain doctor who objected to paying the toll used to crawl under or through the toll gate to visit the Hop Poles for his drink. (Although the present Hop Poles Inn is fairly modern (c. 1930) the licence goes back a very long time). The present Ashford Road (A28) was not in use until it was improved by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic wars. The Hanging Banks, near the old two mile stone gets its name from the public executions which took place there, the last one being in 1800 for sheep stealing.

In 1912 the British Automobile Traction Company began a motor bus service from Canterbury to Ashford. Their vehicles were painted dark green. This company was absorbed by the East Kent Road Car Company in 1916. By the First World War a bus service had been started to Ashford passing through Thanington and Miltop, one of the first in East Kent. In 1981 the new Canterbury by-pass was opened, much of it passing through the north-east corner of the parish. This by-pass is now the eastern boundary of the revised civil parish. New bridges have been built to carry the road over the river, the railway lines and the roads at various places in the area and many council houses have had to be demolished and farms divided.

20. Thanington railways   Go back to Top The first railway line passing through the parishes was completed in 1846 from Ashford to Canterbury by the South Eastern Railway Company. The line followed the flat river valley to the Canterbury West Station and on to Thanet. Crossings were built at Tonford and Milton, mainly for the use of farmers. By 1860 another line had been built in the area carrying trains from Faversham to Canterbury East Station and Dover by the East Kent Railway Company, later the South Eastern and Chatham. The two lines crossed at Whitehall.

A railway disaster took place at Milton in 1896 when a wagon-load of hop pickers was struck and seven people were killed. Most of the victims were buried in the Nonconformist cemetery in Wincheap.

In 1889 the Elham Valley Railway line was opened and was later joined to the Ashford line by a link across the north-west corner of Thanington, crossing Wincheap by a bridge at the junction of Hollow Lane. This line was last used in 1947 and the bridge has now been demolished and the embankment removed. Steam locomotives had disappeared by 1962 when a full electric service was in operation.

21. Larkey Valley Wood   Go back to Top On 18th May 1932 the Mayor of Canterbury, Alderman Frank Hooker, a local miller, presented 107 acres of woodland known as Larkey Valley Wood in the Parish of Thanington Without to the people of the city in order "that it should be reserved to the public for ever". Since that time the importance of the wood as a refuge for wild life has become increasingly apparent and it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In 1976 following the initiative of the Kent Trust for Nature Conservation and with the help of the Canterbury Society, local naturalists and Wye College, a working party was formed which has prepared a management policy for the wood. Larkey Valley Wood is a relic of a forest which has been in existence continuously since the end of the last Ice Age, and once formed part of a much larger forested area. The wood has never been under any other land use although some parts of it have been replanted from time to time to produce the familiar "Standards - with coppice" which could be cropped for timber. Most of the trees are native species, an exception being the Sweet Chestnut which was probably brought to this country by the Romans.

The wood occupies a small valley in the Upper Chalk on the south eastern side of the high road to Chartham. On the east and west sides the soil is thin and chalky, but towards the bottom of the valley the chalk is overlain with deep deposits of heavier, more acid soils.

Tremendous damage to the Larkey Valley Wood was done in the great gale of 1987 when a large number - perhaps two-thirds - of the mature trees were blown down.

22. The River Stour and ford   Go back to Top The river has played a very important part in the history of the area from earliest times. The first settlers needed water and light soils for their farming and they came up the river valley from the coast. The Iron Age fort at Bigbury - the second largest in Kent - overlooked the valley and the ford at Tonford. No navigation was possible on the river above Fordwich, but the ford was an ideal place for a settlement. Most local place names are derived from the Anglo-Saxon, but the river's name is even older, being Celtic for "water".

The Stour is Kent's second longest river and flows through Milton and Thanington for several miles. It is a well known chalk stream famous for its trout fishing, and which Isaak Walton wrote about three hundred years ago. The river not only provided fish but worked mills, and there seems to have been a mill at Milton in the Middle Ages or earlier. A map of 1726 shows that the river once flowed nearer to Howfield Manor and perhaps this was changed when the road along the river banks was made during the Napoleonic wars. The river bed is rich in gravel and these deposits have been excavated recently, leaving shallow lakes in the water meadows along the valley.

Below Milton the river passes close to the Hanging Banks at the two milestone where the last execution took place in 1800 for sheep stealing. The ford at Tonford was used by farmers until recently, and was much favoured by Sydney Cooper R.A. for his famous paintings of cattle. The nearby footbridge offers a fine view of the Cathedral towers in the distance, a prospect which delighted Christopher Hassall, the poet and writer, who once lived at the nearby Tonford Manor. It was near here that Sir James Hales committed suicide in 1555 during Queen Mary's troubled reign. The footbridge over the River Stour was washed away during the great gale of October 1987. This footbridge was rebuilt in 1988 on the old site at Tonford.

23. Two World Wars   Go back to Top The Great War of 1914-1918 had little physical effect on the Thanington area for there was little serial activity. The railways however were busy with troop and ambulance trains to and from the coast. Most young men from Thanington joined the armed services, and twenty names of those who died are on the war memorial tablet in the church. There was a large army camp on the farm land beyond the water works (now a housing estate) and the Hop Poles did a good trade.

In the World War of 1939-1945 civilians were in as much danger as those in the services, and throughout the war the skies above Thanington were alive with fighters and bombers. Much of the Battle of Britain in 1940 was fought over East Kent. Masses of German bombers and fighters were attacked by our Spitfires and Hurricanes. Many local men not in the services were in the Civil Defence Organisations or in the Local Defence Volunteers, later called the Home Guard, who met nightly at New House Farm in case of German invasion. At night the streets were patrolled by wardens to ensure the blackout was efficient. The air raid siren was on the roof of the water works and could be heard for miles around. During a night raid in September 1941 bombs landed on the junction of Ashford Road and Tonford Lane and there were many casualties. Several buildings were damaged. Altogether during the war ten bombs landed in different parts of the parish, and a flying bomb fell in the hop garden near the Cockering Road. A plaque in the church porch records the dead of the armed services of the area during the war and two bells were hung in the tower as a war memorial.

War Memorial Tablets

In the Lady Chapel memorial of the First Great War

Earnest Edward Adley
Charles Norton Austin
Thomas Brett
Edward Thomas Broadbent
Percy James Fairbrass
Samuel Haste
George Edward Holmes
Frank Alfred Iddenden
Edward Francis Johnson
Harold Partington Ledger
Douglas McPherson
Ernest Edward Parker
William Albert Pearce
George Priest
Ellis William Rampley
Benjamin Turner
John Tottman
Horace Tottman
John Walsh
William Edward Wiffin


A tablet in the church porch has the following inscription

"This Tablet commemorates the presentation of Two Bells installed on 1st January, 1949 by the People and Friends of the Parish of Thanington as a Memorial to those who gave lives in the service of their country in the Second World War, 1939 - 1945.

J.H. Cashman, 44th R.E.C.C.E. Bn
L.A. Cloke, R.A.F.V.R.
R.B. Couchman, R.A.F.
S.H. Fowler, R.N.
P.J. Fox. R.N.
C.J.F. Gates, R.N.
F.H. Joy, R.A.F.
W.H. Knott, R.E.
H.R.F. Lloyd, R.A.F.
A.J. Long, R.A.
A.S. Marsh, R.A.O.C.
S.F. Martin, R.A.F.
Erica W. Masters, W.A.A.F.
A.E. Mortley, R.A.F.
R.H.S. Pilcher, 4th Buffs.
T.D. Smith, 1st East Surrey
H. Spillett, 3rd Canterbury Bn. Kent Home Guard
C.P. Taylor, R.A.F.
W.C.A.West, R.A.F.
W.H.J. Woodland, R.A.F.V.R.
A.P. Epps, R.A.F.
C.H. Page, R.N.


24. Health and Education   Go back to Top

Health

Just over a hundred and twenty years ago the death rate in the area was 22 per thousand, which gave an average life expectancy of about 50. Many young people died of infectious diseases caused by polluted water and lack of proper sanitation. People in the Wincheap area and on the higher round lived longer than those nearer the river, for much of the sewage found its way into the river which was the main water supply for most people.

In 1867 the water works at Thanington was opened and took its water from deep safe wells in the chalk. A proper sewerage system was begun but most houses in the outlying districts had cess pits until well after World War II. The water works was extended in 1924 to meet the rising demand from the new housing estates. At one time the chalk deposits from the water works were being exported to America and elsewhere for use in cosmetics and tooth paste.

Education

Up to the 19th century very few parishioners had any education except for the priests and gentry. However, a small school was started in May 1858 and stood where No. 73 stands on the Ashford Road opposite the playing fields. This was pulled down during the road widening in 1964.

A former pupil could remember the school, and that there were about 30 pupils. The place was so confined that to pass up from Standard One to Two a child had to crawl under the tables! There was no compulsory education until 1876, and then only to twelve years of age, and consisted mainly of the three "R's": reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. This school was closed in 1903 and it and the adjoining house were turned into farm workers' cottages.

25. Development in the area   Go back to Top The early maps of the area and Hearth Tax returns of 300 years ago show every few dwellings in the area west of Canterbury except for the church, the manors, the Tudor and Reed Cottages. The farm labourers' cottages must have been near the manors.

The limekiln cottages were built about 200 years ago when the chalk pit was worked. The low land near the river was very swampy.

After the First World War the city spread out quickly and a large council estate was built on the old hop field site of a World War I army camp - near the waterworks.

In the 1930's ribbon development took place along the main Ashford Road (A28), and an estate was built on the apple orchards to the south of the road, and Tonford Lane was also developed. Housing development also took place on the east side of New House Road.

Since the last war a daughter church of the parish church, St. Faith's, has been built at Newhouse Road. This hall also serves as a community centre for the area.

In 1946 a private social club has been built near the main Ashford Road out of old army huts on land bought from Mr. Ashenden. This club offers a large variety of social and sporting activities.

In 1987 the Thanington Tenants' Association built a community centre with the aid of a local government grant. It stands near the lay-by bridge close to the Thanington sports field.

During the years since the Second World War infilling has taken place and the council estate has been extended beyond Strangers Lane. New estates have been built in Gray's Way, around the cemetery and on the Cockering Road. This last estate has been called after the nearby manor.

26. Agriculture and Industry   Go back to Top There are no major industries in the parish apart from agriculture, which is mainly of sheep and fruit. Hops, introduced into Britain about 400 years ago from the Low Countries, were once extensively grown. The remaining oasts are used for general farming use (one makes cider) or converted into housing.

The chalk pit and lime kiln was closed many years ago and is now used for the storage of furniture in large warehouses. The nearby medical workshop is very small.

Lime Kiln Cottages, Thanington Without

Gravel excavations took place along the valley of the river for some years but have now ceased, and most of the lakes have been restored to farming. Several remain and are very attractive after landscaping and planting. A riverside footpath is planned into the city.

There is one village shop/Post Office, the other one in New House Lane having closed some years ago. The nearest Public House, the Hop Poles, is outside the parish boundaries!

27. Sources and Bibliography   Go back to Top Church Bells at Thanington. Revd. David Cawley, F.S.A.
Domesday Geography of S.E.England. Darby and Campbell.
Kent. Hasted
Kent Jessup
Kent Archives. County Hall, Maidstone. Hearth Tax.
Kent in the Dark Ages. F. Jenkins
Men of Kent before the Romans F. Jenkins
Roman Kent. F. Jenkins
Sources of English Local History Stephens.
St. Nicholas Church, Thanington. Canon S.G. Brade Birks, F.S.A.
Poll Books of electors.
Tithe Maps of 1837 and 1838 Cathedral Library
The Ancient Hospitals and Almshouses of Canterbury Canon D. Ingram Hill, M.A., F.S.A.
Survey of the graves by the Kent Family History Society.
Mr. And Mrs. C. Barker of Tonford Manor.
Mr. And Mrs. Roche of Thanington Court Farm
Bygone Kent, various issues.

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