Contributed by Mr. Pool a resident
of Mountain Street Chilham 2003
a walk in any recently ploughed field in the River Stour Valley
between Ashford and Canterbury and it is virtually certain that you
will find indications of earlier human activity or occupation.
Digging. up an early Stone-Age Handaxe in the garden sparked my
interest and imagination and soon led to a greater enthusiasm about
what might be found both locally and further afield.
meant more time for field walking, reading about the past, and
experience of what might be clues worth investigating. For example
oyster and other shells, animal bones or teeth, heat fractured stones
along with the odd humanly struck flint flakes or blades would be
sound indicators. Time and effort would then determine what the site
had to offer.
has led to my finding a considerable quantity of ‘waste’ flint
flakes, part of the manufacturing process of much Neolithic, some
Mesolithic and very occasional Palaeolithic ‘finds’ - see
you fancy your luck, make sure you get permission from the owner for a
wander around their field. Sooner or later you will find something of
real interest. Note the details of where and how, and advise the local
museum or the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
finding my Stone-Age Axe, inevitably I was asked how much it was worth
re-read the title. You cannot put a price on thinking who handled it
last. What did the man, woman or child look like? In what sort of
wilderness environment? Food, clothes, shelter - basic
needs for survival? The questions are endless?
on earth did they get on without celebrities and TV Soaps? Perhaps
they could claim there were pretty important considerations, both
individually and collectively, to deal with. Lives of their own so to
Contributed by Mr. Pool a resident
of Mountain Street Chilham
LOST LANDSCAPES GROUP sought to generate a greater knowledge and
understanding of the history of the local landscape surrounding the North
Downs Way and amongst others, visited Chilham Mill and Juliberrie’s
Landscapes, past, present and future cannot be seen in isolation,
but constantly change, develop and evolve, mainly as a result of human
activity. For instance,
Mid Kent Water are now using the Chilham Mill complex for water
extraction, a far cry from the production of flour, etc., which had
gone on previously for well over a thousand years.
The ever-changing environmental situation, such as global warming,
should disturb any complacent assumptions that the water now extracted
at the mill will flow with detached reliability from our taps for
centuries to come.
Anyway, the question had been asked – Why is Chilham Mill
sometimes referred to as a “French” Mill? – some clues follow
In the 11th century, 1086 to be precise, the Domesday
Book, an Inventory of England, unique in medieval history and thanks
to the Norman Conquest, says that there were 6 ½ mills in Chilham! Odd, until you learn these are mill wheels, almost certainly
all part of one mill. The
“half” is explained by a seventh wheel under construction. There were also 5 ½ mills in Chartham.
Camden’s Brittania Kent described the valley of the Rive Stour
from Ashford to the sea as very marshy and susceptible to frequent
flooding. This was 1586.
In 1778 Hasted’s Kent referred to the Chilham Corn Mill as -
“Long known by the name French Mill.”
There is a well documented record of a mill in Chartres in France
in a remarkably similar environment to that in Chilham – marshy and
subject to flooding. It
was constructed on huge wooden piles with little or no permanent
foundation, built to last 100 to 150 years at most.
The timber piles rotted away in the waterlogged soil.
Floods were a recurring danger.
Vibrating machinery and intermittent heavy loading weakened the
Friction between the grinding stones might spark off a fire which could
spread with an explosive force through the dust-laden air.
Sagging floors and walls were strengthened with iron straps.
The intentional burning of mills was not unheard of in order to
get a replacement from the Lord of the Manor.
A Health and Safety initiative a little before it’s time?
Since history books provided almost too much information about us
and society over the many centuries during which those French Mills
were no doubt at the centre of local economies, a very few inadequate
but revealing insights during a limited period must suffice.
Remember that “education” was a privilege of the very few
– the Lords and the Clergy, the Aristocracy and Administrators, and
From school we remember St. Thomas Becket, also the Black Death
which slashed the population by up to fifty percent, (including the
newly consecrated Archbishop of
Canterbury). School did not
tell me that this bubonic plague, in the long term, undermined labour-intensive
arable farming, raised wages and even led to occasional paid holidays!
’Tis an ill wind.
Matthew Parris, a monastic chronicler of that time declared “The
case of historical chroniclers is hard, for if they tell the truth they
provoke man, and if they write what is false they offend God.” Journalists of the gutter-press face no such dilemmas today.
Around that medieval period the Bishop of Lincoln forbade the
clergy to haunt taverns, to share in drinking bouts, or to mix in the
riot and debauchery of the life of the Baronage.
Needless to say such prohibitions are witness to the prevalence of the
activities they denounce. The
afore-mentioned press could have managed a six-page spread – except
that most people couldn’t read.
Threads of decency existed, including the activities of a certain
St Francis of Assisi, who, whilst striving to reconcile knowledge with
orthodoxy (science with religion today perhaps), preached real
sanctity against false sanctity, combated the teaching of lies with
the teaching of truth, enjoyed a mystical piety and an imaginative
enthusiasm. According to
Green’s “Short History of the English People”, Francis’ life
falls like a stream of tender light across the darkness of the time,
and mentions that in the frescoes of Giotto and the verses of Dante we
see him take poverty as his bride!
Any current parallels?
Francis sought a complete reversal of the monasticism experienced
hitherto, seeking personal salvation in effort for the salvation of
his fellow man. A
revolutionary reformer of his time if ever there was one.
A modest booklet introduces tourists and others to a brief history
of Chilham and the Castle and reflects diverse and conflicting interests at a “higher”
Isobel, widow of the Earl of Athol, died in 1292, Chilham passing
to her son John who, living up to the fashion of the period, was
executed for treason.
Edward II thereupon granted Chilham to Bartholomew de Badlesmere,
but Badlesmere very shortly lost his head for the same reason as his
predecessor, and his estates, including Chilham, reverted to the
Edward III, possibly repenting his father’s over-indulgenced with the
Chilham back to Bartholomew’s son
Gyles de Badlesmere who died childless. Margery his sister married Lord Roos, and their heir had the
misfortune to support the House of
Lancaster and was executed on the accession of Edward IV – and so on.
It may be that those who ran the village in these troubled times,
including the Miller at the French Mill, made sure they reflected any
changes amongst their “betters”.
To keep his job the Miller might amend his politics, his
allegiances and not least, his religion to maintain his position.
He might suggest to his apprentice – “Make sure you keep
your mouth shut lad and when His Lordship is around, no more of that
pulling a forelock a bit to the Left, or you’re out.”
We can be thankful that all such prejudices were left firmly in
the Middle Ages!
Peasant families who worked plots on the Manorial Estates would hand
over produce in lieu of rent and make themselves available for work,
as required by His Lordship, at harvest time for instance.
Menfolk would be trained to serve in any military adventure.
Incidentally, game birds were the property of the Lord of the
Manor and anyone caught killing a pheasant for instance, risked having
a hand or arm cut off.
Not surprisingly, simmering discontent led to the peasants revolt of
1381 when, according to the historian Dr. A. Jessop ----
“No tenant could take his corn to be ground anywhere except
the Lord’s Mill. It is
easy to see what a grievance this would be at the time, and how the
Lord of the Manor, if he were really unscrupulous or extortionate,
might grind the faces of the poor while he ground their corn.”
So, for centuries, Chilham Mills were usually managed by the Lord
of the Manor as agent of Crown or Church.
The Miller retained a proportion of the grain as payment or
The peasants used the mill on a first come first served basis with the
proviso that the Lord enjoyed precedence and he alone paid no tax.
And quite right too – said every Lord of the Manor!
Chilham Mills would have been hugely important to the locality and
it’s economic structure. Mills
of French design may have existed here from the 12th to 18th
It’s good and lucky that the present mill is being well looked after,
“French” though it isn’t.
An all-party parliamentary committee has been discussing our heritage,
history and archaeology, etc., and a Conservative MP speaking on TV
reported their conclusions –
That much had been lost or destroyed forever, but that what is left must
be identified and saved before that too is lost. Humanity has a million issues to deal with and they are being
talked about interminably, but the key is to take decisive action,
otherwise our grandchildren and their grandchildren will not only
learn of our lack of foresight and complacency but will curse us for
our lack of drastic and serious action.
Two and a half thousand years ago Confucius suggested – STUDY THE PAST
IF YOU WOULD DEVINE THE FUTURE – so the Lost Landscapes Group,
anxious to take good advice, moved a short distance to Juliberries’
is a lovely places in the woods by Chilham in the Count of Kent, above
the River Stour, where a man comes across an irregular earthwork still
plainly marked upon the brow of the bluff . . . . . .
Where the British stood against the charge of the Tenth Legion,
and first heard, sounding on their bronze, the Arms of Caesar.
Here the River was forded . . . . . .
here the Barbarian broke and took his way, as the opposing
General has recorded, through devious woodland paths, scattering in
the pursuit! Here begins
the great history of England. Is
it not an enormous business merely to stand in such a place?”
And as today’s visitors peer at the almost indistinguishable
mound, overgrown, neglected and hardly reflecting Belloc’s words, we
get a glimpse of today’s unenthusiastic respect for a rare
prehistoric monument, more important for the earliest progress of
Stone Age men and women than the Roman Legions, the most effective
killing machines to date.
Juliberries Grave at Chilham
Amongst various myths and legends it is
suggested that a Roman general Juliber is buried here.
In fact it’s a Neolithic, New Stone Age, burial mound.
In archaeological terms a Long-barrow.
Over several centuries treasure seekers, now more aptly referred
to as grave-robbers including Wildman, occupant of Chilham Caste in
the early 18th century, dug randomly into the long-barrow,
recording nothing of any scientific interest or value.
More skillful excavation, examination and recording in 1936 – 1938
struck flint cores, flakes and scrapers and a fine but damaged
polished flint axe of a type characteristic of the Nordic Regions of
Scandinavia, North Germany and Holland.
There in use at about 2000 BC.
AD 50 Romans used the mound for four burials, originally marked by a
cairn of flints.
And eight late 4th
century Roman coins.
The 1987 hurricane felled several large trees in the vicinity
revealing more Neolithic flint material and small piece of human skull
and bone. Very recent
field walking around the long-barrow has produced even more flint
cores, flakes, blades and scrapers – mostly Neolithic.
Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples inhabited this Stour
River Valley and it’s surroundings.
We have the evidence, stone tools and artefacts.
The earliest of our ancestors, who could have been here a couple
of hundred thousand years ago or more, were hunter-gathers, leading a
nomadic existence in a wilderness environment.
Small groups moved along coasts and river valleys, exploiting
local food sources -–plants, berries, roots, animals, fish, birds,
creating temporary shelters where no caves existed.
They made and used tools of stone, bone, wood, antler and any
other raw material that met their needs.
Little other than flint has survived, and whilst there was a
gradual evolution in hand-axe manufacture for instance, they knew
little of crops and livestock, whilst pottery and metal were unheard
It was during the Mesolithic and more particularly the Neolithic, the
latest Stone age that change accelerated.
They benefited from an additional migration of peoples from
Southern Europe who proved culturally ahead, so that small settled
communities developed, tilling the land and harvesting crops, keeping
and breeding livestock, domesticating horses and dogs, cooking with
pots and pans, building shelters and homes, hunting with ever more
sophisticated weapons and tactics, using spears and harpoons, bows and
arrows, nets and snares. All
subscribing to a more secure existence and healthier and longer lives
– for humans at least. Homo Sapiens, man who is wise, had evolved into the dominant
species. Until then it
had been a case of adaptive evolution for all species, including
We are unique in that we have not only eliminated mammoths, sabre-tooth
tigers and a million other species, but are now rushing headlong
towards eliminating ourselves and most of us are beginning to realise
it but are not yet doing what we must to reverse the trend.
It seems that our Stone Age ancestors did not abuse their
dominance except where survival was threatened.
They respected other living creatures and the environment they
all shared – perhaps something from which we could learn.
As mentioned elsewhere Stone Age peoples were not encumbered by
such modern civilised essentials as Celebrities, Cosmetic Surgery,
Beckham, Nationalism, the 100 Share Index, Nuclear Weapons and Third
World Debt, to mention a few. Clearly,
they co-operated and depended on each other to a high degree, whilst
individuals stood out and were respected for their wisdom, creativity,
experience and leadership and deserved special treatment in death as
well as life. What more
prestigious than a Long-barrow, a lasting monument for real heroes and
heroines of their time.
Who would qualify for such honour today? Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and
a few others would qualify to join St Francis of Assisi, but their
lives were monument enough anyway.
I am indebted to a young lady who, many months ago, asked if I
would talk to a group about Palaentology.
I readily agreed but hurried home to consult the dictionary on
both the spelling and what it meant!
Simple really – the study of extinct organisms, from fossils to
Glad I was asked, not least for the need to reassess what we mean
by civilisation and progress. I
have developed a considerable respect for our Stone Age friends.
A famous prophecy by the Cree Indians seems appropriate –
“Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”
I submit that “Homo Sapiens Sapiens”, man who is doubly
wise, assumes too much by far. Today,
he is less wise and civilised than our Stone Age friends, who thought
quickly and acted decisively where necessary, in the interests of the
Submitted by Don Poole
Street Chilham Kent
Be Dead By Then!”
Father never said – “Don’t talk about religion, politics or the
It only causes trouble”.
At considerable risk I’ll mention the last-named.
month and sometimes every week, evidence is emerging which links
carbon emissions with a very real threat of disasters affecting not
only people, but all life on Earth.
the journal ‘Nature’, scientists have made it clear that a whole
variety of plant and animal species are already doomed.
Every extinction has knock-on consequences for other life
It can’t be an exact science but the indications are that
from 15% to a frightening 37% of a whole range of land plants and
animals will be well on the way to extinction, not in the next 500
years, but in the next 50 years.
more recently a large group of scientists warned that Arctic
temperatures have risen in the last 50 years at almost twice the speed
of the global average.
A further rise of up to 7º C could occur by the year 2100.
Permafrost, once regarded as the most solid foundation for any
development, is thawing.
In several countries with boundaries fringing the Arctic,
buildings are subsiding or collapsing.
The wildlife including polar bears and seals are in increasing
trouble from the inevitable ecological disturbance, the shrinking
habitat and of course, humans.
since records began in 1861, the seven hottest years of all fell in
dioxide levels are at the highest ever and increasing.
Greenland Ice Sheet, which was retreating by one metre per annum up to
2000 is now retreating ten metres annually.
There hasn’t been too much concern so far that sea levels
have been rising by centimetres each year, but if that ice sheet were
to melt substantially, sea levels could rise by metres – over six
metres in the worst case scenario.
consequences would be disastrous for hundreds of millions.
Association of British Insurers faced on a billion pounds of flood
claims in 2000.
Our neighbours in France experienced an unprecedented heat wave
in 2003, when fourteen thousand died.
The total across Europe was thirty five thousand.
agree that if they had not understood what was causing climate change
and global warming, we might have been beyond the point of no return
Clearly, every activity which subscribes to pollution must be
curbed or stopped locally and globally whilst there is still time.
Dad always insisted that present generations didn’t own the planet,
but had a
to look after it for the future.
Which reminds me that about thirty years ago I attended just
one more annual office “promotion” interview with “Sir”, and
since I was damned with faint praise as usual, I gently guided the
discussion on to future world environmental problems and their
After a short factual summary I awaited “Sir’s” response.
The poor chap said – “I don’t think I shall worry too
much about that – I shall be dead by then”!
afraid I wagged a disapproving finger at him and reminded him “his
children and their children would not be dead by then”.
finished the interview, and “Sir” hoped I had learned something
from the chat.
I expressed the fervent hope that we had “both learned
something from the chat”, beamed at him, and exited.
probably demonstrates how to get, or not get, promotion.
Oddly enough I’ve no regrets whatsoever.
You see, I too have grandchildren.
The Unique Village' By George Mabbitt 1988, is a comprehensive and
insightful study by a local man fascinated by life in Chilham. His
final paragraph entitled 'Reflections' serves as a reminder to us all
of our collective responsibilities in caring for our world. It
is published here, in Adobe PDF format, by kind permission of his son
who still lives locally.
here to download: Chilham
the Unique Village 450kb
The AUSTRALIANS AT CHILHAM CASTLE
Match That Never Was
Winston Churchill once famously described the Soviet Union as ‘a
riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’. On a more parochial
level much the same words might be applied to the well-known painting
which purports to show the 1878 Australian cricket team playing in the
grounds of Chilham Castle. The picture features in numerous
publications and, despite the absence of any contemporary written
references, a variety of cricket historians and assorted pundits have
persuaded themselves that the match took place. Yet the evidence shows
conclusively that the Australians never played at Chilham. The only
‘evidence ‘ to indicate otherwise is the picture itself and, as we
shall see, that is in truth no evidence at all. Apart from any other
consideration, the painting depicts the castle not as it was in 1878
but as it appeared almost one hundred years earlier.
great deal of cricket was indeed played in the grounds of Chilham
Castle in 1878 but not in that location and not against the
Australians. Although the
Kentish Gazette mentions
an abortive attempt to stage a match in September, the nearest the
Australians came to taking the field anywhere in Kent was their
fixture at Hastings.
original painting is in the National Library of Australia in Canberra,
part of the Rex Nan Kivell Collection. There is a copy in the Harris
Room at the St Lawrence ground in Canterbury, another in the
Wetherspoon’s pub in Ashford. The picture appears in Kent
Cricket. A Pictorial History by
the late E.W. (Jim) Swanton and the late Christopher Taylor, former
Joint Honorary Curators of Kent CCC, in William Webb’s
Kent’s Historic Buildings in
at least one guide to Chilham Castle
and in Jack Pollard’s
The Formative Years of Australian Cricket
the game is described as having been a ‘private affair’. In
January 1991 the National Library of Australia chose it for the cover
of their monthly magazine and in the same year it featured in the
local history journal Bygone
it was asserted that ‘A great deal of publicity was focused’ on
the match played in ‘what was described as a halcyon summer’.
the scorebook has not survived the tour was well documented. The
team’s matches are recorded in the 1879
for the year, in
Scores & Biographies and
were much written about in the London sporting press. The Kent and
Sussex local press also reported extensively on the Australians’
were published at the end of the tour, by the organiser and joint team
manager, John Conway, and by an Australian journalist P.E.Reynolds who
accompanied the team for all or part of the trip writing under the
name of ‘Argus’. A quite remarkably detailed diary cum scrapbook
of the tour was kept by one of the team, Tom Horan, who later became
one of Australia’s leading sports journalists. This book
subsequently came into the possession of Mr Frank Tyson and in 2001
was published in a limited edition by the Association of Cricket
these sources make it possible to plot the whereabouts of the team on
every day from their arrival on May 14 to their departure on September
19. And every night. On nine occasions they were still on a train at
midnight, hard on Horan who was unable to sleep on the move. There is
also information on train times, hotels, banquets, sightseeing trips,
even the colour of the horses taking the team to their Nottingham
hotel and the name of the man who drove the four-in-hand to their
match against the Orleans Club at Twickenham. The team played 43
matches in the United Kingdom, only two of them South of London - v
Eighteen of Hastings & District on August 26-28, v Sussex at Hove
on August 29-31. There were fifteen weekdays on which they were not
actually on the field. Six were spent travelling, on three of them
they were in the North. May 28 was devoted to sightseeing in London,
on June 5 they saw Harry Constable win the Derby on Sefton and June 19
is specifically described as a rest day although the team’s star
bowler Fred Spofforth preferred to play at Maldon for C.I.Thornton’s
Xl. July 24 and September 4 were partially free but on both days they
caught evening trains from London. We do not know precisely what all
the tourists did on May 25 but they were staying at the Horseshoe
Hotel, Tottenham Court Road in London and two of their number, the
professionals Charles Bannerman and Billy Midwinter, were in Ireland
from May 23 to 25 supplementing their incomes by playing for the
United South of England Xl alongside W.G.Grace and his brother Fred
against Fifteen of Dublin University.
of imaginary cricket matches were not unusual. Two examples are
W.H.Mason’s 1849 painting of Sussex v Kent at Brighton and Sir
Robert Ponsonby’s 1887 picture of England v Australia in which the
Prince and Princess of Wales (later Edward Vll and Queen Alexandra)
are shown at Lord’s with several of the future King’s mistresses,
among them Lily Langtry, seated nearby. Both matches took place only
in the artist’s imagination. Even Albert Chevallier Taylor’s
classic study of the 1906 Canterbury Cricket Week features a
non-striker (William Findlay) who did not play in that year.
Chilham painting is different. It is unique in that it shows the
scores. Inscribed on a low crenellated wall in the foreground is
‘First Australian team to visit England to play a single innings
cricket match against Willsher’s Gentlemen at Chilham Castle, Kent,
August 1878.’ On the left hand crenellation is written ‘Australia
182’ and below it the name of John Conway the manager (actually
joint-manager) followed by all twelve of the tourists – F.R
Spofforth, F.E.Allen (sic), A.Bannerman, H.F.Boyle, W.Murdoch,
T.W.Garrett, W.Midwinter, T.P.Horan, D.W.Gregory captain, G. H.
Bailey, J. M.Blackham, C.Bannerman.
already is something which does not make sense. Billy Midwinter could
not have played for the Australians in August 1878. The only cricketer
ever to play for Australia v England and for England v Australia, he
was born in the Forest of Dean and emigrated to Australia with his
family at the age of ten. He played for Australia in the inaugural
Test Match at Melbourne in 1877 and that summer returned to England to
play as a professional for Gloucestershire, county of his birth. He
was therefore already in England when the team docked and had played
for Gloucestershire prior to their arrival. Nevertheless he appeared
for the tourists in their first eight fixtures and on June 20 was
ready to play in the ninth against Middlesex at Lord’s. Some
versions of the story have him padded up and about to open the
batting, others place him in the nets or merely in the pavilion. Enter
W.G.Grace accompanied by brother E.M and burly wicketkeeper Arthur
Bush. Loudly asserting a prior claim on his services, they virtually
kidnapped Midwinter and hustled him off to the Oval to play for
Gloucestershire v Surrey. There was an almighty and quite fascinating
kerfuffle but all that need concern us here is that Midwinter did not
play again for the 1878 Australians or indeed for anybody else that
year after August 16 when a thumb injury ended his season.
wording on the right hand pillar is ‘Willsher’s Xl 159 and below
it (some names are barely decipherable) – Hon.G.R.C.Harris, J Keen,
I Cook, P.Markham, T.Swenny (or Swiner), F.M.Sulley, A.Myres, S.Mills
(or Myles), T.Myres, P.Setterfield, F (or P.) Bowen (or Bonni). Here
is a glaring anomaly. The first named is clearly one of the most
influential names in the history of cricket, George Robert Canning,
Fourth Baron Harris but he had ceased to be an ‘Hon’ on succeeding
to the title in 1872. The next Hon.G.Harris was not yet born. Of
the rest, none ever played for Kent, for the Chilham Castle team or
for any of the teams who played at the Castle in 1878. Nor do any of
their names appear in the 1881 census as living in Chilham apart from
a 45 year-old farm labourer called Edward Cook.
owner of Chilham Castle in 1878, Colonel Charles Stewart Hardy, was a
future President of Kent County Cricket Club and, like Lord Harris, a
member of the Club Management Committee which in January 1878 had
resolved not to offer the Australians a fixture. Hardy’s own team
– known variously as ‘Chilham Castle’ or ‘Charles Hardy’s Xl’
– undertook a regular programme of matches in July and August
against local clubs, Army teams and other country houses including
Lord Harris’s nearby Belmont. These games were renowned for
sumptuous lunches and considered sufficiently important to merit
printing the full scores, not merely in the local press, but in London
sporting papers such as Bell’s Life.
1878 programme comprised at least 27 matches, played not at the
location indicated in the picture, but in the lower park where a
pavilion had been built into the old park wall A photograph, appearing
to date from no later than the mid 1880s, exists of a match in
progress on this lower park ground.
then to account for the Australians’ supposed opponents being
‘Willsher’s Gentlemen’? Willsher and its variants are common
names in Southern England but the prime candidate must be Kent’s
Edgar Willsher, by 1878 virtually retired from major cricket but still
one of the most famous bowlers in the history of the game. Charles
Stewart Hardy employed several professional cricketers. but Willsher
was not one of them. A benefit match for Willsher has been suggested
but he had already had benefits from MCC and Kent and at the time was
head bowler at Prince’s ground in Chelsea. In any case, with one,
possibly two, exceptions, the Australian tour was a co-operative
venture with the participants each contributing £50 (some sources
quote £100) to cover expenses with profits shared equally. No figures
were published but each was rumoured to have made between £700-£800
with manager Conway pocketing around £1200. In an already overcrowded
itinerary, it is hard to see why the visitors would give up time,
still less hard earned money, for the benefit of an English
professional to whom they had no obligation.
the amount written in the past about both match and picture, until
discrepancies were pointed out by the late Mr Charles Will of the
Chilham Society and Mr Michael Peters F.R.I.C.S. Honorary Archivist at
Chilham Castle, it seems to have escaped notice that the Castle is
portrayed as it appeared in the 18th
century not in 1878. The painter has apparently copied an engraving by
William Watts from Seats
of the Nobility dated 1785, adding the players and
spectators, some of them watching from open windows. Even the shadows
across the windows have been replicated, but the small pinnacled
outbuilding and adjoining crenellated wall shown in the painting had
vanished by 1878, replaced by a substantial service wing erected by
Charles Stewart Hardy's father in 1863, which does not appear. The
trees surrounding the keep and along the mansion walls have not grown
in the intervening 90 plus years and the artist seemingly failed to
notice, at the bowler's end of the wicket, the huge holm oak (still
dominating the site) which, at the time of the supposed match, was
already about 90 years old !
accommodate the match, the space available has been painted to appear
rather larger than it is. In fact the boundaries would have been
very short, hardly conducive to a proper game of cricket. If the
crenellated wall in the foreground ever existed, there are no traces
of it now; the artist seems to have placed it upon the 18th century
ha-ha which cuts across the park at about this point.
is unlikely that the artist ever actually saw the Australians. The
fielding side wear red and white striped caps and sashes. Several
sources including Horan’s scrapbook and a famous, still much
reproduced, cartoon of Spofforth in the July 1878 issue of Vanity
that the tourists wore blue and white striped caps, sashes and
blazers. Matching caps for a scratch ‘home’ side seem unlikely.
The captain David Gregory and wicketkeeper Jack Blackham sported
conspicuous bushy black beards. By August 1878 the tall, thin
Mephistophelean Spofforth was probably the most recognisable cricketer
in England after W.G.Grace. There is no obvious attempt to show any of
them in the picture. The batsmen appear even less like the
Australians. They look distinctly rustic, wearing low crowned
‘billycock’ hats, out of fashion among cricketers for a decade or
more, and brown boots. One has brown pads, the other a brown
still surface from time to time apparently believing that the game
took place as some sort of unofficial extra fixture, notwithstanding
the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Two eminent cricket
historians, knowledgeable enough to know better, have suggested that
the match took place on the next Australian tour in 1880. Even
ignoring the date inscribed on the wall, Conway, Gregory, Allan,
Charles Bannerman and Bailey only toured once. The 1880 tour was
similarly well documented; the team’s only appearance in Kent (just)
was at Crystal Palace.
an attempt to keep the myth alive it is sometimes suggested that
the Australians may have played at Chilham – in other words the team
might have played two matches in one day. This is nonsense. There were
only twelve original tourists, reduced to eleven with Midwinter’s
abduction. To cover for injuries, manager Conway, who had played
first-class cricket in Australia, and a number of expatriate
Australians were from time to time drafted in but usually only singly.
Three substitutes were brought in for the final game of the tour at
Sunderland and on four other occasions, all in the North of England or
in Scotland, there were two.
“centenary” cricket match, ‘The Lord Massereene’s Xl v a Kent
Xl ‘, was staged for charity in, somewhat eccentrically, 1987 rather
than 1978. At the time Viscount Massereene and Ferrard owned Chilham
Castle and the programme featured the painting on the front cover.
Included was a note that the game ‘is not amongst the officially
arranged matches and therefore was no doubt a private affair’. In
provided for the occasion, Kent’s Joint Curator the late Chris
Taylor stated that the 1878 match
‘was arranged by Lord
Massereene, the father
of the present
title holder’ - quite
an achievement for a child aged five, who at the time was living at
the family home in Ireland. The Massereene family moved to
Chilham in 1949.
conversation, Taylor subsequently informed the writer that he
understood Lord Massereene’s grandfather played in the match which
had taken place when the match at Hastings finished early. On the face
of it, had Lord Massereene been visiting rural Kent in 1878, this
sounds plausible. Lord Harris was one of five Kent players in the
Hastings Eighteen and in his autobiographical A
Few Short Runs
mentions the match as his first encounter with the Australians.
Several such extra matches were played to fill up time during the
tour. One was staged at Hove in the very next fixture when Sussex lost
in two days. But they were invariably played on the original ground
and in any case the facts do not fit. Local papers carry full accounts
of the match which was much interrupted by rain – far from being a
‘halcyon summer’ most of 1878 was wet, cold, and miserable.
to the Hastings
& St.Leonard’s Independent the
last Hastings wicket fell at 4.30pm There was no train from Hastings
to Ashford (change for Chilham) between 4.15 and 7pm. Hardly time to
stage a match from scratch let alone score almost 350 runs.
any case, according to Horan’s diary, the team caught the 9pm
train from Hastings to Brighton for their meeting with Sussex on the
following day. A further complication; Chilham Castle played a home
match with Lees Court that day.
with the Masseerene connection, it is not clear why or how the then
Lord Masseerene could or would stage a match at Chilham Castle which
at the time was the home of someone
Charles Stewart Hardy. The Masseerene family would not acquire the
Castle for 70 odd years. As for his playing in the match, he is on
record as having scored nineteen for the North of Ireland v I Zingari
at Belfast in 1877 but his name is conspicuously absent from
Willsher’s Xl as listed on the wall in the picture.
Sunday match might seem a possibility to modern eyes but in Victorian
times organised cricket on the Sabbath was virtually unknown apart
possibly from very minor matches, usually on common land. The
Australians were in the North of England on the first three Sundays in
August and at least part of Sunday August 25 was taken up by the
journey from Scarborough to Hastings via London. Of all people, Lord
Harris is among the least likely to have played on a Sunday and it is
equally unlikely that Charles Stewart Hardy, a pillar of the church,
would allow the use of his land. And of course, there could be no gate
money. The Australians themselves went to considerable lengths to
emphasise their equality with the English in terms of behaviour and
are no more credible as possible Sabbath breakers.
question remains – Who painted the picture and, more bafflingly,
why? The signature 'W.A.N.' on the picture has been provisionally
linked by the National Library of Australia Pictorial Section to
William Andrews Nesfield (1793-1881), a distinguished water colour
artist with a penchant for cascades and waterfalls. The painting
however is oil on canvas with not a drop of water in sight and
Nesfield had abandoned serious painting in favour of up-market
landscape gardening. He had a hand in the design of St James’s Park
and parts of Kew Gardens but not, so far as is known, the grounds of
Chilham Castle. He would have been 85 in 1878.
is one, albeit tenuous, link which might provide a clue to ‘Why?’
Nesfield had a son, a distinguished architect who also painted and had
designed some of the gardens at Doddington Place not far away. He was
educated at Eton as were Lord Harris and Charles Stewart Hardy.
However unlikely it seems, could the painting have originated as an
obscure in-joke among Old Etonians? It might at least explain Harris
still being shown as an Hon. Unfortunately for the theory Nesfield
junior’s initials were WEN.
possible explanations are even more unlikely. An illustration for a
long forgotten short story?
Possibly if it were a pen and ink sketch but not a 38cm x 50.7
cm oil painting. The same applies if it was an advertisement for a
match which never took place. And how to explain the scores or the
absence of press coverage? Barring miracles, it seems that, so far as
‘Why?’ is concerned, the riddle will remain wrapped, the mystery
unsolved and the enigma unexplained.
who have bravely persevered this far are unlikely to be surprised to
learn that the tale has a further twist. There is another picture.
Attributed to T.Bristow, it shows the 1878
Australians v the Gentlemen of Kent & Surrey ‘near Faversham’.
The background is nondescript but again the fielders wear red and
white caps, most of the objections to the Chilham picture apply and in
the same way the game can only be a figment of someone’s
imagination. The painting, said to have been at one time at Lord’s,
appears in full colour in
Jeremiah Coleman’s The
Noble Game of Cricket and
in monochrome in Neville Cardus’s
this perhaps provide a clue? Was there a lucrative niche market for
such pictures among gullible collectors?
Demon Spofforth New South Wales University Press,1990.
Cricketer September 1923 page 10.
Harris, Lord. - A
few short runs. J.Murray 1921.
scores & biographies Vol X1V. Longmans & CO, 1895, reprinted
Roger Heavens, 2003
Lillywite’ Cricketers’ Companion 1879
Moyes A.G. – Australian
cricket, a history. Angus & Robertson, 1959.
Pollard, Jack – The
formative years of Australian cricket 1803-1893 - Angus &
(Argus) – The
Australian Cricketers’ Tour of Australia, New Zealand & Great
Britain, 1878 – Sydney 1878, reprinted J.W.McKenzie, 1980.
Swanton, E.W. and
Taylor, Christopher H. - Kent
cricket a photographic history 1744-1984
edition, Geerings, 1988
diary. The Australian touring team 1877-1879 – Association of
Cricket Statisticians & Historians, 2001.
Wisden’s Cricketer’ Almanack, 1879.
national and local papers including The
Australasian, Bell’s Life in London. Hastings & St Leonard’s
Independent, Hastings & St Leonard’s News. Kentish Express,
Kentish Gazette, Kentish News, Sussex Times, The Times, Westminster
The back lawn of the castle
as it was at the time
The Victorian service wing is behind the big holm oak (planted
which would have stood mid-wicket
Photo kindly given by Michael Peters Archivist at
recent marketing of the willow wood at the corner of Mountain
Street leads to speculation about its ancient name.
now parcelled with neighbouring Upper Pike Shot, this rather wet
tract used to be known as Running Field Mead.
Was it once dry enough for racing ?
Did it adjoin a Running Field ?
Is there some connexion with the races once held on the
Running Field at Old Wives Lees ?
codicil to his will of 1638, an afterthought, Sir Dudley Digges
laid down that £20 should be set aside from the quit rents of 40
acres in the Manor of Selgrave – his recent acquisition between
Faversham & Sheldwich. This
bequest provided prize money for “a tye” or
race to be run at Chilham each year on 19th May, anniversary of Sir Dudley's birth, when he directed also that the
church bells should be rung in celebration - Sir Dudley was no
shrinking violet !
would be “a
young man and a young maiden of good conversation between the ages
of 16 and 24” chosen by “the Lord of
Dudley's successors] or
in his absence the Vicar, with the advice of four of the best
a couple chosen by “the
Lord of Faversham or in his absence the Mayor, with the advice of
four of the Jurats”
young man and the young maiden who should prevail, should each
that, in later centuries, eliminating heats for the Chilham pair
took place at Old Wives Lees on 1st
May on the land still called the Running Field, and, for the
Faversham pair, on the following Monday on Sheldwich Lees.
until about 1850, the final was at Old Wives Lees, but where was
it at first ?
Chilham, as Sir Dudley directed ?
James Colebrooke diverted the northern stretch of Mountain Street
away from his castle gardens, newly acquired from Sir Dudley's
descendants. A high
wall along the new boundary excluded the plebs.
(More of this another time)
earlier times, might the Digges family have celebrated their
ancestors' birthday with the local populace, watching the race on
land which Colebrooke enclosed within the castle park, alongside
Running Field Mead ?
Michael H Peters April
in Mountain Street
toads of Mountain Street mentioned in Don Poole's recent parish
magazine article, reminded me that, shortly before Don's arrival,
Henry Fearon in “The Pilgrimage to Canterbury” [1956
Associated Newspapers Ltd], named this quiet lane “the Road of the Thousand
& One Toads”
If Charing is beautiful (and no one will deny it that) then Chilham, which lies farther on
along the road, is glorious. For myself, I would not like to choose between the relative
attractions of the two villages ! Both were loved by the pilgrims as they journeyed on their
way to Canterbury, and both, I know, will be loved by those who follow in
their footsteps - now. We come to Chilham by a curious road, rising steeply from the
forest—that same " narrow, hollow steep Way" which Erasmus mentions, with " a
cragged steep bank on either side, so that you can't escape it "; but for me this road has special
charms, and it is one I come to every year—when spring arrives—for a strange and
For this is the Road of the Thousand and One Toads, and here it is that toads breed in
such profusion that, at times, it is impossible to walk along the road without stepping on
them. The farm-carts which use the lane down to the forest cause havoc, and the slaughter of toads
is quite terrific ; but for centuries the Toads of Kent have come to Chilham to be born, and for centuries, I hope, they will continue in this admirable practice. Every year, I
put a couple in my pocket as I pass this way, and I may claim to have as fine a
collection of Chilham Toads as anyone in England !
The pilgrims, incidentally, took a toad with them as well, though what its virtue was, I do not know; but
it takes a man of humble heart to love a toad, and probably this was the reason!
Though the toads, like Chilham's herons, have all but vanished, this
peaceful spot is not without interest to those with a sense of
More of this anon................
Michael H. Peters January 2008
Walking along Mountain Street,
people might wonder why there are railings on a stretch of the
They were erected around
1730 by James Colebrooke, who in 1722 acquired the estate followed
in 1724 by the castle & grounds.
Before Colebrooke came
here, the old Canterbury to Ashford road ran from Bagham extending Hambrook Lane
straight on, below the castle gardens, before
swinging south & west to Mountain Street & Godmersham.
Craving greater privacy,
Colebrooke diverted the road southeastwards away from his garden
to a point midway between the river Stour & the castle - about ¼ mile - a measurement sometimes in those
days expressed as 80
rods, poles or perches. (In 1750 the parish border between Chilham
& Selling was measured in rods).
allow unobstructed views up to the castle from outside the new
enclosure, the new boundary wall was lowered for 80
yards making a “claire-voie” topped for security with railings set between urn-capped pillars.
the realigned road, a new avenue occupied about 5 acres (or 800 square perches).
Identified on old field maps
Walks”, it sliced through the random patchwork of ancient field
boundaries - twin parallels running half way across the meadows
towards the riverside.
the roadside was a lay-by, (perhaps England's first) where
travellers could “park” their carriages to admire this
remarkable example of 18th century
landscaping, whose entire length, to its outer boundaries,
enclosed an overall area of some 20 acres (80
top of the vista centred on a hexagonal corner buttress of white
stone on the south wing of the house & at the bottom, (where
decades later “Capability” Brown proposed to “enlarge” the
river) the angle of this stretch of the Stour suggests
that its course may have been changed to bring it within 880 yards of the castle's top terrace.
We can consider
Colebrooke's apparent obsession with number 8 some other time.
of the “Broad Walks” boundaries have survived, but otherwise,
little remains of this remarkable concept except the claire-voie
railing & the pillars once capped with urns, which (it is
thought) now grace the castle's entrance lodges in the village
Michael H Peters June 2008
Stables In Front Of The Castle
At the head of the old road to
Shottenden (enclosed within the castle park in 1777) stands the
century stable block. Across
the road is its modern successor built in 2003/4
Of their predecessors, there are no
remains above ground.
We know nothing of the mediaeval
stables, but records do survive of those which stood on the
forecourt until about 200 years ago.
Including coach house,
grooms' quarters & granary, the building, shaped
like a huge capital F, lay just inside the castle gate.
Though convenient for the transfer of
its main product to the adjacent gardeners' yard & the kitchen
garden beyond, the building's location would have been all too
obvious to those in the house when wind blew from the north-east.
Clearly the stables were in the wrong place, but until
Thomas Heron bought Chilham in 1774, they were at least screened
by an avenue of lime trees between the entrance from the square
& the castle's grand gated forecourt.
Influenced by Lancelot “Capability” Brown,
Heron preferred an open circular drive.
He destroyed the gated forecourt & felled the lime
avenue, exposing the nondescript hotch-potch of buildings to stark
prominence, spoiling the front prospect of the house & the
skyline of the view from the valley below.
Having realised his mistake,
Heron found himself unable to afford the stables' removal.
Improvising a cheap alternative, he screened them from
Colebrooke's vista (but not from the house) with a clump of trees
planted beside the bowling green - the quiet garden as it is now
of the estate made in 1792 for James Wildman, prior to his
purchase from Heron reads:
whole of the Buildings are in good repair except the Coach-House
and Stables, which are too near the House, and probably have been
neglected, owing to the removal of them being under
Wildman executed the plan, building a new block
tucked away behind the keep; enlarged in the 1860s by Charles
Hardy, it was sold off at the end of the last century &
converted to dwellings now called Stable
H Peters July 2008
Brigades & Fire Marks
the front wall of old buildings, there is sometimes displayed a fire
mark - an old metal plate (or a fake modern one) showing the badge of a
company which used to provide insurance against fire.
municipal & county fire brigades became the norm, some insurance
companies ran their own. It is often said that, long ago, when few
houses displayed names or street numbers, these fire marks identified
the buildings where the relevant company's brigade would fight a fire
– presumably leaving all others to burn to ashes.
alarmist tales were not discouraged by insurance companies –
they did no harm to business ! However, the prime purpose of a
fire mark was advertising - to attract more insurance premiums.
with a burning building, surely no brigade would refuse to help if the
fire mark of its own company was nowhere to be seen (perhaps obscured by
smoke or dislodged by the consuming blaze). Every fireman would be more
concerned with dousing smoke & flame (& saving lives &
property) than looking for a small metal label on the building's wall.
essence of insurance has always been mutual assistance. In 1890,
when fire broke out in the vicarage stable at Selling, both Faversham's
brigades, (the Kent Fire Office & the Sun Insurance Office) turned
of a Kent Fire Office meeting dated 26th April 1808 tell us
that “Expenses are incurred by extinguishing fire regarding
property not insured by the Institution” This company was
founded at Sittingbourne in 1802. One of its founding directors
was James Wildman (owner of Chilham castle 1794 - 1816). The rate
for insuring Mr Wildman's castle was fixed at 2s 3½d per cent (about
11.5p) By comparison, the rate for churches was 2s 9d % (just
under 14p) & for thatched farmhouses 4s 7d % (about 23p)
castle's fire pump used to be displayed to visitors in its own fire
station within the park. The fire pump, we are told, went to
Challock, when the building was sold off & became a dwelling –
lately it has been offered for sale again.
regardless of fire marks & private fire pumps, we all depend upon
the bravery & expertise of Kent Fire & Rescue Service, including
of course Chilham's own dedicated brigade.
Let us thank God for such people.
Michael H Peters December