Shottenden

Like Old Wives Lees. Shottenden is a downland village, situated close to the highest point in the Parish, near its north-west boundary. It is an ancient hamlet and recorded references go back as far as 1175. It has some 80 households and until the development of Old Wives Lees, was the second largest community in the Parish, at one time boasting a school. a choral society, a village shop and post office, an inn, a chapel and even fielding its own football team. With the closure of the public house in 1994, the last of these has now gone.

Originally the hunting ground - literally the 'Shooting Down' - for the neighbouring manors, Shottenden has long retained a strongly rural bias and, until comparatively recent times, all but a handful of the village community were employed directly or indirectly on the local farms. Today, only a fraction of the local population is still thus engaged. Virtually all the smallholdings which were once the backbone of the community have been absorbed into the three large farming businesses that remain. whilst the processes of mechanisation and the switch from direct employment to casual labour have eroded the remaining employment opportunities on the land.

The former farmhouses and cottages which form the core of the village are complemented by some relatively modern private and council-owned homes but only four new homes have been completed in the past 20 years. The absence of shops and other amenities and the decline in local employment opportunities are disincentives to further development, but the greater constraint is undoubtedly the limitations of the public services. The village still has no main drainage and no gas supply. As elsewhere, there is no local Police presence and for schooling and medical care, residents have to look to Chilham or beyond. A new bus service has been introduced but as yet this does not offer coordinated public transport connections with the towns on which the community is now dependent for household supplies.

Shottenden has perhaps yet to find a new purpose and the infrastructure with which to sustain it, but the change in its fortunes is not necessarily regarded by its residents as adverse. To many of those with employment outside the village (who now comprise almost 80% of the working population) and to those who have retired in the area, the rural quiet and beauty of their home surroundings have considerable appeal. The changing pattern of employment has also seen the emergence in the community of a number of small-scale enterprises, and there seems some reason to suppose that, given the necessary element of public support, a thriving rural community could again evolve.

Text from Chilham Parish Appraisal1996