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The villages which occupy a crescent-shaped area around the Borough of Dover being independent centres of local life and local settlement, have each their own story to tell of the incidents and vicissitudes of the Nineteenth Century. We cannot hope to set down here in anything like completeness the special events which have in these villages varied the monotony of routine daily life during the last hundred years. Miss Mitford’s charming story of “Our Village” is an example of what there is of interest in village life to record when the pen is dictated to by an intelligent mind and a sympathetic heart. The story of "Our Dover villages,” told after the Mitford manner, would afford matter for a year’s writing rather than for one article. Such a task cannot be undertaken now, our immediate purpose being to gather up a few salient points, and to illustrate by a few apt comparisons the changes which a hundred years has wrought in the villages which in 1800 stood around Dover, viz.,











Langdon, E.

Langdon, W.




St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe




West Cliffe




Some of these villages have grown, some declined, while others have been merged with Dover.



This village, which lies four miles west-by-north from Dover, is sufficiently away from the railway and the main road to maintain an old-time and rural aspect. At the beginning of the century its population was just under 500, and being now, according to the last census, 593, it will be seen that the increase has been about one inhabitant a year. These numbers include South Alkham, Woolverton, Chilton, and Drellingore, where the noted intermittent spring or Nailburn used to rise, but it is anticipated that owing to the sinking of a well there to supply the town of Folkestone, it will rise no more. In the year 1800 the Alkham Manors and their possessors were: Hall Court, Mr. Smith, yeoman, Jane Ayerst and the Rev. R. G. Ayerst, in undivided third parts; Hoptons, Peter Fector, Everings; the Byrcho family; Halton and Woolverton, the Earl of Radnor. The Earl of Radnor is still a landowner and the Lord of the Manor. The principal additions to the buildings in the parish during the century have been the schools in 1862, the Wesleyan Chapel, and the restoration of the North Chapel of the Parish Church. There have during the century been a good many instances of extreme old age at Alkham, which is regarded as a salubrious village. The Rev. J. C. W. Valpy, who has been Vicar since 1882, recently resigned, and his successor is not yet appointed.



This was a rural village at the beginning of the century, situated a mile and a half from Dover, but is now included in that Municipal Borough. Local historians have sought to prove that the name of this village was originally Bookland from its lands being mentioned in Doomsday Book. It may be mentioned that there are twenty parishes in England named Buckland, the largest number being in Devonshire. In Bailey’s old English Dictionary the name of the town of Buckingham is said to be taken because of the abundance of beech trees that grew there, and the various Bucklands might have been named for the same reason. Buckland was a very small village at the beginning of the century, the inhabitants numbering about 400. At the census of 1821 they had reached 693. In 1861 the number was 1843, in 1891 the population of the parish had grown to 4,284, and now with the large increase of houses the population in tho census to be taken next April will probably amount to 6,000. Buckland Church was restored and enlarged in 1851, and again in 1880, the ancient yew tree at its west end being successfully transplanted on the latter occasion. Also should be mentioned the Wesleyan Chapel, erected in 1810 on the east side of London road (now used as a Sunday School), the Centenary Wesleyan Chapel erected in 1839.



This is a parish about four miles from Dover. It lies upon the hills, but there is a good area of fertile land around the Church, which is dedicated to St. Mary’s, but has always been deemed to be a Chapel to the Church of Alkham. At the beginning of the century the principal landowners were, Mr. Hughes Minet, Mr. Robert Finnis, and the Rev. R.G. Ayerst. The population at that time was about 150 persons, and according to the census of 1821 it was 195. In 1861 the inhabitants numbered 193, and in 1891 it had increased 292. The Church is in a solitary situation, the houses being scattered throughout the parish. The fabric of the Church has been in recent years much improved. The principal landowners now are, the Morris family and the Earl of Radnor. The Rev. J. C. W. Valpy, who held the living since 1881, has recently resigned it.



This parish, which now forms part of the Borough of Dover was at the beginning of the century an extra municipal village, but was partly within the Liberties of Dover. Charlton is rather a common-place name. There are 25 parishes so designated in England, namely, two in Kent, one in Hants, three in Gloucester, seven in Somerset, one in Hants, one in Sussex, three in Wilts, one in Worcester, four in Northumberland, one in Oxford, and one in Dorset. The population of Charlton-next-Dover was 656 at the beginning of the century, in 1821 it had increased to 790. In the 40 years between that date and 1861 the growth of Charlton was phenomenal, the population then numbering 4093, and at the census of 1891 the number of the people was 7,763. Amongst tho public buildings that have been erected or enlarged in the parish of Charlton during the century are the enlargement of the old Church in 1821 to afford 250 free seats towards which the Incorporated Church Society contributed 200; and the Wesleyan School Chapel at Tower Hamlets in 1850. About the year 1850 Schools were erected adjoining the Charlton Churchyard, and they have since been removed and a boys’ school erected in Granville street, and a girls’ school at the corner of Barton road. The Primitive Methodist Chapel in Peter street was erected in 1860. About the year 1871 an iron Church was built in Tower Hamlets. After that had prepared the way, St. Bartholomew’s Church was built and a district allotted to it out of the Parish of Charlton, and some four years ago the old Parish Church of Charlton, which stood by the river, was removed on the consecration of the handsome Parish Church now there.



This village is situated five miles north-west-by-north from Dover. The Manor of Coldred was anciently a part of the estate of the Maison Dieu at Dover, but is now in tho possession of tho Earl of Guilford. At the beginning of the century the population was about a hundred persons, and in 1821 the number had increased to 125; in the following 40 years there was only an increase of 9, the return in 1861 being 134, and in the 30 years following 27 had been added, the last census in 1891 returning 161 persons. Coldred has the reputation of being a very healthy place, and several of the inhabitants have exceeded the age of 100 years, and in the last century during seven consecutive years no one died in the parish. The Church of St. Pancras, which was restored in 1890, affords sittings for 88 persons. The principal part of the population is at Cokdred street, half a mile north. The school accommodation is at Shepherdswell.



Denton is a decaying village, its population having steadily declined since the beginning of the century. In 1800 the inhabitants numbered over 200, and prior to that it had a great reputation as being the locale of the ancient home of the Ingoldsby family. Tho well known Legends were, it is stated, written at Tappington Everard in this parish, by the Rev. Richard Harris Barham, a native of Canterbury. The decline of Denton doubtless arises from its secluded situation. The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the midst of a plantation of firs adjoining Denton Court is far from other buildings, and the whole place is off the line of human intercourse. In 1821 the population had fallen to 197. Forty years later it had dropped to 183, in 1871 it had further declined to 153, and at the census of 1891 the inhabitants numbered 144. Denton is a name that is found in various parts of England, and there are fourteen parishes bearing that designation, and with the exception of Denton in Northumberland and Denton in Lancashire, they all number their population with three figures, and some with two, so that our Denton is not exceptional. One of the things which Denton has done to celebrate the close of the Nineteenth Century is the recovering of an ancient right of way which was lost about the end of the last century. The Rector, the Rev. A. R. With, having by careful research discovered that there had been an ancient path from Denton Court drive across the pasture to the Churchyard he perseveringly worked for two years to recover it for the use of the parishioners, and it was first used on the 23rd September, 1894. There are no schools in this parish, the children attending a joint school at Selsted in the parish of Swingfield.



Ewell is a pretty village three miles from Dover, partly on the London road and partly on a lower parallel road beside the river Dour which rises in the parish at a place very appropriately named Watersend. Some suppose that the fact of the head of the Dour being held in its hollow basin gave the root idea from which the name of the village is derived. The village, both from its appearance and its traditions seems to be very ancient. The Knights Templars had possessions here. At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century the population was 303,in 1821 it had reached 340, forty years later in 1861 the number had reached 492, in the next ten years it had grown to 557, but in the last twenty years the increase lias been slower, the population in 1891 being but 556. The ruins of the Knight Templars’ House at the end of the Eighteenth Century were in the possession of Dr. William Osborn, of Old Park. The Church was restored in 1871, and three years earlier the Schools were erected at a cost of 900 for 128 children. The village is close to Kearsney Station of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. By a recent resolution of the Parish Council the name of the village has been legally changed to Temple Ewell, and the new designation has been recognised by the General Post Office. About five years ago two new cloak rooms were added to the schools at a cost of 80.



Eythorne is a pretty salubrious village lying six miles from Dover six miles from Dover on an undulating site beyond Waldershare Park. There are two manors in the parish, Eythorne and Elmington, which at the beginning of the century were in the possession of the Earl of Guilford and Mr. David Papillon, and they remain still in the same families. In the last century the living was held by one of the family of the Minets, of Dover, and during the present century from 1809 till 1872 the Rev. G. H. T. Farbrace was the Rector for the exceptionally long period of 63 years. Until about 1894 the Rev. A. L. Palmes was rector, and he was succeeded by the Rev. Basil Burrows, who is rector at the present time. There is at Eythorne a Baptist Chapel, which has existed since the days of the Five Mile Act when British subjects were not allowed to meet for worship except in accordance with the Established Church within five miles of a corporate town. Eythorne being “five miles from everywhere” became a great rendezvous of the Non-conformists, and the large chapel which was filled in those days, still has a large congregation of Free Churchmen. The national schools built in 1891 affords accommodation for 90 children. The population of Eythorne has been all through the century nearly stationary. At the beginning there were 390 inhabitants, and at the last census the number was 439.



Guston is a village on high land about three miles north of Dover. Guston Court, the School, and several ancient dwellings are nestled round the Church of St. Martin, but other parts of the population are in scattered dwellings extending as far as Swingate on the Deal road. In the first and second decades of the century the population was about 200. In 1801 the number had increased to 430, in 1871 the number was 457, and at the last census the number was 650. The increase of the last twenty was abnormal owing to the establishment of a Convict Prison within the parish, which, although now closed, has added to the population, and 59 of the inhabitants were soldiers occupying Fort Burgoyne. Much of the land of this parish, which used to be under cultivation, is now held by the War Department for military purposes.



This parish adjoins Dover, and part of it was anciently within its Liberties. The parochial limits include part of the Western Heights, Shakespeare Cliffe and the Priory, but the village lies on the hill about three miles distant, consisting of two parts, West Hougham and Church Hougham. Owing to the parish including a military element the population returns have greatly fluctuated. In the first decade of the century the population was about 750,and in 1821 it was returned as 834. These figures included persons within Dover and soldiers. The population of rural Hougham did not exceed 300 at the beginning of the century, and in 1861 it was returned as 572, and in 1871 it had decreased to 455. At the last census it had advanced again to 533. The rural population is still less than it was forty years ago. The Church pleasantly situated on the hill has an interesting history, the register dating from the year 1603. Under the present Vicar, the Rev. E. R. Orger, M.A., the Church has been restored and enlarged. The parish of Christ Church, Dover, was formed out of Hougham in 1844, and negotiations are now proceeding for further dividing it to form a new parish of St. Martin’s in Dover. Some years ago the proposed Channel Tunnel was started on the seaward side of the parish, and there also coal has been found by boring, and shafts are being sunk. At West Hougham there is a Wesleyan Chapel. A national school was built in 1863 with accommodation for 90 children. For many years the principal landmark in this parish has been the windmill.



This is a small village and parish three miles north of Dover, having a Church, the benefice of which is a rectory in the gift of Lord Guilford, who is Lord of the Manor. The population of the parish has declined. In the beginning of the century it was 350, in 1861 it had increased to 362, and at the last census it was returned as 321. There was anciently a fair in the Parish, on May Day, and in the year 1821 there was a workhouse there for the joint use of neighbouring parishes, and the inmates were employed in spinning and weaving. The Church is old, and there is preserved within it an ancient cope of crimson velvet richly embroidered with a representation of the Annunciation. When the Church was restored in the year 1892 this relic was carefully repaired and mounted in an oak framed glass case, and hangs on the wall of the south aisle. The Rector during whoso time the restoration took place is the Rev. James Lindsay, M.A. The previous rector was a brother of Dr. Astley, of Dover. A national school for 96 children was built here in 1872, and a Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1875.



This small parish adjoins East Langdon. At the beginning of the century it had a population of 87, and at the census of 1801 it had increased to 106, but at the last census it had fallen to 97. There is a Congregational Chapel in the village. The ancient, Church of St. Mary’s was in ruins at the beginning of the century, but was rebuilt in the year 1809, and is annexed to Whitfield and Waldershare. The parish is chiefly noted for its ancient abbey of which little now remains, and it also enjoys the advantage of a nourishing modern dairy established on the site of the abbey.



This village is situated on the London road five miles from Dover in a valley amidst picturesque hills. In the second decade of the Nineteenth Century the population was 149, in 1861 it had increased to 198, and at the last census was returned as 170. The Church was restored soon after the present Vicar, the Rev. John Larking Latham, M.A., came into office, at a cost of 890. Mr. Latham is the son of a late Dover banker and alderman. The present occupier of Lydden Court is Mr. Henry Woodland, who has for many years represented the parish on the Board of Guardians and on the Rural District Council. A national school was built in this village in 1870 to accommodate 40 children.



This is a small parish five miles north from Dover, on the way to Deal. The principal residence is Oxney Court, the seat of Mr. W. J. Banks, J.P., who is the sole landowner. In the second decade of the century the population was returned as 11, in 1861 the number was 12, but at the last census it had increased to 31. There is no church at Oxney, but there are the ruins of one in the grounds of Oxney Court. For ecclesiastical purposes the parish is annexed to Ringwould.



This, though not the smallest parish in the neighbourhood, has the smallest population, the number according to the last census being 27. At the beginning of the century the number was 29. The decrease in numbers finds its counterpart in the decay that has taken place in the institution of the parish, but that set in earlier than the nineteenth century. The once famous abbey of St. Radigund, which sent representatives to Parliament in the time of Edward I., went to ruin soon after that sturdy rogue, Henry VIII., seized its revenues. There is a stone in the valley about half a mile south of the abbey which states that St. Mary’s Church, which was intact in 1523, stood there. There are still left some picturesque ruins of the abbey, but the church is only a memory. The 27 inhabitants find occupation on the two farms in which the 27 acres of the parish are mainly divided. Recently two brickfields have been started at St. Radigund’s, the earth there being well adapted for the purpose.



The parish of River now adjoins, and a portion of it is within the Borough of Dover. The parish contains the fashionable suburb of Crabble, where numerous residences and bungalows occupy the hill which overlooks the Dour. Kearsney Abbey, now the property of Mr. C. W. Curtis, is in the parish. At the beginning of the century it was called Kearsney Court, and the present mansion was built by Mr. J. M. Fector, who in the early part of the century, represented Dover in Parliament. There are two paper mills in the parish, and it is the headquarters of the River and District Co-operative Society, one of the largest trading concerns of that kind in the provinces. The Church of St. Peter’s was rebuilt in 1832, and was restored in 1870 at a cost of about 700. The village is lighted with gas from Dover. It has a Parish Room, a Wesleyan Chapel, and a Board School built in 1874 for 105 children. In this parish there was a joint Workhouse, which was superseded when the Dover Union was formed in 1834. Subsequently the River Workhouse became a Dissenting Meeting House for a time, but that was suppressed by authority, as the following note, which we have found in an old book, indicates:—

Goodnestone Park, August 31st. 1841.

Dear Sir,—I have received a letter from Mr. Plater complaining that the old Union Workhouse at River is used as a meeting house by some Dissenters. Will you be so good as to make enquiry into the matter, and stop the nuisance, as, of course, it is incumbent on the trustees to prevent its being perverted to such a purpose.

M. Kennett, Esq.



The population of River in 1821, at the time when the above-named Workhouse was in existence, was 701, and must have included the inmates of that place, for notwithstanding; the growth of the village otherwise, the population in 1861 was but 445. In 1871 the number was 552, and at the last census it had increased to 818.



This parish, which is still officially called Sibertswould, is situated over the north-west end of the railway tunnel which commences at Lydden, and after piercing the hills a distance of a mile and a third, debouches on the Canterbury side of the village, where there is the Shepherdswell Railway Station. It is singular that the population of the parish had not been up to the time of taking the last census much increased by the railway facilities which it obtained in 1861. The inhabitants in 1821 numbered 229, in 1861 411, in 1871 504, and in 1891 520. Since the taking of the last census there have been some building developments. Prior to the recent new buildings the house; in The Terrace were regarded as the best in the village, and are used to some extent for summer visitors. The Church of St. Andrew was rebuilt in 1863, and a Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1870. Before the building of the chapel the Wesleyan Methodists held services in Rose Cottage, which was burnt down last week. When the tunnel to Shepherdswell was bored, a large block of detached coal was found embedded in the chalk at the level of the bottom of the tunnel. There have been many theories as to how the coal came there, the most probable being that it came from a denuded coal seam, and was carried there in the glacial period. The fact that there an coal seams in the vicinity increases the probability of this theory. The Rev. Thoma Falkner, M.A., has been the Vicar since 1893. A learned divine, the Rev. Richard Blackett de Chair, LL.B., was Vicar of the parish 37 years, dying in the year 1851, aged 90. The National Schools, built in 1851, afford accommodation for 94 children. There is a post and telegraph office in the village, the Sub-Postmaster being Mr. Richard Coppen.



St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe is a very pleasant village situated about half a mile from the sea with St. Margaret’s Bay in a recess of the cliffs, forming a very pleasant marine resort. At the beginning of the century there wore in this parish 419 inhabitants; in 1821 the number had increased to 613; ten years later there was an addition of one hundred save one, but in the ten years ending 1841 the increase had been slower, the total then being 748. In 1871 the population was 820, and at the last census of 1891 the number was 828. This, of course, is the standing population, but in the summer months the visitors are very numerous. The celebrated South Foreland Lighthouses are in this parish, which first afforded a coal fire illumination, then that of an oil light, and now electricity is the illuminant. The parish is supplied with water from the East Kent Waterworks, and has urban powers, which will in the future be exercised to properly control the building operations which are about to commence on several estates. The Nations Schools in this parish to accommodate 140 children, were built in 1847. The church is an ancient and most interesting structure, the present Vicar being the Rev. F. Case, M. A. The old custom of ringing the curfew bell is continued in this parish from November to March. The village is connected with Dover by telegraph and telephone, and Mr. J. E. Madge is the Sub-Postmaster. The principal hotels for visitors are the Granville Arms and the St. Margaret’s Bay Hotel.



Ringwould village is situated in open country on the Deal-road, about six miles from Dover. It is an ancient place, and is a part of the Liberties of Dover. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the population was nearly 500, and in 1861 the number had increased to 846, which, however, includes the inhabitant of the fishing hamlet of Kingsdown. Since then the population has declined, the number at the last census being but 709, 437 dwelling at Kingsdown. The schools at Ringwould, built in 1860, accommodate 90 children. Ringwould Church is ancient, but the one at Kingsdown was built in 1850 at a cost, including endowment, of 4,500, the gift of the late Mr. William Curling. There is a National School at Kingsdown also, built in 1843 for 110 children.



This is a small village with a few houses around the Church on the highway that leads off the Deal road at Swingate to St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe. It is for ecclesiastical purposes annexed to St. Margaret’s. Its population 1821 numbered 52, in 1861 they had increased to 125, at the next census the number was 120 and at the last census the number was 140. At the beginning of the century the land to West Cliffe was owned by the Poynter family, but in the Church there is a memorial to Matthew Gibbon, grandfather of the author of “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" and the Gibbon family once resided at the house opposite the Church. The late Mr. Michael Elwin, who was Mayor of Dover during the early part of the century is buried with other members of the Elwin family in this Churchyard.



Whitfield is a small village on the Sandwich road about three miles from Dover. It is approached from the London road by a long and steep hill which has proved disastrous to many cyclists. This no doubt is an ancient village. The Church register dates from 1585 and the windmill has the appearance of being an old institution, at any rate it must have been utilising the winds of Heaven all through the Nineteenth Century for the purpose of grinding the corn of the neighbouring farmers. The Church contains a monument to the memory of Mr. George Stringer, late of Archer’s Court, who was Mayor of Dover in 1801. That picturesque country seat at the beginning of the century was held by Mr. Phineas Stringer, who was Mayor of Dover in 1782. He held it in grand serjeantry on this very singular condition “ that the owner should hold the King’s head if he happened to be sea-sick in his passage from Dover to Calais,” for which service the silver basin used became his property. Whitfield Church was reopened after restoration on the 1st of November, 1894. There is no school in this parish; the children are accommodated at Waldershare. At West Whitfield there is a Congregational Chapel, and a good many modern pleasant residences. The population of this parish in 1821 was 207; forty years later it had increased to 264, in 1871 it had increased to 315, and at the last census the number was 335.



This parish is mainly noteworthy from the fact that it includes Waldershare Park and Mansion, the seat of the Earl of Guilford. The population has never been large. In the second decade of the century the number was 69, and in the intervening 70 years up to 1891 this number had more than doubled, the population then being 140. The national school built in 1824 affords accommodation for 146 children.



This is a small outlying parish of the Dover Union which in the year 1821 had a population of 138. It is a fact worthy of notice that there are 23 parishes in England named Wootton, distributed in fifteen counties. The name is supposed to be a corruption of Woodtown. This particular Wootton standing in a well timbered park might very appropriately have derived its name from sylvan surroundings. The Church of St. Martins in this village is early English in style, the poor box being dated 1662. The register begins at the year 1446. In 1861 the population had in the previous 40 years increased from 131 to 163, and the 30 years from that time to the census of 1891 there had been a further increase to 181, that is an increase of 50 in 70 years. The children from this parish go to school at Selsted, Swingfield.


Acrise (Ch 59) Adisham (Ch 30) Aldington (Ch 66)
Alkham (Ch 12) Ash (Ch 43) Barfreston (Ch 22)
Barham (Ch 28) Bekesbourne (Ch 37) Betteshanger (Ch 24)
Bishopsbourne (Ch 33) Brabourne (Ch 73) Bridge (Ch 36)
Capel le Ferne (Ch 14) Cheriton (Ch 74) Chillenden (Ch 40)
Coldred (Ch 16) Denton (Ch 9) East Langdon (Ch 5)
Eastry (Ch 45) Elham (Ch 29) Elmstone (Ch 63)
Ewell (Ch 10) Eythorne (Ch 18) Fordwich (Ch 50)
Goodnestone (Ch 39) Great Mongeham (Ch 53) Guston (Ch 6)
Ham (Ch 57) Hawkinge (Ch 58) Hougham (Ch 16)
Kingsdown (Ch  55) Kingston (Ch 38) Knowlton (Ch 41)
Littlebourne (Ch 48) Lydden (Ch 21) Lyminge (Ch 32)
Lympne (Ch 68) Martin (Ch 2) Monks Horton (Ch 71)
Newington (Ch 76) Nonington (Ch 27) Northbourne (Ch 56)
Paddlesworth (Ch 60) Patrixbourne (Ch 34) Postling (Ch 70)
Poulton (Ch 15) Preston (Ch 61) Ringwould (Ch 11)
Ripple (Ch 31) River (Ch 1) Saltwood (Ch 64)
Sellinge (Ch 67) Shepherdswell (Ch 13) Sholden (Ch 54)
Smeeth (Ch 75) St Margarets at Cliffe (Ch 3) Stanford with Westernhanger (Ch 69)
Staple (Ch 42) Stodmarsh (Ch 52) Stourmouth (Ch 62)
Stowting (Ch 72) Sturry (Ch 65) Sutton (Ch 35)
Swingfield (Ch 23) Tilmanstone (Ch 25) Waldershare (Ch 19)
West Cliffe (Ch 4) West Langdon (Ch 8) Whitfield (Ch 7)
Wickhambreaux (Ch 49) Wingham (Ch 46) Wingham (Ch 47)
Womenswold (Ch 26) Woodnesborough (Ch 44) Wootton (Ch 20)
  Worth (Ch 51)  


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