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I cross the road and take the footpath directly opposite.
This path takes me out opposite St Vincents Church in Littlebourne.
The villages 13th century church, St Vincent of Saragossa, is thought to have been founded by the monks of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury and contains an ancient wall painting depicting Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers. The church also has what is reckoned to be one of the finest collection of stained glass windows designed by Nathaniel Westlake in the country. Nathaniel Westlake was a leading designer of the Gothic Revival movement in England.
Work done in 1995 by experts from the V&A Museum established that he designed each of the windows over the long period of his work with the Company, thus giving an outstanding example of the development of his style.
The Church has a six-bell peal, the oldest bell dating back to 1597, the newest 1899.
Next to the church is the Littlebourne Barn.
The present barn at Littlebourne dates from circa.1340 and stands on land owned at that time by St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.
Although reduced in length from its’ original size, it is still 172ft long and 76ft wide and is one of the largest aisled barns still standing in the country.
Having been in continuous agricultural use from its’ earliest beginnings until the 1960’s, the Barn and some surrounding land was acquired by Canterbury City Council in 1991 in order to preserve the building and to make it available to the public.
The Barn is open during the Heritage National Open Days and at various other times during the year. The local committee also organise events, Art shows and Craft Fairs, and can arrange for the hire of the Barn for charitable or non profit-making activities.
The path follows on through the churchyard and out beyond.
The path exits out onto Nargate Street , which I walk down for a bit.
I take a path on my left and follow a path over a field following The Little Stour river.
I am now approaching Wickhambreaux.
Wickhambreaux manor was once part of the extensive portfolio of lands owned by Joan Countess of Kent, wife to Edward of Woodstock, and mother of Richard II. Joan's husband Edward of Woodstock, is popularly known as The Black Prince. His tomb is in Canterbury Cathedral.
Joan was very much a power behind the throne and was well-loved for her influence over the young king. So much so that when she returned to London from a pilgrimage to Canterbury in 1381, and found her way barred by Wat Tyler and his rebels on Blackheath, the mob not only let her through unharmed, but saluted her with kisses and provided an escort for her for the rest of her journey.
In the Domesday Book the village is referred to as Wicheham. The derivation appears to be Anglo Saxon and is formed from Wich (Wich town), meaning coastal trading settlement and Ham, meaning homestead or settlement. Although this is surprising today, in Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England the village was near the mouth of the Little Stour or Lesser Stour, where is entered the Wantsum Channel. This explains the fisheries and salt pans identified in the Domesday Book and the river was at that time easily navigable for ships of the time. Wickhambreaux is the location of the site where one of the first Roman roads in Britain crossed the Little Stour en route from, where the Romans first landed in Britain, Richborough Castle to Canterbury.
An alternative spelling may be Wykham Brewes as seen in 1418, the home of a weaver called John Bourneman. Other places mentioned in the record are Goodneston by Wyngham, Mungeham and Elmestone.
I approach the church of St.Andrews at Wickhambreaux and pass Wickham Mill.
This is a fine large five storey Napoleonic brick and weatherboard building allegedly built in 1808. In 1887 a subsidiary business of making sheet rubber was established here; at one time fourteen pairs of stones were powered by water and steam - this was later reduced to five pairs of stones.
It stopped work in 1940 by water but electricity was used here until 1955 after which the machinery was removed. In 1984 the mill was sold and converted into flats.
|A Pill box by The Little Stour|
|Guineafowl on the loose|
The Street would have been the commercial core of the village and many of the building forms and names still reflect this, however, the village shops have closed over the years.
I walk up Wickham Court Lane and turn right into Grove Road, where I walk up a short distance.
Now grateful to be leaving the farm and its mud, I head over a field.
I cross over Hollybush Lane and into a field opposite.
I leave the path and walk up along Stodmarsh Road towards Stodmarsh.
In 686 king Eadric of Kent gave the manor, consisting of three ploughlands in the marsh called "Stodmersh", to the monastery of St Augustine in Canterbury. In 1270 Henry III extended this by granting free-warren in all their demesne lands of "Stodmarsch" to the abbot.
When the monastery was dissolved in 1537 by Henry VIII the manor fell into the hands of the king, before being granted to John Master of East Langdon six years later who moved to Stodmarsh Court.
Stodmarsh was originally a separate civil parish but was added to Wickhambreaux parish in 1934. It falls into the deanery of Bridge within the diocese of Canterbury.
St Mary is small and consists of a single aisle and chancel. It has a low pointed turret at the western end containing two bells.
This church was originally part of the possessions of the abbey at Canterbury, and remained so until 1243, when the abbot Robert, at the insistence of archdeacon Simon de Langton, granted it to the hospital of poor priests in Canterbury, together with four acres of Stodmarsh, on the condition that they should not demand in future any tithes from the abbey. When the hospital was dissolved in 1575 Elizabeth I gave all its possessions to the city of Canterbury. Stodmarsh church seems not to have been passed to the city but instead fell to the archdeaconry of Canterbury where it still remains.
The church was first built in the 12th and 13th centuries and modernised around 1880. The porch contains notable carvings known as "Crusaders' Crosses". The X-shaped brace that supports the bell turret is believed to be unique in Kent.
Red Lion Public House in Stodmarsh. Originally built in the fifteenth century, it was rebuilt in 1801 after a fire.
On my right was some woodland with lovely wood Anenomes and my first Bluebells of the year.
Now back on track I walk through a field of sheep with their lambs, a sure sign of Spring is finally here.
I am now walking through woodland,full of more spring flowers.
Back on track I follow the slippery muddy path along passing a lake (Westbere Marshes) on my right.
|I needed to duck under as I slipped my way along.|
I leave the mud behind and follow a path into Fordwich.
The ancient Church of St Mary the Virgin, now redundant but open to the public, and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, contains part of a carved sarcophagus reputed to have contained the remains of St Augustine of Canterbury.
It charges £2 entry, I would have gone in, but my boots were filthy and time was pressing on!
Fordwich has been the subject for a series of children's books by author F.J. Beerling. Inspired by the beautiful Kentish countryside and against the backdrop of the river Stour, Beerling fell in love with the old-world charm that Fordwich has, along with the even older charm of the Fordwich Town Hall building.
The painter Alfred Palmer (1877-1951) lived at the Manor House in King Street from 1906 to 1939. As a young man he had rebelled against the strict training of the Academy schools and went to Paris to study. Despite the influence of modernism he remained very much a figurative painter, and his work is attractive to modern tastes.
Many of Palmer's works are held by the Beaney Institute in Canterbury. He also formed the East Kent Art Society with Lord Northbourne. During the first world war Palmer worked in the Secret Intelligence Service; he also used his fluent German to good effect in interrogating prisoners of war.
In Roman times and up until the Middle Ages, Thanet was an island, separated from Kent by a channel some miles wide called the Wantsum (twinned with an estuary in France called the 'Avsum). An arm of the sea came as far as Canterbury and was navigable as far as Fordwich.
As a consequence of its position at the head of the estuary, controlling crucial transport links, the town has always had an importance beyond its size. Take, for instance, this proclamation by King William (William the Conqueror) concerning land rights at Fordwich:
"There is a particular species of trout" wrote Hasted, "which frequents the river Stour, and being for the most part caught within these liberties, is from thence known by the name of Fordwich trout; being esteemed of a superior flavour to most others, and there being but few of them taken in a year, they bear a high price, and are much sought after as a delicacy throughout the neighbourhood."
Now happy to be off this busy road and bridge I head back up along the path following The Stour Valley way.
I take the path across a ploughed field.
I leave the woodland behind and walk out onto a council estate in Canterbury.
I follow the Great Stour river along for a while.
|Looking back to Barton Mill.|
I now reach Abbots Mill on The Stour.
I now leave the Stour.
Bulkhead, to give it its real name, was moved back to the theatre in The Friars on Friday but now stands by the river in the newly-created outdoor seating area.
The mask is the work of sculptor Rick Kirby and arrived in the city as part of a sculpture festival called Blok.
Celtic Cantiaci and Jute Kingdom of Kent. Many historical structures fill the area, including a city wall founded in Roman times and rebuilt in the 14th century, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and a Norman castle, and the oldest extant school in the world, the King's School. . There is also a substantial student population, brought about by the presence of the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University for the Creative Arts, and the Girne American University Canterbury campus. Canterbury remains, however, a small city in terms of geographical size and population, when compared with other British cities.
I walk along the shop lined streets, only wished I had to time to look about properly. I'll have to come back!
|Bronze Statue of Canterbury Tales Author Geoffrey Chaucer by Sam Holland|
I pass by The Canterbury Pilgrims Hospital of St Thomas on the King's-bridge, near the Westgate.
The Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge was founded in the 12th century in Canterbury, England, to provide overnight accommodation for poor pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas Becket. It is now one of the ten almshouses still providing accommodation for elderly citizens of Canterbury and is a grade I listed building.
A quick diversion down to see the beautiful Old Weavers House.
Despite the date 1500 which can be seen prominently displayed above the door, this house probably dates back to at least the 14th century. The current building largely dates to a reconstruction in the second half of the 16th century, not the first, as you might assume by the sign!
At the rear of the Old Weavers House is a medieval ducking stool, jutting out over the river. This ducking stool was historically used as a method of punishing 'scolds' - women accused by their husbands of talking back too much! The stool may also have been used as a more severe punishment for suspected witches. The suspected witch was dunked under the water and held there for several minutes. If she (it was usually a female) did not drown, she was proved a witch. If she drowned, at least her name was cleared!
I walk back up passing the Royal Museum and Free Library.
A cultural hub in East Kent, praised for its welcoming atmosphere, providing a range of services under one roof, uniting art, heritage, books, ideas, information and collections.
I now reach Canterbury Cathedral, where there was a long queue of people waiting to get in.
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late fourteenth century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures.
Before the English Reformation the cathedral was part of a Benedictine monastic community known as Christ Church, Canterbury, as well as being the seat of the archbishop.
I pass St Thomas of Canterbury Church and walk on.
|The City Walls|
Benedictine monastery in Canterbury, Kent, England. The abbey was founded in 598 and functioned as a monastery until its dissolution in 1538 during the English Reformation. After the abbey's dissolution, it underwent dismantlement until 1848. Since 1848, part of the site has been used for educational purposes and the abbey ruins have been preserved for their historical value.
Augustine arrived in Anglo-Saxon England, having been sent by the missionary-minded Pope Gregory I to convert the Anglo-Saxons. The King of Kent at this time was Æthelberht or Ethelbert. Although he worshipped in a pagan temple just outside the walls of Canterbury to the east of the city, Ethelbert was married to a Christian, Bertha. According to tradition, the king not only gave his temple and its precincts to St Augustine for a church and monastery,he also ordered that the church to be erected be of "becoming splendour, dedicated to the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and endowed it with a variety of gifts." One purpose of the foundation was to provide a residence for Augustine and his brother monks. As another, both King Ethelbert and Augustine foresaw the abbey as a burial place for abbots, archbishops, and kings of Kent.
William Thorne, the 14th century chronicler of the abbey, records 598 as the year of the foundation.The monastic buildings were most likely wooden in the manner of Saxon construction, so they could be quickly built. However, building a church of solid masonry, like the churches Augustine had known in Rome, took longer. The church was completed and consecrated in 613. Ca. 624 a short distance to the east, Eadbald, son and successor of Ethelbert, founded a second church, dedicated to Saint Mary which also buried Kentish royalty. The abbey became known as St Augustine's after the founder's death.
For two centuries after its founding, St Augustine's was the only important religious house in the kingdom of Kent. The historian G. F. Maclear characterized St Augustine's as being a "missionary school" where "classical knowledge and English learning flourished." Over time, St Augustine's Abbey acquired an extensive library that included both religious and secular holdings. In addition, it had a scriptorium for producing manuscripts.
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury from 959 to 988, influenced a reorganisation of the abbey to conform to Benedictine rule. Buildings were enlarged and the church rebuilt. Dunstan also revised the dedication of the abbey, from the original Saints Peter and Paul, by adding Saint Augustine in 978. Since then, the abbey has been known as St Augustine's.
Danes not only spared St Augustine's, but in 1027 King Cnut made over all the possessions of Minster-in-Thanet to St Augustine's. These possessions included the preserved body of Saint Mildred. Belief in the miraculous power of this relic had spread throughout Europe, and it brought many pilgrims to St Augustine's, whose gifts enriched the abbey.
From about 1250 onwards was a period of wealth in which "building succeeded building." Boggis' history calls this period a time of "worldly magnificence," marked by "lavish expenditures" on new buildings, royal visits, and banquets with thousands of guests. In addition, the papacy imposed many levies on the abbey. The large debt that was incurred by these expenditures might have swamped the abbey had it not been for generous benefactors who came to the rescue.
The cloister, frater (refectory) and kitchen were totally rebuilt. A new abbot's lodging and a great hall were added. In the early 14th century, land was acquired for a cellarer's range (living and working quarters for the cellarer who was responsible for provisioning the abbey's cellarium), a brewhouse, a bakehouse, and a new walled vineyard. A Lady chapel was built to the east of the church.
Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria slept in this chamber, following their marriage in Canterbury Cathedral. In 1660, after the Restoration, Charles II and his brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, stayed in the gatehouse on their way to London.
Fyndon's gate suffered such damage by German bombs during the Second World War that it had to be rebuilt. The gate faces a small square known since the reign of Charles I as Lady Wootton's Green." Statues of Æthelberht of Kent and Queen Bertha stand on the green.
I follow the road along Pilgrims way, a rather boring stretch of the walk.
More road walking but at least now they are surrounded by fields.
|The art of a new thatched roof going on.|
Now I reach the road after walking through Hodes Farm on Hodes Lane.
I reach Patrixbourne.In the Domesday Book Patrixbourne was held by Bishop Odo, but in 1200 it was transferred to a cell of an abbey in Normandy and thereafter to Merton Priory. After the Reformation it passed to the Says and then the Cheyneys.
An Anglo-Saxon cemetery is on the Bifrons estate or Bifron's Park in the south of the village. Bifrons took its name from a name for the Roman god Janus ("the two-faced") as well as having two wings and was built in the early 1600s by John Bargrave (Bargar) the Elder, brother of Isaac Bargrave Dean of Canterbury. The Bargrave family were staunchly Royalist during the Civil War and Bargrave's son John sold the estate in 1661 as he resumed his ecclesiastical career after the Restoration. In September 1694 the estate was bought by Sandwich MP John Taylor. It was remodelled by Edward Taylor in 1770 and in 1820 became the seat of Elizabeth Conyngham, Marchioness Conyngham, last mistress of George IV. The house was demolished in the late 1940s.
The parish church is dedicated to St Mary.
I take a footpath on my left between some properties.
|Bekesbourne church sitting up high|
I walk through a tunnel under the railway line.
I walk along Howletts Farm heading back towards Littlebourne.
Jutish"; finds are in the British Museum and elsewhere, and include two of the very rare quoit brooches.
The manor of Littlebourne belonged to St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury and the abbot maintained a vineyard there according to Canterbury MP and antiquarian John Twyne in his De Rebus Albionicis.
The viticultural theme is reflected in the parish church's unusual dedication to St Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of winemakers. The church is in all regards consistent to have been founded by the monks of St Augustine's, which oral history attests, in the 13th century and contains a medieval wall painting depicting Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers.
I am now back at the car after a 15.5 mile walk, a quick cup of tea before the drive home.