Lenham Archaeological Society
This society was formed in August 2002 after involvement in the watching brief on the new Community Centre . We found many interesting items on the field before building commenced and these are now displayed in a cabinet I the foyer outside the main hall.
Since then we have gone from strength to strength. The amount of undiscovered archaeology in the parish is enormous.
If you wish to join our active society , researching, field walking , using geophys and digging please contact via our email address:- LenhamArchaeology@hotmail.co.uk ,
or the Chairperson Lesley Feakes on 01622 850275 ,
or Membership sec. Jean Bayford 01622 631260.
Membership is only £5 per year but you must join if you wish to dig, so that insurance is valid.
In Sept 2005 we obtained an ‘Awards for All’ Lottery grant of £5000 that paid for more geophys investigations and a publication allowance . our magazine was published in late Nov. 2006 .
It is on sale at the Center for Kentish Studies (County Hall) , Lenham Library, The Little Shop at Lenham, and Harrietsham PO.
48 pages of interesting archaeology and history of the area all for the modest sum of £3.50
Purchases will help fund our second volume later in 2007.
There are several on-going investigations mentioned in this journal.
- East Lenham Moated Manor
This is a medieval- Tudor missing house situated on Stack Platt at E.Lenham that still has a water filled moat surrounding it on three sides .
It is pictured on a 1660 map :-
We have already found some walls and are continuing the dig from April 20th - April 29th . New members are most welcome
- Iron Age village on Chapel Farm.
This is featured in the journal on p.30. We are returning to section the ditch in mid August 2007 after the harvest. This is a superb site for beginners and experienced diggers alike because it is on sandy soil that is so easy to excavate.
- Hollingbourne Roman site Although this is another parish there is so much potential of locating further buildings that we will be back during the summer months to do some more resistivity and possibly a small dig.
Evening Meetings:- During June and July these take the form of evening walks starting at 7pm . Meeting in the square.
May 30th , last Wed of the month , is a visit from the ‘Cantiacii’ re-enactment group.
Come along to the Community Centre at 7.30pm and see how Iron Age people used to live !
Winter Evening Talks start on Sept 26th 7.30pm at the Osborne room in the Community Centre Groom Way.
Every month in the Lenham Focus you will find one of our articles .
Oour May 2007 meeting was invaded by a group of people dressed from the past. The Cantiaci (Iron Age) actors brought the Iron Age to life with a slide show of their Iron Age houses built at Rainham and also showed us wool skeins, carded, spun and dyed in the traditional way. The display of reproduction tools and weaponry was quite impressive.
Later this year (early August) we will be digging a trench across the Iron Age ditch as Lenham Heath (see our booklet) and if anyone is interested in working with us, please ‘phone and enquire for more details.
We are continuing geophys (with the resistivity meter) on various fields in Lenham with some promising results. Fortunately some of the most interesting fields are safe under pasture (they give very few metal detection signals under grass) which deters illegal ‘night-hawks’. The resistivity can pick up walls at a depth of one metre or more. Most of these underground walls/buildings we do not wish to dig, just to ascertain that they are there and to record their position for future reference. It all adds to the history of Lenham.
The amount of archaeology present in the corridor from Charing through to Bearsted and Bluebell Hill is quite staggering. I am sure much was missed on the new Railway and the “NO to KIG” ought to stress that the archaeology is an important issue. Costs for archaeology on the new M2 widening were reputedly some one million pounds. What we need is a large very important site slap bang on the lorry park site and then a load of protestors sitting in and drawing national interest to the situation. That is what CTRL officials feared might happen when the Neolithic longhouse was uncovered at Bluebell Hill. How much have we in Kent actually gained by the new railway? Sorry to sound controversial but the NEW development proposals should be everyone’s concern. It will affect our lives and countryside so much.
July 25th: Walk (route to be arranged). Meet in Lenham Square at 7pm.
Lesley Feakes 850275
Going Potty at Chilston!
Even rain and the occasional rumble of thunder didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of families who came to ‘Go Potty at Chilston’! Held on Sunday 13th May at Chilston Ponds, Sandway, on land owned by the Heaths Countryside Corridor, the event was an archaeological fun day co-ordinated by the North Downs Young Archaeologists’ Club.
Everyone had the chance to make their own pot by hand, just as prehistoric peoples would have done before the arrival of the potter’s wheel in the 1st century BC. Some enthusiasts produced several pots, in an array of different shapes and sizes!
An archaeological illustrator worked with children to produce drawings of pots, both of replica artefacts and of their newly crafted creations.
The Iron Age living history group, Cantiaci, were on display. Their members explained how pottery was made and used 2000 years ago. Other Iron Age crafts and weaponry were also eagerly handled by visitors.
Lenham Archaeological Group laid out a comprehensive range of finds that have been made in the fields surrounding Chilston Ponds, including pottery, flint tools and bone.
An entertaining and informative day was had by all and many pots will now be gracing windowsills in the area! Look out for future events on Heaths Countryside Corridor sites, www.heathscc.co.uk
(Sept 2004) Work has got underway in the old village
hall as most of you have noticed. Several interested people peered around
the door to see what was happening. The floor was being dug out and two
features were noted – a well and a cellar. Because it is a building
within the conservation area of the village (although not itself listed),
a professional survey was done by an archaeologist from Canterbury Archaeological
Trust. But that does not mean to say we cannot, as locals, observe and
record what was there!
George Chambers had noted that the well had a brick
lining for the first few feet and then dropped down through the chalk
for some 40 feet. It confirmed what he knew as fact, that there were two
cottages originally on the site (pre Victorian) and that they would have
shared the well. The cellar is towards the front of the building and had
an opening to the Square, possibly to load wine. This cellar is being
preserved as a feature of the new house. It appears to date from Tudor
times. Although the hall, as it was, was not a listed building, the façade
is being preserved.
I hope you all watched the BBC ‘Restoration’
programme and voted for the Archbishop’s Palace at Charing.
The June 2004 meeting was a walk to Wrinsted Court
(by kind permission of John Leigh-Pemberton) and it was greatly enjoyed
by all who came. Members found it rather exciting trying to locate the
walls and buildings of the ‘lost’ tumbledown manor house.
In one room still standing, there were signatures of soldiers who were
there in the war and messages written like haunting whispers of an age
Finding more on the house’s history draws
a blank. The Centre of Kentish Studies has only the reference in Hasted’s
History of Kent. The name ‘Wrinsted’ is not even in their
main catalogue system and it remains on the Doddington signpost like a
relic of the past ….. lost.
Often old estate maps are a source of information but there was nothing
of Wrinsted. Andrew Barr has a negative copy of East Lenham Manor estate
map dated 1660. The fact that it was white on black somehow made reading
difficult and when I got the copy reversed for him, it was odd how the
black on white seemed to show so much more! Here is the little sketch
of the house itself. The elevation looks Tudor and indeed, so far our
prize item found on our dig was a Tudor brick!
This map solves another query regarding Lenham.
Few medieval references are of Lenham itself. Most refer to East Lenham
and/or West Lenham (Boldrewood area). But on this 1660s map, the Glebe
land (of the church) abuts the land of East Lenham Manor and it appears
as if the parsonage of East Lenham was in fact our church as we know it
…. The prefix dropped somewhere in the Middle Ages.
Only if land/house owners place their old maps
(or copies of them) in the CKS do they become available for people to
research and I can only encourage people to do so.
On July 30th 2003 over 20 members met in the Square
and then we drove down to Hubbard’s Farm to walk a short section
of the Stour Walk, looping round to come back to where we started.
From Hubbard’s Farm the path goes east to Burnt
Mill. Apparently this mill has been burnt down twice but the building
still manages to appear as though it has been there for aeons, although
the water wheel is standing separate, forlornly, in the grass. There is
a straight footpath from Bull Hill Mill to Burnt Mill and they were once
owned by the same miller.
It is obvious from the position of old riverbanks,
that the course of the river had changed many times in the past. The present
stream cuts its way through years of sediment, hill-wash and vegetation
build-up, and meanders like a ‘senile’ river in its flood
plain. It has also lost many of its small feeder streams, cut off by the
motorway and railway, and therefore lost a lot of its volume (Stour means
the strong river).
Ray Selkirk’s theory that to find Romans one has
to search the waterways……… may reveal much truth in
the case of the Stour. (See his books “In Search of Roman Legions”
and “The Piercebridge Formula”).
It is quite possible, given a water table some 10ft
higher than now, and with all its weirs in place and every section dredged
that the Stour was a handsome, navigable river in those far off days.
To transport iron, produce and wheat by flat-bottomed barge would be infinitely
easier and quicker than ox-cart, even allowing for off and on loading
at the numerous weirs. The evidence that indeed the Stour and the Len
were once navigable Roman waterways may lie under the numerous watermills,
once set upon Roman foundations?
All members enjoyed the walk, the company and
the ‘excitement’ it was like an expedition in some places
… finding the stiles hidden under brambles and negotiating the narrow
plank across a boggy piece of stream. One false footstep and one was down
in the mire of centuries!
There is no meeting in August. The next is September
24th, 7.30 pm at the United Reformed Church Hall, subject “War Defences
of SE England”, by David Otway.
Lesley Feakes 850275
The first meeting of the proposed Lenham Archaeology
Society took place on 28th August and a further meeting on the 25th September.
We have well over 12 interested people and many others
who are interested in joining at a later date. It was suggested that the
Society could be called the Lenham Archaeological/ Historical Society
to cover all interests.
Knowledge has surfaced that Grove House has an old
‘Ha-ha’ (a ditch for keeping out sheep!). It begins at the
little stone arch that faces the Old Ashford Road and travels north. Interesting,
because an ancient Roman ditch was discovered on the new Community site
and travels approximately east – west and would cut the ‘Ha-ha’
at right angles somewhere under Grovelands. If the ‘Ha-ha’
was reusing an old Roman ditch then it suggests that a Roman enclosure
extends in a rectangle around Forge House, part of the Churchyard, the
Pond and Glebe Gardens.
May I suggest people watch for interesting items in
their own back yards for Roman iron slag and bits and pieces, which have
already surfaced in Court Meadow! One of my Bowling friends tells me that
Lenham was known for a short time (about 1619) as ‘Sutton’.
Strange, because that means ‘South Town’ and ‘Norton’
area has a lot of Roman buildings suggesting a ‘North Town’
and they are linked by an almost direct route.
My recent research of field
names indicates 4 fields south of Tanyards that bear the name ‘Sutton’
so has the Village moved? Did something happen in the plagues of the 1660
that made people move closer to the Church? It would make sense if that
was so. If you find these sort of things interesting please join us at
the United Reform Church on Wednesday 23rd October at 7.30pm and add your
contribution to our research. By the way, strangest field name of all
was ‘Cats Brains’. Does anyone where that was? I cannot find
its place/number on the tithe map.
Lesley Feakes, Tel:850275.