Recently unearthed documents provide a glimpse into Hernhill’s past

Recently unearthed documents relating to the village were on display in Hernhill Church last Saturday, affording a fascinating glimpse into the village’s history. Stored in a steel chest, to which the key had gone missing, the key recently came to light, and the treasure-trove of maps, letters, invoices and photographs was set out for visitors to examine.

There’s always something rather magical about coming into contact with archive documents, a physical, tangible manifestation of moments in history; artefacts which would have been touched, handled by people lost to memory, and the collection represented a brief moment for these lives to step out of the pages of history and into the light.

As expected for an area rooted in agriculture, there were documents relating to tithes and land ownership, included details from August, 1840, and a map of the area from 1913.

A map of the area, dated 11 October, 1918

There were plenty of letters relating to the village school, including a receipt for an insurance premium from 1935 for the princely sum of £2 11 shillings;

From the Second World War, letters to the then Headmaster, Mr S.B. Pritchard confirming the acceptance of the post of Divisional Commander to a Sea Cadet Camp in 1943; and most fascinatingly, details about the closure of the school for the wonderfully-named Whitsun and Fruiting Holiday period that same year.

There were also glimpses of mundane, pragmatic concerns that make up daily life, including a quote for cleaning and maintenance of the church clock in 1937.

There was also a wonderful Book of Common Prayer from 1785.

Also on display was the rather endearing Our Homes, a copy of an address given by the Rev W.D. Springett, former Rector of Pluckley and Rural Dean of East Charing and (at the time) formerly of Hernhill, which included photographs of the church,  given at the church in the afternoon of Sunday 12 December in 1915; a possible morale-boosting community event during the dark days of the Great War.

Memorial Church showing entrance: from 1915
Addition to churchyard: from 1915

All in all, the event was a marvellous look through a tiny window into the history of Hernhill and its people; thank you to all those who both organised the exhibition and who ran the event itself. Let’s hope these documents are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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Service for Hugo

Many of you will have already heard that our community lost a much-loved and very brave young man last week. Hugo’s parents have asked us to share an invitation to a Service for Hugo at Barham Crematorium, next Wednesday 26th September, 12pm.

HUGO SERVICE

Warning: woodland walks currently affected by forestry management

Eagle-eyed walkers, cyclists and dog-owners will have noticed that more forestry management is currently being undertaken in the woodland area up behind the properties along Butlers Hill.

Unfortunately, the paths and tracks that users tread have become unusable, with large swathes of timber having been felled and left in situ, with the result that a large section of the woods is impassable, with paths buried under trunks and ploughed-up land.

There are no ‘No Entry’ signs warning of this either before or after the area; ironically, the area marked with ‘No Entry’ signs further on, where work began, is actually far tidier and paths are navigable.

There’s a footpath buried somewhere under there…

It seems the work is likely to last until September. With dog-walkers being advised, in the current heat, to walk in shaded area and to avoid road surfaces which can get very hot underfoot (or paw), it’s currently not possible to use a large part of the woods, and without sufficient warning signs will also be extremely hazardous to the many off-road cyclists who come through the woods in bone-jarring fashion.

Your Loyal Correspondent has written to Swale BC to ask about what’s going on – further information as we receive it…

Sunstroke: anti – solar park campaign gathers momentum

Alarm bells have been ringing recently concerning the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park development, a planned industrial solar energy farm on the outskirts of Faversham that would destroy the local landscape.

Media interest in a local campaign against the proposal, which is being vigorously run by the Graveney Rural Environment Action Team, has started to gather its own energy, with recent articles in Faversham Times and the Daily Mail picking up on the urgency of the situation.

The current proposal, for a 1000-acre farm on the marshland and arable farmland to the north-west of Graveney, threatens to destroy an important area for wildlife, part of the flood defenses for that stretch of north Kent coast, and an area of historic importance. What would be the largest solar farm in the country is possibly also the veil for speculation on the energy market, whereby companies purchase electricty, store it in an enormous battery, and then sell it back to the National Grid at peak times – or, as Michael, one of the team, put it at the community event last Saturday, “when everyone goes and puts the kettle on at half-time during the World Cup.” And the project isn’t even a Government initiative; rather, it belongs to tycoon Elon Musk, who currently operates a similar installation in Australia.

Attending the community event last Saturday, held at All Saints Church in Graveney, was an eye-opening experience, not least because it put into perspective the staggering size of the proposed solar farm; each panel would be over 4.5 metres in height, allowing clearance beneath for flood-tides, across an area larger than neighbouring Faversham. A filmed fly-over of Graveney marshes (pictured above), running throughout the day, showed a bird’s-eye view of the marshland under threat – and ‘bird’s-eye’ is a phrase loaded here with extra poignancy, given that the plans threaten Schedule 1 birds and other wildlife, for whom the area provides crucial nesting and feeding habitats as well as a corridor on migratory patterns.

Behind the church, basking in the peaceful height of a gloriously sunny day, visitors were able to stand and look out over the landscape which could soon disappear beneath a wealth of double-decker-bus-height solar panels and industrial energy installations.

A view of the area under threat from behind All Saint Church, Graveney

Local voices have also stepped forward to express their concerns, including Faversham and Mid-Kent’s MP, Helen Whately, who attended Saturday’s information event, Janet Street-Porter and even Swale Green Party’s Tim Valentine. “It comes to something,” said Michael in his quietly authoritative way, “when even the Green Party objects to plans for renewable energy…”

So what now ? The action team has set up an online petition, which people are urged to sign (see online here); there is also the opportunity to provide comments and feedback to the developers before the deadline on July 13 (see online here); and the GREAT website has additional suggestions for ways in which to become involved here.

The community event at the weekend really brought home the personal issues threatened by the proposal, the impact on both the rural and the social communities for whom the plans would have devastating consequences. Take a look at the campaign’s website here, join the dialogue on Twitter here, and find out more about the proposal and how (if you wish) you can get involved in the fight to preserve a unique, historic and incredibly valuable (currently) unspoiled part of our coast.

Concert at St Michael’s Church Fri 18 May: University of Kent Chamber Choir

We’re very much looking forward to a visit from the University of Kent Chamber Choir and Sinfonia, who will be coming to St Michael’s Church on Friday 18 May for a concert at 7.30pm.

Conducted by Dan Harding and Matthew Cooke, the event brings a blend of sacred and secular music from across the centuries, featuring especially the Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, a popular work from the Baroque period for which the Choir will be joined by players from the String Sinfonia.

Here’s the Choir singing My Lord Has Come by Will Todd, one of the pieces which will be included in the concert:

The performance is free, and includes refreshments; there will be a retiring collection in aid of St Michael’s Church. Put the date in your diaries!

Image gallery: Village Fete 2018

Fair weather and glorious skies greeted the annual village fête yesterday afternoon, which saw a bustling community turning up to the playing fields for a traditional event, complete with maypole dancing from children at the primary school. Joe’s Bows were present with a fine display of birds of prey; Spikes Hedgehog Sanctuary raising funds to protect endangered hedgehogs; a Messy Church stall; live music from YMS Steel Pan band playing everything from Bob Marley to the ‘Cantina Band’ music from Star Wars; a beat-the-keeper competition featuring the Hernhill Herons; a tempting array of homemade cakes and marmalades; a well-stocked second-hand bookstall; a thriving tea service in the village hall, and many other stalls tempting visitors to part with cash to raise funds shared equally between the Village Hall and St Michael’s Church.

Huge thanks to all the participants and to the team who managed the event so succesfully; here’s hoping for equally fine weather next year!