All fright on the night…

Hernhill village has become a hotbed of horror, and terrors await the unwary traveller trespassing on the roads this Halloween. Skeletons, vampires, witches and strange ghostly figures lurk behind fences; hedgerows strewn with cobewbs teem with giant spiders; ghastly mannequins wait to surprise passers-by; dare YOU tread these historic paths on these dark nights during the Halloween period ?!

20191027_114210If so, then collect a map from Summer Leas Farm for £2, and trace your fearful footsteps throughout the trail leading through the village; the trail lasts all this week, with a ghostly Grand Finale at Summer Leas Farm on 31 October from 6.30pm. Proceeds from this terrifying odyssey will go towards a fund-raiser to celebrate the village church’s 900th anniversary throughout 2020.

Grab and map; will you make it through the village alive ?

All the fun of the (wedding fair) at Mount Ephraim

If you’re planning your special day, and have found the frock, the shoes, the band and the groom but are still looking for somewhere for it all to unfold, then the lavish grounds of Mount Ephraim Gardens might have some ideas for you as it hosts a Wedding Open Day on Sunday 27th October from 2pm-5pm.

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The ten-acre classical gardens set in the idyllic Kent countryside offers an outdoor wedding setting in picturesque grounds in the village of Hernhill in Kent. The private home with its sweeping staircase, high ceilings, stunning 360-degree views over t beautiful gardens, with its idyllic romantic wedding pavilion provides a magical,  romantic place to host your wedding ceremony and reception.

1000_1000_scaled_1807034_mount-ephrai-201602161235347113803978A spacious wedding suite is big enough for the bride and bridesmaids to hang out, and with five on-site bed and breakfast rooms and the recent addition of a  Garden Wing providing luxurious self-catering accommodation for twelve, there’s certainly lenty of room for the wedding party to stay.

The Wedding Open Day on  27th October offers a chance to meet Mount Ephraim’s dedicated Wedding Team and their favourite suppliers, all with the purpose of creating and making your dream day come true. The Open Day offers free entry and free parking, and the promise of make-up and hair trials, goodie bags for all prospective brides and Prosecco and canapes on arrival. All you need now is the confetti and shoes suitable for dancing…

Find out more online here.

Halloween trail through Hernhill

Calling all budding crafters, hobbyists, artist, scupltors, bodge-it quick-fixers, lovers of fancy-dress and costumes, pumpkin-carvers and anyone else!

There are plans to bring the village together for a Halloweenfest this November, with a trail leading through Hernhill beginning the weekend of 26/27 October, lasting throughout the following week with a grand finale at Summer Lees Farm on 31 October from 6.30pm.

We need YOU to get involved, by creating a decoration – however large or small – which needs to be able to be seen from the road or path, which can be spotted in daylight and early evenings. There will be a small charge for a map of the route to encourage goodly folk young and old to follow, as part of plans to gather fund for the Hernhill 900-year anniversary celebrations, culminating in a special celebratory weekend on 20/21 June in 2020. It’ll be all fright on the night.

Those interested, please contact either Joy Pritchard or Jane Foreman, or simply email the Forum and we’ll be able to put you in touch. The more, the scarier…

Image: (c) David Menidrey via Unsplash

Murky history in Hernhill’s past

Buried amongst reports of a lecture on the beauty of historic books at the Assembly Rooms in Faversham, a daring robbery from a watch-shop in Folkestone, the theft of a pair of boots in Harbledown and drunkenness in Whitstable, the pages of the Faversham Gazette published on the 24 January, 1857, disclose a dark episode in the history of the village of Hernhill.

In response to rumours abounding in the area of the death of a child, police visited a Mrs Charlotte Butcher in Waterham, the grandmother of Amelia Collyer, a former servant in Margate – Amelia, a married woman, had apparently given birth to a child on 9 January. According to Charlotte Butcher, her granddaughter had given birth but the child was deceased, and ‘had been thrown down the cesspool.’ When a search could find no trace of the child, the police went to visit the surgeon for confirmation; during the visit, a neighbour came in a revealed that Mrs Butcher had admitted that the child had in fact been delivered alive, but her granddaughter had strangled it. The child’s body had been hidden ‘in a hole between the ceiling and the roof’ and the police took it to the Red Lion in Hernhill.

Amelia Collyer and her husband  had by now sailed ‘as emigrants to Australia on Saturday last, at the Government’s expense.’ The husband was reported as not being the father of the child and quite ignorant of what had transpired. According to the newspaper, ‘the statements of the grandmother, who does not bear a very good character in the village, are extraordinary.’ In the view of the surgeon, one Mr Francis, the child had indeed been born alive. The inquest found Amelia Collyer guilty of wilful murder, and issued a warrant for her arrest, although the story concludes by saying that ‘should the vessel, in which Collyer and her husand have embarked, have left…the officer will have some difficulty in effecting her capture.’

Click each image above to read the original story. Thank you to Johanne Edgington of Rotten Ramsgate Tours for providing the story, found in the British Newspaper Archive, shedding light on a dark chapter of Hernhill’s history…

Pip, pip: Apple Sunday at Mount Ephraim

The lovely grounds of Mount Ephraim Gardens will once again be hosting its seasonal celebration of The Apple in its last event of the summer on Sunday 15 September.

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Image (c): Mount Ephraim Gardens

mounteapplesOpen from 11am to 5pm, the annual Apple Sunday features tours and tastings, and includes fabulous Birds of Prey displays at 12.30pm & 2.30pm. The terrace will host live music from local group Cloud Nine Jazz between 2pm to 4pm, and there’s the mouth-watering prospect of wine tastings from Chartham Vineyards. A variety of suitably apple-themed refreshments will also served from the Garden Tea Room, and the event includes activities for children.

Usual garden entrance applies for this event: £7 adults / £2.50 children (aged 4 – 16) / £17 family ticket (2 adults and 2 children), and there is free parking for all visitors

Tickets available here; a feast of fruit next weekend as the summer season draws to a close.

Windows into history

St Michael’s Church, which next year celebrates its 900th anniversary, declares its history not just in its stone and wood architecture, but in its windows too.

Two stained-glass windows in particular come from significant moments in the history of the village.  The oldest glass in the church can be glimpsed behind the right-hand choir stalls (Decani, for those choristers amongst our readers…), and dates from the fifteenth century. The Martyn Window, named after the family responsible for rebuilding the church at the time, was originally installed in 1447; the remaining glass owes its continued existence to the fact that it was apparently hidden on a nearby farm during the English Civil War.

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The Lady Chapel is home to a window from the Pre-Raphaelite Period, commissioned in 1877 from Henry Holiday (1839-1927), artist, illustrator, sculptor and stained-glass window designer who lived in Bayswater in London. Holiday’s windows can be found across the country, notably in Westminster Abbey and Worcester College, Oxford, to name but two. Holiday was also commissioned to illustrate Lewis Carroll’s famous The Hunting of the Snark. Holiday’s family were also friends of Emmeline Pankhurst, organiser of the Suffragete movement. The Pre-Raphaelites famously rebelled against the Royal Academy’s trumpeting of genre-painting and idealist depictions, urging rather an embracing of the natural world and an intense realism in art, led by William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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Pieces from a civil war and rebellious art: echoes of great history and its wider cultural connections quietly presented in this small corner of the world…

(Grateful acknowledgement of the information leaflet in the church for some of these details).

Eggciting times ahead at Mount Ephraim

There’s plenty to get eggcited about over Easter at Mount Ephraim Gardens, including an Easter Egg Trail over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

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Over Sunday 21 and Monday 22 April, families can enjoy seasonal events at Mount Ephraim; and looking ahead to the May Bank Holiday, the popular Pat-a-Lamb event returns. The Gardens and Tea Room will officially open next week, on Weds 3 April.

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Image (c) Mount Ephraim Gardens

Whether you’re eggstatic about Easter or feeling a little sheepish, find out what’s going on online here.

(No more puns, we promise…)

Breathing Space with the University of Kent Chamber Choir: Friday 15 March

The popular monthly Breathing Space service at St Michael’s continues next week with a sequence of music and silence by candlelight on Friday 15 March, performed by the University of Kent Chamber Choir.

20181210_193327A meditative, reflective event that creates space for contemplation, the event will feature the University’s student singers in a programme including a setting of The Lord’s Prayer,  the plainchaint Rorate coeli de super and a setting of the American spiritual, Go Down, Moses as well as a colourful movement from Between Worlds, a choral work inspired by science, by Deal-based composer, Anna Phoebe.

The Choir recently sang Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral as part of a busy programme of performing commitments throughout the academic year. Their performance at next week’s Breathing Space will also include a beautiful setting of Blest are the Pure in Heart’by composer James Webb.

The hour-long service starts at 7.30pm, and all are welcome.

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.

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…