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.

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…

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).

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!

Hernhill Christmas Craft Fair: Sat 12 November

Come and bag an early seasonal bargain at the Hernhill Christmas Craft Fair next week.

Between 10.30am – 4pm on Saturday 12 November, St Michael’s Church will be hosting the event, and there will also be refreshments and light lunches served, with all donations and profits in aid of the church.

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There will be additional parking in the yard opposite the village green on the day; get ahead of the crowds and find an early Christmas gift! Find out more about the church and its location here.

Fête accompli

Congratulations to everyone involved in making today’s village fête a success. There was a convivial atmosphere around ten village playing fields, as visitors browsed the stalls, clambered around the fire engines, hurled the sevens vigorously through the inflatable assaults course or took turns at the archery stand, courtesy of Joe’s Bows, who also provided the birds of prey display. 

In the middle of the field, Morris dancers demonstrated that the historic tradition is alive and, er, kicking; children from the primary school did a maypole dancing display under the watchful eye of Mrs George; live music was provided by the YMS Steel Pan Band, and local MP Helen Whately brought her family along, to be lured in to the face-painting queue. 

          

 Thanks to all the team and all the volunteers who have worked to put the event together. 

Art Exhibition at St Michael’s next weekend

The new 2016 Hernhill Artists Calendar will be launched at the Art  Exhibition at St. Michael’s Church, Hernhill, next weekend.

The exhibition takes place on Saturday July 25th and Sunday July 26th from 10.00 am-6.00 pm each day, and admission is free!

The original paintings used for the Artists Calendar will be on view at the exhibition together with works from many local artists.

All donations will be gratefully received and put towards the upkeep of St.Michael’s Church. Any enquiries about the event to Brian Jelfs on 01227  752309.

A Village remembers

A crisp and clear November day saw many residents of the village gathering on the green this morning at ten minutes to eleven.

20131110-153336.jpgThe readings and words at the war memorial to mark today’s Remembrance Sunday took place in bright sunshine, with a faint breeze rustling the leaves; after the bugler had sounded the Last Post, birdsong rang out from a nearby tree, reminding us that in the middle of remembering the dead, the life for which they fought and died goes on. After the sounding of Revellie, as the next reading was about to begin, the church bell struck eleven, and over the Beatitudes from the gospel of Matthew, the bell tolled the hour over the heads of the assembled to ring out around the village green and echo over the fields beyond.

20131110-153606.jpgIn the laying of wreaths at the foot of the memorial, the reading of the names of the fallen and the sharing of words, the village had come together to remember its past and affirm its commitment to, and hope for, the future. Somewhere overhead, in the distance, the gentle drone of an aeroplane recalled lazy days of distant summer, and Sassoon’s wonderfully evocative lines from The Last Meeting came to mind;

‘I can remember summer in one thought
Of wind-swept green, and deeps of melting blue,
And scent of limes in bloom; and I can hear
Distinct the early mower in the grass,
Whetting his blade along some morn of June.’

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We will remember them.