Page 6 - DLNoct2016-1011
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Having spent many peaceful early morning hours marshalling on the Charing
roundabout, I had often wondered how the village had changed over the years.
The following article goes some way towards answering this question.


Heaven knows what Charing might have looked like today if it had become
the Kentish Klondike some of the locals thought it might in George V's silver
jubilee year, 1935. That was the year that gold and silver was found in them
thar Charing Hills. But there was no gold rush. The quantities turned out to
be too small to bother with at half an ounce of gold and twenty-three ounces
of silver per ton of clay. So Charing remained the attractive hillside village
on the south slopes of the North Downs that it had been for centuries and
still is today.

The A20 Maidstone-Ashford and Folkestone road cuts through it,separating
the main village from a cluster of houses and the railway station on its
southern side.

It has always been a much-visited village because it is on the route of the old
Pilgrim's Way, which was old long before the Canterbury pilgrims trod it.
Archbishops of Canterbury used to stay at the manor house (now Palace
Farm, just outside the churchyard) so that it became known as the
Archbishop's Palace and it was probably the 14th century Archbishop John
Stratford who built the Gate House, the great archway of which alone still
stands. The former banqueting hall, where some of the four thousand men
and women who travelled with Henry VIII on his way to the Field of the Cloth
of Gold in 1520 were entertained, is now a huge barn on the north side of
the church.

It is still the local custom whenever an Archbishop of Canterbury visits
Charing for him to robe at the old palace, by courtesy of the present owner,
before he goes into the church.

In 1590 the church of SS Peter and Paul was very badly damaged by a fire
caused, according to contemporary records, by the discharge of a gun by a
Mr Dios while he was out bird shooting. The day was very hot, the wooden
shingles on the church roof very dry, and the hot shot started a fire which
burned so fiercely that the bells in the steeple melted.

When the church was rebuilt, it was equipped with one bell, giving rise to the
' Dirty Charing lies in a hole;

                           It had one bell- and that was stole!'

No one seems to know when it was 'stole', but today the church has six bells,

given by Bishop Tufnel in 1878.     over

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