Place:Westerham, Kent, England

Watchers
NameWesterham
Alt namesOistrehamsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 150
Crockham Hillsource: hamlet in parish
Crockham-Hillsource: spelling variation
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates51.267°N 0.083°E
Located inKent, England
See alsoWesterham Hundred, Kent, Englandancient county division in which it was located
Sevenoaks Rural, Kent, Englandrural district of which it was a part 1894-1974
Sevenoaks District, Kent, Englanddistrict municipality which has covered the area since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Westerham is a town and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It is located west of the town of Sevenoaks on the border of Kent with both Greater London and Surrey, bordering the London Borough of Bromley and the Tandridge District of Surrey.

It is recorded as early as the 9th century, and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 in a Norman form, Oistreham. Hām is Old English for "a village or homestead", and so Westerham means a "westerly homestead". The River Darent flows through the town, and formerly powered three watermills. According to the UK census, Westerham had a population of 4,475 in 2011.

end of Wikipedia contribution

From 1894 until 1974 Westerham was a civil parish in Sevenoaks Rural District. It was originally an ancient parish in Westerham Hundred (sometimes named Westerham and Edenbridge Hundred).

Crockham Hill is a village in Westerham parish and has been redirected here.

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

There is evidence that the area around Westerham has been settled for thousands of years: finds such as a Celtic fortification (c 2000 BC) and a Roman road are close by, along with the remains of a Roman encampment just past the ruins a of tower south of the town at the summit of Tower Woods.

The tower dates back to the 18th century, and was originally constructed by an ancestor of the Warde family, the present owners of Squerryes Court as a folly for their children's amusement. A romantic, if erroneous, theory is that the folly is in fact a medieval watchtower, a tale which has been further embellished by a few fanciful locals who insist that it may have been the holding place for Anne Boleyn on her journey from Hever Castle to London for her trial and execution. (Anne Boleyn's family originally hailed from Chiddingstone and then, later, owned and lived at Hever Castle. King Henry VIII is reported to have, on Anne Boleyn's execution, confiscated Hever Castle and kept it as his own). No evidence for this theory exists, and indeed it conflicts with the knowledge and belief of the Warde family themselves.

The manor was originally run by Godwin, Earl of Wessex and later by his son Harold Godwinson the last Saxon King of England. The first Norman lord of Westerham was Eustace II of Boulogne, and the town appears in the Domesday Book as Oistreham. By 1227 Henry III granted Westerham a market charter, making the new village a major player in the buying and selling of cattle in Kent, a tradition that survived to 1961 when the last cattle market was held. St Mary's Church is thought to date from the 13th century, although it is much altered in Victorian times. In 1503 the Protestant martyr John Frith was born in the town.

The Warde family have lived at Squerryes Court since 1731, their home is a tourist attraction. Interior and exterior scenes for the 2009 BBC mini-series Emma were shot at Squerryes Court with the house appearing as Emma Woodhouse's home Hartfield, while exterior scenes were shot at Chilham, Kent.

General James Wolfe was born in the town in 1727 at what is now known as the Old Vicarage due to a terrible storm on the night he was born. He lived in Quebec House - many streets and buildings are named after him and St Mary's contains not only the font in which he was baptised but also a memorial window to him by Edward Burne-Jones. The town square contains statues to both Wolfe and Churchill.

Alice Liddell, cited as the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland lived in the Vicarage for a brief period. Alice rented 'The Breaches' just before she died and then when she became very ill she went to stay with her sister Rhoda at Hoseyrigge in Westerham' She was born at Westminster and when she died aged 82 a memorial service was held for at St Mary's Church. She was not buried in Westerham. Brian Higgins and his famous pop music production team Xenomania, who have provided hit singles and albums for artists such as Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Texas and Franz Ferdinand now occupy what used to be known as the Old Vicarage.

During a January 1967 visit to Knole Park in Sevenoaks to shoot a promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, John Lennon stopped at a Westerham antiques shop and purchased a poster for Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, which later inspired the song, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

As well as the parish church (a Grade II*-listed building), there is a Grade II-listed chapel associated with the Congregational Federation and a Roman Catholic church. Westerham Evangelical Congregational Church dates from 1839[1] and St John the Baptist's Catholic Parish Church opened in 1955.

Research Tips

  • Kent County Council Archive, Local Studies and Museums Service. James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ. This incorporates the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone and the East Kent Archives Centre near Dover.
  • Canterbury Cathedral Archives see the Archives web pages on the Canterbury Catherdral site.
  • For information on the area around the Medway Towns, have a look at Medway Council's CityArk site.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Kent illustrates the parish boundaries of Kent when rural districts were still in existence and before Greater London came into being. The map publication year is 1931. An earlier map of 1900 may also be useful. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. Maps in this series are now downloadable for personal use.
  • Census records for Kent are available on FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first site is free; the other two are pay sites but have access to microfilmed images. Steve Archer produced a very useful round-up of the available sources, but this information may not be up to date.
  • Registration Districts in Kent for the period 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 The full database from Kent Archives Office, Maidstone, has been available online from FamilySearch since June 2016.
  • Kent had five family history societies (now only four):
  • Volume 2 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1926) is available online through the auspices of British History Online. It includes accounts of the early history of Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals, and of several sites now within the conurbation of London.
  • Volume 3 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1932) This includes the text of, and the index to, the Kent Domesday survey. It has been provided by the Kent Archaeological Society.
  • In place of the other volumes of the Victoria County History, British History Online has transcriptions of the numerous volumes of The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent by Edward Hasted (originally published 1797)
  • English Jurisdictions 1851, a parish finding aid provided by FamilySearch, is particularly helpful in locating parishes in large ancient towns and cities like Canterbury.
  • Kent Probate Records Numerous links provided by Maureen Rawson
  • GENUKI lists other possible sources, however, it does not serve Kent so well as it does some other counties.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Westerham. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.