Stand for a moment in Chilham square with its tudor buildings and you may pretend, eyes half closed, that you are on a set of a film or TV show, its iconic visage has graced the screen more than once through the years. The timbered facades give a sense of stepping back in time and hint at the age of this place, Chilham Castle was one of the Norman fortifications built to control river crossings in Kent.
Take a walk away from the village and you really discover how long the area has been inhabited. Just over half a mile southeast of Chilham Church, Julieberrie’s Grave is a neolithic long barrow that hearkens back to a simpler time of pastoralists adopting farming practices and leaving behind a hunter gatherer lifestyle.
The square is a popular spot for travellers to stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, to admire the architecture and add some memories to their photo album.
For those who live locally it is somewhere that places the wonderful cathedral city of Canterbury on your doorstep. Ashford, with International rail station is likewise easy to access, Faversham is a delightful drive through scenic country lanes and a plethora of local pubs dot the picture postcard landscape that stretches away from the village, as do footpaths to occupy your rambling nature, should you be so inclined. You are in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty after all.
A train station connects you to the rail network if you wish to leave the car at home and sample the delights of London.
The Castle is believed to have existed in various forms since 709 AD. It is privately owned by the Wheeler family who open the grounds periodically through the year and host events including British Horse Trials, details of which can be found on the castle website. The Keep sits beside a Jacobean grand house built between 1612 and 1616.
St Mary’s Church, on the opposite side of the square has a similarly ancient history and was the last known resting place of St Augustine’s Shrine, an historical mystery as its whereabouts are no longer known.
Jane Austen fans will know of her links to nearby Godmersham and to Chilham.
It’s safe to say that Chilham not only holds a special place in history and it endears itself to visitors, it must stand as one of the prettiest places in Kent and can hold its head high rivalling beautiful spots around the country. It is surprisingly easy to miss as the square sits away from the roads that pass either side, trees hide the beauty from drivers eyes so, if yo uare in the area, make a point of stopping and experiencing one of Kent’s many gems.