History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Fantastic collection of beautiful historic buildings, including two castles, one a Norman keep, the other a lovely Jacobean mansion.
Among the older buildings is the White Horse Inn, which dates to the 16th century. Much older is Chilham Castle, a manor house and Norman castle keep built for Henry II in 1174. The gateway to Chilham Park was built by Inigo Jones in 1616.
The parish church of St Mary dates to the 13th century, though it likely replaced a much earlier Saxon building with roots going as far back as the 7th century. The church is largely of English Perpendicular style and is well worth visiting for its large number of ornately decorated funerary monuments.
Among these are monuments to Lady Mary Digges (d. 1631), the wife of Sir Dudley Digges, builder of the current castle. This grandiose memorial is composed of four seated statues representing cardinal virtues, posed around a central column that reaches eleven feet in height.
The Mystery of St Augustine
Chilham church is at the centre of a historical mystery. When St Augustine's Abbey at Canterbury Cathedral was demolished during the Reformation, the ornate, gilded, shrine housing the saint's body was removed to Chilham. There it remained in the church until 1541 when it disappeared. No trace of the shrine has ever been found.
The village square is a treasure, bounded by beautiful medieval and Jacobean half-timbered buildings, many dating from the late 15th century. Much of the village is designated a heritage conservation area, in recognition of the historic value of the many of the buildings. Because of the beautiful old buildings, Chilham is often used as a setting for film and television productions.
Among the finest of the buildings is the half-timbered Tudor Lodge (1370-1410), Tudor Cottage, and the White Horse Inn - all in the village square - Cumberland House (1470-1510), Orions Cottage, and Burgoyne (1450-1480) - on High Street. There is a possibility that Cumberland Lodge at one time served as a royal hunting lodge.
The manor of Chilham Castle is open to visitors only for regular garden open days during the summer months. It is well worth timing a visit to coincide with an open day, as the castle gardens are quite superb. There are three garden terraces below the manor, with numerous examples of large topiary.
The view from the terraces down to a lake is excellent, and trails lead through the grounds, around the lake, and through a quiet garden and walled garden areas. The landscape gardens are the work of Capability Brown.
On the far side of the Stour valley from Chilham is the prehistoric Julieberrie's Grave long barrow.
Address: Chilham, Kent, England
Attraction Type: Village
Location: Plenty of free parking in the village car park, just off the A252.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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13th century (Time Period) - 15th century (Time Period) - 16th century (Time Period) - 7th century (Time Period) - Capability Brown (Person) - castle (Architecture) - Decorated (Architecture) - Henry II (Person) - Inigo Jones (Person) - Medieval (Time Period) - Norman (Architecture) - Perpendicular (Architecture) - Prehistoric (Time Period) - Reformation (Historical Reference) - Saxon (Time Period) - Tudor (Time Period) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Chilham, St Mary - 0 miles (Historic Church)
Chilham Castle - 0.2 miles (Historic House)
Mount Ephraim Gardens - 3.8 miles (Garden)
Bigbury Camp - 3.8 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Wye, St. Gregory and St. Martin Church - 4.3 miles (Historic Church)
Goodnestone Park Gardens - 5.1 miles (Garden)
Goodnestone, St Bartholomew's Church - 5.1 miles (Historic Church)
Canterbury Castle - 5.3 miles (Castle)
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