Charing (St. Peter and St. Paul)

CHARING (St. Peter and St. Paul), a parish, in the union of West Ashford, hundred of Calehill, lathe of Shepway, E. division of Kent, 12½ miles (E. S. E.) from Maidstone, on the road from London to Folkestone; containing 1241 inhabitants. On the division of the possessions of the monastery of Christ-Church, Canterbury, in the time of Archbishop Lanfranc, Charing was allotted to the archbishop, who had a palace here, the ruins of which are still standing near the churchyard. It is uncertain when and by whom the palace was built, but it was of great antiquity, and must have been extensive: it is reported to have been the residence of King John. Archbishop Morton rebuilt it in the reign of Henry VII., and in March, 1507, lodged and entertained that monarch here; Henry VIII., also, slept in it on the 23rd of May, 1520, when on his way to the continent to have his celebrated interview with Francis I. of France, in the Field of Gold Cloth. The parish is in the bailiwick of Chart and Longbridge, and comprises 4551a. 19p., of which about 2414 acres are arable, 1229 pasture, 60 acres hop-grounds, 684 wood, and 72 common. The Hill of Charing contains an inexhaustible supply of chalk, immense quantities of which are yearly converted into lime, principally consumed in the Weald of Kent. It also abounds with fossil exuviæ of marine production; and some beautiful specimens of palatal and other teeth of Plychodus, Polygyrus, and other varieties of extinct species of fossil sharks, with spongia, oysters, echinites, vertebræ, ammonites, plagiostoma, spinosum, &c., have been procured from the chalk. In the galt below the hill, ammonites, belemnites, hamites, and other chambered shells, enamelled scales, and various bivalve shells, are plentiful. Its summit affords a beautiful, varied, and extensive prospect of the surrounding country, with the British Channel in perspective. Fairs are held at the village on April 29th and October 29th, for cattle (mostly Welsh) and pedlery.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, London. The rectory is valued in the king's books, with the annexed chapel of Egerton, at £47. 5. 4., and is held on lease under the Dean and Chapter by the executors of Mrs. Cassandra Marshall. The great tithes have been commuted for £735, and the vicarial for £480; the glebe contains 29 acres. The church consists of an aisle, transept, and lofty chancel, with a chapel on the south side of it (built by Amy Brent in the reign of Richard II.), and a square tower with a turret at the south-eastern angle; it is chiefly in the later style of English architecture, and has twice sustained injury by fire. The arms of Hugh Brent, and a rose, the badge of Edward IV., are still visible in the belfry. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. A free school, founded by a bequest of Elizabeth Ludwell, who died in 1765, is endowed with £25 per annum, and has two exhibitions to Oriel College, Oxford. Urns, coins, and other evidences of a Roman station, have been found in the parish.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.