Boughton Monchelsea Tourist Guide
The village of Boughton Monchelsea is in the Maidstone District of Kent.
It lies on a ragstone ridge located between the North Downs and the Weald of Kent and has commonly been called Quarry Hills. The village itself is located three miles south of Maidstone.
Some of the earliest history of Boughton Monchelsea is in the Iron Age settlement at Quarry Wood Camp (Camp Field). There is evidence of an outer rampart on Parsonage Farm (by Park Wood) built by the Belgae tribe about AD40, perhaps as a defence against the Roman invasion in 43AD. The foundations of a Roman bathhouse were revealed in 1841 near Brishing Court. There is also a Roman villa at Brishing and a cemetery at Lockham. The quarries were worked at length in Romans times and the villa and bathhouse may well have belonged to the owner of the quarry.
The Parish of Boughton Monchelsea, along with the whole of Kent, was later ruled by Earl Godwin. He was an Anglo Saxon who gave his support to the Dane Cnut the Great who became King in 1016. In 1017 Cnut separated his kingdom into four earldoms - Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex - and he appointed Godwin, the only Anglo Saxon, as Earl of Wessex.
Edward the Confessor became King in 1042, by which time Earl Godwin had become the most powerful Anglo Saxon in England. To maintain Godwin’s loyalty Edward married his daughter Edith. Sadly Edward had taken a vow of celibacy so produced no heir. Godwin died in 1053, and his son Harold later became King and fought with William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror took possession of all the land and in 1067 made Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, (his half brother) Earl of Kent. The Bishop later fell into disgrace and all his property was confiscated. By the end of the 12th century Boughton came into the possession of the Montchensie family from which the second part of the village name derives. William de Montchensie’s daughter, Dionysia, owned the first known French grammar book written in English which is now in the British Museum.
In 1778-79 there was a huge army encampment along the Heath Road stretching from Coxheath to Boughton Monchelsea ready to meet the possibility of a French invasion. Eleven thousand solders were lodged along the road with the headquarters in Linton Park and the officers billeted at the Cock Inn, Martins Farm and cottages in Church Street.
It was widely thought that Boughton, derived from Bocton, means ‘where beech trees grew’ or ‘a clearing in a beech wood’. Another school of thought, and probably the more logical, is that Bocton means a ‘farm’ - hence the Manor of the Montchensie.
The first part of the name Boughton has changed many times over the centuries, the earliest known being Boltone (1086); Bouton (1226); Bocton (1257); Bocton Monchansy (1278); Boulton Munchensey (1279); Bocton Munchensy (1281. From the 16th century the name of the parish is given as Boughton Monchelsea. The name changes are likely to have been caused by the fact that people did not spell consistently, rather than a conscious desire to change them.
St Peter’s Church lies just over the crest of the Quarry Hills overlooking the Weald, as are the churches of Linton, Chart Sutton and Sutton Valance. It is believed that they are built on the sites of old Roman temples, which were placed facing the sun. However, another explanation is that they are bordering an ancient track way running parallel to, and between, the Heath Road and the church.
The Lychgate to the church was conRpdFNob3dTeW1ib2wsIEFqYXhDb250cm to be the second oldest in the country. It leads to the church and cemetery, which over looks the deer park and the Weald, with probably the most stunning view in the county if not England. The church was probably 11th century in origin but much of it was rebuilt after a fire in 1832. During the civil war the village favoured the cavaliers and was occupied by the roundheads who destroyed most of the church windows. The southern aisle, north and south porches and the vestry were added between 1874-5. However, the tithe barn which stands by the lychgate dates from the 15th century and is one of the oldest in England.
The Quarries were worked extensively in Roman times and the villa and bathhouse could well have belonged to the quarry owner. Ragstone (a type of sandstone was worked here; stone for building of Westminster Abbey and the repair of Rochester Castle came from here. Henry V ordered 7,000 stone cannon balls form Boughton in 1419 for use in his campaign in Normandy. The last quarry closed in 1960.
Boughton Place is occasionally open to the public and is one of Kent’s outstanding Elizabethan houses. It has had various owners including Robert Rudston who was imprisoned in the Tower for his part in the Kent Rebellion of 1554.
Boughton Mount was once the home of John Braddick who made a fortune out of the slave trade. Another owner was George Foster Clark who was the founder of the Maidstone factory which became famous for its custard powder!
The village sign, which was designed by a local artist, includes a hilltop church, a deer to represent the herds which once were kept in the deer park, an oast house and a cottage. There is also a shepherd and a quarryman.
Well worth a visit is The Cock Inn, Heath Road 01622 743166. Dating back to 1568, inside has a large inglenook fireplace with a blazing log fire in the winter months. Low ceilings and exposed beams add to the Elizabethan atmosphere.
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015