Wingham Tourist Guide

Introduction

Wingham is situated on the A257, midway between Canterbury and Sandwich.

It was inhabited in the Stone Age but was first established as a village by the Romans. Under a field behind Wingham Court lies a Roman villa. The owner may well have supplied grain to the water mills at Ickham. The village probably got its name in early Saxon times. It may have been ‘Wigingaham’ from the meaning ‘the settlement of the people of Wigga’ or something similar. It would have been a farming community with crops, sheep, cows and pigs. The later manor was very prosperous and may have covered 20,000 acres. It came under the control of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is recorded as such in the Domesday Book.

In 1286 a college of Secular Canons was founded in Wingham by Archbishop Peckham and many of the older buildings in the village date back to this time. The present church of St Mary the Virgin was built on the site of an earlier and smaller church. We know that Thomas a Becket came through Wingham just four weeks before his murder. Richard the Lionheart in 1194 and King John in 1213 also came to the village. Edward I, II and III all visited Wingham to see the college. In 1547 the College was dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII and he also seized the Manor House, now Wingham Court. Elizabeth I stayed in Wingham in 1573 and as a result of her visit the church was restored to a more suitable condition including installation of the chestnut pillars which can be seen today. During the Civil War the village was dominated by the Palmer and Oxenden families but like much of East Kent the people did not declare openly for either side. In 1686 Sir James Oxenden founded a school for poor boys which survived to become a National School 200 years later. In 1875 a coal seam was discovered and this led to a colliery being established in Wingham in the 1890s. As a consequence the East Kent Light Railway was set up and Wingham had three stations. Both the colliery and the railway have now closed. The site of the former Wingham Colliery station forms what is now the Grain Harvester's site.

St Mary’s Church was originally a cruciform church but little survives of the first church. A large west tower was added at the end of the 14th century as was the south porch. Some repairs were carried out in the Georgian period in the 18th century and considerable restoration in the 19th century. The Oxenden monuments in the south transept are particularly interesting. As you wander through the village you might like to notice Delbridge House, probably the best post medieval house in Wingham.

Wingham Court is the former seat of the Archbishop’s manor. ‘Canon’s Row’ is a superb series of medieval buildings and are supposed to be the collegiate properties. Some date back to the 13th century. There are four ‘Wealden’ hall houses in the village including the Old Vicarage House and Beech Tree House.

Today Wingham is an attractive village serving some light industry but it is mostly a dormitory town for Sandwich and Canterbury. There are three pubs, The Anchor, The Dog and The Red Lion. Wingham has at least 60 houses built before 1760 which still stand today.

Wingham Wildlife Park is set in open countryside just off the A257 Canterbury - Sandwich road. It offers a extraordinary collection of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and creatures too many to list. The ethos of the Park is to allow visitors as close a contact with the wildlife as possible. Tel: +44 (0) 1227 720836.

Visitors to Goodnestone Park Gardens are always astonished to discover such a haven of beautiful calmness hidden away in south-east Kent. The gardens have many centuries of history behind them and have been fashioned by generations of the FitzWalter family who have lived here since they built the house. The gardens have been brought to their present level of celebrated quality during the last forty years. They are full of gardening quality at all times of the year, from early spring to late-autumn, but they are just as pleasant for a quiet family day out or a walk in the Kent countryside. The gardens also provide the setting for special events, including concerts, plant fairs and wedding receptions.

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