With a population of more than 800, this village enjoys an outstanding
view across the Kentish Weald. Tenterden Church is clearly seen to
the south east and the Surrey hills to the west. St Michael's Church
has a 14th century tower and a west door dating back to 1616. The
naive was rebuilt in 1780-82 following a fire.
Sutton Valence and East Sutton, Chart Sutton is one of the Three
Suttons, triplet parishes, occupying an east-west strip of countryside
that tumbles down a steep hillside into The Weald of Kent.
is a modest enough little village of some two hundred and fifty
homes, with nothing very much to boast about except superb views
and one or two interesting former inhabitants.
Sydney Wooderson - the miler who ran in the Munich Olympics in 1936,
Sir Edward Hayle - who took part in the Royalist rising in Kent
in 1648, acquired Norton Court at Chart Sutton in 1960, Stephen
Norton - 14th century bell-founder, who built Norman Court.
it lacks a school (which the proprietor of Underhill independent
school will surely deny that it does) and a resident vicar of its
own, at least it still has a shop and post office, which is more
than many villages can say now. It has a couple of pubs, and a village
hall and quite a lot of village organisations, for its size, as
well as those, like the Three Suttons Society, it shares with its
used to be a village school. It was opened for the first time in
October 1865 with four boys and two girls - although the schoolmistress
at the time, Miss Martin, did record in the new school log-book
that it was very wet. By the spring of 1866, there were 55 pupils
at the school.
Michael's Church was burned to ashes in April 1779, yet by November
1782 it had been rebuilt and was again being used for services,
which says something for the resourcefulness of a small community,
and not a little about the resources of some of the wealthier members
of that community.
Sutton Valence is built on two levels on the side of a steep hill.
In the churchyard is a memorial to John Wilkes, died 1852, who first
introduced round arm bowling to cricket.
To the east of the main road are the remains of the castle, a small
square Norman keep, with ragstone walls eight feet thick. At the northern
part of the village is Sutton Valence School, founded in 1576 by William
Lambe , a London clothworker who was born in the village.
A stroll along Church Walk is the best way for a visitor to savour
the charms of this ancient Wealden village. This quiet footpath
with medieval cottages and neatly-kept flower beds was once the
main road out of Headcorn with all its dusty traffic.
is a handsome 14th Century church built of Bethersden marble. Beyond
the church is a magnificent Wealden 'hall house' little changed
in 600 years. On the way back, pass the Parsonage Meadow where,
as of old, a travelling fair or circus occasionally visits.
the High Street on the south side there are several more medieval
houses, among them Shakespeare House and The Chequers, fine examples
of Elizabethan timbered buildings. But Headcorn is also a modern
village and shopping centre for several villages in the Kentish
Weald with a sizeable free car park.
the outskirts of Headcorn at Lashenden is the Headcorn Airfield,
where there is a thriving Parachute Club and The Tiger Club.
Staplehurst, is a large village built on the site of the old Roman
road from Rochester to Hastings, now the A229. The Parish Church
of All Saints is in Early English, Decorated and later styles, with
a perpendicular tower.
parish register dates from 1538, one of the earliest in the country,
and is unusual in being on paper rather than parchment.
Martyrs Memorial, standing at Cuckold's corner commemorates the
death of those burned during the Marian persecution.
Dickens was involved in a serious railway accident to the east of
the village in 1865, where the line crosses the River Beult and
he alludes to this in a postscript to 'Our Mutual Friend'.