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Villages

Chart Sutton, Kent

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.
With 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.

It 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.

If 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 sibling Suttons.

There 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.

St 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

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.

Headcorn

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.

There 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.

In 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.

On the outskirts of Headcorn at Lashenden is the Headcorn Airfield, where there is a thriving Parachute Club and The Tiger Club.

Staplehurst

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.

The parish register dates from 1538, one of the earliest in the country, and is unusual in being on paper rather than parchment.

The Martyrs Memorial, standing at Cuckold's corner commemorates the death of those burned during the Marian persecution.

Charles 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'.