St Pancras, Coldred's Grade I listed Saxon church
Coldred shown within Kent
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Coldred is a small rural community, some 7 miles NW of Dover. One of the highest places in East Kent, nearly 400 ft above sea level, it has the reputation of being a "healthy and salubrious place in which to live". As far back as 1700, Coldred held the county record for the longevity of its inhabitants. With just 55 dwellings and a church, the rural scene has changed very little over the centuries.
Of these homes, 15 are post-war but these additions can be offset against the loss of quite a few small cottages, including some pairs that have been converted to one home. The adult population is approximately 110 (1994) with a fluctuating 25/30 children.
Without a School in the village our children have to attend the Primary School at Sheperdswell less than 1 mile away. Secondary education could not be better serviced with a wealth of excellent Schools in the surrounding area namely Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover.
From ancient Britons, Celts, Romans then Saxons, plus a good sprinkling of Normans, our genetic heritage in this quite corner of Kent has proved quite a volatile mixture! The name of the village derives from the Charcoal Burners who dwelt here, pre conquest. The Oxford Dictionary of Place Names lists the various spellings: Coeldred, Coelret and Colret. According to many early documents, a more fanciful derivation comes from the name of a King of Mercia, one Coeldred. He came to Kent sometime in the early 8th Century AD (c720) to help the Men of Kent do battle against the West Saxons. Historians place this battle at Woodnesborough, near Sandwich. He must have been victorious as his name lives on.
On entering the village from the A2 you will pass down a lovely lime tree avenue that was planted in the spring of 1995 in memory of Helen Mummery of Chilli Farm.
The first building encountered entering Coldred is Chilli Farm which is over 400 years old. The unusual name, and the spelling, is documented as early as 1550.
Personage Farm and the two cottages, barns and outbuildings, stand further back. The farmhouse is post-war, but was built on an earlier site.
Coldred has, in the past, supported at least four farms, but of these, only Chilli and Coldred Court are now fully functional.
Coldred Village Green has a charming prospect, with a Duck Pond, boarded on its shady side with small trees and shrubs. Facing it is the quaint and charming cottage-style Public House "The Carpenters Arms". This is an old building, showing a masons mark dated 1716 (i.c.) over the fireplace in the Public Bar. The site is a lot earlier, and some of the surrounding cottages are believed to date from the 17th century, c. 1620.
At one time this area, incorporating Pub, Pond, two farms and a cluster of cottages is referred to, on old maps, as Coldred Street. Coldred proper being the area by the Church, 3/4 of a mile along Church Road.
Coldred Pond has been well documented over the centuries, and has been recently relined, and the banks landscaped. This work was undertaken by the local villagers, who have no hesitation in rolling up sleeves and working as a team. Legends are rife concerning the Pond during the 17th century. At infamous "witch trials" during the 1640s, one unfortunate old lady, Nell Garlinge, was accused of the black arts, and it is said to have been "swum". Swimming meant tying thumbs to toes cross-wise, then flinging the poor woman into the deepest water. If she sank, that proved her innocence. If she floated, she was deemed guilty. So either way, the prospect was not good!
The changing seasons have always been a source of inspiration, and Coldred Farmers have a ready fund of old proverbs to get them throughout the year. January seems a good place to start.....
In January sow your oats, twill bring a good harvest, and plenty of groats! If February give much snow, a fine summer it doth show! A dry March and a wet May, Fills barns with fields with corn and hay.
Chilli Cottage is a double fronted, white painted house facing across the Green and is known as Chilli Farm Cottage. In times past this house was originally two small cottages, one of which served as the Village Bake-House. The cellars are quite extensive and still have large bread ovens of an earlier age in them. In the past very few homes could boast an oven and for a few pence, local householders could have their meat and bread baked in them.
Coldred at one time had two forges. Attached at Coldred Manor, on Church Road just past the green was a small private forge run by Mr Harry Marsh during the 1930s and 40's. The flint building inside the Manor entrance, now converted to a garage was the original workshop. With a fir, bellows and anvil it was used primarily for shoeing the farm horses. Ideally situated on a site beside the present Parsonage Farm, the public forge was a busy and vital part of the early village life. Intriguingly enough a quantity of Blacksmiths tools were found during recent re-building work on the land adjoining Colret House.
'Coldred's Bus Shelter" by the green deserves a mention however brief. It was erected in 1959 by the combined efforts of the hard working villagers. The cost of the shelter was £74.3s.6d and this sum was raised by way of whist drives, sales, coffee mornings and raffles. It seems a paltry amount no but back then it was quite a small fortune! If nothing else it demonstrates Coldred's unique independence.
Coltret House faces the village green from the Eyethorne/Coldred Rd and is a imposing, Edwardian (1902) building. Built on an earlier site the previous residence dated from the mid-eighteenth century 1762. The Venue for local land sales, public auctions and similar transactions was "The Bell" Public House at Lydden. The plot where Colret House now stands was bought at one of these land sales in 1762. Also listed with the property was a number of "standing trees" apparently timber was as important then as now.
On passing Colret House, following the Sheperdswell turning, towards Upton Wood there are six post war Houses, these are known as the Conifers.
- British listed buildings retrieved 20 July 2013
Media related to Coldred at Wikimedia Commons