Meopham shown within Kent
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Meopham // is a large linear village and civil parish in the Borough of Gravesham and ceremonial county of Kent, in England, and lies to the south of Gravesend. The parish covers 6.5 square miles (17 km2), and comprises two villages and two smaller settlements; it has a population of 6,427. Meopham has been described as having one of the longest village streets in Kent, being 7 miles (11 km) in length.
The name of the village derives from Meapaham (Meapa's village): it is first recorded in 788, in the time of King Offa. The modern pronunciation of the name comes from different ways of writing and spelling.
A hospital was founded and located here during the Middle Ages and three medieval manor houses - those of Meopham, Dodmore and Nurstead - governed the land now occupying the parish. Edward Hasted in 1797 described the village as being "out of the way" and with "no well frequented thoroughfare through it". Since the 1920s, when the road numbering scheme started, the main road through the village, the A227, has become busier as a through-route connecting North Kent with the M20 motorway at the foot of the North Downs, although this now has been somewhat relieved by the M25.
The parish of Meopham was in the Hundred of Toltingtrough.
The parish comprises the main village, divided into four named settlements; the outlying village of Harvel (approx 2 miles south-east); and two other settlements: Dodmore (still comprising mostly rural land from The Street southeastwards for approx 1 mile towards Harvel) and Culverstone (approx 1.5 miles to the south). The Parish Council, which now owns the lordship of the manor of Meopham, meets at Meopham Windmill and consists of twelve members (aka joint trustees of the ancient manor).
The main village
From the north along the main A227, the four settlements are Hook Green; The Street (Dodmore); Meopham Green; and Culverstone. The first three contain conservation areas. There were originally seven village greens in the parish; only three remain today.
Hook Green is the most northerly of the settlements. Originally called Hoo Green, it lies around a small triangular village green to the west of the main road. There are again many listed buildings in the area, including the Weavers Cottage. More modern developments are situated near to Meopham railway station to the north, as is The Railway Tavern. There is also an Italian restaurant, Bartellas, previously a public house known as the Fox & Hounds.
The Street (Dodmore) is the oldest of the village's settlements, where some of the manor house of Dodmore stands, although the original structure was badly damaged in an earthquake of 1382: it is close to the 14th-century church, the parish church of St John the Baptist. In addition, there are many other historic buildings, including The George Inn, where the manorial court of Dodmore once sat. At The George Inn there is still the Courtroom Bar, the room in which the court baron of the manor was held. The present lord of the manor of Dodmore owns the Tudor manor house. The family of the cricketer Thomas Nordish worked Dodmore Manor Farm. Recently Ifield CC relocated to within Dodmore's old manorial boundaries, becoming New Ifield CC.
Meopham Green is by far the largest remaining village green in the parish. The main road passes to the west; around the other two sides are buildings, many of which are of 18th- and 19th-century origin. Here are two public houses: the King's Arms; and the The Cricketers Inn, formerly The Long Hop. Just to the north of the Green is Meopham Vineyard.
Meopham Green is home to a cricket pitch, where the sport has been played every summer since at least 1776, and which is one of Kent's idyllic settings for the game; Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister is Patron of Meopham Cricket Club and stood on a soapbox here during General Election campaigns. Meopham Windmill is nearby.
Culverstone Green is the most southerly of the main village settlements. The original village green has been given up to agriculture. On the main road, and down Whitepost Lane to the east, are both older and modern houses; a small supermarket; and a petrol station.
There is a considerable built-up area between the main road and Harvel. This is known as Culverstone Valley: it covers some 250 acres (100 ha) and lies among woodlands. It is described as a unique development, which in its origins was the result of the sale of plots of land in the 1930s. Originally, chalets, shacks and caravans were built on the plots. Since then unauthorised developments, often extending the original buildings, have taken place in an area which is now Green Belt. Poor access and limited facilities such as proper drainage has led Gravesham Borough Council to take action by curbing this trend.
The other two main settlements in the parish are Nurstead, where Nurstead Court is located next to the parish church, and there are several cottages nearby; and Camer, once home to the family of Smith-Masters, with a few cottages near Camer Park.
The windmill was built by James Killick, a millwright from Strood, in 1801. After his death in 1823, it passed to his wife Sukey, then to his son James, and after to his grandson Thomas who died in 1891. The Killicks lived in Strood where the family also owned mills and were reputed to walk the eight miles to Meopham each day. The mill worked by wind until 1929 and then by engine until 1965. It has been fully restored and is now in full working order.
There are two CofE parish churches (now combined into one benefice): the grade I listed parish church of St John the Baptist, Meopham and Nurstead's parish church of St Mildred. Other churches include Mount Zion Baptist Church built in 1828, located near Meopham Green, South Street Baptist Church, north of Culverstone and the Catholic Church of St Paul, consecrated in 1965.
There are three state schools in the village: the secondary Meopham School has developed into a specialist sports college, and this is where Meopham Library is situated too; there are two primary schools: Meopham Community Academy (formerly Meopham Community Primary School) and Culverstone Green Primary School. Gravesend Grammar School is within the borough, and nearby are fee-paying schools, such as Cobham Hall, and King's School, Rochester.
Famous residents have included Simon de Mepham, Archbishop of Canterbury (1327–1332), John Tradescant the elder (c. 1570-1638) and his son of the same name (1608–1662), both botanists. In Meopham church are memorial tablets to the Victorian courtiers, Sir Sydney Waterlow, Bt (1822–1906) and Sir Fleetwood Edwards (1842–1910). Residents in more recent times have included the hydrographer, Sir Edmund Irving (1910–1990), artists Spencer Gore (1878–1914) and Graham Sutherland (1903–1980), the author, Michael Gilbert (1912–2006), the psychic researcher, Harry Price (1881–1948), Hughie Green (1920–1997), the entertainer, Sir Roger de Grey (1918–1995), President of the Royal Academy, as well as Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun; current residents include Sir Michael Gambon, as well as Donald Adamson, the author and historian, Dr John Physick CBE FSA and Major Sir Richard Gethin, Bt who lives at Sole Street. The Arnold family were seated at Meopham Court, lately represented by Major Ralph Arnold, son of the eight-times Mayor of Gravesend and County Alderman George Matthew Arnold JP DL FSA and whose relations include the solicitor, George Arnold, of Milton Hall, Kent, Sir Arthur Arnold and Sir Edwin Arnold.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Gravesham Retrieved 6 March 2010
- Notes on the village
- Golding-Bird, C.W. (1934). The History of Meopham. London: Williams & Norgate Ltd.
- Kent History Illustrated Frank W Jessup, 1966 Kent County Council
- British History Online
- Hook Green Conservation Area
- Meopham The Street Conservation Area
- The George Inn
- Meopham Green Conservation Area
- The Kings Arms Public House
- Meopham Cricket Club history
- Meopham Cricket Club
- Gravesham Borough Council : Culverstone Valley
- Nurstead Court
- Camer Park
- british listed buildings retrieved 20 July 2013
- North West Kent FHS
- North West Kent FHS
- South Street Baptist Church, Meopham
- St Paul's RC, Meopham
- Meopham School
- Cobham Hall
- Notes on the Manor of Dodmore
- The History of Meopham, C.H. Golding-Bird, 2000 (reprint from 1934 edition), Williams & Norgate Ltd
Media related to Meopham at Wikimedia Commons