Offham, Kent

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Offham
Offham.jpg
Offham is located in Kent
Offham
Offham
 Offham shown within Kent
Population 732 
OS grid reference TQ655575
District Tonbridge and Malling
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town West Malling
Postcode district ME19
Dialling code 01732
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Tonbridge & Malling
List of places
UK
England
Kent

Coordinates: 51°17′26″N 0°22′31″E / 51.2906°N 0.3753°E / 51.2906; 0.3753

Offham is a village in the local government district of Tonbridge and Malling in Kent, England, five miles to the west of Maidstone.

Offham has a Quintain on the village green that was reported in medieval times for use in jousting. It is reputed to be the last English quintain in its original position, though it was removed for safe keeping during the Second World War.[1]

The village gets its name from "Offa", the name of a Saxon landowner, and "ham", a village or homestead.[2]

History[edit]

The village has been occupied since Roman times, and the major Roman road from London to the Weald ran through the parish. Offham grew in prominence in the early ninth century under the Saxons.

Jack Straw, the rebel during the reign of Richard II, is said to have been born at Pepingstraw Manor in the parish.[3]

Quintain[edit]

Quintain on Offham Green with crocuses 2006

The village is famed for its medieval quintain which stands on the green, believed to be the last remaining example in the country.

The quintain consists of a wooden post around eight feet in height with a freely-rotating arm on the top. One end of the arm is flat (the "eye"), with the other used to attach heavy objects such as a leather pack. In a sport dating back to perhaps Roman times, a horseman would ride at the quintain at full pace with his lance extended to strike the flat end. Should the horseman not be riding sufficiently quickly, the arm would swing round and the heavy object knock him off his horse.[2]

Ragstone[edit]

The village's houses are predominantly constructed from ragstone, Kent's most celebrated building stone. The stone has been mined in the parish since Roman times, with its hardness and durability making it a popular choice for fortifications in London and the south east.

Church[edit]

Stained glass in Offham church

The first church in the parish was founded by the Saxon lord of the manor who built a private chapel in the early ninth century. After the Norman Conquest it was replaced by a stone church and the lower stage of the tower of the present church dates from this time.[2]

The present church is dedicated to St Michael.

Village life[edit]

The village hosts annual May Fay celebrations on the green; a May Queen parades through the village, school children perform maypole dances, and occasionally local horseriders undertake the ancient sport of "Tilting at The Quintain", though a replica quintain is now used.[1]

The King's Arms is the only remaining public house. Built in the sixteenth century, the pub was originally two cottages, later owned by a saddler and harness maker who ran his business there until granted a license in 1680.[2]

Offham also has its own primary school.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Origins of the Offham Quintain". Offham Parish Council. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Off the beaten track: Offham". BBC. May 24, 2006. 
  3. ^ A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 469-472

External links[edit]

Media related to Offham, Kent at Wikimedia Commons

Nearest Settlements[edit]