Friday, 9 November 2012

Walking from HorsHGoudhurst to Horsmoden in Kent

Horsmoden Church

Having viewed Goudhurst  church head west along Church Road. You will pass Weeks Tea Rooms on your right. At the crossroads turn right along North Road, the B2079. After about 200 yards turn left up the narrow Bird Lane. This ends in a T-junction.

2) Turn left along Lidwells Lane. Follow this narrow lane as it twists down the hill to cross the River Teise beyond Trottenden Farm.

The Teise was subjected to a huge amount of landscapeing and drainage works in the 1950s. This included the removal of mills, the introduction of weirs and the cutting off of many meanders. This led to a drastic change in the meadows, which were drained so that they became drier and less prone to flooding. The inevitable result was that the river became much less attractive to wildlife while heavy rains resulted in water gushing down the straighter, deeper riverbed to cause water levels to rise much quicker in the Medway, into which the Teise empties. The results of some of this work can be seen from the bridge as you cross the river.

3) At a crossroads turn left along a narrow lane that leads to a second crossroads. Turn left to reach Horsmoden Church.

Compared to the violent history of St Mary’s, this church of St Margaret has had a very quiet life. It was built in the 1320s by the wealthy vicar, Henry de Grofhurst. His memorial brass still lies in the chancel floor. Also buried here is John Read (1760-1847), a local man and keen gardener who achieved fame by inventing a stomach pump that could empty a person’s stomach of suspect food or drink both painlessly and harmlessly.

The only puzzle about the church is why it stands here on a gentle slope above the Teise, not in the village itself a mile to the north. According to local legend, the village used to be clustered around the church, but when the Black Death struck the survivors abandoned the pestilential site and moved north, returning only to worship God.

Archaeologists have confirmed that the medieval village was around the church, but unfortunately for the tale the new village did not form until about 150 years after the Black Death. Perhaps there was something about the little valley where the village now stands that was simply more attractive. There is a spring of pure, sweet water for a start.

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