Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Wye Crown

A few miles outside Ashford is Wye. This village has houses that date mostly to the Georgian period. For some reason the local builders chose to include grotesque heads and figures on many of the houses. It is a pleasant enough place, and the church is worth a look, but the real attraction lies along the lane east of the village to Hastingleigh. The hill above the lane is dominated by a huge white crown about 180 feet tall. The hill figure was formed by hacking through the green turf to reveal the white chalk underneath.

The Wye Crown was first cut in 1902 by students from Wye Agricultural College working under the guidance of the Vice Principal T.J. Young. Young copied a drawing of a crown from a florin ( a coin worth two shillings, or 10p in modern parlance) and stuck it on his theodolite. He then got students carrying flags to climb the hill and peered through his theodolite so that he could direct them to place the flags so that they marked out the shape of the crown. Once the flags were in place, the students turned out en masse and completed the cutting of the figure in just four days.

The figure was cut to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII. On the night of the coronation the crown was illuminated by 1500 fairy lamps, a feat repeated in 1935 for the silver jubilee of Edward’s son King George V. During World War II the Wye Crown was covered up by having heaps of brushwood piled over it. The move was prompted by the fear that German bomber pilots would use the hill figure as an aid to navigation: it would certainly stand out clearly when seen from the air on moonlit nights. The Wye Crown is kept in good condition by the current students.

from "Teashop Drives in Kent" by Rupert Matthews
Buy your copy HERE

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