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Time Line

Boughton Monchelsea Time Line


This information was initially created as part of an IT project by CornWallis school.

Pre Roman Settlement there is little evidence of human activity at Boughton before the Iron Age. (700B.C.-43 A.D.) Two Neolithic (3500 B.C.-2000 B.C.) axe heads have been discovered on its northern boundary at Park Wood and a third Neolithic polished stone axe has been found near Charlton Farm. The area stayed comparatively untouched by settlers during the Bronze Age. (2000 B.C.-700 B.C.) The only small find dating from that period is a bronze brooch uncovered opposite Brishing Court in 1841.

The Roman conquest

The importance of Quarry Wood was short-lived. In 43 A.D. the Roman Emperor Claudius despatched Aulus Plautius with 40,000 legionaries to conquer Britain. Despite the discovery of a Roman bath house on the south bank of Brishing stream in 1841 no villa site at Boughton has been found. Romanisation for most inhabitants of this stony, wooded chartland can have meant little more than some improvement in living standards created by better trade and communication. The countryside became increasingly at the mercy of these marauding bands and when in 410 the Roman legionaries were withdrawn to meet a barbarian threat to Rome itself the was over and the Dark Ages had begun

Anglo Saxon Settlement

By about 450 A.D. Roman control was over. When the Jutes saw the weakness of the Romano-British and the richness of the land they sent home for re-inforcements and seized Kent for themselves. From about this time the Saxon settlement of Kent and England began. We say 'Saxon' because the Jutes, who came from Frisia and the Rhine valley, soon merged with the Angles and Saxons. The date of the creation of the Jutish settlement at Boughton Monchelsea is unknown. Place names, sometimes helpful in this respect, are of little value. Boc tun, from which the names of all the Kentish 'Boughtons' has originated, meant in Old English 'a farmstead or settlement situated in a beech wood clearing' or 'a.farmstead or settlement granted by charter'. The Old English tun originally meant 'an enclosure' and subsequently 'an enclosure with a farmstead'. Later it came to mean 'the village which developed around the farmstead'.

Domesday Book

The final wave of invaders to come to Boughton were the Normans when William the Conqueror secured his new Kingdom as a result of his victory at Hastings in 1066. The rule of the Norman military minority was neither popular nor secure. After 1066 William, confronted with the task of ruling a hostile Anglo-Saxon population of about a million with only, perhaps, 100,000 Normans, including women and children, crystallized the feudal system of government which had been evolving in England since the 9th century, into a rigid social structure which was to dominate the medieval period.

Battle of Boughton Quarry

Unemployment, underemployment and low wages had been increasing at an alarming rate since the post-war depression of 1815. Distress peaked when the bad harvest of 1829 combined with the severe winter of 1829-30. A wet summer followed and the hop crop failed. Maidstone was 'infested with radicals.' Some Kent labourers may have seen political reform as a prerequisite to improving their existence but the main motivating force which sparked off the arson, machine breaking and wage riots of 1830 was 'great and dire distress'. At the end of May 1830 the overseers and churchwardens of some 21 Kent parishes, including Boughton Monchelsea, Chart Sutton, Thurnham, Headcorn, Staplehurst and Marden met in the Bell Inn, Maidstone to appoint a deputation to the Lords of the Treasury to inform them of the overwhelming distress which farmers and their labourers were suffering and to request immediate assistance.

On 29 October a mob lead by three Maidstone radicals, Adams and Patman who were shoemakers and Halliwell who was a journeyman tailor, visited the Cornwallis and Rider estates while Thomas Rider and a second local magistrate, Major Best, were in Maidstone vainly trying to persuade an assembly of farmers to enroll as special constables. While the meeting was proceeding the magistrates were informed that 500-600 men had assembled in Boughton Monchelsea Quarries in order to march on Maidstone. Five county magistrates, along with the Mayor of Maidstone and 30-40 soldiers, set out for thr Quarry.

"The party proceeded at a brisk pace towards Boughton; and on its arrival at the well-known quarries a large body of labourers was discovered about a quarter of a mile distant. The cavalry were then ordered to conceal themselves behind a little eminence in the neighbourhood lest their appearance should... contradict the conciliatory language by which the Magistrates hoped to bring about the dispersion of the mob. The Magistrates then advanced... and soon came up with the men. Mr Ryder, who was known to the greater number of them, spoke to them in the mildest possible manner and enquired the purpose of their assembling together. Three fellows, who appeared to direct the movements of the band... made use of the most inflammatory language. Some of their companions, less violently disposed, declared that their families were starving and they had taken that mode of proclaiming their suffering... 'We want bread, we want work and to be paid sufficient to keep our families'. One of them stepped forward as spokesman... and being carried on the shoulders of his companions (to put him at the same level as the mounted magistrates) spoke about the difficulties of the poor in a very impressive manner. The company, he said, were honest and industrious men, desirous of providing for their families... but, finding it impossible, they met thus to draw the attention of the magistrates. These people want bread and not powder and shot; we blame not the farmers, they are oppressed with enormous taxes and cannot pay the labourer... The magistrates peremptorily asked them to disperse or the Riot Act would be read and the military called upon... One of the ringleaders was then seized by W.H. Gambier, Esq.; our worthy.Mayor,... acting as a special constable, immediately seized his companion. The third ringleader was also taken into custody. This display of authority surprised the mob; and it is probable that they might have made some use of the heavy bludgeons they carried had not the cavalry, according to previous concert, appeared at the top of the eminence. The cry of the 'Red Coats are coming' had an electrical effect upon the mob and in about ten minutes... they rapidly disappeared."

The 'Battle of Boughton Quarries' did not end the labourers' disturbances. Incendiarism and machine breaking continued in some parts of Kent until 1832.

Ragstone Quarry

A band of ragstone about thirty miles from east to west runs through central Kent from Hythe to Westerham with its widest part in the Maidstone area. Although Boughton Monchelsea was predominately an agricultural parish its wealth was enhanced by the productivity of its ragstone quarries which were in use from Roman times. 'Providing the finest quality of stone' they were considered by John Whichcord, the Maidstone architect, to be 'the best ragstone quarries in Kent'. Their fifteen different varieties of stone had their own characteristics and uses. 'Kent Rag', second only to granite, is named from the way in which the stone breaks in a 'rough or ragged' fashion. In Roman times stone was needed both for road-making and building. The native Britons supplied the labour force. Ragstone, the only hard stone to be found in the vicinity of the capital, was used in constructing the walls of Roman London and numerous villa and other sites. A highway for the laden barges was provided by the River Medway.

Victorian and Edwardian Village

Boughton, like most rural communities of the time, was not only a close community but also a self-sufficient one. In 1851 53 (12.7%) of the employed population were craftsmen. There were two builders, three wheelwrights, three blacksmiths, seven shoemakers, eight carpenters, a thatcher and a tailor. The thirst of the community was well-catered for. In 1841 William Peene, victualler at the Cock Inn,had competition from only William Spurgeon who ran a beershop in Church Street. By 1847 these two had been joined by two more beershops in the Quarries and a third conducted by Mary Barton on the Green. While an inn provided food and stabling as well as drink, the beerhouse owed its existence to the.1830 Beerhouse Act passed to try and reduce the high consumption of spirits which was a cause for government concern. Under this Act any householder could sell beer from their own house provided that they had paid the poor rate or purchased an excise licence for two guineas.

The Parish Council 1894-1970

From the late 1970s the role of the Parish Council began to change. Its responsibilities widened as it began to serve the needs of a changing village community which included the many newcomers upon the new estates of Lewis Court. Finally in the late 1970s a new Village Hall was built and £2,500 provided for furnishings by the Parish Council who became the custodian trustee. In November 1979 KCC authorised the use of Furfield Quarry as a waste disposal site despite loud protests from Boughton and Loose Parish Councils and Brishing Residents' Association. Such was the concern of the Parish Council that it conducted a survey to try to establish whether the proposed tip would pollute the Loose Stream. Nevertheless the project proceeded.

Boughton in Two World Wars

The declaration of war on Germany on 4 August 1914 found Boughton, like countless other British villages, almost totally unprepared. A letter from Kent County Council appealing for the appointment of special constables to protect life and property was only put to the annual parish meeting on 10 August and as a result 20 'specials' were sworn in. The Boughton contingent was headed by W.H. Skinner, chairman of the parish council. His second-in-command was C.S. Smith, a farmer from Elm House. All were under orders from the superintendent of the Maidstone Police Division. By 3 September 50 more parishioners had enrolled. Collections followed for the National Relief Fund and the Belgian Relief Fund and by the close of January 1915 70 parishioners had enlisted for the armed forces. Allied forces landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944. A week later the first of the 'doodlebugs' or flying bombs fell on Kent. These V1 [Vergeltung = revenge] weapons were aimed at London but many fell short of their target. By the end of the War 1,422 V1s had been shot down over Kent and another 1,000 or so had fallen in the Channel.