The town of Westwell in Kent, is a town that plays a large part in the lives of this particular Heneker clan. I am also lucky enough to have visited Westwell in 2008. It struck me as the quintessential English country town. It was something out of an English period movie or picture. A winding narrow road with hedges on each side, rather scary for this Aussie girl who is used to wide roads. What did we do when another car came in the other direction. Luckily this didn’t happen.
Photograph taken by the author Vicki Lovell in June 2008, On the road to Westwell, Kent UK.
A town square with a pub and other quaint buildings around it. Large overhanging trees, drizzle, a beautiful old church with the most amazing large wooden door, and gravestones surrounding parts of the church.
St Mary’s Church, Westwell, Kent with graveyard in foreground, taken by Vicki Lovell in June 2008
Westwell is a rural village in the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the foot of the Westwell Downs, the highest part of which is called the Beacon after the chain of beacons erected to signal the approach of the Spanish Armada. The village was first mentioned in 858 in a Saxon document and was included in the Domesday Book. A weekly market was held here under a licence granted by Edward I, there was a park during Edward II‘s time and later a vineyard tended by monks (recalled by one of the cottages in the village named Vineyards).
The centre of the village is a conservation area with many mature trees and listed buildings, including Court Lodge, Swinford Cottage, Periton Court and The Mill House (with its water wheel still in working order). The notable parish church is St. Mary the Virgin which dates from the 13th century or earlier. Among many other buildings of interest in the parish are Ripple Court (which used to house the local dungeons—and where it is alleged that Jack Cade was captured) and The Haven (pronounced ‘harven’) a Tudor residence where Elizabeth I is believed to have spent one night. Kent Gliding Club is located nearby.