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Higham is a small village bordering the Hoo Peninsulamarker, in Kentmarker, between Gravesendmarker and Rochestermarker. The civil parish of Higham is in Graveshammarker district and as at the 2001 UK Census, had a population of 3,938.

History

The priory dedicated to St. Mary was built on land granted to Mary, daughter of King Stephen. In 1148,the nuns of St Sulphice-la-Foret, Brittany, moved to Higham. Higham priory was also known as Lillechurch. On 6 July 1227, King Henry III confirmed the royal grant to the abbey of St. Mary and St. Sulpice of Lillechurch.

The original parish church stands to the north of the present village and is dedicated to St. Mary. Now redundant it is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is open to visitors on a daily basis. It contains much medieval woodwork and its pulpit is one of the oldest in Kentmarker, dating from the 14th century.

The Higham Village History Group, founded in 1997, meets to put together the history of the village

Parts of Higham

Higham has developed as two parts, the original Saxon village of Higham to the north, and a more recent settlement to the south around the main road linking Gravesend to Rochester which grew in size and importance during the 1800s.

The two parts of Higham are often referred to as Lower Higham (referring to the original village) and Higham (referring to the newer village).

Village facilities

Services within the village are centered around the two parts of Higham.

Higham (upper)is the largest and contains the main parish church of St John's, a Post Office, a GP's surgery, several pubs, convenience shops, a greengrocer, a fish and chip shop, a Chinese takaway, a library and a Spray painting Specialist.

Higham (lower) is smaller. It contains the original and now redundant St Mary's Church, one pub (the other now closed), a garage and Higham Railway Station. Until recently there was a Post Office and shop serving this area of the village.

The village primary school (Higham County Primary), village hall (Higham Memorial Hall), park (Higham Recreation Ground), tennis courts and the Knowle Restaurant are approximately half way between the two parts of the village on School Lane. Until the 1990s the GP surgery serving the village was also based in this area.

Points of interest

The Larkin Memorial

Standing almost hidden from sight yet in the highest spot at Higham is the Larkin memorial on Telegraph Hill. This needle was raised in 1835 to the memory of Charles Larkin (1775-1833), an auctioneer from Rochester who promoted the Parliamentary reforms of 1832 that gave the vote to every householder whose property rental value was more than £10. By 1860 this unusual concrete monument was in danger of collapse, but was repaired in 1869 after local newspaper reports about its condition. It was renovated again in 1974.

Gad's Hill

William Shakespeare refers to Gad's Hill (or Gadshill) and its relationship with highway robbery in his Henry IV, Part 1. As far back as 1558 there was a ballad entitled The Robbers of Gad's Hill.

Gad's Hill Placemarker was once the home of Charles Dickens, who bought it in 1856 for £1,790 and died there in 1870. In its garden once stood a Swiss chalet in which Dickens would compose his works. The chalet is now in the gardens of Eastgate House, a Tudor building of great character in Rochestermarker, while the house itself is a private school, originally for girls, but in recent years the school has started accepting boys and the split between boys and girls is now equal.

Higham Marshes

The marshes are an important wetland habitat for many species of wildfowl. There are marked walking trails across the marshes. If you plan to visit during the summer months, insect repellant is advised as mosquitoes are abundant especially around dusk and dawn. The easiest access to the marshes is from Church Street.

Communications

  • Canal: The Thames and Medway Canalmarker now terminates at Higham. Opened 1824, the canal used to connect the Thames at Gravesendmarker to the Medway at Stroodmarker. It lost the second half of its route c. 1847 when the railway took over the Higham and Strood canal tunnel, but continued to operate from Gravesend to Higham until 1934. It is now disused but there are plans to restore it for leisure use.
  • Railways: Higham railway station is located in Higham (lower), near the entrance to the former canal tunnel. It is served by the North Kent Line. This section of the line was closed throughout 2004, to allow the chalk tunnel to be completely lined after a series of roof falls.
  • Roads: The main A226 road between Gravesend and Rochester runs to the south of Higham village.


Demographics

As of the 2001 UK census, the parish of Higham had 3,471 residents and 1,580 households.

For every 100 females, there were 92.5 males. The age distribution was 5% aged 0-4 years, 13% aged 5-15 years, 8% aged 16-24 years, 24% aged 25-44 years, 31% aged 45-64 years and 19% aged 65 years and over.

Economy

As at the 2001 UK census, 62.3% of Higham residents aged 16–74 were in employment, 2.2% were unemployed and 34.1% were economically inactive. Unemployment was low compared to the national rate of 3.4%. 21% of residents aged 16-74 had a higher education qualification or the equivalent, compared to 20% nationally.

Politics

Higham Parish Council has been Labour since 1973.

References



See also

  • One track on the towpath, the other over the canal, by Stephen Rayner, Memories page. Medway News, October 2004
  • A Mosaic History of Higham by Andrew Rootes, 1974



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