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Westerham is a town and civil parish in the Sevenoaks Districtmarker of Kentmarker, Englandmarker with 5,000 people. The parish is south of the North Downsmarker, ten miles west of Sevenoaksmarker. It covers 5800 acres (2320ha). It is recorded as early as the 9th century, and was mentioned in the Domesday Book in a Norman form, Oistreham (compare Ouistrehammarker in Normandy). Ham is Old English for a village or homestead, and so Westerham means a westerly homestead. The River Darentmarker flows through the town, and formerly powered three watermills.

History

View of Westerham, Kent ca. 1831, from W.
H.
Ireland's History of Kent.
There is evidence that the area around Westerham has been settled for thousands of years: finds such as a Celtic fortification (c 2000 BC) and a Roman road are close by, along with the remains of a Roman encampment just past the ruins a of tower south of the town at the summit of Tower Woods.

The tower dates back to the 18th century, and was originally constructed by an ancestor of the Warde family, the present owners of Squerryes Court as a folly for their children's amusement. A romantic, if erroneous, theory is that the folly is in fact a medieval watchtower, a tale which has been further embellished by a few fanciful locals who insist that it may have been the holding place for Anne Boleyn on her journey from Hever Castlemarker to Londonmarker for her trial and execution. (Anne Boleyn's family originally hailed from Chiddingstonemarker and then, later, owned and lived at Hever Castle. King Henry VIII is reported to have, on Anne Boleyn's execution, confiscated Hever Castle and kept it as his own). No evidence for this theory exists, and indeed it conflicts with the knowledge and belief of the Warde family themselves.

The manor was originally run by Godwin, Earl of Kent and later by his son Harold the last Saxon King of England. The first Norman lord of Westerham was Eustace II of Boulogne, and the town appears in the Domesday Book as Oistreham. By 1227 Henry III granted Westerham a market charter, making the new village a major player in the buying and selling of cattle in Kent, a tradition that survived to 1961 when the last cattle market was held. St Mary's Church is thought to date from the 13th century, although it is much altered in Victorian times. In 1503 the Protestant martyr John Frith was born in the town.

The Warde family have lived at Squerryes Court since 1731, their home is a tourist attraction. Interior and exterior scenes for the 2009 BBC mini-series Emma were shot at Squerryes Court with the house appearing as Emma Woodhouse's home Hartfield, while exterior scenes were shot at Chilhammarker, Kent.

General James Wolfe was born in the town in 1727 at what is now known as Quebec Housemarker - many streets and buildings are named after him and St Mary's contains not only the font in which he was baptised but also a memorial window to him by Edward Burne-Jones. The town square contains statues to both Wolfe and Churchill.

Economy

Westerham was home to the Black Eagle Brewery, which was taken over by Taylor Walker & Co in the 1950s, becoming part of Ind Coope in 1959 and closing in 1965. Yeast from the brewery was preserved at the National Collection of Yeast Cultures and is now used by the present day Westerham Brewery which was established in 2004 by Robert Wicks. The brewery produces a range of ales, including Westerham British Bulldog.

Chartwell

In 1922 Winston Churchill MP purchased Chartwell Manormarker on the outskirts of Westerham, which, apart from the time he spent at 10 Downing Streetmarker, was his home for the rest of his life. Chartwell is now administered by the National Trust.

There is a statue of Sir Winston Churchill on the village green at Westerham. It was sculpted by Oscar Nemon and stands on a base of Yugoslavian stone, the gift of Marshal Tito.

Chartwell is accessible from the B2026 from either Westerham to the north or from Edenbridge to the south. From the M25-junction 6, then east along the A25 via Oxtedmarker and the B269, or M25-junction 5/M26/A21, then west along the A25 near Sevenoaksmarker and south down the B2026.

Communications

The M25 runs nearby and the A25 runs along through the town.The M25 can be accessed via either the A22marker or the A21marker, although Westerham is signed frequently on the M25marker, the A233 does not have a junction with the M25.

The South Eastern Railway opened the 4½ mile (7.2 km) branch line from Dunton Greenmarker to Westerham stationmarker on 7 July, 1881; All services were withdrawn from the branch on 28 October, 1961. Part of the trackbed of the railway is now covered by the line of the M25marker which runs to the north of the town.

Gallery

Image:Westerham_green.jpg|Westerham village green.Image:Westerham.jpg|Another view of Westerham village green, showing the statue of General Wolfe.Image:Westerham_church.jpg|St Mary's Church.Image:Westerham_Churchill_statue.jpg|The Churchill statue.Image:Westerham 1912.jpg‎|Westerham Mill c. 1912.

References

External links




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