HOLLINGBOURNE CIRCULAR
2012 - August - 26



What you will see here

This was a short country ramble, led by Mark, with a modest eight to ten miles in length. The sun shone benignly on our exploits as we took in this quiet - and perhaps not so well known - part of Kent. Well worth another visit on a future occasion.

After taking a quick look inside Hollingbourne's time-honoured church, we soon rose to higher things, scaling the heights up to the plateau beyond and savouring the distant views in the process. Across fields and through woods we went, reaching the historic hamlet of Wormshill by lunch time. The return walk took a more northerly route and afforded views across to Leeds Castle as we made our descent into Hollingbourne. Two aspects spiritual - a visit to the local watering hole and another look inside the church - rounded off a successful day.


Getting to Hollingbourne

Hollingbourne has a direct rail connection with London Victoria, and greets us with its mature Victorian station, dating from London, Chatham & Dover days.




Hollingbourne station has all the ingredients for a nice restoration project - perhaps as a local museum or YHA. What intriguing secrets are hiding behind its shuttered windows? Stories of railwaymen from ages past? The station is about half a kilometre from the main road, but then, with no competition, Victorian passengers had to take what was offered by the latest transportation technology of the day.


Hollingbourne to Wormshill

A quick look around Hollingbourne reveals many traces from English history, with Mediaeval, Tudor and Victorian examples all vying for our attention. We then rise to higher things, soaking in distant views and defeating summer brambles as we go.




Near the station is Gregory House, dating from 1587. It is indeed a very fine example of the traditional Tudor half timbered house.




A short cut across a field leads us almost straight to the centre of Hollingbourne, with the "Wormshill plateau" rising up ahead.




The church was begun in the 14th century, and - as churches so often do - contains a microcosm of British history.




For example, the church boasts a real cast iron Gurney stove (Gurney's patent of 1856). Yes, it's the Gurney of steam carriage fame. While noting the nice lettering and the crown on top, the fins were really the stove's main selling point. Gurney's many skills included both engineering and physics, and so he knew a thing or two about effective heat transfer (in this case from the stove to the surrounding air). Apparently, some of his stoves are still in active use in at least three English cathedrals. Indeed, this stove may also still be earning its keep - lucky winter church goers!




IVC walkers are enjoying the vast open expanse of the Kent countryside! We conquer the rising field behind Hollingbourne with a gusto!




Once on top, we get nice views across to the south west ...




... and to the north west.




With lush summer vegetation - including brambles and nettles - in abundance, it's always advisable to wear long trousers, even in the good weather as we have today. In addition, Mark - with excellent forethought - has also come armed with a useful pair of secateurs!


Nosing Around Wormshill

Wormshill goes back to at least Anglo-Saxon times and its name comes from "Woden's Hill". It's a small village of about 200 souls but exudes history from every pore. We admire the history and also the lunch time offerings of the "Blacksmith's Arms".




Wormshill has a beautiful Victorian post box, with ornate top, a nice crest and an ornate "VR" monogram. They don't make post boxes like this any more, so why has Royal Mail not applied a new coat of red paint?




This might be the rectory. A garden gate opens into the church yard.




St Giles church has Norman origins.




Inside many an English church a royal crest is proudly displayed. This one in St Giles church dates back to the reign of George III - the "Mad King".




The "Blacksmith's Arms" is partly 17th Century and makes for a suitable lunch time stop.


Wormshill to Hollingbourne

On the return leg" of our walk we espouse a more northerly route. Undulating countryside, some interesting items and distant views all add up to a nice post-prandial walk. The weather is still very much on our side - sunny but not too hot.




On our return walk we pass through this pleasant valley. The imperfect camera lighting does, I think, have the advantage of showing the clouds and the tree silhouettes to more dramatic effect.




We make a short stop to consult the map and to assuage our thirst.




Further along our way, our eye is caught by a speck of hedgerow colour ...




... and on the other side by a rather nice structure which surmounts the roofs of some otherwise common-or-garden garages.




We now have Hollingbourne in our sights, ...




... and not just Hollingbourne, but, in the distance, Leeds castle sitting in its lake.




To our left is the escarpment behind which we set off in the morning, ...




... and to the right of that, lies Hollingbourne.




Onwards we go ...




... curving down ...




... to Hollingbourne.


Good Bye Hollingbourne

We enter Hollingbourne from the north west, calling in at the hostelry for a farewell drink. After this we are "accompanied" by the Culpeppers (with herbalist connections), for we pass their (Grade 1 listed) Tudor manor house and admire their monuments in the church. It's now just a short walk to the station.




As we come back into Hollingbourne we are greeted by this nice timber-framed house which sits next to the pub to its left. The pub itself appears to be quite old, but with its name of the "Dirty Habit", seems to have fallen prey to the modern habit of using unattractive names in the pursuit of customers who are asked to pay often not especially attractive prices! Despite all this we still manage to get some suitable beverages to prepare us for our homeward journey.




After the pub comes Hollingbourne manor, the Tudor home of the Culpeppers. They were the famous Kentish family who were also associated with herbal activities.




We re-visit Hollingbourne church and establish that there is more to the church than the Gurney stove. Indeed, the interior of this hallowed edifice is peppered with Culpepper (or Culpeper) monuments. This particular Culpepper was (so his monument says) involved in four naval battles, in one of which his cabin was shot to pieces and his commanding officer was killed. He survived these inconveniences of naval life, leaving this earth on 8th July 1719, although his age is not stated.




This is a monument to the wife of Sir Richard Gethin. Her connections to the Culpepper family were not sufficient to prevent her untimely death at the age of 21 in 1697. The monument is indeed most splendid. Times have changed, and most of us can expect to live significantly longer than 21 years. On this happy note, and fortified by suitable beverages, we are ready to embark on our homeward journeys. It was a successful day out for all of us!


Postscript

It certainly was a nice and successful day out - good company, good weather and lots of nice countryside and English history. In case you are wondering about the "eight to ten" miles, Mark, before the walk, estimated the distance to be about ten miles, and David, after the walk, said that his GPS gave a reading nearer to eight miles. Of course, a walk like this could always be longer, but it was good exercise and a rewarding way to spend Sunday.