Charing Parish



The village of Charing is situated on the foot of the North Downs ridgeway on the ancient Pilgrim's Way which leads from Canterbury to London.

The Archbishops Palace, dating from the 12th century, is a historic feature of the village. The complex of buildings and manor house were used by various archbishop's as they travelled between Canterbury and London. After the dissolution in 1545, the manor and palace were passed to the Honywood and Wheler families during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 2004, the ruins of the palace featured as one of the finalists on the BBC's Restoration programme.

Local manors around the parish are: Royal Manor of Charing, Eversley, Acton, Burley, Tremhatch, Broughton, Newland, Stilley, Wickins, Petts, Newcourt and Raywood. Further information on these can be found in Edward Hasted's History and Topographical Survey of Kent on British History Online.

A horse and cattle fair was enjoyed twice a year in April and October, bringing an influx of trade to the town's inhabitants.

Charing greatly benefitted from the opening of the Maidstone to Ashford railway in 1884. In its heyday, Charing was able to amplify its cattle market and sell its produce much further afield. Local people worked as porters and signal men, however the station was electrified in the 1950's causing the loss of local signal men use.  Freight transport was ceased in the 1960's leaving only the ticket office, which is presently manned part time. 

Charing Heath

A small village near Lenham Heath, the parish was formed in 1874 from the heathland's of Charing and Lenham.


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For more historical information please visit:

Surrounding Parishes

Charing Heath, Westwell, Challock, Little Chart, Pluckley, Egerton

Charing People

From census and trade directories it appears that Charing was a prosperous community with agriculture and trade as its main focus.The 1855 Post Office Directory shows this focus greatly with a variety of trade and services mixed with farming occupations.
The presence of two public houses, a hotel, and transport trades such as wheelwrights and saddlers show the small town was on a main trade route and taking advantage of the improved road system. Other personal service trades, including hairdressers and tailors indicate more refined inhabitants in the town.

The chart above shows the fluctuations of Charing's population during a 120 year period. The sharp rise in population as road systems were improved and trade in the town became settled, and the steady decline after the railway came to the town in the 1880's. The chart is based on census, trade directories, and Victoria County History of Kent figures.

  • Census:All exist.
  • Wills - Tudor and Medieval wills can be found on Kent Archaeological Society website here
  • Hearth Tax 1664:please go to Hearth Tax Online and download their .pdf document.


An endowed free school was established by Mrs Elizabeth Ludwell in 1761 as a bequest.

In the PO directory in 1855 there was also a National School with Thomas Foster as the headmaster.

By 1864 Charing National Boys School had been established along the High Street. Girls were permitted though had to be taught separately until the school provided mixed education from 1868. 

In 1873 a new National school was built, providing education for up to 200 children. Infants were educated separately until after 1877. As is generally seen with agricultural villages, children's attendance took a dip when harvests and other agricultural needs had to be met. 

There are a couple of log books for the schools in Kent Archives catalogue.

Charing Heath school was founded by Miss Selina Sayer in 1869 for 60 children.  This was enlarged in 1884 and in 1895 for more infants and children to attend.

Church & Religion

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul has Saxon beginnings and is listed in the Domesday Monachorum as a mother church of the area.

The church was severely damaged by a fire in 1590 and rebuilt and restored over the following 30 years. Further information on this fire and its effects can be found on Here's History Kent, and Kent Archaeological Society websites. 

Monumental Inscriptions within the church and the churchyard include dedications to the families of Dering, Honywood, Sayer, Norwood, and Chapman.

The church was completely refurbished in the 1870's by the Rt. Reverend E.W. Tufnell.

Charing Heath: Parishioners of Charing Heath have been served by the Church of Holy Trinity since the 1870's.

  • Parish registers of Charing parish church: date from 1590. Registers in existence are: Baptisms 1590-1965; Marriages 1590-2001; Banns 1754-1884; Burials:1590-1950.
  • Parish registers of Charing Heath church: date from 1873. Registers in existence are: Baptisms from 1874; Marriages from 1874 and Burials from 1873.
  • Transcriptions of Charing parish records by KFHS are available: Baptisms 1590-1965, Marriages 1590-1905, Banns 1754-1823 and Burials 1590-1867 on CD25 (please see main Kent Family History Website for update on errors to Charing Marriages on this disc).
  • Other transcriptions of marriages 1754-1911 can be found on Mid Kent Marriages website.
  • Monumental Inscriptions for St. Peter and St. Paul, Charing: can be seen on Kent Archaeological Society website with churchwardens notes here.
  • War memorials in Charing Church and Churchyard can be seen on

Other churches and chapels:

A 13th century chapel existed in the grounds of Pett Place manor. By the visitation of 1511 the chapel was in a state of disrepair.

In the grounds of Newland manor estate, Newlands Studd chapel, built in the late Norman era, was still in use in the 1500's. Today, the chapel is used a barn with a few original architectural features surviving.

A Wesleyans chapel is mentioned in trade directories from 1882.


  • Lathe of Scray (Kelly's Directory 1882)
  • In the hundred of Calehill (Hasted 1798 & 1855 PO Directory)
  • West Ashford Union with workhouse at Westwell (1855 PO Directory and 1891 Kelly's Directory)
  • West Ashford Petty Sessional Division (1891 Kelly's Directory)
  • West Ashford County Court district (1891 Kelly's Directory)
  • Benefice of Charing with Charing Heath and Little Chart (Present)
  • Rural Deanery of East Charing (1891 Kelly's Directory) Deanery of Ashford (Present)
  • Archdeaconry of Maidstone & Diocese of Canterbury (1891 Kelly's Directory) Archdeaconry of Maidstone (Present)
Ashford Villages

Bethersden Biddenden Bilsington

Bircholt Bonnington Boughton Aluph

Brabourne Brook Challock

Charing Chilham Crundale

Egerton Godmersham

Great Chart Orlestone/Hamstreet

Hastingleigh High Halden Hinxhill

Hothfield Hurst nr. Aldington

Parish Records

Kenardington Kennington Kingsnorth

Little Chart Mersham Molash

Newenden Pevington nr. Pluckley

Pluckley Rolvenden Ruckinge

Sevington Shadoxhurst Smarden

Smeeth Stone cum Ebony Tenterden

Warehorne Westwell Willesborough

Wittersham Woodchurch Wye

Ashford Branch