The Parish of Stourmouth (Ezilamerth/Sturmunde)
The Land
The Parish is a farming area and crops such as barley, oats, potatos and wheat have been grown. There are extensive orchards growing apples, plums and other soft fruit and in the past there were hop gardens. In 1900 there were seven farms and two market gardens.
The Rivers
The River Stour (Sturius to the romans) and the Wantsume channel were joined to form the Isle of Thanet. Stourmouth is located to the south side of that channel which was some four miles wide. In AD 885 King Alfred battled with the Danes who had attacked Rochester. He trapped their ships in the Stour/Wantsume channel at there was a battle at Blood Point in which they were defeated. Blood Point is on a bend of the Great Stour a short walk from North Court Farm. In the Middle Ages ships would have passed coming from the port of Fordwich carry heavy items such as coal and timber. Although still navigable the main part of the channel silted up and by 1500 the Isle of Thanet was in name only. Ferries ran from Pluck’s Gutter to Sarre across the mile wide estuary before the bridge was built. In 1882 it was run by Henry Sladden who was also a beer retailer and by 1913 Ye Old Dog & Duck was established there. In 1821-23 the notorious North Kent Gang of smugglers used Pluck’s Gutter, crossing the river from there.
The Parish has a range of wildlife including otters, water voles, crayfish and Kingfishers with snipes wandering the marshes. North Court Farm is now a good example of countryside management and there are some information signs to guide the visitor. The floodplain of the Stour Valley held reed beds and marshy grasslands where early spider orchids, Kentish milkwort and meadow clary flourished.
The People
In 1801 there were 202 people rising to 330 in 1891 then returned to the 250 mark as it is about today. In 1858 there was a shoemaker named George White and in 1882 there was a Blacksmith named Henry Buddle. Also in 1903 there was a Charles Sayers who was a Carpenter and Wheelwright and by 1913 he had become a beer retailer.
Reputedly the second oldest Parish Church in England, parts of All Saints Church date from late Saxon times. The church was substantially rebuilt, probably during the latter half of the 12th century and certainly in the 19th century. The stone pillars inside feature carved leaves similar in both design and standard of craftsmanship to some of those in Canterbury Cathedral which dates from the 1170s. There are some roman bricks that have been used in its repair and some fine flint work can be seen.
Inside the church there is a fine funeral brass to the Reverend Thomas Mareys, who died in 1472 and a fine testament to Thomas Beake.
of This Parish, Gent: he was twice married, but, without Issue. he died suddenly, in the strictest Sense, being alive, in Health, and dead, in the same Moment. Oct. 11 Ann. Aet. 65. Salutis, 1734. He was a Person truly beloved and esteemed for his many excellent Vertues. To his Wives; ever kind and affectionate. To his Relations; fond and beneficent. To his Neighbours; friendly, sincere, and courteous. To The truly poor; humane, and charitable. To all; just, good-natured, chearfull, and obliging. To his God; a faithfull, devout, humble Servant. One who took due Pains to learn his Duty; and, did more – He practised it. More might be said of him with Justice; Less could not: since Envy must own he was a sweet temper’d virtuous Man and a good Christian.
The church was declared redundant in 1979 and left to decay until restored by the Redundant Churches Fund. There are many other features to admire.
The son of the Reverend Toomer of Hoaden Farm Preston found the inhabitants of Stourmouth “deplorably ignorant” and made an effort to diffuse the gospel to them in 1836. A room in a cottage was used and the first sermon took place on February 10th 1836 and was conducted by his father . The clergymen opposed him and he was driven from one house to another with the cottagers being afraid to receive the preacher. There was a need for a chapel and a poor man who had a piece of land exchanged it for a piece of Mr Toomer’s land. The exchange was made in 1840, a chapel erected and enlarged in 1851. Now lost it is believed the Chapel stood in Santon Lane.
This is located next to the Church. Also next to it is a small disused quarry.
The Post Office is mentioned in 1882 but probably existed some time before then but not earlier than 1855. In 1891 the nearest money order office was Wingham which changed to Preston by 1903. There were various incumbents some also taking on the collection of rates. It closed in the 20th century. It is now a private house located on the Pluck’s Gutter side of School Lane.
The mixed national endowed school was Built in 1872 for 55 children. The benefactor the was the Culmer family. It closed in the mid 20th century and for a short while the building was used as a Village Hall. It is now a private house.
This is a combination of two Tudor timber framed buildings with the front having been replaced by a brick façade in the 18th century.
The brewery dates before 1845 and was run by Impett & Gardner then Henry and William Gibbs in 1851employing four men which rose to nineteen by 1861. The next owners were the Lemarque Brothers in 1868 who, as well as local trade, sent barrels of their India Pale Ale from Grove Ferry Railway Station to Bruges in Belgium via Ramsgate and Ostend. In November 1875, Francis Alexander White (formerly with Cobb’s Brewery, Margate), purchased the brewery and by 1881 was employing 8 men. He brewed a range of beers and using water from a well which was pumped by windmill or steam engine and the wheat, barley, oats and hops were all supplied by local growers. A number of the buildings are now lost. The bottles carried a colour printed label – Red, Black & White, depicting an old 3 masted sailing ship surrounded by the Stourmouth Brewery. F.A. White owned eleven Pubs among which were The Rising Sun and The Plough (Stourmouth), The Ship (Wingham), The Royal George (Waldershare), The Chequers (Selsted), The New Inn (Monkton), The Alexandra and Oxford Hotel (Margate) and The Ben Jonson (Canterbury). The Dog & Duck’s windows still bear White’s name. Francis White was born in Yalding, lived in Preston Forstal and died in 1904 aged 56. His grave is in Stourmouth church yard. Flint & Sons Ltd purchased the Brewery and Public Houses in 1904 and soon after it closed.
The first part of the building was erected in 1372 and was originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury. The building continued as a bakery, passing through different owners until it came into the hands of Edgar Rake, baker and brewer, in 1682 and he applied for an ale and cider licence in 1695. In 1708-1709 building work was carried out and a much more modern structure was erected Jeremiah Bedley, took over the new premises. He was granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun.” From that date until 1865, all the Rising Sun Keepers were bakers, who worked the old bakery as well as running the Inn. Thomas Lucke who came here in 1776 is also described as a ferryman for The Rising Sun was for many years known locally as the Ferrymans Inn, where the ferrymen who worked the ferries across the mile wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, came to meet. The Rising Sun has seen and undergone many changes since it was built but its historic atmosphere remains unchanged.