Sep 7, 2010

Chillin' in Chilham

Chilham ~ tudor town square
I'm a lucky girl. I got invited to stay at my friend's village in Chilham this last bank holiday. Chilham is located in the valley of the Great Stour river, in the English county of Kent. The village square pictured above is considered by many to be one of the most perfectly preserved medieval settings in South-east England.

Below is a photo of teacups in the window of the abandoned Peacock Antiques, a shop in the square that closed its doors suddenly, left everything as is and hasn't reopened in years. It's like Miss Havisham's house!
Chilham ~ vintage teacups

This spooky by night church is a 15th century parish church, dedicated to St Mary.
Chilham ~ spooky church at night
I loved wandering through the overgrown cemetery.
Chilham ~ overgrown cemetery

Chilham Castle is a manor house and keep. The polygonal Norman keep of the Castle, the oldest building in the village, dates from 1174. It was owned by the Viscounts Massereene and Ferrard until it was sold in 1997. In those days coaches of tourists visited the castle and spent their tourist pounds in the village, injecting some much needed wealth into the local community. Unfortunately, the present owner, Mr Stuart Wheeler, has stopped this practice, closed the castle to the public and as a result, the village has fallen on much harder financial times. Wheeler is valued at £40m so it's a shame he doesn't open up the castle grounds regularly to coaches of tourists so that his neighbours may share in some wealth in these lean times of recession. Boo, Mr Wheeler or should I call you Mr Burns! Booo!
Chilham ~ castle

I had such a lovely time here. Chilham is renowned for its beauty and I will join in the chorus and sing its praises. When I got thirsty I went to the two local pubs and had me some really tasty local beer. The Whitehorse pub in the square, where the locals hang out, has got old stories and charm dating back to the 16th century. Not to be missed.

Big thank you and kisses to the Glancy family for hosting me!!

All photography by Shehani Kay. Chilham.


{Sarah} said...

How beautiful! Sounds like a magical place. These photos of yours are gorgeous!

Shehani said...

Thanks so much Sarah. It was indeed magical and beautiful! xx

Sarah said...

Wonderful photos. I love this village and know it well. Always good to see some new photos taken from a different perspective. Interesting though that the houses on the square are taken from this type of angle because there are always so many cars parked here that you can never get a clear view of them (pity they can't park 50 yards away in the free car park!).

Just one point though - it wasn't Mr Wheeler that closed the castle, it was the previous owner, and Mr & Mrs Wheeler have taken a lot of steps to 're-opening' it by holding open garden days and giving guided tours of the house. (It is after all their private home). They also support the village in many other ways. (And no, I'm not a friend of theirs! I just happen to have been involved with a few local community initiatives).

Good to know that you sell your photos. I'll let the tourism group know!


Shehani said...

HI Sarah,

Thanks for commenting. Thanks for letting me know that Mr Wheeler didn't close the castle grounds to the public. You might be right, he wasn't the one to close it but he has kept it mostly closed. As I understand it, once he and his wife bought the castle, they had major renovations done, which finished in 2004. Since then they have indeed had "Garden Openings" but these tend to be once a month on a Tuesday between 10am and 3pm - not exactly prime tourist days. Seems not to be conducive for the locals to view it either since they typically work during those hours. I noted that they do have private tours and corporate functions. These corporate functions however don't help the local economy as the wine and food are all in house or in castle rather, since they advertise a fully stocked wine cellar and that the Wheeler's personal chef is available to create a menu. As for private garden tours, since they are for small groups and need special arrangement, again I don't see how this really helps the local economy much. Perhaps the Wheelers do contribute in other ways (??), but if you visited Chilham in the early 90s and visited Chilham in 2010, I suspect you'd notice how quiet it is now without the coach loads of tourists visiting the castle grounds. The impact of the castle garden closure is quite significant and I think if you spoke to some of the locals in the village, they'd give you a earful about it! In any case, my point is that keeping the gates closed to a famous castle ground thereby cutting off a potential ample supply of tourist visitors to the village, is a great and sad pity! That's all. But by all means, it is their prerogative, they do own the place after all.

Anyway, I'm glad you like my photos! :) And yes, they are for sale! :)

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