The Parish of Eythorne
The Parish of Eythorne consists of 3 separate villages, Barfrestone, Elvington and Eythorne. The Parish is situated approximately 6 miles from Dover and about 10 miles from Canterbury and has approximately 2,000 residents.
Elvington was originally a ‘Pit Village’ and the houses were built for the miners and their families. With the closure of the Tilmanstone Mine, Elvington has seen changes, new houses have been built and there has been movement of families in to and out of the village. It has a Community Centre, a recreation ground and Multi Use Games Area. A small play area with children’s play equipment is located adjacent to Adelaide Road. There is an excellent Sports Pavilion which is run by the Tilmanstone Miners’ Welfare Institute with facilities for football and cricket, darts, snooker and skittles. The pavilion is newly refurbished and has a bar and is an excellent venue for social events. There is a well established Bowls Club. The local shops include a village shop, a ladies hairdressing salon, a florist and Indian and pizza takeaway restaurants.
Barfrestone is a small hamlet; it has a Norman church, one of the oldest in Kent, and a village ‘Pub’ called the Yew Tree which is currently closed.
Eythorne is a village of two halves, Lower and Upper Eythorne, the dividing line being the East Kent Railway line which crosses Shooters Hill. This privately owned railway, managed and run by volunteers, operates between Shepherdswell and Eythorne. The village has 2 churches, St Peter and St Pauls in Church Hill and the Baptist Chapel in Chapel Hill. The village also has a primary school, a village shop and Post Office, a garage and the Crown Public House. The playing field has play equipment and a Teen Shelter.
The Parish is rich in history. The earliest reference to Eythorne dates from the 9th Century, Haegythethorne – Thorn tree of a woman called Haehgyth. By the 16th century Eythorne was the location of one of the first (if not the first) Baptist Chapels in England and a focus in “the district ..troubled with the frenzy of the Anabaptists more than any other part of the Kingdom”. The martyr, Joan Botcher or Bourchier, better known as Joan of Kent, worshipped in Eythorne before being burned at the stake on 2nd May 1550. Elvington sits astride the Roman Way, along which centurions marched en route to Londinium, while a Bronze Age barrow indicates even earlier settlement. The village owes its modern development to the Tilmanstone Colliery where work began in 1906 and the first of more than 20 million tons of coal was extracted in 1913. The pit closed in 1986. The tiny Norman church in Barfrestone, complete with its internationally famous door carvings and bell in the adjacent yew tree, dates back to the 11th century.
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