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Britannia's Magical History Tour
Stop 20: Chilham, Kent
Chilham, Kent
When leaving Canterbury, a short detour into the little town of Chilham would be well worth your time and effort. Located about 5 miles southwest of Canterbury, just off the A28, Chilham is a strong candidate for the title of "prettiest village in Kent." Visiting Chilham is a little like walking back into time and is a very pleasant place to stroll when there are no crowds around; but on nice weather weekends or Bank Holidays, you may want to look for some less crowded place to go.

The centerpiece of the town is its square, which is surrounded with flower-bedecked, perfectly preserved, half-timbered Tudor and Jacobean shops and houses. Standing at opposite ends of the square are Chilham Castle, the not-entirely-accurate name for a manor house built by Sir Dudley Digges in 1616, and the parish church of St. Mary, an attractive 15th century structure made almost entirely of flint.

The Chilham Castle grounds actually did accommodate a real castle, at one time, but all that remains of Henry II's original Norman structure is a ruined keep. When the present house was built in the early 17th century, the 300 acre grounds were laid out (some say by Capability Brown, others by John Tradescant) to include terraced lawns and rose gardens.

Until the mid-90's, the castle was the home of the Jousting Association of Great Britain and the scene of mock jousting tournaments, featuring knights in shining armor, and falconry demonstrations. Under new ownership, the park is now an equestrian cross country course (http://www.chilhampark.com).

Pleasant residential street in Chilham At the other end of the square, guarding the entrance to the precinct of St. Mary's Church, is the White Horse, a public house dating from the 16th century. It is a perfect place to sit and contemplate this place that time seems to have passed by.

Next stop: Rochester, Kent

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