is a small village bordering the Hoo Peninsula
The Hoo Peninsula is a peninsula in England separating the estuaries of the rivers Thames and Medway. It is dominated by a line of sand and clay hills, surrounded by an extensive area of marshland composed of alluvial silt. The name Hoo is the Old English word for spur of land.-History:The Romans...
, in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...
, between Gravesend
Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Tilbury in Essex. It is the administrative town of the Borough of Gravesham and, because of its geographical position, has always had an important role to play in the history and communications of this part of...
and Rochester. The civil parish of Higham is in Gravesham
Gravesham is a local government district and borough in North West Kent, England. It has borders with the River Thames to the north; the City of Rochester and Medway to the east; the borough of Tonbridge and Malling ; and the boroughs of Sevenoaks and Dartford to the west.Its council is based at...
district and as at the 2001 UK Census, had a population of 3,938.
The priory dedicated to St. Mary was built on land granted to Mary, daughter of King Stephen
Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...
. In 1148, the nuns of St Sulphice-la-Foret, Brittany, moved to Higham. Higham priory was also known as Lillechurch. On 6 July 1227, King Henry III
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...
confirmed the royal grant to the abbey of St. Mary and St. Sulpice of Lillechurch.
The original parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....
, the Church of St Mary
St Mary's Church, Higham, is a redundant Anglican church in the village of Higham, Kent, England. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building, and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust...
, stands to the north of the present village. Now redundant, it is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust
The Churches Conservation Trust, which was initially known as the Redundant Churches Fund, is a charity whose purpose is to protect historic churches at risk, those that have been made redundant by the Church of England. The Trust was established by the Pastoral Measure of 1968...
, and is open to visitors on a daily basis. It contains much medieval woodwork and its pulpit is one of the oldest in Kent, dating from the 14th century.
The Higham Village History Group, founded in 1997, is devoted to assembling the history of the village
Parts of Higham
Higham has developed as two parts, the original Saxon village of Higham to the north, and a more recent settlement to the south around the main road linking Gravesend to Rochester, which grew in size and importance during the 1800s.
The two parts of Higham are often referred to as Lower Higham
(referring to the original village) and Higham
(referring to the newer village).
Services within the village are centred around the two parts of Higham.
Higham (upper) is the larger and is the site of the main parish church of St John's, a Post Office, a GP's surgery, several pubs, convenience shops, a greengrocer, a fish and chip shop, a Chinese takeway, a library and an Indian takeaway.
Higham (lower) is smaller. It is the location of the original and now redundant St Mary's Church, one pub (the other now closed), a garage and Higham Railway Station. Until recently there was a Post Office and shop serving this area of the village.
The village primary school (Higham County Primary), village hall (Higham Memorial Hall), park (Higham Recreation Ground), tennis courts and the Knowle Restaurant are approximately half way between the two parts of the village on School Lane. Until the 1990s the GP surgery serving the village was also based in this area.
The Larkin Memorial
Standing almost hidden from sight yet in the highest spot at Higham is the Larkin memorial on Telegraph Hill. This needle was raised in 1835 to the memory of Charles Larkin
Charles Larkin was an auctioneer and electoral reformer from Rochester, Kent, England.A monument in his honour was raised by public subscription in Higham, near Rochester...
(1775–1833), an auctioneer from Rochester who promoted the Parliamentary reforms of 1832 that gave the vote to every householder whose property rental value was more than £10. By 1860 this unusual concrete monument was in danger of collapse, but was repaired in 1869 after local newspaper reports about its condition. It was renovated again in 1974.
Gad's Hill was once notorious as a haunt of robbers. As far back as 1558 there was a ballad entitled The Robbers of Gad's Hill
. In William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...
's play Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV , and Henry V...
Falstaff and his cronies organise a highway robbery at Gad's Hill, but Prince Hal and Poins divest them of their ill-gotten gains.
Gad's Hill Place was once the home of Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...
, who bought it in 1856 for £1,790 and died there in 1870. In its garden once stood a Swiss chalet in which Dickens would compose his works. The chalet is now in the gardens of Eastgate House, a Tudor building of great character in Rochester, while the house itself is a private school, originally for girls, but now mixed.
The marshes are an important wetland habitat for many species of wildfowl. There are waymarked walking trails across the marshes. If one plans to visit during the summer months, insect repellent
An insect repellent is a substance applied to skin, clothing, or other surfaces which discourages insects from landing or climbing on that surface. There are also insect repellent products available based on sound production, particularly ultrasound...
is advised as mosquitoes are abundant, especially around dusk and dawn. The easiest access to the marshes is from Church Street.
- Canal: The Thames and Medway Canal
The Thames and Medway Canal is a disused canal in Kent, south east England, also known as the Gravesend and Rochester Canal. It was originally some long and cut across the neck of the Hoo peninsula, linking the River Thames at Gravesend with the River Medway at Strood...
now terminates at Higham. Opened 1824, the canal used to connect the Thames at Gravesend to the Medway at Strood
Strood is a town in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. It is part of the ceremonial county of Kent. It lies on the north west bank of the River Medway at its lowest bridging point, and is part of the Rochester post town....
. It lost the second half of its route c. 1847 when the railway took over the Higham and Strood canal tunnel, but continued to operate from Gravesend to Higham until 1934. It is now disused but there are plans to restore it for leisure use.
- Railways: Higham railway station is located in Higham (lower), near the entrance to the former canal tunnel. It is served by the North Kent Line
The North Kent Line is a railway line which connects central and south east London with Dartford and Medway.-Construction:The North Kent Line was the means by which the South Eastern Railway were able to connect its system to London at London Bridge...
. This section of the line was closed throughout 2004, to allow the chalk tunnel to be completely relined after a series of roof falls.
- Roads: The main A226 road between Gravesend and Rochester runs to the south of Higham village.
As of the 2001 UK census
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....
, the parish of Higham had 3,471 residents and 1,580 households.
For every 100 females, there were 92.5 males. The age distribution was 5% aged 0–4 years, 13% aged 5–15 years, 8% aged 16–24 years, 24% aged 25–44 years, 31% aged 45–64 years and 19% aged 65 years and over.
As at the 2001 UK census, 62.3% of Higham residents aged 16–74 were in employment, 2.2% were unemployed and 34.1% were economically inactive. Unemployment was low compared to the national rate of 3.4%. 21% of residents aged 16–74 had a higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...
qualification or the equivalent, compared to 20% nationally.
- One track on the towpath, the other over the canal, by Stephen Rayner, Memories page. Medway News, October 2004
- A Mosaic History of Higham by Andrew Rootes, 1974