A Virtual Museum - Your Town, the Borough and its History

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The ancient parish of Chalk consists of about 2000 acres, bordering the River Thames, including two detached enclaves of Chalk Parish - one in Essex and one in Lower Higham.

As late as the early years of the 20th century Chalk was a village separate from Gravesend. Its few houses on the old main road to Rochester and the sparsely set cottages and farmhouses on the Lower Road to Higham were usually only seen by those Gravesend inhabitants who indulged in a Sunday afternoon walk in that direction or by cyclists and later motorists out for a country spin. Taken into the Gravesend Corporation area in 1935, Chalk has become, so far as its south western portion is concerned, mainly a housing estate.

Most of the traffic through Chalk passes along the highway constructed between Gravesend and Strood in 1921 and officially opened in 1923 under one of the Unemployment Relief Acts. This work gave rise to a very serious railway accident at Milton Range Halt, on Filborough Marshes, which was being used for workmen from London under this job creation project.

The Maltings or Malthouse was built by Walker and Sons who owned the Wellington Brewery in Wellington Street, Gravesend and sold their business to Charrington’s. The twin towers were taken down in 1957; these were once were part of the drying process in the Malthouse. The Chalk tollgate, set up by the Turnpike Commissioners who, under a series of local acts, the first of which was granted in 1711, maintained the main road between Northfleet (later extended to Dartford) and Strood. The turnpike trust was wound up in 1871, when the County took over responsibility for this main road.

A lane led down to the marshes and the house 'West Court' was one of the Chalk manors. It was built in 1739 as a typical two bay Georgian house. In about 1780, it was extended to the east with another bay in similar style. It had extensive curtiledge buildings, including thatched barns, stables, cart house, granary and single oast with drying floor. The manor was purchased by Sir Joseph Williamson, then living at Cobham Hall when sold to pay the debts on the death of the last Duke of Richmond. On Sir Joseph Williamson's death in 1701, it came into the possession of the Darnley family. It was included in the 1925 Darnley sale and bought by the then tenant farmer Thomas Barr MacLean. Much of the land was, over the years, sold off for development.

References and further information:

"An A to Z History of Chalk" by Christoph Bull. First edition published 1984, second edition published - 1992.  Available at Gravesend Library for consultation.

"Chalk Church an Illustrated Guide", updated and re-written by Christoph Bull 1997.  Available at Chalk Church to purchase for £1.50.

"The Great Expectations Country" by W. Laurence Gadd 1929. Available for reference at Gravesend Library.

"A Historical Walk Through Gravesend And Northfleet" published by Gravesend Historical Society.


See the publications page for more information on these books and more.