Amongst the interesting buildings in Cobham is the 13th century church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. The chancel, which is the oldest part of the church, built in 1220, is in the Early English style of architecture, and houses one of the finest collections of medieval brasses in England. Amongst its other features of interest are the 14th century nave and aisles, together with the tower and porch which were added by John de Cobham, who also founded Cobham College.
The old college at Cobham was founded and endowed in 1362 as a college for priests. It has had a chequered history, which has included its dissolution in 1539/40 under King Henry VIII,and subsequently lying derelict for over 50 years, until converted into almshouses under the terms of the will of Sir William Brooke, Lord Cobham. The almshouses are still occupied by elderly local people.
Cobham Hall, on the east side of the village, is one of the finest houses in Kent. There has been a manor house on the site since the 13th century but the present building is late Elizabethan, with 18th century additions. The interior features work by James Wyatt, Inigo Jones and the Adams brothers. Set in 50 acres of grounds, laid out by the famous landscape artist, Humphry Repton, the house has since 1962 been a girls’ boarding school, although it is open to the public during the summer months.
Cobham also has strong Dickensian connections. Whilst living in Gads Hill Place, Charles Dickens used frequently to visit Cobham and the Leather Bottle Inn. He stayed there on numerous occasions and the connections are still mirrored in the Inn’s unique collection of Dickensiana.
The attractive and historical villages of Cobham, Luddesdown and Meopham Two National Trust properties lie in the parish of Cobham. Owlett’s at the west end of the village street, was built in 1684 for Bonham Hayes, and is a fine example of building of the period. The Yeoman’s house Sole Street, a fifteenth century timber-framed hall house, was restored by the famous architect Sir Herbert Baker, who actually lived at Owlett’s in the early years of this century.
Cobham has several public houses which provide food, including the ‘Ship’ which is supposed to be haunted, The ‘Darnley Arms’ and the ‘Leather Bottle’.
For further information see:
E.Wingfield - Stratford "The Lords of Cobham Hall" 1959. This book is available for reference in the local history collection at Gravesend Library.