One of the major features of present-day Meopham is the main A227 road along which much of the village lies. Meopham has in fact one of the longest village streets in England, at 7 miles in length.
One of the earliest of Meopham’s famous residents was Simon de Meopham, who was born in the parish in 1272 and died in Mayfield in Sussex in 1332. He became, in 1327, after a distinguished ecclesiastical career, Archbishop of Canterbury and it was during his incumbency that the church was first built.
One Meopham family, the Tradescants, is remembered for its contribution to horticulture. The elder John Tradescant became gardener to Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria in 1629 and by that time had brought specimens of new trees, plants, birds and stones from Algiers and Russia. His son, who succeeded him as the Queens gardener, brought specimens from Virginia and it was after him that ‘tradescantia virginica’ was named.
The present village church dates from 1325 on the site of a Saxon church. In 1382, an earthquake caused the aisles to collapse but these were rebuilt in 1386. The stained glass windows feature work from the 14th to the 20 centuries. The vicar’s vestry is the oldest part of the present church, having formerly been first a Lady Chapel and subsequently a private chantry and from it there is a squint to the chancel so that the church services could be observed from the vestry.
Since 1778, cricket matches have regularly been played on Meopham Green, overlooked by the ‘Cricketers Inn’ - one of Meopham’s well-known public houses. The green is also overlooked by the windmill, built by Killick Brothers in 1801, now the headquarters of the Parish Council.
Visits to the Windmill can be made in the summer months by prior arrangement with the Parish Council. The village of Nurstead, has a small 14th century church dedicated to St Mildred. Nurstead Court opposite is one of the most famous small medieval houses in the country.
Close by is Camer House which used to be owned by the Smith- Masters family. The 46-acre grounds are now a country park, and open the public from 7.30am to sunset, all year round. Several interesting old public houses can be found along the main Meopham road, including (from north to south) the ‘Fox and Hounds; the George - the oldest pub in the village, the ‘Cricketers’ and the ‘Kings Arms’ where Charles I was reputed to have stayed during the Civil War. All these pubs serve food.
References and further information:
"Discover - Gravesham and The North Downs Villages" Leaflet, available at Towncentric.
See the books by Dr C H Golding-Bird “The history of Meopham”, 1934 and “The story of old Meopham”, 1918 and the numerous publications by Jim Carley – reference copies of all these form part of Gravesend Library’s Local History Collection and be looked at in the library on request.
There are several books and booklets by James Carley, including his Meopham Chronology up to 1955 all of these can be seen in the local history collection at Gravesend Library.