A number of past entries in the Visitors Book have suggested "It would be good to have a listing or map showing the past names of the fields in and around Whitstable".
I have several old maps from which I had planned to develop a single map showing the location and names of old roads, lanes, fields, farms and other features. I would include several surviving recognisable features to orientate readers. The Visitors Book suggestions presented the spur I needed to, at least, develop the map of fields. I thought it also a valuable opportunity for readers to submit any present day names of fields they could identify to perhaps include in a future comparison.
Below, I set out...
- a brief explanation of how the maps have been constructed...
- the map itself (both in 'full version' and sections).....
- a field index table that we can update as further information arises.... and
- a general discussion of the fascinating world of field names and their origins.
You can click on the above items to go straight to the relevant section. At the end of the page, Dave Taylor has added a note explaining how you can add your own remarks. But first, let me put the maps in context.
Choosing a Time Period for the Maps
Of necessity, maps present a 'picture' at one point in time. The mid 1800s appeared to be the earliest time when a reasonably complete listing of fields could be displayed in map form. Certainly there are earlier records of some fields but all too often many of the remaining are not listed or described about the same time. After some deliberation, I decided to base my maps on a period of 'About the 1860s'.
To enable readers to relate the information to modern times, the maps needed some well known markers. I have therefore included several features that existed in the 1860s. These are:
- The 1830 Canterbury & Whitstable Railway. (This was well established by 1860 and its route is well known in modern times).
- The 1860 North Kent Railway. (This is the modern day London-Thanet line)
- Three major roadways of the 1860s period. (These still exist today and appear in red on the maps).
To further clarify the maps, I have added one much later feature....
- The Old Thanet Way. (Shown in orange. Readers should note that this was opened in the 1930s).
I intend to discuss the relative old and new names of roads and lanes in a separate article at a later date. However, while on the subject, it is interesting to note two peculiarities shown on the maps. Although there is a reasonably direct 'main road' west to Faversham there is no corresponding road east to neighbouring Herne Bay. Perhaps that is a reflection of the greater importance Faversham had first as a major Thames port before London became established as such in the 1600s and secondly as the registered port of many Whitstable vessels.
The second peculiarity relates to today's Belmont Road known as Mill Road in 1860. The map shows the road connecting to Canterbury Road by a loop. The loop reflects the once floodable area, the old shoreline, of the Gorrell delta. The name Swanfield perpetuates the floodable nature of that area. That loop was eliminated most likely when the railway embankment was established around 1860. (Old illustrations show the original Tollgate buildings 'offset' a little further south than the actual entrance to the 'straightened' Mill road).
Field names are recorded as spelt, within the Whitstable Parish boundary of the mid 19th century. The extreme west of Seasalter Marshes has not been included. No attempt has been made to graphically differentiate between most of the well used roads, lanes or farm tracks. Please note that in all maps....
Displaying the Maps
In order to fit the standard Simply Whitstable page format, the map has been divided into four overlapping segments. However, you also have the option to view the whole map in a separate window.
Using the Index Table
The index lists all the fields shown on the map.... in the order of their field number. Comments have been added and these will be updated as further information is collected.
The overlapping map segments are shown below. To view the whole map in a separate window. Click ... View Whole Map. (NB The map will require horizontal scrolling unless you have a sceen width of at least 1280 pixels).
The list below shows field names applicable to around 1860 in column 2. Earlier or alternative names from the past are shown in column 3. Twentieth century names and comments appear in col 4. In a few cases, I have shown the earliest date for which a name has been found.
Field Numbers 1-50
|Field ID||Listed Name Circa 1860s||Past/Alternative Name||Modern Name and Comments|
|1||Old House Field|
|4||White Marsh Field||Whitstable Marsh||Westmeads|
|5||Butts Field||An archery butts is an archery practice field with mounds of earth used for the targets. The name originally referred to the targets themselves but, over time, it came to mean the platforms that held the targets as well. In mediaeval times, it was compulsory for all yeoman in England to learn archery. - Barry Freeman|
|6||Mill Field||Millfield||Millfield Manor|
|7||The Salts Field|
|9||Two Brewers Field|
|10||Home Den Field|
|13||White House Field|
|15||Swan Field||The area of land is now home to 'Swanfield Close' - Dave Taylor|
|16||Gorwell Field (1507)||Gorwell Land (1523), then Gorwell Field, Gorrell Field|
|17||Stewarts Crofts Field||Now the site of Belmont football ground|
|19||Coppins Field||Coppens||The name 'Coppins' was used as one of the 'house' names at Sir William Nottidge School of the 1950s. A house belonging to Terry Phillips' family was called 'Coppins'. This was one of the properties built on the field during the 1950s. During the 1940s and 1950s, the field was better known as 'London's Field' - Dave Taylor|
|20||Horse Stakes Field|
|22||Little Torrith Field||The name 'Torrith' was used as one of the 'house' names at Sir William Nottidge School of the 1950s. - Dave Taylor|
|23||Minters Field||The name 'Minters' was used as one of the 'house' names at Sir William Nottidge School of the 1950s. In our Sir William Nottidge section, Diana Suard explains that Minters was part of Downs farm (Bellevue Road). In 1828, the farm was owned by Sarah Baldock who married a Michael Minter. In 1857 part of the farm (ie part of a field called Great Gorrell) was sold to the local Burial Board for the creation of Whitstable cemetery. Later a further field, called "Minters", was also sold to the board. - Dave Taylor|
|25||Alice Stephens Field (1494)|
|27||Great Mill Hill Field||Millstrood Hill|
|30||Donkin Down Field||Donkin then Dunkin||Duncan Down|
|34||Martins Downs||Martins (1472) John Martins Downs 1472 Martins Field 1496||Martindown|
|36||Mill Field (Borstal Hill)||Mill Meadow|
|37||Sandlebrushdone Field||Benaker within Sandlebrushdone||Benacres|
|39||Hay Pout Field|
|45||Park Meadow Field|
|47||Great Bennenels Field||Benningnells 1618|
|50||Foregates Field||Foregate 1461|
Field Numbers 51-100
|Field ID||Listed Name – Circa 1860s||Past/alternative Name||Modern Name and Comments|
|51||Bin and Upper Field||Green field|
|54||The Salts Field|
|57||May Downs Field|
|58||Stockfish Field (1532)|
|61||Raper Down Field|
|62||Goose Elwyn Field||Goose Elme|
|75||Brook Field||Brook Stroud|
|79||Gates & Styles Field|
|80||Black Stroad Field|
|85||Mole Hills Field|
|86||Horse Leap Field|
|87||Shrub Hill Field||Shrub Hill|
|89||Small Gains & Little Small Gains|
|90||Longty Field||Great Longty, Longty Lane, Longtye|
|91||Brick Close Field|
|93||Richard Owen (’s field)|
|94||Richard Aleyn (’s field)|
|97||Poor Seven Acres Field|
|99||West Down Field|
Field Numbers 101-150
|Field ID||Listed Name – Circa 1860s||Past/alternative Name||Modern Name and Comments|
|102||Sedburrys Field||The name 'Sedberry'' was used as one of the 'house' names of Sir William Nottidge School of the 1950s. - Dave Taylor|
|105||Great & Little Giles Field|
|108||Pear Tree Field|
|111||Cow Down Field|
|112||Lodge Hill Field|
|113||Round Hill Field|
|114||Mill Field (Shrub Hill)|
|115||Cross Lands Field||Crosslands|
|120||South Leas Field|
|122||Convicts Field||Convicts Shaw|
|124||Hanging Hill Field|
|126||White Hill Field|
|127||Coal Pit Field|
|128||Banks Field||Moats Field, Bosh Hall, Bogs Hole (1798.) Bogshole|
|129||Bushy Burgess Field|
|130||Brook Burgess Field|
|136||Wilkin Watts Field (1494)|
|137||Petty Crofts Field (1354)|
|142||Great & Little Seas Hill Field||Falling Hills||Seeshill|
|144||Willow Burgess Field|
|146||Marley Field||Bollishaw , Marly Field 1797|
|149||Stable Field||Lower Field|
Field Numbers 151-193
|Field ID||Listed Name – Circa 1860s||Past/alternative Name||Modern Name and Comments|
|152||Little Hanuel Field|
|154||Long Reach Field|
|157||Loam Pits Field||Loampettes (1472) Loampetts (1482)|
|161||Ricketts & Lords Field|
|162||Parish Piece||Lords Field|
|163||Broom Field||Bromeham Field (1745)||Broomfield|
|166||Great & Little Rays Field|
|167||Little Lost Field|
|168||Mill Hill (Foxes Cross)|
|169||Lower Pitt Wood Field|
|171||Dead Tree Field|
|174||Five Roads Field|
|175||Barn Field||Barnfield (1745)|
|176||Ash & Willows Field|
|181||Beggars Bushe Field|
|182||Great & Little Marley Field|
|185||Lamberts Land Field|
|186||The Brook Field|
|187||Manor Pound Marsh (field)|
|188||Stone Beach Marsh (field)|
|190||Parsonage Marsh (field)|
|192||Raik Hill Field||Rake (1462)||Wraik Hill|
Some readers may question the spelling of several names. As explained earlier, the map reflects the names as known and spelt around the 1860s. Some names have changed due to changing ownership, some for other reasons. A subtle change has seen 'Seashill' become 'Seeshill', 'Bye Alley Lane' become 'Pye Alley Lane' and so on. How such names changed we can usually only guess.
In some cases, as time passed, 'Mill Field became 'Millfield. In my earlier article on Whitstable's Windmills I explained that the name 'Millfield' may not necessarily indicate the presence, past or otherwise, of a mill of any type. Mill Field or Millfield may also derive from 'Mil' an earlier term for 'Knight', the land therefore belonging to a Knight who would have held the ruling monarch's land 'in Knights service'. Just as Millstrood Road can be considered as 'the road (strood) to either a windmill or the Mil's (as in Knight's) residence or property so can 'Mill Field' or 'Millfield' be considered as a field either a Mil's (as in Knight's) property, or where or adjacent to where a windmill once stood or could perhaps be seen from.
Field names can sometimes give us an interesting 'picture' of what existed many years ago. They can also mislead us as we have seen with 'Millfield'. Field names may tell us about the type of terrain which existed or perhaps some past activities. We can be reasonably sure, without research, that 'Gravel Pits' indicates not just that gravel was extracted there but of the type of ground. However, can we assume the same for 'Loampitts' with its double 'T' spelling?
We can be sure salt was harvested on the 'The Salts' fields and that a forge existed on or nearby the two 'Forge' fields but what about 'Worms'? Was that a good field for anglers to get their bait or did the name have a more interesting derivation?
History and legend supports the obvious activities of 'Hanging Field' but did ye Knights of olde ever join in combat on 'Lance Field'? How did 'Convicts Field' become so named. Surely there is a story there. Did some unfortunate fallen creature give its name to 'Cow Down' as an old tree did to 'Dead Tree Field'? Did a 'Coney' also fall in 'Coney Down'? What is a 'Coney' anyway? Maybe hares did give their name to 'Haresbrook Field' and a horse leaped over something in 'Horse Leap' field but what does 'Rabbits Shaw' tell us?
Then of course there is 'Bogshole'. Was there ever a boggy hole there? Easy to believe there was or perhaps the area was seen as a 'boggy hole'. Along the bottom of Bogshole valley, alongside the Bogshole Brook it can be rather wet and perhaps boggy. No. The answer is perhaps more interesting although little is known about 'Bosh Hall' the somewhat legendary manor which is perceived as giving its name to Bogshole via 'Boshall'.
While names such as Bogshole, Convicts, and Hanging can be explained by interesting historical events or legend, other less understood names have a more mundane explanation. Rabbits Shaw tells us that the area was once forested. Clearing of forests for pasture sometimes left a small cluster of trees, perhaps alongside a brook or in a topographical feature not lending itself to pasture. Such small clusters of trees, remnants of a larger forest, became known as 'shaws'. A clear example of a shaw, visible to all travelers between Whitstable and Canterbury, is Little Pit Wood alongside Clapham Hill. A quite picturesque scene is presented by a tree covered, ravine like depression extending along the western side of the roadway.
'Cow Down' is not a memoriam to some unfortunate creature. Down or Downs usually refers to high undulating pastureland, perhaps cropped, which in this case is simply a cow pasture. 'Coney Down' has a slightly more interesting root. Rabbits are not indigenous to Britain. Coney was their French name. Common in France during the Middle Ages, imported animals did not survive England's cold climate. Later, in about the 17th century, imported rabbits were housed or wintered underground, presumably in burrows, where they not only survived but thrived. Coney Down is recorded as being where such rabbits were once kept and presumably farmed.
Almost certainly a horse did not leap over anything in 'Horse Leap' field. Deer were kept in Blean and other neighbouring woods. Prior to the Industrial Revolution advent of drawn steel wire for fencing, fences were commonly of brushwood and easily 'leaped over' by Deer. Low embankments were formed which with the brushwood fence and resultant ditch provided a secure containment for deer. They were prevented from leaping over the fences. Rather perversely such structures became known as a 'Deer Leap'. Most likely our 'Horse Leap' was an old deer leap resurrected as a horse enclosure. After all, it is alongside part of Great Pit Wood.
I cannot offer even any legendary explanation for the historical sounding Lance Field but at least one of the 'Hanging Fields' does have some support in local history albeit unclear. While the hanging of young smuggler Thomas Knight and the Gaol House on Borstall Hill are reasonably well known, the existence of a hanging field or fields further south are far less so.
While it is known that some people were hung in a field between Borstall and Clapham Hills, there is some doubt as to exactly where that was. One explanation of the name of the Gorrell Stream is said to have come from the 'gore' flowing from the Hanging Field. In the latter half of the 20th century Gorrel Stream appeared to rise in the field adjacent to South View Farm in the north east corner of the Canterbury Road and Old Thanet Way intersection. Known as 'The Hanging Field' that may have lent support for the 'Gorrell derived from gore' theory. However, in at least the 1950s, evidence of the Gorrell stream rising further uphill in the south west corner towards Wraik Hill could readily be seen. There is some literary support for 'The Hanging Field' to have been in that area.
I have not found any reference to hangings of people at Hanging Hill Field nor indeed in the adjacent Hanging Wood. Two escaping French Prisoners of War were murdered nearby, on the other side of Hanging Wood, the south west side near the old Red Lion pub. In that location The Brook, which I consider to be the upstream reaches of Swalecliffe Brook, loops around the south eastern end of 1860s Marbish Field forming a small promontory. Walking along the edge of Marbish Field, alongside The Brook which skirts Hanging Wood, I attempted to cross that promontory. No way could I force myself to do so. Something intangible seemed to prevent 14 year old me from taking a short cut across to my old maternal family home, Iron Cottages, on the corner of Goodman's Lane and Canterbury Road. Some 25 years later, I would learn that my maternal Grandfather, thoroughly at home in Hanging and Blean Woods, would not go near that promontory. He refused to tell anyone why. Perhaps he couldn't cross it either.
Ten or so years later, I first read of the murder of those two prisoners of war. Apparently the militia of the day were spotted by their local guides descending Honey Hill. Panicking in fear of being caught, the guides killed the escaping prisoners and fled. However, the Frenchmen were not honoured by the event being perpetuated in the naming of even that small part of Marbish Field, part of Anderson's Farm as I knew it. Perhaps those unfortunate Frenchmen were upset about that. Perhaps some supernatural force prevented me or my Grandfather from treading that hallowed ground! I don't think any of my ancestors were murdering smugglers. Or were they?
Although that event did not lead to naming the murder site, I tell it here to illustrate how past events, even legend, superstition and myth can so easily bring about the renaming of a field. 'Rake Field' at Wraik Hill is a good example of how superstition and fear of the supernatural is perpetuated into modern times. It is also a good example of how the poor literacy and dialects of past times can influence field names. Wraik is said to derive from an old term for a spectre. If the Hanging Field was in the area of today's Wraik Hill one can easily imagine public hangings generating sightings of a spectre especially in past centuries of high superstition. The spelling of names varied considerably in past times of poor literacy, when few could write, fewer could spell and the English language was written "like what she was spoke". So, at one point in time on one old map I find - Wraik Hill, Raik Farm and Rake Field all with certainty reflecting the one name 'Wraik'.
What interesting stories do some of the other field names have? Does
anyone know if 'Little Lost Field' has been found?
If readers can add information to our field index. Please email us at....