Lucky me, the friend I was staying with in the delightful coastal town of Deal, Kent, has a sister in Barham so we made a day trip to this quintessential English village. Truly picturebook/storybook material, the town is indeed historic. The Romans camped here. William the Conqueror collected hostages and oaths of loyalty from the Men of Kent here. King John had an encampment of 50,000 men here while preparing for war with France. Simon de Montfort assembled an army on Barham Downs in 1265. And after Henry VI was crowned in Paris, he was met here by his barons and escorted to Canterbury and London. Rather beyond “Washington slept here,” wouldn’t you say?
And then the church, St. John the Baptist: it is believed there was a church here by 809, and under the tower there is evidence of a Saxon floor. There is mention of a church in the Doomsday Book. What can be seen today includes, as the oldest part, the 12th-century base of the tower. Most is from the 14th century, but the south aisle was added in the 15th. It makes for a fascinating mix of architecture with modifications in the Victorian period and additions up to the present.
But we were on a family visit, not an historical pilgrimage, so we enjoyed a walk through the heart of the village and lunch at the pub. Sorry to say that is not a stop we would repeat – I don’t want to mislead – but we enjoyed checking it out and we were in happy company. On this sunny, if brisk, day, the gracious old brick houses, the hedges and walls around splendid gardens and lawns, the winding lanes, all combined to give a sense of peace and well-being. I didn’t take photos of private properties where people were out in their gardens, nor did I want to breach the privacy afforded by hedges and walls, so my photos are limited and omit some impressive manorial properties. You must see for yourself, as an easy excursion from Dover or Canterbury. Follow some of the walking paths here and let your troubles melt away.