Cliffe History

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The Ancient Parish of Cliffe

The ancient parish of Cliffe is one of the largest parishes in Kent and now contains two villages: the ancient village of Cliffe and the more recent village of Cliffe Woods. Its northern boundary is that of the River Thames and to most casual visitors it appears to be a sleepy, ‘out-of-the-way’, small rural settlement of little importance.

However, the parish of Cliffe has a hidden history with one of the earliest writings on the history of Cliffe by William Lambarde, (A Perambulation of Kent, 1576) where he mentions that ‘Cliffe is a large town of great importance’ and this is repeated by Richard Kilburn in 1659. By 1779 Edward Hasted, in his work ‘The History and Topographical History of the County of Kent’ Cliffe was recorded as “once being a larger town than it is now”.

Its importance stemmed from the fact that it was at the first point where the Thames could be crossed with relative ease and its strong and unique relationship with the church. The parish church of St. Helen’s is one of the largest parish churches in Kent and it is strongly rumoured that Cliffe and its surroundings were also the locations of the Councils of Cloveshoo: councils where both church and state met to discuss affairs of state.

Many thanks to the many individuals from Cliffe and Cliffe Woods, and the surrounding area, who have helped with putting this site together. Special thanks goes to Emma Thompson and Richard Penny of Southampton University for their help with research and especially to Peter Tann, of Kent Archaeological Society,  who kindly approached the KAS Publications Committee for permission to reproduce their work.

© 1993 - 2015 - Cliffe History
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