Cooling - Cliffe History

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Cooling the smallest populated parish in the Strood Rural   District probably gets its name from the Saxon ‘Cu’   (pronounced Koo) meaning a cow, and ‘ling’ a pasture   although ancient deeds and books have spelt it various ways,   such as Couling, Cowling and Cowlinge. It covers an area of   2,077 acres, marsh and arable land.

It is known that the Romans occupied Cooling by the fact   that in 1922 at Redhills on Eastborough Farm, a Roman kiln   was unearthed.  The pottery found in the kiln was from   A.D. 65 – 120, some still being in a perfect state of   preservation, and may be seen by permission of Mr. & Mrs. F.   Mugeridge at The Bungalow, Eastborough Farm. Coins have also   been found on this farm. Roman dating from A.D. 65,   Elizabethan and many others. About 1914 some Elizabethan   gambling tokens were unearthed from beneath two chestnut   trees at Eastborough, but were of Dutch origin.

What are known today as Eastborough Farm Cottages,   are reputed to have been called ‘Elizabeth’s Hall’, where   Queen Elizabeth I was supposed to have landed from the Royal   Barge, and the stone upon which she stepped may still be   seen. This did not seem feasible until the floods of January   1953 when the waters came within a few yards of the site.

Cooling Castle was commenced in 1381 taking about five   years to erect and replacing Cooling Manor a possession of   the Cobham family for more than 350 years from the reign of   Henry III to that of James I.

The castle was built early in the reign of Richard II   by John de Cobham the 3rd Baron, and was lived in for many   years by Lord Cobham and their
  descendants until they eventually built the present Cobham   Hall, andthe castle suffered damage by Sir Thomas Wyatt’s   force in January 1554.

In 1669 the castle, Cooling Lodge   and Newbarn (adjoining land) became properties of the three   surviving daughters of William Brooke the 8th Baron he   having been killed fighting for the Royalists. His fourth   daughter Lady Denham having previously died childless.   However these properties were soon disposed of the castle   was sold and fell into decay until a farmhouse was built   within the ruined walls and well-to-do yeoman farmers   resided therein.

The ruins and part of the moat can still be seen but   the twin drum towers are in good preservation and the   inscription in old fashioned English enamelled on copper   plates can be translated as follows: -

‘Let   the living and those as yet unborn know that I was built for   the assistance of the country of which fact this is the   charter and witness.’

In 1942 Cooling Castle estate comprising the ruins   and about 190 acres of farmland, was bought by the Rochester   Bridge Wardens, direct descendants in office of the Wardens   appointed by Sir John de Cobham in 1395.

It is said that Queen Elizabeth once had a hunting   lodge on the top of Lodge Hill (the Cooling Lodge property)   but the present house built in 1760 by Samuel Clay Harvey is   now used to accommodate Admiralty personnel.

Cooling Church dates from the 12th century and until   about 100 years ago had a thatched roof, some of the   original pews may still be seen at the back of the Church,   and are believed to be some of the oldest in England.

It also has both a square tower and a steeple a small   excrescence resembling a candle extinguisher.

On New Barn Farm there is s piece of land called   ‘Brick Kiln-field’ where we believe the bricks were made for   building farm houses and barns at Cooling Court and New Barn during the 17h and 18th   centuries. Even today the plough turns up pieces of red   brick and ashes, proving that once there must have been a   brickfield there. The barn at New Barn Farm which was partly   destroyed by bombs during the 1939 – 45 war, but now   repaired, dates from 1733,and Cooling Court Farm House was   built in 1705 by a widow named Clay.

One of the shepherd’s houses on Cooling Marshes known   as the “Shades” has a very shady past. It was used by   smugglers who landed contraband goods at Egypt Bay, and from   there are supposed to have taken and hidden some under the   pulpit of Cooling Church; the cavity is still to be seen   there.

An old man called Dusty Wellard who had lived in   Cooling about 50 years ago remembered his father telling how   he was paid to drive a flock of sheep through the gate ways   across the marshes to cover up any tracks left by the   smugglers.
Cooling Court
Charles Dickens   often came to Cooling and the village plays a large part in   the book “Great Expectations”, and in the churchyard are the   little lozenge tombstones supposed to be Pip’s little   brothers and sisters, and where met the escaped convict from   the prison ship lying in the Thames just off Cooling   Marshes.

In reality these tombstones are commemorating   thirteen little late 18th century Comports who lived at   Cooling Castle, and at Decoy Farm House below Northward   Hill, although none survived longer than seventeen months.

Cooling now forgeless, did actually possess one at the   beginning of the nineteenth century, and an old house   adjoining the churchyard was called ‘The Forge.’

The Old Rectory still stands in the middle of the   village, but is now used as a private residence. Since the   late was the parish has been linked with Cliffe, with Canon   F. S. Gammon A.K.C. Rural Dean and Surrogate as the joint   rector.

In 1899 a Methodist Chapel was built in the part of Cooling   known as Spendiff. It was used as a day school for some   years prior the building of the Council School at Cooling   Street in 1906. The school registers can be still be seen   but before building of the chapel, the Wesleyans as they   were called held their meetings and Sunday services in the   upper storey of an Oast-house at Spendiff: that room is now   used to store farm produce.

The cricket club formally known as   the Cooling Wesleyan Cricket Club was formed just after the   1914 – 1918 war and their forst matches were held at Cooling   Court. In later years they used the ground adjoining the   ‘Three Merry Boys’ but are now linked with the Cliffe   Cricket Club.

Cooling only has one inn, ‘The Horse Shoe and   Castle,’ but no shops or post-office.

In 1938 a G.P.O. Wireless Receiving Station was   opened on Cooling Marshes.

During the 1939 – 45 war, Cooling was in the first   line of defence and tank traps were dug across part of the   village and many block houses were built. Bombs fell in many   places leaving their scars and patches of chalk blown up   from the depths are still visible on the ploughed fields.

April 5th 1947 saw the first bus service on Saturday   only.

Electricity came to only part of the village about   the samed time.

Cooling Radio Station ~ engulfed by the 1953 floods.

In 1948 the first council houses were erected and   named ‘Pip’s View.’
By 1953 the population had reached 168,sufficient to   consider a Parish Council of five members, and the first  councillors were elected on the 14th May 1955, namely: -
J. Barrett, A. Brook. Mrs. E. Mugeridge, R. Brook and Mrs.   E. Whitebread.

The village now has its own Parish Hall and adjoining   is a playing field equipped with swings and a seesaw for the   children.

Since 1939 the parish has raised £20,000 in National   Savings, and also collected £75 for its Coronation   celebrations.

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