web analytics

Southfleet in Kent

By Melanie DeWitt


History of the Parish of Southfleet

Southfleet is a small village, which includes the Hamlet of Betsham, five miles SW of Gravesend in Kent; although it is a civil parish within Darftord Borough. Many of its buildings, including the Ship Inn, are extremely old. Church cottages are over four hundred years old and the Old Rectory dates back to the 14th Century, or perhaps even earlier than that. The Rectory has a number of ghost stories told about it, including one about a monk said to have been bricked up in one of the rooms, and a Lady in Brown who was supposed to have been locked away to die in the cellar. Whether the two were associated in life and whether that association, whatever form it took, had anything to do with the manner of their deaths seems to have become lost among the lumber of local lore.

The Manor of Southfleet, with the church seems to have been given to the church and priory of Rochester by some of the ancient Saxon Kings.

The parish church of St Nicholas has 14th century origins, although pre-Roman Christian remains have been found in the area.

Southfleet had a railway station on the Gravesend West west Branch line, which had been opened from Fawkham Junction near Longfield on 10 May 1886; the line was closed on 14 March 1968, although passenger traffic had ceased on 3 August 1953. The section of the trackbed south of the A2 road of that closed line was originally utilised for Phase 1 of Channel Tunnel Rail Link line to London Waterloo (now not due to operate)

On the northern edge of the parish was the Roman settlement of Vagnicea along Watling Street and Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age remains indicate a long history of people living in the area.