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WittershamVOICES

History

WITTERSHAMS HISTORY TIME LINE

  In old English Oxena meant oxen and from earliest times the island lay in the wide tidal estuary of the River Limen and was known as Oxena Island.

 

  Evidence of Roman occupation of the island is slowly being revealed but little research has so far been done.

   

According to legend it was the settlement of the Wittings or Witrics one of the tribes that originated from Northern Europe and possibly part of the Danish armada which invaded the area in 892. 

If so then it is unlikely that they survived the second onslaught of the Danes in 991 when the village of Stone was raised to the ground.

 

 1032. Wittersham first enters the pages of written history when in King Canute’s reign it is given as a gift to Christ Church Canterbury.

 

  The village is not mentioned in the Doomsday Survey, possibly because it was church land, but the doomsday surveyors did record a settlement centred around Pinyon Quarter where stood the manor of Palstre.

 

  King William gave this manor to his brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux who was to become the First Earl of Kent

 

Being over ambitious Bishop Odo is disgraced and all his possessions including the Manor of Palstre is taken from him and given to William Rufus Crevequer, a knight who had helped the king defeat the warrior bishop in battle.

 

  In 1072 our village was known as Witriscesham and until the name became settled in the 1600’s as Wittersham it was known variously as Wiztresham, Wytheryshame, Wightershame, Wyghtryshame and Wightersham.

 

  Other manors besides Palstre are created at Overley (Owley) and Acton. 

 

The Manor of Wittersham was handed over by Archbishop Courtney to All Saints College, Maidstone.

 

   During the 12th century the monks began to build a church within this manor, the start of our present church of St John the Baptist.  

 

13th.C. Knelle Dam built across the Southern channel of the River Rother, diverting the Rother around the North of Oxney.

 

15th. C. The Northern channel of the River Rother becomes so silted up it prevents ships from reaching Smallhythe.

 

1546. The Manor of Wittersham is left to SIR THOAMS WYATT.  

 

1680-84 The Craven channel is recut from Maytham to Blackwall diverting the Rother to the South of Oxney and shortening its course by five miles.  

 

1762.  Dr. Bielby Porteus became rector of the parish. He later became chaplain to the king before becoming Bishop of London.

 

1808. A Methodist Chapel was built in The Street.

 

1820. Wittersham Free School founded by the Rev. William Cornwallis and his wife, in memory of their grandson.

 

1823. A complete survey of the village is carried out to establish what tithes can be collected for the church. 

 

1834. A famous cricket match took place between two County players, Ned Wenham and Richard Mills, and a complete Isle of Oxney team of eleven men. It drew a crowd of two thousand spectators. The County players won. 

 

1839. Thomas Forster becomes Wittersham’s first Postmaster.

 

1884. The privately financed Wittersham Water Trust is set up to provide a safe water supply to The Street. The fountain still survives by the Village Hall.

 

1890. Wittersham Friendly Society formed.

 

1906. Wittersham House, formerly the Rectory, was bought by Alfred Lyttelton MP.

 

1906-09. Wittersham House completely remodelled by the famous Architect Edwin Lutyens.

 

1900. Wittersham Road Station, which lies two miles from the village, came into use.

 

1920. An oak tablet, designed by the architect SIR EDWIN LUTYANS and bearing the names of the twenty one men from the parish who died in the Great War was placed in the South aisle of the church.

 

1920. Colonel John Body of Wittersham Court become the last Lord of the Manor. 

 

1921. 30th January. Wittersham War Memorial unveiled by Capt. H.H.C. Baird DSO.

1922. Wittersham Mill demolished.

 

1932. Smallhythe and Stone Ferry Toll Gates removed.

 

1936. A re-enactment of the 1834 cricket match, when two professional players played an Oxney eleven. The Oxney eleven lost again.

 

1953. Laurence Irving produces the play “The Coming Of Christ” in St Johns Church.

Written by John Masefield with music by Gustav Holst it was performed both by local amateur and professional actors from London. One of the actors from London was  John Schlesinger later to gain fame as a Hollywood Film Director.

 

1955. Harry Addy, licensee of the Queen Head since 1895, died.

 

1957. The Queens Head closed.  

 

1977. Wittersham Village Library closed after 50 years service.

 

1978. Wittersham village sign donated to the village by Wittersham W.I.

 

1981. Oxney Tug of War Team win their first United Kingdom title at Dumfries.

 

1984. Oxney Tug of War Team become world champions in the 560 kilo class.

 

2005. Wittersham Horticultural Society marks its 150th anniversary.