S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen


Some days, the internet tells me that I am a particular color or animal or fairy. Today, papersky told me that I am the Kentish village of Ivychurch.

She's obviously right:
  • It's in an isolated position in its daily life, located in the middle of Romney Marsh.

  • Its roots are medieval, and it's very fond of a good thirteenth-century church - its own, say.

  • It's quirky. The churchyard has an unusual feature: a hudd, or a shelter to keep the parson dry while reading at a funeral.

  • Its name is Old English in origins; mine isn't, but is often mistake for being a name of Celtic derivation. (According to the BBC's Kent Places dictionary, "Its first recorded form was Iuecirce in the eleventh century – looking back to Old English ifig ‘ivy’ and cirice ‘church’.")

  • Food and socialization are important to it. The village has one pub, a sixteenth-century one, called The Bell.

  • It's interested in technological and controversial things: Ivychurch has been a location for GM crop trials in the past several years.

  • It wishes it could buy property more easily, but prices are high.

  • It has windmills in its future. The parish will be the site of a wind farm according to current plans.

The contents of http://www.bellinnivychurch.co.uk/ which isn't loading, and thus, I fear, a defunct website, as cached by Google.

The Bell
The inn know as the "Bell" was built during the reign of Henry VIII (1509 - 1547) in the year 1545. It was erected on the site of a much earlier building dating back to medieval times. The origin of the sign of the Bell dates back to the eleventh century when inns and taverns stood within the precincts of parish churches. However many bells a particular church held determined the number given to the name of the inn. When the "Bell" inn was first built the church of St. George held only one bell.
The first occupant of the inn was one Johnathan Giles, church-warden and clerk to the parish of Ivychurch. Ivychurch then was an entire flat of marshes. It derived its name from one William Ivy. baron of New Romney and Parliamentary representative from 1382 to 1386. When first it was built the "Bell" inn was a much smaller (though the original building can still be seen within the present day structure,) timber framed, thatched house, additions were made in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Churchwarden Giles introduced the first ale to the "Bell" shortly after it was built. It was his job to administer ale and bread to the people of the parish in times of hardship. In 1569, two inhabitants of Ivychurch, one John Walcot and his wife, were taken from the inn at night secured in a secret place, and held there for several days, on suspicion of witchcraft, on the word of one Peter Parks. Walcot and his wife were eventually freed and Parks branded a common liar.

The association of Romney Marsh with smuggling is almost proverbial and the wideexpanse of marshland with many water courses and virtually uncontrollable coastline, undoubtedley provided excellent coverage for illicit activity. The "Bell", during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was something of a centre for smuggling. In a recorded statement of 1826, an informer giving evidence against one George Ransley and his gang, stated that the "Bell" at Ivychurch was a regular drop and meeting placeand that he had been asked to go there on many occasions with messages from the gang. The "Bell" was known and called by the smugglers as the "Stained Glass Window" In the nave in St. Georges a stone is inscribed "For this place I paid full dear, because my friends I buried here". Beneath is a large vault which was emptied of its contents and used by smugglers to store thier contraband. They used to lead thier horses into the church, so that the tubs could conveniently unladen or replaced on the pack saddles.

In 1851, the population of Ivychurch was 264. The innkeeper at the "Bell" was one Henry Springett. In 1882, one Edward Flisher purchased the inn. Flisher was a hare coursing enthusiast and was responsible for introducing the sport in the area. For many years, the John James coursing club met at the "Bell" every Monday evening.

The "Bell" has seen many changes over the years, but still retains its orginal character. The food and liquer server here is strictly legal. So stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days.

Update: My grandmother reminds me that I once spend New Years in a hotel called The Bell, in Thetford. A theme, clearly.
Tags: ivychurch
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