Shoreham, Kent

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Crown Road - - 796293.jpg
Crown Road
Grid reference: TQ515615
Location: 51°19’57"N, 0°10’24"E
Population: 2,041  (2011[1])
Post town: Sevenoaks
Postcode: TN14
Dialling code: 01959
Local Government
Council: Sevenoaks

Shoreham is a village and parish in the Codsheath Hundred of Kent. The parish includes the settlements of Badgers Mount and Well Hill, and is located five miles north of Sevenoaks.

The probable derivation of the name is estate at the foot of a steep slope. Steep slope was from the Saxon word scor. pronounced shor, but written sore by Norman scribes.

The village of Shoreham contains four traditional independent pubs: Ye Olde George Inne, The King's Arms, The Two Brewers and the Crown; with another in nearby Twitton.


Shoreham bridge over the Darent

The Darent valley was one of the major areas of Stone Age settlement; Shoreham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book.

In 1668, cricket was mentioned in a court case as being played at Shoreham, one of the sport's earliest references.[2]

It was also known as a smuggling area. Moreover, Shoreham was allegedly the most bombed village in the United Kingdom during the Second World War because the Army took over several manor houses for operational use.

Papermaking was once a local industry; the mill closed finally in 1925.

War memorial

There is a white memorial cross in the hillside opposite the village church. It was dug in 1920 as a memorial to local men killed in action.

Shoreham was the birthplace and home of Private Thomas Highgate, who was the first British soldier to be shot for desertion during the First World War on 8 September 1914, following the Battle of and Retreat from Mons. In 2000, Shoreham Parish Council voted not to include his name on its war memorial. However, after a posthumous pardon in 2006, it was considered that his name might be added.[3]

The memorial is incomplete. It has been established that at least one of its fallen, George Arthur Rouse (brother of Percy Aslin, marked on the memorial, both sons of Harriet Rouse, as recorded in the 1901 Census), is missing. One hundred years after he died, an effort to have George added was underway.

Shoreham Aircraft Museum

The official opening of the Shoreham Aircraft Museum in 1978 was attended by fifteen former Battle of Britain pilots. It pays lasting tribute to all those airmen who fought in the skies over southern England during World War II and houses a substantial collection of aviation relics excavated by the group over many years from sites of crashed British and German aircraft, as well as items which have been donated.

Run by local enthusiasts, the Museum is largely funded by proceeds made by visitors whose donations contribute to the recovery and preservation of the artefacts. The Battle of Britain brought the village of Shoreham directly into the war when on 15 September 1940, a Dornier Do 17Z, part of a force of about 100 German bombers approaching London, was shot down shortly before noon. The invading formation had been challenged by nine RAF squadrons and the battle developed into a series of individual 'dogfights'. The unfortunate pilot of the Dornier was forced to land in a field at Castle Farm, with a Spitfire circling overhead, its cockpit canopy open, and its pilot waving a handkerchief, to signal a warning to the growing crowd of hop-pickers nearby to stay away until the Shoreham Home Guard arrived to recover the German crew. Feldwebel Heitsch, the pilot, and Feldwebel Pfeiffer, the observer, were driven to The Fox & Hounds pub in Knatts Valley, where they were bought a brandy before being driven to Sevenoaks Police Station. The museum holds a collection of photographs of the Dornier, along with items taken from the wreckage at the time.

Shoreham duck race

The Duck Race is a long-running event in the village. It is held each year, on the May Day bank holiday. Entrants pay a small fee (usually £1) to enter their 'duck' into the race. The duck has to travel along the river Darent from the war memorial in the village, to the bridge before the old Mill. A 'duck' can be anything from a shop-bought rubber duck to a model made by the entrant(s). Actual ducks are forbidden. It is a large event in the village and several hundred people turn out each year to line the riverbanks and watch. Anyone can enter and there is a prize for the 'Best Duck in Show' (awarded before the race begins) and the 'First placed Duck.' The money raised goes towards charitable organisations in the village.


The Showdown kitchen featured in The Big Family Cooking Showdown is a converted barn in Shoreham.[4]

Notable events

On 29 September 1934, Airspeed Courier G-ACSY of London, Scottish & Provincial Airways Ltd crashed just north of Shoreham, at the bottom of Cockerhurst Road.[5] The aircraft was on a scheduled international passenger flight from Heston to Paris and all four people on board were killed.

Notable people

(in alphabetical order)

  • Robert Ashington Bullen (1850–1912), geologist and authority on mollusca, was the vicar from 1888 to 1896.
  • Verney Lovett Cameron (1844–1894), first European to cross Equatorial Africa from coast to coast, buried in the village graveyard.
  • Paul Chaloner (born 11 November 1971), professional esports broadcast host, also known as RedEye.
  • Robert Colgate, was a Shoreham farmer and a sympathiser with the French Revolution who, having been forced to leave Britain in 1793, travelled to the US where his son William Colgate founded the famous Colgate company in 1806.
  • Shena Mackay (author) though born in Edinburgh, grew up in Shoreham.[6]
  • Lord Dunsany (1878–1957), the writer, lived here, at Dunstall Priory, serving in the Home Guard during World War II, and is buried here, with his wife
  • London-born artist Samuel Palmer, (1805–1881) lived in the village from 1826 to 1835 where he was part of a group of artists who followed William Blake (there is a theory that Blake took his inspiration for 'Jerusalem' from the village's surroundings) and called themselves The Ancients. Palmer's work vividly depicts the local rural landscapes of the 1820s. Contrary to local myth, he did not live at the 'Water House' on the River Darent, but in a run-down farm cottage that has since been demolished. The mistake arises because his father, Samuel Palmer senior, rented the 'Water House' for some years.
  • Anthony Powell, writer Powell's family lived at Dunstall Priory during the war and he visited whenever he was able to take leave from his duties at the War Office.
  • Joseph Prestwich, geologist, lived in Shoreham until his death in 1896
  • William Wall (theologian), lived in Shoreham
  • Naomi Watts (born 28 September 1968), Hollywood actress, was born in Shoreham
  • John Wesley is known to have often preached here; he was friends of the then vicar, the celebrated Vincent Perronet
  • Franklin White, ballet dancer[7]



Shoreham station provides the village with National Rail services to London via Bromley South, and to Sevenoaks.




  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane. 
  • Joe's Walks for Bad Map-Readers – 13 Country Walks around London, by Joe Alexander with illustrations by Joy Paul (Roxburghe Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-9519402-0-1)

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Shoreham, Kent)