Lower Halstow

The Story of a Village in Kent
by Pauline Stevens


The following review appeared in 'Bygone Kent'

Pauline Stevens has lived in Lower Halstow for more than forty years, and in this labour of love it appears that she has persuaded most of the village's inhabitants to commit their memories to paper for the benefit of others. All the minutiae of a century of community life are recorded here; the floods, Scout and Guide activities, the fates of those who fought in two World Wars, problems with water supply and sewage disposal, fund-raising events, buses, school treats, the birth of triplets...

From Roman times until the mid-nineteenth century agriculture provided employment for most villagers, but the population began to grow dramatically (from 121 in 1801 to 508 in 1871) with the coming of the brickworks. Then for more than a century brickmaking was the dominating feature of life in Lower Halstow, and we learn of the origins of the industry in the 1840s as well as what it was like to work there in good times and bad.

The church, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, and the school, built a thousand or so years later, have been the centres of village life, and lengthy chapters are devoted to both buildings and their associated activities. Details of inns, farms, and shops are also included. A final section, which will be of interest to many beyond the parish boundaries, describes the natural history of the area and includes checklists of flora and fauna.

'The Story of Lower Halstow' (ISBN 095369660X) runs to over 300 close-packed pages, and is illustrated by black and white photographs and the author's specially drawn maps. It is priced at £10.00. Although there is no index the topics covered in each chapter are listed in considerable detail under the 'contents' pages.

Despite the closure of the brickfield in 1966, vast changes in farming over the last century, and the building of many new houses in the 70s and 80s, Lower Halstow's spirit of community is undiminished, and this book records just what contributes to it.


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