The Darrent River, which originates in the Greensand Hills, in Shoteham is neither wide nor deep. A picturesque, three-span, stone bridge passes through it with a solid balustrade made of brick. The current structure is nineteenth-century, although it is said that the bridge has existed here in the Middle Ages. A weeping willow growing above the water adds charm to the area.
On the other side of the river stands a monument built after the First World War to commemorate those who died in World Wars I and II.
Walking around Shoreham, I had the impression that the whole village was marked by death. Apparently this village was the most bombed place outside London during German air raids. On benches, trees, even on the gates, are engraved the names of the deceased. Near the river stands a beautiful, large house, with an entrance gate, on which there is a plaque informing that artist Samuel Palmer lived and worked here. However, when I googled him later, I found out that this was a mistake. Contrary to the local legend, Samuel lived in another house. This one belonged to his father. Palmer was a romantic painter, cooperating with a group of artists centered around William Blake. A lot of his paintings depict the area around Shoreham.
After a walk on the riverside, I parked the car on the main road, fortunately it was free. I wander around the village. Two the most important roads here High Street and Church Street form a slightly lopsided letter T. To be honest there isn’t much to explore, but the place is delightful and charming. The houses are usually free-standing, cottage like, mostly white or made of bricks, with sweet names instead of numbers and with lots, beautiful, flowering plants trailing on them. It looks so colorful like from a fairy – tale. Not only the houses are multicoloured. On the street I passed an elderly lady with pink and purple hair, in a flimsy floral dress, she looked amazing like a famous work of art. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the courage to take a picture.
In the center of the village stands a village hall, and the school. There are 4 pubs here but I did not go inside for a beer.
Instead, I went to a sweet-looking tea shop called Honey Pot for lunch, where a charming waitress became the source of my information about Shoreham. I ordered a mint and pea soup and a coffee. The soup was delicious, I could really feel the peas interspersed with a hint of fresh mint. And I needed coffee for further exploring.
Near one of the pubs there is also a church dedicated to SS Peter and Paul. Built of red brick, surrounded by lots of trees and a cemetery looks really impressive.
A little further behind the church I found a private street where I came across a surprise. Did I suddently found myself in another country? I pinched myself because a real vineyard lay just before me.
Practically opposite the tea room, near the mayor’s office (where you can use the public toilet) in the side street is the Aviation Museum. Unfortunately it was closed. As I found out later there was an air battle in Shoreham on September 15, 1940. German plane was shot down and had to land on the fields of one of the local farms. German officers were first taken to the Fox and Hounds pub (which no longer exists), where they were offered brandy, and later brought to the police station in Sevenoaks. In the museum you can probably see the remains of this aircraft as well as other memorabilia.
The lowner of the tea room told me about the initiative of the children from the local school. The kids designed, printed and laminated information about some historic sites and landmarks in Shoreham and sticked them to the proper places. Later, when walking around the town I was able to see a few. Thanks to them, I found out where the butcher’s shop was in 19 century, and also where other specialist shops were. I really liked the idea of involving children in the village’s history.
Cross in Shoreham
Going further along the muddy road between the museum and the Village Hall you can reach the monument created in 1920. It is a Christian cross dug in the ground, reinforced with concrete. Theoretically, the cross should be visible from afar. Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky; all I saw was the fence. To see it in all its glory I would have to climb one of the nearby tall trees. I didn’t feel like it.
However, the owner of the tea room showed me a photo of the cross. This is how it should look like:
This is what I saw:
Shoreham is surrounded by this amazing fields of poppies
I consider the trip to Shoreham to be successful. The charming lady in the tearoom mentioned one more special place for me to go: Lavender Farm. But I will write about this some other time.