Posted by: madkentdragon | April 12, 2011

Trottiscliffe, Sarsen Stones and a few Tales. Quirky Kent 13

This is Trottiscliffe – pronounced Trosley – don’t know why except there was a Trosley Manor near here. It’s a little village sheltered by the North Downs and on the route of the Pilgrims Way, which ran from Winchester to Canterbury.

Originally owned by Offa – he of the Dyke – it was handed to the Church of St Andrew and the Bishopric of Rochester in 788 but the Vikings
captured it in the Danish Wars and they held it until the Conquest. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux claimed it next but Archbishop Lanfranc managed to recover it from Odo in 1076. Lanfranc was best mates with William the Conqueror, having helped him when his civil marriage fell foul of the Pope and it was he who instigated Odo’s trial at Penenden Heath.

The village was then passed to our old friend Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, and also to the Church of St Andrew later known as Rochester Cathedral. The parish was also responsible for payments to maintain part of the third pier of Rochester Bridge. He actually built a Palace here, he loved building things! However it doesn’t look like he ever lived here as in 1185, the then Bishop of Rochester had it restored – unfortunately there isn’t even a stone left to show exactly where it was. There are records to show that Bishops did use it in the 14th Century and continued to do so until the reformation and then it was leased out to the Whittaker family. I can find no records of it after 1748 when it was known as the manor of Trottiscliffe.

The Saxon Church of St Peter and St Paul, possibly updated by the Normans, still has doors or gates at the ends of the pews and there seem
to be some sarsen stones used in the walls. One extra point is that the church has a pulpit from Westminster Abbey, which was removed from Westminster in 1824 because it was too big and took up too much room for the grand coronation of George IV; the pulpit dates from the late 18th Century and completely dominates the interior of the church.

Just outside the village is Trosley Country Park, yup spelt how it sounds and in the park are some sarsen stones, called the Coldrum Longbarrow; named after the Coldrum Farm that was once where part of this park stands. Coldrum is probably derived from the old Cornish word Galdrum, meaning place of enchantment, this long barrow is the least damaged Neolithic burial chamber in Kent. It has been owned by the National Trust since 1926 and comprises 15 in tact sarsen stones on a raised bank forming a circle, as said before there may be more of these stones in the Saxon part of the church. It has been excavated at least twice and 22 sets of bones from it are in the Maidstone museum, but
the site has also had other disturbances and it is believed that not all stones are in their original position.

The Pilgrims Way here predates Christianity and probably dates back to the stones and was used by ancient Druids who used the stones in
the same manner as Stonehenge was used, there is an equinox sunrise alignment and tree dressing continues here as well. People congregate here for that sunrise annually. In earlier centuries other human bones were discovered here and the locals who found them apparently removed them to the village of Meopham where there were buried with all due ceremony, on learning about this the Vicar of Trottiscliffe is supposed to have written to the vicar of Meopham complaining that he had stolen the village’s earliest inhabitants. Whether this is true or not I leave to you!

The church lies at the end (or is it the beginning?) of a short three-line lay that passes through the Longbarrow and continues Burham Church
that’s just over the other side of the Medway. Just in front of this energy line that sits beside The Pilgrims Way, two magnificent crop circles arrived on Solstice Eve during June of ’99. Discovered on the morning of the 20th, they both appeared in separate wheat fields that were overlooked by the church. I added this as another example of Quirky Kent!

Next time we’ll look at Burham and other villages.



  1. Fabulous! We’ve tried to find Kits Coty in the past but even when we asked residents of Kits Coty Village we had no luck – the people we asked either had no idea what we were talking about or pointed us in a very general (incorrect) direction! I think next time we’ll go looking for Coldrum Longbarrow instead!

    I heard an older couple mention once that they never travel outside Kent, because just about anything they could possibly want could be found in our lovely county – I’ve been lots of places, and I’m almost at the point of agreeing with them!

    • Thanks for the comments, if you google Aylesford you can get an AA walkers map to find Kits Coty

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