Howfield originally dates from the 12th Century when it was known as Haghfeide or Hughvelde. The original building formed part of the St Gregory’s Priory in Canterbury. The Manor seems to have been used as a working dairy run by the monks of the priory.
One of a set of five manors in the Stour Valley, although little remains of the original manor, glimpses of the chapel possibly dating back to around 1350 can still be seen. The well, probably originally outdoors can now be seen inside the building in the small lounge next to reception. The hotel as it is today is a mixture of a sympathetic modern extension and a 17th Century wing, with intriguing elements of earlier and later buildings still in place, for example the Elizabethan stair turret which would have joined the original chapel to the hall of the house, the remains of an older fireplace in the more modern inglenook and beams indicating doors which no longer exist. The brickwork on the front and back of the older wing tell an interesting story and point to the architectural pretensions of the owners at the time, while windows, “gablets” and bricked up entrances and windows also indicate work having been done at different times of Howfield’s life. In addition, there is the red herring of the “1806” date above the porch, probably nothing to do with the date of any of the historic building work!
Howfield is unusual in that it faces away from what is now the main road, the A28. The A28 is a much more recent addition to the topography of the Stour Valley, which itself seems to have been quite different in the past with the river running much closer to the house. The indentations in the wider grounds could have been the site of Medieval fish ponds, or perhaps the Kentish dew ponds, or even the outline of a previous stream or river bed, but this needs further investigation. Some archaeological work was done at Howfield at the time of a planning application in the late ‘90s, but very little was found along the boundary with Howfield Lane, although "fire pits" believed to date back 4,000 years were found on the site now occupied by Brownhills Motorhomes on the other side of Howfield Lane.
Initial brief research about Howfield has given us an idea of who owned the building right back to the establishment of the manor in 1181, (including a connection to the Culkpeppers) but we want to know more about its ancient and more recent past, and will be running an oral history day for those who have a connection with Howfield’s past. We are particularly keen to find old photographs and images of the house.
Please check our calendar for events connected to the history of the building.
Many thanks to Paul Simons of McCurdy and Co, for his initial assessment of the house, its timbers, and revealing their hidden secrets.
The History Project Group of the Chartham Hatch Village Hall Society has produced a book called "Chartham Hatch, from Village School to Village Hall", which gives an insight into the life of the village and its surroundings.
Further snippets of local history may be found at:
Chartham Hatch Village Hall website
Chartham Parish Council
Thanington Parish Council