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History of Acol

Acol is a hamlet on the Isle of Thanet, although, first recorded as Acholt in 1270. The name comes from the Old English ‘ac’ meaning an ‘oak tree’ and ‘holt’ as a ‘wood’; therefore, ‘oak wood’. The name indicates the original position as being some half a mile from its present location. In 1347, most of the inhabitants died of the plague. The dwellings were burnt down, and the survivors moved to the current location. After various name changes over the years, it eventually reverted to Acol.


Close to Acol is an place where once a chalk pit existed, around which the legend of Smuggler’s Leap has grown. It is said an Excise man called Anthony Gill was chasing a smuggler, both on horseback, and in his eagerness to catch the smuggler made a pact with the devil. In the darkness and just as Gill caught up with the smuggler they plunged into the deep chalk-pit. The following morning they found, three broken bodies, the smuggler and his horse, together with Gill, the horse leant to the excise man, by the devil, survived.


Acol church is dedicated to Saint Mildred and a Chapel-of-Ease to Birchington. In 1875, Charles Nightingale Beazley built the church, on land donated by Mrs Charlotte Rogers. He intended the church to double as a school and incorporated a large fireplace opposite the door. He also provided a single bell. In 1876, the Bishop of Dover opened the new Acol church.