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The History of Kent

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History of Dunkirk

Dunkirk comes from the ‘Dunkerque’ in France. They gave the name to places considered lawless or remote, in several counties throughout England. Dunkirk was an extra-parochial tract of thinly populated woodland (formerly known as the ‘ville of the hundred of Westgate’), from which no tithes, were payable, and renowned as a haunt of law-breakers and had no church or parson until 1840.


Dunkirk parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Christ Church. The architect John Whichcord built it in 1840 with the consecration on 10 June 1841 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose gift it was in an attempt to civilise the lawless ville. The church closed in 1988 and sold as a private residence.


In the early morning of 31st May 1838 near Dunkirk, John Tom masquerading as Sir William Courtenay murdered a village constable sent to arrest him. Later that day, he led a band of followers into a fight with the military at Bosenden Wood, in which eleven more died, including Tom….more