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History of Godmersham

Godmersham comes from the Old English ‘ham’ meaning a ‘village, homestead’ combined with a personal name; therefore, ‘Godmær’s village/homestead’. The Domesday Book records Godmersham as Gomersham. The earliest record is in 824AD when Beornwulf, King of Mercia, gave Godmersham to Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury.


Godmersham parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Lawrence the Martyr. The nave and chancel date to around the time of the Norman Conquest – either just before of just after. The Normans added the tower in the 11th century and rebuilt the nave and chancel in the following century while extending the chancel in the 13th century. There is a record of four bells in 1552, which Christopher Hodson recast into a ring of five in 1687. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Godmersham church as ‘consisting of a body and a chancel, having a square low tower on the north side of the body, on which was formerly a steeple. There are five bells in it. The chancel is large and handsome. There were formerly eight stalls in it’. In 1865, the Victorian architect William Butterfield carried out a general restoration together with the south transept, aisle and porch. In 1998, Whitechapel augmented the bells to six with the addition of a treble in memory of Charlie Bell…. more


In 1270 Canterbury Cathedral, possessors of Godmersham built Court Lodge, a great hall, at the centre of the estate. The lodge had the finest windows of any manor house in Kent. They demolished it in 1955.


Jane Austen took inspiration from and included many of, the Godmersham buildings, in her books.