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The History of Kent

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History of Cooling

Cooling comes from the Old English ‘ingas’ meaning ‘the people of, the people called after’ combined with a personal name: therefore, ‘people of Cul’. The Domesday Book records Cooling as Colinge.

The now redundant Cooling church, dedicated to Saint James, originates in the 13th century. Around 1400 saw the completion of the upper part of the tower. In 1614, John Palmer cast and hung a single bell, with Michael Darbie adding a tenor in 1651 and John Hodson a treble 24 years later. The parishioners paid for restoration of the church in the 18th century, together with repairs to the porch and the addition of a vestry. They completely covered the interior of the vestry in cockle shells, the emblem of Saint James. Charles Dickens took inspiration from the churchyard when he wrote the opening chapter of Great Expectations. On 31 May 1978, the Churches Conservation Trust took the Cooling church under its wing, following the declaration of its redundancy on 19 November 1976.

In 1381, when the war with France turned against England John Cobham, with the assistance of the King’s master mason, Henry Yevele, built, the moated, Cooling Castle, to protect the Peninsular from invasion.