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The History of Kent

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History of Newnham

Newnham comes from the Old English ‘niwe’ meaning ‘new’ with ‘hām’ as a ‘village, homestead, estate’; therefore, a ‘new homestead/village’. Newnham first appears in 1177 as Newenham.

Newnham parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Normans built the church around 1200 and extended it in the 14th century. In the 15th century, the Champion family added the Champion Court chapel, which, as a private chapel avoided the subsequent restoration, leaving the floor uneven. In 1485, John Kebyll cast and hung four bells in the tower. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Newnham church as consisting of ‘three isles and a chancel. The steeple, which is low and pointed, is covered with wood, in it are four bells’. In 1867, John Taylor added a bell making five. The Victorians carried out some restoration works in the 19th century. Taylors and Eayre augmented the bells to six with a treble in 2009.

In 1844, a chimney fire destroyed 14 houses, in Newnham, making 70 people homeless. The army donated sections of barrack rooms, dismantled at Sheerness, to form part of a new row of cottages.