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The History of Kent

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History of Petham

Petham comes from the Old English ‘pytt’ meaning a ‘pit, natural hollow’ with ‘hamm’ as ‘land hemmed in by water or marsh’ or ‘hām’ as a ‘village, homestead, estate’; therefore, either ‘hemmed-in land at a pit’ or ‘pit homestead/village’. The Domesday Book chronicles Petham as Piteham.   

Petham parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to All Saints. The Normans built it in the late 11th or early 12th century, with additions and extensions in the following 100 years. Around 1350, an unknown founder cast and hung a bell in the tower. In 1617, Joseph Hatch added a bell, with Richard Phelps adding a treble in 1706. In 1760, Lester and Pack recast the three bells into a ring of six. In the late 1700's, the Petham church and parish fell on particularly hard times and had to sell the majority of the stained glass. Canterbury Cathedral bought some of it to replace glass destroyed during the commonwealth period. Therefore, the Petham glass now adorns part of the cathedrals corona and an east window of the crypt. 

In 1800, Edward Hasted described All Saints church as ‘large, consisting of two isles and one chancel, having a square flat tower at the south-west corner, in which are six bells. The church is very neat and well kept’. In 1922, fire virtually destroyed the church – the heat melted the bells. Stonemasons and local craftsmen spent the next few years rebuilding and restoring the damaged building to as close to the original as possible. In 1923, Mears and Stainbank cast a ring of six bells. Following the fire, Kenfield Hall donated a bell, cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1907, for use with the clock…. more