The hamlet of Etchinghill lies at the southern end of the Parish of Lyminge. Its original name was Tettinghelde 1240(Tetta’s slope). A spring rises to the north side of Westfield Lane, (the road to Tolsford Hill) and the resultant stream flows across the fields to join up with the Nailbourne that rises in Well Field, Lyminge. This stream is known as the East Brook and probably in the Saxon period, when the settlement got its name of Tetinghelde, the volume of water would have been much greater. By the 15 th Century the hamlet’s name had altered to “Etynghyld” and “Etynghyll”. Later known as Eachendhill or Etchinghole before settling to become Etchinghill.
For centuries the hamlet remained a small farming community around the cross-roads, one of which led to Dover; one going south to Hythe and north to the village of Lyminge where the church is; the track up Westfield Lane over Tolsford Hill led people to West Hythe no doubt, but the importance of this waned as the coastline altered; and a final lane (now vanished) led to Newington.
In 1835/6 the first major change came to Etchinghill with the opening of the Elham Union Workhouse.
||Prior to this each Parish had relieved the poor the best way they could, usually by allowing them to remain in their own homes and giving them dole. This had, by the 19 th Century, become very difficult to maintain and in 1834 Parliament passed an Act reforming poor relief and suggested parishes grouped together. Fifteen Parishes, including Folkestone, grouped together to form the Elham Union. The bought two acres of land at Etchinghill for £120 and built a house to accommodate about 300 paupers at a cost of £6,500. The house was run by a husband and wife team entitled the “Master” and “Mistress”.
They were assisted by a clerk who kept the accounts, etc. A schoolmaster and schoolmistress were also provided and, later on, a nurse.
|All the other work was done by the inmates. The conditions were very harsh. Husbands were separated from wives and mothers from children. The diet was very basic, usually bread and cheese with vegetables on some days and meat only on Sundays. Alcohol was strictly forbidden, although this didn’t prevent the board of Guardians meeting weekly at the Coach and Horses in Lyminge! The elderly, who were obviously expected to spend the rest of their days in the workhouse, were not even allowed out for an occasional visit. In 1841 an additional building was erected to house some of the many vagrants who wandered the countryside.
To pay for their bed and bread and water they were expected to pick oakum and break stones for the roads. What the local residents thought of them, whose numbers eventually became so great some had to be housed in the stables, is not recorded!
Fortunately, public opinion began to alter. It was realised that poverty, and especially poverty and old age, could not be avoided sometimes even by the most hard working and by 1930 the workhouses were handed over to County Councils and ceased to exist and many – as was the case with Etchinghill – were turned into old people’s homes.
St Mary’s Hospital, as it was then known, was bright and cheerful and was run by dedicated staff and it was helped by a very active League of Friends who raised money to provide many additional comforts for the residents.Over the years the hamlet has grown with additional development on all four of the roads leading from the crossroads, the establishment of a cricket club and, more recently, the creation of a golf course spreading across the land which separates Etchinghill from Lyminge.
|The second major change to affect Etchinghill happened on the very same two acres as once housed the workhouse. St Mary’s hospital was closed and all the buildings, with the exception of the un-consecrated chapel, were demolished. 52 houses now occupy approximately two thirds of the land, with a new village hall and amenity land for all to enjoy taking up the remainder of the land. The Spicer family lived and farmed in Etchinghill for several centuries. In 1558 David Spicer left £5 in his will to the parish church to purchase a chalice. This bequest was finally carried out twenty years later in 1578 and the chalice, now called the Spicer Cup, is still part of the parish church plate.
Etchinghill is an ancient settlement and is probably older than the village of Lyminge. Its original Saxon name was Tetinghelde. The ‘helde’ means hill. ‘Teting’ could have a connection
with‘babbling’ from the stream that rises here and that once was of greater volume.
By the 15th century the name had been corrupted to Ettinghil, which then in turn become the present Etchinghill.
In a small complex to the north east of the village can be found Ridge Hill House, Hunters Rest, The Old Wood Barn, Ridge Hill Barn, The Barn and Stable Mews. 1609 is the earliest date recorded on any of these buildings with 1774 being another. All have been converted from their original use into residential properties.
Ridgehill Cottages, situated at the right of the entrance to the above complex, are of 18 th century origin and were probably first used to house farm workers and grooms employed at Ridgehill Farm.The Nook (adjacent to the New Inn), now sadly separated from its large gardens where in the early part of this century the Shillingford sisters frequently used their garden as a venue for children’s parties, teas for the old folk of St Mary’s Hospital and country dances. They used the wooden building (garage with room over) as a studio to exhibit the work of Miss Winifred Shillingford.
On the opposite side of the road is Brook House.
|This is early 17 th century and is believe to have been built by a Rigden of Ridge Hill Farm to house the farm baliff. Ridge Cottage probably dates back to the 16th century and at one time it was used as two cottages. Spicers Farm is a beautiful timber framed building which has never been properly dated. Above the front door is the date 1634 which could indicate the date that major works were carried out as parts of the house appear older. During the early part of the 19 th century it was used as two dwellings to house the carpenter and shepherd employed by the Ridgen estate. During the second world war it was occupied by army officers and in the garden there is a plaque marking the site where a six inch gun was mounted. The New Inn’s north end is timber framed, but refronted with brick on the ground floor and could date from the late 16 th century. The south end was build in the 18 th century. For many years it was two dwellings until 1851 when Mary Fox transferred her family and beer licence there. In 1853 she obtained a full licence and named the building The New Inn.
A little further south on the same side of the road will be found Ark Cottages. These still retain many of their original features, but have been modernised and added to since the 16 th century when numbers 1 to 3 were built (1 and 2 now form one dwelling). At one time a slaughter house occupied one or more of the cottages and the cottages probably got their name of Noah Dent who kept a beer house in one of the cottages, which closed in 1913.
Immediately to the south are Rock Cottages, originally one dwelling built as a farmhouse in 1634 which used to have a small barn and pond in a field behind which has since been developed for residential housing.
Across the road is Tudor Cottage. This timber framed house probably dates back to the early 17 th century or earlier. It was refronted with brick possibly in the 19 th century. Originally it was two dwellings.
|A Mrs Matthews purchased one half during the second world war and ran a tea rooms for the benefit of the D-Day boys. Her daughter had the other half in which she opened a shop. Both businesses flourished for many years, but the shop closed in 1978 and the tea rooms a few years later. Alameda – near the crossroads – has been modernised and extended since it was built in the 1930s. Originally it had eleven acres of land attached to it, but now it simply has a large garden with a ‘lane’ to the point where the Eastbrook Spring rises. Like many of the springs in the area, this one rises out of a steep hollow – evidence for a once far greater volume of water. The ensuing stream runs on behind the houses on the main road to Watercress Farm from where it is now piped under the road to flow on across the fields eventually joining the Lyminge Nailbourne. Just at the crossroads on the Westfield Lane side is Ivy Cottage. It does have new extensions, but it is suggested that the older parts of the house could date back to1840/42.
It once had connections with St Mary’s hospital – now Meridan Park - and at one time the Elham Valley Workshouse