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The lost village of Chart: Settlement possibly demolished due to disease only remembered due to curious artifact

No-one knows exactly what happened to the village of Chart.

Mentioned as a manor in the Domesday Book, it was clearly once an important place with a right to hold a market every Tuesday granted by Royal Charter from Edward II in 1310 and a three-day fair to celebrate St John the Baptist's day.

Chart existed in Anglo-Saxon times: re-enactors Janet and Bob Connelly
Chart existed in Anglo-Saxon times: re-enactors Janet and Bob Connelly

It seems to have existed in an area now covered by woodland near to Pizien Well that today falls within the parish of Wateringbury, just outside Maidstone.

By 1657 the community had shrunk to around 12 houses and all trace has since disappeared.

Some have suggested the homes were deliberately razed in an attempt to cleanse an outbreak of disease.

Another theory speculates it was burnt down for the same reason, not dissimilarly to Dode.

A less interesting explanation is there was a lack of employment.


Whatever its fate nowadays two fields in the area, known as Lower Chart and Greater Chart, remain one of the only clues to Chart's existence.

Probably, Chart would now be entirely forgotten if it weren't for the survival of a curious artifact.

Measuring just over a metre long and fitted with a metal ring and a wicked-looking iron spike at one end, the Dumb Borsholder of Chart now hangs in Wateringbury Church.

A borsholder was an ancient office dating from Anglo Saxon times, 'borh' meaning a surety and 'alder', a head or chief, though the mace itself - though certainly old - is believed to be more recent.

The Dumb Borsholder of Chart
The Dumb Borsholder of Chart

The borsholder was elected by other members of the community to represent them at meetings of the Hundred Court, which in Chart's case were held at Twyford Bridge in Yalding.

The borsholder was paid a penny a year by the other households for his trouble and the mace was his symbol of office. When he wished to speak at the court, he would put his neckerchief through the ring and hold it up to be seen.

The mace - with its 4ins spike - may have also doubled as a weapon, because the borsholder was also expected to maintain order within his community, acting as a kind of village constable.

Thomas Clampard, a blacksmith, was the last holder of the office, though it is likely it had already become a merely ceremonial post only by then.

He died in 1748 and is buried in Wateringbury churchyard.

St John the Baptist at Wateringbury holds the grave of the last man to hold the post of Borsholder
St John the Baptist at Wateringbury holds the grave of the last man to hold the post of Borsholder

The office of borsholder was not unique to Chart.

Records from the Maidstone Assizes of May 12, 1587, show that the Wateringbury borsholder himself got into a spot of bother.

Richard Collyson, husbandman and 'le Bossalder ' of Wateringbury, found himself up before the beak John Leveson JP charged with "negligent escape."

It was alleged that the justice had earlier committed a felon named George Hubberb to Collyson's custody, but on that same day Collyson had negligently allowed the prisoner to escape.

Collyson's punishment is not recorded.

Read more: All the latest news from Malling

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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