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History of Higham

Higham comes from the Anglian word ‘hēh’ meaning ‘high, tall, important’ with the Old English ‘hām’ as a ‘village, an estate, homestead’; therefore a ‘high (or chief) homestead/village’. The Domesday Book records Higham as Hecham.

Higham church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). The Saxons built the first church, which the Normans rebuilt in the 12th century, and added the south aisle and chapel in the mid-14th century. Isaac Hadley cast and hung two bells in 1713. In 1797, Edward Hasted described St Mary’s church as consisting of ‘two isles and two chancels, with a slat tower, having two bells’. The Victorians restored the Higham church in 1863. In 1914, Alfred Bowell recast the bells into a chime of three. In 1987, due to the relocation of the community the CCT took St Mary’s church under its wing.

Higham parish church is a Grade; II listed building, dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist – originally as a daughter to St Leonard’s church, Padiham. The Starkie family employed E W Stephens to build it in 1862, in an early English style, with a nave, chancel, north and south aisles and a porch under the tower. When completed John Warner installed a new bell, adding four more in the following year. Alfred Bowell added a treble in 1914 to complete a ring of six. St John’s became the Higham parish church in 2002.

In 1801, the Thames and Medway Canal Company built a canal from Gravesend to Higham. They completed a tunnel of 2.25 miles in October 1824, extending the canal from Higham to Strood. Unsuccessful as a canal the company laid a railway line along the footpath through the tunnel in 1844. The line from Gravesend to Strood opened on 10 February 1845 with Higham station – although a mile from the village - positioned at the western entrance to the tunnel. Having purchased the line in 1847 the South Eastern Railway filled in the tunnel section of the canal and laid a double track. The remaining section of the canal from Gravesend to Higham continued until 1934…. more