Famous Residents

One of the earliest of Meopham's famous residents was Simon de Meopham, who was born in the parish in 1272 and died in Mayfield in Sussex in 1332. He became in 1327, after a distinguished ecclesiastical career, Archbishop of Canterbury and it was during his incumbency that the church was first built. Our Parish Church is essentially a 13th to 14th century one and belongs to an early form of Gothic known as geometric. The one great characteristic of Gothic style is a pointed and not a rounded arch. It was reconstructed between 1320 to 1328 and Simon de Meopham is credited with the work although proof of this has not been found; however, if this were so, he must have done it whilst serving as the Rector of Tunstall, as he only became Archbishop in 1327. Simon, as his name implies, had been born in Meopham, and his parents were buried here.

Early in the fourteenth century the then Lord of the Manor, Stephen de Gravesend, Bishop of London, built a new house on the site in the form of an aisled hall, with defence as a secondary consideration. This hall survived intact until 1825 and half of it still stands today, so we know in some detail what it was like 650 years ago. Nurstead has always been largely in the ownership of the owners of Nurstead Court. There were many such owners from as far back as records begin, but the best known is the Edmeades family. Henry Edmeades came as a tenant, sometime before his death in 1610, and by careful conduct of their affairs, his successor was able to buy the estate in 1767. It is still in the family. The history of the house and church has been fully researched, and appears in "Nurstead Court" by C.A. Pryor.

Another ancient building whose history has been thoroughly researched is Nurstead Manor, formerly Nutstead, lying some three and a half miles south of Gravesend at the north of the Parish. In view of the numerous traces of Roman occupation in this part of Kent, it is possible that its fields were first cleared in the time of the Romans. Certainly it was a Saxon manor before the Conquest, held by one Ulfstan of Edward the Confessor (1042-1046). We also know that the manorial church existed in earlier Saxon times, which suggests that the manor became a self-contained unit well before Ulfstan became its lord.