Godfrey’s Grave

This passage is reproduced from ‘Her Master’s Voice’ by Anne Edgar. All rights reserved

Godfrey the  highwayman

There was one ‘gentleman’, Mr Godfrey, who was hanged at Godfrey’s Grave. My father used to tell me that he was a Highwayman and that he lived on the other side of Forstall Road, going down towards those marshes, at the back of Snowdown, where Mr Bones used to live. Going down the back there.

That Godfrey kept his horse down there. Of course, all Highwaymen had to keep in with the people about. Otherwise they told on him, you see. It was a good place to go. because he could go up into the woods, and preyed on the people going along the A2 – the coaches. So Godfrey rewarded everybody.

He had lots of ways of coming back home. He could come back via the Potteries or come back way through the marshes, and round there. He was finally caught and hanged.

Well my father couldn’t resist letting him ride Black Bess to York! And do a lot of other things which as I grew older and read I realised was a lot of lies, and Father had been ‘romancing’. (Amy Robsart was supposed to have fallen out of the Tower!). Father told very good stories – a little of no good.

But what was interesting, was when I went to Waterham we built on a sitting room (and so had a building site).

Old Dr Selby, my sisters-in-law’s father, was Medical Officer of Health for the Swale. Theer were some boards outside, and he and Mrs Selby arrived to pay a call. Old Dr Selby was about 6 foot 1″. He had his black suit on and he had mud up to his knees.

I said, “Good gracious! Did you fall into the foundations?”

And Mrs Selby said, “No, trust Prideaux to get in a mess!”

I can hear her now.

He’d been called in because when they got the water done (waterpipes, so that the corner could be widened for the bus) and they’d got to (the bit now called) Godfrey’s Grave, a body (thought to have been a childs), had been dug up.

Father had always said that Godfrey was a dwarf and a huchback, and that didn’t hold true to Dick Turpin, so I was rather doubtful about that.

10 Responses to Godfrey’s Grave

  1. Pingback: Hernhill Parish » The life of Betty McKeever

  2. avatar Mike Baldock says:

    Thanks for that passage – a fascinating snippet 🙂

    There’s also a myth that the original Dick Turpin was a fellow from Upchurch way… I must unravel that one someday!

  3. avatar Crispin Whiting says:

    RE Godfrey: Pretty well the same story I was told by Tom Boorman and Harold Kay in the early days of Hernhill Historical Society, although I hadn’t heard the Black Bess “embellishments”.
    The triangle in the road was indeed dug away to improve the road, I believe in the 1930s. And through some strange quirk Edward Foreman senior, from Summer Lees, was allowed to keep the bones, which were kept in a shoebox. He was chairman of the parish council. His son, Edward, who died a few years ago, had them at some point. Would be interesting to know where they are now! Harold and Tom had seen them.
    Incidentally, I am in the process of writing a Hernhill History paper for the Faversham Society. The orginal deadline was over a year ago, but newspaper crises and redundancies put me rather behind. Should be ready by next spring though. If anyone would like to see my photographic collection they will be more than welcome. I have about 100 postcards of the vilage and surounds from about 1880, which I have been collecting for about 25 years.
    (01227 750948 – Forge Farmhouse, Staplestreet)

  4. avatar Richard says:

    Hi Crispin

    Just seen your blog regards the history paper, just wondered if you ever finished it?
    Also would be great to see all your pictures one day, maube you should bring them up the pub and lay them out upstairs?

  5. avatar Pat Burton says:

    Wouldn’t it be a lovely idea to have an exhibition of the old Hernhill postcards? Perhaps in the village hall or church.

    Older or long standing villagers could be asked to contribute their memories and lend any photos, literature or memorabilia.

    Perhaps the good ladies that organise village events could be persuaded to take on such an undertaking????

  6. avatar Dawn Gorham says:

    Well, they say you learn something new everyday!

  7. avatar Julie Weatherall says:

    Hi – it would be so interesting to have some postcards/photos of Hernhill gone by. Dawn and I attended (the old) Hernhill school together during the 60’s (although she being slightly younger in years than my good self!) When the old one closed officially, past pupils were invited and Sandy Elvey (nee Wood) and I attended. There was to have been a photographic record on display then but for some reason this did not happen and was actually quite disappointing. I have myself, have photo’s from the play that we did in 1972 to celebrate the centenary of the school. I was headmistress and both my brothers, one of whom was still at the school also took part. Other “actors” were Michael Brown, Trevor Arnold and the 3 Claridge sisters.
    It would be interesting to know if the bell that hung in the very small turret on the front of the old school was taken and put in place of honour (one would hope) in the new school. Does anyone know what became of this?

  8. avatar Crispin Whiting says:

    I don’t have a lot in the way of pictures from the school, but I would love to see those 1970s photographs. I do, however, have quite a collection of Hernhill postcards and photographs gathered over the last 30 years and people are always welcome to see them. Dawn already has, and has showed me in return a lot of family/farming type pictures I had never seen. I promised Peter Bentley well over a year ago that I would sort a date for people to come round and have a look, and I really will get around to this.
    In the old days of Hernhill Historical Society there was a sizeable collection of pictures of local people and places, many of which were collected by the late Harold Kay. I understand that his son Nigel now owns these.
    The Faversham Society also holds a fair number of Hernhill, pictures, although a lot of these were copies taken from my collection.
    If anyone has an interest in a particular place or person, do get in touch … and no, sadly I have nothing on Godfrey’s Grave.

  9. avatar Paul Eason says:

    I was at the school in its centenary year of 1972. I have a copy of the Faversham Gazette article from June 15th of that year, including photographs and a write-up entitled; ‘Happiest days of their lives’ with the children and teachers and Headmistress; Miss Short photographed smiling and waving in the rear playground. They were some of the happiest days of my life and I have many fond memories of my time there. Does anyone know if there is a social network page or similar for former pupils? It would be great to catch up with some old faces. A number of the boys went on to the Faversham Boys’ School, which I attended. Others I lost touch with as they went to the Sir William Nottidge in Whitstable. Most of the girls would have different surnames now as they are most likely married. The school was a great little community as I remember it. I knew the three Claridge girls well. Yes, it would be interesting to find out what happened to the old school bell. Godfrey, as I recall, and was often told, was hung for being a sheep stealer. Harold Kay was a great community spirited man. I remember him well when he ran the youth club in the rooms adjacent to the church.

  10. The old school bell is now in residents at the new school, I was caretaker there at the end of the old school and caretaker at the new school for a short time. I and 11 generations off my family went the hernhill school and I’m proud to say my grandson is there now, my name is Malcolm Foster and, as generations off my family before me, I was born here and lived here for 64 years.

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