The village of Burham lies tucked into the southern side of a range of hills called the North Downs in the English county of Kent (the county known as the “Garden of England”).
The village is situated roughly half way between Rochester (8km/5miles) to the North and Maidstone (8km/5miles) to the South, and between Canterbury (48km/29miles) to the East and London (59km/35miles) to the West, in a designated Green Belt area known as the Medway Gap. It also sits astride the old Pilgrims Way, the ancient route along the Downs linking the cathedral cities of Winchester and Canterbury.
The history of the village of Burham can be traced back to Roman times. AD43 saw the Battle of the Medway at the crossing point on the River Medway where Burham is now situated, when the invading Roman legions, advancing west across Kent, were confronted by a massed army of the ancient British Tribes. The Roman victory altered the course of history in Britain, and the remains of Roman buildings have been found in Burham and the neighbouring village of Eccles.
There has been a Settlement in Burham since Saxon times, “ham” being the Saxon word for “Settlement” – the “Bur” part of the name comes from “Burgh”, or Borough, referring to the Borough of Rochester. The name “Burham” literally means “the village near the borough”.
In the Eleventh century the village of Burham belonged to the Earl Leofwine who was the brother of King Harold. He was killed along with his brother at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086 for William the Conqueror. It is listed as having six Sulings (about 240 acres) of land. There were two major farms, 15 “Villeins” each farming 30 acres and 20 “Borderers” each farming about 5 acres. There was a church and a Mill with woodland sufficient to support 20 Hogs.
Around 1830 Burham became a “Cement Village” on the Medway, after the discovery of the manufacturing technique for Portland Cement (so called because of its resemblance to Portland Stone). Some interesting memorabilia from Burham’s Cement Industry days in the form of Tokens for the local stores have been found recently (article courtesy of numismatists Stuart Adams/Duncan Pennock – see Acknowledgments).
By 1841 the village’s population had grown to 380 and increased to a maximum of 1725 in 1901. Today it is around about 1300.
More recently the village has been hit by tragedy when the Kent Air Ambulance crashed in July 1998, killing all three crew members