Beauchamps Wood, Nonington, Kent, by Peter Hobbs.

“ There be of them, that have left a name behind them…” Ecclesiasticus XLIV  8              

Fig. 1 Beauchamps Wood from the South. Photo; Damian Birch

Alan Everitt in Continuity and colonization : the evolution of Kentish settlement[i] contends that woodland is one of the dominating characteristics of the community of Kent and the modern  map shows the consequence of a tract of forest eaten away piecemeal by clearance and assarting. Oak and chestnut predominate although there is a rich  variety of other species. Woodland, he suggests, survives either as boundary markers or because the land it is on is inhospitable to arable cultivation.[ii]

  We intend to focus on the history of one of these woodlands, Beauchamps (Fig. 1 and Map 1), located in the central part of the parish of Nonington contiguous with the hamlet of Easole, some 550m from Nonington church and presently in the ownership of the writer.

[i] Everitt, Alan, 1986, Continuity and colonization : the evolution of Kentish settlement (Leicester University Press), Pts. 1, 2, 3 Woodland.

[ii] The detail of this around Nonington is explored by Jane Andrews in her 1991 University of Kent thesis Land, family and community in Wingham and its environs : an economic and social history of rural society in East Kent from c. 1450- 1640.


Map 1: Beauchamps Wood indicated in red
(Based on Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright License No AL100021009)

With this background, what is the parish context for Beauchamps Wood?

  The present parish of Nonington is some 2522 acres (1021 hectares) in extent. It is located approximately in the centre of the triangle of Sandwich, Dover and Canterbury. The underlying natural geology is chalk of the Seaford Formation overlain by a deposit of brick earth very varying in depth. The land is largely downland rising in folds with shallow valleys from about 100 ft above sea level in the North to as much as 400 ft in the South. The soils are light, fertile, free draining and easily cultivatable and used for corn and sheep with a greater extent of woodland in South Nonington. The area is dry – there are no streams or springs so wells are required but heavy dews make it possible that there were numbers of dew ponds of which there is little evidence now.

Map 2 The Parish of Nonington and its environs. The key to the map is in the table below
(Based on Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright License No AL100021009)
1. Pinners Wood   9. The Frith
2. Bonnington Shaw 10. Tye Wood 
3. Mount Ephraim Shaw 11. Horseshoe Plantation  
4. Chillenden Wood / Gooseberry    
   Hall Wood 
12. Fredville Park
5. Esollbarrow 13. Bromfield Wood  
6. St Albans Court 14. Rubberies  Wood
7. Beauchamps Wood     15. Soles Wood 
  8. Stewarts Shaw

There are only two areas designated as ancient woodland:  Pinners Wood some 31 acres (12.5 hectares) in the nineteenth century, now fragmented and about  9 acres (3.5 hectares) in extent; and Rubberies or Three Barrows Wood with Soles Wood, 31 or so acres in the nineteenth century and now about 20 acres (c. 8 hectares) within the parish boundary although larger beyond. There appear to be no differences between the ancient and modern geological woodland areas.[i]

  In the immediate vicinity of Beauchamps Wood, the volume of pot boilers and debitage suggests an extensive human presence in pre historic times extending to the Iron Age and

Roman period. The inhabitants may just have lived in the woodland but arable cultivation and animal husbandry seems more likely and thus extensive tree clearance. Population levels are unknown but the plague of Constantinople (a forerunner of the Black Death of the mid 1300s) in AD 456 is reputed to have halved the population of Europe[ii] and this would have impacted on the countryside as well as the towns.  Less agricultural activity would have an immediate consequence: woodland regenerates remarkably quickly in our countryside (see the variety in the Appendix) and this is reflected in the volume of coppicing as well. On the other hand, Anglo-Saxon and earlier tomb mounds were designed to be seen from a distance and the parish area is well endowed with these (Three Barrows at Woolage; the scarp of North Nonington, Esolbarrow at St Albans in 1550) and we know from their burial grounds that there were Anglo-Saxon communities in the vicinity of St Albans Court and Horseshoe Clump (recorded in 1839 as Horse Shoe Plantation) in Fredville Park, as well as around Aylesham.

  The biggest modifications seem to have come about in the eighteenth century when the local gentry set out to create parkland in their estates notably at St Albans and Fredville  which between them occupy our area of interest which is more or less  the Anglo-Saxon estate called Oeswalum. At St Albans, the late eighteenth century woodland accounts[iii] demonstrate very active and profitable woodland management with some woods much reduced (Pinners), moved (Beauchamps, Chillenden) or eliminated (Tye, the Frith) as examples.

   The two areas of woodland in the parish classified as ‘ancient’ are Rubberies Wood and  Pinners  Wood. The only woodland identified in Domesday is associated with the manor of Eswalt (later St Albans) and the Abbey Rent Roll of 1378/9[iv] lists Pinners Wood for coppicing. The 1629 Estate Map of St Albans includes it so it seems probable Pinners  was the Domesday wood. Pinners Woods are much diminished by later felling and the cleared land is now arable which suggests that  the wood was there for reasons  other than that the land was poor or uncultivateable. Rubberies Wood is also now diminished in area and in part is under the Snowdown colliery tip together with Bromfield Wood and now seems to have few ancient trees. References in sixteenth ccentury records suggest extensive agricultural land there so it may also have varied considerably in size over time.

   Older woods which are in fifteenth and sixteenth century sale and lease records but grubbed up in the 1960s are Tye Wood which was connected to Easole by the Butchers Alley sheerway[v] and the Frith which formed the South Eastern manorial boundary with Kittington, part of the manor of Wingham. Only one large Holm Oak remains of the Frith and field walking has yielded a very light scatter of worked flint.

  Thus areas of woodland come and go or are relocated. Beauchamps Wood itself takes its present location and shape only in the nineteenth century and Ruins Field was planted with Sweet Chestnut in the nineteenth century and that was taken down in its entirety in 1940. William Oxenden Hammond planted extensive groves and copses around his new mansion on ground which was, it is assumed from the maps we have, free of trees at least from 1629.  Most remain but not all and the changes reflect areas cleared in the twentieth century for more efficient cultivation and occupation. Chillenden Wood was felled in 1750 but reappeard in the nineteenth century as Gooseberry Hall Wood, a coppicing wood in a slightly different position. Copses, plantations, shaws, stands and clumps appear on maps and records and go without apparent reason other than probably a change in land purpose or change of owner. Names change often over a short period of time. Hop Ground Carvel for example was Stewarts Shaw in 1839; Butchers Shaw in 1859; Bluebell Wood in the 1950s. Older names are about woodland –  Fredville  (frith vil), Acholt (oak wood) – and there are numerous shaves and shaws (strips of woodland) as well as carvetts or carvels (thick hedging not quite a shave) –  Bonington and Mount Ephraim Shaves, Stewarts Shaw, the High carvel. Some are the relic of cleared woodland eg. Pinners Shave; some may represent late seventeenth and early eighteenth century enclosure boundaries and others were planted to facilitate game shooting and drawing for foxes. William Hammond in the family diary in 1810 refers to grouse habitat and there was a pack of hounds at St Albans Court until the early twentieth century.

  Of tree species, elm was widespread before the advent of Elm disease and still struggles to come back in many hedgerows. Beech stands were quite common in the eighteenth century and there is extensive Linden  (Tilia) planting in Fredville Park although it has diminished elsewhere. Oak is widespread of which the most famous is the Fredville Oak but there are some notable Holm Oaks as well. Chestnut is also widespread and from woodland accounts, extensively used for fencing and for supporting hops. Most woodland was specifically and (from the St Albans records) profitably worked and coppiced, Pinners Wood from medieval times although not now. Ash  is plentiful as now is sycamore which is seen as a weed although the disease threats to oak, chestnut and ash are forcing a reappraisal. Hazel, birch and pine are also common and yew, holly, maple and paulonia grow well. This is friendly ground for trees.

  Beauchamps Wood therefore is very typical of Nonington woodland which in turns reflects the pattern over time in this part of Kent. As we shall see, it is distinguished by it’s name, not for position or content.

  Beauchamps Wood is half moon shaped and now  approximately 3.85 acres (1.6 hectares ) of deciduous woodland flanking Beauchamps Lane on the North East side. On either side lie open fields, in particular the Ruins Field to the North East so called from the ruins documented there.

  Beauchamps Lane[vi] runs South Eastwards through the Anglo-Saxon hamlet of Easole and then as a bridle path and lane as far as the Roman road at Elvington. North Westwards it drops quickly down to a junction with the Anglo Saxon road which ran from Lyminge to Minster, and in earlier times over and onto Canterbury via Adisham. Initially, Beauchamps Wood also extended to that point making it then 5 acres (2.06 hectares) in area.

[i] Kent Landscape Information System. 

[ii] Sarris, P., 2021, ‘New approaches to the Plague of Justinian’, Past and present, 254, pages315-366.

[iii] A vellum bound notebook headed MSS Family Histories. It was commenced by William Hammond in the 1800s and continued by his successors until the death of William Oxenden Hammond in 1903. It was in the possession of Mrs Peta Binney, the eldest granddaughter of Mrs  Selina Hammond, the last of the Hammonds to live in the ancestral home. A transcript was made but the whereabouts of the original is now unknown.

[iv] British Library, MS Harley 602, fol. 24

[v]This is probably identified as a sheerway (shireway) in the 1501 Rent Roll of the Abbot of St Albans as transcribed by Dr F. W. Hardman (Maidstone: Kent Archaeological Society Library).  It would therefore not be part of the King’s Highway. It seems to form a boundary with the Fredville Manor (now Fredville Park) and lead from Easole Manor House to the Esole manorial grazing land and onto the Manor of Elvington (Elinton). Archaeological evidence from recent excavations  of land boundaries within the wood and their relationship to Beauchamps Lane suggests that the roadway is early in date.

[vi] Rent Roll of the Abbot of St Albans. Op. cit.


Fig. 2 John de Beauchamp, one of the founding Knights of the Garter.
Pictured in The Bruges Garter Book, 1435

The name Beauchamps we believe can only to have come from the occupation of part of what is now the wood as well as substantial lands to the North East by Sir John de Beauchamp (Fig. 2), the younger brother of the Earl of Warwick. Sir John was the bearer of the Royal Standard at Crecy, with the Black Prince one of the first members of the Order of the Garter, sometime Governor of Dover Castle, Constable of the Tower of London, Warden of the Cinq Ports and in the mid 1300s, Captain of Calais and Admiral of all the fleets.[i] A successful soldier and administrator, his roles would have required an intelligence network across Europe and the assumption is that his agents warned him of the arrival and fatal consequences of what became known as the Black Death in Southern Europe in 1348 for those living in urban concentrations.

  Astutely, we believe, he moved his headquarters to this country retreat, equidistant from the ports of Sandwich and Dover, and from Canterbury, completely isolated from urban development but with excellent communications. He rebuilt an existing manor house and leveled a large area providing a yard with a flint and gravel surface and sufficient buildings we assume to house his escort and headquarters staff. The Dover Archaeological Group have excavated the house, a possible dovecot denoting his status, perhaps a stables, and other former buildings as well as part of an extensive yard. This archaeological work is still very much in progress.[ii]

  The land we are talking about here has a long history, quite well documented.[iii] Before the 800s, it was an estate called Oeswalum. Perhaps no more than 1200 acres[iv] in size, it was jointly owned by one of Offa’s Thegns and his sister, Abbess of the Royal monastic foundations of Lyminge and Minster. After some well recorded disputes and court cases, the land re-emerges in Domesday as estates called Esswelle, Eswalt and possibly Soles, all belonging to the Crown. Only Eswalt is recorded with woodland which is believed to be what is now called Pinners Wood and to the North West.[v]

   The piece of land on which Sir John built was rented from a consortium[vi] of John Colkyn, the Abbot of St Albans, Edmund de Acholt and Ricard de Retlyng who had secured it after a long and complicated history of land dealings. It was part of  Esswelle, the overlordship of which belonged to the de Say family. At the Conquest, all of the divided Oeswalum, Soles, Esswelle and Eswalt, had been given with hundreds of other estates to Bishop Odo of Bayeux who forfeited them after his second rebellion against his brother. Esswelle was then awarded to the much respected Gilbert Maminot, Bishop of Lisieux,[vii] overfond of hunting and hawking but a close advisor to William himself. After Maminot’s death, it passed eventually by inheritance to the de Say family and much later, Sir John de Beauchamp’s sister was Maude the Dowager Lady de Say from whom he directly rented other adjoining parts of Esswelle.

   Why then did he choose to rebuild on this particular spot? He was familiar with the location and it’s access because it seems that he was already renting land here but the specific reason may be that it was on an headland, the most prominent point for any approach from every direction other than the South East. His new dovecot[viii] signaled his importance and effectively the site commanded most of the approaches.

  One other part of Oeswalum, Eswalt, the Albini family[ix] was awarded in place of Odo. They then gave it to the Abbey of St Albans in 1086 as part of a recapitalization of the near bankrupt royal foundation brokered by Archbishop Lanfranc. As part of a consortium, the Abbot later managed to add to the original acquisition by securing part of the Knight’s fee of the adjoining estate of Esswelle in 1346. The over lordship of this portion remained of course with the de Says and Sir John became the tenant. He may already have been renting other land[x] from the Abbot’s directly adjoining estate of Eswalt and already also held further land to the South and South West from his sister. This did not include Soles which was in different hands and not associated with our story.  

  However, as one would expect, the local population knew the body of the estate not by its Anglo-Saxon name but as St Albans after the Abbey and the land in the vicinity of what is now the wood as well as the road that flanked it acquired the name of Beauchamps for which there is no antecedent in the extensive documentary records other than the reputation and fame of Sir John de Beauchamp. The first documented use of the name for the land that we have found is in 1484[xi] but we suspect we may yet find it earlier.

  Sir John himself survived the first wave of the Black Death but he succumbed to the second in 1360[xii] in Calais and the estate was purchased by another soldier but one of some notoriety as well as accomplishment, Sir John Harleston[xiii] who seems to have sold it, possibly to provide ready cash after his own ransom, to a family of Mercers, the Quadryngs[xiv] in 1400.

  They occupied the house and very close to it, seem to have built a series of storage buildings for their cloths and silks, the site still offering the same geographical transport advantages with Sandwich, Dover, Canterbury and beyond which had attracted Sir John de Beauchamp. However, it seems unlikely that they would have had much use for the extensive yard created by Sir John or indeed for much of the building around it. The evidence so far is that these more isolated buildings were probably dismantled, perhaps to provide the materials for the storehouses for cloths and silks then built close to the main building on the site.

  Their descendants in turn disposed of the property around 1500 and it was acquired by Sir Thomas Hammond (d.1569) in 1551 as an adjunct to the monastic estate which had become St Albans Court[xv] after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

  It is from the Hammond estate we have the first estate map in 1629[xvi]. This is damaged particularly in the area where now is Beauchamps Wood but we do have a copy made by the Kent historian Gordon Ward in 1935.[xvii] (Map 3)

[i] Yuval Noah Harari, 2007, ‘For a sack-full of Gold Ecus : Calais 1350’,  in Y. N. Harari (ed.), Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry 1100-1550 (Boydell Press), p. 109-124; James Bothwell, 2004,  Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility, and Political Control in Fourteenth-century England (Boydell Press), p. 97; National Archives, 2017, Trafalgar Ancestors : Glossary (viewed 25 July 2022)

Portrait is 10 in William Bruges’ Garter Book, 1430-40, Stowe MS 594 (London: British Library)

[ii] The Dover Archaeological Group  was founded by Keith Parfitt in1972. Work on the Nonington Landscape Project was started in1996. There are numbers of published articles on Old St Albans Court and Anglo-Saxon graves with much more waiting, and an account on the Nonington Village Website: Nonington, a Small Place in East Kent’s History, (viewed 25 July 2022). Keith Parfitt is a senior manager at the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. The remnants of the house are in the cartouche at the bottom of Map 5 and were still recognisable in the mid 1900s. The window and door surrounds were of masonry and the archaeological evidence is of a tiled roof and glassed windows. There is of course no archaeological evidence that Sir John himself was ever here but neither is there any archaeological evidence that the Hammonds spent over five hundred years at St Albans Court or indeed were ever there at all. What we have are records saying this was the case and  archaeology which provides physical evidence to support the proposition that ….somebody…. was there.

[iii] Peter Hobbs, 2022,  ‘Anglo-Saxon Nuns and Nonington’ KAS Newsletter 117, p. 10-15; Peter Hobbs, 2005, ‘Old St Albans Court Nonington’, Archaeologia Cantiana 125, p. 273-77.

[iv] If it included the Soles tithin, it might be more than 1500 acres, still modest by the standards of the time. 

[v] A number of place names within Esswelle suggest woodland or wet lands  which may have not been good agricultural land.

[vi] Inquisitions and Assessments relating to Feudal Aids, with other analogous documents preserved in the Public Records Office,  AD 1284-1431. Volume 3: Kent, 1346. H.M.S.O., 1904.

[vii] K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, 1999, Domesday People (Boydell Press), p. 212-13; Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Thomas Forester (ed.), Bohn, 1854, Vol. 2, p. 121, 402; Vol. 3, p. 62, 287.

[viii] Clive Webb and Peter Hobbs, 2019, ‘Esole Manor Dovecote, Nonington’, Nonington, a Small Place in East Kent’s History (website), (viewed 25 July 2022)

[ix] Peter Hobbs, 2005, ‘Old St Albans Court Nonington’, Archaeologia Cantiana 125, p. 275.

[x] Clive Webb, 2019,  ‘Sir John de Beauchamp’, Nonington, a Small Place in East Kent’s History (website), (viewed 25 July 2022)

[xi] Feet of Fines CP 25/1/117/342, no. 20, July 1484. Fredville occurs in earlier documents and it seems likely that Beauchamps would also be.

[xii] Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem on John de Beauchamp 1360-61, No. 628,  p. 493-5 December-March. 

[xiii] Clive Webb,  ‘Sir John Harleston at Esol and Freydvill’ in Nonington’, Nonington, a Small Place in East Kent’s History (website), (viewed 25 July 2022)

[xiv] Clive Webb, 2017, ‘The Quadryng family at Fredeuyl and Esol’, Nonington, a Small Place in East Kent’s History (website), (viewed 25 July 2022)

[xv] Peter Hobbs, 2005, ‘Old St Albans Court Nonington’, Archaeologia Cantiana 125, p. 275.

[xvi] Estate map of St Albans Court. Maidstone: Kent History & Library Centre. U442 P30, c. 1650 (Gordon Ward Collection)

[xvii] Kent Archaeological Society Library, Maidstone


Map 3  Estate map of the lands of Hammond 1629

 Ward does add his own embellishments but it seems from comparison with the extant majority of the original map to be mostly an accurate copy. An area of land to the East of Beauchamps Lane is called Beauchamps and leads almost up the manor house of St Albans Court.  What is drawn contains some trees compared with open ground but it is nothing like the intensity of what are probably orchards or even an avenue of trees shown elsewhere on the map.

   The archaeological evidence within the area of what is now the wood has so far identified a large long disused chalk quarry, possibly as early as Anglo-Saxon, several land boundaries of mound and ditch, the fourteenth century yard and some associated buildings of Sir John de Beauchamp and then of the Quadryngs, all of which indicate that the land was open and not wooded. In the late 1500s, the house was tenanted by an Hammond employee[i] and an Inventory of 1612[ii] shows few artifacts of value. The listing of cattle and sheep indicate grazing land although excavation in the present wood has revealed scatters of sixteenth to eighteenth century pottery implying a level of domestic occupation not suggested by the estate map or the written records. None of the excavations so far have provided evidence of ploughing and the closeness of chalk beds  and runs of flinty gravel to the surface probably explains why.

  However the South end of the present wood contains a still clearly visible mound and ditch extending out into the Ruins Field where it becomes a reverse lynchet. This was a boundary to land belonging to the Abbey and a 1501 Rent roll shows it as let as third rate arable.[iii] The proximity of this to the St Alban’s Court manor house suggests that by 1556, it had been acquired by the Hammonds and it has continued to be cultivated until modern times since when it has been treated as pasture.

  In summary, all the available evidence suggests that at least until the mid 1600s, the land on which Beauchamps Wood now stands was open ground, probably with a scatter of trees and with the large abandoned chalk quarry to the South eroded to the point of being only a shallow dip. The North West end of the area may have had a few more trees but the presence still of the large flint and graveled yard meant few trees and probably just pasture cover. There was a roadway across it from the buildings in Ruins Field to Beauchamps Lane but it was a track not worthy of record in 1629 although there is archaeological evidence that it was substantially improved later in the century. The amount of pottery through the ages scattered across the site suggests  that there may be more buildings to discover.[iv]

  The 1790s see radical change. In 1790 William Hammond  (1752-1821) notes in his family History[v] the money he laid out enlarging and ornamenting his “House and Place about,” now Old St Albans Court. This involved adding bays to the front of the house as well as installing extensive water and drainage works, greenhouses in his walled garden and rationalization of the parkland around the house. The volume in which he wrote this and much other narrative as did his successors was originally used to record aspects of the estate income from as early as 1782 to as late as 1821. This includes some detailed woodland accounts and of particular relevance, an entry concerning “the taking down of Beauchamps Wood” with felling commencing on 12  October 1798 with a resulting sale income of £301-5s-3d. (then equivalent to purchasing 60 cows or c2000 days of a skilled tradesman; c £27,000 in 2021).

[i] “Edward Bridges (my servant)” of Beachams Farm was left 20 shillings in Edward Hammond’s will.

[ii] Probate Inventory of Edward Hammond esq. of Nonington.  Maidstone: Kent History & Library Centre. PRC 28/9 folios 238-239, 23rd September 1616.  “At Brewchamps a yoking tun, ostcloth, tenant saw, mattock, moulestaff, pitchfork. 12 kine, 1 bull, 24 ewes & other sheep, 9 hogges, ducks, geese.  4 chamber pots, saddles, marking iron.”  The moulestaffe suggests moles were as prevalent then on site as they are now. The stock would have required water which means a source we have not found.  This would have applied equally to earlier site occupants. Although there is evidence of a small pond on the site, it would not have had the capacity for the stock recorded here  and current experience suggests it would have dried up before September in the hot and exposed conditions on site.

[iii] Rent Roll of the Abbot of St Albans. Op. cit.

[iv] The earliest building so far excavated dates back perhaps to c1300 but the earlier land records refer to messuages on the site – but a messuage can be anything from a wooden hut to a palace and have yet to be located.

[v] A vellum bound notebook headed MSS Family Histories commenced by William Hammond in the 1790s. Op. cit.


Map 4  Ordnance Survey 1” to the mile 1801
(Based on Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright License No AL100021009)

The woodland referred to seems from Hammond’s own account and almost contemporary maps to have been in the North and North West of the area. Hammond thriftily just wrote his family history on the other side of the pages of accounts.

  In 1797 Captain William Mudge of the Royal Artillery received a surveyor’s draft map of our area which was published in 1801 (Map 4) as the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 1” to the mile maps.  From this, it was clear that in 1797 the South East end of what is now Beauchamps Wood was still clear of trees but that the area identified in the 1629 map as Beauchamps from St Albans Court to Beauchamps Lane and bounded by the old Anglo-Saxon road to the North is now wooded. Boteler tells Hasted in 1789[i] that Hammond referred to the grove behind his house  containing ruins. The 1801 map appears to show extensive woodland across the whole area but Hammond’s use of the term Grove suggests something less intensive.

[i] Canterbury Cathedral Archives CCA-U11/433/289. Boteler to Hasted, 7 September 1789.


Map 5  Estate map of St Albans Court 1814

An Estate map of 1814 (Map 5) confirms what has most probably taken place in 1798. The outline of the new Beauchamps Wood is clearly delineated, divided from the land to the East by a ditch. The outline is unchanged on the Tithe maps of 1839 and 1859 and on the 6 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map of 1863 (Map 6). This latter is the most interesting because it shows the Anglo-Saxon road proceeding from the bottom of Beauchamps Lane Eastwards past the site of what will be the yet to be commissioned new St Albans Court, and how this is flanked by a line of trees, reportedly elms.[i]

[i] Personal communication by Ian Sayer, the last Head Groundsman at Nonington College whose relatives had been Head Gardeners on the St Alban’s estate in earlier centuries.


Map  6  Ordnance Survey 6” to the mile 1863
(Based on Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright License No AL100021009)

Archaeological excavations[i] in three places confirmed the presence of the low bank and ditch along the Eastern side  dividing the wood from Ruins Field clearly shown here. The ditch was dug straight through the foundations of a rectangular building, possibly Sir John de Beauchamp’s dovecot, and on through his yard where it projected into what is now field. On Google Earth the line continued down to the junction of Beauchamps Lane and the ancient Anglo-Saxon road. However, the 25 inch Ordnance Survey map of 1896-7 (Map 7) shows the area of Beauchamps woodland reduced to its present size by the removal of the woodland at the North Western end and the new line of the wood again marked by a still visible ditch. Although both William Osmund Hammond (1790-1863) and William Oxenden Hammond (1817-1903) refer to various plantings of the area[ii] in their Family History, this change is not mentioned.

[i] The survey was completed in 2013 by Richard Hoskins and he with Mary Hoskins also had carried out a survey of the plant population  in 2012. This was combined with a further survey done in 2022 by Lesley Smith which also captured changes after coppicing. There are some indicators of Ancient Woodland but, correctly, insufficient to be significant. The lists are in the Appendix.

[ii] William Oxenden Hammond records that by 1890, he had brought his Park up to about 200 acres including planting trees on the Ruins Field, which work he had commenced in 1863.


Map 7  Ordnance Survey 25” to the mile 1896
(Based on Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright License No AL100021009)

Nor is the removal of the Southern tip of the wood where William Oxenden Hammond commissioned his architect George Devey to build a pair of cottages in the 1860s in Easole, part of an extensive programme of cottage building on the estate.

  The evidence within Beauchamps Wood itself is that it was planted for coppicing and the written records suggests that this was part of the 1798 wider park improvements by William Hammond. This is supported by a detailed survey of the wood done in 2010 showing the older coppicing stools and the planting across the former chalk quarry and Sir John de Beauchamp’s yard. A detailed planting list in the Appendix shows that whilst the range of plants is extensive, there is, correctly, insufficient evidence to support this being Ancient Woodland. The wood appears to have been regularly coppiced over the years and is now being so again after an unusually long forty year period.

  So, here we have it, not untypical of Kent – an ancient site, an old and famous name but a relatively modern addition to the landscape.




Ash – Fraxinus excelsior

Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa

Bluebells (English) – Endymion non-scriptus

Bramble – Rubus fruticosus

Bryony (Black) – Tamus communis

Bryony (White) – Bryonia dioica

Burdock – Arctium minus

Buttercup (Creeping buttercup) – Ranunculus repens

*Buttercup (Goldilocks buttercup) – Ranunculus auricomus

Celandine (lesser) – Ranunculus ficaria

Common Cleavers (Goose grass) – Galium aparine

Common dog Violet – Viola riviniana

Common Figwort – Scrophularia nodosa

Common St John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum

Common Honeysuckle – Lonicera periclymenum

Cow Parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris

Clematis (Old Man’s Beard, Traveller’s Joy) – Clematis vitalba

Daisy (common) – Bellis perennis

Dandelion – Taraxacum vulgaria

Dogwood – Cornus sanguinea

Dock (Red-veined dock) – Rumex sanguineous

Dock (Curly dock) – Rumex crispus

Elder – Sambucus ebulus

Elm – Ulmus procera

*Enchanter’s Nightshade –   Circaea lutetiana 

*Field Maple – Acer campestre

Gooseberry – Ribes uva-crispa

Garlic Mustard (Jack In the hedge) – Allaria petiolata

Ground Ivy – Glechoma hederacea

Hawthorn (common) – Crataegus monogyna

Hazel – Corylus avellana

Herb Bennet – Geum urbanum

Hogweed – Heracleum sphondylium

Holly – Ilex aquifolium

Ivy – Hedera helix

Lords and Ladies – Arum maculatum

*Moschatel (Townhall Clock)-  Adoxa moschatellina

Nettle      – Urtica dioica

*Primrose – Primula vulgaris

Ragwort    – Senecio jacobaea

Red Campion – Silene dioica

Silver Birch – Betula verrucosa

Snowdrop – Galanthus nivalis

Sorrel (Common) – Rumex acetosa

Spear thistle – Cirsium vulgare

Spindle – Euonymus europaeus

Stinging nettle – Untica dioica

Sweet Briar Rose – Rosa rubiginosa   (this could be a Field Rose or even a Dog Rose)

Sweet Chestnut –  Castanea sativa

Sycamore – Acer pseudoplatanus

Wayfaring tree –  Viburnum lantana

White Poplar – Populus albe

Wild Arum(Cuckoo pint: Lords and Ladies) – Arum maculatum

*Wych Elm – Ulmus glabra

*Wild Garlic (Ramsons) – Allium ursinum

Woody Nightshade – Solanum dulcamara

Yew – Taxus baccata

* Indicator species according to Appendix 1 of ‘Local Wildlife Sites in Kent’


Hartstongue Fern – Asplemium scolopendrium

Male Fern –  Dryopteris felix-mas

Prickly Shield Fern – Polystichium aculaetum

This list is probably not complete as it was difficult to get to all parts of the wood.             Some sites, when talking about ‘indicator species’ for ancient woodland mention English bluebells and Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) but the article ‘Local Wildlife Sites in Kent’ version 1.5 Aug 2015 by Kent Wildlife Trust, does not use either species as an indicator species, although it uses Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa). We could not find any Dog’s Mercury or Wood Anemones in Beauchamp Wood but there does seem to be at least 7 indicator species present.