Read the whole article, or for the impatient, click here for the latest update..
This initiative was begun in September 2007, as a community project under the auspices of Linton Parish Council, with the following objectives:
To research the location of boundary stones in Linton
To find and identify as many stones as possible
To photograph, record and assess the condition of all found stones
To give all found stones such care & attention as may be required
To make arrangements for future care of boundary stones
To document and publish the work of the project
As the Project developed, it began to reveal remarkable insights into the history of Linton and the surrounding area. Also, it has brought to light more than thirty pieces of Linton’s historical heritage that in most cases had lain hidden for many years.
The Project currently has nine volunteer participants, though more are always welcome – contact Jerry Whitmarsh. Up to the present time, a total of 64 stones have been identified from maps as having been in existence at some point. This is a remarkable total, for a parish with a perimeter of less than nine miles! Of these, 34 stones have so far been discovered to be still present, “on the ground.” In each case a photographic record has been created and location and condition details recorded. The stones found to date are located all around the boundary, though they tend to be more frequent on the Western and Eastern boundaries. There are far fewer on the Northern boundary, around Heath Road, and the Southern boundary, where the river Beult was no doubt seen as a sufficient indicator. Not all of the stones are on the current Parish boundary, which has moved – we now know! – more than once over the centuries.
Many of the boundary stones are in excellent condition, but several have been moved, or have been uprooted, or are being damaged by tree roots etc. One had a house name plaque screwed onto it! Now removed, I’m pleased to say. They are in quite a range of different styles and were evidently installed at different times, to mark different boundaries – not just the Linton Parish boundary, but also the Maidstone Hundred, and various past and present Parliamentary boundaries.
The search for more markers either from old maps and through physical searches is ongoing. Although one or two of the boundary stones are on footpaths accessible to the general public, most are on private land. We particularly ask that nobody should trespass on private land in order to view markers. If you are interested in seeing the markers, there are several things you can do:
Join the project! You can donate as much time or as little time as you wish – arrangements are very flexible
Join one of our working parties. Dates of future parties will be given in the Diary Dates section of this website
A number of the boundary stones we have found are considered to be in a vulnerable state. Several have been uprooted; one was found at the bottom of a water-filled ditch (but see below!). Our priority is to resite these stones, to make them safe, and where possible to put them back into the ground as they should be. We are also searching specific areas of the Parish boundary for new markers, and improving the photographic record of existing markers – so nothing too strenuous! If you wish to attend a working party, you will be very welcome – contact Jerry Whitmarsh.
Here is a photographic record of the working party that took place in July 2008, reinserting one of our markers into the ground:
It is quite clear that had it not been for the formation of this project, several of our boundary stones would have been lost forever, or damaged beyond repair. We have therefore communicated with other Kent parishes to warn them of this danger and suggest that they too may like to review their “stock” of historic boundary markers – they may find some surprises!
Update – December 2008
Since the working party mentioned above, three further working parties have been held, in October, November and December 2008, with the following results:
BS03 has been a thorn in our side since the start of the project. Its location – just north of Burford Farm on Redwall lane, beside a field gate – was clearly marked on the maps but we had never been able to track it down. Finally, with Mick Gilbert’s assistance, it has been found, and we cleared some of the brambles and weeds around it to make it more visible. How many years has it remained hidden?
BS04 was kindly removed from the bottom of its ditch on Burford Farm by the landowner, Mick Gilbert. With his co-operaation and agreement, we have replaced the stone in the ground, back on the parish boundary, underneath an apple tree. How long would it have lasted, left where it was?
BS06, lying in a ditch beside the A229 north of the Stile Bridge, was removed from its ditch and carefully examined. Unfortunately, it has no visible markings at all and neither end is shaped into a marker – type rounded configuration. Sadly it appears that it is just a nice piece of dressed stone, from the bridge itself perhaps.. so we have concluded that it is not a boundary stone at all and it is back in the ditch.
BS14 was dug up and examined. Sadly it appears that it is not a boundary stone either, reducing our tally of authentic boundary stones to 31 (at the time!). It has been left where found.
BS29 was found in a back garden, underneath a garden seat in April 2008 by Jerry Whitmarsh. It is a very old stone, marked “Loose 15” on one side and with a “B” on the other, and quite unlike any of the others so far found. With the agreement of the householders, it has been placed back into the ground in the far corner of their garden, on or very close to the current parish boundary.
BS38 was found in April 2008, uprooted in a hedge on Clock House Farm. It is the only one so far found along Heath road, and it is no longer on the current Linton boundary, though not far away. It has the marking “Loose 22” on it, and “Linton” on the reverse side. With the agreement of the farmer, it was removed from the hedge and then replanted in the ground in the middle of the hedge nearby, where hopefully it will be safe from agricultural machinery. This was a big marker, and needed a lot of effort to shift and a large hole to put it in!
Update – July 2012
The Boundary Project is honoured to have been given the Thurnham Heritage Award. The project is a continuing one, and new members are always welcome, Contact Jerry Whitmarsh if you are interested. It may be that the Award may stimulate further progress towards publishing a book about the Linton Boundary – so watch this space!
Update May 2017
A review of the various boundary markers in Linton Park was conducted with the assistance of Rebecca Wragg, the head gardener. Several of them are uprooted and it has been agreed that Linton Park plc will replace them in the ground and care for them in future in keeping with the Park’s other heritage assets
Here are a few photographs. See below, to access a more comprehensive photo gallery..
So far we have located 35 boundary stones, most of which had been long forgotten. A number of them have been put back into the ground and detailed measurements and a photographic record have been made of the others. We are in no particular hurry, and we expect the project to carry on for at least another few years. We are not even convinced we have found them all yet, and we will carry on looking. A number of the ones we have found still need care and attention. We want to create a document recording what we have found, and what we have done. Also, we would love to find out much, much, more about how, and why, and when, and by whom. these stones were put there in the first place
But above all we have had a lot of fun finding and preserving perhaps the oldest and most hidden part of Linton Parish’s historical heritage.
In the meantime, a Photograph Gallery has been created on the Internet which you can access here, showing almost all of the boundary stones located to date. It will be updated as and when more are found:
Finally, the Project Team would like to make three requests:
– do you have any information about Linton Boundary stones which may be of interest to the Boundary Project? If so please get in touch! We are interested in any recollections or any information not generally available
– do you have one or more stones on your land? If so, please do what you reasonably can to look after and preserve them. They are an important piece of Linton’s historical heritage. Ask us for help, if you need it or if you think anything major is required.
– do you live somewhere else, perhaps in another parish that might have a boundary stone collection of its own? Or somewhere else entirely, with history that is also in danger of being lost, as our boundary stones were? If so, please don’t just sit there, do something! Really, it is very rewarding, very interesting, occasionally even very exciting “work!”