June 18th, 2008


Now that I've got all that off my chest I'll return to posting pictures from last week.

This is the village of Goudhurst, Kent. In the early 18th century these parts were as lawless as the Wild West, with criminal gangs roaming about more or less unchecked. Smuggling was at the heart of their business (which made them popular) but they also went in for racketeering and murder (which had the opposite effect). The most famous of these crews was the Hawkhurst gang. 

Goudhurst formed a local militia to oppose the gang, under the leadership of a former soldier, Corporal William Stuart.  This infuriated Arthur Kingsmill, the gang's leader- who posted notice that he and his men would attack the village on April 20, 1747- burn it to the ground and slaughter all its inhabitants. The men of Goudhurst sent their women and children away and took up defensive positions in the churchyard. The smugglers duly turned up, heavily armed, were met with a barrage of hot lead, suffered casualties and fled. This pretty much ended their reign of terror. Arthur Gray, the gang's former leader, was hung in 1748- and Kingsmill in 1749.

The people on the tomb are Thomas Culpepper- 16th century iron master- and his doll-like wife. Their Elizabethan descendants supplied guns to the fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada.