Medway Unitary Authority
Postal Code: ME3 8DG
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Church was declared redundant in 1976 and the parish was incorporated into St Helen's at Cliffe.It was vested in the care of what is now The Churches Conservation Trust in 1978 and is open to visitors daily.
Cooling is a village and civil parish on the Hoo Peninsula, overlooking the North Kent Marshes. This remote and isolated hamlet has been described as 'the capital of English Lollardry' because of its association with Sir John Oldcastle. Lollardry was the political and religious movement of the Lollards from the mid-14th century to the English Reformation. The term Lollards refers to the followers of John Wycliffe, a prominent theologian who was thrown out of University of Oxford in the 1350s for criticism of the traditional church. Its demands were primarily for reform of Western Christianity. The most notable feature of the village is Cooling Castle, built on the edge of the marshes during the 12th century to defend the neighbouring port of Cliffe from the threat of French raiders. In 1413 the castle was owned by Sir John Oldcastle, the model for Shakespeare's character Falstaff.
Sir John de Cobham, third Baron Cobham inherited a 700 acre estate at Cobham from his father Henry in 1335, originally acquired by the de Cobhams in 1241. John Lord Cobham later built the castle in 1381, as he was in charge of the defence of Kent but a successful raid by the Spanish and French up to Gravesend spurred the king to realize the defence was needed. In 1379 French vessels appeared in the Thames, with a body of French and Spanish soldiers who 'ravaged all this part of Kent', so that every town and village near the river fell to them. In the churchyard is a group of children's gravestones which are widely considered to have inspired Charles Dickens' description of the churchyard in the opening scene of the novel Great Expectations.
(text by Geoffrey Gillon)