|Perry Wood has a very rich history indeed. It seems that people have been drawn to this special place for many thousands of years. The hilltop nature and views have determined many of the uses of the site: The Pulpit, a viewing tower, first built in the 1800s; the Windmill, which existed from the 1500s to the early 1900s; the Earthwork, of unknown age and use, possibly Roman; and the Semaphore Tower which stood in the 1700s (Napoleonic era) as part of messaging chain between London and the ports.
New dig confirms iron age settlement!
Since the Discover Perry Wood Project, mentioned below, some further Heritage Lottery Funding has enabled some more work with the Trust for Thanet Archaeology and students from the University of Kent. This dig confirmed a middle iron-age settlement on the hilltop at Windmill Hill, pre-dating any likely Roman excavations (the rectangular earthwork). You can read the full report here:Download Archaeological Report 2016 #1
The Discover Perry Wood Project
A project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled Community Archaeology at Perry Wood, and research work with the Trust for Thanet Archaeology, and the University of Kent, in partnership with the Blean Initiative.
In 2009 local people mapped and excavated the Earthwork on Windmill Hill. A plan of the Earthwork with trench profiles was produced. Subsequently some LIDAR images have been taken of the site. Both show the rectangular Earthwork very clearly, although its origin is still uncertain.
There have been finds from many different eras at Perry Wood including Mesolithic flints, neolithic pottery, medieval pottery, medieval coins and several Victorian finds. The most significant find is the neolithic pottery, – a rare find significant to the whole region, evidence of the earliest settled farmers in Kent.
There’s plenty more to discover, but here are some existing reports and articles focussing on the history of Perry Wood. Perhaps you have knowledge of the area and would like to contribute some information or new links? Please use the contact form opposite. To get involved with historical research please contact the Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership or the Friends of Perry Wood group.Download Archaeological Report 2010 #1 Download info about Shottenden Mill #1 Download 1700s plan of Earthworks #1
Contribution via Arthur Percival from the Faversham Society:
Second came John Wilsher’s 54-page study of Shottenden Mil & The Shutter Telegraph in Perry Wood, No 116 in the series. The full history of Selling remains to be written (any offers?) but this is a major contribution to it. The fruit of intensive research, it tells the story of two of its most intriguing features. The windmill, not actually in Shottenden, but overlooking the Rose & Crown pub in the heart of Perry Wood, lay high, at 140 metres. It was of the post variety, the simplest and earliest form, and was probably one of the oldest in Kent. It fell into disuse early last century, and until it disappeared was a favourite destination for local groups for whom the Wood was a kind of local Hampstead Heath.
Nearby stood the tower of the shutter telegraph, built during the Napoleonic Wars as one of a chain linking Deal with the Admiralty in Whitehall. This was crewed by Royal Navy staff. Relying entirely on line of sight during daylight hours, each tower had 6 shutters which could be mechanically operated to offer 64 permutations – 26 for letters of the alphabet and the rest for codes denoting particular phrases. The Deal tower still exists, as the Time Ball Tower on the front. West of Perry Wood the next tower was at what is still known as Telegraph Bank, on the ridge close to the A2 overlooking Syndale Farm. Illustrated in full colour, John’s book costs £5.95 (£7.50 by post within the UK).