Welcome to Northbourne Parish Council
Northbourne gets its name from its situation at the source of the North bourne (brook) which flows from here to Sandwich. This brook, at one time called the Gestling, was used by the village for executing condemned fellons – they were held under the water until drowned.
The Manor of Northbourne was given by Eadbald, King of Kent, to St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury in AD 618 and, supposedly, St. Augustine himself founded the buildings whose ruins are now known as Northbourne Abbey. Not very much is known about the Abbey but it is doubtful if it truly was an abbey. More likely, it was a group of monastic buildings run by brethren from St. Augustine’s in Canterbury.
Prior to being taken over by the monks, the buildings are reputed to have been the palace of King Eadbald and, in the 16th century, two child skeletons were discovered bricked up in the ruins, supposedly the remains of Princes Ethelbert and Etheldred, cousins of King Egbert who had them murdered in AD 665.
The Abbey was allowed to fall into decay after the Reformation until, in 1616, the ruins were taken over and the Manor House that was part of the ‘Abbey’ was rebuilt as Northbourne Court by Sir Edwin Sandys. Sandys drew up the Constitution of Virginia, so successfully that it became the model for other American states. His son, Colonel Edwin Sandys, was an infamous Roundhead leader feared for his cruelty. He died at Northbourne Court from wounds received at the Battle of Worcester in 1642.
In 1750 the court and the Abbey ruins were sold off for building material. Now only fragments remain although the ornamental gardens survive as part of the new Northbourne Court, the seat of Lord Northbourne since the Barony was created in 1884.
The church of St. Augustine was built in the 12th century from flint and brick and contains the magnificent marble tomb of Sir Edwin Sandys and his wife.
Northbourne survived as a farming community and specialised in market gardening, the growing of vegetables and fruit for the local markets. St. Augustine’s school, founded in the village in 1851, was the first school in the county to instruct boys in the principles of market gardening.
Great change came to the village with the opening of Betteshanger Colliery in the north of the parish in 1924. This enormous pit was the last colliery in Kent, closing in 1989.