Ochalt Manor

During the late 13th and early 14th centuries, a large house lay in close proximity to where Baldwyns Manor now stands. This has been recorded by I E MORRIS in her pamphlet 'Baldwyns Park and Joydens Wood'.

"During this time a hall and outbuildings, together with a large square earthwork very near to Baldwyns, were built, lived in for a very short time and then deserted. It has been suggested that this was the site of Ochalt manor house - a manor which was known to exist somewhere in this area. The structures were where Spurrell Avenue and Chalet Close are now, and was probably only lived in between about 1280 and 1320. There has been speculation as to why it was deserted after such a short period. There was nothing in the excavated evidence to suggest destruction by fire or a sudden natural calamity - unless an outbreak of a pestilent disease destroyed the settlement.

Failure of the water supply or bad farming practices on the sandy soil have also been offered as explanations but whatever the cause the capital messuage, as a good size house would have been called in those days, gradually fell into decay. After some initial robbing of the site it lay comparatively undisturbed until a recent series of archaeological digs uncovered some of its secrets. The main building was rectangular. It was 62 feet long and 30 feet wide. It had been built of timber with a tiled roof. The floor was of the Thanet sand which is typical of this area. An outbuilding attached to the South West corner was probably thatched and could possibly have been a cattle byre or stable.

The hearth was 7' square and was the usual platform of broken tiles set on edge. A modern rubbish pit had destroyed most of the floor of another timber building. In 1934 Mr HOGG had decided that it was most probably a mediaeval cottage for there were signs of both human and animal occupation. A building excavated by F. C. Elliston Erwood in 1925 is believed to have been a lodge for a cart and a further structure studied by Mr. Caiger and Mr Tester was made up of features which indicated an oven or kiln. A well with an upper opening of 3' 9" was over 100' deep when Mr F.C. Spurrell looked at it but by 1958 it had been filled to a depth of 75'. Several styles of roof were found in such a position as to be able to date them accurately to the 13th or early 14th century. They were all of a reddish hue and one curved tile indicated that a dove cote may have been in the vicinity".

More pages