Back in 1971, 17 Meopham citizens assembled in what was the old church hall, (since demolished) at St John the Baptist Church, and talked about forming an Historical Society. The original Chairman was Steven Beaumont and his committee consisted of Brian Knight-Sweeney as secretary and treasurer and the late Jim Carley as projects secretary, later President. Since his death in September 2010, Miss Joan Goodwins was elected as the president of the society, followed by Dr. John Tretheway and our current chairman is Dennis Fairweather (2017). The annual subscription was fixed at £1 and the 17 memberships has increased over the years to the current 110, now with an annual subscription of £10.
The venue has moved to the Cricketers pub, then Meopham Junior School, then Meopham Village Hall and now back to St John the Baptist, in the St Johns Centre, Wrotham Road. At the St John's Centre, we meet on the second Wednesday of every month except January when there is no meeting) 7 for 7.30pm. You will be welcomed to attend but it is advisable to arrive about 30 minutes before the start time as the centre fills up very quickly, an average attendance is about 70 members and visitors.
The evening consists of chat until the start time, then notices followed by our evening speaker whose subject will have an historical flavour. You will find our programme of speakers on the Programme Of Meetings page.
A very popular event is a holiday each year, sometimes two, as well as many day outings, where we usually visit stately homes and places of historic interest aswell as having plenty of time to relax and enjoy the company of our fellow members. You will find more information on our Events & Outings page.
Our achievements over the last three, nearly four decades are many and most obvious is sitting on Hook Green, Meopham. We are immensely proud of the Meopham Village Sign, designed by Eric Bugg, which was presented to the Parish Council in 1998. Eric, was one of our members and had also been asked to design signs for other villages too, and these can be seen on the website of the Village Sign Society at www.villagesignsociety.org.uk. The Meopham sign depicts St John's church, a Bishop's mitre, a Tradescantia plant, a windmill and a cricket bat, stumps and ball. The Bishops mitre is there because Simon de Meopham, whose parents were buried in the St John's Churchyard, was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1329. The Tradescantia plant was named after two famous botanists, father and son both called John Tradescant who lived in Meopham and windmill and cricket pitch are at Meopham Green.
Other achievements consist of a large collection of taped interviews of older residents of Meopham describing life in the 1930's, also a published list of hundreds of gravestone inscriptions from St John's 'old' churchyard as well as research of Meopham properties present in 1910.
Our past President, Joan Goodwins, Organised a reprint in the year 2000 of an out-of-print book on the History of Meopham (Golding-Bird 1934) and all the new prints were very quickly snapped up. Also, to celebrate the 90th birthday of our late president, Jim Carley, we arranged for 12 of his many booklets on Meopham to be bound in hard-back and reprinted. We are in the process of archiving both documents and artifacts left to us by Jim Carley and those given to us by other members of the Society. These are just a few of the projects in which we have been involved and you will find details of exhibitions and a conference we have organised, also on the website.
In summary, there are a few organisations that can claim to educate, entertain and conduct research as we can. We are lucky to possess plenty of talent in our society and several of our members being called upon to give talks, describing their research, in and around the Gravesend Area. In addition, we have a string and dedicated committee which ensures a vigorous society which makes, we feel, a real contribution to the Meopham community.
If you with to contact us, email our Chairman, Dennis Fairweather,
OR for all local Meopham history inquiries: Dr. Ann Kneif, Archivist, firstname.lastname@example.org