Monday, 27 April 2009

Allington, a pint and a ponder ...

The weather was too beautiful to stay indoors this weekend, so yesterday we stepped out for a mooch down Castle Road, towards Allington Lock, our destination the Malta Inn public house garden. I really enjoy this walk - most of Allington is given over to modern housing development, but Castle Road holds the key to Allington's tiny historical heart!

Castle Road, Allington: turn right at this beautiful property, to head towards Allington Castle (I think this may be the castle gatehouse, but I'm not certain and have been unable to find any information to confirm my guess) but beware, all you'll find is a wooded walk and a big gate with CCTV peering down menacingly at you, at the end of it! Alternatively, if like us, you fancy a pint, follow the bend in the road left, stroll past the old church and onwards, to Allington Lock.

An intriguing glimpse of Allington Castle, shrouded from view by dense woodland.

An aerial library photograph of the mysterious castle - now privately owned and in 1951 home to an enclosed order of Carmelite Nuns.

I haven't yet had time to learn much about our parish's historical detail, but since moving here, I have discovered that on our side of the river lies a twelfth century castle, (frustratingly privately owned, closed to the public and shrouded behind dense woodland) a lovely old church (also now a private dwelling, so all we nosey parkers can do is peer past wrought iron railings and employ our imaginations!) a magnificent property called 'Lockwood House' set in sprawling lawns gloriously populated with wild rabbits and an eighteenth century Lock, still very much in use today.

No time to ponder history further, as we cross Allington Lock thirsty for our Sunday afternoon pint!

A few steps across the Lock bridge is the Malta Inn, a great spot to sup a pint in the warm Spring sunshine. Shown here, boats mooring alongside the pub for a pint!

I found the following snippet of historical information about Allington Lock at:

"Very little is known about Allington in early history. It was never a village and very few people lived in the area. Allington came into being on the banks of the Medway, where the castle was first built. Charles Igglesden in his books 'Saunters through Kent', written about 1900, describes it so - 'A tiny Parish, no village, no main road passes through it. The easiest way to see it is to saunter along the Medway tow-path.' He mentions the water fowl, fish, barges and that it is best seen from hillocks on the Boxley side of the river.

Charles Igglesden continues: 'To cross the river we pass over locks. Up to this point the Medway is tidal, but not beyond. Originally it was tidal as high as Maidstone, and only a few years since were the old locks near All Saints' church removed'. During the reign of George III the lower Medway Navigation Company were given the power, by an act of Parliament, to dam the river at Allington, to make towpaths and to render the river navigable at this point. The Allington Locks had come into existence towards the end of the 18th century. Previously there had been only a ford, possibly at the site of the present Malta Inn."

The Civic Opening of Allington Lock in 1937. Built in 1792, the Lock was enlarged in 1881.

And finally, the old Allington Lockhouse dated 1833, taken on our stroll homewards, yesterday afternoon.


  1. Looks like a lovely walk Paula...I love the british countryside and all the beautiful buildings we have.I can't think of a nicer way to spend a lovely sunny sunday afternoon.

  2. thanks for taking us on a stroll with you Paula. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to see the castle, England is however so lucky to have organisations like the National Trust that has so many open. Here in Belgium there is no such organisation and an amazing amount of castles, vast majority hidden out of site and privately owned, which seems such a shame. Besides, who on earth lives in these amazing vast places?!! Hugs, Catherine

  3. That is a lovely walk to the loch.

    Being of an inquisitive disposition I would love to see inside the castle as the present owners have done so much restoration work.

    I remember the castle being used for weekend seminars (1970'sand 80's)and the Carmelite Friars would serve their guests their evening meals.

    The long Library would be used for any courses held and residential guests had the delights of draughts and rattling windows in their bedrooms when it was windy.

    My father was a frequent visitor to the castle as he was studying Heraldry and the course tutor much preferred holding his lectures in Allington Castle to Canterbury Uni.

    My father became friends with some of the Carmelite Friars. In the evenings they would have their meal and then they would cross the field from the castle to the lock and could then be seen supping a few pints at the Malta.

    On a few occasions they forgot to keep track of the time and found themselves arriving back at the castle in the pitch dark. It was lights out at 10pm prompt and if you arrived after that you really did have to stumble around and hope you ended up in the correct room!

    The last time I was in the castle was in the early 80's before they Carmelites moved out. Such a shame English Heritage or the NT did not acquire the castle.


  4. I really enjoyed my virtual walk Paula! How wonderful to have somewhere like that nearby. A lovely place to clear the cobwebs out of my head!

    Hugs, Sarah x

  5. The Lockhouse is beautiful !
    What lovely scenery ( and a great sky pic') - you are lucky ! :0)

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed the walk and thank you so much for the glimpse into a little more of the castle's history ... it was fascinating to read such a personal account!

  7. What a gorgeous place to live! So peaceful and green... so "English":)


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