Chalk, Kent

Chalk is a village lying to east of Gravesend, Kent, England, part of the town area. The name comes from the Saxon word cealc meaning a chalkstone.

One layer of the chalk carries flints, stones embedded in the chalk, and these were used in building and in providing the means of fire for muskets. The stone is often cut to provide a flat edge as a craft known as flint-knapping. The trade was worked in Chalk from the 17th century onwards. Gun-flints were produced here in large quantities until the early 19th century.


Chalk, already known in the 8th century from a witan (a Saxon meeting) held here, is mentioned in the Domesday Book. A large Roman villa was discovered here in 1961. Of the farms in the parish, Filborough is the oldest, having historical mention as early as AD 1220. At one time it was owned by Henry VIII. Two of its manor houses were called West Court and East Court. .

Chalk's major claim to fame is its connection with Charles Dickens. Here he spent his honeymoon with his new bride, Catherine Hogarth; and it was here that he wrote the early installments of Pickwick Papers. He also used the old forge in the village as a model for Joe Gargery's cottage in Great Expectations. The building still stands as a historically listed building.

In 1935 Chalk parish became part of the Municipal Borough: until then it had been a somewhat remote village. In the main street was one of the tollgates for toll road opened between Northfleet and Strood; it remained until 1871. In 1921 the new Gravesend-Rochester road was built which left the former main village street to the north. The village inn, the White Hart now stands on the main road; and the school closed to be replaced by the village hall

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin lies at some distance to the east of the village centre. Although its origins lie in the 12th century it has suffered both Victorian and later restoration .

Also within the parish was the one-time Gravesend Airport, opened as the Gravesend School of Flying in 1932, from which Amy Johnson began her record flight, and which during World War II became a Royal Air Force fighter base. Sold to developers in 1957, on much of its site is now one of the biggest post-war housing estates, known as Riverview Park Estate.


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