GMS Notes No.65 January 2014

Mongeham Brooks

 

bridge_at_Brooks_2New bridge over South StreamEarlier this month Val and I went for a walk. It was our first opportunity after several days of very heavy rain. When we found our usual route to the church blocked by floodwater we walked on to the Brooks to see how badly flooded it was. The meadow was inundated as these photographs testify. We had not been that way for several months so we were surprised to see a new bridge over the South stream This is shown in the photograph.

 

Standing on the bridge looking downstream towards the junction of South and North Streams gave a very clear view of the flood plain. The photograph below left shows the stream meandering across the flood plain.

Brooks_Brooks_from_bridge_1Looking north from the bridgeStanding there it was easy to imagine the landscape two millennia earlier, before the Wantsum Channel silted up. This was probably an arm of a tidal inlet, which would have been inundated at high tide, with water stretching from bank to bank. The higher ground on either side, with trees atop, suggests the extent of the water. At low tide a much wider and deeper stream would have meandered through mudflats. The Roman farmstead on Church Hill would have been supplied from this waterway, and it would have provided access for Mundel’s clan when they came to settle in the area.

Brooks_Brooks_from_bridge_2Meandering South StreamBy the Middle Ages The Wantsum had already silted up quite considerably, aided by the monks inning the mudflats and draining them. After the great storm of 1287 the neglected sea defences were in a sorry state prompting a decree from Edward I apportioning responsibility for maintaining the dykes, including the “Brokes of Monyngeham” . This is the earliest mention of the Brooks that I have found.

Flooded_brooksLarge puddles in the field The North stream remained navigable into the nineteenth century and I have been told that the tiles for the roof of the Parish Hall were imported from France through Sandwich and were brought to the village by barge. I was also told by someone that as a young girl she played with friends in the stream near where the garage now stands and the water was considerably deeper then. Since then the water table has dropped considerably, whether through extraction by water utilities or by seepage into the mines at Betteshanger or some other mechanism. However when we get rain in the volmes we have had this month we begin to see how near the surface the water table is.

January Meeting

Unfortunately I was very late in producing the Notes this month, so no reminder of the meeting as by the time you read this the meeting will have taken place.

Carols around the Christmas Tree

With so much bad weather and forecasts of more wind and rain we were lucky to have a relatively calm and dry evening for our carols round the Christmas tree, organised by the Parish Council. Once again a large crowd gathered to join in as Peter Hambrook led us in our singing. Afterwards we went into the hall where Brian and Diana Knight and Patricia Scott Bradford plied us with warm mulled wine and hot mince pies. Eating, drinking and much conversation went on, accompanied by the Saint Martin’s Handbell Ringers. In all it was a very successful evening.

No photos this year — I forgot to take my camera! 

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