Doorway- Becket House New Dover Road 1939
Doorway- Becket House New Dover Road 1939

Local History Group

The Society's Local History Group started life in 1986 as an "Oral History Group".

A century ago, the Oaten Hill area was a distinct, mixed community, with many local industries - several linked with the nearby countryside. In the days when most men walked on foot to work (and women mostly brought up children), such local businesses, often family-owned, gave Oaten Hill its character.

OHDS members set about collecting memories of those who had lived and worked locally before motor transport changed all this. The LHG still has a stock of taped interviews and transcripts from this exercise. In due course we published four booklets on local Canterbury firms - "The Taylors" (corn and seed merchants, published 1988); "The Holmans" (millwrights and agricultural engineers, 1992); "The Bigglestons" (Iron Founders, 1996) and "The Pinnocks" (coal merchants, 2000).

"Dover Street Remembered" (1993), "Ivy Lane Remembered" (1996) - now updated and reprinted as "Ivy Lane Revisited" (2013), "Nunnery Fields Remembered" (1998), "Old Dover Road – Past and Present" (2012), "Longport Through the Ages" (2016) and "The Story of Oaten Hill" (2018) complete the Group"s booklets and are still much in demand from newcomers in these streets, wondering about the history of the many interesting old buildings there.

The City Council has recognised our work by agreeing to name a car park as "Holmans Meadow" and an alleyway as "Bigglestons Link".

Please note that the "Taylors of Canterbury" is currently out of print.

Oaten Hill book

The Story of Oaten Hill describes the history of this small area of Canterbury, based on St Sepulchre’s Nunnery, Oaten Hill, Upper Chantry Lane and Cossington Road. It relates the religious, regal, commercial, social and environmental influences which have shaped the present-day appearance of this most historic area. At its core is the story of the medieval nunnery of the Holy Sepulchre and the fate of the land on which it was built in subsequent centuries. The book contains over 150 pages with photographs and illustrations, many in colour. The book received the Hayes Award 2019 for the best work in Canterbury relating to history or archaeology.

books montage

All our booklets are full of memorable photographs, often from family archives

The OHDS Local History Group has built up its own large archive of photographs, covering both the Society's activities and the many changes in our area over the last 30 years. We are continuing this work, and particularly anxious to find new members willing to keep a lookout for interesting events and changes to record photographically. We have recently added our booklet on the history of Longport, from Roman times to the present day.

As described above these publications are £3.00 + £1.50 p&p except for Old Dover Road and Ivy Lane Revisited (£6 + £1.50 p&p), Longport Through the Ages (£8 + £1.50 p&p) and The Story of Oaten Hill (£12 + £2.70 p&p.).
To obtain any of these booklets please contact Graham Wood: 01227 472932 (Lansdown Cottage, Lansdown Road, Canterbury, CT1 3JR, or email the history group here.

We have not just collected words and pictures

For nearly half a century from 1946, a tiny, traditional family hardware shop, "Wood's Stores", was a much loved feature of Dover Street.

As it was closing, the LHG-collected a full set-of the goods-on sale, raised funds to house them and worked with the Museum of Canterbury in Stour Street to create a permanent display. "From paraffin to pegs, from mousetraps to hairnets, a magical shop that housed a cornucopia of goods was back on display", reported the Gazette on its opening (12 May 2005).

Our Meetings

Members of the group, still including a few of the original founding members, now meet for a coffee, a chat and to manage the group's affairs every second month on a Tuesday morning, and occasionally go on local history guided walks.

If you would like to come along and chat about your memories of the area, or (having more recently moved here) like to learn more about the Oaten Hill area, do join us.

Current Projects

We are continuing to seek people with memories and other information about Dover Street for our next publication.

If you have anything you wish to offer, or know of anyone, please contact us through Sophie Scott on sophie01@btinternet.com.

Fasces- Sessions House Longport 1807
Fasces - Sessions House Longport 1807

Oaten Hill area of Canterbury (after Speed 1611)
Oaten Hill Area from The Groundplott of Canterbury –17th Century