On her blog, Random Acts of Unkindness, ello raised the challenge for anyone to list 7 Interesting Facts about the area they live in. So here goes.....
FACT 1: I have lived all my life on the Isle of Sheppey, a small island tucked away in the south-eastern corner of England, a mere 50 miles from London. The island measures barely 9 miles wide by 11 miles long, and is mostly comprised of marshland on which flocks of sheep have gazed since time out of mind - hence the island's name. Because of the acres of swampy marshland, the islanders have been given the nickname of Swampies...of which I am one!
The island is linked to mainland Kent by The Sheppey Crossing, a gracefully arching bridge that spans the water of The Swale below. Because of its close proximity to London, during the summer months the islands two seaside towns: Sheerness and Leysdown are 'swamped' by Londoners.
FACT 2: Eastchurch Village is the island's smallest and quaintest village, a slice of days gone by. Centuries ago the village used to be owned by a family of nobility: the de Shurlands. They commissioned a magnificent manor house to be built which overlooked Eastchurch. King Henry VIII and his young wife Anne Boleyn often spent time at Shurland Hall, and spent part of their honeymoon there. Unfortunately today the Hall stands in ruins.
FACT 3: The vilage of Eastchurch also boasted an aerodrome. And the Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, the first pioneers of flight, would often come here to test fly their planes. The aerodrome is still in use today for privately owned air craft. Often in the summer we have light craft flying in the skies above our garden.
FACT 4: Sheppey is the home to three prisons. Standford Hill, a Category D prison, stands on the site of an old Royal Air Force station. It holds about 464 inmates. Elmley Prison is a Category C prison with 240 inmates. Swaleside is a high security Category B prison, and holds up to 775 prisoners, most of which are serving life sentences. Many well-known infamous prisoners have and still do serve time in Swaleside. Many a time we've been woken at night by helicopters searchlights; hunting for escaped prisoners!
FACT 5: In 1944, the USS Richard Montgomery, a liberty ship carrying 6,127 tons of explosives, run aground on a sandbank just two miles off the coast of Sheppey. The ship broke its back and could not be moved in fear of detonating the explosives. And there she still lies...explosives and all. Her masts poke up above the water, and are visible from most of Sheppey's beaches. It is supposed that if she ever does blow sky high, then Sheppey will go with her. But who knows. Each year the ship is inspected by safety officers, who check the condition of the hull and its cargo. Up to date everything seems A OK, but if I suddenly stop writing my blog, you will know what has happened!
FACT 6: Approximately twenty years ago, an awful man kept lions, tigers and pumas in his back garden on Sheppey. He was eventually caught out and fined, but not before he had let his animals free to roam the island. Luckily, all of the big cats were caught...except one puma. Over the years there have been various sightings of a big black cat in different areas of Sheppey, but it is all just hearsay. No one has ever managed to take a photo of the animal. So? Is it fact or legend? No one knows.
FACT 7: The author Charles Dickens often visited Sheppey. He always stayed in the same inn: Prospect Villa. Just across the road from the inn was a small shop with a bow window. It is this shop that was his inspiration for his novel The Old Curiosity Shop.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief insight to my homeplace.
Does anyone else want a go?