Cooling Castle Farm - a Memory of Cooling.

To the right of the photograph is a driveway into the interior of the original castle that was the entrance to Castle Farm operated by F.Elms & Sons and in particular my uncle Harry Elms.
He bought the Farm in about 1930 having moved down from Bexley/Eltham area where the family farmed an area from Sidcup to Dansen Park. My main memory was of being able to boast to my school classmates that we "owned a castle". A less pleasant memory of the late 50's early 60's was when a large imported labour force of women and children had been ferried in for pea picking. This was generally a pleasant midsummer treat promising a little extra cash for Mum being able to take the children along as well. The children often tended to wander off and play and the potential danger of the water in the moat was not appreciated. Sadly one of these children unfortunately drowned in the moat. I recall the incident because of the shock felt by my family when we learned of the news.
I have to admit that I know little of the history of the castle and have always assumed that it was one of the defensive castles protecting the Thames and Medway esturies built during Tudor times, perhaps someone more knowledgeable could enlighten me.
The nearby Cooling Church is renowned as being part of the inspiration for Dickens when he wrote "Great Expectations" with the graves he mentions in the story still visible as they were to CD when he used to walk around the marsh areas.
In 1960 the Castle was in a poor state of repair with only the gate house as illustrated in your photograph in any where near a complete state. The perimeter walls having been de-graded over time, but as a child it was still a real castle and it was ours!  In truth it was then administered by the Church Commissioners and we paid a rent for the use of the farmyard.  
At busy times we occasionally were drafted down from our Farm at Gravesend and I can recall as a 21 year-old driving one of our lorries through that gate to pick up produce ready for Borough Market and Covent Garden, feeling that I wished had been a little wider.
Our family sold up our interests in 1970 following the close deaths of both my uncle and his brother (my Step-father). My memories are mostly happy ones of the farm and of the people working there and the photograph has brought these back after 40 odd years.


A memory shared by Jerry Furley on Aug 17th, 2006.
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