Not open to the public.
In the marshes near Sittingbourne are the remains of an ancient encampment said to have been formed by King Alfred, and in later times occupied by a castle. Hasted says that the Danes, coming up the Thames in 893, built a fort on Kemsley Downs, a quarter of a mile from the church issuing whence they ravaged and plundered the country around in a merciless way. Hayford is on the other side of the creek from Kemsley, and may have been formed to check the enemy. In after-times the fortified manor-house was the residence of the successive families of Leybourne, de Nottingham, Cheyney, and Lovelace, until the end of the sixteenth century, when the castle had become a farmhouse. Temp. Edward I. it was the seat of Robert de Nottingham, whose descendant was Sheriff of Kent (48 Edward III.). A moat, or some ditches, with a fragment of stonework, alone remain.
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