Octagonal castle keep constructed in 1160 with a 14th century curtain wall. Originally with a bailey enclosing circa 8 acres. The castle stands in the grounds of a country house (also called Chilham Castle) completed in 1616 with alterations dating to 1861-3 and 1922. A timber-framed building accommodating a donkey wheel was added in the 18th century. A private residence, only open for corporate functions. Tessa and Stuart Wheeler bought Chilham Castle in April 2002. Stuart Wheeler was the founder of the spread betting company IG Index.
This ruined castle stands on high ground, over the valley of the Stour, about seven miles S.W. from Canterbury. It is surrounded by a deep ditch enclosing an area of eight acres. Originally a stronghold of the Saxon kings of Kent, it was founded by one of these, a convert to Christianity, in what had been a Roman camp. The Conqueror granted the place and lands to Bishop Odo, and after his fall they were given to a Norman knight named Fulbert, who, being one of the eight knights of Dover, assumed that name, his family name being Lucy (Barris). His son Richard dying s.p., King John, by charter in his sixteenth year, restored Chilham to Fulbert’s daughter and heir, Roesia do Dover, who was harried to Richard Fitzroy, the king’s son. They had two daughters, one of whom, Lora, was wife to William Marmion, and the other, Isabel, married (first) David de Strathbolgy, Earl of Athol, with issue, and (secondly) Sir Alexander de Baliol, who was summoned to Parliament, jure uxoris, as the lord of Chilham. Isabel died at Chilham in 1292, seised of the barony of Chilham and the church of Charlton, and is buried in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral (Weever). John, Earl of Athol, her son by her first husband, was condemned for treason (34 Edward I.), and hanged by that king at Canterbury upon a gibbet fifty feet high, he being “of nobler blood, being of the king’s blood;” he was cut down alive and beheaded, and his body burnt, and his estates, inclusive of Chilham, which he inherited at his mother Isabel’s death, as the caput baroniae, were confiscated by the Crown. Edward II., in his fifth year, granted the castle and manor to “the rich lord;’ Bartholomew de Badlesmere, of Leeds, or Ledes, Castle, Kent (q.v.), and on his attainder, they were given to David de Strathbolgy, the grandson of the former Earl, during his lifetime, reverting at his death to the Crown. Afterwards, coming into the possession of William, Lord de Roos of Hamlake, when his descendant Thomas, Lord Roos, was attainted after Towton (1 Edward IV.), the property was again seized and given for life to Sir John Scott, a Privy Councillor. Reverting again to the Crown, at last Henry VIII. granted the Honour, Castle, Lordship, and Manor of Chylham to Sir Thomas Cheyney, Warden of the Cinque Ports. This knight resided long here, and added much to the buildings, strengthening the defences, and increasing the comfort of the Castle.
The present house, which is close to the old fabric, is a good specimen of a Jacobean mansion, built in 1616. In 1752 it came to the Colebrooks, and thence to the Herons and Wildmans; it was now the property of Lieut.-Col. C. S. Hardy.
The only part of the old Norman castle now standing in at all a perfect state is the ancient octagonal keep, three storeys in height, in the N.W. angle. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)