The village of Stonking nestles in a quiet bowl at the base of the Downs, cushioned by the green chalk hills that separate it from the cool swell of the Channel. Situated on a spur overlooking the river, Stonking’s location meant that in past times, it had been an important defensive post. The Normans had built a castle and in the middle ages the village that grew up around this impressive fortification prospered as an iron working centre. In 1378 a local blacksmith, Nicholas de Longshankes, was walled up in the castle by the squire for using his metalwork skills to effect an entry into the chastity belt of the squire’s lady. It is said that even to this day, the ghost can be seen wandering around the castle walls with a can opener, a clutch of wire wool and a hugely distended codpiece.
Like most self-respecting villages, the two key social hubs are the church and the pub, each providing confessional opportunities to the community. There is overlap between their two customer bases, though it has to be said that Reverend Spears can be seen in the Rancid Polecat more regularly than landlord Rab Selwyn is spotted in St Andrew’s Church. Appropriately the two buildings face each other across the neatly manicured expanse of the village green. The view is at its country best on an early Sunday summer’s evening with the benches outside the pub groaning under the weight of country-fed bottoms as the village cricket team slog their way to yet another loss and the church bells try to tempt all and sundry away to more aesthetic pursuits.