On May 31st 1838 the wood was the scene of last armed uprising on British soil.
The start of farm mechanisation had left many labourers jobless and rural unrest was widespread. A ragged army of peasants fought militiamen from Canterbury but were no match for the disciplined troops.
They were led by a charming but mad self proclaimed protector of the poor, John Nichols Tom, aka Sir William Courtenay, who believed himself to be immortal. Having, unsurprisingly, failed to get himself elected to parliament, he decided that rebellion was the only answer. The bodies of those killed were taken to The Red Lion in Dunkirk where Courtenay’s body was put on show in the stables.
With thanks to the Blean Heritage and Community Group