ESW will be pleased to welcome you on any of our planned walks. Our current programme is published via our website additional walks are routinely added so please do visit the site to ensure you don’t miss out.
Most readers will be aware of the word “the dole” which is (now) defined as a benefit paid by the state to the unemployed. How does the dole form a link with ESW?
The term the dole is derived from the use of dole stones, tables or ledges. They were usually sited in church porches and occasionally churchyards. During medieval times through to the 17th century these sites were used as facilities where contracts were arranged, debts, bequests and church dues were settled. Significantly they were also points at which bread or money was given (doled) to the needy of the parish and on occasions to travellers. Few dole stones survive today and there are even fewer dole tables.
What is the link with ESW? We are fortunate that one of the few surviving dole tables can be found in the churchyard of St. Johns the Baptist Church in Penshurst in Kent. Several of our walks start or pass through Penshurst providing great opportunities to enjoy a walk in beautiful countryside and view this fine example of an historical and rare artefact. The routes of the Penshurst walks also often include the grounds of the nearby imposing Penshurst Place.
The Penshurst dole table is in the shape of a chest like tomb it is formed of slabs of “ashlars” a now little used term to describe squared facing stones.