What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
The Quintain Post At Offham and Malling Abbey
=How to get there.=–Train from Victoria, Holborn Viaduct, Ludgate Hill, or St. Paul’s. South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. =Nearest Station.=–West Malling (1 mile from Offham). =Distance from London.=–36 miles. =Average Time.=–1-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 5s. 11d. 3s. 9d. 2s. 11-1/2d. Return 10s. 4d. 7s. 6d. 3s. 11d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"George Hotel” at West Malling. =Alternative Route.=–None.
On the green at Offham, an out-of-the-way Kentish village, stands the only quintain post in England. It consists of a tall white post, having a spike at the top, upon which revolves a cross-bar. This portion, which turns on the spike, has a fairly broad square end covered with small holes, while at the opposite end hangs a billet of wood.
The pastime consisted in riding on horseback at the broad end and aiming a lance at one of the holes. The rider had to duck his head at the same instant, in order to save himself from the billet which swung round immediately the lance-point caught the opposite end. Only those who were very agile saved themselves from a nasty blow. Instead of a billet, a bag containing sand or mould would sometimes be suspended on the cross-bar. This would swing round with sufficient force to unseat the rider.
This quintain post is undoubtedly one of the most interesting survivals of the pastimes of the “good old days.” The owners of the adjoining house have been required to keep the quintain post in a good state of repair, and it is doubtless to this stipulation in the title-deeds of the property that we owe the existence of this unique relic.
The ruins of Malling Abbey, now the property of an Anglican sisterhood, are extremely interesting. The abbey was founded in 1090, and was given to the nun Avicia by the famous Gundulf of Rochester. The keep of St. Leonard, not far from the abbey, was also built by Gundulf, who is responsible for the White Tower of the Tower of London. This St. Leonard’s Tower is said to be of earlier character than any keep in Normandy. Permission to see the ruins must be obtained from the abbess or chaplain, and visitors are expected to give a small contribution towards the restoration fund.
The Quintain Post on the Green.]