The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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THE next parish northward from Shorne is Chalk, written in Domesday, Celca, and in the Textus Rof fensis, Celca and Cealces. This place takes its name from its chalky and flinty soil, cealc, in Saxon, signifying a chalk stone.
THE PARISH of Chalk is situated twenty-four miles from London; its extent, from north to south, is about two miles, and from east to west, a mile and an half. The southern part of it is very hilly, the northern, a level flat surface; the inclosures are in general large; the soil is fertile, being mostly a loam, with some chalk, though not much of it. It contains about seventeen hundred acres, forty houses, and two hundred and thirty inhabitants. The southern part is arable, the northern, marsh land, containing about two-thirds of the parish, bounded northward by the river Thames, and is called Chalk and Denton level, being under the direction of the commission of sewers, held for the purpose at Rochester. The high London road passes through it, on which, at the western boundary, is the village of West Chalk, usually called Chalk-street, where the road divides; that to the northward, by the edge of the marshes, through the hamlet of East Chalk, towards Higham, Cliff, and the hundred of Hoo; the other strait on to Rochester. About a mile eastward, near the road, is the church, standing alone on the brow of the hill; below which, about a mile northward in the low country, is the hamlet of East Chalk, standing close to the marshes, which extend from thence to the Thames; its contiguity to so large an extent of marshes, to which its situation is wholly exposed, makes it accounted very unhealthy, and much subject to agues, particularly in autumn. A fair is held here on Whit Monday.
In Chalk-street are several flint-knappers, who manufacture the best gun flints in England, or perhaps in Europe, great quantities of them being-exported to foreign parts.
Chalk was part of those vast possessions with which king William the Conqueror enriched his half brother Odo, bishop of Baieux and earl of Kent, and it is accordingly thus entered in the survey of Domesday, under the general title of that prelate's lands:
Adam holds Chalk of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at three sulings. The arable land is seven carucates. In demesne there are two, and 14 villeins, with six borderers, having five carucates. There is a church and four servants, and one mill of five shillings, and 16 acres of meadow. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth seven pounds, and afterwards 100 shillings, now 10 pounds, and yet he who holds it pays 14 pounds. Of this manor, there is as much in the king's hands as is worth seven shillings, of a new grant of the bishop. The bishop retained in his hand, in the city of Rochester, three houses, which are worth 50 pence. In exesse there is one hide, which of right belongs to this manor. Goduin, son of Dudeman, held it; now Rannulf Peuret holds it.
On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, about four years afterwards, his estates were all confiscated to the crown, and among them this of Chalk. After which, the manor of Chalk became divided into moities, one of which was called East, and the other West Chalk.
In the reign of Henry III. the MANOR OF EAST CHALK was in the possession of John de Burgo, son and heir of Hubert de Burgo, chief justicier of England and earl of Kent, who held it in right of his wife, daughter of William de Lanvaley, and he gave it, in the 55th year of that reign, to the monks of the priory of Bermondsey, in Southwark. (fn. 1)
In the 21st year of king Edward I. the king, by his writ of right, claimed this manor, but the jury gave it for the prior, in which year also a Quo warranto was brought against the prior for claiming to hold pleas of the crown, to have free warren, a market, fair, gallows, and waif, in East Chalk, &c. and the prior disclaimed his having any right to the same, therefore they remained to the king. In Lib. Assis. 29 Edward III. No. 70, may be seen the pleas between the prior of Norwich and the prior of Bermondsey, concerning this manor of East Chalk, which afterwards continued part of the possessions of the above monastery, till the final surrendry of it, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. two years before the general dissolution of monasteries, by which this manor, together with the rest of its lands and possessions, came into the king's hands, and was confirmed to him and his heirs, by the general words of the act, of the 31st year of his reign. That year, the king granted this manor to George Brook, lord Cobham, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 2) His grandson, Henry lord Cobham, being convicted of high treason in the 1st year of king James I. this, among his other estates, became forfeited to the crown, and was confirmed to it by an act passed in the 3d year of that reign; after which it was granted to Sir John Brooke, of Heckington, in Lincolnshire, second son of Sir Henry Brooke, alias Cobham, fifth son of George lord Cobham above mentioned, who likewise became possessed of the other moiety, called the MANOR of WEST CHALK, alias WEST COURT, which was in the reign of Henry III. in the possession of the family of Neville. In the 22d of which reign, John, son of Hugh de Neville, let to ferme to John de Cobham his manor of West Chalk for six years, at the yearly rent of 20l. sterling, and the said John paid then the first three years rent in hand, and convenanted, that at the end of the term he would give the same up, both ploughed and sowed, in the same manner as he received it, and stocked, with six oxen of the price of nine shillings each, and one hundred and forty-seven sheep of nine-pence each, and fourteen geefe, &c. (fn. 3) After which John de Neville granted and confirmed the same, with its appurtenances, to John de Cobham and his heirs for ever. In the 21st year of king Edward I. the king, by his writ of right, claimed this manor against John de Cobham, grandson of the above mentioned John, but he producing Hugh, son of the above John de Neville, as his vouchee, then under age, the same was respited till he should attain such age. His grandson, Sir John de Cobham, lord of Cobham, in the 17th year of king Edward III. obtained a charter for free warren within all his demesne lands within his lordship of Chalke, among others. He died about, or soon after the 34th year of that reign, being then possessed of this manor, leaving one son, John de Cobham, who the year after his father's death, founded the chantry or college of Cobham, and gave this manor to it, and also the rent of twenty-one quarters and three bushels of barley, payable by several of his tenants in Chalk, (fn. 4) as part of his revenues with which he endowed it.
This manor remained part of the possessions of this college till the reign of king Henry VIII. about the 30th year of which, the master and brethren of it foreseeing their approaching dissolution, sold it, with all the lands and possessions belonging to it, with the king's consent, to George lord Cobham, who was confirmed in the possession of it by a clause in the act of the 31st of that reign. Soon after which it seems that this manor was granted, by lord Cobham, to king Henry VIII. and it continued in the crown till king Edward VI. in his 1st year, granted it to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, &c. who, within a few weeks afterwards, re-granted it to the king, in exchange for lands in other counties.
This manor came afterwards into the possession of Sir John Brooke, possessor also of that of East Chalk, as above mentioned, who was created by Charles I. in his 20th year, baron of Cobham, in consideration of his loyalty and sufferings. He alienated both these manors to James Stuart, duke of Richmond, (fn. 5) who died possessed of them in 1655, leaving one son, Esme, who died an infant at Paris, in 1660: and a daughter, Mary. On which these manors, with the rest of the duke's estates in this county, as well as his titles, came to Charles Stuart, son of George Stuart, lord Aubigny, the duke's younger brother; after whose death, without issue, in 1672, all his estates in this county were, in 1695, sold, to pay debts and for other purposes. The manors of East and West Chalk, with the duke's other estates in this parish, consisting of upwards of seven hundred acres of land, were purchased by Sir Joseph Williamson, who had married Catherine, only sister and next heir of the last duke, and widow of Henry lord Obrien. He resided at Cobham-hall, and died possessed of them in 1701, and by his will bequeathed two thirds of them, among the rest of his estates in this county, to the lady Catherine his wife, and the other third to Mr. Joseph Hornsby, on lady Catherine Obrien's death, next year, two thirds of these manors, with the rest of the lands so purchased by Sir Joseph, in this parish, de scended to Edward lord Clifton and Cornbury (son of Edward lord Cornbury, afterwards earls of Clarendon, and Catherine his wife, the only daughter and heir of the lady Catherine Stuart above mentioned, by her first husband, Henry lord Obrien) and on his death, without issue, in 1713, to his only surviving sister and heir, the lady Theodosia Hyde, who soon afterwards carried her interest in them, in marriage, to John Bligh, esq. who was afterwards created earl of Darnley, &c.
The other third part of these manors and estates, on the decease of Mr. Joseph Hornsby, became vested in his widow; and after several vexatious litigations, they were put up to sale before a master of chancery, when the earl entered into a contract for the whole of them. He died in 1728, and was succeeded by his eldest son and heir, Edward earl of Darnley, who, in compliance with a decree of the court, completed the above purchase, left unfinished by his father. He died possessed of the entire see of these manors and estates in 1747, unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother, John earl of Darnley, who died in 1781, and his son, the Right Hon. John earl of Darnley, is the present owner of the manors of East and West Chalk, and other estates in this parish, as above mentioned.
There was formerly a manor in this parish, called BEKELE, and afterwards BECCLES, which was part of the vast possessions of Odo, the great bishop of Baieux, and half brother to the Conqueror, under the general title of whose lands it is thus described in the survey of Domesday:
The same Adam holds Bichelei of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at half a suling. The arable land is half a carucate. In demesne there is half a carucate, and one villein, with half a carucate and two borderers. There is a mill of five shillings. Ulbuin held it of earl Leuuin. In the time of king Edward the consessor it was worth 10 shillings, now 15 shillings.
On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, about four years afterwards, this manor, with the rest of his possessions, was confiscated to the crown. After which the manor of Bekele came into the illustrious family of Cobham, of Cobham, in this county. John, the eldest son of John de Cobham, by his first wife, daughter of Warine Fitz Benedict, died possessed of it in the 28th year of king Edward I. (fn. 6) His grandson, John, son of Henry de Cobham, in the 17th year of king Edward III. obtained a charter for free warren within all his demesne land within this manor, among others; and died possessed of it in the 36th year of that reign; as did his son, John de Cobham, lord Cobham, in the 9th year of king Henry IV. without male issue; after which it descended down, in like manner as Cobham and the rest of the estates of this great family, by a female heir, in marriage, to Sir Tho. Brooke, of Somersetshire, who was in her right lord Cobham, though he never received summons to parliament. His descendant, Henry Brooke, lord Cobham, being attainted of high treason in the 1st year of king James I. forfeited this manor, and the rest of his estates, to the crown, to which they were confirmed by an act passed for that purpose two years afterwards. From which time 1 find no further mention of this manor, nor has the name of it been known in this parish for many years, so that in all probability coming to the crown, with the manors of East and West Chalk, it became blended with them, and was included in the grant made of them to Lodowick, duke of Lenox, in the 10th year of that reign, and has descended in the same tract of ownership to the present possessor of them, the Rt. Hon. John earl of Darnley.
RAYNEHURST and TYMBERWOOD are two manors in this parish, which, with two estates in it, called Fel borow (fn. 7) and Clam-lane, were part of the revenue of the eminent family of Cobham. Henry de Cobham, of Cobham, held them, as appears by Kirkby's Inquest, in the 9th year of king Edward I. as did John de Cobham, in the 36th year of king Edward III. and in this family and its descendants they continued till the reign of king Henry VI. and then they are mentioned by an old survey of Chalk, to be in the possession of Brent, in which they remained till the 8th year of Henry VII. when John Brent, esq. conveyed them, as appears by a fine levied in that year, to Sir Henry Wyatt, whose son, Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. (fn. 8) granted the manors of Raynhurst and Tymberwood, with all other his lands and possessions in this parish, among others elsewhere, to the king, in exchange for other premises. After which, the see simple of these manors and estates, for there had been several terms (fn. 9) of them granted to different persons, remained in the crown; and Sir Peter Manwood, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, became possessed of the then subsisting term of the manor of Tymberwood, with the estates of Clam-lane and Felborough, and passed away his interest in them to Mendfield, who alienated it to Mr. James Crispe, but the see simple of them, together with that of the manor of Raynhurst, still remained in the crown, till Charles I. in the year 1630, passed it away to the city of London, whence it was conveyed by sale that year to Mr. James Crispe above mentioned, who devised these manors and estates by his will to his two sons, Thomas and James Crispe. (fn. 10)
The manors of Raynehurst and Tymberwood, with Clam-lane and Felborough, passed afterwards into the possession of Francis Cottington, esq. of Fonthill-abbey, in Wiltshire, the son of Francis, and grandson of Maurice Cottington, brother of Francis lord Cottington, sons of Philip Cottington, of Godmanston, in Somerseshire. Lord cottington dying without issue, his nephew Francis became his heir; they bore for their arms, Azure, a fess between three roses or. He died possessed of them in the year 1728; as did his son, Francis Cottington, esq. in 1760; after whose death they were alienated to Mr. John Jenkinson, who sold the estates of Clam-lane and Felborough to Robert Maxwell, earl of Farnham, who died possessed of them in 1779, without male issue, leaving an only daughter, lady Harriet Maxwell, who, next year, carried these estates in marriage to Dennis Daly, esq. of the kingdom of Ireland; but the manor of Rainhurst was sold to Brown, whose widow, Mrs. Sarah Brown is the present owner of it; and the manor of Timberwood was alienated to Day; whose descendant, Mr. David Day is the present possessor of it.
THE PARISH of Chalk has a right of nomination in the New college of Cobham, for one poor person, inhabitant of this parish, to be chosen and presented as the ordinances of the college direct, and if the parish of Cliffe makes default in their turn, then the benefit devolves to this parish.
HENRY WHITE, of this parish, who lies buried in the church yard of St. Mary's, Hoo, gave, in 1622, to be given yearly to the poor of this parish, on the Saturday before Christmas day, by the church wardens, an annuity of 1l. payable out of Eastwick marsh, in Egypt level, vested in the churchwardens, and of that annual produce.
JAMES FRY gave by will, in 1710, for the education of ten poor boys in Gravesend, Milton, and Chalk, of which two should be sent by the churchwardens from this parish, a yearly annuity out of lands, vested in the mayor, &c. of Gravesend, the amount in money being 14l. 10s.
CHALK is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, seems to be of great antiquity. It consists of two isles and two chancels, having a square tower at the west end, in which are three bells. The porch of this church is remarkable for its strange and whimsical ornaments, a taste which often recurs in Gothic architecture, as may be seen in many of the Gothic buildings of churches in various parts of the kingdom. These chimerical sculptures convey little, if any, meaning or design, and appear to have been merely the effects of rude caprice and the fantastical humour of the architects; but here the artist has indulged his sportive fancy in a manner much too loose and absurd for a sacred building. On the crown of the arch, at the entrance, is the figure of a man, in the character of a jolly, tipling fellow, holding a jug with both hands, and looking up with a most expressive laughing countenance to a grotesque figure, in the attitude of a posture master or tumbler, above the centre of the moulding, as if pleased with his tricks and performances, and about to drink to him. Between these figures in a nitch, or recess, ornamented with a neat painted Gothic arch and roses, in which formerly stood the image of the Virgin Mary, to whom the church is dedicated. The impropriety, if not indecency, of its being placed between two such ludicrous figures one would think could not escape the observation, and of course excite the disgust of the congregation, who as good Catholics usually made their reverence when they approached it. (fn. 11)
Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church, in the chancel is a memorial for Henry Roy, vicar of Chalk, obt. Feb. 1, 1646; another for Edward Dering, and Elizabeth his wife, he died, 1698. In the nave, a brass plate for Wm. Martyn, obt. 1416, and Isabella his wife. He was a good benefactor to this church, as appeared in Weever's time, as well in the glass of the windows as in other parts of the fabric. (fn. 12)
The church of Chalk antiently belonged to the benedictine priory of Norwich, (fn. 13) and in the 15th year of king Edward I. was valued at thirty marcs.
It was appropriated to the above priory by Hamo, bishop of Rochester, with the consent of his convent, in 1327, reserving nevertheless a perpetual vicarage in it, on the death or cession of the rector, and a competent portion for the same to be decreed by him, or his successor, bishop of Rochester, for the time being. To which vicarage the prior and his successors, patrons of this church should, as well the first time as afterwards, whenever it should become vacant, present to the bishop and his successors for ever, and saving to him and them canonical obedience, on account of this church, as well in visitation as other episcopal rights and customs in it, and also to the prior and chapter of Rochester, and their successors, the portion of tithes which they and their predecessors had, and then did take, from ancient time, within this parish, the names of which, and the manner of taking the same, the bishop thought fit to insert as they appeared to him, not only by a solemn inquisition then taken, but by other lawful documents, all which the reader may see printed at large, in the Registrum Rossense. At the same time, the bishop, by another instrument, endowed this vicarage, and decreed, that the house of the rectory of the church, and all tithes of sheaves whatsoever, as well those arising from land dug with the foot, as those cultivated with the plough, and of all kind of corn, and also of hay, together with ten acres of arable land, and four acres of land in the marsh, and the tithes of rushes belonging to the church, should belong for the future to the religious, to whom this church was appropriated, and that they should receive and have the houses, and tithes of sheaves, with the land aforesaid, in all future times for their portion, which the bishop, as far as re lated to the said tithes, and other burthens to be sustained, taxed at twenty marcs sterling; with which portion the religious being content, should assign a competent scite for the buildings of the vicarage, to be built by the vicar, for which they should pay him one hundred shillings within one year; and that the burthens of finding books and new vestments, not belonging to the parishioners (except in surplices and rochets) they should undergo, and take upon them, and the upholding and repairing of the chancel of the church, and the houses belonging to the vicarage. And he decreed, that all tithes of rushes and of lambs, wool, calves, the produce of the dairy, pigs, geese, flax, hemp, mills, pidgeons, silva cedua, eggs, fruits, trees, curtilages, bees, and fisheries, gardens, pannage, herbage, fowlings, merchandizings, and all personal tithes and oblations of whatsoever things, and howsoever to be made in the said church, and all other small tithes howsoever belonging, and accruing to it, and not above assigned to the religious, should fully belong to the vicar, and his successors in the vicarage, and remain as his portion, which the bishop, as to the payment of tenths, and the undergoing of other burthens incumbent on him, taxed at ten marcs sterling; but that the vicar for the time being should pay the dues to the bishop, and the procuration of the archdeacon, and should find and provide at his own costs, bread and wine for the altar, wax, and processionals, and other necessary lights in the chancel of the church, and the usual ministers in the same, and also rochets and surplices, and should sustain and keep up at his own cost the buildings of the vicarage, and should cause the books to be bound, and the vestments to be washed, mended, repaired, and renewed decently, as often as need should require; but all their ordinary burthens, not specified above (and if they were extraordinary, the vicar should wholly bear them, according to the value of his portion) as well the religious as the vicar, should take upon them, and undergo, according to the above taxation, (fn. 14) &c.
In the year 1379, the prior and convent of Norwich exchanged this church with the master of the college of Cobham, for the church of Martham, in Norfolk. The above endowment, at the petition of the master and confreers of that college, patrons of this church, and of John Long, perpetual vicar of it, was confirmed and ratified by William, bishop of Rochester, in 1391, as it was by the prior and convent and by the archdeacon of Rochester.
It appears by the bishop of Rochester's registers, that the annual pension paid to the bishop, from the master, &c. of Cobham college, for the churches of Chalk and Horton, appropriated to that college, was thirteen shillings and four-pence.
This church remained part of the possessions of the college of Cobham till the reign of king Henry VIII. about the 30th year of which, the master and brethren of it, foreseeing their approaching dissolution, sold their college, and all the lands and possessions belonging to it, with the king's consent, to George lord Cobham, and by a clause in the act of the 31st of that reign, the possession of it was confirmed to him. Lord Cobham, in the 32d year of it, conveyed to the king the parsonage of Chalk (subject to the yearly payment of 9s. 6d. to the bishop, and 6s. 8d. to the archdeacon) the church, and advowson of it, in exchange for other premises.
Queen Elizabeth, in her first year, granted this rectory to Robert Edmonds, to hold in capite by knight's service, in the 11th year of which reign it was purchased by John Mabb, (fn. 15) who next year sold it to John Sleright and Jane his wife; and they, in the 25th year of it, passed it away by sale to Sir Roger Man wood, whose son, Sir Peter Manwood appears, in the next reign of king James I. to have been possessed of the advowson, though it could be but for a term, for at the latter end of the reign of king Charles I. it was again in the crown. After his death, on the dissolution of all deans and chapters, &c. there was a survey taken, by order of the state, in 1650, of the parsonage and vicarage of Chalk, by which it was returned, that the vicarage was formerly in the gift of the king, worth forty pounds per annum, Mr. Matthew Darby, minister; that the parsonage and impropriation was in the hands of Mr. Thomas Wellards, who paid therefrom yearly, to the lady Vane, ninety pounds.
The king still continues patron of this vicarage, which is a discharged living in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of forty pounds, the yearly tenths of which are, 12s. 4½d.
KING HENRY I. gave to the church of St. Andrew, and the monks there, a portion of tithes in this parish, which was confirmed by king Henry II. by several of the succeeding bishops of Rochester, and others. The several lands from whence these tithes arose are printed in the Registrum Roffense, as mentioned above, in the appropriation of this church to the priory of Norwich, by bishop Hamo, in 1327.
This portion of tithes in Shorne, Chalk, and Cobham, was in the reign of king Edward I. taxed at 14l. 13s. 4d. These tithes remained in the possession of the priory of Rochester till the dissolution of it, when the same was surrendered into the hands of king Henry VIII. in the 32d year of his reign; who, in his 33d year, by his dotation charter, settled this portion on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, part of whose inheritance it continues at this time, the present lessee of it being the Right Hon. Thomas lord Le Despencer. (fn. 16)
Church of Chalk.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Prior and Convent of Norwich.||Hugh de Cressingham, anno 22d king Edward I. (fn. 17)|
|John de Kokermuthe, in 1316. (fn. 18)|
|Sir Peter de Vernoun, in 1327. (fn. 19)|
|Master of the college of Cobham.||John Long, in 1391. (fn. 20)|
|The Queen.||John Smith, clerk, February 25, 1556. (fn. 21)|
|Richard Brotherton, 1575. (fn. 22)|
|Laurence Daykin, in 1592.|
|Thomas Bell, in 1604.|
|Henry Roy, A.M. in 1606, obt. Feb. 1. 1646. (fn. 23)|
|John Walpole, in 1647.|
|Matthew Darby, in 1650.|
|John Buck, in 1664.|
|George Wren, 1669.|
|John Hughes, in 1680.|
|Thomas Shewell, in 1702.|
|Robert Sandilands, in 1705.|
|Arthur Robinson, in 1711.|
|John Colson, A.M. inst. Sept. 10, 1733. (fn. 24)|
|John Price, A.M. 1740. (fn. 25)|
|John Doleman, A.M. obt. 1774.|
|William Crackelt, Octob. 1774. Present vicar. (fn. 26)|