The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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DENTON NEAR GRAVESEND.
NORTHWARD from Chalk lies Denton, called in the Textus Roffensis, Denitune, and in Domesday, Danitone, which name it is supposed to take from its having been the habitation of the Danes, i.e. Dane town. It is now usually called Lower Denton, from its low situation near the marshes, and also Denton near Gravesend, to distinguish it from Denton near Eleham, in this county.
THIS PARISH lies on the east side of the road, leading from Chalk-street to Gravesend, from which it is distant about a mile. It is but small, being in extent, from north to south, less than two miles, and in breadth only half a mile. It contains about four hundred and thirty acres of land, of which one hundred are marsh land; its contiguity to the marshes makes the air very unhealthy. The surface is exceedingly flat, the soil a good fertile mould towards the north, and light and chalky towards the south; there are but two houses in it, one of which is the Court-lodge; the other the parsonage, lately built by Mr. Nicholas Gilbee (lessee under Mrs. Bevan) is a very handsome house, in which he resides.
It was given, whilst Ælfftan was bishop of Rochester, (fn. 1) who came to the see in 945, and died in 984, to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester, as two plough lands, by one Birtrick of Meopham, with the consent of Elfswithe his wife, by his last testament; and being wrested from that church in the troublesome times, which soon afterwards followed, by reason of the Danish wars, was afterwards seized on by king Harold, and on the accession of William the Conqueror, was by him given, among other possessions of that church, to Odo, bishop of Baieux, his half brother; but archbishop I anfranc recovered it again, in the solemn assembly, held on this occasion, at Pinenden-heath, in 1076, and afterwards restored it to bishop Gundulph and the church of St. Andrew, which gift was afterwards confirmed by archbishop Anselm, and several of his successors.
The same bishop (of Rochester) holds Danitone. It was taxed in the time of king Edward the Confessor at two sulings, and now for half a suling. The arable land is two carucates. In demesne there is one, and six villeins, having there one carucate. There is a church and four servants, and four acres of meadow, wood for the pannage of 15 hogs. In the time of king Edward, and afterwards, it was worth 100 shillings, and now seven pounds and fifteen shillings.
Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who was elected to that see in the time of the Conqueror, having, after the example of archbishop Lanfranc, divided the revenues of his church between himself and his convent, allotted the manor of Denton, with the church of it, to the share of the monks, to the use of their refectory, which was confirmed by several of the succeeding kings and archbishops of Canterbury. (fn. 2)
On bishop Gilbert de Glanvill's coming to the see of Rochester, in 1185, he claimed this manor with its appendages, as belonging to the maintenance of his table, and the monks were forced to submit themselves entirely to his clemency and award. In consequence of which, though he wrested the church of Denton from them, yet they continued in the possession of the manor, and its other appendages, till the dissolution of their priory in the reign of king Henry VIII.
In the 7th year of Edward I. the bishop claimed certain liberties by the grant of king Henry I. in all his lands and fees, and others by antient custom, in the lands of the priory of Denton, and in all other lands belonging to his church; and he claimed gallows, assize of bread and ale, tumbrel, pillory, chattels of su gitives, and condemned persons, with year and waste of those lands, and all amerciaments of the tenants of his church of Rochester, all which were allowed him by the jury, and they were confirmed by letters of inspeximus by king Edward III. in his 30th year.
In the 21st year of the same reign, upon a Quo warranto, the prior of Rochester claimed, that he and his predecessors had in the parish of Denton, among others, view of frank pledge, and all matters belonging to it, from the time whereof the memory of man said not, and that these liberties had been used without interruption, all which were allowed him by the jury, &c. that as to pleas of the crown, a market, fair, gallows, amerciaments of his own and his tenants, wrecks at sea, chattels of condemned and sugitive persons in the above parishes, he had not, nor did he claim them; but as to free warren, he claimed it by grant of king Henry I. but the jury found that neither he nor his predecessors had used the said warren in any of them, therefore it was adjudged that these parishes should remain without that liberty. In the 15th year of king Edward I. the manor of Denton was taxed at 6l. 13s. yearly value. (fn. 3)
On the dissolution of the priory of Rochester, in the 32d year of the reign of king Henry VIII. this manor was, together with the other possessions of it, surrendered into the king's hands, who presently after, in his 33d year, settled it, with its appurtenances, on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, part of whose inheritance it continues at this time, the present lessee of it being Tho. Barrett, esq. of Lee, in Ickham. There has not been any court held for this manor for many years.
Gilbert de Tunbridge, son of Richard, about the year 1100, restored to the monks of St. Andrew, in Rochester, their lands, which were within his lowy of Tunbridge, viz. Unpringeberi near Burne, which belonged to Frendesbury and Dudichinesdene, which lay at Denton, both manors belonging to them, to hold the same freely and quietly for ever.
The church, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was but a small building of one isle, with a chancel and bell tower. It stood on a bank, close to the road side; the whole has been some time in ruins, though it was not so in the Kilburns time, in the middle of the last century; soon after which, service being discontinued in it, the materials were taken down and sold, or otherwise disposed of. The outside walls, for the most part, yet remain, having the buildings of the adjoining farm yard built up against the north side of it. On the south east human bones have at times been dug up where the cemitery was, now part of the farm-yard.
Although the church of Denton was given with the manor, by bishop Gundulph, to the monks of St. Andrew, yet bishop Gilbert de Glanvill resumed the possession of it, and reunited it to the see of Rochester, as has been already mentioned. It antiently paid ninepence chrism rent to the mother church of the diocese, as one of the churches within it, though in the time of king Edward II. it seems to have been esteemed only as a chapel, for bishop Thomas de Woldham, by his will, in 1316, being the 10th year of that reign, bequeathed eight marcs to the poor of the chapel of Denton; and there is no mention of it in the king's books, perhaps as being at that time only esteemed as a curacy.
By an antient valuation, among the registers of the bishop of Rochester, of the churches, &c. belonging to that see, this of Dentone was valued at six marcs. On the abolishing of deans and chapters, after the death of king Charles I. a survey was taken, in 1650, of this parsonage, by order of the state, when it was returned, that Denton was a small parish, having but two houses in it, and but one farm near it; that it was a parsonage impropriate, belonging to the late bishop of Rochester, worth twenty-six pounds per annum. (fn. 4) In which state it remains at this time, the parsonage continuing part of the possessions of the bishopric of Rochester. Mrs. Bevan is the present lessee of it. It pays all church dues and duties to that of Chalk.
Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, in 1091, granted, with the assent of archbishop Anselm, to the monks of St. Andrew's, that they should have and retain the tithes arising, as well from the food of their cattle as from their agriculture, within their manors situated within his diocese, viz. in Denton and in others, to the use of their refrectory, which gift was confirmed by archbishop Theobald, the prior and convent of Canterbury, and by several succeeding bishops of Rochester; Henry bishop of Rochester, likewise confirmed the same, and further granted and confirmed to them the small tithes, together with the other tithes arising from their manors and demesnes within his diocese, and in their other manors, according to former custom, used before his time. All which was confirmed by Richard, bishop of Rochester in 1280, who at the same time, at the instance of the prior and convent of Rochester, made a solemn inquisition, by which it appeared, upon the oaths of those then sworn, among other matters, that in the manor of Denton the parish church did take, and took of antient time, in the name of tithe, the 30th sheaf only of every kind of corn, but of other small tithes, as well as of the mills and hay in this and their other manors therein mentioned, the parish church did not, nor ever used to take any thing; and he de creed, that this parish church should be content with the said 30th sheaf of every kind of corn only, and that the monks should have and retain for ever all other tithes, both great and small, by whatever names they were called, in all their manors and places within his diocese, the tithes of sheaves, &c. in each of them, as particularly mentioned in his instrument only excepted. All which was confirmed to them (as well as the former grants of bishops Walter, Gilbert, and Henry) by John archbishop of Canterbury, by his letters of inspeximus, in 1281.