The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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Churches, religious houses and charities
In the 19th year of king Richard II. anno 1395, archbishop William de Courtney intending to make the parish church of St. Mary of Maidstone collegiate, obtained the king's licence, dated at his castle of Ledes, August 2, that year, to erect that church into a college, and to establish it as a college for ever, to consist of one master or keeper, and as many fellow chaplains, and other ministers in it, with licence to the archbishop, to assign to them the advowson and patronage of this parish church, and the chapels annexed to it, then held of the king in capite, to hold of the archbishop and his successors, in free, pure and perpetual alms appropriated to them, as part of their maintenance for ever. And he further granted, that the archbishop might assign the hospital of the apostles Peter and Paul of the New Work of Maidstone, and all the possessions of it, with their appurtenances, and also the advowsons of the churches of Suttone, Lillingtone, and Farlegh to the hospital appropriated, and then of the king's patronage, all which were held in like manner of the king in capite, to the said master and chaplains, to hold of the archbishop in pure and perpetual alms for ever; and that the archbishop might unite, incorporate, and annex the hospital, and all the possessions of it, with their appurtenances, to the master and chaplains, to the better maintenance of them, provided, that the alms accustomed to be paid to the poor in the hospital, should be continued there for their maintenance in future times, &c. (fn. 1)
To the above appropriations Adam Mottrum, archdeacon of Canterbury, gave his assent; and the next year the king granted to them by his letters patent, the advowson of the church of Crundale, together with the reversion of Tremworth and Fannes, in free, pure and perpetual alms for ever, and in his 21st year he granted them other lands and tenements, and king Henry IV. in his 1st year, confirmed the last grant of king Richard II. of the above advowson and manors, by inspeximus; and in the 8th year of his reign, he confirmed to them the licence granted by king Richard, to purchase lands and tenements, of the real yearly value of forty pounds, so that the same were not held in capite. And further, being willing that the said grant should have all due effect, he granted his licence to Richard Lentwardyn and John Harlegh, clerks, to give and assign to the said master and college, the manor of Wightresham, with other lands and tenements, and their appurtenances, in Maydestone, Lose, Boxele, and Hoo, which were not held of him, to hold to them and their successors, as the value of fifty marcs per annum, in full satisfaction of the said forty pounds of lands, tenements, &c.
Archbishop Courtney erected the college and buildings for the habitation of the master and other members, and for the other uses of it, on the bank of the river adjoining to the south side of the cemetery of his church, and as he died the year after he had obtained the king's licence for the founding his college, it is most probable the buildings of it had been begun some time before, for it seems to have been finished in his life-time, as were the alterations he made in the church for the convenience of the members of his new college, which, as well as the church, he dedicated anew to All Saints. To defray the charge of all which, the archbishop procured a bull to collect for that purpose fourpence in the pound of all ecclesiastical benefices within his province; but the bishop of Lincoln forbad the levying of it within his diocese, and appealed to the pope; but whilst the suit was depending the archbishop died.
The patronage of this college and church continued part of the possessions of the archbishopric of Canterbury till archbishop Cranmer, in the 9th year of king Henry VIII. exchanged the advowson and patronage of the college and church of Our Lady of Maidstone, and the advowson, donation, &c. of the chantry founded in Maidstone by archbishop Arundel, with the king, for other premises therein mentioned.
The college of All Saints was dissolved by the act of parliament, passed for the suppression of all colleges, free chapels, and chantries, in the 1st year of king Edward VI. anno 1546, and was surrendered into the king's hands accordingly, with all its lands and possessions.
The first master of this college was John Wotton, rector of Staplehurst, and canon of Chichester, who dying in 1417, was buried in this church, on the south side of the great chancel or choir, (fn. 2) where most of his successors were likewise buried, one of whom, William Grocyn, was admitted master in 1506. He was a famous learned man, educated in Wickham's colleges, and travelled into Italy, where he acquired a greater proficiency in the Latin and Greek tongues, which he taught at Oxford in a method unattempted before, at which time he was the tutor and familiar friend of Erasmus, and died in 1522 greatly esteemed for his profound learning, at the age of eighty, and was buried at the end of the stalls in the great chancel, called the high choir, in this church. (fn. 3)
John Lease, LL. D. the last master, surrendered this college into king Edward VI's hands, in his first year, anno 1546. (fn. 4) This college was valued at the suppression at 212l. 5s. 3½d. per annum, in its whole revenues, and 159l. 7s. 10d. clear annual income.
King Edward VI. by his letters patent, in his 3d year, granted this college, with lands and tenements in this parish, late belonging to it, all which were freed from any payment of tithes, in like manner as they were before the suppression of the college, to Sir George Brooke, lord Cobham, whose grandson, Henry, lord Cobham, forfeited it, together with the rest of his estates, for high treason in the 1st year of James I.
In the reign of king Charles I. Sir Edward Henden, one of the barons of the exchequer, was in possession of it; after which it passed into the family of Marsham, in which it continues at this time, being part of the estate of the right hon. Charles Marsham, lord Romney.
There are great remains left of this college, which appears to have been large and handsome; it is built of stone, and of gothic architecture; the entrance or gateway is almost entire; the whole is now made use of as a dwelling-house.
THE FRATERNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI, in Maidstone, was founded by several of the inhabitants of the town. The house in which the brethren inhabited stood at the lower end of Earl-street, alias Bullocklane, at a small distance from the river. The chapel or refectory, and three sides of the cloyster are still remaining.
It appears from a MSS. preserved among the archives of this town, which contains the accounts of this brotherhood in the years 1480 and 1481, that besides the members of it residing in the above house, they admitted extra members into their fraternity, both men and women, to the number of one hundred and twenty persons and upwards. Among these are named many persons of distinction, as Sir Thomas Bourchier, of Leeds, Sir Henry Ferrers, John Wormsell, abbot of Boxley, John Munden, vicar there, Jacob Chirche, vicar of Thurnham, and others, inhabitants of this town.
They all paid an annual sum, for the most part eighteen pence or two shillings each; but those of a higher rank contributed more, as 3s. 4d. 6s. 8d. and the like. Besides which they had several gifts and legacies, and an estate both in lands and houses; out of which was maintained the fraternity, who dwelt in the mansion of it, who followed the rule of St. Benedict in many particulars, and their chaplain, who was allowed 6l. 13s. 4d. annual wages. In their own chapel it was their custom to celebrate solemn dirges and masses on the death of any of the brothers and sisters belonging to it, which brought them in no inconsiderable profit; (fn. 5) besides which, they maintained out of their revenues one priest, to celebrate within the church of All Saints.
At the suppression of this fraternity and chantry, by the act passed in the 1st year of king Edward VI. the revenues of it were valued at 40l. 0s. 8d. clear value; and the fraternity then possessed likewise several cottages and tenements, wherein the poor and impotent persons inhabited, without any payment whatsoever. (fn. 6) After which the mansion called the Brotherhood-hall, the Fraternity, and the lands of Corpus Christi, with their appurtenances, were purchased of the crown by the corporation of Maidstone out of the monies received from the sale of some vestments, plate, &c. belonging to the church.
But a dispute arising among the inhabitants, concerning the making this purchase, and the settling part of the lands to this use, several endeavouring to obstruct the design of it, the duke of Somerset, then lord protector, sent a letter to them, exhorting them to unanimity in a matter which tended so much to the advancement of God's honor, and the common wealth; which appears to have had the desired effect.
ARCHBISHOP PARKER, in the 4th year of queen Elizabeth, in obedience to the queen's command, returned an account of the several schools and hospitals in this diocese, and among them, that there was A SCHOOL erected at Maidstone, by the charge of the mayor and commonalty of the town, who had purchased of the late king certain lands to that intent, amounting to 9l. 6s. 8d. per annum, and that it was not charged with tenths. (fn. 7)
At present the master is chosen by the inhabitants of the town and parish of Maidstone, assembled in vestry. He is intitled to a very good house, with proper offices and conveniences, late the mansion and buildings of the fraternity above-mentioned, together with the rents and profits of a farm of eleven pounds per annum, and a salary of twenty pounds per annum paid by the corporation of Maidstone. It is said, the first payment made by the corporation was in 1660, and that the same was part of Mr. Lamb's gift.
By the charter granted by queen Elizabeth to this town, the corporation was empowered to make wholesome orders and statutes for the government of the masters and scholars; in consequence of which several rules and orders were made for that purpose.
William Lamb, a gentleman of the chapel to king Henry VIII. and a freeman of the Cloth workers company, among his other charities, gave 10l. yearly to it, with this proviso, that the children of needy men only should be preferred to the enjoying this benefit.
Robert Gunsley, clerk, rector of Titsey, in Surry, by his will in 1618, gave the rectory and parsonage of Flamsted, in Hertfordshire, with its appurtenances, to the master and fellows of University college, in Oxford, to the intent that they should make choice of four scholars, who should be chosen by the master and fellows, one half out of the grammar-school of Rochester, and the other half out of this of Maidstone, such only as were born in the county of Kent, and none other, except such as should be of his kindred; and as often as these scholarships should become void, that they should be filled up by the master and fellows out of the schools before mentioned, within three months; and that the charges of the master and such fellows as should be sent and employed in the election, should be borne and deducted out of the allowance appointed to the scholar or scholars, who should be elected in the interim of the three months; all which scholars, as they or any of them should attain to their rooms or places, should be maintained by the master and fellows at some grammar school, until they were fit to go to University College, and then be placed there by them, with fit and convenient chambers, and that they should allow to each of the four scholars, yearly, fifteen pounds a piece; those of his name and kindred to be preferred before any other; and that the master and fellows should pay to the curate and curates of Flamsted the yearly sum of sixty pounds, as his or their salary; the election of which curate should be from time to time by the master and fellows, provided, nevertheless, that whenever the curate's place should be void, one of his own scholars should have the refusing of it before any other.
In pursuance of this benefaction, four scholars, chosen from this school and that at Rochester, are at this time allowed chambers at University college, and fifteen pounds per annum each of them. About one half of the scholars, which have been so chosen, appear to have been of the name or of kindred to the testator.
John Davy, M. D. of this town, in 1649, gave by his will all his lands in the parish of Newchurch in this country, containing sixteen acres of land, then let at eighteen pounds per annum, for the better maintenance of the master and usher of this school.
IT IS SAID, there was once a CONVENT of FRANCISCAN or GREY FRIARS, founded in this town by king Edward III. and his brother, John earl of Cornwall, about the year 1331. No further mention is made of it, either as to revenue or situation; (fn. 8) so that probably they were soon afterwards removed perhaps to Walsingham, in Norfolk, to which place king Edward III. in the year 1345, procured leave of pope Clement VI. to remove some of these friars, and to build a convent there for them. (fn. 9)
At the corner of East-lane next the high town, there was antiently a house, having several Gothic arches in it, and several rooms vaulted with stone, which in the old deeds of it was named the priory or friery.
ROBERT GUNSLEY, rector of Titsey, in Surry, by his will, in 1618, gave in trust the rectory and parsonage of Broadhempston, in Devonshire, to the intent, a licence of mortmain should be procured, and the same conveyed and assured to such persons as should be thought adviseable, for the relief of the poor people inhabiting in the parishes of Maidstone and Rochester, by equal portions, to be bestowed in bread every sabbath day, and in cloaths to cover them, according as the rents of it would allow every year.
The licence was afterwards procured, and the rectory conveyed accordingly. The half part of the present rents and profits of it, amounting to 15l. 15s. is yearly distributed among the poor people of Maidstone, agreeable to the will of the donor.
ALEXANDER FISHER, fourth and youngest son of Walter Fisher, formerly mayor of this town, died in 1671, and by his will gave 38l. per annum, in land, to this corporation, for binding out three freemen's sons to trades yearly, and in the payment of 40s. each per annum, to four poor widows during life. (fn. 10)
ROBERT ROWLAND, a native of this town, and citizen, and armourer and brazier of London, gave to the parish church of Maidstone a large and elegant sconce of brass; and by his will, in 1707, devised to the corporation 120l. to be lent to twelve young men, newly out of their time, to forward their setting up in trade, at 10l. a piece, for which they should pay 6s. 8d. per annum interest each, amounting in the whole to 4l. which sum he willed should be annually disposed of to the minister of Maidstone, for preaching a sermon yearly on Feb. 1, by candle light; to the reader, clerk, churchwardens, and for candles, 1l. and to the poor under the cliff, upon the bridge and over the bridge, near which he was born, 2l.
SIR JOHN BANKS, bart. of Aylesford, a native of this town, and one of its representatives, by his will, in 1697, ordered six neat and convenient alms houses to be built; and endowed them with 60l per annum, clear of all deductions, for the habitation and maintenance of six poor aged persons of both sexes, to be appointed by his heirs, and to keep the said buildings in repair. These houses were accordingly erected in the year 1700.
THOMAS BLISS, esq. a native of this town, and several times one of its representatives in parliament, in 1720, built a workhouse, on which he expended upwards of 700l. for the benefit of the poor of this town and parish, on a piece of ground on which several parish houses before stood. It is a large brick building, three stories high, and has a large kitchen behind it, suitable to the number of inhabitants the house contains.
By the care and influence of Dr. Josiah Woodward, curate of this parish, two charity schools were set up in 1711, in this town, to which several charitable persons at different times afterwards gave their benefactions of money; and Mrs. Martha Godden, in the year 1721, gave two pieces of land to it for ever, of the annual value of 50s.
MR. JOHN BARRINGTON, gentleman, who died in 1738, besides being a good benefactor to the above mentioned charityschools in his life time, directed his executors, by his will, after his debts, legacies, and funeral expences were paid, to dispose of the surplus of his estate, which was only personal, to the relief of so many poor families in this parish as they should think had most need of it, not exceeding 5l. in one family; accordingly there was distributed the sum of 184l. 3s. 6d. besides 8l. directed by him to be given to twelve poor widows, not receiving alms of the parish, in equal portions.
MR. EDWARD HUNTER, the first mayor after the grant of the new charter, in 1748, erected six alms houses in Maidstone, in the road leading from thence to the Mote, and during his life, permitted six persons to dwell in them rent free; and by his will devised 8l. per annum to each of the three men and three women who should inhabit therein rent free, to be nominated from time to time by the right hon. lord Romney, the perpetual curate of Maidstone, and the recorder of Maidstone for the time being, whom he appointed trustees of his said charity.
The church stands at the western part of the town, on the bank of the river Medway. It was at first dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but when archbishop Courtney had rebuilt the chancel, and refitted the rest of it, on his having obtained a licence in the 19th year of king Richard II. to make it collegiate, he dedicated it anew to All Saints.
The stalls for the master and fellows of the college are still remaining in the chancel, in which the arms of archbishop Courtney appear in several places, but no where in the body of the church, which makes it probable the latter was part of the old parish church of St. Mary, and not rebuilt by the archbishop. The church is a large handsome building, consisting of a nave, great chancel, and two side isles; the roof is lofty, and is covered throughout with lead. At the west end it has a handsome well built tower, on which there was a spire covered with lead, near eighty feet high, which was burnt down by lightning, on Nov. 2, 1730. In the tower were eight bells, a clock, and chimes; the bells, in 1784, were new cast into ten, by Chapman and Mears of London.
In the year 1700, the body of the church was neatly and regularly pewed; on each side is a commodious gallery, one of which was built at the expence of Sir Robert Marsham, bart. then one of the repretatives for this town, and afterwards created lord Romney.
There were antiently in this church numbers of inscriptions on brass plates, as well on the monuments as grave stones, which are now almost torn away. In the middle of the great chancel there is a tomb-stone, raised a little above the pavement, with the marks of the portraiture of a bishop, in his mitre and robes, and of an inscription round it, but the brass of the whole is torn away. This is supposed to be the cenotaph of archbishop Courtney, the founder of this church, for it was the custom in those times for persons of eminent rank and quality to have tombs erected to their memory in more places than one.
The archbishop was son of Hugh Courtney, earl of Devonshire, by Margaret, daughter of Humphry Bohun, earl of Essex and Hereford, accordingly the arms of Courtney and Bohun impaled, are in several parts of this chancel. The archbishop died at his palace in Maidstone, in 1396, and in the first part of his will directed his body to be buried in the cathedral church of Exeter, where he had formerly been a prebendary; afterwards, lying on his death bed, he changed his mind in this point, and holding his body unworthy of burial in his metropolitical, or any other cathedral or collegiate church, he wills to be buried in the church yard of his collegiate church at Maidstone, in the place designed for John Boteler, his esquire; but it appears by a leiger book of Christ church, Canterbury, that king Richard II. happening to be then at Canterbury, when the archbishop was to be buried, perhaps at the request of the monks, overruled the archbishops intention, and commanded his body to be there entombed, where he lies, under a fair monument of alabaster, with his portraiture on it, at the feet of the Black Prince. Thus Somner, Godwin, M. Parker, and Camden; but Weever thinks, notwithstanding the above, that he was buried under his tomb in this chancel of Maidstone.
The rectory of this church, with the chapels of Loose and Detling annexed, was appropriated by archbishop Courtney, by the bull of pope Boniface IX. (fn. 11) with the king's licence, in the 19th year of king Richard II. to his new founded college here, but the patronage of the advowson, it seems, he reserved to himself and his successors; in which state it remained till archbishop Cranmer, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. exchanged the advowson and patronage of the college and church with the king. (fn. 12)
Upon the dissolution of the college, in the 1st year of king Edward VI. the rectory and advowson became both vested in the crown, and the church was left, through the king's favour, to the inhabitants of this town and parish, as it had been before it was made collegiate, the grant of it, together with the church yard being confirmed to them by the charter granted by king James I. in his 2d year, for their parish church and church yard, for the purpose of divine service, burying the dead, &c. as the same was then used.
Whilst the college remained, the parish found no ill effects from the appropriation of the rectory, as the master and fellows caused divine service to be constantly performed in the church, and the cure of the parish to be properly served; but when the college was dissolved, and the great and small tithes appropriated to it were granted away by the crown, the parishioners suffered much from the scantiness of the provision remaining for a person properly qualified to undertake the cure of so large and populous a parish, a small stipend only with the oblations, obventions, &c. being all that was left for the officiating minister, under the title of perpetual curate. King Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted to Sir Thomas Wyatt, among other premises, this rectory of Maidstone, to (fn. 13) hold in capite by knight's service; but he engaging in a rebellion in the 1st year of queen Mary, forfeited it, with the rest of his estates, to the crown, whence the patronage of the curacy was granted by that queen, in her 6th year, to archbishop cardinal Pool, and she demised the rectory of this church for a term of years to Christopher Roper, esq. (fn. 14) the same being then of the value of 81l. (fn. 15)
The rectory of Maidstone, with the tenths of the chapels of Loose and Detling, the tenths of Loddington and in Estrey were worth yearly 74l. out of which there was paid to the chief priest of Maidstone, 20l. to his two assistants each, 6l. 13s. 4d. to the curates of Loose and Detling each, 2l. 13s. 4d. in all, 38l. 14s. 4d. notwithstanding these deductions, it does not appear that there was after this more than one appointed to officiate here, to whom the archbishop paid a salary of 10l. per annum.
Archbishop Whitgift, in 1583, augmented the curate's salary 10l. per annum. (fn. 16) Archbishop Juxon, in obedience to the directions of king Charles II. in 1660, for augmenting the maintenance of vicars and curates, made an addition of 37l. 6s. 8d. per annum. (fn. 17) Archbishop Sancroft, among other acts of pious beneficence, granted by lease, in 1677, to Humphry Lynd, curate and preacher of Maidstone, for augmentation of his maintenance, all the small tithes of the borough of Week (fn. 18) and Stone within this parish, the commodities of the church-yard, and one moiety of all the small tithes within the town and borough of Maidstone;h notwithstanding which he has a maintenance by no means proportionable to the greatness of his cure and labour.
Upon a trial in the exchequer in 1707, concerning the curate's right to the vicarage tithes of Lodington, it was suggested, that this curacy was worth three hundred pounds per annum; to which it was replied, that the legal dues were not more than one hundred and sixty pounds per ann. (fn. 19) Lodington is situated between three and four miles from Maidstone, and separated by other parishes intervening; it is said, there was once a chapel in it, situated in a spot now called Glover's garden, where of late years some stones and foundations have been dug up. I believe the curates have not enjoyed these tithes for some time.
In the 37th year of queen Elizabeth, Levin Bufkin was farmer of the rectory, under the archbishop. In 1643, Sir Edward Henden, one of the barons of the exchequer, was lessee of it. In 1741, Thomas Bliss, esq. held the lease of it of the archbishop. It afterwards came into the possession of William Horsmonden Turner, by virtue of the limitation of whose will his interest in it is now vested in William Baldwin, esq. of Harrietsham.
THERE WAS ANOTHER CHURCH, or rather a FREE CHAPEL, dedicated to St. Faith, situated in the northernmost part of the town from that above mentioned, being most probably erected for the use of those inhabitants of this parish, who lived at too great a distance to frequent the other. It seems to have been surrendered up into the king's hands, in conformity to the act of the 1st year of king Edward VI. and, with the church-yard, to have been purchased of the crown afterwards by the inhabitants; but whether then used for religious worship does not appear. Some time afterwards it became part of the estate of the Maplesdens, of whom it was purchased in the reign of king James I. by Arthur Barham, esq. who possessed the manor of Chillington, at which time he acknowledged the right of the corporation to use the chapel of St. Faith for divine service, and the chapelyard for burials, if they thought fit; at present only the chancel is standing, which for many years was used for a place of public worship by the Walloons: upon the dispersing of this congregation, by archbishop Laud in 1634, this chapel was shut up for some small time, when it was again made use of by a congregation of Presbyterians, who continued to meet there till about 1735, when they built themselves a meeting house elsewhere. Part of it is now a dwelling house, and the rest of it was some years converted into an assembly room; it is now made use of as a boarding school for young ladies.
The scite and what remains of this fabric was lately the property of the heirs of Sir Tho. Taylor, bart. of the Park-house. It was afterwards purchased by Mr. Samuel Fullager, gent. the heir of whose son, Mr. Christopher Fullager, of this town, is proprietor of it.
THERE were TWO CHANTRIES founded in this church, one by Robert Vinter, in the reign of king Edward III. who gave two estates in this parish, called Goulds and Shepway, for the support of a priest performing certain divine offices in the church of Maidstone, whence it acquired the name of GOULD'S CHANTRY, a full account of which, and of the possessors of those estates, after its suppression to the present owner of them, the Rt. Hon. Charles lord Romney, has already been given in the description of them.
The other chantry was founded by Thomas Arundell, archbishop of Canterbury, in the year 1405, be ing the 7th of king Henry IV. who that year granted his licence to the archbishop, to found two chantries; one of which, of one chaplain, was in this collegiate church, at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr, to celebrate daily service for his soul, &c. for which the archbishop granted, that he should have a yearly stipend of ten marcs out of Northfleet parsonage. The advowson or donation remained with the several archbishops of Canterbury till archbishop Cranmer, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. conveyed his right in it to the king, in exchange for other premises. This chantry was dissolved by the act of the 1st year of king Edward VI. at the same time the college itself was suppressed.
CHURCH OF MAIDSTONE.
|PATRONS, Or by whom presented.||RECTORS.|
|Archbishops of Canterbury||John Mansell, obt. in 1264. (fn. 21)|
|William de Tyrington, 1394. (fn. 22)|
|Guido de Mone, in the reign of king Richard II. The last rector.|
|The Crown||Richard Augur, in the reign ofking Edward VI.|
|John Day, in 1553. (fn. 23)|
|Archbishop of Canterbury||Robert Carr, in 1559.|
|Robert Barrell, A.M. 1602. (fn. 24)|
|Samuel Smith, intruded in 1643. (fn. 25)|
|T. Wilson, A.M. 1643, ob. 1651.|
|John Crump, eject. Aug. 1662.|
|Archbishop of Canterbury||John Davis, ob. July 3, 1677. (fn. 26)|
|Humphry Lynde, 1687. (fn. 27)|
|Edward Roman, obt. 1692.|
|Gilbert Innis, A. M. July 15, 1692, obt. May 5, 1711. (fn. 28)|
|Jofiah Woodward, S. T. P. obt. Aug. 6, 1712. (fn. 29)|
|Samuel Weller, LL.D. 1712, ob. 1753. (fn. 30)|
|John Denne, A. M. 1753. The present curate. (fn. 31)|