The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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Description of the city
THE APPEARANCE of the city of Canterbury, from whatever part you approach it, is beautiful, and equals the most sanguine expectation. The magnificent tower of the cathedral, for symmetry and proportion hardly to be paralleled, strikes the eye as the principal object of admiration; after which, it is directed to the tower of king Ethelbert, and the other stately ruins of St. Augustine's monastery, the steeples and towers of the several parish churches, the towers of St. George'sgate, and of West-gate, the Old Castle, the river Stour, meandering through the fertile meads, the rich plantations of hops on every side, the fine appearance of Hales-place, the view of St. Martin's hill and church, and the royal cavalry barracks; and lastly the surrounding hills encircling the whole, all together combining to form a prospect so pleasing, as is hardly to be exceeded any where for the extent of it.
The city of Canterbury is of an oval shape. It is within its walls about half a mile from east to west, and somewhat more from north to south. The circumference of its walls is not quite a mile and three-quarters; it has four large suburbs, situated at the four cardinal points. The western part of the city may be called an island, being incircled by two branches of the river Stour, which divides just above it, and unites again at a small distance below it, the road through the city passing over two bridges, the one at Westgate, the other at Kingsbridge. Here are several corn and other mills on the river. Besides the streams of the Stour, the city is supplied with plenty of excellent water, which flows from two springs rising, the one among the ruins of St. Augustine's monastery, and the other on St. Martin's hill; for the dispensing of which there are several public conduits in the principal streets of the city; (fn. 1) and there is a strong chalybeat water in the wes tern part of it. (fn. 2) Within the precinct of the cathedral, the inhabitants there enjoy likewise the benefit of most excellent water, brought in pipes from two springs, which arise in the North Holmes, about a quarter of a mile north-east of the city.
From the river the ground rises with a gentle ascent towards the east. The parish churches and the remains of the several religious houses are interspersed in different parts of the city; at the north-east part of it is the precinct of the cathedral, being in size something more than three quarters of a mile in circuit, and nearly of a quadrangular form; adjoining to the north west side of it is the precinct of the archbishop's palace.
There are four principal streets, where, as well as in the other parts of the city, though the houses are in general antient, yet the fronts of them have been so far modernized, as to make a chearful and sightly appearance. The High-street, through which the way leads from London to Dover, crosses the middle of the city eastward, and is a fine street, of considerable width, being half a mile in length, in which are the church of Holy Cross Westgate, (fn. 3) Kingsbridge hospital, All Saints church, two of the principal inns, and the guild or court hall, as it is usually called, of the city, situated in the middle of this street, as the fittest and most conveof them, was pulled down in 1754, and the reservoir for the water was placed in the upper part of the two towers of St. George's gate.
nient place for it. It is a very handsome commodious building, for the several purposes it is intended for. In the hall, on each side, there hang some match-locks, brown-bills, and other old weapons; and at the upper end, where the court of justice is kept, there are several portraits, most of them whole lengths; one of which over the mayor's seat, being that of queen Anne; the others being of those who have been benefactors to the city, and underneath each is some account of their donations. In the middle of the hall, is a handsome brass branch for candles, given by Sir Thomas Hales, bart. and Thomas Knight, esq. (fn. 4)
In the street, close to the court hall, is a public water cock, with an inscription, commemorating that Sir John Hales, bart. brought the excellent water of it from St. Austin's into this city, at his own expence, in 1733; which generous benefaction was continued by his descendant Sir Edward Hales, bart. in 1754.
Beyond this, in the same street, are St. Mary Bredman's church, the public assembly-rooms, (fn. 5) the cornmarket, (fn. 6) the meat-market or shambles, (fn. 7) and St. George's church; nearly opposite to the corn-market, is the new-built church of St. Andrew, and on the same side eastward, the mansion of the White Friars.
The middle of the High-street is crossed by two streets; along that to the southward, called St. Margaret's, and Castle street beyond it, the high road leads by the castle and the suburb of Wincheap, to the town of Ashford; in the former is St. Margaret's church, and not far from it, on the opposite side of the street, a handsome house called the Whitfield-house, from its having been for many years the residence of the family of Whitfield, a branch of those of Tenterden, in this county; of whom John Whitfield, esq. died possessed of this house in 1691, whose descendants resided here till his great grandson John Whitfield, esq. (fn. 8) alienated it to John Jackson, esq. (fn. 9) an alderman of the city, who resided in it till his death in 1795; after which it was sold by his devisees to G Gipps, esq. who again conveyed it to Mrs. Lydia Frend, who occupied it as a boarding school for young ladies. She is since deceased, and it now belongs to Mr. Thomas Frend, and still continues to be occupied for the like purpose.
At the end of St. Margaret's street, where formerly was an iron cross, are four vents or streets. That strait forward leads to the Old Castle and the county sessions house, whence the road continues through Wincheap to Ashford. That to the right leads to Stour-street, at the end of which is St. Mildred's church; and that to the left or eastward leads to the Dunjeon, through the scite of the antient Ridingate over the Roman Watling-street, towards Dover, and by a branch from it southward, to Hythe and Romney Marsh, over the Stone-street way.
On this road, at a very small distance from St. Margaret's street, before you come to the Dunjeon and Ridingate, is a large capital mansion-house, formerly the property and residence of the family of Man, who were possessed of the aldermanry of Westgate, held of the crown in king Henry III's reign, from which time they continued resident in this city. In Henry VIII.'s reign, John Man, gent. was of Canterbury, as appears by his deed dated in the 8th year of it, sealed with his coat of arms, which was, Or, a chevron ermine, between three lions rampant-guardant, sable. His great-grandson William Man, esq. resided in this parish of St.
Mary Bredin, (the church of which is situated close to the gardens of this house northward) whose son Sir Charles Man, anno I Charles I. built this mansion, which has a most respectable appearance; at length, after it had continued in his descendants till the latter end of the last century, (fn. 10) it was alienated by one of them to the family of Denew, which had resided at Staplegate in this city for many descents; one of whom, Nathaniel Denew, resided here, and dying in 1720, (fn. 11) left it to his widow Dorothy, eldest daughter of Sir Abraham Jacob, of Dover, and she alienated it to Capt. Humphry Pudner, who died possessed of it in 1753, (fn. 12) upon which it passed by his will to his daughter Katherine, wife of Thomas Barrett, esq. of Lee, in this county, whom she survived, and afterwards sold it to Mrs. Cecilia Scott, of the family of Scott's hall, who resided in it, and dying unmarried in 1785, devised it by her last will to her brother William Scott, esq. of Blendon-hall, in Bexley, in this county, who afterwards removed hither, and now resides in it.
To return to the High-street, where, on the northern side, opposite to St. Margaret's-street, is a narrow way called Mercery-lane, antiently le mercerie, no doubt from that trade having been principally carried forward in it; the houses of it are the most antient of any in the city, each story of them projecting upwards, so as almost to meet at top; the west side of it being the scite of one of those antient inns, which Chaucer mentions as frequented by the pilgrims in his time. (fn. 13)
This lane leads to the entrance into the precincts of the cathedral, the principal gate of which is opposite to it. Hence to the eastward, and parallel with the Highstreet, is Burgate-street, (fn. 14) through which the high road leads to Deal and Sandwich. In this street is the market place, recently built by the corporation, in an elegant airy stile, for poultry, butter, and garden-stuff, (fn. 15) and further eastward, St. Mary Magdalen's church.
From the end of Mercery-lane, opposite to Burgate-street, the street leads through that of St. Alphage northward towards Northgate, through which the high road leads to the island of Thanet. On the east side of Palace-street, is the precinct of the Archbishop's palace, and opposite to it St. Alphage church; a little distance behind which is the precinct of the Black Friars; all which will be further mentioned in their proper places; I shall only notice further, that not far northward from the latter, stood a small house, the property of the Templars, (fn. 16) and one likewise formerly belonging to the chaplains of the chantry of Edward the black prince, (fn. 17) the scite of which has been for many years known by the name of the Mint, from its being esteemed a privileged place, under the controul of the board of green cloth.
THE SUBURBS without the walls of the city are very extensive; that of St. Dunstan's, westward of the city, through which the high road leads to Whitstaple and London, is in a strait line with the High-street of the city, being a broad and handsome approach to it, and is within the jurisdiction of the county of Kent. A description of it has already been given in the History of the county. The suburb without Northgate, through which the road leads to the Isle of Thanet, was till of late but meanly built and inhabited; it is now much improved in buildings, In this suburb, near the city wall, is a fine spring of water, called St. Radigund's bath, built over and sitted for cold bathing. In the altering of a very antient house near the bath some time since, some hollows or pipes were discovered, carried along in the thickness of an old stone wall, which seemed a contrivance for heating the room in former times, and making a sudatory or sweating room of it. This estate of St. Radigund's is now held under a lease from the corporation, by James Simmons, esq. who has greatly improved it, as well as the cold bath, which he has much enlarged. In this suburb are the hospitals of St. John, and of Jesus, usually called Boys's hospital, and the remains of St. Gregories priory. The suburb towards the south, called Wincheap, through which the high road leads to Ashford, is much better built, though not so populous; great part of the western side is in the parish of Thanington, and county of Kent; at the south extremity of it are the remains of the hospital of St. Jacob. The last suburb remaining to be mentioned, is, that on the eastern side of the city, by far the largest of them, through which the high road leads to Sandwich, Deal, Dover and Romney Marsh.
That to Sandwich and Deal, passes from Burgate along St. Paul's, where is the church of that name, along the borough of Longport, where the way or street is remarkably wide and spacious, being the highest ground and esteemed the most pleasant and healthy of any part within the city, or without. On the north side of it is the wall which bounds the precinct of St. Augustine's abbey, on which the Kent and Canterbury hospital is built, and on the opposite side the mansion of Barton. Hence the road continues through the borough of Longport, to St. Martin's parish; on the south side at the bottom of the hill is a good house, which, as appears by the wills in the Prerog-office, has been in the possession of the family of Austen, branched off from those of Adisham, ever since queen Elizabeth's reign, and continued so down to Mr. John Austen, lately deceased; it is now inhabited by William Hougham, sen. esq. who married Mr. Austen's sister; partly up the hill, on the opposite side is St. Martin's church, and a little above it a good gentleman's house; it was formerly the residence of the family of Wylde, who remained owners of it, till Sir John Wylde, then of the precincts of the archbishop's palace, conveyed it in 1634 to Cheney Ebourne, merchant, of St. Martin's, who in 1653, alienated it to Sir Henry Palmer, late of Howlets, but then of Covent-garden, in Middlesex, who died possessed of it in 1659, and gave it to Anne his wife, and she, previous to her re-marriage with Sir Philip Palmer, settled it on her three daughters, Eliza, who married James Smith, gent. Mabella, who married William Glover, vicar of Burnham, in Buckinghamshire, and Priscilla; the two latter of whom conveyed their shares in it afterwards to Mr. James Smith, above-mentioned, who then became entitled to the whole of it, which in 1677 he sold to Thomas Conyers, gent. whose daughter Mary carried it in marriage to John Wilson, gent. of Canterbury, and they in 1694 joined in the sale of it to the Rev. Owen Evans, rector of St. Martin's. He died in 1742, having been rector of that church fifty years. He married first Anne, daughter of John Whitfield, esq. of Canterbury, by whom he had no issue; and 2dly, Frances, daughter of Dr. Martin Lister, physician to queen Anne, whom he left surviving, as well as a daughter Frances by her, and they joined in the sale of it to Charles Pyott, esq. of the city of Canterbury, who resided here and died possessed of it in 1789, (fn. 19) leaving by his first wife an only daughter and heir Anne, whose husband Robert-Thomas Pyott, esq. is now, in her right, in the possession of it.
About half a mile further beyond the summit of the hill, is Stone-house, the property of Mr. William Hammond. (fn. 18)
The remaining part of this suburb southward lies without St. George's-gate, near which, on the right hand, close under the city wall, where formerly was the city ditch, a market is held on a Saturday weekly, for the sale of all kinds of cattle. Hence the high road divides that which leads strait forward towards Dover, being newly made through part of Barton field; on the sides of which there have been built several genteel houses, now called St. George's place; and the other which turns south-eastward, in a circular rout by Oaten-hill, where was formerly the place of execution for criminals, and St. Sepulchre's priory, falls in with the old road coming from the antient Riding-gate, on the Watling-street way, leading towards Dover, and likewise to Hythe and Romney Marsh. On the south side of this road, about half a mile from the city, is a seat, formerly the hospital of St. Laurence, now the property and residence of Mrs. Graham.
Since the commencement of the present war, there have been erected for the military several ranges of barracks in and near the city. Near the northern suburbs, on the Margate road, opposite Barton mill, there were erected in 1794 the royal cavalry barracks, for a compleat regiment, on land purchased of Sir Edward Hales, by the board of ordnance. They are substantially built of brick, elegant and spacious, forming three sides of a quadrangle, and are said to have cost about 40,000l. The barracks for the infantry are private property, and were built in 1798 and 1799, by Messrs. Baldock and Delasaux, to contain near 2000 men. The situation of both is pleasant and healthy, the soil being dry, though well supplied with excellent water.
There are besides these, temporary barracks in different parts of the city, for detachments of the royal artillery, for two regiments of cavalry, and a proportionate number of infantry. The southern district comprizes Kent, Sussex, and Suny. The depository for the cannon, ammunition, and ordnance stores of the royal artillery, is in a field adjoining to the old Dover road, at the corner of Nackington-lane.