Canterbury: Miscellaneous buildings

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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'Canterbury: Miscellaneous buildings', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11, (Canterbury, 1800) pp. 123-127. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

Miscellaneous buildings

THERE WAS formerly in this city AN EXCHANGE, a royal exchange, called in Latin Cambium Regis, mention of which often occurs in the old rentals and other records of the priory of Christ church. It appears to have been granted by king John in his 6th year, by the name of the King's Change, to the archbishop for one hundred marcs per annum, (fn. 1) and I find an order of his successor king Henry III, that none should make change of plate or other mass of silver, but in his exchange of London or Canterbury. (fn. 2) It was standing it seems, till king Edward III.'s reign, and in all probability received its final period from him, for that prince gave the scite and building of it, called le chaunge, then almost wholly in ruins, situated in the High-street, and in the parish of All Saints, to the master of the hospital of Eastbridge, in this city, in augmentation of the endowment of it. (fn. 3) Of the antiquity and continuance of this exchange here, I have not found much, further than that king Henry III, in the 6th year of his reign, wrote to the Scabines and men of Ipre, that he and his council had given prohibition that none, Englishmen or others, should make change of plate, or other mass of silver, but only at his exchange at London or at Canterbury; (fn. 4) and that in the iter of H. de Stanton and his sociates, justices itinerant here, in the 7th year of king Edward II, Hugh Pykard, clerk, was indicted within the liberties of the priory of Christ church, for stealing 32lb. of silver, which was in the change of Canterbury.

An exchange relates of course to A MINT or place of mintage and coinage of money; but antiently, as appears by the statute of the 1st year of king Henry VI, cap. 4, they were not allowed to be together, but were to be kept apart, and accordingly there was a place formerly neighbouring to the above-mentioned exchange, on the other side of the same street, (fn. 5) where the mint was kept. The officers and ministers belonging to it, had their dwellings close by it in some tenements belonging to the priory of Christ church; from which circumstance, in their old rentals, there is frequent mention of the mints or offices belonging to the mint, in the parish of St. Mary Bredman. This mint was most probably abolished at the same time with the exchange, for there is no mention of it of latter years. How long it had been kept at this place, or of what antiquity it was, I know not; but among the places in England, which king John in his letters mentions as having mints kept in them, this city is one, (fn. 6) and it had been so, I suppose, for many ages, for king Æthelstane appointing the places for mints and the number of minters throughout the kingdom, (fn. 7) began with Canterbury, to which he allowed seven mints; a greater number than to any other place, except London, which was allowed to have eight.

Of these seven mints at Canterbury, four were the king's, (fn. 8) two were the archbishop's, and the seventh was the abbot of St. Augustine's, (fn. 9) of these the three latter will be mentioned in their proper places. (fn. 10)

These mints, as well as all others throughout the realm, were answerable to the king, and the officers belonging to them were amenable to him for all offences committed by them in the coinage of money; that is to say, these mints were under the direction of the exchequer at London. (fn. 11) Thus we read, that in 1126, anno 26 Henry I. the principal moneyers of all England, being discovered to have made pennies adulterated, and not of pure silver, and being by the king's command assembled together at Winchester, had all on the same day their right hands cut off. (fn. 12)

In the 3d year of king Edward III. I find that William de Latimer, having purchased the office of coinage in the tower of London and city of Canterbury, from Maud, the widow of John de Botetourt, who held it by inheritance of the king in capite, obtained his pardon for that transgression. (fn. 13)

AT A SMALL DISTANCE from this place, on the same or south side of the High street, is another, where once the Jews, who antiently for a long time together were suffered to dwell in most of our chief cities, kept their residence, having their dwellings in this street and in the lane by it, from thence till very lately called Jury-lane, and at this time Cross-lane, (fn. 14) their dwellings, amounting in the whole to almost twenty; all which, together with their synagogue, or as it was more frequently called, their school, upon their general banishment out of this city and all other parts of the kingdom, in king Edward II.'s reign, chiefly on account of their immoderate usury, and their barbarous practice of crucifying Christian children, about the feast of Easter, (at which time their whole number, according to Matt. Westminster, amounted to 16,511) (fn. 15) as confiscate, escheated to the king, and were soon afterwards by him given or alienated to different persons; but the most part to the number of twelve tenements at the least, and a void piece of ground which belonged to the community of the Jews, or in common, was granted to the monks of Christ church. (fn. 16) By all that can be collected from antient rentals and boundaries, it is conceived that the present stone parlour of the King's-Head inn, in the High-street, which is mounted upon a vault, and ascended by many stone steps, as the Jewish synagogues and schools were always built alost, is the remains of a good part of that which was the Jews synagogue or school, in this city. (fn. 17) At present the habitations of the Jews, who are very numerous in this city and its suburbs, are mostly in the parish and street of St. Peter's, and in the suburb of Westgate; in which latter they have a synagogue, and at some distance farther westward, a burying-ground, as has been already mentioned more at large in the History of the County.


  • 1. Pat. 6 John, m. 5. Ibid. m. 7.
  • 2. Stow's Survey, B. ii, 52.
  • 3. Liber Hospitalis.—The master of the hospital made two demises of the premises into tenements, one anno 43, the other anno 47 Edward III. the antient boundaries of which are particularized by Somner, p. 64. See the instruments relating to this grant in ibid. appendix, No. xxa. xx
  • 4. Stow's Survey, p. 351. Battely's Somner, p. 64.
  • 5. Where, says Mr. Somner, the Crown inn, or some part of it then stood, this exchange was kept in a corner of the mint towards the east, and was part of the boundary, he continues, to that, which was then the dwelling of Isaac Clark; in Battely's time, anno 1703, Mr. Alderman Webb's. Mr. Battely says he had seen a charter, in which mention is made of another of these mint offices in the parish of St. George, over against the pillory of the city. Ibid. p. 64.
  • 6. Stow's Survey, p. 46.
  • 7. Lambarde
  • 8. Mr. Somner, p. 65, says, among other pieces of antique (Roman, British, Saxon, Danish, and Norman) coin which he had met with and reserved, some were stamped in this mint, as he took it, in this city, for certain the reverse of the coin said so.
  • 9. Leges Adelstani Regis. Brompton, col. 843. These mints were become so numerous in King Ethelred's time, that he made a law to diminish their number; decreeing, that there should be three in each principal port, and in every other one; and at the same time be made proper regulations for the money's being made pure and of its right weight. See Leges Ethelredi Regis. Ibid. col. 899.
  • 10. See cart. 1 John. p. l, m. 6, n. 46 25; Edward III. n. 10, pro. iii. Cuneo et tribus monetariis habendis in civitate Cantuar. Ib. pat. 5 Henry VI. p. I, m. 9.
  • 11. Madox's Excheq. p. 198, 603, 604, 605, 632, 678.
  • 12. Simon Durham, col. 254.
  • 13. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 31.
  • 14. King Henry II in the 23d year of his reign, gave leave to the Jews in England to have a burying place in any city, but without the walls of it, where they could find a fit place to bury their dead. Stow'e Survey, B. i. p. 20.
  • 15. In the year 1290.
  • 16. In the year 1290, being the 19th of Edw. I. there were sundry lands of the Jews, granted to the prior and convent of Christ-church. Madox's Excheq. p. 178.
  • 17. Mr. Somner, p. 65, says, their synagogue or school stood about where then some part of the Saracen's Head, now the King's Head inn, stands, as appeared by the record of Christchurch, in which is this bound to certain fee of the late monks hard by it. The land in the parish of All Saints between the great street, which is toward the north, and the school of the Jews, which is towards the south, nigh a lane which leads from the above street towards St. Mildred's, being that ground, as he took it, upon which the forepart to the streetward of that which was then the Saracen's Head tavern, being in shew newer than the back part, was afterwards built, to which ground the very next house above (the Mitre) was bounded westward, and called the house nigh the school of the Jews. Thus explained in the rental: The stone house which is over against the land where the school of the Jews is situated towards the west.