The city and liberty of Rochester: The city parishes

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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'The city and liberty of Rochester: The city parishes', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4, (Canterbury, 1798) pp. 153-182. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

The city parishes

There were formerly TWO PARISHES within the walls of this city, ST. CLEMENT'S and ST. NICHO- LAS'S, and two without the walls, ST. MARY'S and ST. MARGARET'S; of which there remain at this time only St. Nicholas's and St. Margaret's.

ST. CLEMENT'S PARISH was situated in the western parts of this city, and seems to have extended from the Court-hall westward to the river, and from north to south within that line to the city walls. A considerable part of the walls of this church is still remaining, at the entrance from the High-street into the lane formerly called St. Clement's, but now Horsewash-lanc. The east end, or chancel, is visible; the south wall, or part of it, is now the front of three houses almost in a line northward from Bridge-lane, and the north wall forms the back of these houses. The width of the church does not appear to have been above forty feet. There was in it a row of pillars and arches, extending from east to west, at about fourteen from the north wall, making a narrow isle; two of these pillars and one arch are still to be seen, in one of the houses abovementioned. Adjoining to the north wall of the church was the church-yard. which in 1580 was become private property, as appears from an entry in the courtroll; and according to another minute in the same, the garden of the parsonage was situated at no great distance from the mill-ditch and the north wall of the city.

This church was a rectory, of which John Harrope was the last rector. He died in 1538; after which there does not seem to have been another rector collated to it, the parish being served by different curates.

The income of this rectory was become so trifling at the reformation, by the abolishing of masses, obits, and such other profits, which before perhaps made up a considerable part of the rector's slender maintenance, that it was no longer worth any one's while to accept of it. It never was in charge for first-fruits or tenths, nor was it, as far as appears, ever subject to an assessment, except of 1s. in 1533, towards defraying the expence of a proctor in convocation. (fn. 1) In these circumstances it was united to the adjoining parish of St. Nicholas, by the act of the 2d and 3d of Edward VI. passed for this purpose.

THE PARISH OF ST. MARY was situated without the eastern gate of the city. The church was in being in the time of the Saxons, anno 850; for that year Ethelwulf, king of the West Saxons, and Ethelstan. king of Kent, gave to duke Ealhere, a small piece of land, called Healve Aker, in the eastern district, without the wall of the city of Rochester, in the southern part of it; in which land there was a church, dedicated in honor of St. Mary the Virgin.

When this church was desecrated, I have not found, nor any further mention of it; but am informed there is a part of the suburb of Eastgate which claims to be extra-parochial; most probably it was part of the parish of St. Mary.

THE PARISH OF ST. NICHOLAS, the only one at present within this city, appears to have been a parochial district before the conquest. It certainly was so in the time of bishop Gundulph, who came to this see in 1076, though there was no church belonging to it for some centuries after; but in lieu of it, the parishioners resorted to an altar in the cathedral, called the parochial altar of St. Nicholas; the officiating priest at which was appointed by the convent, and presented to the bishop. (fn. 2)

Walter, bishop of Rochester, who came to the see in 1147, confirmed to the monks of the priory this parochial altar, together with the church of St. Margaret, which belonged as a chapel to it, and he appropriated to them all profits and obventions, as well of the altar as the chapel. This was certainly set aside by bishop Gilbert de Glanvill, in the reign of king Richard I. who divested them of all profits and emoluments belonging to this altar. However, he reinstated them in their old accustomed pension of forty shillings yearly from it. By this means, the bishop recovered the patronage of this parish to the see of Rochester, where it has ever since remained.

This altar is supposed by many to have been placed in the large recess on the east side of the north great cross isle of the cathedral. It was certainly below the choir, and was removed from the place where it before stood by the monks, as appears by the judicial act made in 1312, by which the parishioners were allowed to perform their services at it, and they agreed, that whenever the prior and chapter should cause a proper church to be built for them elsewhere, they would then resort to it, as to their parish church, without any further claim in that, or any other place in the cathedral.

Notwithstanding this, the prior and chapter were so well satisfied at the altar's remaining in the cathedral, that for more than one hundred years no steps were taken towards it; but at length, in the reign of king Henry V. by the endeavours of bishop Richard Young, and by the interposition of archbishop Chicheley, the inhabitants were, by a composition, in 1421, suffered to finish a parochial church for themselves on the north side of the cemetery of the cathedral, the walls of which had been raised several years before, and the bishop by his instrument for this purpose further decreed, that the altar of St. Nicholas should be transferred to the church, when finished, as well as all parochial right, belonging to it; and that the church, when finished, from that time should be called the parish church and rectory of St. Nicholas, and not the vicarage, to the disburthening of his church, and of the prior and chapter; so that for the future all burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, especially as to the reparation and maintaining of the church, should belong to the rector and the parishioners of it, and not to the cathedral church, or the prior and chapter; to whom he reserved their accustomed yearly pension of forty shillings from the vicar of the said altar; and he decreed, that the rector should take institution for it; and he reserved to himself the collation to it, whenever it should become vacant, &c.

From this decree the prior and chapter appealed to the archbishop, and alledged, that to the said altar united and annexed to the religious, there was one vicar received and admitted, who used to undergo and bear the care of the parishioners of it; and that the right of taking all parochial ecclesiastical rights, and especially all and all manner of tithes of every sort of corn, of mills and pastures, belonging to it, from the first foundation of the cathedral church did, and ought to belong to the prior and chapter, as rectors of the said altar, and as the superiors, and having the pre-eminence of the vicar in the right and name of their church, in which the altar was situated, of all which rights, parochial and ecclesiastical, they had been in possession beyond the memory of man; and that at all times the chaplain of it had been admitted under the name and stile of vicar, and in no wise as rector, nor had he ever carried himself as such; and lastly, that the ground on which the church was built was the proper soil belonging to them. Upon which, the archbishop, in 1421, decreed, with their consent, among many other regulations, that the parishioners should have leave to build their church, and should entirely finish it within three years, and from time to time to repair it afterwards; that they should renounce all right and title to the aforesaid altar, or to any other thing in the cathedral; and that the vicar of the said church, and the parishioners should for ever have free liberty to bury, without any interruption from, or leave asked of the prior and convent, either in the church, or in the cemetery south of it, and between that and the cathedral, vulgarly called Greenchurch Haw, or in the other ce- metery contiguous to the church, westward of the cathedral, as it was bounded by the walls and gates of the prior; and that the vicar, who before obtained institution, by the name of vicar of the altar, before-mentioned, should perform divine offices in this new-built church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, and should sustain the care of the parishioners, and by the name of the vicar of the church of St. Nicholas, within the precinct of the priory of Rochester, should be instituted and so nominated for the future, and that the parishioners should repair the walls of the cemeteries at their own proper expence; and he decreed, that the vicar, and his successors, should pay for ever to the prior and convent the annual pension of forty shillings, and as to the taking of the tithes of gardens, rushes, mills, and other titheable things, arising within this parish, and the profits and commodities for their support, by which they might be enabled to support the burthens incumbent on them, the archbishop, on account of various and arduous matters by which he was then hindered, deferred determining the same, but reserved it to himself to make his decree concerning them, at his future leisure. (fn. 3)

This church was afterwards consecrated by John, bishop of Dromore, in the absence of the bishop of Rochester, on Sunday, Dec. 18, 1423.

No description is left of this church, which appears to have remained near two hundred years; but the building becoming ruinous, and in 1620 being judged incapable of being repaired, it was taken down, and a new one which is now standing, was erected on the same spot.

This building was consecrated on Sept. 24, 1624, (as was an additional burying-ground the day following) by Dr. John Buckeridge, bishop of Rochester. It extends in length one hundred feet, and in breadth sixty feet; it consists of a nave and two isles. It is a substantial spacious church, handsomely sitted up and ornamented, and extremely well constructed for public worship; at the north-west angle of it is a tower steeple containing two bells.

The present altar-piece was given by Edward Bartholomew, esq. in 1706; he likewise gave for the use of the church two silver flaggons, and a patten of thirty pounds price. Edward Harlow, in 1609, gave a gilt cup. Francis Brooke, esq. in 1703, gave a large silver plate for the offerings at the sacrament; and Henry Austen, gent. gave two handsome large commonprayer books to be placed on the altar.

Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church are the following—In the chancel, a brass plate for Alice, daughter and heir of John Williams, of Stroud, first married to John Tucke, alderman; and secondly, to Thomas Robinson, regist. ob. 1574; a memorial for Robert Bayley, late minister of this parish, obt. 1701; in the north window, gules on a chevron, 3 crescents sable, and inscription, that the window was set up at the charge of John Cobham, esq. and alderman in 1624; on a gravestone, south of the altar, are the arms of Austen, and under it a vault for that family, made by a faculty; a monument, arms, sable three fishes argent in pale, Barry, with the figures of a man and his three wives, for Thomas Rocke, gent. alderman, and four times mayor, obt. 1625; a monument, arms, three wolves heads couped, within a bordure sable, with the figures of a man and woman kneeling at a desk, for George Wilson, esq. twice mayor, obt. 1629, and Anne his wife, obt. 1630. In the nave, memorials for Elizabeth, first wife of Sir Robert Fane, only daughter of Norton Halke, gent. obt. 1661, and for Elizabeth, his second wife, eldest danghter of Richard Head, esq. obt. 1663; for Henry, son of Richard Head, esq. obt. 1673; for Barbara, wife of William Head alderman, obt. 1703; a monument for George Robinson, four times mayor, obt. 1657. In the south isle, against the south wall, a brass plate for Thomasine, daughter of William Watts, wife of Robert Hall, mayor, obt. 1575. In the north isle, a monument for Robert Conny, M. D. only son of John Conny, surgeon, and twice mayor, the son of Robert Conny, of Godmanchester, in Huntingdonshire, gent. he married Frances, daughter of Richard Manley, esq. of Holloway-court, they both died in 1723; a monument, arms, or, three goats heads erased sable, for Philip Bartholomew, gent. and Sarah his wife, who both died in 1696, placed by Leonard, their only surviving son; in the north window, sable, a chevron between three tuns argent, and a little lower PHILPOT. (fn. 4)

This parish is situated within the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The vicarage of St. Nicholas in 1291 was valued at five marcs. It is valued in the king's books at 20l. 8s. 9d. per annum, and the yearly tenths at 2l. 0s. 10½d. In 1649 the yearly value of it was returned at 59l. 6s. 8d per annum. (fn. 5)

The bishop of Rochester continues patron of this vicarage.

A house was allotted to the vicars of it some centuries ago; it is situated not far from the free-school, and a piece of ground belonging to it extends to the north wall of the city. Some part of the old house was rebuilt by the late vicar, Mr. John Vade.

The pension of forty shillings due from the vicar of the parochial altar of St. Nicholas continued to be paid to the prior and convent till their dissolution, when it was granted by king Henry VIII. to his new-founded dean and chapter, who now possess it.

PATRONS, Or by whom presented. VICARS.
Bishop of Rochester Thomas Chamberlayn, in 1421. (fn. 6)
Edward Pulter, 1460. (fn. 7)
Patricius Stanes, 1476. (fn. 8)
Richard Sewster, alias Hewster, A. M. 1501. (fn. 9)
James Deyer, A. M. 1624. (fn. 10)
Elizeus Burgis, S. T. P. 1628. (fn. 11)
Allen Atworth, 1649. (fn. 12)
Bishop of Rochester Dixon, S. T. P. (fn. 13)
Robert Bayley, obt. October 8, 1701. (fn. 14)
John Gilman, A M. obt. Nov. 17, 1710. (fn. 15)
Samuel Doyley, A. M. obt. May 1748. (fn. 16)
Boyce, inducted May 16, 1748, obt. Nov. 1751.
John Vade, A. M. obt. June 1765. (fn. 17)
Charles Allen, obt. 1795.
William Wrighte, 1795, the present vicar.

THERE is a manor in this parish, called the manor of AMBREE, Manerium Amberiæ, which is now part of the possessions of the dean and chapter of Rochester, and formerly belonged to the priory. It was called the cellerer's court, and was held at le Ameribenche, i.e. the almonry bench, of the priory whence it acquired its present name.

IN THIS PARISH, at a small distance southward of the castle, is a large mount, thrown up in antient times, called BULLY-HILL, on which there are several genteel houses built; the principal of which is situated on the summit of the mount, commanding a most delightful view of the river, both above and below the bridge, the navy, docks, &c. the cathedral, castle, and adjoining country, altogether forming a prospect hardly to be exceeded. This seat, with the surrounding gardens, was the property of Thomas Pearce, esq. commissioner of the navy, whose son, Thomas Pearce; esq. sold it to Thomas Gordon, esq. who rebuilt it; his daughter and heir carried it in marriage to her first-cousin, William Gordon, esq. late M. P. for this city, and sheriff for this county in 1763. He resided here, and died possessed of it in 1776, leaving an only daughter and heir, and his widow, Mrs. Gordon, surviving, who is the present possessor of it. (fn. 18)

SATIS is a seat which lies westward from that lastmentioned, nearer the river, on the edge of the cliff, at a considerable height from it. In the reign of queen Elizabeth it was the property and residence of Mr. Richard Watts, (fn. 19) who represented this city in parliament, in the 5th year of that reign. He had the honour of entertaining the queen at his house here, in the year 1573, and the last day of her continuance in this city, as she was on her return from one of her excursions round the counties of Sussex and Kent. It is said that when Mr. Watts, at her departure, apologized for the smallness and inconvenience of his house, but ill suited for the reception of so great a princess; the queen, in return, made use of the Latin word Satis only; signifying by it, that she was very well contented with it; since which this house has acquired the name of Satis. After his death, his widow became possessed of it, and about six years afterwards married Mr. Thomas Pagitt, who enjoyed it in her right. She died possessed of it; after which, in pursuance of Mr. Watts's will, it was sold, and the money arising from the sale of it applied towards the support of the alms-house, now called Watts's hospital, in this city. Who were the possessors of it afterwards, I have not found; but in Charles II's reign, it was owned by Mr. alderman George Woodyer, who resided here. (fn. 20) His widow, Mrs. Martha Woodyer, of Shorne, in this county, together with William Woodyer, her son, by deed, in 1698, conveyed this seat to Mr. Francis Brooke, and he at his death devised it to his son, Mr. Philip Brooke, who was succeeded in it by his son, Joseph Brooke, esq. late recorder of this city, who rebuilt the greatest part of it, he resided in it till the death of his uncle, Francis Brooke, esq. when succeeding to his seat at TownMalling, he removed thither, where he died in 1792, as did his widow Mrs. Brooke, in 1795. It is now the residence of John Longley, esq. recorder of this city.

Walker Weldon, of Swanscombe, owner of Rochester-castle, in 1722, conveyed to Mr. Philip Brooke, that part of the castle-ditch and ground, as it then lay uninclosed, on Bully hill, being the whole breadth of the hill and ditch without the walls of the castle, extending from thence to the river Medway; under which title it descended, with Satis, to Mr. Joseph Brooke, who about fifty years ago filled up the ditch, within a few yards of the river, and planted it with trees, and it now forms a lawn to the front of the house. When the hill was levelled for the above purpose, many Roman unns, pateræ lachrymatoræ, and other remains of that nation were found by the workmen; most of which were given to Dr. Thorpe, of this city.

The large mount or hill of earth, on which Mrs. Gordon's house and gardens are situated, in all likelihood was thrown up by the Danes in the year 885, at the time they besieged this city, a circumstance mentioned by most of our antient historians. There is one similar to it at Canterbury, thrown up probably by the same people, though it is not quite so large, and stands somewhat further from that castle.

By king Edward IV's charter to the citizens of Rochester, in the 1st year of his reign, he granted to them a view of frank-pledge, and also to hold a court of pie powder, in a certain place called the Boley, within the suburbs of the city. This is a separate leet from that held in the Guildhall, and the inhabitants of this small district are bound to appear before the recorder, as steward of the court of the mayor and citizens, which is annually held on the Monday after St. Michael, who then appoints an officer, called the baron of the Bully, for the year ensuing, by presenting him with the staff of office. The court is holden under an elm tree at the east end of the hill. The householders of this spot are generally appointed to the above office in succession. (fn. 21)

The charities belonging to this parish will be mentioned hereafter, in the list of those given in general to the city of Rochester.

THE PARISH OF ST. MARGARET is of large extent, and contains all the lands without the walls on the south side of the city, that are within the bounds of its jurisdiction. It is stiled in some records, St. Margaret's in Suthgate, (fn. 22) and in those of the city, the Borough of Suthgate. (fn. 23)

There are two streets of houses in this parish, the one called St. Margaret's-street, leading from Bully-hill to the church, and so on to Borstall and Woldham southward; the other at some distance from it called St. Margaret's-bank, being a long row of houses, situated on a high bank at the north-east boundary of the parish, on the south side of the great London road to Dover, between St. Catherine's hospital in Rochester, and the Victualling-office, in Chatham. These houses are within the manor of Larkhill.

THERE are SEVERAL MANORS within the bounds of this parish, the most eminent of which is that of

BORSTALL, which was given to the church of Rochester and bishop Beornmod, in the year 811, by Cænulf, king of Mercia, as three plough lands.

This manor seems to have continued part of the possessions of the church of Rochester, without any interruption, till the time of the conquest. It is thus described in the general survey of Domesday, taken in the year 1080, under the general title of Terra Epi Rovecestre, i. e. the lands of the bishop of Rochester.

In the hundred of Rochester, the same bishop (of Rochester) holds Borchetelle. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was taxed at two sulings, and now for one suling and an half. The arable land is four carucates. In demesne there are two carucates, and six villeins with three carucates. There are 50 acres of meadow, and two mills of 20 shillings. In the time of king Edward, and afterwards, it was worth six pounds, and now 10 pounds.

In Rochester the bishop had, and yet has, 24 plats of ground, which belong to Frindsbury and Borstal, his own manors. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, they were worth three pounds, now they are worth eight pounds, and yet they yield yearly 11 pounds and 13 shillings and four-pence.

When bishop Gundulph was elected to this see in the time of the Conqueror, and after the example of his patron, archbishop Lanfranc, separated his own revenues from those of his convent, this manor in the division was allotted to the bishop and his successors.

On a taxation of the bishop of Rochester's manors, in 1255, it appears that the bishop had in the manor of Borstalle one hundred and forty acres of arable, estimated each acre at 4d. forty acres of salt meadow at 8d. each, and fourteen acres of salt pasture, each at 6d. which, with the rents of assise, made the total value of the whole manor 9l. 10s. 3d. the repair of the buildings yearly amounting to twenty shillings. (fn. 24)

This manor still continues in the possession of the bishop of Rochester; but the demesne lands are leased out by him to Mrs. Vade, of Croydon, in Surry.

By the agreement made between John Lowe, bishop of Rochester, and the bailiff and citizens of Rochester, in the 27th year of king Henry VI. concerning the limits of the jurisdiction of the city, according to the charter then lately made to them, this borough and manor of Borstall was declared to be exempt from the precinct of the hundred of Rochester, and the law-day of it, and from all payments, fines, suits forfeitures and amerciaments due on that account, as being within the liberty of the bishop, and his church. (fn. 25)

The monks of Rochester priory had several grants of TYTHES, and other premises made to them within this manor and hamlet.

Robert Ernulf and Eadric de Borstalle, gave the tithes of their lands in Borstalle to the priory, which were confirmed to it by several bishops of Rochester, and others (fn. 26) In which confirmations they are described, as the whole tithe of Borstalle of corn, and two parts of the tithes of the land of Ralph de Borstalle. (fn. 27) Eadric de Hescenden, with his wife and two sons, entered into the society of the monks of this priory, upon condition, that when they died, the monks should say a service for them, as for their brethren; and the monks were to have for ever the tithes of their lands in Borestealle and Freondesberie, but in corn only.

Several parcels of land, &c. lying within the manor or hamlet of Borstall, were likewise at times given to these monks. All these premises continued part of the possessions of the priory till the dissolution of it, in 1549, when they were surrendered into the king's hands, and were settled by him, three years afterwards, on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, where they remain at present.

This manor, with others in this neighbourhood, was bound antiently to contribute to the repair of the first pier of Rochester-bridge.

NASHENDEN is a manor in this parish, which lies about three-quarters of a mile south-eastward from Borstall. In the Textus Roffensis it is called Hescenden, and in Domesday, Essedene.

This manor was part of those vast possessions, with which William the Conqueror enriched his half-brother Odo, the great bishop of Baieux; accordingly it is thus entered, under the title of that prelate's lands, in the general survey of Domesday:

Rannulf de Columbels holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Essedene. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there is one carucate, and 19 villeins, with three borderers having three carucates. There are three servants, and 8 acres of meadow. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth three pounds, when he received it four pounds, now five pounds. Earl Leuuin held it.

It appears by the red book of the exchequer, that this estate in the reign of king Henry II. was held by Thomas de Nessingden, of Daniel de Crevequer, as one knight's fee of the old feoffment.

In the reign of king Edward I. this manor was become the property of Jeffry Haspale, whose descendant, John de Aspale, for so the name was then spelt, died possessed of Nashenden in the 31st year of that reign, holding it of the king in capite. After which it appears to have come into the name of Basing, and from thence quickly after into that of Charles.

Richard Charles, as appears by the inquisition taken after his death, anno 1 Richard II. died possessed of the manor of Naseden, which he held of the king in capite by knight's service, excepting forty acres of pasture and wood, which he held of the lord Grey, as of his manor of Aylesford; whose nephew, Richard, son of his brother Roger Charles, died possessed of it in the 11th year of that reign, holding it of the king in capite, as of his honor of Peverel and Hagenet, by knight's service.

Nicholas Haut afterwards possessed this manor, in right of his wife Alice, who was a descendant of the above-mentioned family. She held it for the term of her life with remainder to James Peckham, who on her death, in the 1st year of king Henry IV. came into the possession of it. He obtained the king's licence two years afterwards, to give and amortize to the wardens of Rochester-bridge, and their successors, this manor, and also one hundred acres of pasture, with their appurtenances in Ellesford, the manor then being worth yearly, and above all reprises 6l. 13s. 4d. per annum. (fn. 28) Since which it has continued part of the possessions of the wardens and commonalty of the said bridge, for the support and repair of it. The present lessees of this manor are Leonard Bartholemew and Phil. Boghurst, esqrs.

An account of the tithes of this manor will be given, with those of Little Delce in this parish. (fn. 29)

There was a chapel at this place, dependent on the parish church of St. Margaret. (fn. 29)

GREAT DELCE is a manor which, with the estate now called LOWER DELCE, lies on the eastern side of this parish, about half a mile southward from Eastgate, in Rochester. It was formerly called Much Delce and Delce Magna, or Great Delce, and was given by William the Conqueror to Odo, bishop of Baieux, his halfbrother, under the title of whose lands it is thus entered in the general survey of Domesday:

In the lath of Aylesford, in Rochester hundred, the son of William Tabum holds Delce of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at one suling and one yoke. The arable land is . . . . . There is one carucate in demesne, and five villeins having five carucates. There are 12 acres of meadow, wood for the pannage of one bog. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth three pounds, and now 70 shillings. Godric held it of king Edward.

This manor afterwards came into the possession of a family, to which it gave name. Herebert, Gosfrid, and Hugo de Delce possessed it in successive generations. After which it passed to Buckerel, and the heirs of Thomas Buckerel, in the latter end of the reign of king Henry III. held it as two knights fees and a half, of Bertram de Criol. (fn. 30) After which this estate seems to have been separated into parcels, for Geoffry de Haspale held this manor as the fourth part of a knight's fee only, at the time of his death, in the 15th year of king Edward I. as appears by the inquisition taken for that purpose.

The next family who succeeded, as appears by the original deeds of this estate, was that of Molineux, descended from those of Sefton, in Lancashire; but they did not keep possession of it long, for by the evidence of an antient court roll, Benedict de Fulsham was lord of it in the 30th year of king Edward III. His descendant, Richard Fulsham, held it of the king in capite, as the fourth part of a knight's fee, at his death in the 5th year of king Henry V. Soon after which this name seems to have become extinct here; for in the 9th year of that reign, Reginald Love died possessed of it, and his successor held it till the latter end of king Henry VI's reign, when it passed by sale to William Venour, whose arms were, Argent, on a fess sable five escallops or, three and two, and who died possessed of this manor in the 1st year of king Edward IV. After which it was within a few months conveyed by sale to Markham, descended from an antient family of that name in Nottinghamshire, in which name it staid but a very short time before it was sold to Tate, who passed it away to Sir Richard Lee, citizen of London, and grocer, who served the office of lord-mayor in the 39th year of king Henry VI. and the 9th year of king Edward IV. (fn. 31) He was the eldest son of John Lee, of Wolksted, in Surry, and grandson of Symon Lee, who was descended of ancestors in Worcestershire, and bore for his arms, Azure, on a sess cotized or, three leopard's faces gules. He lies buried in the church of St. Stephen, Walbrook, his arms are remaining in East-Grinsted church, and in that of St. Dionis Backchurch, in London, with those of several marriages of his posterity; his son Richard Lee seems to have had this manor of Great Delce by gift of his father during his life-time, and kept his shrievalty at this mansion in the 19th year of the latter reign, his son Richard, who was both of Delce and of Maidstone, left two sons, the youngest of whom, Edward, was archbishop of York, (fn. 32) and the eldest Richard, was of Delce, whose only surviving son, Godfrey, in the 31st year of Henry VIII. procured his lands to be disgavelled, by the general act passed for this purpose, (fn. 33) after which his descendants continued to reside here for several generations, but Richard Lee, esq. about the latter end of queen Anne's reign, passed away the whole of this estate, excepting the manor, and forty acres of land, to Thomas Chiffinch, esq. of Northfleet, in this county, from which time this seat and estate acquired the name of Lower Delce.

Thomas Chiffinch, esq. died in 1727, and was succeeded by Thomas Chiffinch, esq. his only son and heir, who died without issue in 1775, and by his will bequeathed this, among his other estates, to his niece and heir-at-law, Mary, the daughter of his sister Elizabeth Comyns, who afterwards carried them in marriage to Francis Wadman, esq. of the Hive, in Northfleet, and he is the present possessor of Lower Delce.

THE MANOR OF GREAT DELCE, and the forty acres of land above-mentioned, together with a farm, called King's Farm, continued in the possession of Richard Lee, esq. who died possessed of them in 1724, and his grandson, Richard Lee, esq. of Clytha, in Wales, now possesses this manor; but in 1769, he alienated all the demesnes of it, together with King's farm, to Mr. Sampson Waring, of Chatham, who died possessed of them in 1769, leaving his brother, Mr. Walter Waring, and his sister, Mrs. Smith, of Lower Delce, his executors, who are at this time entitled to the profits of them. The court for the manor of Great Delce has not been held for some years.

The manor is held by castle-guard rent of Rochester castle; but when the mansion and most part of the lands were sold, as above mentioned, from Lee to Chiffinch, the former expressly charged the whole of that rent on the premises bought by Chiffinch, and entirely exonerated that part which he reserved to himself from paying any portion of it.

An account of the tithes of this manor, given to the priory of Rochester, may be seen under the following description of Little Delce manor.

LITTLE DELCE, or DELCE PARVA, now known by the name of UPPER DELCE, is a manor in this parish, situated in the high road between Rochester and Maidstone, somewhat more than a quarter of a mile from the former. This likewise, as well as that of Great Delce, was given by William the Conqueror to his half brother Odo, bishop of Baieux; under the general title of whose lands it is thus described in the book of Domesday:

In Rochester hundred, Ansgotus de Roucestre holds Delce of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is two carucates, and there are in demesne . . . . . . . with one villein, and five borderers, and six servants. There are 12 acres of meadow, and 60 acres of pasture. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, and now, it was, and is worth 100 shillings. Osuuard held it of king Edward.

This estate, on the disgrace of bishop Odo, most probably reverted again into the king's hands; and seems afterwards to have been in the possession of a family, who assumed their name, De Delce, from it, and held it of William de Say, as one knight's fee. (fn. 34)

In the reign of king John, this manor was in the possession of Jeffry de Bosco, a Norman; but when that province was seized by the king of France, the lands of the Normans, in this kingdom, became vested in the crown, by way of escheat or seizure, under the title of, Terra Normanorum; thus the manor of Little Delce was seized by king John, in the 5th year of his reign, who gave it to William de Ciriton, the sheriff, for two hundred pounds, two palfreys, and two gols hawks, (fn. 35) on condition, that if the said Jeffry should return to his allegiance, he should, without delay, again possess the same. (fn. 36) But this never happened, and this manor continued in the desendants of William de Ciriton. Odo de Ciriton died possessed of it it in the 31st year of king Henry III. holding it of the king in capite, by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 37) This family was extinct here before the middle of the reign of king Edward I. for in the 9th year of that reign, as appears by Kirkby's Inquest. Richard Pogeys held this manor. At the latter end of the reign of king Edward III. it was possessed by the family of Basing, from which name it went into that of Charles. Richard Charles died possessed of the manor of Little Delce, in the 1st year of king Richard II. leaving his brother's sons, Richard and John, his next heirs; the former of whom died possessed of it, anno 11 Richard II. and left a son, Robert Charles, who dying without issue, his two sisters became his coheirs, viz. Alice, married to William Snayth, and Joan to Richard Ormskirk; and on the division of their estates, this manor fell to the share of William Snayth, commonly called Snette, in right of his wife, Alice, the eldest of them. Soon after which, Charles and William Snette, for so the name is spelt in the bridge archives, gave and amortized this manor of Little Delce, of the yearly value of six marcs, above all reprises, to the wardens of Rochester bridge and their successors, for the support and repair of the same. Since which it has acquired the name of Upper Delce, by which it is now only known, and it continues at this time part of the possessions of the wardens and commonalty of the said bridge, for the purposes above mentioned. The present lessees of this manor are Leonard Bartholomew and Philip Boghurst, esqrs.

The tithes of Great and Little Delce, Borstal, and Nashenden, were given, in the time of bishop Gundulph, to the priory of Rochester.

Gosfrid de Delce, together with his wife and children, on their being admitted to be partakers of the benefits received from the prayers of the monks, gave the whole of the tithes of Little Delce, both great and small, to the priory of St. Andrew.

Ansgotus de Rovecestre accepted of the like benefit from the church of St. Andrew, and the monks there, in the time of bishop Gundulph, and gave to the church and monks there, all his tithes, both great and small, of Great Delce, and in like manner the whole of his tithe mill, and of a certain piece of land included within the wall of the monks, towards the south, and five acres of land near Prestefelde, and at their request, gave them, on his death bed, cloathing, and they performed service for him as for a monk.

Uulmer, the tenant of Arnulf de Hesdine, by the advice of Adelold, brother of Baldwin, monk of St. Andrew, accepted the benefit of that society, and gave to it his whole tithe, worth ten shillings yearly. Robert de St. Armand gave his tithes of Neschendene and Borstelle to St. Andrew's priory. These several tithes were confirmed to the priory by various bishops of Rochester; by Theobald, archbishop, and Ralph, prior, and the convent of Canterbury. They remained part of the possessions of the priory till their dissolution in 1540; three years after which they were settled on the new founded dean and chapter of Roter, where they still remain.

The PARISH of St. MARGARET, is Rochester, is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The church is situated at the south extremity of St. Margaret's-street; it consists of one nave and two chancels on the south side of much later date than the church. That towards the east end was built and long supported by the family of Lee, of Great Delce, whose remains lie in a large vault under this chancel; but since the alienation of their mansion here, the repair of this part of the fabric has devolved on the parishioners. The chancel, at the east end of the church, belongs to the appropriator, who consequently repairs it. At the west end of the church is a tower, containing five bells; it is entirely covered with ivy to the top of it, which makes a most beautiful and picturesque appearance. Against the east wall, in the south chancel, is the antient bust of a man in robes, with a coronet on his head. (fn. 38) In the reign of king Charles II. a coronet, set round with precious stones, was dug up in this church yard; and the report of the parish has been, that one of our Saxon kings was buried here.

Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church are the following: In the chancel, a brass for Syr James Roberte Preess, obt. Sep. 24, 1540. A monument, arms, Head, impaling quarterly a chevron between three hawks belled or, for Francis Head, esq. eldest son of Sir Richard Head. bart. obt. 1678; he married the only daughter of Sir George Ent. In the north window, Argent. three crosses bottony fitchee sable, and argent on a bend quarterly, an efcallop gules. In a pew, partly in the chancel and partly in the nave, Argent on a bend gules, between two peliers, three swans proper. In the nave, a brass for Tho. Cod. vicar, a benefactor to the steeple of this church, obt. Nov. 1465. In the chancel, south of the rectors, a monument, arms, Argent, a right hand couped sable, impaling Lee, for Thomas Manly, esq the third son and heir of George Manly, of Lach, esq. he married Jane, second daughter of Richard Lee, esq. of Delce, and left one only son and two daughters, obt. 1690. In the east window, arms of Lee, Azure on a fess cotized, or three leopards heads gules. In a chapel, west of the Lee chancel, in the east wall, a bust of a person with a crown on his head, much defaced. (fn. 39)

At the time of bishop Gundulph's coming to the see of Rochester, and for almost a century afterwards, this church or chapel of St. Margaret, for it is frequently mentioned by both names, was accounted only as an appendage to the parochial altar of St. Nicholas in the cathedral, and the one underwent the same changes as the other; (fn. 40) and Walter, bishop of Rochester, in 1147, confirmed the above mentioned parochial altar, together with this church of St. Margaret, which belonged as a chapel to it, to the monks of this priory, and appropriated it to them. This grant was set aside by bishop Gilbert de Glanville, in the beginning of the reign of king Richard I. who not only separated this church from the altar of St. Nicholas, and divested the monks of all manner of right to it; but on the foundation of his hospital at Stroud about the same time, he gave, in pure and perpetual alms, among other premises, this church of St. Margaret to the master and brethren of it, and appropriated it to them, reserving only half a marc yearly to be paid to the priory, in lieu of the oblations which the monks used to receive from it. (fn. 41)

The monks by no means acquiesced in this gift, but seized every opportunity of asserting their right to this church, and after several appeals to the pope from time to time, and confirmation and decrees made in favour of each party, (fn. 42) the dispute seems to have been finally settled in 1255, when the pope adjudged, that this church of St. Margaret, with all its appurtenances, should for the future belong to the prior and chapter of Rochester; accordingly from the above time they kept possession of it.

From the time of bishop Walter's appropriation of the profits of the parochial altar of St. Nicholas, with this church appendant to it, to the prior and convent, to the divesting them of it by bishop Glanville, it is likely, instead of a curate being appointed, the duty of this parish was discharged by some member of the society, as it was probably afterwards, whilst in the possession of the hospital, by one of the priests of that foundation; however, within a few years after the convent recovered the permanent possession of St. Margaret's, a vicar was certainly appointed, for William Talevez occurs by that title in 1272.

The vicars seem to have had only a yearly stipend from the convent for their pains, for more than a century afterwards; but in 1401, the prior and chapter came into a composition with the vicar for the endowment of this church; in which they agreed, that the vicar and his successors should for the future have, for their maintenance, and the support of the burthens therein mentioned, a mansion with its appurtenances, to be assigned for the vicarage of it, and the accustomed and entire altarage of it, and all the small tithes of the three manors of Nessenden and Great and Little Delce, and of all goods and lands, except the tithes of mills, within the parish, and except the tithes, great, small, and mixed, arising from the lands, cattle, and other things belonging to the religious; and that he and his successors should have three quarters of wheat with three heaps, and three quarters of barley with three heaps, to be taken yearly at their barn, at the times therein mentioned, and the tithes of sheaves, which should arise in gardens not cultivated with the plough; and that the vicar and his suc cessors, content with the above portion, should not demand any thing further of the religious or their successors; and further, that he and they should undergo, at their own proper costs and charges, the burthens of repairing, maintaining, and new building, as often as need should be, the buildings, with their appurtenances, and all other things belonging to the said mansion, with its appurtenances, as well as all things belonging to the celebration of divine services, and the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals to the parishioners, and the finding of bread and wine, lights, books, vestments, and other ornaments necessary to the celebration of divine services, which of custom or right ought to belong to the secular rectors of this church; and also the procurations and subsidies, according to the taxation of his and their portion; but all other things whatsoever, belonging or which in future should belong to this church, as well as all tithes whatsoever, arising or to arise from the lands and possessions of the prior and convent within the parish, even though they should be let or sold to laymen, they the said prior and convent should take and have, who should likewise maintain and repair the chancel, except as before excepted, at their own proper costs and charges. Notwithstanding the stipulation of the vicar for himself and his successors, not to require any increase of their portion from the prior and convent, Edmund Harefelde, vicar of this church, did not consider this clause as obligatory upon him; for in 1488, he petitioned the bishop for an augmentation of his vicarial portion, who decreed, that the vicar and his successors should yearly receive, as the portion of his vicarage, from the prior and convent, five marcs in money; and out of the tithes and profits of this church, appropriated to the prior and convent, four quarters of wheat with four heaps, and four quarters of barley with four heaps, to be taken yearly at their barns of the Upper court, in Harreat, with liberty of entry and distress on the parsonage on non-payment; and he decreed, that the endowment of the vicarage, over and above the portion above mentioned, should be as follows, that the vicar for the time being should have the mansion of the vicarage of this church, with the garden adjoining, for his habitation, which they used to have of old time there, and then had; and all manner of oblations whatsoever within the bounds of the parish, and all manner of tithes whatsoever, as of hay, lambs, wool, mills, calves, chicken, pigs, geese, ducks, eggs, bees, honey, wax, cheese, milk, the produce of the dairy, flax, hemp, pears, apples, swans, pidgeons, merchandizes, fisheries, pastures, onions, garlics, and saffrons whatsoever arising and coming; and also the tithes of sheaves in gardens, whether cultivated with the plough or dug with the foot, increasing within the parish; and the tithes also of firewood, woods, thorns, silva cedua, as well as of all billets, faggots, and fardels whatsoever, within the limits of the parish; and he further decreed, that the burthens of repairing, amending, and new building the mansion, with every appurtenance belonging to it, and the celebration and ministration of the sacraments and the sacramentals to the parishioners, of the finding of bread and wine, and lights to the church, either of right or custom due, should belong to and be borne by the vicar and his successors, as well as all episcopal burthens of the said church, according to the taxation of his portion. But that the burthen of repairing and amending the chancel of the church, as well within as without, as also the finding and repairing of books, vestments, and other ornaments, for the celebration of those divine rights, which of old, either by right or custom, belonged to the rectors of the church, should in future be borne by the prior and convent and their successors, at their own proper charge and expence; and that all other burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, of the vicarage, and to the vicar belonging, by reason of tha same, except as before excepted, should belong to him and his successors, to be borne and supported at his and their own proper costs and charges; saving to the bishop and his successors, a right of augmenting and diminishing this vicarage, and of correcting, amending, and explaining the above decree, whenever he or they should think it expedient so to do; and saving to himself and his successors, all episcopal right, (fn. 43) &c.

The appropriation of this church, and the patronage of the vicarage, continued part of the possessions of the prior and convent till the dissolution of the monastery, in 1540, when it was surrendered into the king's hands, who three years after, by his dotation charter, settled this appropriation and vicarage on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, where they remain at this time.

Adjoining to the north wall of the church yard is a piece of ground, which has probably belonged to the vicars of this parish ever since their first institution here; an antient court roll mentions their being possessed of it in the year 1317.

In the 5th year of king Edward III. John de Folkstan, vicar of St. Margaret's, held a messuage, with its appurtenances, adjoining to the church yard, by the assignment of the prior and convent, with the ordination of the bishop, as belonging to the portion of his vicarage; which messuage, with its appurtenances, was held of the master and brethren of the hospital of Stroud, by fealty, and the service of two shillings yearly, and also the payment of twelvepence to them, after the death of each vicar. (fn. 44)

The vicars, I am told, now hold this piece of land of the dean and chapter, as of their manor of Ambree, on their paying a small acknowledgment.

The vicarage house being from age become irreparable, was taken down, with an intention of erecting a convenient and substantial dwelling in the room of it; for which purpose Mr. Lowth, the late vicar, for several years deposited an annual sum with the dean and chapter, towards defraying the charges of it; and about 1781, erected on this spot a neat and convenient house, built of brick and sashed, with proper offices adjoining, for the use of himself and his successors, vicars of this parish. By an agreement between John Ready, vicar of it, and the dean and chapter, the former, in consideration of several benefits and benevolences done to him by the latter, consented to take an annual payment of 5l. 6s. 8d. instead of the pension in money and corn, granted by the composition made in 1488. Some recompence indeed has since been made for this unjust bargain by the dean and chapter, who have settled on it a larger augmentation than on any other church in their patronage. The vicarage of St. Margaret is valued in the king's books at 10l. and the yearly tenths at 1l. (fn. 45)

In the survey, taken after the death of Charles I. in 1649, of the church livings within this diocese, by the powers then in being, on the intended abolition of deans and chapters, it was returned, that there were belonging to this rectory or parsonage, a parsonagehouse, two barns, one stable, and other houshings, and also certain tithes, profits, &c. belonging to it, together with certain glebe land, called Court-hill and Court hill marsh, containing together nine acres, and and one marsh, lying in the parish of St. Nicholas, Rochester, called Cow marsh, with the waste ground called salts, containing together seven acres, and all that piece of ground called Upper court, alias Hogshaw, containing one acre; in all seventeen acres, worth together 130l. per annum, viz. the house and lands, 12l. per annum, and the tithes 118l. per ann. all which were let, among other premises, by Henry King, late dean of the cathedral church of Rochester, by his indenture, in 1639, to George Newman, esq. for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent, for Preestfield and Stroud marsh, of 4s. 4d. per annum, and for all the other premises twelve quarters of wheat, heaped, making together the yearly rent of 31l. 1s. 8d. Next the vicarage was, in like manner surveyed, and returned at the yearly value of 30l. (fn. 46)

PATRONS, Or by whom hresented. VICARS.
Prior and convent of Rochester William Talevaz, in 1272. (fn. 47)
John de Folkstan, 1330. (fn. 48)
John Eastgate, 1401. (fn. 49)
Thomas Cod, obt. Nov. 1460 (fn. 50)
Edmund Hatefelde, 1488. (fn. 51)
John Wryte, 1535.
Dean and Chapiter of Rochester John Symkins, clerk, July 16, 1555. (fn. 52)
Christopher Dale, S. T. P. about 1627. (fn. 53)
Selvy, 1644.
Wm. Sandbrooke, LL.B. 1644. obt. Mar. 1659. (fn. 54)
Daniel Hill, S. T. P. 1726, obt. June, 1729. (fn. 55)
John Denne, S. T. P. instituted 1729, resigned 1731. (fn. 56)
Dean and Chapter of Rochester William Lowth, A.M. Novem, 1731, obt. Feb. 1795. (fn. 57)
Arnold Carter, A.M. 1795. Present vicar. (fn. 58)


  • 1. History of Rochester, p. 207, 209.
  • 2. Reg. Roff. p. 6. History of Rochester, p. 201.
  • 3. Registrum Roffensis, p. 560 et seq.
  • 4. See the monuments and inscriptions in this church at large in Reg. Roff. p. 21.
  • 5. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xix.
  • 6. Reg. Roff. p. 563. He was the first vicar, on the building of the church.
  • 7. Regis. Prerog. Cans.
  • 8. Official of the archdeacon. Reg. Roff. p. 405.
  • 9. Reg. Rcff. p. 418, 426.
  • 10. Ibid. p. 725.
  • 11. Archdeacon of Rochester, and rector of Southfleet, by dispensation in 1628. Rym. Fæd. vol. xix. p. 56.
  • 12. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xix.
  • 13. Preb. of Rochester.
  • 14. He lies buried in this church.
  • 15. Preb. of Rochester, and rector of Kingsdown. He lies buried in the cathedral.
  • 16. He lies buried near the west door of the cathedral, but without any inscription.
  • 17. In Jan. 1755, a dispensation passed for his holding this with Croydon.
  • 18. See the third volume of this History, p. 447.
  • 19. He died here in 1579, and was buried in the cathedral, as has been already mentioned.
  • 20. See more of the Woodyers, under Shorne, vol. iii. p. 447.
  • 21. History of Rochester, p. *281 et seq.
  • 22. Reg. Roff. p. 546.
  • 23. Hist. Rochester, p. 5.
  • 24. Reg. Roff. p. 10, 64, 65, 133.
  • 25. Reg. Roff. p. 575.
  • 26. Text. Roff. p. 166.
  • 27. See Registrum Roffense, p. 481, and 482.
  • 28. Archives of Rochester bridge.
  • 29. See p. 173.
  • 30. Book of Knight's Fees in the Exchequer.
  • 31. Strype's Stow's Survey, book v. p 122, 123.
  • 32. See his life in Biog. Brit. vol. i. p. 215.
  • 33. The descent of Lee is in Vistn. co. Kent. anno 1619.
  • 34. Book of Knights Fees in the Exchequer.
  • 35. Austuris.
  • 36. Madox's Exchequer, p. 295, note.
  • 37. Philipot, p. 294. Rot. Esch. anno 1 and 11 Richard II.
  • 38. History of Rochester, p. 237. Harris's History of Kent, p. 198.
  • 39. See the monuments and inscrip. at large, in Reg. Roff. p. 726.
  • 40. See the account of St. Nicholas's parish above.
  • 41. Reg. Roff. p. 631. This was confirmed by pope Cœlestine III. in his third year.
  • 42. Reg. Roff. p. 104. Wharton's Ang. Sacr. vol. i. p. 349.
  • 43. This instrument is dated on the feast of the Purification, in the year above mentioned, 1488. Reg. Roff. p. 578.
  • 44. To both parts of which indenture the master and brethren put their common seal, as did the vicar, the bishop of Rochester, and the prior and convent theirs. Reg. Roff. p. 548.
  • 45. History of Rochester, p. 237. Ect. Thef. p. 385.
  • 46. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xiv.
  • 47. History of Rochester, p. 235.
  • 48. Reg. Roff. p. 548.
  • 49. Ibid. 559.
  • 50. He lies buried in this church.
  • 51. Reg. Roff. p. 578.
  • 52. One of the prebendaries of Rochester cathedral, he had been the last prior of St. Gregory's, Canterbury, and is said to have been deprived of his preferments by queen Mary, for being married.
  • 53. MSS. Twysden.
  • 54. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth library. vol. xix.
  • 55. And prebendary of Rochester.
  • 56. Archdeacon of Rochester, and vicar of St. Leonard, Shoreditch. He resigned this vicarage of St. Margaret's, on being presented to the rectory of Lambeth.
  • 57. Vicar of Lewisham, and prebendary of Winchester, where he died; he was elder brother to the late bishop of London.
  • 58. Vicar of West Peckham and minor canon of Rochester; the former he resigned for this vicarage.