Parishes: St Dunstan's near Canterbury

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: St Dunstan's near Canterbury', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9, (Canterbury, 1800), pp. 33-42. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: St Dunstan's near Canterbury", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9, (Canterbury, 1800) 33-42. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: St Dunstan's near Canterbury", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9, (Canterbury, 1800). 33-42. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section


LIES the next parish eastward from that of St. Michael, Harbledowne, by which only it is separated from that of Thanington, before described. It makes a part of the suburbs of the city of Canterbury on the western side of it, and is so called from the saint, to which the church is dedicated.

THIS PARISH adjoins eastward to that of Holy Cross, Westgate, about midway between the city gate and St. Dunstan's church. The street is built on each side of the high London road. It is unpaved, but very broad and sightly, and the houses are, many of them, though small, very neat and modern. On the north side of it is the gaol, for the eastern division of the county, but it is a gaol only for felons, and prisoners under the jurisdiction of the justices, and not for debtors, the sheriff of the county taking no cognizance of it. The antient Place-house of the Ropers stands opposite the church, at the west end of the street, the antient seat is said to have stood at some distance behind the present house and gateway, which are situated close to the side of the street, these having been only the inferior offices belonging to it. They have been for many years past converted into a dwelling and public brew-house, and are now tenanted by John Abbot, esq. who resides in it. A little further, on the opposite side of the way, at St. Dunstan's cross, there is a good new-built house, the property, and late the residence of John Baker, esq. but it is now occupied by colonel Smith, of the royal artillery. Here the road divides, that towards the south-west leading to London, along which this parish extends near a quarter of a mile, where the lands in it are exceedingly fertile, and planted with hops. The other road runs strait forward from the cross up St. Thomas's hill, (fn. 1) and so over Bleane common, at the beginning of which this parish ends, towards Whitstaple. The street of St. Dunstan's contains about two hundred houses, and near one thousand inhabitants. There is a synagogue belonging to the Jews, who inhabit mostly together in the eastern part of this parish, and in the part of Westgate adjoining to it, and with some few others in the different parts of Canterbury, are said to amount to near four hundred. They have a burying-ground in this parish, near the entrance of the Whitstaple road from St. Dunstan's cross; and there is another belonging to the Quakers near it.

There was a gallows for the public execution of criminals, on St. Thomas's hill; two of whom were executed here in 1698, and the like in 1700 and 1702, as appears by the parish register.

A fair is held in St. Dunstan's street on the Monday se'nnight after the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula.

THE MANOR OF WESTGATE, belonging to the archbishop, claims over the whole of this parish, in which there are only two houses deserving of a particular description, one of which is

THE PLACE-HOUSE, or St. Dunstan's place, situated near the church, on the north side of the London road. It is noted for having been the antient and most early residence in this county of the family of Roper, (fn. 2) whose burial place was afterwards in this church of St. Dunstan's; one of whom, William Roper, or Rosper, as the name was then sometimes spelt, resided here in king Henry III.'s reign, and was a great benefactor to St. Martin's priory, in Dover. John Roper, his descendant, was resident both here and at Swaycliffe, and was one of the surveyors of the customs of the cinque ports, under king Henry VII. whose son John Roper was sheriff in the 12th year of king Henry VIII. and was afterwards attorney-general and prothonotary of the court of king's bench; and having inherited from his mother Margery, daughter and coheir of John Tattersall, the manor of Wellhall, in Eltham, resided mostly at the mansion of it. He died in 1524, leaving two sons, William and Christopher, the latter of whom was seated at Linsted, from whom the Ropers, lords Teynham and Dacre, are descended. William Roper, the eldest son, whose lands were disgavelled by the act of the second and third of king Edward VI. was of Wellhall, and succeeded his father likewise in this antient family seat at St. Dunstan's, from which time they resided constantly at Wellhall, and in this family this estate continued down to Edward Roper, esq. of Wellhall, whose daughter, and at length sole surviving heir Elizabeth, having married Edward Henshaw, esq. of Hampshire, entitled her husband to it, among other estates. He left three daughters his coheirs, but on his death it came by the entail of it, into the possession of William Strickland, esq. who had married Catherine, the eldest of them, and on his death, s.p. in 1788, it devolved by the same entail to Sir Edward Dering, bart. son of Sir Edward Dering, by his wife Elizabeth, the other sister, and to Sir Rowland Wynne, bart. son of Sir Rowland Wynne, who had married the youngest sister; and their two sons of the same names are at this time the joint proprietors of this house, and the rest of the antient possessions of the family of Roper, in this parish and its neighbourhood.

ST. THOMAS'S HILL, is the other seat remaining to be noticed, which takes its name from the hill on which it is situated, on the road to Whitstaple, about half a mile from St. Dunstan's church. It was for many years in the possession of the family of Roberts, for Mr. William Roberts resided here in the reign of Philip and Mary, and died possessed of it in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth, and, as appears by the parish register, was buried in this church. And in his descendants, (from one of whom descended likewise the Roberts's of Harbledowne) this seat continued down to Mr. Drayton Roberts, who died possessed of it in 1738, leaving one sole daughter and heir Mary, who carried it in marriage to Mr. Jacob Sawkins, gent. of Liminge, whom she survived, and afterwards sold it to her late father's brother, Mr. Edward Roberts, who left his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Nathaniel Denew, esq. surviving, to whom he deviled this seat, which she afterwards alienated to Charles Webb, esq. who rebuilt it, and resided at it till his death in 1786, leaving his wife Sarah, daughter of Mr. Heaver, surviving, who now, by her husband's will, is entitled to it, and resides here.


THOMAS STRENSHAM, by deed in 1584, gave certain houses and lands; the produce to be applied to the comforting of poor householders of this parish, clothing their children, or setting them to service. Which premises are vested in ten feoffees, and are of the annual produce of 17l. 11s. 8d.

THOMAS MANERINGE, by will in 1692, gave to two poor men of this parish, the yearly sum of 6s. 8d. to be paid to them at Easter, out of an estate in Broad-street, in Canterbury, now vested in Mr. Hammond.

The poor constantly relieved are about forty-five, casually thirty.

THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of the same.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Dunstan, is large and handsome, consisting of two isles, two chancels at the east end, and a small one on the north side, near the west end. At the south-west corner is a tower steeple, in which there is a clock and a peal of six bells. This church is well pewed, and very neatly kept. In it is a monument and a burial place for the Rondeau's, the first of whom was a refugee in England for the Protestant religion; their arms, Azure, on a fess wavy, three burts, in base a star of many points, or; not far from which are memorials for several of this family, and for the Alkins. A small monument for Charles Webb, esq. of St. Thomas's hill, colonel of foot, obt. 1786, arms, Quarterly, gules, a cross between four birds, or; and paly, gules, and or, impaling gules, a plain cross argent, a label of three points, azure. In the north, or high chancel there are several memorials for the family of Scranton. Underneath, near the north side, is a large vault, wherein many of the family of Roberts are deposited. The altar cloth is very curious, made seemingly before the reformation, having on it several figures of cherubs, and in the middle a crucifix, with the figure of Christ on it; all elegantly wrought in needle-work embossed with gold, not unlikely by one of the ladies of the Roper family. The south chancel is called the Roper chancel, in a vault underneath which many of this family are deposited, and being full, it has been closed up. Against the south wall are two tombs of Bethersden marble, one of them partly within an arch in the wall, probably that of the founder of this chancel; over the other is a banner, of the arms of Roper, mostly torn off, and a helmet, and surcoat, with the arms of More on it, Argent, a chevron ermine, between three moor cocks, sable. Against a pillar is a handsome monument for Thomas Roper, esq. grandson of Sir Thomas More, by his daughter Margaret, obt. 1597; above are the arms of Roper, with quarterings. In the east window are some small remains of painted glass. Somner gives several inscriptions remaining in his time, for the Ropers, one of which is for William Roper, esq. son and heir of John Roper, esq. and for Margaret his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas More, lord chancellor. His monument is that with the banner over it, against the south wall. In a hollow in the wall of the vault underneath, having an iron grate before it, next to the coffin of the above Margaret, there is still remaining a scull, being that of Sir Thomas More; for after he was beheaded, anno 1535, though his body was permitted to be buried, first in the church of St. Peter in the Tower, and afterwards in Chelsea church, where it now lies, yet his head was set on a pole on London bridge, and was afterwards privily bought by his daughter Margaret, and for some time preserved by her in a leaden box, with much devotion, and placed in this vault, when she died, near her coffin. In the south isle are memorials for the Heatons, of St. Thomas's hill. The cover to the font is of a pyramidical shape, curiously carved in wood, in the gothic taste. On the north side of this church is a small chapel, now made use of as a vestry room, founded by Henry de Canterbury, the king's chaplain, in 1330, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity, in which he established a perpetual chantry, which he committed to the care of the hospital of the poor priests in Canterbury, who were to find the chaplain. And it remained in this state till the dissolution of such endowments, in king Edward VI.'s reign.

The chancel or chapel above-mentioned, belonging to the Ropers, was founded by John Roper, esq. as appears by patent 4th Henry IV. for two chaplains to sing mass in it, at the altar of St. Nicholas, for the souls of such of the family as were deceased, and the welfare of such as were living; each of which chaplains had eight pounds per annum allowed to them by him and his heirs, besides a house for their habitation, adjoining to the mansion-house of the family in this parish, on the west side of it; which house is still remaining, and is made use of as part of the mansion.

This church was part of the antient possessions of St. Gregory's priory, in Canterbury, founded by archbishop Lanfranc; and archbishop Hubert, in king Richard I.'s reign, confirmed the same, among the rest of the possessions of it. (fn. 3) After which, the church, with the advowson of the vicarage, remained with the priory till the dissolution of it, in king Henry VIII.'s reign, when coming into the king's hands, it was granted, with the scite and most of the possessions of the priory, that same year, in exchange, to the archbishop. Since which the whole of the premises above-mentioned, in which this parsonage was included, have been demised by the several archbishops in one great beneficial lease. George Gipps, esq. of Harbledowne, is the present lessee of it, as part of St. Gregories priory, under the archbishop. It is now of the value of only five pounds per annum.

Archbishop Walter Reynolds, in 1322, endowed the vicarage of this church, then appropriated to the priory of St. Gregory, decreeing, that the vicar of it should receive, for the maintenance of himself and his family, all small tithes, oblations, and other profits of every kind, the tithes of sheaves of every sort of corn growing in the fields only excepted, which he allotted to the religious in the name of the rectory, who should acknowledge all burthens, ordinary as well as extraordinary, of the chancel, books, and ornaments, as far as they were accustomed to belong to the rectors of places. (fn. 4) After which, on a representation to archbishop Stratford, that the above endowment was by no means sufficient for his support, the value of the vicarage amounting to only four marcs yearly, the archbishop's commissary assigned to the vicars, beyond the endowment above-mentioned, the house of the vicarage, which the vicars were wont of old to inhabit, and also the pension of two marcs sterling, to be paid yearly by the religious, in augmentation of the portion so assigned to him. And he decreed, that the vicar, in future should serve the church in divine rites, and should provide tapers, lights, and bread and wine for the celebration of masses; and should support the burthens of the church, estimated at four marcs for the moiety, in all payments whatsoever of tenths and other extraordinary impositions; and that the religious should rebuild and repair the chancel of the church, and find books, vestments, and ornaments, belonging to the rectors of places, all which the archbishop approved, and confirmed in 1342. (fn. 5)

In the 8th year of king Richard II. anno 1384, the vicarage was valued at four pounds, being one of those small benefices, which, on account of their slender income, were not taxed to the tenth. It is valued in the king's books at five pounds, and is now of the clear yearly certified value of eighteen pounds. In 1588 it was valued at twenty pounds, communicants one hundred and fifty-six. In 1640 it was valued at forty pounds, the like number of communicants.

Archbishop Juxon, in 1661, augmented the vicarages and curacies late belonging to St. Gregory's priory, and then of the patronage of the see of Canterbury, with the yearly sum of two hundred and ten pounds, out of the great tithes of the several parsonages; but this of St. Dunstan's, probably from the inefficient value of the parsonage for that purpose, did not receive any part of it.

Archbishop Tenison gave to the governors of queen Anne's bounty, which he confirmed by his will in 1715, the sum of two hundred pounds, to the augmentation of this vicarage, to which the governors added two hundred pounds more for the same purpose. It is now of the annual value of about fifty pounds.

There have been no remains of the vicarage-house for a long time.

THE CITY AND COUNTY OF THE CITY OF CANTERBURY lies the next adjoining to St. Dunstan's parish eastward, a district which was once accounted a hundred of itself, and within the jurisdiction of the justices of the county of Kent, and it continued so till it was made a county, and separate jurisdiction of itself, by king Edward the IVth in his first year, a copious description of it, as well as of the priory of Christ-church, and the cathedral, with an account of the archbishops, and the other members belonging to them, will be given in a separate volume at the conclusion of this history.

Church Of St. Dunstan's.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop of Canterbury. John Kinton, in 1607, obt. May 1613. (fn. 6)
James Astin, inducted June 16, 1613.
James Penny, 1615, obt. 1663 (fn. 7)
Robert Poyle, S. T. B. January, 1664.
Paul Knell, obt. August 1664. (fn. 8)
Simon Louth, A. M. deprived 1689. (fn. 9)
James Williamson, inducted Feb. 15, 1709, obt. 1728. (fn. 10)
Stephen Hobday, A. M. inducted Dec. 14, 1728, obt. Sept. 28, 1743. (fn. 11)
Isaac Johnson, A. M. inducted Nov. II, 1743, obt. March 1767. (fn. 12)
John Loftie, A. B. June 27, 1767, the present vicar. (fn. 13)


  • 1. See Dec. Script. col. 1491. Battely's Somn. p. 47.
  • 2. Philipott, p. 95, who calls this estate the manor of St. Dunstan's.
  • 3. See Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. ii. p. 374.
  • 4. See Battely's Somner, appendix, p. 75.
  • 5. See Battely's Somner, appendix, p. 75. Ducarel's Repertory, p. 14.
  • 6. He was buried in this church on May 28.
  • 7. Buried in the church.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Likewise vicar of Bleane, and nominated to the deanry of Rochester. See further of him and the cause of his deprivation under Bleane.
  • 10. And by dispensation in 1709 vicar of Bleane.
  • 11. He resigned the rectory of Lower Hardres for this vicarage, which he held with that of Waldershare.
  • 12. And rector of Wormsell by dispensation.
  • 13. And perpetual curate of Wingham. In 1788, having been appointed chaplain to the East-India Company's factory at Calcutta, in Bengal, he embarked for that province, from whence he returned in 1798.