The Universal British Directory 1791 - Kent

The Universal British Directory 1791

Maidstone, Kent

The Universal British Directory, Published 1791, Volume 3, page 868

Principal Inhabitants and Traders
Surrounding Area

Maidstone (the County town) is situated on the Medway, ten miles south-east of Rochester, and thirty-six from London. It was in the ancient Britons' time reckoned their third chief city; and was a station of the Romans. It was then called Caer-Medwag, which is thought to signify the meadows upon the river Vaga, which are here very beautiful. Its Roman name was Madaviacis, or Vagniacis, which was probably derived from the British. It has been a considerable town in all ages since; and is now pleasant, large and populous.

The town of Maidstone was anciently governed by a porteeve and twelve brethren, and continued so till King Edward VI by his letters patent of July 4, in his third year, newly incorporated the town, by the stile and title of the mayor, jurats and commonalty of the town of Maidstone, in the county of Kent. These privileges were not long afterwards forfeited by the rebellion, first began in this town by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Knt. and other principal gentlemen of it, in the first year of Queen Mary. In this state of disfranchisement the town remained till Queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, December 4, in her second year, again incorporated it with the like stile as before, and some other additional privileges, among which was a confirmation of their ancient prescriptive right of sending two burgesses to parliament, the granting to the mayor the authority of a justice of the peace, and the exempting of the townsmen from foreign sessions. Some years after which, several doubts arising concerning the validity and meaning of the different parts of the last-mentioned letters-patent, a third charter of incorporation was granted to this town by King James I by letters- patent dated December 31, in his second year, anno 1604, by the name and stile of "the mayor, jurats and commonalty, of the king's town and parish of Maidstone", wherein all the privileges of the former were confirmed, and new ones granted by it. After which a fourth charter was likewise granted by the same king, in his seventeenth year, anno 1619. King Charles II by letters-patent in his 34th year, anno 1682, incorporated this town anew, by the like stile and title as the former; which charter was made use of in the government of this place till the revolution in 1688, after which it was entirely laid aside.

In the reign of King George II this corporation being disolved by judgement of ouster against its principal members, upon informations of quo warranto, a new charter was granted by that king, by letters-patent dated at Westminster June 17, in his 21st year, anno 1748; in which it is recited that divers disputes having arisen of late within this town and corporation, and informations in nature of quo warranto having been prosecuted in the King's Bench, and judgment of ouster obtained against all the acting jurats, so that the corporation was then disolved, and the town incapable of enjoying their liberties and franchises, therefore the king, for divers causes therein-mentioned, upon the petition of the freemen, freeholders and other inhabitants, of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, granted that the town and parish should be a free town and parish of itself; and that the inhabitants of the same should be one body politic and corporate, by the name of "the mayor, jurats and commonalty of the king's town and parish of Maidstone in the county of Kent", and by that name to have perpetual succession, and to aquire and hold lands etc. and to alien the same, and by the aforementioned name to plead and be impleaded; and that they and their successors might have a common seal, and might break, change and new make, the same at their liking; and that the said town and parish, and the liberties and precincts thereof, should extend according to the former ancient boundaries thereof; and that there should be 13 inhabitants of the said town and parish who should be chosen jurats of the same, one of whom should be chosen mayor of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, which jurats, not being in the office of mayor, should be assistants to him in everything; and that there should be 40 of the remaining principal inhabitants chosen common councilmen of the same, all of whom, viz. mayor, jurats and common councilmen, should have power, upon public summons, to make bye laws; and that the jurats should be elected by the mayor, jurats and common councilmen duly assembled, and the common councilmen in like manner, with a fine at the discretion of the said mayor etc. for their refusal of those offices, any of whom should be removed by the mayor etc. duly assembled, for any sufficient crime or notorious offence; and that the jurats should assemble on the 2nd day of November yearly, within the said town, and then nominate two men, then being jurats, for the rest of the jurats and commonalty then present to elect one out of the two to be mayor; and that the person so chosen should take an oath before the then last mayor, or in his absence the two senior jurats then present, for the due execution of his office; and, in case of his death, that a successor should be chosen in like manner; and that the mayor, in case of sickness or absence, should appoint one of the jurats a deputy mayor for the time aforesaid; and that the mayor or jurats should elect a recorder to hold his office during their pleasure; and that he should have power to make a deputy recorder during his pleasure; and that the mayor, jurats and common councilmen should appoint one or two serjeants at mace, who should bear one or two gilt or silver maces, engraved with the king's arms, every where within the said town and parish, before the mayor.

And whereas Queen Elizabeth by her letters-patent, December 4, in her 2nd year, granted the said mayor etc. one market within the said town on a Thursday weekly with all tolls, customs, and other profits; and also 4 fairs in the said town, viz. one from noon on April 30th to noon May 2nd; another at noon on the eve of the feast of St. Edmund the King and Martyr to noon on the morrow after the said feast; another at noon on the eve of the feast of St. Faith until the noon of the morrow of the said feast; and the other on the noon of the feast of the Purification until the noon of the morrow of the said feast; with all tolls, tributes, profits etc. and a pie-powder court to be held in the same fairs and markets.
And whereas King James by his letter-patent, December 31 in his second year, regranted and confirmed the markets and fairs, and other liberties and privileges granted as aforesaid; and by other letters-patent July 28 in his 17th year, did ratify and confirm the said markets, fairs, courts of pie-powder, tributes, customs, tolls etc. and further granted that it should be lawful for the said mayor to extend the market beyond the place called the market-place, or to hold it in any other place within the same town; therefore the king, being willing to shew further grace and favour to the mayor etc. ratified and confirmed the said markets, fairs, courts etc. and granted them to the mayor etc. and their successors, de novo; and that the mayor, jurats, and commonalty, should nominate, elect and admit, any person or persons, being inhabitants of the town and parish, freemen of the same; and that the recorder, deputy recorder, jurats, common councilmen and freemen, should severally make oath before the mayor and jurats for the due execution of their office, as had been accustomed.

And whereas Queen Elizabeth, by her letters-patent, did grant to the mayor and jurats and commonalty, full power to hold a court before the mayor in the said town, from 14 days to 14 days, on a Tuesday, for pleas, as well of assize of novel disscisin, as other pleas, actions, suits etc. concerning lands etc. in the said town and parish, although they should or should not exceed the sum of 40s and did grant that the said town and parish, and the liberties of the same, should extend themselves by the water of Medway from east Farleigh-bridge unto Hawkwood, as in the said letters-patent more fully appeared; and whereas the water of Medway between the said bridge and Hawkwood flowed by and through the said town and parish of Maidstone, and by and through the several towns of East Farleigh, Barming, Loze, Boxley, Allington and certain streets called Milhale and Newhythe in the parish of East Malling in the county of Kent: and the town and parish of Maidstone, extending itself promiscuously in, by, and through the town of Loze and Linton and beyond; and also by the said towns of East Farleigh, Barming and Boxley, and by the town of Otham according to certain information given: the king, intending to put into certainty, and to limit into what parish, towns, hamlets etc. and how far the liberties and jurisdictions of the mayor etc. of the said town and parish could reach and extend, as to the hearing and determining pleas in the said court, granted and declared that the liberties of the same, and the jurisdiction of the mayor etc. should extend only as to the cognizance and determination of actions and replevins, and to no other intent or purpose, into by and through the said towns and parishes of East Barming, Loze, Boxley, Allington, Milhale, Newhythe, Linton and Otham; and that for the better executing the said actions, they might make and execute all attachments and legal processes into and through all the said parishes, streets etc.

And whereas Queen Elizabeth granted that the inhabitants of the said town and parish should be exempted from serving on juries and inquisitions, except in the town of Maidstone; the king therefore granted and confirmed, that the said inhabitants should not be impannelled on any juries or inquisitions whatsoever, without the said town and parish; and that the mayor and recorder, and 3 senior jurats, during their offices, should be justices of the peace within the said town and parish; and that no justice of the county should in any wise intermeddle within the said town and parish; which mayor, recorder and 3 jurats aforesaid, should take an oath before the rest of the jurats for the due execution of their office;

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And he granted the said mayor etc. all waifs, estreats, fines, forfeitures, goods and chattels of felons and fugitives etc. before granted by the said letters-patent of Queen Elizabeth, and to the said mayor all return of writs etc. within the said town and parish; so that the sheriff, coroner or escheator, or other the king's ministers, in no wise intermeddle within the said town and parish. And that the mayor, jurats and commonalty should have and enjoy to their own proper use all wharfage, anchorage and groundage of ships and vessels coming to the said town and parish, and reasonable fees and wages for lading and unlading of merchandizes, goods, and chattels in the said ships and vessels there to be laded and unladed into or out of the same; and that they should have through water as aforesaid, from East farleigh-bridge to Hawkwood, the privilege of keeping and preserving swans and signets, and a swan-mark, and the same to alter at their pleasure; and also all swans and signets through the said waters, within the bounds and limits aforesaid, and the banks and ground of the same, building nests, breeding or frequenting, and not legally marked with the swan mark aforesaid, and full power to persue, retake and bring back the swans and signets aforesaid, swimming or wandering by water and land out of the limits aforesaid, without hindrance of the king, his officers or ministers or other persons whatsoever.

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This borough was formerly at the disposal of the Earl of Aylesford but it has emancipated itself from that influence, and has since been divided in two parties, the one attempting to compliment the minister with the nomination of its members, the other equally zealous in maintaining the independence of its constitutional rights. Mr. BRENCHLY, a brewer of this town, and one of the partners in the Southwark bank, who is lately deceased, was at the head of the former party; and Mr. TAYLOR, an eminent paper-manufacturer, and one of its present representatives takes the lead of the latter. The death of Mr. BRENCHLY has considerably weakened the ministerial interest, and it is not improbable, but at another election it may shake off the trammels of government dictation entirely.
The manor, which extends over the whole hundred of Maidstone, belongs to Lord ROMNEY, who has a seat near this borough. The right of election is in the freemen not receiving alms or charity, February 7, 1701, December 8, 1702.
The number of voters is six hundred. Returning officer, the mayor.

CASE OF BRIBERY__ December 8, 1702. Resolved, That the late election of burgesses for the said borough of Maidstone is a void election. That no warrant do issue during this session of parliament, for the making out a new writ for the electing burgesses for the said borough of Maidstone. That Gervas HELY is guilty of indirect and currupt practices, in order to the procuring members to be elected to serve in parliament for the said borough of Maidstone. Ordered, that the said Gervas HELY be, for his said offence, taken into custody.
VEXATIOUS PETITION__ February 7, 1701. Resolved, That Thomas COLEPEPPER Esq. who was one of the instruments in promoting and presenting a scandalous, insolent, and seditious petition, commonly called the Kentish petition to the house of commons, hath been guilty of corrupt, scandalous, and indirect practices in endeavouring to procure himself to be elected a burgess to serve in this present parliament for the borough of Maidstone. Ordered that the said Thomas COLEPEPPER Esq. be, for his said offence, committed to Newgate.

Its chief trade, besides linen-thread, which it makes to great perfection, is in hops; of which there are great plenty of plantations about the town, as well as orchards of cherries. The tide flows quite up to the town, and brings up barges etc. of 50 or 60 tons. It has a fine stone bridge. A little river falls here into it from Lenham. One of the public gaols for the county is kept in this town; and the custody of weights and measures, renewed by the standard of King Henry VII was committed to it by parliament, as being in the centre of Kent: for which reason the knights of the shire are always elected, and the courts of justice always held here, and generally the assizes. This town is a peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the proper incumbent, and puts in a curate to officiate for him. The Archbishop had a palace here, now belonging to Lord ROMNEY, which is deemed very ancient, to which there is a chapel belonging. The architecture is Gothic, but good of the kind; and some parts of it have been repaired after the modern manner. Here are four charity schools, in which are above one hundred boys and girls, who are visited once a week and catechised by the minister. This is such a plentiful country, and the lands hereabouts are so rich, that London is supplied with more commodities from hence than from any market-town in England, particularly with the large bullocks that come from the Weald of Kent, which begins but six miles off; with timber, wheat and great quantities of hops, apples and cherries; with a sort of paving-stone, eight or ten inches square, that is exceeding durable; and with fine white sand for glass-houses and stationers. There are some Dutch inhabitants, who have devine service in the old parish-church, called St. Faith's. There are so many gentlemen's seats within 10 miles, that it is rare to find a town of so much trade and business so full of gentry and good company. The market here, which is the best in the county, is on Thursday; it has another on the second Tuesday in every month, granted them by George II in 1751; and fairs on February 13, May 12, June 20 (called Garlick Fair), and October 17.

In 1648, this town made such a stand for King Charles I against General Fairfax with near 10,000 men, that he could not take it, till he had stormed it twice. Here was a college or hospital erected by Archbishop BONIFACE, and a chantry by Archbishop Thomas ARUNDEL, which is now the free-school. About the year 1720 several canoes were dug up in the marshes of the Medway above this town. This parish was anciently taxed towards the repair of the fifth arch or pier of Rochester bridge. On the eastern bank of the river Medway, a small distance south of the parish-church, stand the remains of St. Mary and All Saints college, built by Archbishop COURTNEY in the year 1396. The gate or entrance is still remaining, with other parts of the building sufficient to shew it was once a handsome structure. It is now converted into a farm-house.

BANKERS __ Messrs. BRENCHLEY, STACEY, PARKER, SPRINGET, and PENFOLD; draw on Sir James SANDERSON and Co. Southwark. __ Messrs. RUSSEL, ELGAR, SEAGER, and Co. draw on Sir N. ESDAILE and Co. London.
POST __ The post arrives at Maidstone every morning at 7 o'clock, Mondays excepted; and returns to London every evening at 8 o'clock, Saturdays execpted. Thomas POOLE, post-master.
COACHES __ The balloon coach sets out from the Bell Inn every morning at 7 o'clock, to the George Inn, Borough, and the Blossoms Inn, Lawrence lane, Cheapside, and returns from thence every day at a quarter before two. A coach goes to the Golden Cross, Charing-cross every Tueday, Thursday and Saturday from the Bell, at 9 o'clock, and returns every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 o'clock. A coach sets out from the Star every afternoon at 2 o'clock, to the George Inn, Borough and Blossoms Inn, Lawrence lane, Cheapside, and returns from the above inns every morning at a quarter before seven.
Fares of the above coaches: Insides 8s 6d. Outsides 5s.
WAGGON __ William WHEATLEY's balloon waggon goes from the Haunch of Venison every Monday and Thursday morning to the White Hart Inn, Borough. Fares of passengers 2s 6d.
COASTERS __ BENSTEAD and Sons Maidstone hoys sail from Maidstone to London every Friday, and return from thence every Saturday. They are, the Union, John PAINE, master, and the William, William JACKSON, master. __ R. SHEPARD's hoys sail to Hayes's Wharf every Friday, and return from thence every Saturday. They are, the Good Intent, William Mason, master, and the Richard and Sarah, F. ALDRIDGE, master.

James BRIGGS, Supervisor
Thomas RIDEOUT, First-Division Officer
James BAGOT, Second ditto
Richard COATES, First Ride-officer
William WILLIAMS, Second ditto
Thomas NEVILLE, Third ditto
William EVANS, Distillery-surveyor
Henry HUNTER, First assistant
Robert TOBITT, Second ditto
Thomas EDWARDS, Third ditto
John SHEPPERD, Permit-writer and Office-keeper

The following is a list of the principal inhabitants:

Edward ARGLES, Esq. Mayor
John MORGAN, Esq. Recorder
Mr. George BURR, Deputy Recorder

Justices of the Peace:
Robert POPE, Esq.
Tobias HAMMOND, Esq.
George BISHOP, Esq.

Sir William BISHOP, Bart.
George MAY
Thomas POOLE
Thomas DAY

Common-council Men:
William FOSTER
William GOAR
John ELLERY, sen.
George WEST
Edward ELLIS
William GREEN
Joseph MOORE
Stephen Page SEAGER
Charles MEARS
Nicholas SCOTT
William SPRATT
William WIMBLE
William TOWN
George BURR
James Harborough GEERE
Edward ARGLES, jun.

BISHOP Sir William, Bart.
POPE Robert, Gent.

CHERY Rev. Mr.
DENN Rev. Mr.

ALLEN George, Surgeon
CARTER Arnold, Surgeon
CHARLES William,, Surgeon
LAKE Samuel, Druggist
MILNER Thomas, M.D.
STONE John, Surgeon

KATTE Edward, Attorney
ROOTE John, Attorney
WILDES Thomas, Attorney

ALLEN John, victualler
ALLITER John, mason
ADDISON William, tanner
ABBEY Robert, grocer
ATHAWES Samuel, butcher
ARGLES Edward, grocer
ARGLES Thomas, upholsterer
ARCHER William, cornfactor
AVRY John, baker
ATKINS Thomas, carpenter
ALEXANDER Thomas, salesman
ALEXANDER James, victualler (Hoy)
BARNETT William, victualler (White Hart)
BISHOP George & Co. malt-distillers
BLAKE John, stationer
BEECHING Elizabeth, watchmaker
BEECHING John, salesman
BURN Samuel, shoe-warehouse
BRIDGES John, victualler
BEARD James, painter
BELLY Thomas, shoemaker
BATH Squire, cutler
BROOK John, breeches-maker
BOULT John, silk-dyer
BILLINGHAM John, grocer
BENTLIFF George, shoemaker
BRENCHLEY Samuel, grocer
BUMONT Charles, brazier
BLUNDELL Robert, flax-dresser
BENNETT Mrs. boarding-school
BONOLDS William, cork-cutter
BAILEY William, haberdasher
BROWN George, carpenter
BRISLEE George, blacksmith
BROWN John, carpenter
BALDOCK & Co. coal-merchants
BUSENDON James, turner & chair-maker
BURGESS Thomas, brewer
BENCH John, auctioneer
CHALTON Henry, baker
CUTBUSH Peter, victualler
CUTBUSH Henry, carpenter
CUTBUSH William, watchmaker
CUTBUSH Thomas, plumber & glazier
CUTBUSH John, barge-builder
CHALMERS David, stationer
CHAMBERS Samuel, corn-chandler
CROWDER John, cutler
CULIE Samuel, grocer
COUSTIN William, draper
CLIFFORD Robert, blacksmith
CRUTTENDEN Mary, haberdasher
CHEESEMAN John, victualler (3 Tuns)
CARTER Robert, cook's-shop
COLEMAN William, victualler
COLLINS Daniel, whitesmith
COLLINS Robert, seedman
CARDEFIELD George, whitesmith
COLEMAN William, staymaker
CHILTON John, taylor
CHAPLAIN Thomas, shoemaker
CLOUT George, grocer
CRISP William, butcher
COTTRELL George, grocer
CHILTERTON Thomas, baker
COAL Samuel, cork-cutter
CHARLES & Co. felt-manufacturers
DUNN John, Bridewell-keeper
DOBNEY Michael, musician
DAWSON James, leather-cutter
DURANT Joseph, grocer
DOES Robert, tobacconist
DROWLEY & Co. haberdashers
DAVIS Matthew, organist
ELLIS Henry, grocer
ELEY John, draper
EDMEADS Robert, paper-maker
ELDERS Wm. plumber & glazier
ELLIS Edward, tallow-chandler
ELGAR William, grocer
FLETCHER N. milliner
FOWLER Tho. victualler (Red Lion)
FOWLER William, victualler (Castle)
FOWLER Peter, coachmaster
FROST Samuel, carpenter
FINES George, coal-merchant
FRENCH Stephen, ironmonger
GREIER William, victualler (King's Head)
GAMON ___, taylor
GRIST William, seedman
GREEN William, broker
GREEN John, victualler (Golden Lion)
GREEN Mary, saleshop
GODEN Samuel, upholsterer
GULLEN Richard, grocer
GABBLE William, shoemaker
GILES Samuel, bricklayer
GEERE James, linen-draper
GARMAN ___, wheelwright
HARMAN ___, timber-merchant
HILL Walter, baker
HILL John, butcher
HILL Robert, shoemaker
HYDS Thomas, patten-maker
HOWLAND Elizabeth, grocer
HOLINGSWORTH F. linen-draper
HARRIS Walter, hatter
HARRIS Robert, salesman
HAYBOURN James, hair-dresser
HAZELLS Robert, linen-draper
HEATHORNE Robert, brewer
HEATHORNE Robert, malt & coal merchant
HILLWIN John, victualler
HODDAR John, victualler
HODGES Edward, schoolmaster
HOLLOWAY John, victualler
HOLLOWAY Richard, linen-draper
HONEY Edward, thread-maker
HONEY James, baker
HOPKINS George, innkeeper (Bell)
HUGHES John, victualler (King's Head)
HUBBARD Susan, grocer
JACKSON Thomas, gun-maker
JARMAN Catharine, milliner
JEFFRY William, painter
JOHNSON Richard, victualler
JURY Henry, taylor
JURY Elizabeth, glazier
KENNETT John, carpenter
KING John, builder
KINGSNORTH David, thread-maker
LAMBRAY John, victualler (Bull's Head)
LANE David, basket-maker
LAW Benjamin, farrier
LEARES Richard, shoemaker
MANOOCK Daniel, umbrella-maker
MARCH John, shoemaker
MARRINGS Thomas, grocer
MARTIN John, draper
MARTIN James, cooper
MARTIN James, grocer
MARTIN Benjamin, haberdasher
MARTIN Thomas, cooper
MARTIN & Son, sadlers
MASON M. victualler (Unicorn)
MAY George, shoemaker
MAY & Co. brewers
M'CLELAND James, taylor
MERIS Charles, barge-builder
MOLLY Featherstone, taylor
MOORE John, fruiterer
MORGAN Robert, hair-dresser
MUNN George, taylor
NIGHTINGALE Hugh, grocer
OFORD Thomas, staymaker
OLIVER Joseph, leather-cutter
OLIVER, John, corn-chandler
OLIVER Henry, cutler
OVERY William, plumber & glazier
PACKMAN Richard, grocer
PARREN Thomas, tallow-chandler
PALMER & Co. brokers
PEARSE Edward, ironmonger
PETT Thomas, cooper
PETT Robert, breeches-maker
POOLE Thomas, hatter
POOLE James, linen-draper
PETTIT Samuel, victualler (Ship)
POST George, distiller
PARIS Thomas, shoemaker
PAGE John, pastry-cook
PIPE John, millwright
RANDEL William, seedman
READ Mary, victualler (Dark Sun)
READER John, collar-maker
READON Thomas, baker
REEVE John, taylor
REMSLEY Richard, chinaman
RIMINGTON Robert, shoemaker
ROAD Francis, milliner
ROBISON George, grocer
RUSH John, chinaman
RUSSEL Hen. victualler (Rose & Crown)
RUSSEL Robert, butcher
RUSSEL ____, grocer
RUSSEL & Co. grocers
SPRINGET John, draper
STEPHENSON Robert, broker
STEPHENS William, butcher
STEPHENS John, victualler (Royal Oak)
STEPHENS Samuel, distiller
SMITH Thomas, rag-merchant
SMITH Thomas, victualler (Swan)
SMITH Hannah, grocer
SMITH James, Agent to the Sun Fire-office
SHERINGTON Elizabeth, linen-draper
SCOTT Nicholas, watchmaker & silversmith
SPRATT William, innkeeper (Star)
SAGE John, victualler (Nag's Head)
SAGE John, wheelwright
SAGER John, brewer
SWINNOCK James, grocer
SUTTON John, breeches-maker
SAWER Joseph, tallow-chandler
SPENCER John, hatter
SHEPHERD Richard, coal-merchant
TIBLE John, victualler (Two Brothers)
TURELL Sarah, blacksmith
TURELL Richard, hairdresser
TYRELL John, ironmonger
TONSETT & Co. linen-drapers
TANNER William, shoemaker
TIMBURY Henry, cornfactor
TOWN William, coal-merchant
TURNER Wm. victualler (White Lion)
TASELL Thomas, grocer
WEST George, Mitre Tavern
WARRING John, victualler (Crown)
WALHURST Robert, linen-draper
WRIGHT George, baker
WRIGHT Robert, shoemaker
WATKINS Samuel, draper
WOODGATE & SURY, milliners
WILKINS George, shoemaker
WATSON Thomas, jail-keeper
WILSON George, blacksmith
WICKHAM William, grocer
WISE John, brewer
WALLER William, carpenter
WEST Richard, lath-maker
WIMBLE John, coal-merchant
WALKER Mary, milliner

Near to Maidstone is Boxley-abbey, where once stood a famous rood of grace, (as it was called in those popish times) and the image of St. Rumbald, with which the monks played such tricks to pick the people's pockets that they became a public scandal, and thereupon their rood and image were taken from them and broke to pieces at St. Paul's-cross, in 1538, after their cheats and juggles had been there fully exposed.

Six miles from Maidstone is Malling, or Town Malling, called also West Malling (to distinguish it from the village of East Malling which is on the opposite side of the river); it is seated near a brook that runs into the Medway; it has a market on Saturday, and three fairs, August 12, October 2, and November 17. A free-school was founded here above one hundred years ago. This parish was anciently taxed to contribute towards the repair of the third arch or pier of Rochester bridge. Here was formerly an abbey, founded in the time of William Rufus, by Gundulph, bishop of Rochester; it was destroyed by fire together with the whole town in the reign of Richard I. It was soon rebuilt by the nuns, asisted by the contributions of pious persons. This house is most delightfully situated, being washed by a fine rivulet, which rising at the hamlet of St. Leonard, runs by the side of the abbey, and through the gardens. In the meadows above the gardens large square excavations are still visible; these were formerly the fish-ponds for the supply of the nunnery. Although the body of the house was pulled down and rebuilt by Mr. HONEYWOOD, many of the original offices are still remaining, particularly an ancient chapel, some time used as a dissenting meeting-house, but now converted into a dwelling. But, the object most worthy of notice is, a handsome tower of the church, whose front is decorated with intersecting arches and zig-zag ornaments, similar to those on the west front of Rochester cathedral, built also by Bishop GUNDULPH. At some distance west of the abbey is a very ancient stone building coeval with it, and called the old gaol, which has narrow windows and walls of great thickness. Tradition says, this was the prison belonging to the abbey. At present it is used for drying and stowing hops.

Two miles south-east of Malling is Mereworth-castle, formerly the seat of Lord LE DESPENCER, but afterwards let to James BUTLER Esq. a fine piece of architecture, designed by Colin CAMPBELL, in imitation of a house in Italy built by the famous PALLADIO. It is a square, extending 88 feet, and has four porticoes of the Ionic order. In the middle there rises above the roof a semi-circular dome, which has two shells; the one forms the stucco ceiling of the saloon, being 36 feet in diameter; the outward shell is carpentry, covered with lead. Between these two shells is a strong brick arch, that brings 24 funnels to the lantern, which is finished with copper; but by this contrivance the misfortune is that the chimneys often smoke.

On a rising ground, within a mile and a half of Aylesford is an antiquity, vulgarly called Kettscotty-house, consisting of four great stones, of that kind called Kentish rag, and then deemed the tomb of CATIGARN, brother of VORTIGERN, king of the Britons, slain in battle and there buried. This ancient remain is situated about a quarter of a mile to the right of the great road leading from Rochester to Maidstone; two of these stones are set parallel; a third at the west end, perpendicular to these two, and closing the end; the fourth, which is the largest is laid transversely over, but neither mortified, nor parallel to the horizon, but reclines towards the west in an angle of nine degrees. Perhaps the east end, now open, was formerly closed, as at about 70 yards to the north-west lies another large stone of the same sort and form.

Between Maidstone and Canterbury, is Lenham, at the source of the Len, nine miles from Maidstone, and 48 from London. It has a market on Tuesday, and fairs June 6 and October 23. In relation to this place, the right reverend continuator of Camden records the following extraordinary circumstance:- "At Lenham (says he) is a thing exceeding remarkable, mentioned on the tomb of Robert THOMPSON Esq. in the church there, who was grandchild to that truly religious matron, Mary HONEYWOOD, wife of Robert HONEYWOOD Esq. of Charing. She had at her decease, lawfully descended from her, 367 children; 16 from her own body, 114 grandchildren, 228 in the third generation, and nine in the fourth. Her renown liveth with her posterity; her body lieth in the church, and her monument may be seen in Mark's Hall in Essex where she died.

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The Universal British Directory 1791 - Maidstone
Created by Maureen Rawson