ANTIQUITIES: From the vicinity of Chatham to Rochester, which was undoubtedly a `station’ in the time of the Romans, the summit of the hill to the north of the town must have been necessary to them for the safety of their station. Indeed, many discoveries have been made, giving sufficient proof that it was not neglected by them. In throwing up the lines of fortification for the defence of the dock-yard at Brompton, in the year 1756, on the west side, a little below the summit of the hill, near Upbery farm, were found ten or twelve graves, in which were human skeletons, and in some of them different pieces of armour, a part of a helmet, the head of a spear, the umbo of a shield, a large sword, many beads of different colours, etc. and in one of them a bottle made of red earth, resembling in shape, a modern water bottle. Great numbers of Roman coins have been found in various directions at this place, and probably many tumuli, which the plough has long ago levelled. On the breaking up the ground for the making of Amhurst’s redoubt, in 1779, about 40 rods W.N.W. from Upbery-farm, in a line with Chatham Church, the workmen met with the strong foundation of a building, in some parts not more than five inches below the surface; its depth was about 6 ½ feet, the width 12 feet, and in length about 18 feet. This foundation appeared to be the outside of several small cells or rooms lying in a range S.S.E. ; one of which was in size 9 feet by 7 feet, another 10 feet square. The floors were of sand, about 4 ½ feet below the surface; the inside of the walls were done in the ancient fresco, with red, blue, and green spots; and among the rubbish many pieces were found with broad red and other coloured narrow stripes. On the adjoining ground, as well as in sinking the ditch to the southward of them, many human bones have been found, pieces of Roman brick and tile, numbers of Roman coins, among which was one of the Empress Faustina, and one of the Emperor Claudius, with a variety of broken urns, lachrymatories, etc. On the W.S.W. side of these cells the foundations of a larger building was discovered, which was traced within the redoubts as far as the bank of earth thrown out of the ditch would permit. The sepulchral fragments, belonging to persons of both sexes, shew that it was a common place of burial, as well for their station at Rochester, as for their summer camp, established here or near thereto. Mr. Douglas, in his `Nenia Britannica’, has published his observation on the various Roman remains discovered within these lines at various times, with several engravings of the tumili opened, and the contents found in them. Besides the Roman coins, a great number of Old English, French, and German coins, and many different tradesmen’s tokens, have been found.
Chatham gave the title of Baron to John the Great, Duke of Argyle, who was, in 1705, created Baron of Chatham, and Earl of Greenwich. In 1719 he was created Duke of Greenwich; and dying in October, 1743, without male issue, the title became extinct. The lady Hester Pitt, wife of the Right Hon. William Pitt, in consequence of his great and important services to this nation, was in 1761 created Baroness of Chatham, with a continuance of the title to her and her heirs male by her said husband. On July 30th, 1766, the above mentioned Riight Hon. William Pitt, on a further consideration of his services, was created Viscount Pitt, of Burton Pynsett, in Somersetshire, and Earl of Chatham, with remainder to his heirs’ male. He died in 1778, leaving by the Lady Hester, his wife, John Earl of Chatham.
BROMPTON, is a considerable hamlet, partly in this parish, and partly in the parish of Gillingham. It adjoins Chatham on the north east side of the town, and is pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill; the population is chiefly employed in the dock-yard; and the extensive barracks already noticed with Chatham, with the Naval Hospital, are situated in this hamlet, which is included within the fortifications called the Chatham lines. It contains many genteel houses, chiefly inhabited by military officers, several good inns, and some respectable shops in different branches of trade. The Roman Catholics have a chapel, with a day-school annexed. The Wesleyans have a chapel and Sunday-school in Manor street, and also a small chapel at New Brompton. The Directory will be found to follow that of Chatham.
ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL: There seems to be no precise evidence in existence of the foundation or endowment of this Hospital; an account is given of it in Hasted’s `History of Kent,’ taken principally from other historical works, the substance of which may be stated shortly as follows :- “That it was founded by Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, in 1078, and was originally instituted as a lazar-house, and consisted of a master, brethren, and sisters, the number, as it is stated, being nowhere specified; that the prior and chapter of St. Andrew, in Rochester, were ordained a corporation, distinct from the priory, and demised their estates under the common seal.” It is further stated that, in the Reign of James I., a grant of the property of this Hospital being made by the Crown to the Viscount of Doncaster, legal proceedings were had, which were ultimately compromised, and the property restored to the Hospital. A further account of these proceedings in the Textus Roffense, p.224, from which it appears that the master and brethren of the Hospital were obliged to grant leases of their property on fines for the purpose of paying the expenses they had incurred in defending their rights, and by way of compromise with the parties who had obtained possession under the grantees. Amongst the papers in the possession of the dean of Rochester, the present master or patron, is a copy of the survey of 37th Henry VIII., in the margin of which the Hospital is entitled “The Hospital of the parish of Chatham, called St. Bartholomew, `pro lazaris hominibus fundat.’” The annual income of this charity, in 1836, amounted to £2,951.5s. 4d., chiefly arising from rentals of property in Chatham and Rochester. There is also a sum of £1,200.7s. Three per Cent. Consols, the produce of purchase money, on a sale many years ago, of part of the estates for some public purpose, the dividends of which £36.0s.2d are received by the dean of Rochester. Out of the income, the clear yearly sum of £27 is paid to each of the brethren, and the residue of the income, arising from the rents, fines, and dividends, is received by the dean to his own use. The emoluments derived from the Hospital have been considered as inseparable from the deanery. Though there is but little evidence as to the object of this foundation, and or any poor persons having ever received the benefit of it, yet it was deemed by the Charity Commissioners a fit subject for the consideration of the Attorney-General. The institution consists of five persons; the patron, or master, which office is held by the dean of Rochester for the time being, without any specific appointment, and four brethren, two clerical and two laymen. With regard to the old Hospital now used as a chapel, by indenture bearing date 29th January, 1735, reciting that a lease had been granted by the brethren of the said Hospital, with the consent of the patron, to William Walter, of two messuages and gardens in Chatham, for 40 years, from Michaelmas then last, at the yearly rent of 3s., that the said William Walter had purchased the same, to the intent to lay one of the said messuages into St. Bartholomew’s chapel, and to enlarge and fit up the same for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Chatham, resorting thither to hear divine service, and to settle the residue of the premises for pious uses, subject to the disposition of the said dean and his successors, to let the same and pay the reserved rent, or so much as should be necessary, for repairing the premises, and the surplus to such pious uses, in respect of the enlargement or ornament of the chapel, as the dean and his successors should appoint.
SIR JOHN HAWKIN’S HOSPITAL, situated in High-street, is composed of low brick buildings, forming three sides of a small quadrangle. It was founded in 1592, for the relief and support of poor mariners and shipwrights who should have served in or for the Royal Navy, and should be wounded, maimed, or reduced to want or poverty, each inmate to have a weekly allowance of 2s. The founder directed, that if any man eligible according to the charter, should be married, his wife (being at least 50 years of age), should be taken with him into the Hospital, both to be relieved there as one single pensioner, and, if she should outlive her husband, that she should have the whole pension as long as she should remain single; but if any man, after his election should take a wife, that he should lose his place. The endowment consists of a farm in Essex, producing £150 per annum, two houses in Chatham, £65 per annum, the rectorial tithes of East Wickham, £160, and dividends, amounting to £66 per annum, arising from a sum of £2,200 consols, standing in the names of the Governors, making a gross sum of £441 per annum.
The person acting as the six principal masters of the navy, are the masters of the principal dock-yards in the neighbourhood, and the master shipwrights of Chatham, Sheerness, and Woolwich, as answering to the description of the principal shipwrights of the navy , these are appointed governors, at best answering the description contained in the charter.
There are 12 inmates and 2 out-pensioners, and there is paid to every single man and every married couple 8s. a week, and to every widow 7s. a week, and each tenement is provided with one chaldron and a half of coal; on the death of any one of the inmates, £1.11s.6d is allowed for the funeral expenses. The only other payments out of the income are a salary of £4 allowed the deputy-governor, and insurance of the hospital, and of the Essex farm, and some incidental expenses of small amount. The income is much more than sufficient to provide for these payments, but it is not though advisable to increase the stipends of the present inmates, most of whom have pensions for their services, and do not require any additional allowance.
WATTS’ CHARITY, see Rochester. Under the proceedings which took place in the Court of Chancery, about £1,100 was decreed to the city part of Chatham, and after paying all expenses, the residue was invested in the purchase of £1,286.0s.2d. consols. Two thirty second parts of the income of the estate, and the dividends of the stock are applied in paying the rates of all persons whose assessments are under £5; and if there is any surplus, to those who are rated above that sum in equal proportions.
SIR EDMUND GREGORY, Knt., in 1710, bequeathed £100, the interest thereof to be distributed among the most necessitous families of the town of Chatham. The amount was invested in South Sea Stock, which was afterwards sold out for £750; of this sum, £675 was laid out in the purchase of 32 acres of land, in the parish of Burham; at the inclosure 5A. 2R. were allotted to the guardians as the owners of the said farm. The rent, £30 per annum, is expended in bread, and distributed to the most deserving poor in the town.
RALPH PAINE, by will, 1812, bequeathed £7,000 consols, in trust, thereout to pay for the erecting a monument to his memory in Chatham Church, and for the erecting of certain almshouses. He also bequeathed £8,000 four per cent. annuities; and directed the dividends to be applied in aid of poor married householders. A further sum of £7,000 consols was bequeathed by the same donor, to apply the dividends weekly in the purchase of wheaten bread, to be distributed to the most necessitous in the parish. Soon after the death of the testator, suits were instituted in the Court of Chancery; in the course of these proceedings, the bequests for the erection of the almshouses, and for the payment of pensions to poor married persons, were declared void. Of the four per cent stock, £1,300 was transferred into the name of the Accountant General, to an account entitled “The Bread Account for 20 old widows.” The proceedings in Chancery were concluded, and the cost incurred therein paid in 1828. The stock now standing on the bread account for 20 old widows is £1,277. Three and a half per cents, producing £44.13s.8d., and on the other account, £9,297.0s.3d. Three per cent consols, producing annually £278. 18s.2d. A distribution of bread is made every Sunday in the Church to 20 poor widows. In respect of the latter sum, a distribution of bread is made every Tuesday and Saturday to 60 poor persons; clothes and coals are also given in addition to the bread.
ANNE PHILIPPS, in 1799, bequeathed £300 four per cents the dividends to be given to widows and orphan children of deceased shipwrights, who should at the time of their death be serving as such at the dock-yard at Chatham. The dividends amount to £10.10s., of which two-thirds are given to those whose husbands died at Chatham, and one-third are given to those whose husbands died in Gillingham. The poor of this parish, also partake of John Hoar’s gift, see Gillingham.