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Author Topic: 1790 Account of Brompton & Gillingham  (Read 2482 times)

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Offline Leofwine

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    • Brompton History Research Group
1790 Account of Brompton & Gillingham
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2010, 23:03:21 »
I've just been looking at a partial transcription of the Universal British Directory for 1790. I thought it was an interesting description and thought it might be of interest to others too as it is earlier than many of the desriptions I have seen of the area.

"This is a place of some trade, though not a market town. It has a fair on the 22 May. It is partly in the parish of Chatham and partly in that of Gillingham. It is situated on an eminence and commands a pleasing view of the river, in its various directions. One row of houses, in particular is called, from its agreeable situation Prospect Row. Brompton, from its vicinity to the yard has much increased of late years in population and extent. The streets are wide and clean, for, lying on a declivity; the water is soon carried off. Behind and on each side of Brompton is a tract of land called the Works on which had formally been redoubts and a line of circumvallation was in the last war thrown up, by way of security to the Dockyard: which is now under very comfortable improvements; several out works are also erected for the more essential security of that important arsenal. Near Brompton are very commodious barracks for the reception of soldiers, which are reckoned the most healthy in England. In the summer of 1778 barracks were also erected for the reception of the marines. It owes principal support to the officers residing here and at Chatham; and is much resorted to be genteel company, having balls, assemblies, etc. in abundance. There are two castles on the shore near Brompton, opposite to each other, the one at Upnor, the other called Gillingham castle. Both designed to guard two reaches of the river; besides, at a place called The Swamp, a fort now, known by the name of Birds Nest Fort, and another at Cockham Wood, all which (though they might be made of great service in times of war, in case of such another daring attempts as the Dutch made upon the Royal Navy in this river on the 22nd of June 1667) are now quite neglected. It is 30 miles from London, and adjoining Chatham."

"Within a mile of Brompton, is the village of Gillingham. In the church are several monuments erected to the memory of eminent persons, some of which are as early as 1431. Over the porch at the West end is a niche in which stood the image of the famous Lady of Gillingham. This manor was formally in the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had a palace and frequently resided here; in the chapel of which, some bishops appear to have been consecrated. Some vestiges of the palace are still to be seen part of it being converted into a barn. Besides the manor of Gillingha
m and several others in this parish, there is that of Grange, with in the reign of William the Conqueror, was in the possession of Lord HASTINGS; in the reign of Henry iii was held by a descendent of that family on a tenure of finding two oars fro the ship which should carry the King from Dover to Whitsand near Calais. This manor is a member of the port of Hastings, one of the Cinque Ports. It must have been held in considerable estimation, since, out of the twenty one ships to be furnished by that port, the owner of this manor was to provide seven, with his men in armour. The manors of Lidsing and Twidale had each their separate chapels, in which divine service used to be performed, but, these having gone into decay, the few inhabitants of these small districts repair to Gillingham Church. This village, on account of its vicinity to the Medway, was much exposed to the depredation of the Danes. History gives an account of a battle having been fought here between Canute, a leader of the lawless plunderers, and Edmond Ironside, in which the former was worsted. At Gillingham, on the banks of the river, is a small fort, originally intended to annoy the ships of any hostile invader. It is, at present, a fortification of no strength or consequence. The white spire which appears on the opposite side of the river is the steeple of Hoo church. Two miles farther is the village of Rainham. In the church, the steeple of which is a strong ancient building are several ancient monuments, particularly an elegant marble statue of Nicholas TUFTON, Earl of Thanet, and, under one of the chapels is a curious vault which belongs to this family."

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