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warriors gave large estates for keeping it in repair, which are still employed for that purpose under the direction of two wardens and twelve assistants, chosen from among the inhabitants of Rochester and the neighbourhood.
The records and muniments belonging to the Bridge estates, are deposited in a neat stone building at the east end, called the Bridge Chamber.
Having thus given an account of the Cities in this county, we proceed to describe its Towns and Villages in alphabetical order.
ASHFCRD, A respectable town, with a population of 2773 persons, is situated on a pleasant eminence near the river Stour, over which it has a stone bridge of four arches, 54 miles from London. The church is a large and handsome fabric, with a lofty tower, and was almost entirely rebuilt in the reign of Edward IV. by Sir John Fogge, whose tomb is on the north side of the altar, and had formerly brass figures of himself and his two wives. There are also several other monuments in the church and an adjoining chapel, the most remarkable of which is one to the memory of Elizabeth, Countess of Athol, who died in 1375. The church is neatly fitted up, and has five ancient seats on each side the chancel; and a curiously ornamented font.
This town had formerly a College, founded by the above Sir J. Fogge, for certain priests, who were to pray for the souls of himself, his wife, the King, and those persons who had fallen in defence of the House of York. This College was afterwards dissolved, and the building appropriated to the residence of the Vicar, to which use it is still applied. Here is also a free Grammar School, founded in the time of Charles I. by Sir N. Knatchbull; and several minor charities. A neat chapel for Dissenters has been erected, and is well attended.
The town is well built, and has a good Market House; the market days are every alternate Tuesday; and considerable business is done, particularly in the corn trade.
AYLESFORD is a pleasant village, three miles from Maidstone, and has a handsome Church, containing several monuments. The village consists principally of one wide street, and is remarkable on account of several battles having been fought in its neighbourhood, particularly one in 455, between the Britons and Saxons, in which the former were victorious, and Horsa, the brother of Hengist, was slain. In a second battle Alfred defeated the Danes with great loss; and to this town Edmund Ironside pursued another body of those invaders, whom he had routed at Otford, and whom he might here have totally destroyed but for the treachery of Edric, Duke of Mercia. About a mile from Aylesford stands the celebrated Cromlech called Kit's Coty House, supposed to designate the burial place of Catigern, brother to Vortimer, the British King, who was slain in the first mentioned conflict. It is composed of three immeuse stones standing on end, but inclining inwards, and supporting a fourth in a transverse position, so as to form a covered recess.
Their dimensions and estimated weight are nearly as follows:
Weight Several very large stones, which once formed another cromlech, lie at a short distance from the above; and many ancient weapons, spurs, &c. have been found, in digging on the Downs in the neighbourhood. Sir Charles Sedley, equally celebrated for his wit and licentiousness, was born at the Friary of Aylesford, the ancient seat of his family, in 1639; and Sir Paul Rycaut, the Eastern traveller, was buried here in 1700.
BARHAM Downs, at a short distance from Canterbury, are celebrated for the remains of ancient encampments still observable on them, and the great number of Roman coins, urns, arms, &c. which have been discovered by digging. This spot has also, in more modern times, been the scene of warlike preparations, if not of battles ; King John, in 1213, as
sembled a large army here to oppose the threatened invasion of Philip of France; here Simon de Montfort collected his forces, in the reign of Henry III.; and during the late war, camps have been frequently formed here. There is an extensive Race Course on these Downs, and the County Races, which take place annually in August, are well attended.
BECKENHAM is a village, eight miles from London, with a small Church, having a tower and spire at the west end. Here is an alms-house and a charity school; the population is 1180,
BEXLEY is a neat village, about three miles from Dartford. Its Church is ancient, and contains some curious monuments. On the Heath in this neighbourhood are several handsome houses, enjoying a rich and varied prospect. The population of this place and BLENDEN, a hamlet about a mile and a half distant, is 2311.
BLACKHEATH, celebrated in history as the spot on which Wat Tyler's insurgent forces assembled in 1381, is now more pleasantly distinguished by the number of elegant villas which adorn it. The Roman road, called Watling Street, crossed this Heath in its way from London to Dover, and many remains of antiquity have been found here. A large artificial cavern, divided into seven apartments, one of which contains a well of very fine water, was discovered in 1780 on the northern side of the Heath, and is much visited by holiday travellers from the metropolis; its original destination is unknown. On the eastern side of the Heath is a munificent establishment, called Morden College, founded by Sir John Morden, in 1695, for the reception and maintenance of thirty decayed Turkey merchants, each of whom was to be allowed 40s. a month, beside coals, candles, &c.; it has since received additional benefactions, and is now open to decayed merchants generally. The views from this Heath are enchanting, particularly from that part called the Point.
BOXLEY, a village about two miles from Maidstone, was once famous for its Abbey, founded in 1146, which possessed the celebrated“ Rood of Grace,” which by means of ingenious machinery was made to frown or smile on its worshippers, in a most miraculous manner, according to the amount of their oblations, and hence became a fertile source of revenue to the monks. At the time of the Dissolution the imposture was discovered and exposed, and the Rood itself was burnt at St. Paul's Cross, in London, before a great assemblage of people, on Sunday, February 24, 1538. Very small remains of the Abbey are now to be seen; the Church is large, and contains several monuments to members of the family of Sir Thomas Wyat, to whom the possessions of the Abbey were granted by Henry VIII.
BROADSTAIRS is a well-known watering place in the Isle of Thanet, pleasantly situated about three miles from Margate; and possesses many attractions for those persons who prefer tranquillity to noise and bustle. It has two reading rooms, baths, an assembly, room, and good accommodation of every kind for visitors. Its parish church is St. Peter's, a venerable edifice, about one mile distant, surrounded by a small village to which it gives name.
The tower of the church serves as a sea mark, and is rent from top to bottom, on the east and west sides, it is said by an earthquake in the reign of Elizabeth. The population of Broadstairs and St. Peter's, in 1821, was 2101, but has considerably increased since that period.
BROMLEY, A respectable market town, 94 miles from London, has a spacious ancient Church, which was partly rebuilt in 1792, and contains many monuments, among which are those of five Bishops of Rochester, and of Dr. Hawkesworth, author of the Adventurer, &c. The manor was given to the see of Rochester by Ethelbert, King of Kent, in the eighth century, and still continues attached to it; and here is the only episcopal residence of the Bishops. The present edifice is a plain brick building, and was erected by Bishop Thomas in 1777. In its grounds is a spring, called St. Blase's Well, the waters of which are reported to possess similar virtues to those of Tunbridge Wells,
The College, founded by Bishop Warner in 1666, for the maintenance of twenty widows of loyal and orthodox clergymen, has, by subsequent benefactions, been much enlarged, and now receives forty widows, those on the Bishop's foundation being allowed £30 10s. each per annum, and the others £20 each, with coals, candles, &c. A chaplain is attached to the establishment, with a salary of about £90. The buildings are plain, but pleasantly situated at the entrance of the town from London.
Bromley has also a Charity School, a large Workhouse, and an ancient Market House. The market, on Thursday, is well supplied; and the population, in 1821, was 3147,
BROMPTON is a village very near Chatham, which has arisen from the overflowing population of the latter place, and is almost entirely dependent on it for support; in common with the parent town it has suffered from the want of occupation occasioned by the restoration of
CHARING is on the high road between Ashford and Maidstone, about 13 miles from the latter. This manor was a very ancient possession of the Archbishops of Canterbury, who had a palace here, of which considerable ruins still remain, now occupied as a farm house, barns, &c. The manor and palace were seized by Henry VIII., and are now private property. The Church is a handsome building, in the form of a cross, having a large tower at the west end, built in the time of Edward IV.; population, 1103.
CHATHAM An extensive and populous town, adjoining Rochester, is principally distinguished by its magnificent Dock Yard, Arsenals, and Fortifications, although it is of very ancient date, and in the time of Edward the Confessor belonged to the powerful Earl Godwin. The Dock was formed here in the reign of Elizabeth; and Camden describes it as “ stored for the finest fleet the sun ever beheld; and ready at a minute's warning;” this Dock, however, being afterwards found too small for the purpose, was converted into an Ordnance Wharf, and the present Dock