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then lord high admiral of England, and the then principal officers of the navy, voluntarily and charitably give and bestow, and consented to have defalked out of their monthly wages for ever, the following sums, viz. Out of the wages of every mariner, seaman, and shipwright, receiving ten shillings per month, or more, 6d. per month; out of the wages of every grommet receiving seven shillings and sixpence per month, 4d. per month; and out of the wages of every boy receiving five shillings per month, 3d. per month :-for the perpetual relief of such mariners, seamen, shipwrights, and seafaring men, as, by reason of hurts and maims received in the service, were driven into great distress and want."
After having been established at this place for such a length of time, it was lately removed to Greenwich Hospital, in consequence of sundry abuse which had long subsisted in the distsibution of the charity. The principal abuses on which the commissioners recommended the removal and the placing it under the direction of the first lord of the Admiralty, the comptroller of the Navy, and the governor and other officers of Greenwich Hospital, arose from the destructive system of agency, by which the pensioners were generally deprived of a considerable share of their allowances. The estates of the chest were also let at considerable under value, and in some instances proved a real loss, instead of contributing to augment the funds: these, therefore, the commissioners recommended to be sold, and the produce to be vested in the funds. The stock now belonging to the chest in the Three per Cent. Consolidated Annuities, amounts to nearly 300,0001. of which 10,0001. was given a few years ago by a person unknown, who at the same time bestowed a like sum on Greenwich Hospital.
Chatham has a market on Saturday, and two fairs on May 15, and September 19.
This place has the honour of giving titles of nobility to two distinguished families. John Campbell, duke of Argyll, was created by queen Anne, in 1704, baron of Cható hain and earl of Greenwich; upon his grace's decease in 5
1743, this barony became extinct; but was revived at the commencement of the reigu of George III. in the person of lady Hester Pitt, sister of earl Temple, and wife of the great statesman of that name, for “ his great and important services;" and in July 30, 1766, Kis majesty called Mr. Pitt to the House of Peers, by the title of Viscount Pitt of Burton Pynsent, and earl of Chatham. On his lordship's decease in 1778, his eldest son, brother to the accomplished and honest statesman, the late right honourable William Pitt, succeeded to his father's and mother's honours, and is the present earl and baron of Chatham, viscount Pitt, &c.
Returning to Rochester, we pass from the High Street to the road, which consists of a varied way of wood and bill the length of seven miles. That part at Boxley Hill, displaying a grand and unbounded scene of beautiful landscape. That portion near Aylesford is pleasant, fertile, and healthy; diversified with bill and valley, and beautifully varied with wood and water.
AYLESFORD is too large for a village, and too small for a town; the chief street is spacious, the houses on the banks of the Medway are mean dwellings; it has, however, a handsome BRIDGE of six arches, built by Sir William Sedley, who also founded an hospital here in 1607 for six poor couple, each to be allowed 10l. per annum.
This place was called in Saxon ÆGELESFORD, and in Domesday Book it is denominated ELESFORD. In the reign of king John the antient demesne was held by the crown, the manor, however, was the inheritance of Osbert Gipford; the demesne was granted by Henry III, to Richard, lord Grey of Codnor, who, for his fidelity to king John, had been previously entrusted with constabulary of Dover Castle, and the wardenship of the Cinque Ports. Radulphus Frisburn, who had accompanied this lord to the Holy Land, founded, under his patronage, in Aylesford Wood, during 1240, the first priory of Carmelites in England; and the houses of this order increased so rapidly in all parts of Christendom, that in 1215 a general chapter of Ff 2
the order was held at Aylesford, in which John Stock, who had lived many years in a hollow tree, was chosen superior of the fraternity.
In the following year, Jord Grey erected a second priory of the same order, on the south side of Fleet Street, in London. Richard, his great grandson, in the fourth of Ed. ward the Third, obtained a charter for a weekly market for this manor, with liberty of free-warren in all his demesne lands here. Grey was much addicted to the study of chemistry, and bad license from Edward the Fourth, to
practise the transmutation of metals.' This manor after. wards passed through the Zouch and Cornwall families, to that of Wyatt, who having lost it by the attainder of Sir Thomas, queen Mary granted it to Sir Robert Southwell of Mercworth, in reward for his services in quelling the insurrection.
The site and demosne of the priory were given, by queen Elizabeth, to one of the family of SEDLEY*, who converted the buildings into a residence, Sir William Sedley, bart. sold his estate, in the reign of Charles I. to Sir Peter Rycaut, knt, whose youngest son, Sir Paul Rycaut, was the celebrated Eastern traveller, and author of the
* Sir Charles Sedley, the poet and dramatist, who became so noted for his wit and gallantry in the licentious days of Charles the Second, was the posthumous son of Sir John Sedley, (who was sheriff of Kent in the nineteenth of James the First,) and was born at Aylesford Friary about the year 1639. The brilliancy of his parts was so great, that king Charles is said to have told him, that “ Nature had given him a patent to be Apollo's viceroy." He married Catherine, third daughter of John, earl Rivers, by whom he had an only daughter, also named Catherine, who was debauched, and created countess of Dorchester, by James the Second. Sir Charles was much incensed at this disgrace; and though he had received various favours from Jantes, took a very active part in for warding the Revolution. His answer to the accusation of deserting bis royal master is well known: “Since his majesty," said he, "has made my daughter a countess, it is fit that I should do all I can to make his daughter a queen.” He died about the beginning of the reign of queen Anne. His works were collected and published in two volumes, 8vo. 1719. His verses have mostly an immoral tendency; but possess much Softness, and elegance of language.
** State of the Ottoman Empire:” he was buried near his parents, in the south chancel of Aylesford church. In 1699, this estate fell to the honourable Heneage Finch, afterwards earl of Aylesford. The late countess dowager made it her constant residence till her death.
The church is a handsome building, dedicated to St. Peter; it contains memorials of the Aylesford branch of the Finch family; and of the families of Colepepper, Duke, Banks, Rycaut, and Sedley. The monument of Sir JOHN Banks, bart. who died in 1699, æt. seventy-two, has his effigies in marble, and that of his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Dethjck. The situation of this fabric, in re. spect to the village, (wbich principally consists of one wide street,) is singular, as the ground rises so suddenly, that a person standing on the north side of the church-yard, may look down the chimnies of the houses.
This parish has been the scene of several battles, the most memorable of which was fought in the year 455, between the Britons, under Vortimer, and the Saxons, under Hengist and Horsa ; the Britons obtained the victory, but Catigern, brother to Vortimer, was among the slain *.
# The burial-place of Catigern is commonly supposed to be pointed out by the well-known Cromlech, called Kit's Coty House, which stands on the Downs about one mile north-eastward from Aylesford church. It is composed of four huge stones unwrought; three of them standing on end, but inclined inwards, and supporting the fourth, which lies transversely over them, so as to leave an open recess beneath. The dimensions and weight of these stones are nearly as follow: height of that on the south side, eight feet; breadth, seven aud a half; thickness, two feet; weight, eight tons: height of that on the north, seven feet; breadth, seven and a half; thickness, two feet; weight, eight tons and a half: the middle stone is very irregular; its medium length, as well as breadth, may be about five feet; its thickness, fourteen inches; and its weight, about two tons: the upper stone, or impost, is also extremely irregular, its greatest length being nearly twelve feet, and its breadth about pine and a quarter; its thickness, two feet; and its weight, about ten tons and a half. The width of the recess at bottom is nine feet; at top, seven and a half: the height from the ground to the upper side of the covering-stone, is nine feet. About seventy yards towards the north
Horsa was also killed on the spot, and was buried, accord. ing to Bede's History, in the east part of this county, where his monument is yet to be seen, bearing his name. The second battle is recorded by Lambard, to have been at this place, called FERN-HAM, between Alfred and the Danes, when the latter were defeated, and “ compelled to take the Thames without boat or bridge, in which passage there were a great number of them drowned.”
west was another single stone, of a similar kind and dimensions to those forming the Cromlech: this, which is thought to have once stood upright, has been broken into pieces, and removed.
At the distance of about five hundred yards south by east from Kit's Coty House, has been another Cromlech, consisting of eight or ten | stones, now lying in a confused heap, it having been thrown down about
the beginning of the last century, by order of the then proprietor of the land, who is said to have intended sending the stones to pave the garrison at Sheerness, after they had been broken to pieces. This design was pre vented by the extreme hardness of the stones, which are of the same kind with those of the other Cromlech, and, together with them, were most probably dug up in the immediate vicinity, as the soil for same distance round, is found to abound with similar huge and independent masses. Still nearer to Aylesford, and within one hundred yards from the road of Tottington farm house, (formerly the site of a mansion, and moated round,) is a remarkable stone, called, by Dr. Stukeley, the Coffin from its shape: its length is upwards of fourteen feet; its breadth, about six; and its thickness, two feet,
Much has been written in regard to the real designation of these Cromlechs, but more especially of that called Kit's Coty House. The long-established opinion, that the latter was the monument of Catigern, was first contested by Mr. Colebrooke, (treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries,) who, in the second volume of the Archæologia, without “the least footsteps," as Mr. Pegge afterwards observed in the fourth volume of the same work, “from etymology, or otherwise, except the vague and uncertain passage in Bede," inclined to suppose it the tomb of Horsa; and, in contradiction to the general tradition, removed the burial-place of Catigern to the Druidical Circle at Addington, about eight miles further to the west, and on the opposite side of the Medway. llis conjectures, however, have made but few converts; and the current opinion still in. clines to the belief, that the Saxon chieftain was buried at Horsted, (a farm abont three miles from Rochester, and just within the liberties of that city,) which, says Philipott, in echo to Lambard, “burrows its