J. Charles (John Charles) Cox.

Canterbury; a historical and topographical account of the city online

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J • CI) arle s Cox



ancient Cities

General Editor: B. C. A. VVindle, F.R.S,, F.S.A.



CANTERBURY

A HISTORICAL AND TOPOGRAPHICAL
ACCOUNT OF THE CITY



CANTERBURY

A HISTORICAL AND

TOPOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT

OF THE CITY



WRITTEN BY
J. CHARLES COX

LL.D., F.S.A.

ILLUSTRATED BY
B. C. BOULTER




►:- pyir-BJEK ►> CR>lJKS - RjEN"':<



LONDON
METHUEN AND CO.



First Published in igos



LIBRARY
UMVEKSn Y OF CALIFORNIA

SANTA BAIi^AflA



IN PIAM MEMORIAM VIKI RKVERENDISSIWI,

EDVARDI WHITE BENSON,

QL'I CUM ECCLESI^ ANGLICANiE ACCURATE

ET SAPIENTER PRAEFUIT, TUM INTER

CURAS MAXniAS HUIC OPUSCULO

BENIGNISSIME FAVERE

VAIAUT



CONTENTS



CHAP. PAGE

PREFACE Xiii

I. THE EARLY HISTORY OF CANTERBURY ... 1

II. SAXON CHRISTIANITY ...... 13

III. MEDIEVAL CANTERBl RY ...... 83

IV. CANTERBURY OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY . . 79

V. CANTERBURY UNDER THE STUARTS AND COMMON-
WEALTH . . . . . . . .116

VI. CANTERBURY OF THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH

CENTURIES . . . . . . .139

VII. THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH . . . . ,159

VIII. THE MONASTIC BUILDINGS OF CHRIST CHURCH . . 198

IX. ST. Augustine's and other religious houses . 209

X. THE hospitals ....... 235

XI. THE CHURCHES ....... 247

XII. THE CASTLE, WALLS, AND GATES .... 261

XIII. PUBLIC BUILDINGS ....... 272

XIV. DOMESTIC BUILDINGS ...... 278

APPENDIX — ITINERARY ...... 290

INDEX 297



IX



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



The Angel Steeple . . . .




Frontispiece


Effigy of Archbishop Benson




Vignette


WOKTHGATE ......






. 1


Walloon Flagon . . . . .






. 12


Ethelbert's Tower . . . .






. 13


St. Martin's Church . . . .






21


Saxon AVork, St. Mildred's






. 27


Saxon Work, St. Dunstan's






. 28


The Font, St. Martin's






. 30


The Norman Staircase






. 32


Armour : the Black Prince's Tomb






. 33


St. Anselm's Tower . . . .






. 34


The Martyrdom . . . . .






. 39


The Arundel Tower .






58


The Nave of the Cathedral






. 64


In the Moat ....






. -. 77


Christ-Church Gate






. 78


Roper Gateway ....






. 79


In St. Dunstan's ....






. 115


Old Burgate ....






. 116


The Lavatory Tower .






. 133


Old Ridingate ....






. 138


Tower of St. Alphege






. 139


The Dark Entry






. 147


Old Newingate ....






. 158


1'atriarchal Chair






. 159


In the Crypt ....






. 161


Crypt Capital ....






. 162



Arcade in the Quire .

St. Thomas's Shrine

St. Thomas's Tomb

In St. Michael's Chapel

In the Quire

The Cathedral Font •

The West Towers

Cloister Alley

Cix)isTERs : North

Infirmary Ruins .

Old Northgate .

St. Augustine's Abbey

Chair of St. Augustine

The Greyfriars House

St. Augustine's : The Quad .

St, John's Hospital

The Black Prince's Well

Poor Priests' Hospital

St. Mary Magdalen, Burgate

Font-Crane, St. Alphege's

The Altar, St. Dunstan's

Westgate

Old Wincheap Gate .

Cathedral and City VFall

West Gate, from Within

The Castle .

Austin Friars

The Black Friars

Birthplace of Marlowe

In High Street .



165
169
170
182
184
187
195
198
200
203
207
208
209
229
233
234
235
246
247
256
259
260
261
265
266
271
272
277
278
287



PLANS

Canterbury Cathedral and Priory Buildings . 196-7

Plan of the City 288-9



XI



' And specilly from every shire's end
Of Engle-land to Canterbury they wend.'



PREFACE

Ix 1884, the year after his translation from Truro to
Canterbury, I was asked by Dr. Edward White
Benson to write a short history of the City of Canter-
bury, as the Archbishop was not able to lay his
hands on any one book that gave the information
that many desired to have. Such a request I
regarded almost as a command, more especially as
Dr. Benson had rendered me much kindly service at
the time when he was Chancellor of Lincoln, and
when I had occasion to frequently consult the
chapter muniments of that minster. The project,
however, through stress of other work, got no further
than a scheme of procedure, which was submitted to
the Archbishop and met with his approval, and the
collection of some material.

Since that time the local guide-books have materi-
ally improved, and the idea of this small book had
been abandoned, until — nearly twenty years after — my
friend Professor Windle, in arranging a series of
books on old English towns for Messrs. Methuen,
asked me to undertake the volume on Canterbury.

The scheme originally adopted has in the main

xiii



Preface been followed, and in one point the suggestion of
Dr. Benson has been specially adopted, namely the
making an effort to destroy the comparatively
modern vulgarism of ' Bell Harry Tower,' as applied
to the masterly central tower of the great minster,
and to revive the beautiful original name of 'The
Angel Steeple.'

To Mr. B. C. Boulter this little book owes much,
and it will probably win more favour from the charm
and faithfulness of his illustrations than from the
letterpress. All the drawings are by Mr. Boulter
save the two on pp. 169, 170 ; for leave to reproduce
these I have to thank my friend Mr. J. C. Wall.

It was suggested that a short book of this kind
did not require to be cumbered with footnotes and
references ; but I have added to this preface a list
of the best books on Canterbury.

These pages are not intended to be a guide-book,
in the ordinary acceptation of the term ; but the
Itinerary at the end, wherein suggestions are made
for following definite routes, with references to the
pages containing information on the different objects
of interest passed on the way, will probably be
found useful.

If not too presumptuous — writing as an outsider,
but as one who has known and loved Canterbury for
forty vears, — I should like to suggest to the Cor-
poration and to all who have authority or influence
in the City, to see to three matters in the interests
of archaeology and history, namely — the condition of
(a) the Castle, (b) the Priests' Hospital, and (c) the
xiv



Greyfriars. As to the last of these, the singularly Preface
interesting thirteenth-century building standing on
arches over a branch of the river is in a perilous
plight and kept in a foul state, whilst it was only by
stealth that my friend Mr. Boulter could find the
opportunity of making a hasty sketch.

J. C. C.

St. Albans, Sydknham
July 1905



XV



THE BEST BOOKS ON CANTERBURY

Somner's Antiquities of Canterbury, 1640.

Batteby's enlarged edition of Somner, 1703.

Dart's History of Cathedral Church of Canterhury , 1726.

Gosling's Walk about Canterbury, 1774.

Nichol's History of the three Archiepiscopal Hospitals, 1785.

Hasted's History of the City of Canterbury, 1799.

Cole's Handbook for the City of Canterhury , 1843.

British Archaeological Association, Canterhury Meeting, 1845.

AYiLLis's Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral, 1843.

Stanley's Historical Memorials of Canterbury, 1855.

Brent's Canterbury in the Olden Time, 1860.

Walcott's Memorials of Canterhury , 1868.

Willis's Architectural History of the Conventual Buildings of

Christ Church, 1869.
Robertson's Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, 1880.
Historical Manuscripts Commission —

Dean and Chapter Muniments, Fifth Report (426-462), 1876.
„ „ Eighth Report (315-355), 1881.

„ Ninth Report (72-129), 1883.

Corporation Muniments, Ninth Report (129-177), 1883.
S. G. 's Chronological History of Canterbury , 1883.
Sheppard's Letter Books of Christ Church Monastery (3 vols. ),

1887-1889.
Maclear's St. Augustine's Canterbury, 1888,
Routledge's Church of St. Martin, Canterbury, 1898.
Legg and Hope's Inventories of Christ Church, Canterbury, 1902.
Searlb's Chronicle (f John Stone, 1902.
Thompson's Customary of St. Augustine's, Canterhury, 1902.



XVI



CHAPTER I



THE EARLY HISTORY OF CANTERBURY



IT is quite possible that
the earlier settlers
at Canterbury, after the
great upheaval that
caused tlie disappearance
of palaeolithic man, were
lake - dwellers, erecting
their huts on piles over
the shallow waters of the
tidal estuary that then
flowed up the valley for
some distance above where
now stands the mother-
town of England's Christianity. The contour of the
land on which the city stands, and of the higher
ground by which it is surrounded, shows clearly that
the site has gradually risen from a once wide river-
bed, shallower here from the greater flatness of the
valley, and therefore suitable for a ford. Here, on
the fringe of the dense woods with which Kent then
abounded, would be a considerable extent of open

A I




tormer Roman 'JVorih-^te-'



Canter- swampy land and shallow water, eminently suitable
bury for pile-dwellings that provided their occupants with

some degree of security, and brought the fishing on
which they chiefly depended to their very doors.
Ti'ackways would lead from this lake settlement into
the great forests around, and would gradually deepen
and widen as population increased until they might
fairly be termed roads. The chief British road that
led down to this ford can ' still be traced,' says
Mr. Faussett, ' from the corresponding ford of the
lesser Stour at Patricksbourne, forming for a long
way the parish boundary between Bekesbourne and
Patricksbourne, but now mostly used as an occupation
way only. That this old line of road, clearly of
immense age from its hollowness on hillsides, is of
British origin, is evident enough from its course so
near and parallel to a Roman road upon either side
of it, after the date of which two a third would never
have been constructed,"*

The great Dane-John mound, so much altered in
shape in modern days, stands within the Avails of
the present city. This, with other adjacent mounds
outside the walls, mostly destroyed to make way for
the station and buildings of the London Chatham
and Dover Railway Company, dates back to what are
vaguely termed ' British ' times. Some have contended
that the vast heap of the Dane-John was a Saxon
burh, or moated mound ; and the arguments for that
idea were well stated by the great exponent of the
Saxon burh theory in general, Mr. G. T. Clark, in a
connnunication to Canon Robertson, published in 1885
2



in the second volume of A rchcvologia Cantiana. Never-
theless, the weight of authority and of genuine evi-
dence is strongly in favour of the prehistoric date of
the great mounds. The three mounds, one inside and
two outside the city, seem clearly to have been older
than the wall and earth rampart which have separated
them. This bank or rampart, if not an actual part
of the defence of the Koman city, is on the site of
it, and it therefore follows that the mounds are of
British or Celtic origin. Moreover, when the railway
works were in operation, a bronze-socketed celt was
found in the removed mound; it is figured in Evans'
Bronze Implements. These great earthworks pro-
bably formed part of a defensive scheme to protect
the ford over the Stour in the later Celtic period.

Various references were made by Roman historians
and geographers to their fortresses or fortified havens
in Kent ; but they make hardly any allusion to
Canterbury or Durovernum. The settlement here
seems to have been regarded as one of no particular
moment from a military point of view, at all events,
during the earlier portion of their four centuries of
occupation. Nevertheless, it must have had some
repute soon after their conquest of this corner of
England, and probably offered at least barrack
accommodation for troops on the march ; for it was
at Durovernum, the site subsequently occupied by
the city of Canterbury, that the roads from the three
Kentish coast-fortresses of Reculver, Richborough,
and Lymne united to cross the Stour, and thence pro-



The
Early
History
of Can-
terbury



cceded northwards through Britain in the



one great



Canter- military highway known in later days as Watling

bury Street.

Two facts plainly attest the eventual importance
and considerable population of Durovernum under
the long-continued Roman occupation — namely, the
five burial-grounds that have been found in the
immediate vicinity of the city, and the great abund-
ance of Roman tiles or bricks that have been re-used
on all sides throughout the mediaeval buildings of
Canterbury.

Save for tliese bricks and some blocks of oolite,
there are practically no traces of Roman work above
ground. Seeing that the site has been continuously
occupied, save for a brief period of desolation, ever
since our conquerors abandoned Britain, it is only
natural to expect that the level of the city would
have been considerably raised by the accumulation of
successive strata of debris during so many centuries.
It is not, therefore, surprising to find that in the
centre of the city the traces of Roman antiquities
and remains are not to be found nearer than seven
or eight feet to the present surface. At this depth,
wherever excavations have been made amid the dark
refuse soil, broken pottery, bone-pins, and other
implements, with an occasional coin are to be found,
varied by the occurrence of more or less substantial
foundations or traces of paving.

The most considerable discoveries of this character
were made in 1868, during the carrying out of an
extensive system of deep draining. Fortunately the
superintendence of this scheme was in the hands of

4



Mr. James Pilbrow, F.S.A., an antiquary of no mean The
repute, who set forth in detail the results of his Early
discoveries (Archcrol. vol. xliii). Over two hundred History
coins were received by Mr. Pilbrow, and probably at |^ ^an-
least an equal amount filtered through the hands
of the work})eople to collectors and dealers. The
three chief localities where there was considerable
evidence of Roman walls or buildings were in
St. Margaret Street, Sun Street, and the High
Street. St. Margaret Street proved rich in founda-
tions, most of which were undoubtedly of Roman
origin ; in some places they were so firmly set and
solid ' that men were at work night and day for two
weeks, with sledges, wedges, and chisels, breaking
them up"; at the junction with Watling Street a
heavy buttress had to be cut through ; and several
pieces of tesselated pavement were discovered. In
Sun Street considerable remains of Roman walls were
laid bare ; here, and in St. Margaret Street, the walls
were found to be banded with regular courses of
brick or tile. In High Street, beneath six houses
numbered 30 to 35, including the Fleur-de-lis Hotel,
and beneath the roadway in front of them, lie the
massive foundations of an important building which
Mr. Pilbrow concluded to have formed part of the
citadel or nrx of Durovernum. It was here that a
handsome Roman tesselated pavement of consider-
able extent was discovered in 1758, when makina;
excavations to form a cellar for the house now
numbered 31 . It is specially interesting to think
that a spot which is one of the busiest in modern

5



Canter- Canterbury, as it must also have been in tlie pahiiiest
^^^'y time of its mediaeval history, was the centre of civic

and military life during the Roman occupation. In
addition to these three chief sites, Mr. Pilbrow also
found several foundations in Castle Street ; many
Roman vessels, ornaments, and implements in Palace
Street, and a considerable piece of tesselated pave-
ment opposite St. Alphege's Church ; many pottery
fragments and coins in Burgate Street ; and parts
of the city wall in Guildhall Street, like the larger
fragments in Sun Street.

On a populous site any general scheme of excava-
tion for historical purposes is, of course, an im-
possibility, and the little additional information that
has been gleaned as to underground Durovernum
since 1869 has come about accidentally, through the
occasional diggings necessitated by foundations for
new buildings or the repair of some obstructed drain.
There has been some difference of opinion among
antiquaries most conversant with the local excava-
tions, such as Messrs. Pilbrow, Faussett, and Brent,
as to the extent or boundaries of the Roman town.
On Mr. Pilbrow's plan, the conjectural line of the
western boundary is marked at a distance of about
fifty feet eastward of the present eastern bank of the
Stour, whose tidal current, at that time, flowed far
beyond the existing banks. Mr. Pilbrow claimed to
have discovered its exact line in one place — namely,
the smooth face of a wall in front of All Saints'
Church ; this solid piece of wall ran from east to
west, in the same direction as the road, and was
6



traced for a distance of twelve feet. The northern The

wall seems to have been undoubtedly found in Sun Early

Street. Mr. Faussett considered that the existing ^'^^ory

J? /-I

city walls on the east and the south coincided with ^ "'
the old Roman boundaries. Mr. Faussett's conjee- ^

tures as to the extent of the Roman town give a
larger area than those of Mr. Pilbrow ; but it is quite
possible that both of these patient investigators were
fairly right, the lines of the former indicating a later
development of Romano -British life on this site.
We are all of us so apt to forget that the changes
that went on in England during the four centuries
of the Roman occupation were most probably, in
proportion to the population, quite as great as
between 1500 and 1900. It is just as foolish to
imagine that a settlement, at the junction of three
of the most important coast-roads of Britain, stood
still for four hundred years when the Romans were
amongst us, as it would be to expect the Canterburv
of Edward vi. to be of the same size and planning
as the Canterbury of Edward vii.

One thing seems quite clear, namely, that through-
out the Roman days the cathedral precincts were
entirely outside any walls or boundaries.

It is somewhat disappointing to find that there
can be no reliable drawing out of a Roman plan
in the case of Canterbury, as can so often be done,
with a fair amount of accuracy, in the various
'chesters' or castra of other important English
towns. But it should be remembered that no well-
defined Roman rectangle probably ever existed on

7



Canter- tliis site. ' The old capital of Kent was no mere
bury Roman camp laid out by a Frontinus or an Ostorius,'

but had its origin in days long anterior to the first
landing of our civilised conquerors. In fact, the walls
of mediaeval Canterbury seem to have followed pretty
closely the line of its prehistoric ramparts.

A considerable wealth of pottery and vases, gold
and bronze and enamelled ornaments, glass vessels,
and bone, bronze, and iron implements of this period,
have been discovered in Canterbury and its outskirts.
The best of them have been well described and illus-
trated by Mr. Brent, and a valuable selection of them
is to be found in the Royal Museum.

There is no reason to doubt that the occupants
of Durovernum enjoyed a fairly peaceful time for the
last two centuries or more of Roman rule ; but with
the withdrawal of the Romans in the first half of the
fifth century, a time of confusion and barbarism set
in for more than a century and a half, which was not
thoroughly dissipated until the occurrence of another
form of Roman invasion in the person of St. Augustine
and his band of peaceful followers. No sooner had
news reached the Continent of the final abandonment
of the island-province so long ruled by the world's
conquerors, than hordes of rude pagans. Jutes and
Saxons, followed ere long by pirate bands of Danes
and Norsemen, overran the land. The Saxon Chronicle
graphically describes the flight of the Britons from
Kent before the continuous stream of pitiless in-
vaders, as that of 'men who fly from fire.' Duro-
vernum, at the junction of the three roads from the
8



three ports of the county, Richborough, Reculver,
and Lymne, would be the very place where these
rough invaders would naturally converge. It would
doubtless be at once abandoned by those who had
found some degree of peace and contentment under
Roman rule, and it would probably become the arena
of many a bloody strife between the rival companies
of lawless settlers.

There are good reasons for supposing that the
old town of Durovernum was for a long time un-
occupied by the Saxons, and was indeed left prac-
tically desolate for upwards of a century of the
period when they remained heathens. There are no
more certain proofs of pagan Saxon population than
their cemeteries, and these are specially numerous in
East Kent, and in the wilder districts of the county,
such as Barham, Faversham, Steventon, and Stowting;
but at Canterbury nothing of the kind has come to
light, notwithstanding the continuous building, plant-
ing, road-making, draining, brickmaking, and digging
for gravel, sand, or chalk, that have been carried out
all round the city. No Anglo-Saxon burials — not
even a single e-rave — have been found nearer than
two or three miles from the city, as at Chartham
Downs on the south-west, and Patricksbourne on
the south-east. From this absence of pagan Saxon
interments, Mr. Faussett ingeniously argued that
Canterbury became again inhabited ' no very long
time before Christianity had introduced its simpler
style of burial.' ' The remains of the Roman city,'
he adds, ' entirely corroborate this view, the lower

9



The

Early
History
of Can-
terbury



Canter- parts of the houses being found in a well-preserved
bury condition, and beautiful pavements all unworn, occa-

sionally coming to light, seeming to show a period
of almost Ponipeian burial, neglect, and overgrowth,
till the restorers of the city noticed nothing of the
valuable materials below.'

All this, too, is confirmed by the change of name.
Such Roman settlements as Reculver, Richborough,
Lymne, and Dover retained their title, and still bear
much the same names as they had during the Roman
occupation. But it was quite different with that
central, well-known junction of Durovernum ; the
name could not have been abandoned from mere
caprice ; it is fair to assume that it had dropped out
of recollection from long disuse. The new name,
also, just accords with this theory, for it was Canter-
bury or Cantrvarahyrig, the city of the men of
Kent. It implies, to again cite Mr. Faussett, ' a
date when the Pictish conquerors had come to know
their exact position in England, viz. that the whole
of Kent was theirs, and that nothing more was
going to be theirs ; they must definitely have
acquired the name among themselves and their
neighbours of the men of Kent. It implies a
deliberate choice of a capital by such a settled
people, and implies also its purpose as a capital
from its own first foundation, and not a gradual
growth from a smaller beginning, in which case it
would have already acquired a smaller name ; and
Saxons did not change names for a fancy, or give them
for anything but a practical use. All this points to
lO



terburv



the restoration of Canterbury at no very early date The
in the settlement of the Saxon kingdom of Kent.' Early

Certain generally trusted historians, and the History
average run of history primers, still speak of Canter- ^ ^""
bury as the ' capital of Hengist/ But this is an
undoubted error. Wherever Hengist and his three
successors in the rule over Kent had their head-
quarters — Richl)orough or Faversham are the most
likely conjecture — it certainly was not at Canter-
bury. It was not until about the beginning of the
rule of Ethelbert (560), the first Christian king of
Kent, that Canterbury became a place of first import-
ance ; it was his royal capital. The city was extended
northward beyond the Roman limit to include Ethel-
bert's palace, which he afterwards surrendered to St.
Augustine, the monastery of Christ Church eventu-
ally risin<y on its site. One of the most interesting
old names in the city is that of Queeningate, to the
east of the cathedral, first mentioned in a charter
of 762. The tradition that derives the gate and
name from Queen Bertha using it to pass to her
devotions in the Christian chapel outside the walls,
seems at first sight 'almost too pretty and pat for
belief; but as this tradition, for reasons that need
not here be cited, carried conviction to such care-
ful antiquaries as Messrs. Faussett and Brent, it
may with safety be accepted as true by the most
cautious of archaeological visitors. The alteration
of tills period made a new laying-out of streets
necessary, and the Burgate, running parallel with
the High Street, to the south of the palace, then



Online LibraryJ. Charles (John Charles) CoxCanterbury; a historical and topographical account of the city → online text (page 1 of 24)