Isle of Grain - Cliffe History

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Isle of Grain by Edward Hasted
AD 1797


THE island of Graine, though on the   opposite side of the river Medway, and   at some miles distance from the rest of   this hundred, yet being within the manor   of Gillingham, has always been esteemed   as a part of it.
It is written in the Textus Roffensis,   and other antient manuscripts, Grean, Gryen ,   and Gren ,   and lies next to the hundred of Hoo,   from which it is separated by a small   stream; the south and east sides of it   adjoin to the river Medway, the latter   of them being opposite to Sheerness; the   north side of it joins to the Thames,   forming that land where those two rivers   meet. It is in size about three miles   and a half long, and two miles and a   half wide, and contains only one parish ,   called St. James.
The water,   which separates it from the hundred of   Hoo, is called the Stray; the northern   mouth of which, next the Thames, is   called the North Yenlet, as that next   the Medway is called Colemouth, though   the whole of it formerly went by the   name of Yenlet, or Yenlade, and in very   antient times was no doubt, as well as   that of the same name between the isle   of Thanet and the main land, of much   larger size than it has been for a long   time past; for even in the time of king   Henry VIII. this island appears only to   have been encompassed at flood. (fn. 1)   This water of Yenlet seems once to have   been the usual passage for all vessels   from and to London, which thereby   avoided the more exposed and longer   navigation round the outside of this   island, as they did likewise that round   the isle of Shepey, by going through the   Swale between that and the main land,   both which waters are mentioned in   several old writings as part of the   river Thames. So late as the reign of   king Edward III. this seems to have been   the most accustomed passage, for in the   11th year of, the strict ward and watch   being set, according to old custom,   along the sea coast of this county, one   of them appears to have been set at La   Yenlade in Hoo, and to have consisted of   twelve men at arms and six hobelers;   which latter were a kind of light horse,   who rode about from place to place in   the night, to gain intelligence of the   landing of boats, men, &c. and were   probably so called from the hobbies, or   small horses, on which they rode.
The island of Graine is in shape   nearly an oblong square; it lies very   flat and low; the greatest part of it   consists of pasture and marshes, the   vast tracts of the latter, in the   neighbourhood of it, and the badness of   the water, makes it as unwholesome as it   is unpleasant; so that the inhabitants   mostly consist of a few lookers or   bailiffs, and of those who work at the   salt works, and such like, who have not   wherewithal to seek a residence   elsewhere. The entrance into this   island, from the hundred of Hoo, is on   the south side of it, over a causeway   across Stoke marshes. The church of St.   James, the only one in it, is situated   at the northern part of the island,   about a quarter of a mile from the   shore. There is no village, the few   houses stand dispersed, the farthest not   more than a mile's distance southward   from the church. There are two sets of   saltworks, or saltpans as they are   called, the one situated close to the   water, at the southern boundary of the   island, the other on Mr. Davenport's   estate of Wall-end, on the eastern   boundary of the island close to the   Medway. In short, I cannot give a better   description of it than in Mr. Johnson's   words, in his little book of Kentish   plants, intitled, Iter Plantarum Investigationis ergo   susceptum ,   where he gives an account of his   journey, July 13, 1629, in search of   simples to this island. He says, "Having   left our small boat we walked five or   six miles, seeing nothing which could   afford us any pleasure; upon the walls   we were tormented, for it was in the   middle of the day, on account of the   heat, with an intolerable thirst,   Tantalus like, in the midst of waters   (for they were salt); nor were we less   oppressed with hunger in this barbarous   country, where there was not a village   near, nor the smoke of a chimney in   sight, nor the barking of a dog within   hearing, those usual signs of   inhabitants, to raise our languid minds   to any kind of hope."
The   commission of sewers, which extends from   Gravesend to Sheerness, and up the river   Medway to Penshurst, takes charge of the   sea walls round this island, excepting   those adjoining to Mr. Davenport's   estate, which are repaired at no small   expence by the proprietor; they are   divided into two levels, called the   South-west and North-west levels.
THE MANOR of Graine was antiently   part of the possessions of the   archbishopric of Canterbury, where it   remained till the reign of king Henry   VIII. in the 37th year of which   archbishop Cranmer, conveyed all his   estates in this parish, together with   his right to wreck of the sea to that   king. (fn. 2)
King Edward VI. in   the 5th year of his reign, granted this   manor of Graine to his beloved and   faithful counsellor, Sir George Broke,   lord Cobham, late belonging to the   archbishop, to hold in capite ,   by knights service, his grandson, Henry   lord Cobham, being convicted of high   treason in the 1st year of king James I.   it became forfeited to the crown, and   was confirmed to it by an act passed in   the 3d year of that reign, (fn. 3) from   which time it seems to have remained in   the crown till the death of king Charles   I. when it appears to have been esteemed   as part of the manor of Gillingham, the   quit rents of which in this island then   amounted to 24l. 10s. 10¼. from the   freeholders in free socage tenure; since   the Restoration it has been granted as   an appendage to that manor, in which   state it continues at present, being as   such now possessed by Multon Lambard,   esq. of Sevenoke.

THERE is   another manor here, called the MANOR of GRAINE ,   alias ROSE-COURT ,   which in the reign of king Edward III.   was the estate of the family of Cobham   of Cobham, in this county. Sir John de   Cobham died possessed of it in that   reign, and his son of the same name   having together, with Sir Robert Knolys,   built the new bridge at Rochester,   amortized his two manors of Graine and   Tilbury, worth forty marcs yearly above   all reprises, to the support of it for   ever, (fn. 4) and it continues at this   time part of the possessions of the   wardens and commonalty of that bridge,   for the purposes above mentioned.

THERE is a good estate in that part   of this island next the river Medway,   which consists of several farms, lands,   and salt works, the principal of which   is called, from its situation, WALL-END FARM.
This estate has, from the earliest   accounts of time, had the same owners as   the manor of Malmains in Stoke, in this   neighbourhood. In the reign of king   Edward III. it was in the possession of   the family of Malmains, from whom it   passed into the name of Filiot, and   thence into that of Carew, of   Beddington, in Surry; and from that   family, in the reign of Henry V. to   Iden; from which name it was alienated
          at the latter end of king Henry VIII. to   John Parke, whose sole daughter and   heir, Elizabeth, carried it in marriage   to John Roper, esq. of Linsted, in this   county, who, in the 14th year of king   James I. was created baron of Teynham,   in this county. His son, Chris topher   Roper, lord Teynham, (fn. 5) succeeded   him in his estate here, which he   increased by obtaining a grant of lands   in this island, formerly belonging to   the nunnery of Minster in Shepey, which   were given to it by archbishop Corboil;   all which continued in his descendants   to Henry lord Teynham, who, on his   marriage with the lady Anne, daughter   and coheir of Thomas Lennard, earl of   Sussex, and widow of Rich. Barrett   Lennard, esq. of Belhouse, in Essex,   afterwards baroness Dacre, settled this   estate, after her life therein, on the   issue of that marriage. Lady Dacre   afterwards married the Hon. Robert   Moore, and died possessed of it in 1755;   (fn. 6) on which the fee became vested   in Trevor Charles Roper and Henry Roper,   the infant sons and coheirs in gavelkind   of the Hon. Charles Roper, her eldest   son by lord Teynham; but by a decree of   the court of chancery, for the sale of   this estate to satisfy incumbrances, and   an act having been obtained for that   purpose, in 1765, it was conveyed to the   Rev. Fr. H. Foote, of Charlton, in   Bishopsbourne, whose eldest son, John   Foote, esq. afterwards succeeding to it,   passed it away by sale to Mr. Thomas   Lovett, who at his decease devised it to   his son of the same name, on whose death   it descended to his sister, now the wife   of Mr. Davenport, of London, who in her   right is at this time entitled to it.
The priory of Rochester was in very   early times possessed of lands in this   island. In 1076, archbishop Lanfranc, in   the solemn assembly of the whole county,   held by the Conqueror's command at   Pinenden heath, recovered from Ralph de   Curva Spina, or Crookthorne, sixty   shillings rent of pasture (fn. 7) in   Grean, which had been taken from that   church, and which he immediately   restored to it. There were several gifts   af towards made to the priory of marshes   in this island, as may be seen   throughout the Textus and Registrum   Roffense; and king Henry I. confirmed to   it a fishery in Grean, afterwards called   the Niwewere, for which they paid the   archbishops five shillings yearly; which   rent archbishop Ralf released to them   for ever; and he likewise, by his   charter, prohibited all persons from   fishing in the Thames, before the   fishery of the monks of Niwewere, under   pain of forfeiture to him if they should   be found fishing beyond.
Archbishop Baldwin, in the 1st year of   king Richard I. intending to erect a   chapel and other buildings within the   manor of Lambeth, which then belonged to   the monks of Rochester, granted to them,   in lieu of the land there belonging to   the manor, on which the chapel was to be   built, and the area lying round it, one   bercary or sheep-cote in the isle of   Gren, with all its appurtenances, in   marsh, lands, wreck, and in all other   matters belonging to it, to hold to them   as the demesnes of the said manor, free   from all service and demand; and he made   a further addition, by granting to them   the services yearly due to him and his   successors for those bercaries or   sheep-cotes, which the monks held of him   in Gren, which their tenants at all   times in future should pay and be   answerable for to them. These premises   in Gren were particularly excepted out   of the exchange made between archbishop   Hubert and the monks of Rochester, of   the manors of Lambeth and Darent, in the   7th year of king Richard I. (fn. 8) In   the 21st year of king Edward I. upon a
Quo warranto , the prior of Rochester claimed to have   wreck of the sea in the above marsh,   which was adjoining to it, for that   archbishop Baldwin, at the time he   possessed it, and the prior and his   predecessors from the time of the said   exchange, had beyond memory possessed   that liberty without interruption; and   the same was allowed him by the jury.
All these marshes, lands, and rents,   with their appurtenances, which had been   given to the priory of Rochester,   remained part of its possessions at the   dissolution of it in the 32d year of   king Henry VIII. when they were   surrendered into the king's hands; who,   by his dotation charter, in the 32d year   of his reign settled them, together with   other premises here, (fn. 9) late   belonging to the dissolved priory of   Leeds, on his new erected dean and   chapter of Rochester, with whom the   inheritance of them now continues.

THE ISLAND OF GRAINE is within the   ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and being one of the   archbishop's peculiars ,   is as such within the deanry of Shoreham. The church, which is   dedicated to St. James, consists of   three isles and a chancel.
In it   are the following memorials and   inscriptions— In   the middle isle ,   a brass for William Hykks, and Joan his   wife; another for Jonathan Hykks and   Agnes his wife; he died in 1494.   Memorial for the Godfreys. In the chancel ,   a brass for John Cardys, who made the   pavement, obt. 1452. (fn. 10)

This church antiently belonged to the   nunnery at Minster in Shepey, (fn. 11)   to which it was appropriated before the   reign of king Edward I. It continued   part of the possessions of that   monastery till the dissolution of it,   which happened soon after the act   passed, in the 27th year of king Henry   VIII. for the suppression of those   religious houses which had not 200l. per   annum clear income; of which number this   was one. The church thus coming into the   hands of the crown, king Henry VIII. in   his 36th year, granted among other   premises the rectory of St. James, in   the isle of Graine, with the advowson,   to John Fynch, to hold in capite by knight's service. He died possessed   of them, together with five hundred   acres of arable, pasture, and salt   marsh, in this island; all which he held   as above mentioned, in the 4th year of   Edward VI. His son, Clement Finch, at   length became possessed of the whole of   this estate, which he, in the eighteenth   year of queen Elizabeth, alienated to   Wm. Brooke, lord Cobham; whose   descendant, Henry Brooke, lord Cobham,   being attainted of high treason, in the   1st year of king James I. forfeited   this, among the rest of his estates, to   the crown, to which they were confirmed   by an act passed for that purpose two   years afterwards; (fn. 12) soon after   which this rectory, with the advowson of   the vicarage, was granted to Sir Edward   Hales, bart. who died possessed of it in   1654.

How this rectory   impropriate passed from his descendants   I do not find; but Mr. John Page, of   Rochester, possessed it for many years,   and at his death, not long since, by his   last will devised it to his kinsman, the   Rev. Edmund Faunce, of Sutton-at-Hone,   whose son of the same name is the   present proprietor of it. This rectory   is held of the crown, by the yearly fee   farm rent of 1l. 2s. 10½d.
The   advowson of the vicarage of this church   passed with the rectory, through the   same chain of ownership to Sir Edward   Hales, bart. who died possessed of both   in 1654; soon after which they seem to   have had separate owners, and to have   continued so till this time, the late   proprietor of the advowson being Mr.   Walter Nynn, since whose decease without   issue, Mrs. Rachel Ray, widow, his   sister and heir, is become intitled to   it. It is valued in the king's books at   9l. 11s. 8d. per annum, and the yearly   tenths at 19s. 2d.
In a taxation   made in the reign of Edward III. it   appears, that the church of Graine was   then endowed with ten acres of arable   and two of pasture, worth per annum, 4l.   3s. 4d. and of rents of assise to the   amount of 48s. per annum. (fn. 13)
In   the survey, taken after the death of   Charles I. in 1650, of the several   parsonages, vicarages, &c. in this   diocese, it was returned, that there was   in this parish a vicarage presentative,   worth 50l. per annum, Sir Edward Hales,   patron; incumbent, Mr. Edward Sparke;   the parsonage an impropriation, worth   50l. per annum, Sir Edward Hales owner   thereof. (fn. 14)
Dr. Plume,   archdeacon of Rochester, who died in   1704, bequeathed five pounds per annum,   towards teaching the poor children of   this parish to read. (fn. 15)

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