A piece of Hastings … in a corner of Gillingham

Now for a quick test to make sure you’ve all been paying attention. Name the Cinque Ports. Yes, you — the chap lurking behind his office computer screen pretending to be working.

Quite correct: Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings. Yes, and Rye and Winchelsea were added later. For bonus marks, how many limbs of the Cinque Ports — towns that were also invited to get in this “legalised mafia” — can you name? I’ll accept Deal, Ramsgate, Lydd, Tenterden, Folkestone, Faversham and Margate.

But what about Gillingham? Yes, that’s right — a limb of Hastings can be found on the Lower Rainham Road, near — appropriately — the Hastings Arms.

Current Ordnance Survey maps show Cinque Port Marshes on the Medway estuary just to the north of Gillingham. Reference to the same area on the earliest Ordnance Survey map, however, reveals the “Cinque Port of Hastings (Detached)”.

The Manor of Grange was a narrow strip extending from Watling Street (now the present A2) to the Medway. Grange Lane, now known as Featherby Road, forms its eastern boundary as far as the Lower Rainham Road. It also includes a quay and area of marshes.

Geographically, it was firmly part of Gillingham. Administratively, it wasn’t: Until 1949 the pubs in this area could stay open half an hour later — because licensing times were set by Hastings magistrates.

How did all this happen? Let’s go back to Domesday Book, when the Manor of Gillingham was one of many held by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror. The manor was divided, and the sub-manor of Grange went into the possession of the de Hastings family. In 1180 the owner was Manasser de Hastings; by 1276 it was Matthew, who was succeeded by his son William.

The introduction of “limbs”, which could provide shipping support to the king, took the pressure off the main Cinque Ports and this is what happened with the de Hastings family’s holding in Gillingham.

A document of 1284 shows that William de Hastings had to support a boat and oar from Grange.

Membership fees for the king’s mafia

The Cinque Ports have been described as the king’s mafia. They were specially favoured towns — granted certain privileges in exchange for backing the king.

The towns were obliged to provide seamen and oars for the King’s service for a fixed number of days each year. In Dover’s case it was 20 ships, each with a crew of 21, for 15 days. In return, the ports were allowed fishing privileges, exemption from some taxes and the right to be represented at coronations.

Even now, in my beloved Faversham, the mayor at the time of a coronation will be known afterwards as a baron of the Cinque Ports.

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5 thoughts on “A piece of Hastings … in a corner of Gillingham”

  1. little bit more of history the Benedictine’s monastery grange road hundred hectors who use to teach all the children of gillingham kent my old employer Featherby at the vineties which Benedictine’s use to own sent me to university for biology farm and forest ,which I passed with help from the benidittions monks who came out and met me the day I started work in 1952,jillingham not gillingham was the right name of the owner of all the land Chatham dockyard which is in gillingham not chatham ,was owned by jiltingham when the first prime minister of parliament started chatham dockyard ,I have a old may to day 1889 when Featherby bought the land from the benidictions monks ,then their was no houses there no maple ave, railway line running near grange road cinque ports

  2. Sorry on the spelling jiltingham spelt JILLINGHAM was changed to GILLINGHAM the Benedictine’s monastery which was huge religious no schools then,so The monks taught the poor but was not allowed to take money but all the houses had huge gardens and grew all there own food and kept chickens ducks geese ,and would supply the monks with food the monks had huge grape fields making wine for the bishops and churches for prays ,so were Featherby came to live and start a plant nursery was a vineries which he called his home ,were I started work 1952, huge greenhouses ,first day I turned up for work I had to wait at featherbys gate by the benedict monastery which the monks came out to talk to me ,asked me what work I was taking up I said gardening they said any troubles come to us we can teach you gardening grafting ,budding ,pruning ,growing vegetables ,I thanked them and they gave me a apple ,really wonderful people ,

  3. Please reply love to hear from you after passing biology Featherby also belonged to gardening world and the royal horticulture society London RHS ,so when I passed I became researcher for gardeners world. They still hold my research today look up gardeners world robertpeterdunford all my research comes up they have asked me to write a Gardener’s book ,because when I started first you looked at a piece of land what weeds grew there which told you what protiens the land had what you could grow ,also what insects the land had again would tell you about its protiens ,all about the earthworms which keeps all gardens alive they bring the food to plants which you never read in any gardening book,taught to me by the monks ,and the very best food for all plants is earthworms manure called Frass, and next would be rabbit manure better then horse or cow,or pig ,I even started testing all plants for electricity ,and how all insects use electricity ,you know that every thing is a atom and every atom has a positive and negative and free electrons ,so every thing you see plants insects animals all are made from atoms so all electrons electricity ,in. 1967 called into Chatham dockyard and sent to learn nuclear physics in several universities,where I passed both exams for them and started Nuclear submarines ,in 2019 December called into Chatham dockyard and told I was the last one alive who refueled nuclear submarines America and british until chatham dockyard closed then sent to marconese Rochester airport to teach electronics as a inspector ,then when they closed Bae asked for me ,I retired in 2002,now 83 years old just going to start writing a gardening book but need a little help,

  4. i grew up in faversham area , boughton village and moved to gillingham at 14, i knew the last lord of the manor of grange, he was james (jimmy ) green, he owned all the rights to the manor including foreshore and marsh. and bloors wharf, and properties in the town, he was quite wealthy but became a drinker and lost everything, loads of property etc, his family had to take control of his finances. he must be well dead by now because i last saw him about 1982 ish. think his families descendents still exist in chatham but i dont know where the manor title went or if they still possess it..

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