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Chatham Parish

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Your Online Parish Clerk for Chatham is:  VACANT.  

Chatham is, ecclesiastically, in the diocese of Rochester, in the archdeaconry of Rochester and St. Albans.  The church is named for St. Mary with registers commencing 1569.

Chatham, a town and a parish in Medway district, Kent.  The town stands on the river Medway, Watling Street and the London and Dover railway, contiguous to Rochester, 30 miles west-by-south of London.  It has furnished numerous Roman remains;  and was known to the Saxons as Coeddeham, and at Domesday as Ceteham.

The manor belonged, in the time of Edward the Confessor, to Earl Godwin;  was given by the Conqueror to Hamon de Crevecœur;  and passed to the Badlesmeres, the Despensers, the Wentworths, and others.

A royal dockyard was formed here in the time of Elizabeth;  was greatly enlarged by Charles I;  was the scene of a disastrous attack by a Dutch fleet in 1667;  was materially improved by Charles II;  has been further enlarged from time to time;  and is now one of the most important establishments of its kind in the kingdom.  Many sovereigns have visited it;  and Queen Victoria made a special visit to it in 1855, when she inspected the wounded soldiers from the Crimea.

The town forms a continuous line of edifice with Rochester;  consists chiefly of narrow streets;  and presents, in a strong light, the aspects of old large seaports.  A steep lane, called Hamon Hill, leads to an elevated spot, commanding a fine view of the town and the environs.  Many of the houses are old;  and one with a carved front, in High Street, is pointed out as having been the residence of certain famous ship builders of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The chief public buildings are churches, chapels, schools, hospitals, a workhouse, a convict prison, the dockyard, barracks, and the fortifications.

St. Mary’s, or the parish church, was rebuilt in 1788;  incorporates a doorway of a previous old Norman edifice;  is itself an ungainly structure;  and contains several monuments, preserved from the previous church, one of them a brass of Stephen Borough, the discoverer of the northwest passage to Russia in 1553.

St. John’s church was built in 1821, by the Parliamentary Commissioners, at a cost of nearly £15,000;  and was extensively altered in 1869.

St. Paul’s church was built in 1854, and is in the Norman style.

St. Peter’s church, in Troy Town, was built in 1860.

A Presbyterian church on a site given by the War Office, is a neat structure of galvanized iron, erected in 1861.

The Roman Catholic church is a brick edifice, with little external ornament, built in 1863.

St. Bartholomew’s hospital was founded for lepers, in 1078;  is now a new hospital, with 50 beds, and with a government lock branch;  and has an endowed income of about£1,760.  The original chapel still stands, and continues to be used;  but only the east end of it is ancient.  A new lock hospital was founded in 1869, and contracted to cost £7,749.  Hawkin’s hospital, for decayed seamen and shipwrights, has an income of £663.  Paine’s charity, for widows, has £324 a year.  The Marine hospital was built in 1828, and has accommodation for 340 patients.  The artillery hospital is attached to the artillery barracks, and has wards for 100 patients.  A new wing to the convict prison, with accommodation for about 300 more convicts was founded in 1869.  There are a soldiers’ institute, a mechanics’ institute, and some other institutions.

The dockyard is nearly a mile long, walled round and fortified;  and contains four wet docks, with capacity for the largest vessels, one of them a tidal basin, 400 feet by 96, completed in 1857.  The store houses and workshops are admirably arranged, and can equip a first rate man-of-war in a few days.  The mast house is 240 feet long, and 120 wide;  the rope house is 1,110 feet long and 50 wide;  the smith’s shop contains 40 forges;  and the saw mills have eight saw frames, with capacity for 240 saws, and two circular saw benches, with windlasses and capstans for supplying them with wood.  The gun wharf, adjoining the dockyard, is more a great storehouse than an arsenal, and contains a large park of artillery.  The principal barracks extend along the Medway;  and contain accommodation for upwards of 4,000 men.  Fort Pitt, on a hill overlooking the town, contains other barracks, a military hospital, and a military museum;  and was constructed at the end of last century.  The fortifications, called the Chatham lines, enclose the dockyard and the principal barracks;  include Brompton village, partly in Gillingham parish;  run down to the Medway, at the extremities of Chatham and Brompton;  were commenced in 1758, and completed about 1807;  and have recently undergone extensive alterations and improvements.  New works, on marsh ground of about 320 acres to the northeast of the dockyard, to include a repairing basin, new docks, and extensive buildings, and estimated to cost about £1,250,000, were commenced in 1867, and were expected to be finished about the end of 1870.  Grand reviews and great military field operations take place about the lines, and attract great crowds to Chatham.

The town has a head post office with a savings banks and a money order office, a railway station with telegraph, two other banking offices, and five chief inns;  and publishes a weekly newspaper.  A weekly market is held on Saturday;  and there were formerly two fairs.  The chief trade arises from the dockyard and from ship building.  About 33 men-of-war are commonly lying off;   and about 20 building on the slips.  A pier, behind the Sun Inn, was built by Colonel Best, at a cost of £3,000;  and steamers touch at it many times a day, on their way to Sheerness.  Races were formerly run, but have been discontinued.

Chatham is a borough under the act of 1832, sending one member to parliament;  and, as a borough, consists of part of the parish of Chatham and part of the parish of Gillingham.  Acres, 1,670.  Direct taxes in 1857, £9,251.  Electors in 1868, 2,111.  Population in 1841, 21,431;  in 1861, 36,177.  Houses, 5,185.  The town gave the title of Earl to the family of Pitt.

The parish includes also Chatham Intra within the city of Rochester, the hamlet of Luton, and part of the village of Brompton.  Acres, 4,273;  of which 90 are water.  Real property in 1860, £57,576.  Population in 1861, 25,183.  Houses, 3,933.

The livings of St. Mary [parish church] and St. John are rectories, and that of St. Paul a vicarage, in the diocese of Rochester.  Value of St. Mary £500;  of St. John and St. Peter, each £300 with a habitable glebe house.  Patrons of St. Mary, the Dean and Chapter;  of St. John, the Rector of St. Mary;  of St. Peter, the Bishop.  The rectory of Luton and the vicarage of Brompton are separate benefices.

The places of worship within the borough in 1851, were 10 of the Church of England, with 6,610 sittings;  3 of Independents, with 1,220 sittings;  1 of General Baptists, with 286 sittings;  2 of Particular Baptists, with 908 sittings;  6 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,532 sittings;  4 of Bible Christians, with 697 sittings;  2 of the Wesleyan Association with 369 sittings;  1 of the New Church, with 70 sittings;  1 of the Catholic and Apostolic church, with 120 sittings;  and 1 of Roman Catholics with 150 sittings.

Chatham and Gillingham, is a hundred in the lathe of Aylesford, Kent;  lying around Chatham, but excluding the borough.  Acres, 21,281.  Population in 1861, 31,671.  Houss 4,984.

Brompton – a town and two chapelries in Chatham and Gillingham parishes, Kent.  The town consists of two parts, New and Old;  the former, adjacent to the London and Dover railway, 1-1/2 mile east of Chatham, with a station on the railway;  the latter on the brow of a hill, overlooking the Medway, 1 mile northeast of Chatham, with a post office under Chatham with a savings banks and a money order office.  A grand naval hospital, barracks for the Royal marines light infantry, barracks and hospital for the infantry of the line, and barracks, with stables, for the Royal engineers are here, all within the extensive fortifications which defend the dockyard and gun wharf of Chatham.  The barracks include a museum, containing models and relics.  A large military gymnasium was erected in 1863, at a cost of upwards of £6,000.  The new convict prison is here;  and, at the Census of 1861, had 1,269 inmates.  A fair is held on 22 May.  The chapelries are Old Brompton and New Brompton.  Population in 1861, 8,119 and 4,400.

The livings [New Brompton and Old Brompton] are vicarages in the diocese of Rochester.  Value, £150 with a habitable glebe house.  Patron and £166.  Old Brompton church is a neat edifice in the pointed style, with a spire.  New Brompton church was built in 1866, at a cost of £5,800;  and is in the early decorated style.  There are chapels for Wesleyans and Roman Catholics.

Luton – a chapelry in Chatham parish, Kent;  1-1/2 mile southeast of Chatham rail station.  It was constituted in 1852;  and it has a post office under Chatham.  Population in 1861, 2,730.  Houses, 580.  The property is divided among a few.  Brick-making is largely carried on.

The living [Luton] is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester.  Value, £80 with a habitable glebe house.  Patron, the Rector of Chatham.  The church is good.1
1John Marius Wilson, comp. The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales.  (London, England:  A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).


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Date last modified:  1/31/2007 1:14:07 PM