"Duchess of Kent"
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East Kent became one of the Kingdoms of The Jutes during the 5th-Century A.D. (see Kingdom of Kent) and the area was later known as Cantia, around 730 A.D. and Cent in 835 A.D. The Early-Mediaeval inhabitants of the County were known as The Cantwara, or Kent people, whose Capital (the only Town called a Metropolis by The Venerable Bede) was at Canterbury.
Canterbury is the Religious centre of The Anglican Faith, and See of Saint Augustine of Canterbury. Augustine is Traditionally credited with bringing Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England, landing at Ebbsfleet, Pegwell Bay, on The Isle of Thanet (North-East Kent) in the Spring of 597 A.D.
A Lathe was an ancient administration division of Kent, and may well have originated during a Jutish colonisation of the County. These ancient divisions still exist, but have no administrative significance, today. There were seven Lathes in Kent at the time of The Domesday Book, which reveals that in, 1086, Kent was divided into the seven Lathes or "Lest(um)" of: Aylesford, Milton, Sutton, Borough, Eastry, Lympne; Wye.
"The Flower of Kent" Pub,
Lewisham, South-East London
Illustration: HEY EVENT
For administrative, judicial and taxation purposes, these units remained important for another 600 years, although, by 1295, the number of Lathes had reduced to five: Borough and Eastry were merged to form The Lathe of Saint Augustine, The Lathe of Lympne was renamed The Lathe of Shepway, The Lathes of Milton and Wye were merged to form The Lathe of Scray. Each of The Lathes were divided into smaller areas, called Hundreds, although the difference between the functions of Lathes and Hundreds remains unclear.
Following the invasion of Britain by King William of Normandy in 1066, the people of Kent adopted the Motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated", and claiming that they had frightened The Normans away, as they merely used Kent to reach London.
Once London was reached, The Normans ignored most of East Kent, due to the peasants attacking them at every turn. As a result, Kent became a semi-autonomous County Palatine, under William's half-brother, Odo of Bayeux, Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux, with the special powers otherwise reserved for Counties bordering Wales and Scotland.
"Duchess of Kent",
A decade after The Norman Conquest, Penenden Heath, near Maidstone, held a successful trial of Odo of Bayeux. The trial, ordered by King William I at the behest of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, challenged the Earl's purported landholdings in the County, an event which represented an important attempt by Saxon landowners to reassert their pre-Norman rights and privileges.
Gavelkind was one of the most interesting examples of Customary Law in England. After The Norman Conquest, Gavelkind was superseded by The Feudal Law of Primogeniture, except in South East England. In essence, Gavelkind meant that, on death, a man's property was equally divided amongst his surviving sons, which led to land being divided into ever smaller parcels. Therefore, the wasteful Strip System of farming in open fields was never established in Kent. Gavelkind was finally abolished by The Law of Property Act in 1925.
Monument at Swanscombe, near Dartford, Kent, recording the legend
of how Kent managed to extract concessions from William the Conqueror.
Thus, Kent's Motto remains as "Invicta" (Undefeated).
This Monument depicts the meeting of Men of Kent and Kentish Men
with the Invader, William, Duke of Normandy, after The Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Photo: 28 June 2006.
Source: Own work.
Gavelkind was a system of Land Tenure associated chiefly with The County of Kent, but also found in Ireland and Wales and some other parts of England. Its inheritance pattern is a system of Partible Inheritance, which bears resemblance to Salic Patrimony: as such, it might testify in favour of a wider, probably ancient Germanic, Tradition. Under this Law (Gavelkind), land was divided equally among sons or other heirs.
Over the Centuries, various Acts were passed to "De-Gavel" individual Manors, but, in England and Wales, it was The Administration of Estates Act 1925 that finally abolished the custom.
Before abolition of Gavelkind tenure, by The Administration of Estates Act 1925, all land in Kent was presumed to be held by Gavelkind, until the contrary was proved. It was more correctly described as Socage tenure, subject to the custom of Gavelkind. The chief peculiarities of the custom of Gavelkind were the following:
A tenant could pass on part or all of his lands as a fiefdom from fifteen years of age;
On conviction for a felony, the lands were not confiscated by The Crown;
Generally, the tenant could always dispose of his lands in his Will;
In case of Intestacy, the Estate was passed on to all the sons, or their representatives, in equal shares,
leaving all the sons equally a Gentleman. Although females, claiming in their own right, were given second preference, they could still inherit through representation;
A Dowager was entitled to one half of the land;
A Widow, who had no children, was entitled to inherit half the Estate, as a tenant, as long as she remained unmarried.
"Maid of Kent"
Illustration: CHRISTOFF MODEL ENGINEER
Gavelkind, an example of Customary Law in England, was thought to have existed before The Norman Conquest of 1066, but, generally, was superseded by The Feudal Law of Primogeniture. Its survival (until as late as 1925) in one part of the Country, is regarded as a concession by The Conqueror to The People of Kent.
During The Mediaeval Period, Kent produced several rebellions, including The Peasants' Revolt, led by Wat Tyler, and, later, Jack Cade's rebellion of 1450. Thomas Wyatt led an army into London from Kent in 1553, against Queen Mary I. Canterbury became a great Pilgrimage site following the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, who was eventually Canonised in 1246. Canterbury's Religious role also gave rise to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a key development in the rise of the written English language and ostensibly set in the Countryside of Kent. Rochester had its own Martyr, William of Perth, and, in 1256, Lawrence, Bishop of Rochester, travelled to Rome to obtain William's Canonisation.
As well as numerous fortified Manor Houses, Kent has a number of Traditional militarily-significant Castles, including those at Allington, Chilham, Dover, Hever, Leeds, Rochester, and Walmer, built to protect the Coast, The River Medway, or routes into London.
"Duke of Kent"
Steam Road Locomotive.
Built in 1914.
Kent also played a significant role in The English Civil War, around 1648.
West Kent and East Kent are one-time Traditional Sub-Divisions of The English County of Kent, kept alive by The Association of The Men of Kent and Kentish Men: An organisation formed in 1913.
Residents of West Kent, those living West / North of The River Medway, are called "Kentish Men", as opposed to residents of East Kent, who are known as "Men of Kent".
Simplistically, the division is considered to be The River Medway, but apparently corresponds roughly to The Diocese of Rochester.
The division apparently derives from the ethnic differences between The Jutish Settlement of The East of the County and The Saxon presence in The West, although its origins are somewhat obscure.
Prince of Kent.
Prince Michael of Kent,
by A.K. Lawrence, RA.
However, some Towns, such as The Medway Towns - Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham (although Rainham was annexed from Swale, and is thus considered part of East Kent) and Maidstone, lie on the East / South bank of the River Medway.
West Kent had its own Quarter Sessions, based in Maidstone, until 1814, when the Administrations of East and West Kent were merged. The West Kent Quarter Sessions Division consisted of The Lathe of Aylesford, The Lathe of Sutton-at-Hone and the Lower Division of The Lathe of Scray.
HMS Kent, off the coast of Djibouti.
Photo: 1 February 2015.
Author: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson
Places in West Kent included: Dartford; Edenbridge; Gillingham; Gravesend; Hawkhurst; Headcorn; Maidstone; Northfleet; Rochester; Royal Tunbridge Wells; Sevenoaks; Swanley; Tenterden; Tonbridge; Westerham.
The historic area of West Kent included a number of places now in Greater London; specifically The London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham, including: Beckenham; Bexley;
Biggin Hill; Bromley; Chislehurst; Deptford; Eltham; Greenwich; Lewisham; Orpington; Sidcup;
See also: Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).