Sunday, 18 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 20 - Anglo-Saxon "Governmental" Administration and Swanley - No 2

After the Roman occupation, say 410 AD, administration in Kent gradually developed into a heirachy of administrative units (I need to hunt further for detail.):
  • several kingdoms which became the Kingdom of Kent - eventually to become a dependent kingdom within Alfred's Kingdom before it was lost as such;
  • County - created by the end of the Anglo-Saxon Era;
  • Lathe -  probably reflected tribal times of the Jutes and others after 410;
  • Bayliwick - (seen on map but not identified as yet);
  • Hundred - likely to have been introduced in Anglo-Saxon times as an area for tax assessment;
  • Vill - town or town-like settlement which was base for king's law and taxation;
  • Estate - developed as alloidal portions by Alfred's time - Alfred had 47 estates;
  • Manor - basic rural customary law unit under the Lord of the Manor.
At some time after 410 AD it came about that Kent was a single Kingdom of Kent with its own laws. Administratively it was divided into "lathes" - a unit which was a term peculiar to Kent. After Kent was absorbed into the Kingdom of England the lathes were further divided into "hundreds" - both in Kent and elsewhere in the English kingdom.

In Kent an old undated map (c 1700) shows that there were one, two, three or four bayliwicks in each lathe. The land of the Swanley district was within the Lathe of Sutton at Hone (for which there was only one bayliwick). The eight hundreds of Sutton at Hone included a) Axtane (?), b) Bromley and Beckenham,  c) Blackheath, and d) Westram (sic).

The hundreds are likely to have been introduced by the Anglo-Saxon kings as a means of raising Danegeld to buy off Danish Viking raiders by tribute.

The Lathe which included Swanley Hills (some) stretched roughly from Deptford to North Fleet, North Fleet to Groombridge, Groombridge to Cowden, and Cowden to Deptford. The latter being an old  boundary with Surrey.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 2.2 - History of Land Ownership No 2 - Gavelkind and Inheritance

I have wondered how the Kent countryside might have looked different if customs and cultue of land inheritance and its concomitant death duties had been different. We will never know.

Inheritance of land in England have been bound by "primogeniture" and the laws of trusts. The prevailing custom has usually been that on the each owner's death the family estate passes successively to the eldest son, ie primogeniture. In the absence of a son the estate passed to the eldest brother or his successors; and so on.

Together with strategic marriages, primogeniture tended to ensure that over time a dominant family's successsive generations built substantial landholdings in one or mores areas of England.

Several trends probably mitigated against such a build-up for a particular family line, including:
  • lack of a son - the estate passed to another branch of the family or, in the event of escheat, by bona vacantia to the sovereign personally (in former times, now to the Crown (state));
  • by confiscation of the estate to the Crown or new regime, as punishment for choosing to side with a party who had a  failed attempt to take the crown  (or vice versa);
  • an owner who used the wealth in an estate to generate funds for a lively high-living, eg by mortgages; 
  • excessive taxation following the Finance Act 1896 when estate duty was introduced;
  • in earlier less heavily regulated times, loss of the estate by the trustees of a family trust holding the estate in trust, ie they did not wisely administer the trust or simply divested the wealth for their own purposes.

Gavelkind:  At one time primogeniture was not the way of inheritance on the death of an intestate in Kent. Gavelkind was the law of inheritance - all the sons inherited the estate on the death of their father (if there were no sons all the daughters inherited.

Death DutiesAlthough estate duty was abolished in 1972 there have been other death duties since, namely: capital transfer tax and then inheritance tax. However, this is an aside because the owners of substantial estates have found successive governments very supportive of their position under the seemingly harsh tax regime - numerous reliefs and exemptions are available to avoid the burden of tax by death duty. Such that it is perhaps the tax regime which now shapes the English countryside!

Swanley Heritage No 15 - Watercoures, Rivers and the Like (Update No 2 - 20 December 2011)

This post is a first stab at writing down "findings" on watercourses. There are several leads to follow and some map hunting to be undertaken. For instance, where are the wells in and around Swanley?

The Environment Agency Flood map is helpful in tracing the suface watercourses - certainly when flooding might occur!,&scale=11

Being on high ground Swanley (in the Swanley Hills) is not devoid of watercourses but I want firstly to describe bigger picture.

About 200,000 million years' ago I understand that the Swanley Hills were beneath the seas. [Going by the number of pebbles on my allotment I can well believe that point!] However, about 200,000 BC to 10,000BC it is likely that the Swanley Hills were under ice or severely affected by icy conditions. Thus, the cave shelters may confirm the late Ice Age conditions at Oldbury (Ightham). It seems that the downs may have been formed by moving ice. [This may account for my pebbles.]

Rivers and other Watercourses: The Swanley Hills are bounded by the River Thames (north-ish) and the River Medway (south-ish). Swanley is bounded at some distance by the River Cray (eg Foots Cray on the A20) which eventually flows into the River Darent (eg Farningham on the A20). The Darent flows nothwards into the River Thames - joining it after going through Dartford.

Flows towards River Darent (Sutton-at-Hone):  I believe that all watercourses passing through the Swanley are underground. A huge hole which appeared a few years' ago - in the  lower part of the High Street - had dye put in it which re-appeared in the River Darent at Sutton-at-Hone.

Excavations in the valley near the Iron Age settlement (off Wested Lane) revealed water flowing in a natural pipe in the chalk. [This may be part of the mapped watercourse on an Environmental Agency plan of watercourses liable to flooding (in Swanley). The plan showed a stream (or dry bed) flowing northwwards from the hillside towards the pond (London Road) - down under the railway and then northwards towards Hextable - it twists and turns and may be the same as the "piped" water course.] 

Flows towards River Cray: A watercourse is visible as a "ditch" beside the A20 westwards of Swanley. it flows generally north-westly and (I suppose) enters the river Cray.

Finally, in very wet weather water collects in the fields near the Bull Inn (Premier Inn). It seems to be a "collecting area" and may be part of the source of the watercourse mentioned immediately above.)

Wells and Ponds: In Swanley the two surface ponds that I know of are situated at:
  • a fenced pond enclosure with may fine trees - beside the B2178 east of the town centre opposite the St Georges Estate;
  • a field pond near Five Wents - beside the lane to Swanley Village.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 14 - Renewable, Sustainable or Green Energies - No 1 (Update 1- 15 December 2011)

Swanley's heritage of renewable or green energies is entering a new era. Hitherto it has been restricted a limitedvand changing pattern.

Pre-history:  In pre-history renewable energy was largely based upon woodfuels from local trees and bushes. Warming the family and cooking food was exclusively by burning timber or using charcoal in open fires on the ground or in simple stone or clay hearths. To the extent that peat and coal were used it might not now be regarded by some as being "green".

Wind energy might have been used to move rafts and boats by sail. Similarly, tidal energy might have been used to travel up and down rivers on the tide. 

Roman Era: The Romans introduced several renewable features to Romano-Britain, including:
  • geothermal springs to provide hot water to baths, eg at Bath's spa (but not in the Swanley Hills);
  • underfloor warm air heating in the hot rooms and bathrooms of villas, eg Lullingstone Villa;
  • aquaducts based on water movement under gravity's influence (perhaps not in the Swanley Hills);
  • renewable sources energy for carts and wagons, ie drawn by horses.
Anglo-Saxon / Norman Eras: 
Watermills: William I's  Domesday Book mentions mills at or near Crayford - it has been suggested that these were likely to have been watemills (rather than windmills) - using perhaps the waters of the River Cray.

Later Periods:
Windmills: The Swanley Hills have lent themselves to windmills. Two old mills are known to remain standing and the sites of another has been identified on an old map of Dartford. Examples of windmills include:
  • Meopham Windmill at in the village at Meopham Green;
  • West Kingsdown Windmill south east of the village, just 150m or so off the A20;
  • windmill sites located on a) a map of Dartford - very approximately near the round-about above the M25 and Princes Road, and  b) an engraving - near the border of Crayford and Bexleyheath (Crayford area);
  • Cobham, Edenbridge, Frindsbury, Higham, Sheerness, and Shorne have remnants of windmills.
  • See
Wind Turbines and other Energy Initiatives:  Swanley is slowly developing a new green energy heritage to meet the rigours of the world's climate change. The following are examples:
  • Orchard Academy in St Mary's Road has a wind turbine producing electricity for its own needs and the national grid;
  • several of the Swanley Town Council's (STC) buildings have or will have solar panels arrays for generating electricity;
  • several of STC's vehicles are powered by recycled cooking oils;
  • several private residents have installed solar panels but the numbers or the rate of growth is unknown;
  • one new estate house has solar panels and other "green" features;
  • (I suppose) all new houses built from now will graduate as relatively carbon-neutral under curent government policies;
  • the Premier Inn and Beefeaters (Bull Inn of former times)  is built to a higt "green" standard.
Swanley, like other towns and settlements, is doing its bit to meet the challenge of the new energy heritage. (Will it be enough?)


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 13 - "Governmental" Administration and Swanley - No 1- Pre-History (Update 1 - 13 December 2011)

In a sense Swanley might have been regarded in earlier times as being without law and administration. This post is somewhat speculative as to what happened!

Early presence of humans in the Swanley Hills is evidenced by the the following "Ages":

Stone Age 500,000 BC to 10,000 BC
  • Swanscome female (?) skull (c 300,000 BC, ie before the period in the Ice Age c 200,000 BC to c 60,000BC when it was too cold for survival).
  • "Government" is likely to have been by family agreement, tribal custom, and force (in disputes).
Mesolithic Age 10,000 BC to 4,000 BC
  • Ice Age cave shelters near the Oldbury Hillfort (in times of receding ice and warming temperatures (10,000 BC);
  • "government" is likely to have been by family agreement, tribal custom, and force (in disputes)in hunter/gather circumstances;
  • beginnings of agriculture in Kent, eg traces of fields below Trotiscliffe;
  • "government" was probably by customary law (remembered and passed on by elders)and is likely to have covered inheritance and for instance field boundary disputes;
New Stone Age 4000 BC to 2000 BC
  • megaliths (c 3000 BC), eg Coldrum Stones below the scarp at Trotiscliffe. "Government" of construction likely to have been by one or more of the following: a) slaves, b) followers of spiritual leaders, c) family labour, d) labour levy of those in the tribal group, and e) specialised "builders" of megaliths travelling the land.
Iron Age: c 2000 BC to c 200 AD
Allodial ownership or possession:  It is likely that the land near Swanley was alloidal in Pre-history and to have been largely un-occupied. However, there is some evidence of human settlement during the Iron Age (c. 800 BC to 100 AD). Occupation of land by small family groups or tribal clans is likely to have been alloidal under a leader of the group who from his point of view owned it against allcommers - law would have been customary; the law was built up and remembered as time and generations passed on. The leader would know the law or, perhaps, have had wise persons to advise on it.

The rolling hills around different settlements was probably common lands. The animals may have been "heffered" in the area around the owners' settlements. It is likely that any guard dogs would have been taught to know their owner's land boundaries. No doubt each settlement would have known its common land.

Disputes may have been settled by negotiation or by recourse to determination by the wise: otherwise armed conflict would have been the norm.  The outcomes of "war" are likely to have included one or more of:
  • hostage takings;
  • forced marriages;
  • slavery;
  • death; and,
  • confiscations of land, chattels and slaves.
As society developed it is probable that strategic marriages became the norm and powerful individuals became tribal leaders. In the times before the Roman invasions many tribes had developed a pattern of tribal areas, eg the Cantii tribe in Kent. They had strong laws governing such matters as:
  • settlements and land boundaries;
  • inheritance of wealth and lands within the family and or the tribe.
Settlements near Swanley included the Oldbury Hillfort at Ightham. It is probably the nearest to Swanley. The function of hillforts may be varied but are likely to be defensive. Given enough warning of the need, it may have afforded shelter to residents of the Darent Valley in times of conflict. Again it may have been a place with the following functions:
  • to meet for trade or barter;
  • to celebrate rituals, or
  • to settle land and other disputes.
Who knows?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 11 - Swanley Hills' Time Line and Chronicle - No 1 Norman Times

True historians will, I hope, forgive my forway into their realm. As a historical vandal I have extracted and twisted what I have wanted to glean from your kingdom. As I glean more and your "corrections" are taken on board, this post will become eventually (I hope) a worthwhile read. individuals or groups have passed through the Swanley Hills some have settled here or left traces of their past presence. This post has taken a wide geographical and historical remit or context of the term "Swanley Hills". It stretches from the centre line of the Medway to the centre line of the Thames.

An aside to the post's main content .....In the past it was all part of the Ancient Kingdoms of Kent. This was until both: 
  •  the London County Council was created in the 19th Century; and,
  • when the LCC was expanded to the Greater London Council and divided into the London Boroughs.
Thus about half of the Swanley Hills was taken by the "robber-barons" (RBs) of London from the Men of Kent, Maidens of Kent, Kentish Men and Kentish Maidens.  The RBs have then absorbed "their" half into the Great Wen.  However, many of the residents of "their half" still regard themselves as Kentish, eg Bromley and Bexley people, by still using "Kent" in their postal addresses. (All the others, those living in "their half " up to Lambeth Bridge know where their hearts are (my assumption.))

Hopefully the reasons for the wide  geographical and historical will become clearer as you read the earlier posts and later posts or follow the many updates of this one!!!.

Mesolithic (more to come)
  • How did the hunter-gathers store grain?
Stone Age (more to come)

Bronze Age (more to come)

Neolithic Era (more to come)
  • Somewhere on the hillside of Lullingstone Castle and/or above the Roman Villa at Lullingstone (both well worth visiting) I was told that there are two small Neolithic sites - I recall the word "farmstead" being used 
Iron Age
  • Settlement created above Wested Lane, Hextable - pits with animal bones, teeth, etc (c 880BC?)
  • local Iron Age hillfort was Oldbury (near Ightham)

Roman Era
  • some archaeological evidence that Oldbury Hillfort was attacked and burned - was it Julius Ceasar or later Roman invaders? (I have no idea!)
  • Watling Sreet constructed from Dover to London
  • Romano-British villas built down the Darent Valley, eg at Lullingstone; their sites are about 2 to 3 km apart and are shown on Ordnance Survey (OS) plans [locations to be specified]
  • Lullingstone Villa developed by extensions, etc over some 250 years as a Roman or Romano-British dwelling and farm [dates to be obtained]
  • Tile kiln operating at Orpington [Dates and location to be specified]
  • 410  Roman Empire ends in Britain about 410, and
  • 450  Probably the end of Romano-British influence and way of life, eg ruined Roman villas of Darent valley derelict or occupied by Celts and surviving Romano-Britons
Times of the Jutes, Saxons, and Others
  • 410 Jutes (and Angles?) probably began to settle in Kent
  • 450 Prbable that Jutes came in strength in two waves and a succession of Jutish kingdom created in Kent ("Kent" derived from  word "Jute"(?)).
Anglo-Saxon Times
  • Built between say, 550 and  say, 650 is Faesten's Dic - a dyke-like earthworks in the Swanley Hills (Joyden's Wood to us)
  • the Swanley Hills (about Bexley) were teeming with local tribal wars about this time (see Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)
  • A line of Kingdoms of Kent lasted until Alfred the Great by mutual consent established alliances to beat off and eventually settle down with the Danes and their Danelaw area
  • 814 Anglo-Saxon' Survey of Boundaries mentioned Faesten's Dic (I would love to see the survey document! What was it for? Maybe it set out Lathes and Hundreds for administration of the kingdom.)
  • by the end of the 10th Century England divided into a) Alfred's Wessex, Mercia and dependant kingdoms including Kent, and b) Guthrum's kingdom (a Danelaw area on the opposite bank of the Thames to the Swanley Hills).
  • Swanley Hills and beyond might have been a target for King Guthram's forces and later Danes prior to his "peace" with Alfred the Great - who can say not?
  • the Kngdom of Kent would have had its own law until Alfred the Great adopted two sets of laws for his "England" - one of which was the law previously governing the Swanley Hills
  • late Anglo-Saxon peoples of Swanley Hills would have contributed to many Danegelds - enforced by the Danes' threats of local invasions 
Norman Dynasty
  • 1066 William took England and Anglo-Saxon Kent was absorbed into Norman England.
  • Many  of Kent's Anglo-Saxon nobility would probably have perished as the Norman's settled Kent
  • Domesday book mentions the following places - Swanley Hills might have been customary alloidal common lands 
  • During the Norman Dynasty  common lands came to be non-alloidal, ie owned by the local Lord of the Manor
  • the manor became the local government unit for the customary law
  • Any Royal Forests (RF) would have had Forest Law imposed (RFs were arears of rural countryside - woodlands, common land, manors etc)
  • in feudal Norman England the language of the ordinary folk of the Swanley Hills would have been Anglo-Saxon at first
  • the barons, Lords of the Manor and other invaders would have spoken Norman French at first
  • many castles were project managed by the Normans and no doubt constructed by the Anglo-Saxon slaves etc. (Who knows?)
  • Eynesford Castle, and Shoreham castle are two Darent Valley examples where Norman nobility lived the high life
  • Rochester Castle is an early major castle guarding the Medway crossing of Watling Street as it marches towards William's "white" castle, we call the Tower of London (on the Thames)  

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Swanley Heritage No 12 - Roads to or near Swanley (Update No 3 - 12 December 2011)

Pre-history:  The Pilgrims' Way (PW) runs from the east to west towards Salisbury Plain in the west and is an ancient track of Pre-history. Many megaliths stand near the route, eg Coldrum Stones below Trottiscliffe. This suggests that the PW may have had functions of a spiritual nature and may have had rituals associated with it. 

The Swanley Hills lie to the north of the PW and there is no known (to me) linking way other than the old London to Maidstone Road which crosses the PW. The significance of the link is probably less to do with pre-historic interest, but more to do with being a route towards Canterbury.

Roman Era:  The Watling Street is the second notable way through the Swanley Hills. Created by the Roman military and charactererised by straightness it provides part of the direct link to Rome from the provincial capital London.

Drovers' Roads or Ways:  The  Swanley Hills may have been crossed by drovers' roads - it has a name linked to grazing pigs. (Do pigs graze like sheep and cattle?) Several of the lanes in the area are deep-sided. (I have yet to find evidence of local examples.) It is likely that some might have gone back to the Bronze Age and the Roman Era and others to Mediaeval Times. (Who knows?)
From 1700:  Swanley is situated about 15 miles from Charing Cross in London. A map of 1700 shows the road from London to Maidstone running through the land which is the present day Swanley. Most of the other roads appear as trackways and are shown running roughly north to south - some probably cross or begin from the sothern side of Watling Street (A2) which was the Roman road from Dover to London (in the City).

The Charing Cross road was virtually our London Road.(B2173) It came, in effect, from the Foots Cray 12 mile milestone to the 14 mile milestone at the Bull Inn (at Birch Wood Corner) ("Corner" of what?) and then on to Farningham and beyond. Mr Bedall's Ruxley Farm was shown south of the road at the 13 mile milestone. Further east the track which runs north-east is shown as such - it runs on to Swanley Village (becoming mettaled where it crosses the Birchwood Road (north of the Bull Inn). [Today the site is occupied by the recently opened (April 2011) Premier Inn and Beafeaters.]

Pedham Place was shown on the road just south -east of the 16 mile milestone.

Turnpike Road: The picturesque village of Farningham was situated on the 1700 map between the 17 mile and 18 mile milestones. The village lies in the corner of two roads (a kind of elongated x-roads) which follow the Darent River from Dartford (on the Watling Street) to Farningham and then on to Sevenoaks. This road probably existed as a road or track in Roman times giving access to the Darent Valley's many Romano-British villas. There are many sites of the villas built in the Romano-British period (roughly 100AD to 380AD). An example is the excavated Lullingstone Roman Villa is exhibited by English Heritage, about 3 kilometres from Farningham. 

The road through the village was a "turnpike road" with a toll gate or bar situated thereon. I take this to be the main road to Maidstone; but the southwards turning off it to Sevenaoks is parallel to Sparepenny Lane. No doubt the locals spared many a penny avoiding the toll bar or gate! 

[In the 1980s or so I saw the 14 miles milestone in the hedgerow. It was cracked and broken but the incised lettering and numbers was visible, albeit worn.]