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The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868

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1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"GILLINGHAM, a parish and post town in the hundred of Chatham and Gillingham, lathe of Aylesford, county Kent, 1 mile N.E. of Chatham. It is situated on the S. bank of the river Medway, and includes the hamlets of Brompton Grange and New Brompton, at which latter place the London, Chatham, and Dover line of railway has a station about half a mile W. of the town. The Saxons called it Gillinga, and in Domesday Survey it was written Gelingeham. It was here that the 600 noblemen who accompanied Alfred and Edward were slain by Earl Godwin. It became a market town in the reign of Edward III., and before the rise of the neighbouring town of Chatham was a place of much importance, being a principal station of the royal navy.

Charles I. erected a fort hare for the protection of the dockyard, but as it proved insufficient to stop the progress of the Dutch in their celebrated expedition up the river in 1667, it was subsequently enlarged, and received the name of Gillingham Castle. At present the entire neighbourhood is strongly fortified with outposts connected with Chatham Lines, and under the New Fortifications Bill great alterations are in contemplation.

Situated on the brow of a hill overlooking the royal dockyard of Chatham, partly in this parish, and partly in the adjoining parish of Chatham, is the populous village of Brompton, chiefly inhabited by artisans and others employed in the dockyard. The parish is of large extent, and nearly half the land is arable; the remainder, which is not built over, is divided between pasture, woodland, hop plantations, and saltmarsh.

The living is a vicarage united with the curacy of Lidsing, in the diocese of Rochester, value £643, in the patronage of Brasenose College, Oxford. The church is a commodious structure of the Norman style of architecture, with beautiful E. window, round stone font, two chapels, and the shrine of "Our Lady of Gillingham." It is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and contains monuments and brasses of the Beaufitz, Hayward, and other families, dating from the early part of the 15th century. There is also a chapel-of-ease at Lidsing.

The charities for the poor produce £30 per annum, with a share of the benefits of Pitt's school at Chatham. The Wesleyans, Reformed Wesleyans, and Bible Christians have chapels, and there is a National school for both sexes. There are some remains of the old archiepiscopal palace of Canterbury, situated on the S. side of the churchyard. The coastguard have a station here, and the manor of Grange, situated within this parish, is an adjunct of the Cinque Port of Hastings. This was the birth-place of the monk, William of Gillingham, celebrated for his History of England, written in the reign of Richard II.; and also of William Adams, who discovered tie Japan Islands. Memorials of the Romans have been traced within the church walls."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 by Colin Hinson ©2010]