Centre for Kent History and Heritage

Canterbury parishes and other places – working together.


Canterbury parishes and other places – working together.

Next week will be much, much longer because I shall have two Lossenham Project meetings and the Kent History Postgraduates Group meeting to fit in. Consequently, I’m going to keep this one short and just let you know that the NHLF is delighted with the progress of Dr Diane Heath‘s ‘Medieval Animals Heritage’ project and the Centre is back working with some of the parish churches in Canterbury, as well as The Fellowship of St Thomas More at St Dunstan’s church and Eastbridge/the Franciscan Gardens. This is all very exciting and will build on our previous involvement with these groups.

Just by way of a reprise, here are the blogs that relate to what we have done at St Mildred’s: https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/celebrating-st-mildred-and-other-canterbury-and-kent-saints/ and St Dunstan’s: https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/black-histories-maritime-kent-and-st-dunstans-church-exchanging-knowledge/ in the past through the supervision of student projects, in addition to our involvement in the production of information banners for Eastbridge Hospital: https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/arts-and-humanities/research-kent-history-and-archaeology/crkha-latest-projects/st-thomas-or-eastbridge-hospital.aspx and something we will be expanding on in the future.

Late 12th century Christ’s Ancestor window

Back to the present, having attended a fascinating zoom lecture yesterday evening as part of the Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society’s new 2022 programme by Leonie Seliger, head of the glass studio at Canterbury Cathedral, on the dating of some of Christ’s ancestor panels that are now thought to date from 1130-1160 ie from Anselm’s cathedral before the devastating 1174 fire, I thought I would look at destruction rather than creation of religious buildings. Moreover, there is an Anselm connection joining both in that St Sepulchre’s nunnery, is thought to have been established by him on land held by St Augustine’s Abbey. Like many religious houses in and around Canterbury that were acquired soon after the dissolution in Henry VIII’s reign by members of the gentry, often to establish rather desirable residences, the nunnery came into the hands of Sir William Haute of Bishopsbourne. The family were not only in Bishopsbourne, having property at nearby Waltham (where Thomas, William’s father was born) and other members of the family were in west Kent, including Ightham. The family similarly followed the ideas of their social group, marrying into many of the landed noble families of Kent, which in William’s case meant his first wife was the daughter of Sir Richard Guldeford, who is known for his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a famous account having been compiled by his chaplain. For those who know the Rye area, this is the area of the Guldeford family and their brick-built church at East Guldeford.

The Haute family are also interesting for a couple of earlier Williams the first whose relic collection included the stone on which the Archangel Gabriel stood when he ‘saluted the Virgin Mary’: https://kentarchaeology.org.uk/arch-cant/vol/126/archangel-gabriels-stone-and-other-relics-william-hautes-search-salvation and his eldest son who, according to Dr Peter Fleming, “in his leisure time composed music (including carols and polyphonic settings of the Benedicamus domino) and patronized musicians”.

These earlier members of the Haute family had been major benefactors of the Austin Friars of Canterbury, a connection that seemingly went back over a considerable number of generations, and in the 15th century at least some seem to have sought burial in the friary church. However, of course this was no longer an option for ‘our’ Sir William, whose will, dated 1539, points to him having wholly adopted reformist religious ideas, albeit he still sought masses at his funeral services, and he wanted to be buried in the quire of Bishopsbourne church on the south side of Mary first first wife. Even though the patronage of the parish church was in the hands of the archbishop, it is possible that at least some of the tile from St Sepulchre’s nunnery which William bequeathed to the roofing of Bishopbourne church was used on the chancel (quire) roof. As well as these building materials, presumably coming firstly from the nunnery church roof and then from other buildings to make up the shortfall, William gave £4 in cash to be used on whatever the church needed. The church was also to be the recipient of two chalices, one immediately and the second after the death of Margaret, William’s second wife, as well as a vestment of blue damask.

He was also not above demolishing more of the nunnery because a mix of lead, stone, brick, boards, timber and lime had come from there to his mansion house at Bishopsbourne which was now to be used by Thomas Culpeper, William’s son-in-law to repair it. Thomas had a vested interest in doing this having received half the household goods there, the other half to be for Margaret for life provided she did not remarry, and she also received the lease of the court lodge there where she might live under the same conditions, Thomas Culpeper having it afterwards. Thomas was also the recipient of the lease and sale of the nunnery, and one can imagine him deciding which parts to keep and which demolish to make it into a suitable gentry residence.   

Not that this was William’s only property and as well as lands in the Midland, he had others down on the Romney Marshes, running a sizeable flock of ewes on lands at Scotney. However, he had at least some cattle and as befitted a gentleman a considerable number of horses, including a sorrel gelding that was to go to the Master of the Rolls. It is not clear how extensive his arable farming was but when he made his will he mentioned land down to barley, wheat and oats, while the warrener was to receive 20s, pointing to the importance of rabbits, another indicator of status. Similarly marking his status were his clothing bequests – velvet and damask furred gowns, and the gilded cups, as well as his sizeable gifts to the poor of more than twenty parishes in total and £20 to improve the roads between Bridge and Canterbury.

Interestingly, his will is followed by a list of debts that were to be paid by William’s executors, and, like many of the will bequests, these highlight the familial and fictive kin networks that criss-crossed Kent among these noble families. Moreover, these networks were vertical as well as horizontal and even though his will does not include literary patronage networks, this would become ever more apparent under the later Tudors and their Stuart successors. Thus, the Hautes are good examples of their social group in Kentish late medieval and Tudor society, but their individuality also makes them stand out as relic collectors, composers and those who seized the opportunities presented by religious and political changes.

Share this page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.