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architecture of the same period, and a curiously carved Font, and several ancient wooden Stalls, add to its venerable appearance. St. Peter's Church was partly destroyed by the fall of the tower upon the south aisle in 1661; what remains has evidently been erected at different periods, and presents nothing remarkable; the tower was restored, partly with the old materials, and partly with brick. Of St. Mary's Church the south aisle has also been demolished; the nave, chancel, and north aisle are spacious, and contain several monuments.
Considerable portions of the town walls, and one of its eight gates, still remain; the latter is called Fisher Gate, and is a mean-looking structure.
There are three Hospitals, of ancient foundation, in this town; namely, St. John's, which maintain's six poor persons; St. Thomas's, the number of whose inmates is twelve; and St. Bartholomew's, in which sixteen Brethren and Sisters reside; the income of the two latter is very considerable. The Free Grammar School was founded in the reign of Elizabeth, and endowed principally by Sir Roger Manwood, then Recorder of the town; it has received many subsequent benefactions, and has four exhibitions at Oxford. A Charity School, and a National School, afford the means of education to the poorer classes.
The Court-Hall was erected in 1579, but has been recently new-fronted; it contains some ancient records, and the cucking-stool and wooden mortar formerly used for the punishment of scolds. All corporate assemblies are convened here by the sounding of a brazen born of great antiquity. The Corporation at present consists of a Mayor, twelve Jurats, twenty-four Common-Councilmen, a Recorder, &c.; and the present Charter was obtained from Charles II, in the room of the original one, granted by Edward III. The two Barons, who were first sent to Parliament in 1369, are elected by the Corporation and Freemen, in number about 850. A Market is held here twice every week, for corn, &c.; and a Cattle Market every fortnight; beside several Fairs, particularly one in December, which lasts ten days.
Sandwich is 68 miles from London, and the population in 1821 was but 2912, although in 1801 it was stated at 6506, exhibiting an unparalleled decrease of more than half the number of inhabitants in twenty years, if the returns be correctly taken.
SEVENOAKS, a well-built market-town, situated near the Darent, 23 miles from London, consists chiefly of two wide streets, in one of which stands the ancient Market-house, where the Assizes for the County have been occasionally held. The Church, which is built on an elevated spot, is spacious and handsome, and forms a conspicuous object for several miles round. It contains several monuments, among which is one to the memory of William Lambard, the historian of Kent.
Here is an excellent Alms-house for the maintenance of 32 poor persons; and a Free Grammar School for the education of youth, both founded, in the reign of Henry V, by Sir William Sevenoke, who is said to have been a deserted infant, found in this town, and being brought up by some charitable persons, and apprenticed to a grocer in London, became Lord Mayor of that city in 1419, was knighted, and afterwards represented the City in Parliament. He built and endowed these institutions in grateful acknowledgment of the kindness he had himself experienced here. The School was afterwards incorporated by Queen Elizabeth, and has six exhibitions at the Universities. Lady Boswell's School, endowed in 1675, affords education to upwards of 200 children; it is held in a neat building, lately erected.
Sevenoaks has a weekly Market well supplied, and a monthly stock market. Population, in 1821, 3914.
Near Sevenoaks is KnOLE PARK, long the residence of the Sackville family, of whom Thomas, Lord Buckhurst, was author of Gorboduc, the first tragedy in English verse ever written; and his descendant, Charles, Earl of Dorset, was distinguished among the wits of Charles the Second's reign, and more honourably among the patriots who brought about the Revolution in 1688. The mansion is a noble edifice, with a fine collection of paintings, and the park is nearly six miles in circumference.
About a mile on the other side of Sevenoaks is CHEVENING PARK, the residence of Earl Stanhope. The late Earl was distinguished in early life for the violence of his political conduct, carrying his attachment to republicanism so far as to assume the appellation of Citizen Stanhope; after the subsidence of this ebullition he devoted his mind to mechanical subjects, and was the author of many improvements and inventions, particularly of a printing press, which is still called by his name.
ISLE OF SHEPPEY. This Island, with the two smaller ones of Hartry and Elmley, is about 32 miles in circumference, and is divided from the mainland by a narrow arm of the sea called the Swale, which is about 12 miles in length, and was formerly the usual passage for shipping coming into the Thames; it is still navigable. for vessels of 200 tons, but its use is now almost confined to the small craft of the neighbourhood.
The island is divided into six parishes; about fourfifths of it is marsh and pasture land, and the remainder arable. From the cliffs which extend along the shore, and are in some places 90 feet in height, a great quantity of copperas stones are collected. The interior of the island is agreeably diversified by hill and dale, but the coast is both unpleasant and unhealthy, and a great want of fresh water is experienced in almost every part. The communication with the mainland is by means of Ferries, of which there are three; that called the King's Ferry is principally used, the passage being free of expense, except at certain periods.
SHEERNESS, the principal place in the island, is 46 miles from London, and has been built entirely since the reign of Charles II, before whose time the site on which it stands, being the extreme north-western point of the isle, was nothing but a marsh. As it completely commands the passage of the Medway, where the grand fleet was stationed at the breakingout of the Dutch war, its importance was so evident, that the King determined to erect a strong fortress on the spot, and having laid the plan, and made two journeys hither at its commencement, he left the completion of it to Sir Martin Beckman, his chief engineer. Before the works were finished, however, the Dutch fleet arrived, in June, 1667, silenced twelve guns which had been mounted there, took possession of the fort, and, after proceeding up the Medway
as far as Upnor Castle, and doing great damage to the shipping, re-embarked their forces, and sailed away without molestation. This bold and successful attempt aroused the government; a strong fortress was completed, and mounted with heavy cannon; and the works have since been strengthened and improved, at various periods, to such a degree, that it is now almost impossible for an enemy's ship to pass, without the greatest hazard of being sunk. A regular garrison is maintained here, under the command of a Governor and other officers, and here is also a branch of the Ordnance establishment.
Adjoining to the Fort is the Royal Dock Yard, intended principally for repairing ships that have been slightly damaged, and for building vessels of a small size. It is under the controul of a Commissioner, and during the war gave employment to many persons; indeed, to the Dock Yard and Fort, the towns called Blue Town and Mile Town (the appellation of Sheerness belonging in strictness only to the fortification and the point of land on which it is situated) owe their origin and prosperity; and since the peace both have experienced a considerable reverse. The houses in them are principally built of wood; but in the latter place many neat brick buildings have been lately erected, and great improvements made, in the hope of bringing it into repute as a bathing-place, for which it is, in some respects, well adapted.
A modern Chapel has been erected at Sheerness, at the expense of government, for the use of the garrison and inhabitants; but all marriages, &c. must be performed at the parish church of Minster. To remedy the great scarcity of water mentioned above, a well was sunk, in 1781, within the Fort, to the depth of 328 feet, from which the soldiery and inhabitants, as well as the shipping lying off the town, are supplied.
MINSTER, in which parish Sheerness, Blue Town, and Mile Town are contained, had, in 1821, 8414 inhabitants. The Church is an ancient edifice, and forms part of the Nunnery founded here in 673 by Sexburga, widow of Ercombert, King of Kent; which after being nearly destroyed by the Danes, was reedified in the twelfth century, and continued until the general Dissolution. The Gatehouse, and part of the Church, consisting of two aisles, a chancel, a
chapel, and a low square tower at the west end, are all the remains of this establishment now visible. In the Church are several ancient and curious monuments, and its architecture evidently refers its erection to the restoration of the Nunnery, about 1130.
The other parishes in the Isle of Sheppey are Queenborough (already described); Eastchurch, having a spacious and handsome Church, with a western tower; Leysdown, with a small Church, of modern erection; Warden, and Elmley, the Churches of both which parishes are now in ruins.
Off SHELLNESS, in this island, James II was arrested, when attempting his escape to France, after the landing of the Prince of Orange, in 1688.
Shooter's Hill, a well-known eminence, eight miles from London, commanding the most extensive and beautiful views, has on its summit, which is 410 feet above low-water mark at Woolwich, a building called Severndroog Castle, erected by Lady James in 1756, to commemorate the reduction of a fortress of the same name belonging to Angria, the pirate, on an island near Bombay, by her husband, Sir W. James. It is built of stone, of a triangular form, with turrets at each angle, and is said to be constructed in exact imitation of the edifice from which it takes its name. Shooter's Hill was formerly much resorted to for the purpose of exercise in archery; and during the early part of the reign of Henry VIII, that monarch, with Queen Catharine and his courtiers, came hither with great state and magnificence, from the palace of Greenwich, on May morning, to witness the feats of a party representing Robin Hood and his men.
SITTINGBOURNE, a handsome town, 40 miles from London, owes its support principally to its situation on the high Kentish road; and here are two very excellent inns for the accommodation of travellers. It was formerly a corporate town, was empowered to send two Members to Parliament, and had a weekly Market, granted by Queen Elizabeth; but the former of these privileges were never exercised, and the weekly Market has been long disused, or has merged in the monthly one still held.