Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HARBLEDOWN

HARBLEDOWN, a village and a parish in Bridge district, Kent. The village stands near the London, Chatham, and Dover railway, 1 mile W of Canterbury; and has a post office under Canterbury. It grew around a lazar house, founded, in 1084, by Archbishop Lanfranc; and it is "the little town" of Chaucer "which that ycleped is Bob up and down, Under the Blee, in Canterbury way." The parish includes also the hamlet of Rough Common. Acres, 1, 670. Real property, £4, 826. Pop., 655. Houses, 145. The lazar house adjacent to the village was for lepers, and consisted originally of several wooden structures; was refounded, by Edward VI., for the residence and maintenance of 26 poor men and women; was rebuilt, with the exception of its church, in the time of James I.; consists now of a range of cottages and gardens, with central large common hall; bears the name of St. Nicholas' hospital; and has an endowed income of £223. An excellent spring adjacent to it bears the name of the Black Prince's well, from a tradition that the water of it was sent to the Black Prince during a severe illness; and it may have occasioned the selection of the site for the hospital, on account of its reputed virtues. The upper leather of a shoe of Thomas à Becket, with a crystal set in it, was possessed by the hospital before the Reformation; and, when pilgrims to Canterbury were passing by, this was usually brought forth by one of the inmates to the steps leading down to the road, and presented, with much reverence, to the better class of pilgrims, to be devoutly kissed as a sacred relic. A ludicrous account of the performance is given by Erasmus in his "Peregrinatio." A maple bowl, figured with Guy of Warwick's killing the dragon, and set with a large crystal, is preserved in a chest in the common hall; and the crystal on it is supposed to be that which was formerly on Becket's shoe. The church of the hospital is partly Norman, partly early English; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with western ivy clad tower; and contains a curious ancient stone font, and some remains of ancient frescoes. A farm on which the hospital stands, together with the hospital itself, is exempt from the jurisdiction of the parish, and belongs to Canterbury. The parochial living is a rectory in the diocese of Canterbury, Value, £383.* Patron, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church is ancient; consists of nave and chancel, with a small tower; and was recently enlarged and improved.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a village and a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Harbledown CP/AP       Bridge PLU/RegD       Kent AncC
Place: Harbledown

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