KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

The Kent Lay Subsidy Roll of 1334/5.  By  H.A.Hanley, B.A. and C.W. Chalklin, M.A., B.Litt    Page 66

fall.1 Most of the grazing land in the Weald and central Kent is of indifferent quality, and by the later period nearly all the Marsh was used as pasture, much of it providing the richer grazing grounds needed by the more substantial farmers of the uplands: many of the inhabitants, too, were the shepherds and bailiffs of the absentee landholders. It is possible that the higher population of the fourteenth century reflects a greater emphasis on mixed farming with a much higher proportion of resident landholders. The later fall in the number of inhabitants may also have been caused by the decay in the port facilities of the area provided by New Romney and Hythe, consequent on the silting up of their harbours.
   The most thickly populated areas of the county were the easily tilled chalklands of the Isle of Thanet comprising the hundred of Ringslow and two areas of rich loam soils, the first in the north-east of the county between Canterbury and Deal, and the second in north-central Kent in the neighbourhood of Faversham. Thus in Thanet there were no less than twenty-five, and in both the north-east2 and in the Faversham area3 about fourteen taxable inhabitants for each one thousand acres. In contrast with most of the rest of Kent there may have been little woodland even at this period, and with the possible exception of the Faversham region, nearly all the land was unenclosed and nucleated villages were numerous. The easily tilled and often rich soil made the areas particularly suitable for a comparatively intensive arable farming.

   On the poorer soils of the downlands of east Kent, also largely unenclosed, the population was smaller, with only eleven taxable inhabitants per thousand acres.4 In north Kent west of the Medway in the fertile region between Strood and Dartford the figure was only ten and a half.5 In the poorer soils in the Blackheath and Bromley areas in the north-west corner of the county, where the remnants of once considerable heath and waste lands survive today, there were only ten people per thousand acres.6 To the south, among the parishes lying in and on the edge of the vale of Holmesdale and on the sandstone ridge on its south, where parks and heathlands were of considerable extent, the figure was only seven and a half.7 Altogether the western
  1 Thus the total population of the county in the sixteenth century was little different from that of the fourteenth. In 1377, after the period of the great plagues, it was approximately 90,000; in 1600 it is unlikely to have exceeded 120,000.
In the hundreds of ()ornio, Bleangate, Eastry. Downhamford, Preston and Wingham.
In the hundreds of Teynham, Faveisham and Boughton.
In the hundreds of Bewsborough, Kinghamford, Stowting, Loningborough, Folkestone and Felborough.
In the hundreds of Shamwell, Toltingtrough and Hoo.
  6 In the hundreds of Bromley, Beckertham, Blackheath, Lessness and Ruxley.
In the hundreds of Codsheath, Wrotham and Larkfield.

Page 66

Previous Page         Back to page listings          Next Page

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Vol. 18 Contents Page    Kent Records Volumes       Back to Research        Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
Kent Archaeological Society May 2004     

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs.. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details to