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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 89  1974  page 105
The Tithe Commutation Surveys in Kent  By Roger J.P. Kain, B.A., Ph.D.

original tithe maps with some simplification. In particular, tiny detached portions have been omitted to permit reduction to published size. The individual tithe districts can be identified from the half-inch to a mile key sheet of the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 in. plans of Kent.
   Not all land in the 407 districts was subject to tithe. In many districts there were single estates or farms exempt from tithe. For instance, the Old Palace Estate in Canterbury, St. Mary Northgate, was exempt because it was once land attached to an Augustine monastery. In West Langdon, only 81 of 606 acres were titheable. The remainder was at one time part of the Langdon Abbey Estates.13 Woodland in the Weald was customarily exempt by prescription from tithe payments. To effect a commutation for tithes it was not necessary to survey exempt land, but often such land was described in the apportionments and delimited on the maps. Occasionally, exempt woodlands were assigned to particular farms, and the total acreage of woodland and hedgerow annexed to the schedule of other lands held by each occupier. At Wye, for example, the preamble to the schedule of apportionment states that 1,725 acres of woodland had been exempt from tithe from time immemorial. In the apportionment, parcels of woodland varying in size from 8 to 918 acres are assigned to 28 farms.
   862,638 acres, or 868 per cent of the surface area of the county at the time of the tithe surveys, were subject to tithe. 

   One-hundred and fifty-nine parishes contained tithe-free land other than small amounts of glebe in the occupation of parsons, and roads and wastes. In all but one parish the use and extent of tithe-free lands are described in the Kent tithe surveys.14  This means that in total the tithe surveys contain a record of the ownership, occupation and use of 974,706 acres of land, amounting to 98.1 per cent of the surface area of Kent c. 1840.

   The work of the tithe survey in Kent began in 1837 when 15 agreements for the commutation of tithe were received by the tithe commissioners. Subsequent progress can be traced on Fig. 3. The chronology of the tithe surveys in Kent follows a somewhat similar course to that of the nation as a whole, described in the annual reports of the Tithe Commissioners. At first, there was a time lag between the receipt of agreements and the confirmation of apportionments which the Tithe Commissioners explained by ‘difficulties as to the characters of the maps to which our official seal was to be attached’.15  Certainly, the work of the Commission got off to a slow start in Kent. In Essex, for
  13  Prince, op. cit., in note 8; P.R.O. I.R.18/3545—6 and 3675.
14  Goodnestone next Wingham only titheable land was surveyed.
15  Tithe Commissioners’ annual report, P.P.S(H.(J.), xxviii
               (1837—8), 33.

Page 105

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