Newington was named Neweton by the Saxons, who had initially arrived on our shores alongside the Angles and the Jutes in the 5th century. Their early settlement here in the vicinity of Newington was possibly built on the site of the old Roman one, which became known as the ‘new farmstead’ or ‘new town’.
Newington was later recorded as being part of the royal estate at Milton, originally called the Manor of Middleton Regis that was founded soon after 600
A.D. The royal estate was later divided into two new Minsters by the church authorities for the protection of administration, following the Danish raids of the
New boundaries were set at the far west of the royal hundred (administration district), with one Minster based at Milton and the second at Newington. The new church Minster-land at Newington extended to about 15,000 acres and included the parishes of Newington, Lower Halstow, Upchurch, Rainham, Stockbury and Hartlip, while at the same time remaining part of the royal hundred.
This very early church at Newington was not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 however, an unidentified church is listed as ‘newchurch’ under Newington, in the Domesday Monochorum dated 1087. This document recorded the estates and churches belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had owned property at Newington since the reign of King Canute 1017 - 1035.
A charter was granted by Henry 1 in 1130 which states a church exists at Newington and that he commands the Abbot of St Augustine’s to hold it as his own. This very early church must have fallen into ruins or destroyed before Richard de Lucy planned the building of his Norman church at Newington between 1163 and 1177, which he dedicated to St Mary the Virgin.
Compiled by Thelma Dudley
This is the transcribed extract for Newington-next-Sittingbourne in Phillimore’s publication of the Domesday Book 1086 – Kent volume, page 13.
NEWINGTON / NEWETON / NUETONE
XIII. THE LAND OF ALBERT THE CHAPLAIN
In the half-lathe of Milton, In Milton Hundred Albert the chaplain holds Newington of the King. Sidgar held it from Queen Edith. Then and now it was assessed at 71/2 sulungs. The land was in lordship at 60 shillings.
In this manor 10 villagers with 48 smallholdings have 5 ploughs. There are 12 acres of meadow; and 4 woodland pastures pay 30 pigs from pasturage.
There is one fishery supplying the hall and 2 servants and a small wood for fencing. To this manor belong 4 sites in the city of Canterbury and 2 in Rochester which used to pay 64 pence. Now included in the Scray Lathe
From the manor of Milton a customary is paid in Newington.
28 weys of cheeses and from 28 sulungs of Milton 10 pounds and 10 shillings belongs in Newington. From the other part of 9 sulungs of Milton which belong in Newington 281/2 weys cheeses and 58 shillings of rent. From these 9 sulungs, Sidgar paid the cartage to Milton.
Three pastures of this manor were separated from it before 1066 according to the testimony of the court.
The whole manor before 1066 was worth 40 pounds; and afterwards 36 pounds. It is now worth 34 pounds.
The archbishop has 6 pounds and the Bishop of Bayeux has 3 pastures worth 40 shillings. Of this manor Geoffrey de Ros holds 1 yoke worth 10 shillings.
Adam son of Hubert has as much woodland as produces 40 pence yearly.
Compiled by Thelma Dudley
A sulung was both a unit of assessment and a peasant landholding unit, found only in Kent. The sulung was derived from the vocabulary of ploughing.
William of Normandy became the Conqueror and King of England after his
victory at the battle of Hastings in 1066. Manorial estates in many parts of England had already established communities, government and organisation.
Lords of manor estates at this time engaged a workforce with security in the form of knights or thanes (as they were also called), who served the lord like a police force when not at war.
There was also religion and the role of the church. Besides the spiritual function of the church, the lords needed men who could read and write in English and Latin to act as teachers, to keep accounts and write letters. The words ‘cleric’ and ‘clerk’ have the same origin, and every nobleman or lord would have had at least one priest to act as secretary.
Like many other villages at this time, Newington had a Benedictine system already in place. During the reign of King Canute (1017-1035) the Abbot and Monastery of St. Augustines in Canterbury owned eight prebends in Newington. This meant enough land for eight clergymen, who would receive a yearly pension, technically called a prebend. In return, they were expected to officiate at stated times and generally look after the community just like our vicar does today.
When William became King in 1066 he seized these prebends in Newington and gave them to his chaplain Albert. A church in Newington is not named in the Domesday Survey of 1086. However, a church is recorded at Newington in a document called the Domesday Monochorum, where it lists the estates and churches belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury.
To portray the scene in Newington at this time we need to indulge ourselves with legendary tales that have travelled forward from those times.
During the reign of William I a priory of Benedictine nuns resided in Newington. The site of which is reputed to be at Nunfield Farm in the hamlet of Chesley. Apparently the prioress was strangled in her bed one night and her body put down a pit or well. When Henry I became King in 1100 he banished all remaining nuns to Minster on the Isle of Sheppey.
During the reign of Henry II (II54 - II89) seven priests were installed in the old nunnery at the request of Thomas Becket. Unfortunately one of the priests was murdered and four were found guilty of the crime. With the King’s consent the two innocent priests gave their portions to the Abbot of St Augustines at Canterbury who had previously owned property in Newington prior to William’s conquest. The remaining portions, he gave to his chief justice, Richard de Lucy.
Richard’s property became known as the Manor of Newington Lucies, and St Augustine’s property was simply called the Manor of Newington. Richard built a church on his manor sometime between 1163 and 1177 and dedicated it to St Mary the Virgin. After his death in 1179 there followed a hundred years of quarrelling over the ownership of the church.
Compiled by Thelma Dudley
Newington had once been under the control of St Augustine’s of Canterbury with a strong monastic community. The history of monastic murders in Newington forced the king (Henry II) to appoint his chief justice Richard de Lucy to restore law and order in the village.
The history of the Borough of Newington Lucies begins when Richard de Lucy is granted much land in Newington, where he builds a manor house and a church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, between the years 1163 - 1177.
The village then became divided, with one part being called ‘Newington Manor’ held by St. Augustine's Abbey and the other part was called ‘The Manor of Newington Lucies’. St. Augustine’s property was perhaps mostly to the south and Richard de Lucy’s property to the north.
Following Richard de Lucy’s death in 1179, Lesnes Abbey in Erith claimed the church was promised to them by Richard de Lucy, who had completed their church in 1178. A hundred years of quarreling between the two Monasteries followed, and eventually St Mary the Virgin was given to Lesnes Abbey in 1323. It was during the occupation of Lesnes Abbey, through the 14th and 15th centuries, that most of the alterations and extensions were made.
The Lucy manor house that once stood in the high street was held by the family until 1553 when it was sold by the trustees. Several owners later it was eventually sold and pulled down in 1857 to make a road through for a railway station to be built, that opened in 1862.
The remaining property belonging to the estate was sold by auction in 1894 for
£5,679 and consisted of 12 houses, 2 shops, 1 public house and orchards. At the same time Merton College, Oxford purchased the ancient rights and privileges for
£25. (Document displayed in St Mary’s)
The 12 houses mentioned above are in Church Lane and named Pemberton Terrace. They were built in 1863 by the last owner of the estate, Edward de Legh. The two shops are the two enormous properties either side of Station Road, built in 1861 and the orchards were probably those recorded on the east and west sides of Station Road before the first houses were built there in 1897.
Compiled by Thelma Dudley