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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Where was Clofeshoh?
by W N Nichols.

As most readers will know the Anglo Saxon councils were held at a place called Clofeshoh as well as at Acleah and Caelchyth on at least twenty occasions between 716 AD and 825 AD In the 18th and 19th centuries much controversy took place in attempts to establish the positions of these sites.

Most writers favoured Cliffe at Hoo, near Rochester Kent although there were many possible sites discussed. The first point I should like to make is that in the period mentioned, Cliffe at Hoo was not yet established, the district being at that time called Bromgehege. See Footnote [1] The first records of this area show that the Archbishop of Canterbury held Hehham, See Footnote [2] now Lower Higham while the Bishop of Rochester held Bromgehege.

The boundaries of the Higham Charter give us some recognisable boundaries, the road from Collinghill to St Andrews land being the key point. The monks settled at the old Rectory near the old Cliffe railway station where the Saxon Eohingas were already farming. No doubt they built a hall or barn as the rest of their land to the sea at Cliffe (Bromgehege) was made a commune. See Footnote [3] Subsequently the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed the area and installed his own monks at the new church, St Helens, on the sea edge (now marshes) where it stands today. Many changes took place in possessions between Rochester and Canterbury, the rectory site being returned to St Andrews in 1195 AD which included the only large building in the area then called Prior's Hall See Footnote [4] -- was this Clofeshoh?

Oakley is the name of a farm only two fields away from the old Rectory, if this was originally Acleah, it could easily be identified with the Rectory itself.

Caelchyth, or Chalkhythe, would seem to be identifiable with the two streams running past the chalk cliffs just north of Oakley which, over the years before the arrival of the cement industry, conveyed chalk to the Thames over the Higham marshes and were, in fact, used for this purpose until the 1860's.

Thus the three places are within a few hundred yards of each other and were all about the same distance from the ancient road which ran past Oakley to the river and Essex. The key to the matter would seem to be in the St Andrews archives.

Aerial photographs indicate that the Saxon settlement was just to the north of the Rectory building while the large hall was south of it.


Footnote 1.

Birch, W de Gray, Cartularium Saxonicum Volume 1, pages 227 & 228. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 2.

Birch, W de Gray, Cartularium Saxonicum Volume 1, page 213. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 3.

Birch, W de Gray, Cartularium Saxonicum Volume 1, page 402. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 4.

Lambeth Palace papers. Return to the paragraph.
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