Questioning a theory - Was the ancient manor of Dodeham ever part of Whitstable?

Seeds of a Mystery

Dodeham has been written of as one of the Manors from which Whitstable evolved..... but, was it?

Reviewing my ‘Shoreline’ article before sending it off to Simply Whitstable, one or two points brought to mind my recently completed Whitstable Windmills item. Both articles stirred up some unidentifiable memory which had been niggling in my brain over the previous week. I suspect, pondering why so little has been written of or recorded about a windmill at Church Street, set my mind on a course of wondering about the hamlet itself, its position as the shoreline receded and the general acceptance that it spawned modern Whitstable. Why, when accepted as the place which spawned modern day Whitstable, did it never grow into a village?
That ‘course of wondering’ set me trawling over my notes which, of course, drew me into further mental deliberations on the town’s ‘origins & naming’.

Something ‘hit me’, as they say. Something I should have realised long ago yet a ‘something’ which historians appear to have overlooked. That ‘something’ was the effect of the 1287 tidal surge on the links associating Whitstable with evolving from the Church Street hamlet.

Church Street and the Origins of Whitstable

There are 3 basic links regarding the Church Street hamlet becoming ‘Whitstable’.

  1. The easy one – All Saints Church becoming known as ‘Whitstable Church’, as the Whitstable Parish church. That is from the post medieval period.
  2. The two manors, Dodeham and Northwood, (the latter previously called Nortone), have been accepted as the origins of Church Street hamlet because they both ‘had a church’. I should explain – Dodeham appeared in the Domesday Survey owned by Fulbert of Douvre sometimes referred to as Fulbert de Lacy. Reputedly, there has been no record of a local Dodeham since. But, it has been written that, shortly after Domesday, Fulbert owned what some historians have referred to as ‘previously unheard of Nortone’. Historians have assumed the very powerful multi property owner Fulbert was granted additional lands and so renamed the lot as Nortone dropping the name Dodeham. During the 16th century, Nortone became the manor of Northwood and as such has been well identified as being at, or in the vicinity of, Church Street.
  3. There are early references to the “herring port of Dodeham” so some historians appear to have assumed ‘Dodeham plus fish = seaside therefore Dodeham becoming Nortone/Northwood = Whitstable.

Note: – Canterbury was supplied with those herrings. But were they red herrings?

Now a really big "BUT" here. If Dodeham was a herring port, existent until the Domesday Survey of 1086, then one would expect a herring port to remain although renamed. Reportedly, Canterbury still received its herrings. So, what happened to the herring port after the 1099 storms and the 1287 tidal surge that shifted the shoreline?

Questioning Past Assumptions

Is the assumption that Dodeham and Nortone were the same manor correct? The same because both were owned by Fulbert, both had a church and Dodeham seemingly disappeared as Nortone allegedly appeared?

Would the Manor of Dodeham become the Manor of Nortone/Northwood thus Church Street, when any herring port would have been about two miles distant prior to or in 1086? Let us not forget that Nortone cum Northwood cum Church Street hamlet has always been reported as on the high ground where All Saints Church remains.

Let us not forget though – manors could include parcels of land (and presumably water) separated from the main body of Manor lands so, is that the answer? A ‘herring port’ more than 2 miles away?

To my thinking, a ‘herring port’, 2 miles or more from Church Street in 1086 would, considering the then shoreline, have been more conveniently ‘connected’ to the known routes to Canterbury either at Swalecliffe, Seasalter or perhaps The Salt Way between the two. But Herewic has long been known as the coastal terminus for The Salt Way. As both Herewic and Dodeham appear together in texts as distinctly separate manors, I doubt if those herrings traveled the Salt Way to Canterbury. Remember Seasalter itself was closer to Sheppey prior to 1287. We know, since Roman times, Canterbury was serviced with goods landed at the Seasalter location. Perhaps the Manor of Dodeham was near there?

One wouldn’t think Dodeham was another of the small ‘offshore’ fishing settlements as it ‘had a church’. I briefly wondered if Dodeham could have been about half a mile off today’s Blue Anchor Corner, perhaps about the Pollard area and the old so called Seasalter Church was Dodeham’s, the church destroyed by the sea in 1099. But, I have never seen the name Dodeham in references to anything around Seasalter.

Fig 1:The location of the ancient St Anne's Well and Nortone marked on a modern day street map

Fig 1:The location of the ancient St Anne's Well and Nortone marked on a modern day street map

Closer to the Church Street location and therefore Nortone cum Northwood was St. Anne’s Well. It is thought that had a chapel. Could that have been considered a church? There is some evidence linking the Manor of Northwood with St. Anne’s Well, even to an amalgamation of the two. In 1574 Queen Elizabeth 1st apparently referred to ‘our Manor at Whitstable of old called Norwood and now called St. Anne’s and Courtleys”.

Thus it would appear as though shortly after Nortone became known as Northwood, known to Queen Elizabeth 1st as Norwood, it was called St. Anne’s and Courtleys. (Did she really know ‘our Manor’ as being spelt Whitstable, 36 years before the name appears to have been first recorded with that spelling or has an author modernised the name?).

Could the chapel of St. Anne’s Well have been Dodeham’s ‘church’? But, St. Anne’s Well was on high ground inland of today’s Tankerton Slopes. An unlikely ‘herring port’.

Note: The well recorded ‘horseway for the fishwives of Whitstable’ to take their fish to Canterbury market, the horseway which became Canterbury Road, was post 1287 so that couldn’t have played any part in transporting goods (herrings) from Domesday’s Dodeham.

So, do we now have another le Craston? Known to have existed locally but no record of where?

I found a reference showing Doddington, South West of Faversham and therefore a few miles further inland, was apparently once named Dodeham, the date of renaming not mentioned. Whilst I thought that may have been Fulbert’s Dodeham I could not imagine herrings being landed so far inland.

I have a circa 1940s article ‘The Origins of Whitstable’. I prefer not to name the author as I just cannot agree with him on several points. His quote from Domesday doesn’t tally with what I find in Domesday records. He emphasises the theme: ‘Dodeham’ stopped with Domesday – Northwood not mentioned - ‘Fulbert’s Northwood’ started shortly after therefore Dodeham = Northwood.

It has been reasonably well established that Northwood is the name given to the Manor of Nortone around the 1500s. Nortone was mentioned in Domesday therefore Northwood cannot be said to have been Dodeham.

The most convenient access to the Domesday Book records is via the Internet. The present state of Domesday Book access is that one can type in a place name and (maybe) get a very brief free summary of the Domesday entry. ie Name of place as recorded in Domesday plus names of people. The latter does not state their role in the community recorded. (More complete extracts can be purchased – the difficulty is knowing if what one is purchasing covers one’s need.) For this present purpose I felt the summary would suffice.

Type in ‘Dodeham’ and you get Doddenham in Worcestershire and Luddenham in Kent. But, although Luddenham rang a distant bell with me it isn’t shown in my Kent maps or listed in my 2004 AA Road Atlas.

Typing in ‘Nortone’ brings up many Nortones throughout Britain one result showing ‘Whitstable’. Typing in Northwood brings up Northwood, Whitstable,……. Domesday place name Nortone. Nortone existed and was recorded in the Domesday Survey.

Interestingly one of the names listed in the Domesday Book at Luddenham’s Dodeham is ‘Fulbert’. Fulbert de Lacy, Baron of Chilham, aka Fulbert of Douvre owned the Manor of Nortone. The brief Domesday reference didn’t give Fulbert’s full name but it looked suspiciously like at the time of Domesday, Fulbert owned a Manor of Dodeham and during or perhaps shortly after Domesday was granted the Manor of Nortone. I have since found other references stating that Fulbert of Luddenham’s Dodeham was named Fulbert de Lacy.

Long ago I recorded from some source that in the 8th century: ‘3 Saxon manors make up the ‘Witanstaple area’ - Seasalter, Dodeham alias Nortone……and Herewic (Harwich.)’ I do not know the origin of that statement which has been quoted in several local books and by various historians but, as seemingly the earliest reference to Dodeham in Whitstable’s history it appears to have been the source of accepting Dodeham as Nortone (therefore Northwood/Whitstable.)
How could ‘Dodeham alias Nortone’ be so when both are listed separately in the Domesday Book?

We know with a degree of certainty that Manors came into being either through King Alfred or earlier and in the 8th century there existed the manors of Sesaltre, Herewic, Dodeham, Soanclive and probably Nortone. Where were they?

No problems knowing the general location of Sesaltre/Seasalter and Soanclive/Swalecliffe. Their locations have both been recorded with a degree of consistency through to the present day.

Herewic with its well recorded salt works generally floats around between the Harbour Street/Westcliff area depending on which historian one reads. Even Tankerton according to one. All apparently forgetting that Saxon times were before the sea encroachments of the 1099 storms and 1287 tidal surge. Herewic was a site of major saltworks so logically it followed the shoreline somewhere between Sesaltre/Seasalter and Soanclive/Swalecliffe. ‘The Salt Way’ ran inland from Herewic across the golf course site and alongside The Two Brewers etc. and is about the best indicator of where Herewic was. Several manors held parcels of land in Herewic which is probably why it declined into obscurity. I think Herewic’s final resting place was about today’s Island Wall and lost any vestige of its identity as Whitstable Street developed.

Nortone we know became Northwood, the Church Street hamlet. Where was the Manor of Dodeham? The place where they landed herrings.

A Search for a New Theory

I felt sure Luddenham did exist in Kent. Faversham kept coming to mind but I really knew little of that area. Then I remembered a Gordon Ward wrote that Seasalter was once in the Hundred of Feversham. Changing population could cause a Hundred to be divided into smaller parcels or localised decreasing population could be ‘moved’ to another Hundred.

Perhaps Seasalter moved from Feversham Hundred to Whitstable Hundred because sea encroachment had reduced its numbers yet Feversham, a Royal Hundred, was growing? Confusingly Seasalter was once a ‘Borough’. Boroughs were locations of administrative convenience. As such they may have existed within a Hundred or crossed the boundaries of several Hundred’s. As a Borough Seasalter may not have been solely within Feversham Hundred.

Had Dodeham, perhaps been part of or adjacent to Seasalter, Perhaps in Feversham Hundred and eventually as Luddenham totally lost its population? My mind ‘flew’ westwards along the sparsely populated marshland coast from Seasalter seeking a ‘none salt producing but suitable as a landing ground for herrings’ locale with convenient access to Canterbury. Faversham Creek! Those bells were really clamouring! What had I heard or read? Oh for an old map.

I had ignored several small scans of adverts of maps I have for me to look out for. In one from 1844 was a word which looked like ‘Lubbenham’. Enlarging didn’t help but two more maps, one of 1840 and one of 1831, were slightly better. Not very clear and being of even originally small scale the maps didn’t place Luddenham consistently but - Luddenham was N.W. of Faversham west of Faversham Creek.

Location of Dodeham... in Faversham

Fig 2: Map showing the location of Dodeham..... in the Feversham Hundred

An Internet search found Luddenham alive and well, a thriving parish village with a church, on the N.W. edge of Faversham. The Seasalter/Graveney/Cleve Marshes become Luddenham Marshes across Faversham Creek. As the major Thames medieval port until surpassed by London in the 1600s Faversham, more particularly Faversham Creek, was certainly a suitable place to land herrings and send them to Canterbury!

So! Domesday’s Dodeham was in Feversham Hundred not Whitstable Hundred. What is also interesting is that Luddenham has a neighbouring village called Norton. Could historians have misread Fulbert’s Dodeham neighbour Norton as Fulbert’s Nortone thus incorrectly placing Dodeham in Whitstable Hundred?

We may never know but, unless we ignore the Domesday record or some other more plausible explanation surfaces, it would appear as though Dodeham has no other place in Whitstable’s history than having been a Manor of Fulbert de Lacy and through him associated with Nortone.


Addendum (added 2009)

From a 1799 translation of the Domesday Records by Samuel Henshall M.A. & John Wilkinson M.D.F.R.S. & S.A. we find under FEVERSHAM HUNDRED :-

‘…….the same Fulbert holds DODEHAM of the Bishop. Here is a Church, six Ministers, half a FISHERY OF 300 HERRINGS, 5 enclosures…..…in the City of Canterbury. Sired held Dodeham of King Edward ie before Fulbert.

That Domesday record shows Fulbert’s Dodeham was in Feversham Hundred not Witenstaple Hundred. The record also notes both a herring fishery and a link to Canterbury via the ‘5 enclosures’.

Brian Smith

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