During the late 14th and early 15th centuries Sir John de Cobham, Sir Thomas Langley, and other benefactors endowed the Rochester Bridge Trust with lands in London, Essex and Kent. The Wardens used the income from these properties to repair and maintain Rochester Bridge.
The original endowment included a block of tenements on Leadenhall Street and Shaft Alley in London, close to Leadenhall Market; the manor of South Hall in East Tilbury; the Manor of Rose Court on the Isle of Grain; the manor of Langdon, near Faversham; the manors of Nashenden and Little Delce in Rochester, farms in the parishes of Dartford and Frindsbury; Eastwick Marshes north of Cliffe; and various wharves, inns and tenements in Rochester and Strood.
The Rochester Bridge Trust estate remained virtually unchanged from medieval times until the late 19th century, when the Charity Commission granted the Trust powers to buy and sell land. Although some of the properties have since been sold and new investments made in their place, much of the original endowment still remains. The Trust’s current estate includes property in Kent, West Sussex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire. It extends to approximately 6,500 acres. The estate comprises a mix of agricultural, residential and commercial properties covering a diverse range of activities.
The estate is managed by the Surveyor (Savills UK Ltd) under the direction of the Chief Estates Officer and the Bridge Clerk.
All enquiries regarding agricultural and residential properties should be directed to Savills UK Ltd as follows:
For properties in Kent, West Sussex and Suffolk, please contact Savills Maidstone Office on 01732 879050.
For properties in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire, please contact Savills Peterborough Office on 01733 567231.
Historic rents in London and South East England
Over the centuries, the administration of the Trust’s properties generated an extensive series of estate records and financial accounts unbroken since the 16th century and stretching back to the first parchment account roll, dated 1390-91.
In 2007 David Ormrod, Professor of Economic History at the University of Kent, received a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to research historic rents in London and the South East. The estate records in the Rochester Bridge Trust Archive provided the raw data, and Phase I of the City and Region Project extracted from the account books and leases the rent and acreage for each property for each year from 1577 to 1914. In 2010 the Rochester Bridge Trust funded Phase II of the City and Region Project, which digitised the estate maps and building plans relating to these properties and incorporated both the images and rent data in a website.
The Rochester Bridge Trust estate records used by the City and Region project are included on this website. Rent totals from 1577 to 1914, displayed both as tables and as charts, give the data totals for urban and rural rents and for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and residential land use.
The map page showing the estate locations leads to a description and historical summary of each property. From there visitors can access the individual property rent charts and the rent tables that give arrears carried forward, rent assessed, rent collected, arrears added, arrears carried forward, acreage, and rent per acre for each property for each year. They can also view the names of tenants and occupiers or explore the detailed, zoomable images of building plans and estate plans. At every stage links to the archive catalogue provide further information about each property.