ANTIQUARIES & COUNTY
INTRODUCTION TO SELECT TEXTS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CHEQUERED HISTORY OF
THE RISE AND DECLINE
OF A DISCIPLINE. GRAHAME
WHITE. [OCTOBER 2001]
TEXTUAL TOUR OF KENT:
Richard Kilburne, A Topographie or Survey of the
County of Kent, London, 1659.
section was devoted to a preliminary reading and contextualization
of William Lambarde’s edition(s)
of his Perambulation... of 1576 and 1596, with indications towards
a possible comparative reading of these two editions.
The conclusion tentatively broached was that there was a process of
textual AUGMENTATION marking a difference between the first and second
- As if the writing of the original text, its dissemination, and subsequent
feedback to Lambarde, as well as the realization that this domain of
research was readable (lisible in the Barthesian sense of the term)
and could , however tentatively, be arranged, and indeed augmented
to form a book.
A book, that is, as opposed to the scattered fragments which constitute
Leland’s much more ambitious project of covering the whole of
England in one topographical or chorographical treatise. And it will
be remembered that Leland’s work remained in manuscript, unfinished,
and not published until some 200 years later, in the early eighteenth
century, carefully transcribed and edited by Thomas Hearne.
following tentative notes made whilst rereading Kilburne’s
work, many questions are raised - only to be deferred at this stage
It is principally my intention to propose one tentative - definitely
not definitive - reading of Richard Kilburne’s text.
Thus, the status of my own, following comments and suggestions, is
simply that of a reading. A reading, rather than an analysis and situating
of the text within the domain of antiquarianism and county histories.
MARGINALIA transcribed from a shorthand notebook. An act of transcription
which is also one of sifting; of propositions which in some instances
await further elaboration and substantiation... or indeed deletion
A first attempt, for myself, to utilize the wordprocessing functions
of a computer in lieu of pencilled scrawls in shorthand notebooks.
Whether this experiment will bear fruit - whether it will be readable
is a problem for the moment which I intentionally leave in suspense.
[N.B. The blank page following (p.4) is left for the insertion of
a potted biography of Richard Kilburne, which will doubtlessly owe
much to the entry under his name in the Dictionary of National Biography,
and any other relevant introductory insights gleaned from the Kent
County Archives, and the various publications lodged therein.]
A SECOND TEXTUAL TOUR OF KENT.
RICHARD KILBURNE, A TOPOGRAPHIE OR SURVEY OF THE COUNTY OF KENT, London,
Description: Small 4to. Frontis. portrait of the author by T.Cross,
facing title-page. 422pp. + Index and Errata leaf. No map included
in the publication; nor any engravings.
Described by Bishop White Kennett at the beginning of the 18th century
as’a modern and superficial work’. (A verdict which may
have been partly tinged by Kennett’s own view on the relationships
between historiography and theological morality. A topic perhaps to
be broached later in this study.)
HERE IS TO BE INSERTED A SYNOPSIS OF THE BIOGRAPHY OF RICHARD KILBURNE
FROM THE D.N.B..
ALSO TO BE SUPPLEMENTED BY MATERIAL RELATING TO STUDIES OF KILBURNE
FROM THE KENT COUNTY LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARY.
ALSO TO BE INCLUDED, 17th CENTURY ACCOUNTS OF KILBURNE, AS WELL AS
REFERENCES TO HIM IN WRITERS OF THE PERIOD.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL CUM BIOGRAPHICAL ASSESSMENTS OF HIM AND HIS WORK
FROM WRITERS OF THE 18th AND EARLY 19th CENTURIES - WOOD, HEARNE,
JOHN NICHOLS ETC. AS A MEANS OF TENTATIVELY TRACING THE ESTEEM IN
WHICH HE WAS HELD AS WELL AS INDICATING THE FINANCIAL VALUE (i.e.
DESIRABILITY & SCARCITY
OF HIS STUDY OF KENT.
MORE RESEARCH REQUIRED AT THIS TEXTUAL POINT.
APOLOGIES FOR DISRUPTION OF ALREADY FRAGMENTED FIRST DRAFT.
ATTRIBUTE THIS AND ALL SUBSEQUENT GAFFES TO EARLY EXPERIMENTATIONS
WITH ATTEMPTING TO COMPOSE DIRECTLY ONTO COMPUTER FOR THE FIRST TIME.
THANK YOU, DEAR READER, FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
PLEASE CONTINUE IF YOU WILL.
Kilburne in his opening pages is at pains to establish the topographical
importance of the county. He indicates, amongst other factors, the
independent status of the county under both the Romans and the Normans.
factors in the county’s importance
include its rivers and docks. The solid foundation of agriculture;
and also the small but lucrative mining enterprises - Wealden ironfounding
and the small Kentish coalfield.
- All this is worked into a prose paean of the exceptional natural
richness and variety of the county.
However, by the time of the publication of Kilburne’s text, such
tropes had become decidedly hackneyed. They had been utilized by Lambarde
in both editions of his Perambulation... Likewise, Richard Carew, in
his Survey of Cornwall of 1602, had claimed the same for the county
of his residence.
Hackneyed although such paeans of one’s county of residence may
seem to the 21st century reader, it is nevertheless to be remembered
that such pride of place, identification with location , was, according
to A.L. Rowse, very much an Elizabethan ‘discovery’. Apart
from the New World, there were also the treasures and beauties - the
historical richness and bounty - of Gloriana’s own realm of England.
This ethos seems to have been purposefully reinforced following the
union of England and Scotland during the reign of James I; and, indeed,
to have persisted despite the ideological and military divisions of
the kingdom during the civil war under Charles I.
(Even in the pages of the royalist soldier Richard Symonds’ ms
diary of war skirmishes, there are pages of detailed drawings and descriptions
of church monuments in particular. As if the soldier felt the need
to preserve, however inadequately, for posterity, some record of what
artefacts had come under threat or been quite defaced during the military
Kilburne organizes his text in an alphabetic fashion, as opposed to
following the division into the respective Lathes of Kent (as Lambarde,
and later Philipot [? Check] did in the final arrangement of their
texts on Kent). Meanwhile, Richard Carew, when writing of Cornwall,
had followed the division of the county into its administrative hundreds
as a principle of organization.
[Indeed, the division of counties into hundreds and parishes continues
on into the still-to-be-completed-if-ever V.C.H. series. In its way,
a testament to the ongoing validity of this form of topographical taxonomy
after over 400 years - or perhaps since Domesday Book itself!]
Kennett’s disparaging putdown of Kilburne’s endeavours,
it is in many ways a more user-friendly text than Philipot’s
Villare Cantianum, which is arranged strictly by Lathe, diocese and
parish, which make rapid consultation a recipe for migraine - if not
Nonetheless, despite its alphabetical (proto-gazeteer?) format, it
has to be admitted that Kilburne’s text as published, is sadly
deficient: in its lack of illustrations; and also, more glaring, its
lack of any map indicating visually the relative location of places.
Why this lack? one may ask. To proffer one tentative explanation: principally,
the socio-economic factors of England at the time of its appearance,
during the Interregnum. The wealth of artistic talent from abroad and
home-grown which had briefly flourished during the eary years of Charles
I’s reign had been dispersd by the upheavals of civil war. The
remnants of the English court, and their artistic entourage, were of
necessity forced to set up long-term residence in France and the Low
Countries as a means of preserving their lives, what remained of their
finances. They collectively constituted not only a royal court but
a whole cultural entourage of Englishness in an insecure exile, both
unwilling and unable to channel any finance or patronage into the wartorn
isle which they had hastily fled; unsure, indeed, whether they would
e forced to flee further away - either across the Atlantic, or further
south into the courts of Italy and Spain.
Seen from such an angle, the very persistence of English book-production
in whatever form (other than the pamphleteering stream of the Parliamentarians
and the various dissenting religious sects) is in itself a feat of
stubborn endurance and political manoeuvering which was not hitherto
part and parcel of antiquarian and historiographical research in Engand.
a soio-political environment, it is interesting to note that Kilburne
continues the early antiquarian emphasis upon the history of the
proprietorship of various places (a clandestine way, perhaps, of
intimating that the old order would be restored once the popuace
had tired of the excesses of rapine and corruption which characterized
so many of Cromwell’s immediate circle).
Kilburne goes to some pains to emphasize the historical episodes
of happier, more stable, times associated with each of the locations
which he considers. Thus, a peculiarly English strand of (unbroken,
it is implied) proprietorship and propriety - as well as property
tout court - is implicitly if not explicitly vouchsaved in the prose
of Kilburne’s various entries - and
in the overall composition of the book.
in attempting to present a balanced appraisal of Kilburne’s
contribution to the interwoven domains of antiquarianism and the composition
of county histories one would be culpable of misrepresentation if one
did not indicate the lacunae in Kilburne’s text as a whole. For,
after all, he was composing his survey in a time of social distress
and upheaval. And its is primarily for such reasons that his text is
by no means seamless and finely presented; but, indeed, displays the
indelibly manifest traces of having been composed - at times - under
duress, and having to make do with source-material and reports which
at times lash the text together when he would have evidently wished
for more tranquil times to gather information more easily and leisurely
(hence his often seemingly exculpatory, embarrassed admissions of having
lifted - if not plagiarized - from previous authors, most notably Lambarde,
without evidently being able to adequately check the veracity of their
Thus, at times, it undoubtedly reads very much as a patchwork text
woven together as best he could manage in difficult circumstances.
So what, precisely, drove him in his determination to undertake this
work? Undoubtedly a sense of pride - more specifically pride of place
- in having been born a man of Kent, and having remained loyal to this
particular county. This is evident even in his chosen authorial title,
namely ‘Richard Kilburn of Hawkherst, Esquire’. This pride
of place is reemphasized within the entry under the heading ‘Hawkherst’,
in which he speaks of his devotion to that specific settlement in Kent.
at the outset, this is presented first and foremost as a response
to the reading of Kliburne’s text. ‘Response’ here
intended in a tentative-subjective manner at this stage of work in
progress, rather than being rigorously analytic in any uniform, fixed
It would in a way do Richard Kilburne somewhat of a disservice to
uncritically praise his text - especially when he intimates directly
and indirectly time and again that he is himself aware of the shortcomings
of what he has managed to complete.
it has above been indicated that Kilburne is as meticulous as circumstances
allow in tracing the ownership of specific tracts of land, and of
particular buildings. However, only very occasionally are carefully-observed
details given concerning the appearance, style of construction and
period or date of even major manor houses. Nothing is said at all
of the way in which they relate to the landscape: how they are situated
within their surrounding environs; how the rural economy of Kent
- the intermeshing of downland, weald, and fertile alluvial lowland,
for instance, determines the economics of function and style, or
of the different preponderance of building materials according to
location. This is definitely not meant as a criticism of Kilburne
for not being an historian of vernacular architecture. Indeed, to
do so would be a gross anachronism. For it was not until the mid-Victorian
period and the researches and the ‘eye’ of
William Morris than the foundations of a prototype vernacular architectural
history were founded. And it was only from the 1950s onwards, with
scholars following in the footsteps of W.G.Hoskins that the principles
of the history of vernacular architecture were tentatively fitted into
a methodology (initially amateur at that). And it took a further 20
years before the Vernacular Architecture Group as such, with members
in various university architecture and local studies departments became
What, then, did Kilburne specifically lack, given the intellectual
concepts and notions at his disposal at that time?
Primarily, taking a cue from contemporary poetry (and there are few
poetic flourishes in Kilburne’s text) there is a marked absence
of what may be tentatively termed TOPOGRAPHICAL EKPHRASIS.
Ekphrasis, the rhetorical discipline of moulding language in such a
way that the auditor or reader would be able to conjure up a mental
image of the scene in question - be it a bloody battle, a fomal garden,
or a larger expanse of landscape had, within the English tradition,
its roots in the theatre. One thinks of the evocative power of Shakespeare’s
descriptions, not only of set dramatic pieces, but of incidentals of
garden and landscape, and of his keen eye for the majesty of the natural
world in general. (This aspect of Shakespeare’s works has been
most masterfully and deftly analysed by Ted Hughes in Shakespeare and
the Goddess of Complete Being.)
Jonson, Spenser, Sidney... were the chief to follow and develop this
style of writing; in the process changing the whole mise en jeu of
English poetry. Without such grounding, such a consummate early instance
of the pastoral per se, such as (perhaps the epitome?)
a couple of instances from the Miscellaneous Poems of Andrew Marvell,
1681. First of all, ‘Upon Appleton House, to my Lord
Fairfax’ the opening verses:
Within this sober Frame expect
Work of no Forrain Architect;
That unto Caves the Quarries drew,
And Forrests did to Pastures hew;
Who of his greatDesign in pain
Did for a Model vault his Brain,
Whose Columnes should so high be rais’d
To arch the Brows that on them gaz’d.
of all things Man unrul’d
Such unpropotion’d dwellings build?
The Beasts are by their Denns exprest:
And Birds contrive an equal Nest;
The low-roof’d Tortoises do dwell
In cases fit of Tortoise-shell:
No Creature loves an empty space;
Their Bodies measure out their Place.
But He, superfluously spread
Demands more room alive then dead.
And in his hollow Palace goes
Where Winds (as he) themselves may lose.
What need of all this Marble Crust
T’impark the wnton Mote of Dust,
That thinks by Breadth te World t’unite
Though the first Builders fail’d in Height?
Him Bishops-Hill, or Denton may,
Or Bilbrough, better hold than they:
But Nature here hath been so free
As if she said leave this to me.
Art would more neatly have defac’d
What she had laid so sweetly wast;
In fragrant Gardens, shady Woods,
Deep Meadows, and transparent Floods.
[Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems, 1681, p. 76ff]
Or, again from Marvell, the following excerpt:
Upon the Hill and Grove at Bill-borow
To the Lord Fairfax
See how the arched Earth des here
Rise in a perfect Hemisphere!
The stiffest Compass could not strike
A Line more circular and like;
Nor softest Pensel draw a Brow
So equal as this Hill does bow.
It seems as for a Model laid,
And that the World by it was made.
Here learn ye Mountains more unjust,
Which to abrupter greatness thrust,
That do with your hook-shoulder’d height
The Earth deform and Heaven fright.
For whose excrescence ill design’d,
Nature must a new Center find,
Learn here those humble steps to tread,
Which to securer Glory lead.
[Marvell, p. 73.]
TANGENTIALLLY DIGRESSIVE INSERTION
the 17th century, the country-house and the garden poem became sub-genres
in their own right. More than any other branch of literature, perhaps,
these sub-genres were dependent upon the gentry patronage system.
The texts were intended to ingratiate their noble or rich-mercantile
recipients. Thus the patrons were placed in a position corresponding
to that of the wealthy elite of the Roman Empire who wished to be
immortalized in the most noble sense by the poets of the period (e.g.
Horace, etc.) rather than being vilified and lampooned in the satires
of - again - Horace (whose pen was indeed double-edged) or vilified
by writers such as Petronius in an openly scatalogical fashion. Marvell
himself could turn his pen to the compostion of a barbed riposte.
And indeed, the vitality of Rochester’s oeuvre is dependent upon his satires
- many of which, even by current standards, may offend in their frank
lampooning of the sexual conduct of leading and identified members
of Charles II’s court - lampoons from which even his generally
benign protector Charles himself was not immune.
to be remembered that in the 17th century - especially the period
c.1660-1695 - the same or similar readers who purchased the county
histories also purchased the more scurrilous literature of the period.
The most famous and well-documented and researched instance of such
a person, was Samuel Pepys, who could happily be reading from Fuller’s
monumental Church History one evening, and, the following, an imported
novella of a pornographic nature. In his Diaries there are at least
two occasions where he admits to having burnt a scurrilous tome of
bawdy literature having read it late at night at one sitting. Burnt,
not so much out of a sense of shame - Pepys’ sense of shame evidently
was of short duration - but lest itshould fall into the hands of one
of his governmental colleagues... his servants... or perhaps worst
scenario of all, into the hands of his long-suffering but fiery-tempered
(according to his perception) wife.
To clarify the argument at this point somewhat.
It is not here being suggested that Richard Kilburne should have
written in the same or a similar pastoral style to Marvell
when considering the countryside of Kent. Such arguments make
little if any sense - especially in the domain of cultural
and historical studies.
The point being made is that by the mid-17th century the English
language itself possessed a sufficient reservoir of vocabulary
and grammar to make a fusion hypothetically possible.
On the other hand, one must beware of considering writers (especially
during this period) as a homogeneous group, occupying or inhabiting
one specific stratum within the higher echelons of the society of
Writers came from different backgrounds, and achieved different social
positions in their lifetimes. There were the courtier-poets, for
whom writing was essentially a form of amusement. A hobby which they
could afford to indulge in when not tempted by the distractions and
excesses of the Carolean court. Their finished verses were either
recited or passed around in manuscript form, as an ostentation of
wit (indeed, this is the status of writing which Rochester sought
to undermine from within, so to speak). Then there were the established
antiquaries per se - most notably William Camden and William Dugdale.
Both of whom had attained a certain status of social prestige due
to their scholarly endeavours: Camden becoming Headmaster of Westminster
School; Dugdale occupying the highest position within the Royal College
of Arms. Both were accordingly well-remunerated, besides what moneys
they received from patrons, benefactors, as well as perquisites arising
out of privately-entered legal wrangles as to property-rights - as
well as gratuities received as a result of placing patrons or their
relatives in places of court and social esteem.
One could say that, in modern parlance, they freely took back-handers
for such services; and that the 17th century court and legal system
in many ways fostered such an attitude. Upon this point, the Diaries
of Pepys are once more enlightening, inasmuch as being a fiscally
methodical and careful man, he kept careful records as to gifts given
and received, and what was expected in return. He also carefully
records the intrigues of colleagues in court and in the naval office
who were not as circumspect as himself: those who had taken rash
gambles or entered into underhand dealings from which they could
not extricate themselves; and indeed Pepys himself frequently admits
that at times the drive of personal ambition or the enjoyment of
luxuries which he could not readily afford from his own salary led
him to sail close to the wind, and have to extricate himself in a
sauve qui peut fashion.
As a generalization (doubtless open to critical reision at this stage
of research) one could argue that during the period under examination
(1550-1750/1830) the only aspect of the writing profession which produced
immediate financial and social rewards was that of the playwright.
Plays had been pupular before the Civil War, and, even within a year
of the Restoration, by the end of 1660, the popular appetite for plays
of all descriptions had reached all sectors of the populace. (One coud
compare this penomenon with, perhaps, the golden age of the cinema
in Britain, from the late 1920s to the late1980s; by which time the
multiplication of satellite channels and the cheapness of video recorders
and of videos - many released weeks rather than months after the premiere
of the movie led to a demise of the traditional night out at the movies.)
this reading of Kilburne’s A Topographie
or Survey of the County of Kent, London, 1659.
To reiterate what has been stated above.
In Kilburne’s text one finds an emphasis upon the ownership of
various places, as well as upon (occasionally) historical episodes
associated with each.
Only occasionally are details given of major buildings, and little
if anything concerning the period and style of construction; nor of
their situation within the landscape: e.g. whether surrounded by formal
gardens; pasturage; land tilled ; orchards. Briefly, a lack of topographical
ekphrasis mentioned above.
In this respect, Marvell demonstrates that there was a more than adequate
reservoir of tropes and imagery available in the English language by
the 1650s to evoke specific types of landscape.
His text is generally lacking in any notion of topographical ekphrasis.
- And, perhaps, in this respect, Kilburne is not alone. Thus it is
not merely or specifically a personal failing on his part.
Indeed, there seems to have been something of a marked decline rather
than a development since the time of Holinshed’s description
of Britain with which his Chronicles open (and which was evidently
treated as a separate text by many contemporary binders and readers,
being bound separately).
Nor has Kilburne the wish (or expertise?) to build upon the mode of
evocation of scenery and sense of place - in scenic or scenographic
terms - which one finds in the mss of Leland.
Moreover, there is the problem of what many have perceived to be a
decline in British topographical writing in the decades following Camden.
The original editions of the Britannia were written in Latin. The first
English language translation (and augmentation) of Camden’s text
was undertaken by the prolific Philemon Holland, so-called ‘Translator-General
of his Age’, an epithet attributed (I think) to John Aubrey.
Probably Edmund Gibson’s somewhat scathing putdown in his prefatory remarks
to his own 1695 translation and augmentation of Camden’s Britannia) of
Philemon Holland, and, by indirect imputation, of many topographers and antiquaries
since Camden, ws the first major instance of this hypothesis of a rapid decline
in the quality of antiquarian and topographical study.
(More concerning this issue has been tentatively outlined previously by myself
in this work in progress. See preceding sections.)
Was there a sudden decline in the quality of scholarship and presentation
of antiquarian and topographical studies in England following Camden?
In truth, there is no easy yes-or-no answer to this question. (Perhaps
because for the very reason that the question itself has been poorly
framed, based upon prejudice; and more importantly, until the last
30 years a downgrading of academic research into antiquarianism. At
this stage of inquiry, this particularly vexed issue is, I personally
think, best consgned to the wastebin of half-cocked opinionation. As
so many recent explorers in this field have adequately demonstrated,
previously-held critical evaluations now themselves have only the validity
and worth of a spurious antiquarian relic.)
Indeed, such a stylistic decline within antiquarianism is not duly
emphasized by T.D. Kendrick in his pioneering work British Antiquity,
of 1950. Nor does Stuart Piggott in his collection of essays entitled
Ruins in a Landscape ,1976, note any decline in qualitative antiquarianism
during the 17th century. For Piggott, the most interesting key-figure
or instance of antiquarianism going off the rails, is to be found in
the person and work of William Stukeley.
More recently, Graham Parry has emphasized a consolidation of antiquarianism
in its very diversity during the 17th century, followed by a ‘decline’ or
at least a change of direction during the Augustan age of early Georgian
England. Professor Parry outlines this thesis in a series of case-studies
in The Trophies of Time.
again, to resume the reading-notes relating to Kilburne’s
Kilburne’s text is marked by the recurrence
of a disjointed anecdotal style which often usurps whole entries
on particular locations. Thus, the location becomes the locus of
an anecdote. Its existence as an actual place seems as tenuous as
a painted backdrop in an Inigo Jones masque.
Thus, here the reader has anecdotal snippets concerning Erasmus on
the one hand and Elizabeth Barton on the other.Membra disjecta left
for the reader to decipher as best as s/he will.
Here the reader is faced with a characteristic of the book itself:
namely, there seems to be NO standardization of method sustaining the
John Aubrey’s contemporaries - even his Amici, as he termed his
closest friends - constantly chided him for not systematizing his work.
However, despite the delight and personal interest which Richard Kilburne
conveys in his pages, Aubrey’s manuscript Monumenta Britannica
seems at times to be more methodical, and to contain more original
resarch and better presentation than Kilburne’s printed text.
Note Kilburne’s use of cross-reference, indicating the
reader to consult another text for further information on a particular
topic. In this instance he refers his readers to the text of Lambert’s
[sic] Perambulation: in other words, to Lambarde’s Perambulation
of Kent (1576, 1596).
the cautiously careful reader may already (as early as page 15) wonder
precisely how much new, independent research Kilburne has invested
in his book; and how much he has simply gleaned and refashioned from
William Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent
(the first published county history).
This is not necessarily to already convict Kilburne of plagiarism
per se. (In fact, during the 17th century, the antiquaries and topographers
seem tohave been able to shrug off accusations of plagiarism quite
easily. It is to be remembered, as D.C. Douglas emphasized in English
Scholars, that even the great Sir William Dugdale was known among some
contemporary circles as ‘the grand plagiary’ - the title
of the chapter which he devotes to Dugdale.
NOTE: re plagiarism. Today it is a charge which, especially if brought
upon than more than one occasion, can ruin an academic reputation,
as well as entailing the award of financial damages. However, the situation
was quite different at this time.
As a case in point, to take - once more - the case of the Holland and
Gibson editions of Camden’s Britannia. Holland indicated where
he had amended Camden’s text, and what material he had added;
most often naming the correspondent from whom he had received the information,
had he not either uncovered a relevant document, or revisited a particular
site, and amended the description in the light of his own observations.
Dugdale - especially in the composition of the 3-vol. folio Monasticon
Anglicanum (published over a period of 20 years) was far less gracious
in acknowledging that the work was the fruit of many collaborators,
who had provided him with documentation, drawings and descriptions
of the current state of the various religious houses included. The
ever-impecunious John Aubrey was one of many so gulled by Dugdale,
contributing not only many of his ms notes, but also a carefully-drawn
view of Osney Abbey, for the costs of engraving which he evidently
paid for himself, Hollar being the engraver.
[However, it seems to remain an unresolved point, considering that
there has been no in-depth biography of Dugdale in recent years, as
to whether it is Sir William Dugdale or his collaborator on the Monasticon,
Roger Dodsworth, as to which of the two was the chief culprit, the
most rapacious. However, it must be stated that Sir William Dugdale,
given his exalted position, and the somewhat unclear means by which
he attained this, seems to have been the eminence grise - if only due
to his superior social status to Dodsworth, as well as to his multifarious
connections within the Royal Household, the College of Heralds, and
the Inns of Court.]
[** More elaboration needed here. Or, preferably, an indication that
the vexed problem of not only the Monasticon, but of Dugdale’s
influence in general will be discussed later in this study. **]
For the moment, in the interests of maintaining some sort of textual
momentum in the transcription of what are essentially reading notes
(and by no means intended as a TEXT per se; to all intents and purposes,
as indicated at the outset, this is merely aseries of random reading-jottings
scrawled in a shorthand notepad transferred to floppy disc - nota bene!)
the issues arising out of the preceding excursus will be subjected
to a process of Derridan deferral: to be resumed, altered, perhaps
detracted or erased at a later date.
By such strategies of necessity, of opportunism, of writing-whilst-reading,
the rude mechanicals of a certain type of preliminary research procedure
are tentatively formulated.
Perhaps at this stage of the proceedings, the only dictum which it
is practical to enforce is that whose virtues were endlessly emphasized
by Paul Feyerabend on research in any field: namely - ANYTHING GOES.
(See Paul Feyerabend, Against Method, NLB, London, 1975)
early referral of the readership to another text - that of Lambarde,
from whose work he has evidently culled much of that which is to
be found in his own text, indicates an important compositional strategy
at work in Kilburne’s text.
(It is there, it is possible to argue, in Leland’s ms Itinerary,
in Camden’s Britannia. However, whilst both these earlier antiquaries
as well as those following after Kilburne are more style-conscious,
intent on polishing a text which aspires to a certain literary merit
(an event which occurred midway through the 18th century, when Dr Johnson
praised and acclaimed the humble parson of an impoverished Cornish
residency, namely William Borlase, for both the Antiquities of Cornwall
and the Natural History of Cornwall).
precisely is meant by this phrase ‘compositional strategy’?
In regard to Kilburne in particular?
Tentatively put, as follows:
There seems to operate a principle of INTERTEXTUAL SUPPLEMENTARITY
[combining the terminology of Julia Kristeva and of Jacques Derrida]
within Kilburne’s text.
- Indeed, as (I think) will become apparent in the course of this study,
this could be indicated as a crucial feature both epistemological and
stylistic of antiquarianism per se.
Reading Kilburne’s text - precisely because he lacks some of
the academic and literary graces possessed by others in his field;
and also, perhaps, because one has the feeling that he has neither
the money nor the resources nor the leisure of several others in his
field during this period 1550-1830 - one is reminded of a cabinet of
curiosities collected by an amateur of slender means. There is nothing
particularly exquisite. In fact, evrything has been gleaned from one’s
own locality - nothing from the dealers in antiquities who had already
established themselves early in the 17th century along the main trade,
educational and touring routes.
[In this respect there is more of a Bargrave than an Ashmole in Kilburne’s
approach; in other words, the imperfect specimen, the second-hand,
inaccurate account is to be treasured, and to be reconstructed and
preserved as best as he can. And why? Precisely because he lacks the
financial wherewithal, the aristocratic benefactors, the perquisites
of governmental office, to afford to embark upon the course of study
and investigation, and the final presentation of the lavish text which
he evidently wished to place before his reader. To risk repetition:
there were never any engraved plates nor maps destined for this volume.
However, time and again, the reader is referred to a map of Kent -
significantly not the map of Kent - which is NOT to be found in the
book; which was never an integral part of his book. So, in order for
Kilburne to make his point in many instances, the reader is forced
to LOOK ELSEWHERE. In this respect Kilburne’s published volume
is sadly deficient in a most crucial form of documentation. However,
published during the Interregnum, at a time of economic stagnation,
wealthy patrons were indeed few and far between.]
* A different configuration was becoming apparent by the later 18th
and early 19th century. A textual, compositional configuration which
may, perhaps, be termed however tentatively, that of INCLUSIVE SYNOPSIS.
In other words, apart from remote or large, complex counties (one
thinks of Wiltshire and of Surrey, despite the botched Aubrey study
of Surrey published by the unscrupulous Curll... known as Curr to
many who had entrusted their mss to him, only to find that their
financial rewards were not forthcoming due to underhand dealings
or the bullying techniques of Curll himself) most counties of England
had a history of some sort.
Thus, a process of popularization took place: be it by Britton and
Brayley, or by series such as The Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet.
It is significant to note that both these undertakings were in serial
format. In other words, it was the intention of the publishers that
the readrship should purchase the whole set - preferably than just
the volume which related to their county. A similar ploy had been used
in the period c.1710-20 by Cox in the presentation and publication
in instalment-format of his Magna Britannia. In that particular venture,
counties often overlapped particular issues; in other words, one would
often find in one issue the termination of one county, another covered
in full, and a third commenced. One can only conclude that this was
a well thought-out albeit underhand publishing ploy to rope in prescribers,
ratherthan relying on purchasers of individual supplements.*
Kit’s Cotyhouse [sic]. Thisis not recognized
as a tumulus - but as a monument. Moreover, it is mentioned only
in passing: less than one sentence is devoted to this prehistoric
This is in itself indicative of a larger problem which faced the early
To avoid charges of atheism, the Biblical account of early man had
to be unquestioningly accepted.
The actual dating, i.e. the age of the world still therefore posed
Archbishop Ussher’s argument that the world had been created
in the year 3003 B.C. posed problems which were by the more enlightened
antiquaries and topographers naturally elided to avoid ecclesiastical
censure, charges of impiety, atheism, etc., which carried heavy penalties.
Various proposals were put forth to account for the spread - and the
multiplication and diversity - of humanity after the account of the
Creation and the Expulsion. Arithmetical tricks were done to lengthen
the life of Adam and Eve, along with a prolongation of their procreative
powers, and, of course, that of their offspring. Moreover, the wars
of the Jews apart, there were two cataclysmic events in which God Himself
played the initial role in thwarting the spread of humanity: the Flood
and the confusion of tongues and the subsequent dispersal of civilized
man following the destruction of the Tower of Babel.
Fortunately, many antiquaries homed in on the allusion - albeit brief
- to the race of giants referred to in the Old Testament. Second escape-clause
or hypothesis was that the Flood had been of a confined nature: that
the anger of God, and consequently the Deluge had been focused primarily
upon His chosen race in one particular place. Simplifying somewhat:
because man, who had been divinely created, could not be universally
corrupt, the destruction had been confined to the area containing the
worst of the race, so to speak. In other words, humans, besides those
bobbing about in the Ark along with the menagerie below decks, had
been saved because they had already migrated away from the Holy Land
to lead a more simple, holy life.
Also, Roman foundation legends from the classical world were adapted
to British history. These were mingled with Homer and his account of
the dispersal of the Trojans following the fall of Troy. One Trojan,
with his adherents eventually making landfall in England - namely Brutus
or Brut, who subsequenty gave his name to the whole isle of Britannia.
Nonetheless there remained the problem of whether Brut found the isle
totally uninhabited, or whether there was already an indigenous population,
and if so, whence had they come?
Aylett Sammes had poposed an early Phoenician transmigration in his
Britannia Antiqua Illustrata of 1676. Yet still a great deal of ingenuity
or downright fluffing and slubbering of chronological data had to be
used to account for the accounts of an advanced and warrior civilization
inhabiting the isle which Caesar recorded.
Yet, in the absence of anything remotely resembling an accurate dating
of the world, or an account of the variety of peoples inhabiting just
the immediate European zone, silence, circumlocution, and what Professor
Graham Parry has termed the characteristic gift of the antiquaries,
that of CONJECTURE (see Graham Parry, The Trophies of Time) remained
by far the chief argumentative strategies employed by the antiquaries
and county historians.
With the exception of John Aubrey, most antiquaries were reluctant
to grant the native Britons anything resembling an intellect capable
of embracing even the most basic technological finesse. (Yet even Aubrey,
who knew at secondhand, and via borrowed books, of the state of many
newly discovered advanced American tribes and cultures, wrote disparagingly
what is probably one of the earliest comments which would now be classified
under the heading of ‘comparative anthropology’: namely,
that at the time of the Roman conquest, the native Britons were perhaps
a little more developed than their current - 17th century - Indian
Kilburne’s comments on Kit’s Cotyhouse - however brief
and by implication disparaging are important in their very brevity.
It is to be argued that, precisely because of his very mental attitude,
his intellectual-cultural bias learned from childhood onwards, reinforced
by the milieu from which he was imprisoned historically - Because of
all these enmeshed factors, this complex of Lacanian Borromean knots
of entangled self-referentiality [ For Lacan’s astonishing, confounding
consideration of Borromean knots, see Ecrits XX, Encore, Seuil, Paris,
1976.] - Because of this cultural preconception, Kilburne could not
objectively SEE Kit’s Cotyhouse.
Moreover, having glimpsed it, he definitely did not want to further
investigate it, as to its age, complexity of structure, complexity
of original (conjectured) purpose. For, in order to do so would have
entailed the abandonment of many systems of faith, of chronology, human
development, etc., with which he could not have coped. Simply because
the necessary epistemologies with their concomitant concepts, were
simply unavailable to him - or his contemporaries.
At which point it is appropriate, I think, to repeat once more Graham
Parry’s argument concerning the necessity of conjecture within
early antiquarianism. Namely, the proviso that there were certain parameters
within which conjecture was a safe, reassuring, sometime valid (especially
in the case of many of Aubrey’s hypotheses which had to wait
until 20th century acheology and carbon dating to confirm) activity.
But outside of those parameters - especially if matters of religious
faith were ensnared -it was preferable just to look from a distance,
to record, but NOT to speculate.
the dangers of unbridled speculation, the career of William Stukeley
is a cautionary case-study. From observant field archaeologist mapping
Avebury (but pillaging Aubrey’s mss without
acknowledging the theft) and Stonehenge, eventually becoming a figure
of ridicule due to his wish to reinvent Druidism, convinced of the
compatibility of Christianity and serpent-worship, eventually declining
(See Stuart Piggott, William Stukeley.)*
is said of Kilburne in relation to Kit’s Cotyhouse also
applies to Philipot’s treatment of the same monument (illustrated)
in his Villare Cantianum. He too observed. Yet from an intellectual
distance. The same may be said, generally, of Richard Carew’s
considerations of the many prehistoric monuments which litter the Cornish
landscape. In his Survey of Cornwall of 1602 Carew notes the stone
circles and the tumuli. However, there is a certain elision when it
comes to observations or conclusions concerning their age, provenance
or purpose. (For after all, several were sill used for purposes not
wholly in keepng with Christian orthodoxy: for curative and fertility
Kilburne promotes/supports Lambarde’s
anti-Catholic sympathies concerning miraculous relics. They constitute
an exploitation, he argues, of human credulity, gullibility and superstitious
- Thus, this particular location becomes the locus (and focus) of a
Kilburne refers the reader to Somner’s
History of Canterbury [William Somner, The Antiquities of Canterbury,
1640, 4to.] rather than attempting any synopsis or novel approach.
-However, some brief consideration if Canterbury is deferred to the
final section of the book; a section, moreover, of membra disjecta,
the relationship of which to the main corpus of Kilburne’s text
proper remains problematic, and not at all clarified by the author
-Are these afterthoughts? Fragments written during the actual printing
of the book which would have necessitated the scrapping of an entire
print-run for their inclusion in the appropriate place?
-Or symptomatic evidence that the book itself was a work in progress,
being submitted tothe printer piecemeal as each section was composed,
thus allowing for no subsequent correction?
-Such haste or unsure mastery of his material and system would explain
why the final status of the book is one of a loosely-digested epitome
and synopsis of various authors, rather than anything which holds together
as being more substantial than a gazeteer of places. - Cf. the absence
of the map, indicated as being hypothetically present in many sections
of the book, yet no map being ever part of the publication itself.
- See above on this point.
as mentioned previously, a frequent ploy of Kilburne’s
style is that of referring the reader to oter texts for further information.
-All of which makes the status of his own publication problematical.
- Another plausible interpretation of this occasionally infuriating
habit of Kilburne, is that of an act of deferential generosity. In
other words, where he knows that someone else has written of a place
in a far more elegant, erudite manner than he can summon forth, then
why attempt a summary, a plagiaristic plunder, or a second-rate supplementary
Alternatively, perhaps the act of writing the book was becoming an
act of drudgery.
Moreover, is this text written as an act of pleasure in erudition (as
in Carew, Dugdale, Plot, Camden)? Or as an homily to the county in
which he lived? Perhaps as a ploy in career prospects (as J.P., M.P....
at least something more lucrative than living the life of a yeoman.
And in the 17th century, the very act of writing - let alone writing
and being published - was evidence of a strong desire for upward mobility.
In Kilburne’s case, towards governmental or court circles, rather
than within the ecclesiastic establishment.
However, under the Protectorate, when this appeared, all these 3 avenues
of upward mobility were closed.)
[?] - Does he remain stuck, and know it? Stuck in his book? Stuck in
his social status? Is the book itself written and subsequently published
in order to fend off personal, social and intellectual stagnation within
a period of uncertainty?
The problem of the justification of the social function, or necessity
of the book - especially following the two editions of Lambarde. And,
moreover, the survey of Canterbury by Somner.
Was he aware that at that time Somner was himself collecting material
for a study of the antiquities of Kent; especially those relating to
the Roman occupation; the determination of camps, castra, fortifications?
Materials which Somner never lived to complete. His brief study of
the Roman fortifications of Kent being published posthumously, largely
thanks, it seems, to White Kennet (who composed the prefatory life
of Somner )
Nonetheless, the reader is struck by the generosity of Kilburne when
citing writers - especially Lambarde - in whose path he is following.
Yet perhaps the key to the motivation to his undertaking is to be found
in his opening pages, where he speaks of his pride in his county, and
his wish to express this in some way. An act of gratitude. An act of
public duty freely undertaken. Perhaps, given the political and social
turmoil through which he lived, the only act of duty, the closest he
could come to performance of a public office was not within the realm
of government (and he is well acquainted with the administrative divisions
of the county and their slightest differences, as his entries testify)
- but as a writer about his county.
Thus, perhaps, for Kilburne, writing of the antiquities and topography
of his county was a somewhat inferior (in his eyes) substitute for
taking active part in the government of the same.
And indeed, in reading the text, one can at once see how useful it
would be for the itinerant magistrate, given the amount of detail allocated
to local government administration in the various places, and which
ecclesiastical and secular jurisdictions they fall under.
These foregoing observations or hypotheses (can one ever be fully
sure of the motives underlying the investment of so much time-consuming
labour especially in reconsidering a county which has already been
written about?) are perhaps relevant on
p.65: N.B. Here Kilburne emphasizes the importance of civic improvement,
taking as a case in point in this instance the newly completed paving
and drainage at Cranbrooke.
despite these very occasional hints at civic improvement, Kilburne
makes little if any mention of the improvements in yeoman and middle-class
housing. This was, after all, despite or because of the Interregnum,
one of the stages of the ‘great rebuild’ -
as proposed by Hoskins, Salzman, Chesher, Mercer, Brunskill et al -
within the history of vernacular architecture. Carew (Cornwall, 1602)
had mentioned the percolation of housing improvements into this county
by this time. Both Dugdale’s Warwickshire and Thoroton’s
Nottinghamshire contain engravings of the more innovatory houses, as
well as of those of more venerable antiquity of historical importance
- e.g. Kenilworth in Dugdale’s Warwickshire as engraved by Hollar.
Perhaps one of the key differences separating the earlier and the later
county histories - i.e. pre and post 1660 as rule of thumb - is that
in the latter there is a greater emphasis on both indicating, often
describing in some detail, and as well including engravings of the
new builds of the nobility, set in their grounds. However, simultaneously,
the prodigy houses of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period fell into
disfavour. Architects and nobility returning from continental exile
turned more towards a Palladian style; or one home-grown derived from
Inigo Jones and John Webb. Also pattern books or real, proposed and
imaginary buildings were imported from France and Italy, and duly found
their English translators and architectural modifiers in theory and
practice. Note, for instance John Evelyn’s keen interest in rationalized
architecture and garden planning and his translation of foreign architectural
*** For future development, the image and the verbal account of the
country house within the county history. In what ways integrated with
details of the topography & agriculture, economics etc.? Or treated
as it were as separate entities: situated in a specific location, yet
not being integral to it. Either that, or totally overpowering the
environing area, as at Greenwich, Hampton Court especially following
Wren’s elaborate enlargements, and of course Blenheim and Vanbrugh’s
other sprawling, impractical heavyweight ostentations.]
Kilburne’s discussion of Dover. Its importance reflected
in the amount of text devoted to this entry. A corresponding emphasis
is present in Lambarde’s Perambulation and in Philipot”s
However, here once more Kilburne self-consciously, self-deprecatingly
announces at the outset that, others having treated of this place and
of its national importance, his own remarks are fundamentally SUPPLEMENTARY.
Kilburne’s emphasis upon (continuing or
former?) ecclesiastical rights and privileges of the nobility. These
are all meticulously recorded from a legal viewpoint.
This, it could be argued, is at the textual expense of topographical,
architectural, scenic/chorographical detail.
In turn, this raises the (IMPORTANT) joint issues of
i. the function, and
ii. the readership
of the text itself - both individual entries and in toto.
(Indeed, HOW was it intended to be read?
- As a work of reference; to be consulted when information was required
regarding a specific location?
- From cover to cover (disregarding the cross-referential tables at
the end, which act as a legalistic taxonomical tabulation of data)?
Roland Barthes’ frequently iterated formulation: FOR
WHOM IS THE TEXT, THIS TEXT (KILBURNE) LISIBLE [‘Readable’,
albeit inadequate to cover the full implications of Barthes’ usage,
will adequately function as a makeshift translation in the present
Wherein the precision (definition, circumscription) of the intended
- This problem of purpose, of aim, is never stated with clarity by
[Perhaps it is necessary once more to closely read both the dedicatory
preface and the introductory leaves preceding the gazeteer section.]
Topographical and chorographical are adjectives which are applicable
to the text - but, it must be stated, within strict parameters.
A county survey - yes: in gazeteer format [if the word ‘gazeteer’ was
comprehended in its present sense at this period.
- Here consultation of the O.E.D. concerning 17th century usage and
frequency is essential for the elaboration of the general reading here
However, what is its status within the league of antiquarian treatises?
In this respect, Kilburne’s text is much more difficult to locate
than Leland’s Itinerary, or of Lambarde’s Kent.
Difficult not only to locate, but also (in today’s jargon/shorthand)
Informative. Interesting. Kilburne’s text meets these criteria.
It is not only a map (which one would have thought essential for the
relative location of places, parishes, ecclesiastical, etc.) which
It is not only the utter lack of any illustration, whether woodcut
(To what extent this is due to the history of the economics of the
book’s production, or indeed to the historical moment of its
- Nonetheless, as mentioned above, Dugdale and Dodsworth’s first
volume of the Monasticon Anglicanum appeared in 1655: a large folio
of over 400pp. And, moreover, lavishly embellished with engravings
by Wenceslaus Hollar and other master engravers. Admittedly the Monasticon
had been in gestation for many years prior to its publication, involving
a changing array of contributors and compilers, gleaning information
and painstakingly copying documents lodged in a variety of libraries
across the realm. As mentioned above, Dugdale was not the most benevolent
of scholars. Quite the reverse, it has been argued, inasmuch as he
used his social position to conscript subscribers and patronage. Whereas
Kilburne haltingly struggles with the organization and eventual composition
of his finished (? provisional?) text, uncertain of textual purpose
and eventual readership, Dugdale seems to have marshalled his conscripts/contributors
as if conducting a military campaign.
Dugdale’s ultimate achievement was the production of one of the
most ambitious books - all 3 volumes - of the 17th century.
could be (an hypothesis at this point in research) that especially
during a decade of socio-economic uncertainty - that of the Interregnum,
Dugdale’s multifarious, ambitious enterprises (not only the Monasticon,
but his History of Embanking and Draining; his Warwickshire to name
perhaps his three most lavish, time-consuming, labour-intensive works)
in a way sapped the opportunities and resources available to other
antiquaries during Cromwell’s rule.
Perhaps the exacting, lavish productions of Dugdale, entailing so much
manpower within antiquarian and publication circles, led to an impoverishment,
and eclipse of possibilities for those committed antiquaries working
upon less ambitious projects. After all, the civil war had sapped the
morale of the classes most likely to offer patronage to the antiquary;
had drained their financial resources; and forced many to follow the
royal court into exile on continental Europe.