~ WESTGATE WARD ~
Westgate ward, so called from the Gate leading into and from it. This is the largest Gate in the City, and the chief thoroughfare is under it. It has been the common Gaol for malefactors and other offenders, ever since 31 Henry VI. It was then known by the name of Speth-house. Over this Gate was a port-close, which was a warlike invention, to let down, to defend the Gate against the attempts of an enemy, through which they could cast down any offensive things, as scalding water, great stones, &c. upon the assailants. In this Ward was a Royal Exchange, or Cambium Regis, as it is called in the old Records of Christ-Church. Henry III. reg. 6, prohibited all Englishmen and others, by the advice of his Council, to change any plate, or massy silver, but at his Exchanges of London or Canterbury, a mint or place for the coinage of money; the Officers belonging to it had their dwellings on the same spot.
The Jews had formerly in this Ward twenty houses, in a street called Jewry-lane and a Synagogue, with a School adjoining to them, which escheated to the King, when Edward II. banished them out of the Kingdom. He gave twelve of their tenements, with an area, to the Monks of Christ Church. The crimes imputed to them were usury, and their crucifying the children of Christians, about Easter time. They have now some families, and a small Synagogue in St. Dunstan's Parish. ...by Charles Seymour
1835 Westgate Ward - The several Parishes of Holy Cross Westgate Within, St. Peter (including the Grey Friars), All Saints (including Eastbridge Hospital), St. Alphage (including the Black Friars), and St. Mary Bredman, the Borough of Staplegate, and such Parts of the several Parishes of Holy Cross Westgate Without, St. Dunstan, and St. Stephen, as are within the Borough.
Westgate Ward 432.490 acres
Dane John Ward 1147.161
Northgate Ward 2254.646
Total area of the Parliamentary and Municipal Borough of the City of Canterbury - 3834.297
In a very ancient paper, in the chamber, not dated, the whole circuit of the city of Canterbury is said to contain 3784 acres, whereof 1000 acres are underwoods. But either Westgate ward is wholly omitted in the estimate, through mistake, or it is included, in the computation, with some other ward, although not specifically mentioned to make part thereof. The manor of Caldicot contains 318 acres. HT
St. Nicholas Gild - William Somner, in his "Most Accurate History of the Ancient City and Famous Cathedral of Canterbury," &c., 1661, says: "At this place [Westgate Ward] the Parish Clerks of the City had and held a Gild or Fraternity, commonly called the Fraternity of St. Nicholas. I have my direction for this from the following legacy of one Richard Cram, some time of this city, who, by his will, dated 1490, gave the Fraternity of St. Nicholas, kept by the Parish Clerks of Canterbury, in the House of the Fryars, Preachers of Cant., vj. viiid., as his very words are."
© T. Machado 2007