TENTERDEN, a market town and municipal borough in the Ashford parliamentary division of Kent, England, 62 m. S.E. by E. of London by the South-Eastern and Chatham railway. Pop. (1901) 3243. It lies on an elevation above the Newnill Channel, a tributary of the Rother, whose flat valley, called the Rother Levels, was an estuary within historic times; and even as late as the 18th century the sea was within 2 m. of Tenterden, which is a member of the affiliated Cinque Port of Rye. The church of St Mildred is Early English and later, and its tall, massive Perpendicular tower is well known for the legend connecting it with Goodwin Sands. The story is that the Abbot of St Augustine, Canterbury, diverted the funds by which the sea-wall protecting Earl Godwin's island was kept up, for the purpose of building Tenterden steeple, the consequence being that in 1099 an inundation took place and ."Tenterden steeple was the cause of the Goodwin Sands." Attached to the church is a penitentiary used in the reign of Queen Mary for the confinement of persons awaiting trial on a charge of heresy. The church of High Halden, in the neighbourhood, is remarkable for its octagonal wooden tower constructed of huge timbers, with a belfry of wooden tiles (shingles), of the time of Henry VI. Tenterden has a considerable trade in agricultural produce and stock. It is governed by a mayor, four aldermen and twelve councillors. Area, 8946 acres.
Tenterden (Tenterdenne, Tentyrden) figures frequently in contemporary records from 1300 onwards. In 1449 Henry VI. incorporated it by the name of a "Bailiff and Commonalty," and united it to Rye. In return for these and other privileges it was to contribute towards the services due from the latter as one of the Cinque Ports. The troubles of 1449 apparently hindered the issue of the charter, since in 1463 Edward IV. brought it into operation. In 1600 it was incorporated under the title of the "Mayor, Jurats and Commons" of the town and hundred of Tenterden, in the county of Kent, the members of the corporation ranking henceforward as barons of the Cinque Ports. A weekly corn market on Friday and a yearly fair on the first Monday in May were granted, both of which are held at the present day. In 1790 a contemporary writer mentions the market as being little frequented, whilst the fair was large and resorted to by all the neighbourhood. This charter was exemplified by that of the year 1700. The size and importance of Tenterden can be estimated from a receipt of 1635 for 90 ship-money, as compared with £70 contributed by Faversham, and £60 by Hythe. tinder Edward III. several refugee Flemings settled in the town and established the woollen manufacture. An old waste book, still preserved, contains entries of amounts of cloth sent from Tenterden to London. By 1835 this trade had completely died out, and Tenterden was suffering from the depression of agricultural interests.
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