Place:Borstal, Kent, England

Alt namesBorchetellesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 146
Borcstelesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 146
Coordinates51.367°N 0.5°E
Located inKent, England
See alsoRochester St. Margaret, Kent, Englandparish of which it was part until 1934
Rochester, Kent, Englandparish and municipal borough of which it was part 1934-1974
Rochester upon Medway, Kent, Englanddistrict municipality formed in 1974
Medway, Kent, Englandunitary authority in which it is located since 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Borstal is a place now in the unitary authority of Medway in southeast England. Originally a village near Rochester, it has become absorbed by the expansion of Rochester. The youth prison at Borstal gave its name to the Borstal reform school system.

The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Borchetelle", and then consisted of a 50-acre meadow, six households and two watermills. By 1769 this riverside farm was called "Bostle", and probably had been joined by a wayside inn called the White Horse on the valley road above. In about 1830 Borstal House was built near the farm, and at the time of the 1840s Tithe Map the settlement was just a hamlet of a few cottages, mostly owned by local woman Mary Tuff. She sold her nearby lime-works in 1853, which was developed into a cement factory owned from 1864 by London solicitor Samuel Barker Booth. Its success led to the hamlet's growth into a village of terraced houses with two new pubs, shops and a workmen's institute. A second cement factory, called Borstal Manor, opened in 1898 near the original Domesday settlement. Both works closed in 1900, but continued to produce cement intermittently until about 1920. The village went into a decline when its factories closed, but underwent a resurgence of new house-building in the 1930s, when it became a suburb of Rochester. Borstal House, by then renamed Borstal Manor, was demolished in about 1960. The western end of the Domesday meadow is now crossed by the M2 motorway and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The rest of it has been built on.

The parish church, built in 1879, is dedicated to St Matthew. It was built on land donated by Mary Tuff's son Thomas, who also dedicated a window in the church to Saints Matthew and Margaret.

Borstal Prison

On the edge of Borstal are HM Prison Rochester and HM Prison Cookham Wood. Rochester Prison was originally known as Borstal Prison and was founded in 1870. Borstal Prison was once an experimental juvenile prison of the reformatory type set up in 1902. Because it was the first detention centre of its kind in the United Kingdom, the word "Borstal" became synonymous with other detention centres for youths across the country, and elsewhere. In view of that connotation, the prison was renamed 'Rochester Young Offenders Institution'. HM Prison Cookham Wood was added to the site later, in 1978.

Research Tips

  • Kent County Council Archive, Local Studies and Museums Service. James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ. This incorporates the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone and the East Kent Archives Centre near Dover.
  • Canterbury Cathedral Archives see the Archives web pages on the Canterbury Catherdral site.
  • For information on the area around the Medway Towns, have a look at Medway Council's CityArk site.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Kent illustrates the parish boundaries of Kent when rural districts were still in existence and before Greater London came into being. The map publication year is 1931. An earlier map of 1900 may also be useful. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. Maps in this series are now downloadable for personal use.
  • Census records for Kent are available on FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first site is free; the other two are pay sites but have access to microfilmed images. Steve Archer produced a very useful round-up of the available sources, but this information may not be up to date.
  • Registration Districts in Kent for the period 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 The full database from Kent Archives Office, Maidstone, has been available online from FamilySearch since June 2016.
  • Kent had five family history societies (now only four):
  • Volume 2 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1926) is available online through the auspices of British History Online. It includes accounts of the early history of Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals, and of several sites now within the conurbation of London.
  • Volume 3 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1932) This includes the text of, and the index to, the Kent Domesday survey. It has been provided by the Kent Archaeological Society.
  • In place of the other volumes of the Victoria County History, British History Online has transcriptions of the numerous volumes of The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent by Edward Hasted (originally published 1797)
  • English Jurisdictions 1851, a parish finding aid provided by FamilySearch, is particularly helpful in locating parishes in large ancient towns and cities like Canterbury.
  • Kent Probate Records Numerous links provided by Maureen Rawson
  • GENUKI lists other possible sources, however, it does not serve Kent so well as it does some other counties.
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