Posted by: madkentdragon | March 10, 2011

Maidstone Part 6, a Regicide, more buildings and a corn exchange


Well, we’ll carry on walking up the High Street and go past the Market Buildings and Corn Exchange, this is an arcaded shopping area with individual shops in it and above was the corn exchange – this was built in 1835 – oh yes, despite the narrowness of the entrance the original fire station was here and I can remember this enormous engine easing its way out on to the High Street with its bell clanging. It was moved to a purpose built site with housing for the firemen on the Loose Road in the late 1950s. We’ll have another look at the Corn Exchange from the other end when we get there, but for now we will carry on along the High Street.

Walking back past Victoria’s monument and the 18th & 19th Century building that were once banks and Insurance buildings – now a pub, we come to Week Street; which as you know is really a continuation of Stone Street and Gabriel’s Hill until the High Street rudely interrupted it!

This is another part of the Roman Road, but is now mainly shops, the name apparently comes from an administrative area of the town. It has several listed buildings in it and reaches up to the County Hall which is the County Council’s main admin offices.

There are records for it back to 1613 and in the 19th century there were at least 8 pubs or inns here as well as a wine merchant – boozy lot! The street has always been a mixture of commercial and residential, but is now mainly commercial and still has an empty Woolworths, and, slightly set back from the street is a United Reform Church which is one of the newer churches in Maidstone as it was built in 1865 and there is St Francis RC Church and school at the top end of Week Street. The other new church in the town is St Pauls which is slightly on the outskirts of the town and was rebuilt after it was burnt down in 1970.

Apart from the plaque dedicated to William Hazlitt, an essayist who was born in Week Street in 1778 – no I’ve not read any of his works there is not much of note here, but there is some pargetting on the Boots shop near the top of the street.

 But for now I want to take you left off Week Street in to Earl Street. It was originally Earls Place after a house that was there, but one of its claim to fame is that the Mayor of Maidstone, one Andrew Broughton lived here at numbers 31-33 unsurprisingly enough it is now called Broughton House and is now legal chambers!

Andrew Broughton, born 1602/3 became not only mayor of Maidstone but clerk to the High Court of Justice and oversaw or was judge at the trial of King Charles I and was one of the signatories on the death warrant. After the king was beheaded, he tried to enter All Saints Church, but was turned away at the door and told that as a murderer, he was no longer welcome. He never set foot in the church again even though he served in parliament under Cromwell until 1653.

After the restoration of the monarchy, Broughton was not exempted from his crime – as some were – and he with another clerk, John Phelps fled abroad. They ended up in Lausanne, Switzerland having left Hamburg in fear of his life as assassins were picking off some of the other members of the regicide. He finally received sanctuary in Berne and died in 1687 in Vevey where he is buried in the church.

There are several older buildings here but it is the other end of the Market Buildings in Earl Street that I want to draw your attention to as a theatre was built here at the same time as the corn exchange, it is now called the Hazlitt Theatre and the complex now also includes the corn exchange. Not a large theatre, but quite well attended. There is also a carved head of Disraeli over no 32!

Next time, burning of heretics, more old buildings, a guild and that will that I couldn’t fit in this time.

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