Title: A Topographie or Survey of the County of Kent. With Some Chronological, Historicall, and Other Matters Touching the Same: and the Several Parishes and Places therein.
Publication: London: Thomas Mabb for Henry Atkinson [...], 1659.
Description: Small 4to. (177 x 135mm), pp. [viii], 422, [xii] + portrait frontispiece. Numerous errors in pagination as usual, list of Contents incorrectly bound before the dedication rather than after. Woodcut initials and head- and tail-pieces. Occasional light smudges and spots of foxing, a little toning along head of title-page, a smudge of red pigment to tail edge of final leaf perhaps indicating the original edge colour. Late 19th- or early 20th-century brown polished sheep neatly rebacked with original spine retained, gilt title and blind tooling to spine, blind-tooled borders to boards, edges marbled, grey endpapers. A little rubbed but a very good copy overall. Recent armorial bookplate of Robert Edmund Lloyd-Roberts to front paste-down. Two MS pencil notes to the ffep verso, the first concerning the placement of the list of Contents, the second recording that this book was 'acquired at the sale at Godmersham Park, the home of Mrs Robert Tritton. 8th June 1983.' Built in 1732 by Thomas May (later Knight), Godmersham Park was inherited by Edward Austen (brother of Jane Austen) in 1794. He was a cousin of the Knight family, who had adopted him in the early 1780s; when his adoptive mother died in 1812 he changed his name to Knight. Jane was a regular visitor to Godmersham Park and is said to have used the house as a model for Mansfield Park. The house passed through several more hands before being bought in 1935 by Robert Tritton and his wife Elsie, whose death in 1983 prompted the Christie's auction mentioned above.
In his 'Epistle Dedicatory', Kilburne writes of his intention to present 'the Kent of his own day', and to depict 'the county as it was before the Civil War'. Hasted, in his 1797 History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, dismisses Kilburne's work as being 'little more than a Directory'. However, 'Kent was not well served by early topographers, and Kilburne's small survey was extensively quoted on sixteen occasions by Robert Furley and, over the years in Archaeologia Cantiana, as a first source of reference, and not without some praise. The Topographie devoted disproportionate attention to Hawkhurst: 10 pages out of 422, or, in the words of one writer, 'as much space to it as to twenty other average parishes' (Archaeologia Cantiana, 5, 1863, 59). Kilburne justified this, however: "In respect I finde not any description of this Parish … it having been the place of my habitation for above twenty eight years last past (God's Providence having also there lent me an inheritance), I thought fit to enlarge my selfe upon this place. (Kilburne, 126)"'. (ODNB)
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