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Medieval Period

THE POOR

THE STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE IN MEDIEVAL DARTFORD

Very little is known about living conditions for the poor in medieval Dartford, since their hovels and cottages have not survived. One can only assume that the poorer sections of society lived in dirty and overcrowded dwellings and relied on the charity of the church and other benefactors for food when times were hard. In 1391, when there was a national famine caused through a shortage of corn, the lives of Dartford’s poor were saved as a result of the charity of Adam Bamme, lord of the manor of Charles in Dartford, and lord mayor of London. He used his influence to obtain stocks of corn that could be sold locally at a fair price.

 

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BEGGARS AND CRIMINALS IN MEDIEVAL DARTFORD

The growth of medieval towns like Dartford and the breaking-up of the traditional feudal system produced a floating population of itinerant beggars and unemployed who travelled the country looking for food and employment. Crime and problems with law and order resulted provoking a stern response from the town authorities. Criminals and trouble-makers were subjected to harsh punishments which included flogging and branding. Hangings took place on Dartford Brent. Certain forms of punishment for less serious offences combined discomfort with exposure to public ridicule - for example, the stocks and the pillory. Dartford’s pillory was sited in the market area.

 

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