In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Erith like this:
ERITH, a small town and a parish in Dartford district, Kent. The town stands on the river Thames, and on the London and Gravesend railway, 3½ miles NW of Dartford; was known to the Saxons as Ærrehythe, signifying the old haven; was once a market and corporate town; consists chiefly of one irregular street, but includes many recent villas and other good houses; presents an agreeable rural appearance, with environments of green lanes and pleasant paths; is a sub-port, where many large merchant ships, going up to London, stop to discharge part of their cargo; and has a steam-boat pier, extensive public gardens, two chief hotels, a railway station with telegraph, a post office under London, SE, and a fair on Whit-Monday. ...
The parish contains also the hamlets of Beadonwell, Lessness-Heath, Picardy, and Northumberland-Heath. Acres, 4, 585; of which 735 are water. Real property, £30, 770. Pop., in 1851, 2, 231; in 1861, 4, 143. Houses, 681. The property is much subdivided. The manor belonged, at Domesday, to Bishop Odo; and passed, through the De Lucys, the Badlesmeres, the Waldens, the Comptons, and others, to the Wheatleys. Belvidere House is the seat of Sir Culling Eardley, Bart. Much of the land, along the Thames, above the town, is low and flat, and bears the name of Erith Marshes. A vast sand-pit, with about 40 feet of vertical frontage, situated W of the town, shows formations and has yielded fossils which render it highly interesting to geologists. Two powder magazines in the parish, said to contain 30, 000 barrels, exploded on 1 Oct., 1864, with an effect so far as London, which was momentarily mistaken there for an earthquake-stroke, and which was distinctly felt even at Maidstone. Much damage was done to property; but surprisingly few lives were lost. Erith Reach, in the Thames, extends to Jenningtree Point; is 1½ mile long; and has anchorage in from 3 to 5 fathoms; but shoals toward the Essex side. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Canterbury. Value, £600. Patron, Lord Wynford. The church is partly early English, partly perpendicular; consists of nave and chancel, with low tower and spire; and contains some good brasses, an altar-tomb of the Countess of Shrewsbury who died in 1568, and a monument by Chantrey to Lord Eardley. A meeting, supplementary to the signing of Magna Charta, and designed to effect a final peace between King John and his barons, was held in this church. The p. curacy of All Saints, at Belvidere, is a separate benefice. Value, £100.* Patrons, Trustees. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, and Wesleyans, and charities £8. The Independent chapel is an ornamental edifice, in the pointed style. Weaver, the antiquary, was rector.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Erith has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Bexley. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Erith and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Erith, in Bexley and Kent | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th May 2016
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