|Identifier:||Lathe||Number of units in system:|
|Geographical Level:||8 (Higher-level District)|
|ADL Feature Type:||countries, 3rd order divisions|
|Is a status within:||Division of Ancient County|
A lathe was an ancient administration division of Kent, these units are recorded as intermediate between the county and hundred. These ancient divisions still exist, but have no administrative significance. There are seven Lathes in Kent; Aylesford, Milton, Sutton, Borough, Eastry, Lympne and Wye. The Domesday Book reveals that in 1086 Kent was divided into the seven lathes or 'lest(um)' for administrative, judicial and taxation purposes (Jessup, 1958, P.59) and these units remained important for another six hundred years. Each of the seven lathes were divided into smaller areas called hundreds, although the difference between the functions of lathes and hundreds remains unclear. The fact that lathes are documented in the Domesday Book implies a pre-Conquest date, and there is a general belief that they may originate from the 'early phase of Jutish colonization of Kent' in the fifth century (Jessup, 1958, P.59). Furthermore the Anglo-Saxon sources of Kent suggest that these divisions may have been related to royal divisions as the early lathe system centred on royal vils and their function may have been to provide food-rents and military manpower to the king.