Author Topic: Rome lane, Chatham  (Read 116 times)

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Offline Smiffy

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Rome lane, Chatham
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 05:43:37 PM »

Although spelt later as "Rome", the original spelling seems to have been "Roome" which would have been pronounced the same as "Room". The word that seems the closest fit to this is the Old English word rūm, which means "wide". Putting two and two together this indicates that the original name may simply have meant "wide lane". If this is the case then the history of this particular roadway may go back a very long way indeed, possibly to the Anglo-Saxon period.
Rome lane would have been renamed Railway street some time shortly after Chatham Station was opened in 1858.
Living nearby, Charles Dickens attended a preparatory day-school in Rome Lane, along with his sister Fanny. This was a dame school, called as such because they were run exclusively by elderly females, although in those days elderly probably meant anyone over 40! There is no indication as to its precise location, although Dickens himself stated that it had been over a dyer's shop. Pigot's directory from 1840 lists Caroline & Anne Morris as running a day school in Rome lane, although being some time later this may not be the same premises.
Other residents from 1840:
BEST Col. James, Rome house, Gentry
WEBB Capt. Robert, Rome place, Gentry
NASH Rev George Edwd, Rome place, Clergy
MURTON Mary, Rome place, Baker
WOOLEY Thomas, Rome lane, Carpenter
PEARCE John, Rome lane, Currier (leather finisher)
KEEN Andrew, Rome place, Leather seller
STEDMAN Thomas, Rome place, listed under Plumbers, Painters & Glaziers
ANSELL William, Rome place, Rope and Twine maker
CURETON Dinah, Rome place, Straw hat maker
STATON Sarah, Rome lane, Straw hat maker
CATT Richard, Rome lane, Wheelwright
RICKON Jno. Rome lane, Iron & brass founder
STANBURY’s Vans and Waggons from Chatham to London and Chatham to Canterbury, Dover, Deal, Ramsgate and Margate from their office, Rome lane, every night.
Some of these addresses are shown as Rome Place, which is identified as just two semi-detached residences on maps compiled after the station was built. These in later years were converted into what became the "Station Hotel & Restaurant". However, there were more buildings further up the lane that were removed to make way for the station and it's likely that this area was once collectively known as Rome Place.
Upper Rome Lane with the later station buildings and railway line outlined in red: