SOUTHWARD from Hever lies COWDEN, at
the extremity of this county adjoining to Sussex. It
is called in the Textus Roffensis, CUDENA.
THIS PARISH, wholly within the Weald, lies at the
confines of this county, adjoining to Sussex southward,
from which it is parted by a stream of the Medway,
which comes from one of its four principal heads,
which rises at Gravely-hill in that county, whence directing its course eastward along the southern bounds
of this parish, it joins the principal stream of it at
The parish of Cowden is but little known, being
situated in a deep soil of clay, very wet and miry.
The village, having the church on the east side, stands
on a rise, though at a small distance only from the river,
which here forms an elbow round the south side of it,
where it turns a corn-mill; close to the river about a
mile from hence is the Moat-farm, and about half a
mile westward that now called the Wood, both described hereafter, and at a small distance from the latter
is Cowden-furnace. A small quantity of land, and
two houses in this parish, were in Kilburne's time, (fn. 1) reputed to lie within the hundred of Axstane, but more
probably in that of Ruxley, as being perhaps a small
part of the borough of Linkhill, parcel of that hundred.
A fair is held here on the feast of St. Mary Magdalen,
now on the second of August, for cattle and pedlary
THE MANOR OF COWDEN, now called the manor of
Lewisham, was antiently part of the possessions of Agnes de Montacute, who made a gift of all her demesne
in Cuden, and in Hertfield, in Sussex, together with
her capital messuage, and their appurtenances, to the
prior and convent of Michelham, in Sussex, being a
priory of Black Canons, founded by Gilbert de Aquila,
in the beginning of the reign of king Henry III. to
the Holy Trinity, (fn. 2) whose possessions in this place were augmented by the further donation of Sir Walter de Letton, and Gunnora his wife, who gave them all his land
called Greggeslond, in Cuden, and he confirmed the
grant of those possessions, which lay within his fee in
Cuden, which they had of the gift of Agnes de Montecute, as above-mentioned, and that they should be for
ever freed from the suit of court, which the land was
accustomed to make at his court at Tiches; all
which were confirmed to the prior and convent, by a
charter of Inspeximus, granted by king Edward II. in
the 14th year of his reign.
This priory was dissolved before the 29th year of
king Henry VIII. and the possessions of it in this parish, among the rest of its estates, given up to the king,
who the same year granted them to Thomas, lord
Cromwell, and he soon afterwards exchanged them
with the crown, from whence they were again exchanged
by the name of the manor of Cawdeane, for other lands
with William Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, in the 33d
year of that reign. For the king, by Cromwell's advice, obtruded many of the estates, late belonging to
the monasteries, upon the nobles and others, in exchange for their own lands, in order to bind them more
firmly against the re-establishment of such houses, and
of the papal power.
He died two years after, possessed of this estate, and
was succeeded in it by his only son and heir Henry, on
his father's decease, earl of Arundel, who conveyed
this estate again to the crown, where it lay till the 3d
and 4th year of king Philip and queen Mary, when
the queen granted to Richard Sackvile and Thomas
Winton, among other premises, the manor of Cowden,
with its appurtenances, late belonging to the priory of
Michelham, and parcel of the possessions of the earl of
Arundel; and all lands, called Warefeld and Waremead, as they lay together at the southern part of the
water, called Kentwater, in Cowden, late in the tenure
of William Wickenden, whose ancestor Thomas
Wickenden had given them to the priory; to hold in
capite by knights service.
They seem to have joined in the sale of this estate
to William Wickenden, whose grandson, in the reign
of king Charles I. died possessed of it, leaving at his
decease two sons, who divided this estate between
them. One of them alienated his moiety to Ashdown,
from which family it was bequeathed by will to Piggott, in which name it descended to Nicholas Piggott,
from which name it passed to Mr. John Driver, who
sold it to Henry Streatseild, esq. the present possessor.
The other moiety, which remained in the name of
Wickenden, passed afterwards from thence into that
of Bassett; the last of whom, Mr. Michael Bassett,
left three daughters and coheirs, one of whom married
Mr. John Burgess, and entitled him to it. Robert
Burgess, esq. afterwards died possessed of it in 1794,
and his widow Mrs. Sarah Burgess having re-married
James Harbroc, esq. he is now become the owner of it.
There was antiently a court-baron held for this
manor, which has been disused for a great many years.
COWDEN LEIGHTON is a manor here, which had
antiently owners of the surname of Leighton, who were
succeeded in the possession of it by the Cobhams, of
Sterborough. (fn. 3)
Reginald, lord Cobham, in the 14th year of king
Edward III. procured a grant of free-warren with in
his lordship of Cowden Leighton, among others. (fn. 4) In
whose descendants it continued down to Sir Thomas
Cobham, who died possessed of it in the 11th year of
king Edward IV. leaving an only daughter and heir,
Anne, (fn. 5) who carried it in marriage to Sir Edward Borough, of Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, whose descendant, Sir Thomas Borough, lord Burgh, having expended vast sums in the service of queen Elizabeth,
was necessitated to alienate this manor to Henry Streatfeild, esq. and Richard Streatfeild his son, after whose
deaths it was, by deed, and a recovery in the 15th year
of king James, settled upon Thomas Streatfeild, the
youngest of the three sons of Richard above-mentioned.
He died possessed of it in 1628, without heirs male;
so that his four daughters, Frances, married to Mr.
John Shefferden, Jane, to Edward Taylor; Dorothy,
to Edward Powel, and Anne, first to William Stanley,
and secondly to Samuel Dillingham, became his coheirs, and they and their heirs at several times conveyed their respective interests in it by sale to Henry
Streatfeild, esq. of Highstreet-house, in Chidingstone,
eldest son of Richard, and great grandson of Richard
first above-mentioned, by Henry his eldest son.
His descendant, Henry Streatfeild, esq. of Highstreet-house, in Chidingstone, died possessed of it in
1762, whose eldest son, Henry Streatfeild, esq. now
of Highstreet house, is the present possessor of it.
There is a manor in this parish called ST. JOHN'S,
alias the Manor of St. John of Jerusalem, most probably as having once belonged to the Knights of that
order. This manor has for many years had the same
owners as that of Stangrave, alias Eatonbridge, and
as such it is now with the antient mansion of Crittenden,
in the possession of Mrs. Sophia Streatfeild, the widow
of Thomas Streatfeild, of Oxsted, esq. (fn. 6)
THE MOAT, alias COSINS, is a manor and antient
seat in Cowden, situated near the banks of the river,
which was for many generations owned by a family of
the name of Cosin, or Cosins, most probably descended
out of Norfolk, where this family was formerly of
This estate continued so long in their possession, that
they affixed their name to it; but in the 32d year of
king Henry VI. William Cosin who gave for his arms,
Azure, a lion rampant, gutte' de sang, crowned or, alienated it to William Hextal, William and Nicholas
Gainsford. The former of whom, in the 5th year of
king Edward IV. conveyed all his interest in it to William Gainsford, esq. descended of a family seated at
Crowhurst, in Surry, before the Norman conquest, in
which parish are the memorials of the interment of
many of them; several of whom were sheriffs of that
county, and justices of the peace, from the reign of
king Henry VI.
Those of this name, owners of Cosins, were a younger
branch of those at Crowhurst, and bore the same arms,
Argent, a chevron gules, between three greybounds currant
sable, collared or. (fn. 7) The descendants of William Gainsford continued possessors of it till the year 1720, when
Thomas Gainsford, esq. died possessed of it; soon after
which his heirs conveyed it by sale to Mr. John Woodgate, of Somerhill, in Tunbridge, whose son, the reverend Mr. Francis Woodgate, rector of Mountfield,
in Sussex, is the present owner of it.
WAYSTRODE, otherwise called Westwood, and now
most commonly THE WOOD, is an estate here, situated
about half a mile north-westward from the church,
which was formerly accounted a manor. It had antiently owners of the name of Waystrode, who continued in possession of it till the beginning of the reign
of king Henry VI. and then it was alienated to May;
from which name it was again sold, at the latter end
of it, to Still; in whose descendants it continued to Mr.
Richard Still, who resided here; his only daughter and
heir carried it in marriage to Mr. Dyke, of Burwash,
in Sussex, on whose death it descended to their only son
and heir, Richard Still Dyke, esq. who married Mary,
daughter of the Rev. Mr. George Jordan, of Burwash,
who surviving her husband, is now by his will intitled
to the present possession of it.
The college of Lingfield, in Surry, held an estate in
this parish, called Cold Alleyns, which king Henry VIII.
in his 36th year, granted to Thomas Cawarden, to
hold in capite by knights service.
JOHN PELSETT gave by will in 1602, the sum of 20s. yearly,
to be paid half yearly out of land, and to be distributed to the
poor people of this parish, by the minister and churchwardens,
for ever, vested in Mr. Cary Saunders, of Croydon, the owner
of the estate, and of that annual profit.
EDWARD CRIPPS and EDWARD KNIGHT, RICHARD TURNER and THOMAS WICKENDEN, churchwardens and overseers
of this parish, in 1665, for the sum of 50s. bought by deed made to
them, and their successors for ever, an alms-house, now five cottages, inhabited by five poor families, who pay no rent, now
vested in the parish officers above-mentioned.
COWDEN is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of
The church, which is a small mean building, has a
handsome spire, and stands on the eastern side of the
village. It is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen.
Among other monuments and memorials in it, in the chancel,
are memorials for the Knights, Harbys, and Aynscombes; on the
south side is a memorial for Thomas Aynscombe, rector of this
parish, obt. April 16, 1668; another for Edward Harby, L.L.B.
rector of this parish, obt. May 22, 1761, æt. 61. (fn. 8)
This church is a rectory, the advowson of which was
granted, among other premises, by king Edward VI.
in his fourth year, to Ralph Fane, to hold in capite by
knight's service, (fn. 9) in which name it remained in the 7th
year of king James I. soon after which, it was alienated
to Sir Robert Sidney, lord Sidney, of Penshurst, viscount Lisle, afterwards created earl of Leicester, in
whose descendants it continued down to Josceline Sidney, earl of Leicester, who died possessed of it in 1743,
without lawful issue, and by his will bequeathed it,
among his other estates, to his natural daughter, Anne
Sidney; but his two nieces (daughters and coheirs of
colonel Thomas Sidney, his next elder brother, Mary,
married to Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. and Elizabeth,
to William Perry, esq.) claimed his estates in this
county, as his coheirs, by virtue of an entail created by
the marriage settlement of Robert, earl of Leicester,
father of the earl, in 1700; but after much litigation,
a compromise was entered into in 1746, between them,
which was confirmed by act of parliament, by which
this advowson, among the other Kentish estates, was
vested in Sir Brownlow Sherard and Wm. Perry, esq.
In the division of these estates, the advowson of this
church was part of that moiety allotted to Sir Brownlow Sherard, who died without issue; after which his
widow, in 1758, gave it, by her will, to Anne, widow
of Sir William Yonge, bart. and knight of the Bath,
for life, remainder to her eldest son, Sir George
Yonge, bart. of Escot, in Devonshire, and they in
1770, joined in the sale of the patronage of this church
to Thomas Harvey, esq. of Tunbridge, who died in
1779, and devised it by his will to his eldest son Thomas Harvey, esq. the present patron of it.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. this rectory was
valued at fifteen marcs. (fn. 10)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry, taken by order
of the state in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was
returned, that in Cowden there was a parsonage house
and three acres of glebe land, which, with the tithes
thereto belonging, were worth 83l. per annum, that
Mr. Thomas Aynscombe was then incumbent, and the
earl of Leicester patron.
It is valued in the king's books at 9l. 18s. 11½d. and
the yearly tenths at 19s. 10¼d. (fn. 11)
Church Of Cowden.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Sidneys, Earls of Leicester||Thomas Jackson, A. M. obt.
|Thomas Aynscombe, in 1650, obt.
April 16, 1668. (fn. 12) |
|Thomas Cockman, obt. 1719.|
|William Egerton, LL.D. instit.
Nov. 16, 1719. (fn. 13) |
|Edward Harby, LL. B. March
1737, obt. May 22, 1761. (fn. 14) |
|William Lloyd, 1761, obt. Jan.
|John Francis, A. M. Jan. 21,
1778, resig. 1785. (fn. 15) |
|Thomas Harvey, LL.B. 1785.
Present rector and patron.|