LIES the adjoining parish northward from Bersted.
It is written in Domesday, Turneham, and is supposed
to take its name from the antient castle situated in it,
Thurn in Saxon signifying a tower, and ham a village.
THE PARISH of Thurnham, though healthy, is yet
from the nature of its soil an unpleasant situation, and
is rather an unfrequented place, of but little thoroughfare; the high ridge of chalk hills cross it, close to the
foot of which is the church with the court-lodge and
parsonage, and at a small distance eastward Aldington
court, having a double avenue of trees leading from it,
almost to Bersted-green, to which this parish joins
southward, near which the soil partakes of the sand;
near the foot of the hills, the soil approaches the chalk,
where the inclosures are large and open, having but
few trees in the hedge-rows to shelter them, and the
land poor and slinty; on the edge of the summit of the
hill are the remains of Thurnham castle, an account of
which will be given hereaster. From hence, on the
hill northward, the country is wild and dreary, lying
high, and much exposed to the bleak northern aspect;
the soil here is very poor and wet, a heavy tillage land
of a kind of red earth, covered with quantities of slints,
mostly low rented, at five shillings an acre, or rather
less; the hedge rows here are broad, and the fields
large. In the north-east part is a large quantity of
wood-land, called Binbury wood, near which the high
road from Maidstone through Detling leads on towards
Stockbury valiey and Key-street, through this part of
Thurnham, on the west side of this road; just before
you descend to the low country is Binbury manor
pound, and at a field or two distance behind it, the
In the south part of this parish, where it joins to
Bersted, there is a vein of white sand, which upon alderman Lewin and lady Mantle's laying the soundation for the improvement of the glass-works in this
kingdom, and the sending over Michael Racket, and
other Italians, to carry on that manusacture, was
found to be of the greastest use in their composition
for making glass, and is now well known among the
glass-workers, by the name of Maidstone sand, and
the pits themselves are become noted, for their vast
caverns arched underground.
THURNHAM was given by William the Conqueror
to Odo, bishop of Baieux, his half-brother, of whom
it was held by Ralph de Curva Spina, or Crookthorne,
as the name was called in English, as appears by the
following entry in the book of Domesday, under the
general title of the bishop's lands:
Ralf Curbespine holds of the bishop (of Baieux)
Turneham. It was taxed at three sulings. The arable
land is eight carucates. In demesne there is one, and
sixteen villeins, with eighteen borderers, having four carucates. There is a church, and six servants, and one
mill of six shillings, and four acres of meadow. Wood
for the pannage of forty bogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth ten
pounds, now twelve pounds, and yet it pays fourteen.
Sbern Biga held it of king Edward.
On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, in the 19th
year of the Conqueror's reign, this place was seized
into the king's hands, among the rest of his estates, and
was afterwards granted to Gilbert Magminot; being
held of the king in capite by barony, by the tenure of
maintaining a certain number of soldiers, from time to
time, for the desence of Dover castle. This manor
and Binbury, in this parish, together with Kersony, in
River, parcel of the twenty-four knight's sees, (fn. 1) which
made up the barony of Magminot, of which Deptford
was the head or chief.
Of the family of Magminot, and of their heirs the
Says, Thurnham was held by a family which took their
name from their possessions in it. Robert de Turnham
held this estate in the reign of king Henry II. and was
the founder of the priory of Combwell, in Goudhurst,
to which he gave part of his possessions in this parish.
He left two sons, Robert and Stephen; the former of
whom attended king Richard I. in his noted expedition to the holy land, and he died in the 13th year
of king John's reign, without issue male, and was succeeded by his brother Stephen de Turnham, who having ratisied his father's grants to the priory of Combwell, died before the 16th year of that reign, as it
should seem s. p.
In the beginning of the reign of king Edward I.
Sir Roger de Northwood, of Northwood, in the Isle
of Shepey, possessed the manor of Thurnham, with
Binbury, and other estates in this parish, and died in
the 13th year of that reign, in whose descendants,
who had summons to parliament, among the barons
of this realm, they continued down to Roger de
Northwood, who on his father, Sir John de Northwood's death, anno 2 Richard II. succeeded to them. (fn. 2)
He alienated the manor of Thurnham to Robert
Corbie, esq. of Boughton Malherb, whose sole daughter and heir Joane carried it in marriage to Sir Nicholas Wotton, who anno 3 Henry V. was lordmayor. His descendant Sir Edward Wotton, procured his lands in this county to be disgavelled by the
acts both of 31 king Henry VIII. and 2 and 3 king
Edward VI. and from him this manor descended to
his grandson Sir Edward Wotton, of Boughton Malherb, created lord Wotton, baron of Marley, whose
son Thomas, lord Wotton, dying in the 6th year of
Charles I. without male issue, Catherine, his eldest
daughter and coheir, carried this manor in marriage
to Henry, lord Stanhope, son and heir to Philip, earl
of Chesterfield, who died in his father's life-time.
Upon which, his widow Catherine, lady Stanhope,
became again possessed of it, and quickly after transferred it by sale to Mr. John Godden, of London,
whose son William Godden, esq. of Westwell, alienated it, in 1694, to William Cage, esq. of Bersted,
and his descendant John Cage, esq. youngest son of
William Cage, esq. of Milgate, sold this manor, together with the parsonage or rectory impropriate of
Thurnham, to Sir Edward Dering, bart. who died
possessed of them in 1762, and his son Sir Edward
Dering, bart. of Surrenden, in this county, is the present owner of them, together with the manors of Newnham, alias the Rectory, and Castle Godard, in this
parish. A court leet and court baron is held for the
manor of Thurnham.
BINBURY, antiently written Bingebery, is an eminent manor in this parish, lying on the summit of the
chalk-hills at the north-west extremity of it.
This manor is included in the description in Domesday recited before, as part of the bishop of Baieux's
possessions, and coming into the king's hands, was
granted to Gilbert Magminot, to hold as beforementioned in capite, by barony. After which it passed
with the manor of Thurnham, to the family of that
name, and afterwards to the Northwoods; during the
time of its continuance in which family, in king Edward the IIId.'s reign, a melancholy accident happened at Binbury as appeared by the old evidences of
the lord Wotton's family: the lady Northwood standing on a precipice of the hill, to see a fox dug out,
the earth, being loose and sandy, sunk under her, and
the hanging hill shooting down upon her, she was
stisled to death with the pressure, before any assistance
could be given to her. In this name of Northwood
this manor continued down to Roger de Northwood,
who died possessed of it in the last year of Henry V.
His heirs, in the beginning of the next reign, passed it
away to Thomas Thwaits, who in the 8th year of it,
conveyed his interest in it to William Gascoigne, of
the family of Gascoigne, of Gawthorpe, in Yorkshire,
who bore for their arms, Argent, on'a pale sable, a demi
lucy, or, in whose name it continued till the beginning
of king Edward IV.'s reign, and then it was alienated
to Cutt, or Cutts, for the name was spelt both ways,
whose descendant Sir John Cutt, possessed this manor
in the reign of king Henry VIII. He was treasurer
of the houshold, and resided at Horeham hall, at
Thaxsted, in Essex, which house he had built. He
had a younger brother Richard, from whom descended
John Cutt, created in 1690 lord Cutt, of Gowran, in
Ireland, and died s. p. They bore for their arms,
Argent, on a bend ingrailed, sable, three plates, in each a
martlet of the second; those of this county bore this
coat within a bordure, argent, and gules. (fn. 3) He died in
1520. Sir Henry Cutt, his grandson, was of Cambridgeshire, and died in 1603 s. p. very soon after
which, his heirs alienated this manor to Sir Samuel
Lennard, of West Wickham, in this county, who
died possessed of it in 1618, and was succeeded in it
by his eldest son, Sir Stephen Lennard, created a baronet in 1642 After which this manor passed in his
descendants in like manner as that of West Wickham
described in the second volume of this history, down
to Miss Mary Lennard, who marrying John Farnaby,
esq. he became in her right possessed of it. They
joined in the sale of it in 1785, to authorize which an
act passed that year, to James Whatman, esq. of Boxley, who exchanged it for other lands elsewhere, with
Heneage, earl of Aylesford, and he is the present
owner of it.
ALDINGTON, usually called Addington, and now
comprehended within the bounds of this parish, was
formerly a distinct parish of itself. It was, as well as
Thurnham, part of those possessions given by William the Conqueror to his half-brother Odo, bishop
of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it
is thus entered in the survey of Domesday, taken about
the year 1080:
Ansgotus of Rochester holds of the bishop (of Baieux)
Audintone. It was taxed at two sulings. The arable
land is three carucates and an half. In demesne there are
two, and seven villeins, with five borderers having one
carucate and an half. There is a church and four servants, and six acres of meadow, and one mill of four shillings and two pence. Wood for the pannage of ten hogs.
In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth four pounds, now seven pounds.
Goduin and Alunin held it of king Edward for two
These two manors continued afterwards as such,
ONE OF WHICH, from its situation, and from the noble family which possessed it, was called ALDINGTON
COBHAM, alias EAST-COURT.
Henry de Cobham, of Cobham, was possessed of
this manor in the reign of king John, and his eldest
son John de Cobham, of Cobham likewise, died in
the 28th year of king Edward I. possessed of it, holding it in capite by the service of one knight's see. He
seems to have been succeeded in it by his next brother
William, usually afterwards stiled of Aldington, who
was a justice itinerant, both in the reigns of king
Henry III. and Edward I. and died, far advanced in
years, anno 14 Edward II. s. p. being succeeded in
this manor by Reginald his nephew, stiled likewise
Cobham, of Aldington, son of his eldest brother John
de Cobham, by his second wife. His son, Reginald
de Cobham, in the 14th year of Edward III. procured a charter of free-warren in all the demesne lands
within his manor of Aldington by Thornham, among
others. He died in the 35th year of that reign, possessed of this manor, held of the king in capite, as of
the castle of Rochester, then in the king's hands, by
the service of paying to the ward of that castle, in lieu
of all service. In whose descendants, of the name of
Reginald, seated at Sterborough-castle, in Surry,
whence his descendants were called Cobhams, of Sterborough, it continued down to Reginald de Cobham,
who dying in the 24th year of Henry VI. was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Sir Thomas Cobham, (fn. 4) whose only daughter and heir Anne, carried it
in marriage to Sir Edward Borough, of Gainsborough,
in Lincolnshire. His descendant, William, lord Borough, in the 12th year of queen Elizabeth, sold this
manor of Aldington East-court, to Henry Brockhull,
who was likewise possessed of the other part of Aldington, called from its situation, and the family which
possessed it ALDINGTON SEPTVANS, alias WESTCOURT. Of this family of Septvans, was Roger de
Septvans, who possessed this manor in the reign of
Richard I. and was with that king at the siege of Acon,
in Palestine, and it remained in his descendants down
to William Septvans, who died in the 25th year of
Edward III. holding this estate, then called Westcourt, alias Septvans, as the moiety of the manor of
Aldington, in manner as above-mentioned. After
which it did not remain long in this name, for John
Gower died possessed of it in the 39th year of that
reign; and from thence, not many years afterwards,
it was alienated to Sir John Brockhull, in whose descendants resident here it continued down to Henry
Brockhill, esq. of Aldington, who in the 12th year
of queen Elizabeth, purchased of William, lord
Burgh, the other moiety of Aldington, by the name
of the manor of Aldington East-court, as has been
already related. He died in 1596, and was buried in
Bersted church, and bore for his arms, Gules, a cross
engrailed between twelve cross-croslets sitchee argent;
quartered with those of Criol. He left two daughters
his coheirs, Anne and Martha, the former of whom,
by the death of her sister, became at length his sole
heir, and marrying Mr. John Taylor, gent. entitled
him to these estates, on which he afterwards resided,
being the grandson of William Taylor, of Shadoxhurst, he alienated them to Sir Richard Smith, of
Leeds-castle, who died in 1628, and his heirs soon
afterwards alienated them to Ralph Freke, esq. descended from those of Dorsetshire, who having married Cecilie, fifth daughter of Sir Thomas Culpeper,
of Hollingborne, fixed his residence at Aldington
West-court. She died in 1650, after which he soldthem to Mr. John Munns, of Bersted, in which name
they remained till they were conveyed by sale to William Sheldon, esq. His grandson Richard Sheldon,
esq. resided at Aldington, where he kept his shrievalty
in 1717, bearing for his arms, Sable, a fess between
three sheldrakes, argent, and dying in 1736, was buried in Thurnham church, having by his will given
these manors to his widow, who in 1738, remarrying
with William Jones, esq. M. D. entitled him to this
seat, and the manors of Aldington Cobham and Westcourt, at the latter of which he resided. He died in
1780, leaving two daughters his coheirs, Mary, married to Lock Rollinson, esq. of Oxfordshire, and
Anne, to Thomas Russell, esq. who, in right of their
wives, became respectively entitled to these manors,
which they afterwards joined in the sale of to the hon.
Rev. Jacob Marsham, LL. D. second surviving son
of the late lord Romney, who is the present possessor
of them and resides at Aldington-court.
THE CHURCH of Aldington was dedicated to St.
Peter, and continued a separate parish church from
that of Thurnham, (fn. 5) till it was united to it by agreement made in 1583, between Henry Brockhull, esq.
lord of the manor and patron of it, and William Merrick, vicar of Thurnham, which was confirmed sede
vacante by master William Aubrey, L. D. guardian
of the see of Canterbury, and ordinary pro tempore.
Since which it has been accounted as a chapel to that
church. In this church was buried Nicholas Brockhull, esq. lord of Aldington Westcourt, anno 2 Edward IV.
ON THE VERY BROW of the chalk hill, are the remains of an antient fortification, now called THURNHAM CASTLE, but formerly Godard's-castle, and the
hill on which it stands, from thence, Godard's-hill.
Darell, in his treatise De Castellis Cantii, affirms,
that this castle was founded by Godardus, a Saxon,
from whom it took its name. Leland calls it the castle
of Thorne, and says, it was in his time entirely a ruin.
He says, "Sir John Cutte, under treasurer of England, bought of one Savelle, a main of fair lands in
Yorkshire, then being in trouble, the lordship of
Godhurste, with the ruins of a castle, (meaning this of
Thurnham) standing about two miles from the banks
of the Medway, and the like distance from Maidstone.
"This lordship at that time was partly a ground
much overgrown with thornes and bushes, and was
worth but xx markes by the year, then it was cleared,
and the value much enhansed, and much goodly wood
was then about it."
Sir John Cutte was then lord of the adjoining manor of Binbury, as has been already mentioned; but
the scite of the castle has been long since alienated
from the possessors of that manor.
The scite of Thurnham-castle is on the brow of the
great chalk-hill, about half a mile northward of the
church, and as much eastward from the high road on
the top of Detling-hill. The walls which remain are
built of rude flint, honey-combed and almost eaten
up by the weather and length of time. That part
which is now standing of them is on the north side of
the area of the castle: they are about fourteen seet
high, and near three broad. The rest of the walls are
demolished to the foundations, which are, notwithstanding, mostly visible. The area contains about a
quarter of an acre of ground. On the east side of it
was the keep, being an artificial mount, in the middle
of which there is an hollow, as if the ground had
fallen in and filled a cavity underneath. It appears to
have been walled round, especially towards the south,
where the chalk below having been dug away perpendicularly up to the bottom of the foundations, they
have most part of them tumbled down into the chalkpit underneath, where large fragments of them lie.
The entrance seems to have been from the north.
It is very probable, from the Roman urns, and
other remains of that nation, found about this hill,
that it was first erected by them, and was possibly one
of their speculatory stations or watch-towers, as well to
secure this pass, as to overlook the approaches of their
enemies through the valley below.
FOUR HOUSES, known by the name of Church-houses, now let
to the overseers of the poor for 40s. per annum, and four acres
of land, called Church-lands, let at three guineas per annum,
were given to the poor of this parish by persons now unknown.
EDWARD GODFREY, of this parish, gent. gave by will in
1709, twenty shillings yearly, out of lands in Bersted, called
Crouch-field, to be distributed yearly among the poor of this
parish not receiving alms, vested in Mr. Watts, of Gravesend,
and the vicar of this parish. He likewise gave by his will 30s.
yearly out of the same lands, for the schooling of poor children; half of them to be of this parish, and half of that of
Bersted. And he left 30s. more by his will for the like use, to
be paid out of an house called Roseacre, in Bersted; the payment of which has been constantly refused, on pretence that
he had no right to devise such charge on it.
MRS. MARY DERING, daughter of Henry Dering, vicar
of this parish, by her will in 1725, gave to the poor of this parish twenty-six penny loaves, to be distributed yearly on Christmas day for ever; and for that purpose, she deposited 10l. in
the minister's and churchwarden's hands, to be put out to use,
which was accordingly done, but the money is now lost by
the persons being in indigent circumstances.
The poor constantly relieved are about forty-two; casually,
THURNHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a
small building, consisting of one isle and two chancels, having a low pointed steeple at the west end, in
which hang three bells. In it are monuments for the
Sheldons, several of whom lie buried here, as does Sir
Henry Cutt, in the chancel founded in honor of him
by lady Barbara his wife, who afterwards married
William Covert, esq. of Boxley, and dying in 1618,
was buried here likewise.
This church, with its appurtenances and lands,
called Hoch and Casteye, were given, among other
premises in the reign of king Henry II. by Robert de
Thurnham to the priory of Combwell, at Goudhurst,
at that time founded by him; which gift was confirmed by his son, Stephen de Thurnham, and by
king Henry III. by his charter of inspeximus in his
The church of Thurnham was, within a few years
afterwards, appropriated to the above-mentioned
priory, with the consent of Richard, archbishop of
Canterbury, who likewise granted a confirmation of
it to them. To the rectory belonged a manor, called NEWENHAM, alias THE RECTORY OF THURNHAM, which, with its appurtenances, consisting of
certain premises and lands, called Howe-court and
Canons-barns, part of the gift of Robert de Thurnham, as before-mentioned, remained in the possession
of the priory till the 27th year of king Henry VIII.
when by the act for the suppression of all such religious houses, whose revenues did not amount to the
clear yearly value of two hundred pounds, and for
giving the same to the king; this priory was next
year surrendered up into the king's hands. These
premises in the parish of Thurnham remained but a
small time in the crown, for the king in his 29th year
granted them to Thomas Culpeper, to hold in capite
by knight's service, but he did not possess them long,
for it appears by the escheat-rolls, that they were again
in the crown in the 34th year of that reign, for that
year the king granted the rectory of Thurnham, with
its appurtenances, among other premises, to Sir John
Gage, comptroller of his household, to hold in like
manner, (fn. 6) and he alienated it to Sir Edward Wotton,
who died in the 6th year of Edward VI. possessed of
the manor and rectory of How-court and Canonsbarns, and the advowson of the vicarage of Thurnham. From him they descended down in like manner
as the manor of Thurnham above-described, till they
came with it into the possession of John Cage, esq.
of Combe, who sold the parsonage or rectory impropriate, with the manor and lands belonging to it, and
all its appurtenances, to Sir Edward Dering, bart.
whose son of the same name is now possessed of it, as
has been already mentioned before, but the advowson
of the vicarage, with the rectory of Aldington annexed, was sold by him in 1740 to Mr. Joseph Smallwell, of Maidstone, who in 1753 conveyed it to Mr.
Henry Hodson, whose son the Rev. Henry Hodson,
vicar of this parish, is now entitled to it.
In the 8th year of king Richard II. the church of
Thurnham with Aldington was valued at 33l. 6s. 8d.
In 1640 it was valued at forty pounds per annum.
Communicants one hundred and fifty-seven. This
vicarage is valued in the king's books at 8l. 0s. 10d.
and the yearly tenths at 16s. 1d.
The vicarage of Thurnham, with the church of
Aldington annexed to it, is endowed with all kind of
vicarial tithe in the former, and all manner of tithes
in the latter.
Church of Thurnham, with the Church of Aldington annexed.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Priory of Combwell.||Thomas Reynolds, S. T. B. July
25, 1597, obt. 1600.|
|Benjamin Carrier, S. T. B.
March 27, 1600, resigned
|John Crompe, A. M. July 8,
1614, obt. 1641. (fn. 7) |
|William Sutton, Nov. 6, 1661,
obt. Nov. 28, 1673. (fn. 8) |
|Henry Dering, A. M. 1673, ob.
Dec. 26, 1720. (fn. 9) |
|Jonathan Soan, 1720, obt. Jan.
14, 1768. (fn. 10) |
|Henry Hodson, A. M. presented
Feb. 10, 1768, the present
vicar. (fn. 11) |
HAVING NOW DESCRIBED the southern part of this
hundred, lying below the chalk hills, I shall proceed to
the remaining part of it, lying above or on the northern side of them, beginning with the parish of Otterden, which lies almost on the summit of them.