THE next parish westward from Murston is Sittingborne, antiently written Sedingbourne, in Saxon,
sœdingburna, i. e. the hamlet by the bourne, or small
THE PARISH and town of Sittingborne is situated
about forty miles from London, the high road from
thence to Dover leading through it. The parish,
though rather above the level of the marshes, which
bound the northern side of it, from which the ground
rises to the town, is still a damp situation, and both
from the air and water is not accounted a healthy one,
though much more so than several of the neighbouring
parishes equally northward, than which it has a more
chearful and populous aspect; from the town the ground
still keeps rising southward till it joins Tunstall, in the
road to which about a quarter of a mile from the town
is a good modern house called Glovers, which lately
belonged to Thomas Bannister, esq. who resided in it,
and died in 1791, and his widow, Mrs. Bannister, now
owns it; eastward from which, at about the same distance, are the estates of Chilston and Fulston, and Hysted Forstall, with Golden-wood at the boundary of the
parish, part of which is within it, adjoining to Bapchild
and Rodmersham. The parish, which is but small,
contains little more than eight hundred acres of land,
consisting of arable, pasture, orchards, hop ground, and
woods. In the upper and western parts it is much inclined to chalk and thin land, but the rest of it is in
general a fertile loam, especially about the town, which
was formerly surrounded by orchards of apples and
cherries, but many of them have been destroyed to
make room for plantations of hops, which, however,
are not so numerous as formerly, and several of those
which remain are kept up only as nurseries for young
plantations of fruit trees, to which they must soon in
their turn give place. Northward from the town the
grounds are entirely pasture and orchards, lying on a
descent to the town of Milton and the creek, both
about half a mile distant from it; on the latter is a key
called Crown key, of great use to this part of the
country for the exporting of corn and wood, and relanding the several commodities from London and
elsewhere. At a small distance north-west from the
town is Bayford-court.
It appears by a survey made in the 8th year of queen
Elizabeth, that there was then in this parish houses inhabited eighty-eight; lacking inhabitants five; keys
two, Crown key and Holdredge key; ships and boats
three, two of one ton, and one of twenty-four tons.
THE town of Sittingborne is built on each side of
the high road at the fortieth mile-stone from London,
and stands on a descent towards the east. It is a wide,
long street unpaved, the houses of which are mostly
modern, being well built of brick, and sashed, the
whole having a chearful aspect. The principal support
of it has always been from the inns, and houses of reception in it for travellers, of which there are several.
The inhabitants boast much of John Northwood,
esq. of Northwood, having entertained king Henry V.
on his triumphant return from France, at the Red Lion
inn, in this town; and though the entertainment was
plentiful, and befitting the royalty of his guest, yet such
was the difference of the times, that the whole expence
of it amounted to no more than 9s. 9d. wine being
then sold at two-pence a pint, and other articles in
proportion. The principal inn now in it, called the
Rose, is perhaps the most superb of any throughout the
kingdom, and the entertainment afforded in it equally
so, though the traveller probably will not find his reckoning near so moderate as that of John Northwood
before-mentioned. About the middle of the opposite
side of the town there is a good family seat, which was
once the residence of the Tomlyn's, and then for many
years of the Lushingtons, several of whom lie buried
in this church, of whom a further mention has already
been made under Rodmersham manor, which they
possessed. At length Thomas Godfrey Lushington
left it to reside at Canterbury, and his second son the
Rev. James-Stephen Lushington, becoming possessed
of it afterwards, sold it to Mr. John May, who resided
in it for some time. Since which it has been converted
into an inn. At this house, whilst in the possession of
the Lushingtons, king George the 1st. and 11d. constantly lodged, whenever they travelled through this
town, both in their way to, and return from visiting
their German dominions.
The church and vicarage stand almost at the east
end of the town, near which there rises a clear spring
of water in the high road, which flows from thence
northward into Milton creek.
Queen Elizabeth, by her charter, in her 16th year,
incorporated the town of Sittingborne, by the name of
a guardian and free tenants thereof; and granted to it
a market weekly on a Wednesday, and two fairs yearly,
the one at Whitsuntide, and the other at Michaelmas,
with many other privileges: which charter was used
for several years, and until the queen was pleased,
through further favor to grant to it another more ample charter, in her 41st year, by which she incorporated
this place, by the name of a mayor and jurats, and regranted the market and fairs, with the addition of a
great number of privileges, and among others, of returning two members to parliament.
This charter does not appear ever to have been used,
or the privileges in it exercised. The market, after having been used for several years, was dropped, and only
the two yearly fairs have been kept up, which are still
held on Whit-Monday and the two following days, for
linen and toys, and on October 10, and the four following days, for linen, woollen, cloaths, hardward, &c. and
on the second day of it, for the hiring of servants, both
in the town, and in a field, called the Butts, at the
back of it.
Lewis Theobald, the poet, made famous by Mr.
Pope, in his Dunciad, was born at Sittingborne, his father being an attorney at this place.
SOME FEW of our antiquarians have been inclined to
six the Roman station, called, in the second iter of Antonine, Durolevum, at or near Sittingborne; among
which are Mr. Talbot, Dr. Horsley, Baxter, and Dr.
Stukeley in his comment upon his favorite Richard of
Cirencester; (fn. 1) but they have but little to offer in support
of their conjecture, except the distances made use
of in one or two copies, which are so different in many
of them, that there is no trusting to any one in particular; consequently each alters them as it suits his own
hypothesis best. The reader will find more of this
subject under the description of both Lenham and
In the year 893, the Danes having fitted out a great
number of ships, with an intention of ravaging the
coasts of this kingdom, divided them into two fleets;
with one of which they failed up the river Limene, or
Rother, and with the other, under the command of
Hastings, their captain, they entered the mouth of the
river Thames, and landed at the neighbouring town of
Milton. Near Milton they built a castle, at a place
called Kemsley-down, about a quarter of a mile north-east from where the church of Milton now stands,
which being overgrown with bushes, acquired the name
of Castle rough. King Alfred, on receiving intelligence of these depredations, marched his forces towards Kent, and in order to flop their incursions, some
time afterwards built on the opposite or eastern side of
the creek, about a mile from the Danish intrenchments, a fortification, part of the ditches of which, and
a small part of the stone-work, is still to be seen at
Bayford-castle, in this parish.
Gerarde, the herbalist, found on the high road
near this place,
Tragoriganum Dodonæi, goats marjorum of Dodo-
Ruta muraria sive salvia vitæ, wall rue, or rue maidenhair; upon the walls of the church-yard here.
Colutea minima five coronilla, the smallest bastard
sena; on the chalky barren grounds near Sittingborne, (fn. 2)
and lately likewise by Mr. Jacob.
Hieracium maximum chondrillæ folio asperum;
observed by Mr. John Sherard, very plentisully in the
road from this place to Rochester.
Lychnis saponaria dicta, common sopewort; by him
on the same road.
Tithymalus Hybernicus, Irish Spurge; between this
place and Faversham.
Erysimum sophia dictum; found by Mr. Jacob, on
the road sides near Sittingborne, and on the Standard
Oenanthe cicutæ facie Lobellii, hemlock dropwort,
found by him in the water lane between Sittingborne
and Milton. (fn. 3)
THE MANOR OF MILTON is paramount over this
parish, subordinate to which is
THE MANOR OF GOODNESTON, perhaps so called
from its having been the property of Goodwyne, earl
of Kent, who might have secured himself here at Bayford castle, in the year 1052, when having taken up
arms against king Edward the Consessor, he raised an
army, and ravaged the king's possessions, and among
them the town of Milton, which he burnt to the ground.
On his death it most probably came to his son king
Harold, and after the battle of Hastings into the hands
of the crown, whence it seems to have been granted to
the eminent family of Leyborne, of Leyborne, in this
county. William, son of Roger de Leyborne, died
possessed of it in the 3d year of king Edward II.
His grand-daughter Juliana, daughter of Thomas de
Leyborne, who died in his life-time, became her grandfather's heir, and succeeded in this manor, to which
she entitled her several husbands successively, all of
whom she survived, and died S. P. in the 41st year of
king Edward III. when no one being found, who could
make claim to any of her estates, this manor, among
the rest of them, escheated to the crown.
After which this manor of Goodneston, as it was
then called, seems to have been granted by the crown
to Robert de Nottingham, who resided at a seat adjoining to this manor, called
BAYFORD-CASTLE, where his ancestors had resided
for several generations. Robert de Nottingham lived
here in the reign of king Edward I. and dates several
of his deeds apud castellum suum de Bayford, apud Goodneston. Robert de Nottingham, his successor, who became possessed of the manor of Goodneston as beforementioned, was sheriff in the 48th year of king Edward III. and kept his shrievalty at Bayford, bearing for
his arms, Paly, wavy of two pieces, gules and argent, in
which year he died, and was found by the inquisition
to die possessed of lands at Sharsted, Pedding in Tenham, Newland, La Hirst, Higham in Milsted, Bixle,
now called Bix, in Tong, and lastly, Goodneston, with
Bayford, in Sittingborne; all which descended to his
only son John Nottingham, who died without issue
male, leaving Eleanor his daughter his sole heir, who
marrying Simon Cheney, of Crall, in Sussex, second
son of Sir Richard Cheney, of Shurland, he became, in
her right, entitled to it. His grandson Humphry Cheney alienated both Goodneston and Bayford, at the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign, to Mr. Richard
Lovelace, of Queenhyth, in London.
His son Launcelot Lovelace was of Bayford, and
purchased the manor of Hever in Kingsdown, near Farningham, under which a more ample account of him
and his descendants may be seen. His second son William, heir to his eldest brother Sir Richard, who died
S. P. at length became possessed of Goodneston, with
Bayford, at which he resided, and dying anno 17 king
Henry VII. left two sons, John and William Lovelace, esqrs. who possessed this manor and seat between
them; the former of whom resided at Bayford, where
he died in the 2d year of Edward VI. holding the
moiety of this manor in capite, by knight's service, and
leaving seven sons, of whom Thomas Lovelace, esq.
his eldest son, inherited his interest in this manor and
seat. He procured his lands to be disgavelled, by the
act passed anno 2 and 3 Edward VI. and afterwards in
the 10th year of queen Elizabeth, together with his
cousin William Lovelace, by a joint conveyance, alienated Goodneston, with Bayford, to Mr. Ralph Finch,
of Kingsdown, in this neighbourhood, whose son Mr.
Thomas Finch, of that place, passed it away by sale to
Sir William Garrard, who had been lord mayor in
1555, whose ancestors had been of this parish for several generations before, and perhaps were seated at
Fulston in it, as many of them lie buried, in the chancel belonging to that seat, in this church. (fn. 4)
He died in 1571, and was buried in St. Magnus's
church, in London, bearing for his arms, Argent, on a
fess sable, a lion passant of the field; which arms, borne
by his ancestors, are carved on the roof of the cloysters
at Canterbury. After which it descended down to
his grandson Sir John Garrard, or Gerrard, as this family now began to spell their name, who was of Whethamsted, in Hertfordshire, and was created a baronet
in 1621. He was succeeded in it by his eldest son of
the same name (at which time Bayford was become no
more than a farm-house, being called Bayford-court
farm). He died in 1700, leaving an only daughter and
heir Mary, who carried the manor of Goodneston, with
Bayford, among the rest of her inheritance, in marriage to Montague Drake, esq. of Shardeloes, in Agmondesham, in Buckinghamshire, who bore for his
arms, Argent, a wivern, with wings displayed, and tail
moved, gules. In whose descendants it continued down
to William Drake, esq. M. P. for the borough of Agmondesham, as his ancestors had been, some few intermissions only excepted, ever since its being restored to
its privilege of sending members to parliament, as a
borough, anno 21 James I. He died possessed of this
estate in 1796, and his heirs are at this time possessed
A court baron is held for the manor of Goodneston,
CHILTON is a manor situated in the south-east part of
this parish, which was formerly accounted a manor, and
had owners of that furname, who held the manor of
Chilton in Ash, near Sandwich, both which William de
Chilton held at his death in the 31st year of king Edward I. one of whose descendants, in the beginning of
king Edward III.'s reign, passed it away to Corbie,
whose descendant Robert Corbie, of Boughton Malherb, died possessed of this manor of Chilton, alias
Childeston, in the 39th year of that reign. (fn. 5) After
which it passed by a female heir of this name in like
manner as Boughton Malherb, to the family of Wotton, and from them again to the Stanhopes, (fn. 6) in which
it continued till Philip, earl of Chesterfield, about the
year 1725, alienated it to Richard Harvey, esq. of
Dane-court, whose grandson, the Rev. Richard Harvey, died possessed of it in 1772, leaving his widow
surviving, since which it has been sold to Balduck,
and by him again to Mr. George Morrison, who now
owns it, and resides in it.
FULSTON, called antiently Fogylston, was a large
mansion, situated at a small distance southward from
Chilton last-described, which, from the burials of the
Garrards in the chancel belonging to this estate in Sittingborne church, seems to have been the early residence of that family in this parish. However that be,
in the reign of Henry VIII. it was become the estate
and residence of John Cromer, esq. the third son of
Sir James Cromer, of Tunstall, who died in 1539, and
was buried in this church, leaving his three daughters
his coheirs; and in one of the windows of this church
were the arms of John Cromer, esq. of Fulston, and
his two wives, Guldeford and Grove, and their several
Probably, by his will, or by a former entail, on his
dying without male issue, this seat descended to his nephew Sir James Cromer, of Tunstall, whose grandson,
of the same name, dying without male issue in 1613,
Christian, one of his daughters and coheirs carried it in
marriage to John Hales, esq. eldest son of Sir Edward
Hales, of Tenterden, knight and baronet, as has been
already more fully mentioned before under Tunstall,
and in his descendants it has continued down to Sir
Edward Hales, bart. of St. Stephen's, near Canterbury,
the present owner of it. The greatest part of this mansion has been pulled down within memory, and a neat
farm-house has been erected on the ruins of it.
JOHN ALLEN, of Sittingborne, by his will in 1615, gave 40s.
per annum for repairing the alms-houses in Crown-key-lane,
and firing for the poor in them, to be paid out of Glovers, now
ROBERT HODSOLE, by will in 1684, gave 10s. per annum
to the poor, payable every Christmas-day yearly, out of Mrs.
JOHN GRANT, by will in 1689, gave 20s. per annum, to be
paid in corn and bread on January 1, out of Mrs. Trott's farm.
FIVE SEAMS of boiling peas are yearly paid from the parsonage, to be distributed to the poor on every Christmas-day
KATHERINE DICKS, by her will, left the sum of 25l. to be
put out on land security, the interest of it to be said out for
ever in six two-penny loaves, to be given to six poor widows
&c. who attend divine service, beginning every year on the first
Sunday after Christmas-day, of the annual produce of 1l.
The poor annually relieved are about forty; casually eight
hundred and fifty.
SITTINGBORNE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JU
RISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deany
The church, which is dedicated to St. Michael, is a
large, handsome building, of three isles and two chancels, and two cross ones; at the west end is a tower
beacon steeple, in which is a clock, a set of chimes,
and six bells.
On the stone font, which is an octagon, are the arms
of archbishop Arundel, a shield, having on it a cross
story; and another with the emblems of Christ's crucifixion on it.
On the 17th of July, 1762, the wind being exceeding high, a fire broke out on the roof of this church,
occasioned by the plumbers, who were repairing the
leads, having left their fire burning during their absence at dinner, which consumed the whole of it, except the bare walls and the tower. Next year a brief
passed for rebuilding of it, which with the contribution
of the inhabitants, and a gift of fifty pounds from archbishop Secker, they were enabled to set about.
This was stopped for some little time by the owners
of the three chancels, belonging to the Bayford, Chilton, and Fulston estates, refusing to contribute to the
rebuilding of them, and they were at length rebuilt at
the same cost with the rest of the church; and the
whole of it was afterwards completed and fitted up in
a very handsome manner. By the fire the monuments
against the walls were destroyed, and most of the gravestones broken by the falling of the timbers. The latter, in the rebuilding of the church, have, the greatest
part of them, been most absurdly removed from the
graves over which they lay, to other parts of the church,
and some even from the church-yard, as it suited to
make the pavement complete; so that there is now
hardly a guess to be made, where the bodies lie, that
the inscriptions commemorate, but the gravestones of
the Lushingtons, I believe, were none of them removed. In the south cross chancel belonging to the
estate of Fulston, is a monument for Thos. Bannister,
gent. obt. 1750, arms, Argent, a cross story, sable. The
brass plate, on which the inscription was, for John
Crowmer, of Fulston, and his two wives, in this chancel, being loose, there was found on the under side of it
one in Latin, for Robert Rokele, esq. once dwelling
with the most revered lady, the lady Joane de Bohun,
countess of Hereford, Essex, and Northton, who died
in 1421, an instance of œconomy which has been discovered at times in other churches.
The south-east chancel belonged to the Chilton
estate; there are many gravestones of the family of
Lushington in it. Dr. Lushington's monument was
entirely destroyed at the time of the fire. In the upper part of this chancel is a vault, belonging to the
Chilton estate, in which is only one coffin, of Mr. Harvey, who died in 1751, and a great quantity of bonespiled up at one end of it.
The archdeacon's court, in which he holds his visitation, is at the upper end of this chancel.
The coats of arms in the windows of the church,
which were many, were entirely destroyed, and they
have been since entirely resitted with modern glass.
The middle chancel is the archbishop's, and belongs
to the parsonage; in which there is a memorial for
Mathew, son of Sir John, and grandson of archbishop
Parker, who died in 1645. The north chancel is made
use of now as a vestry. The north cross chancel belongs to the Bayford estate. In the north wall of it there
is the effigies of a woman, lying at length, in the hollow of the wall, with an arch, carved and ornamented,
over her, and midway between the arch and figure, a
flat table stone of Bethersden marble: the whole of it
seems very antient.
In this church there was, before the reformation,
a chantry, called Busherb's chantry.
The church of Sittingborne belonged to the Benedictine nunnery of Clerkenwell, to which it was appropriated before the 8th year of king Richard II. and
it remained part of the revenues of it till its dissolution, in the 31st year of king Henry VIII.'s reign.
This church thus coming into the king's hands,
seems to have remained part of the revenues of the
crown till queen Elizabeth, in her 3d year, granted the
parsonage of it, with the advowson of the vicarage, the
former being then valued at 13l. 6s. 8d. to archbishop
Parker. Since which they have continued parcel of
the possessions of the archbishopric, and remain so at
The parsonage has been from time to time leased
out on a benesicial lease, at the yearly rent of 13l. 6s. 8d.
In 1643 John Olebury, gent. was lessee; in later
times, Cockin Sole, esq. of Bobbing, whose son John
Cockin Sole, esq. died possessed of it in 1790, since
which this lease has been sold under the directions of
In the 8th year of king Richard II. this parsonage
was valued at 23l. 6s. 8d.
In 1578, on a survey of the diocese of Canterbury,
it was returned, that this parsonage was impropriate to
the queen's majesty; the vicarage also in her gift;
dwelling-houses eighty; communicants three hundred;
the tenths twenty shillings.
The vicarage is valued in the king's books at ten
pounds, the yearly tenths being one pound. In 1640,
it was valued at fifty-six pounds. Communicants three
hundred and eighty.
The vicarage is situated not far from the north side
of the church-yard, adjoining to which is the only piece
of glebe land belonging to it.
Church of Sittingborne.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Archbishop.||Edmund Littleton, A. M. Sept.
21, 1593, obt. 1602.|
|William Covell, S. T. P. Feb.
1, 1602, resigned 1603.|
|Francis Foxton, S. T. B. Nov. 9,
1603, resigned 1623.|
|Edward Garland, A. M. Oct. 3,
|The King, by lapse.||George Jones, 1662, obt. 1705.|
|The Archbishop.||Mark Hildesley, A. M. April 24,
1705, resigned 1710. (fn. 7) |
|John Swanne, A. B. May 1,
|Shadrash Cooke, A. M. Feb.
1721, obt. 1722.|
|Robert Tyler, A. B. January 18,
|— Norse, obt. June 10,
|Robert Tyler, A. M. resigned
May 1740. (fn. 8) |
|Jonathan Monkton, A. M. May
23, 1740, resigned Nov.
1742. (fn. 9) |
|Thomas Bland, A. M. Nov. 26,
1742, obt. Aug. 23, 1766, (fn. 10) |
|Richard Podmore, LL. B. September 19, 1766, resigned
1777. (fn. 11) |
|Samuel Evans, 1778, the present vicar.|