The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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LIES the next parish from Hayes, westward, adjoining to the county of Surry. It is called West Wickham from its situation, and to distinguish it from two other parishes of the same name in this county; and has its name of Wickham from the Saxon words Wic, a street or way, and ham, a dwelling.
This parish bounds to the county of Surry, both to the south and west. It lies on high ground and is very hilly. The soil is various, being in some parts chalk, and in others gravel, sand, and some clay, the whole being thin land. It contains about two thousand five hundred acres, mostly arable land. In the middle of the parish stands the court lodge and church, and about half a mile north-west the parsonage. About midway between the church and Beckenham, north-west, is the village, in the middle of which is a house, which some few years ago was the residence of Sir Tho. Wilson, who kept his shrievalty here in 1760. He alienated it in 1773, to Charles Haskins, esq. who lately sold it to Sir Peter Burrell, knight and baronet, since created lord Gwydir, and he is the present owner of it, but it is occupied by Samuel Farmer, esq. At a small distance northward is another good house, belonging to Charles Waller, esq. before Arnold Nisbet's, esq. now the residence of William Whitmore, esq.
There is an odd custom used in these parts, about Keston and Wickham, in Rogation week; at which time a number of young men meet together with a most hideous noise, run into the orchards, and incircling each tree pronounce these words:
For which incantation the confused rabble expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is no less welcome. But if they are disappointed of both, they, with great solemnity, anathematise the owners and trees, with altogether as insignificant a curse.
It seems highly probable that this custom has arisen from the antient one of perambulation among the heathens, when they made their prayers to the gods, for the use and blessings of the fruits coming up, with thanksgivings for those of the preceding year. And as the heathens supplicated Eolus, god of the winds, for his favorable blasts; so in this custom, they still retain his name with a very small variation, this ceremony being called Youling, and the word is often used in their invocations.
The liberty of the duchy of Lancaster claims over the manor of West Wickham, and over the messuage and lands called Spring-park, Old park, Friths-wood, and Chambers grove, as being within the jurisdiction of the duchy court of Farnborough. (fn. 1)
In the time of Edward the Confessor this place was held of the king by one Godric. William the Conqueror granted it to his half-brother, Odo, the great and potent bishop of Baieux, and earl of Kent, of whom Adam Fitzhubert held it, as the survey of Domesday informs us; in which it is thus entered, under the general title of the bishop of Baieux's lands:
The same Adam holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Wicheham. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is . . . . . In demesne there are two carucates, and 24 villeins having four carucates. There are 13 servants, and one church, and one mill of 20 pence yearly value, and one wood for the pannage of 10 hogs. In the time of K. Edward the Confessor it was worth 8 pounds, and afterwards 6 pounds, and now 13 pounds. Godric held it of K. Edward.
This manor came afterwards into the possession of a branch of the eminent family of Huntingfield, (fn. 2) who had large possessions in this county, and made both this and Huntingfield in Easling, their principal seats in it. By the Roll of Knights Fees, taken in the seventh of king Edward I. it appears, that Peter de Huntingfield was then lord of West Wickham. He was sheriff of this county in the 11th, 12th, and 13th years of that reign, and kept his shrievalty at his manor-house of Huntingfield before-mentioned. He is in the list of those brave Kentish gentlemen, who attended that king in his victorious expedition into Scotland, in the 26th year of his reign, and assisted at the siege of Carlaverock, in that kingdom; for which service he, with many others, received the honor of knighthood. He died in the 7th year of king Edward II. (fn. 3) This branch of the family of Huntingfield bore for their arms, a fess between three cross croslets gules, as appears by a seal in the Dering library.
His son and heir, Sir Walter de Huntingfield, in the 11th year of that reign, obtained a charter of free warren to his manor of West Wickham, a market weekly on a Monday, and a fair yearly on the vigil and day of St. Mary Magdalen; and he had at the same time licence to impark his wood here, called the Frith. (fn. 4) His son, Sir John de Huntingfield paid aid for it in the 20th year of king Edward III. as three knights fees, which Peter de Huntingfield before held in Wykham, of Ralph Fitznichols. He was summoned to sit as a baron in parliament, in the 37th, 38th, and 42d years of that reign; (fn. 5) but before the end of it, this family terminated in two female heirs, Joane and Alice; the former of whom married John Copledike, and the latter Sir John Norwich.
On the division of their inheritance this manor was allotted to the former, whose husband, John Copledike, who seems to have assumed the arms of Huntingfield, as he bore, Argent, a chevron between three cross-croslets gules, was possessed of it in the last year of king Richard II. But it did not long remain in this name; for in the 17th year of king Henry VI. Thomas Squerie, of Squeries-court in Westerham, died possessed of this manor. He left it to his son and heir, John Squerie, who dying without issue in the 4th year of king Edward IV. his two sisters became his coheirs; of whom Dorothy, the youngest sister, married Richard Mervin of Fontels, in Wiltshire; who, upon the division of their estates, became in her right possessed of this manor. He, not long after, passed it away to Richard Scrope, who, in the 7th year of king Edward IV. alienated it by fine to Ambrose Creseacre, and he, not long after, transmitted it by sale, to Henry Heydon, of Baconsthorpe, in Norfolk, esq. afterwards knighted, who was the son of John Heydon, of that place, esq. descended of ancestors who were, many generations before, of Heydon, in that county, and bore for their arms, quarterly, Argent and gules, a cross engrailed, and crown interchanged. He resided at Baconsthorpe, and purchased three hundred marcs of land in yearly rent, of which one hundred pounds a year were here at Wickham, where he built that right fair manor-place, and fair church, as Leland calls it, now remaining. (fn. 6)
Sir John Heydon, of Baconsthorpe, knight, his son, inherited this manor, and left it at his death to his eldest son, Sir Christopher Heydon, whose son, of the same name, was a man of some note in the reign of queen Elizabeth; his son and heir, Sir William Heydon, succeeded to this manor in the twenty-second year of that reign, the same being then held of the queen, as of the honour of Albermarle, by knights service; he alienated it in the latter end of that reign to John Lennard, of Chevening, esq. custos brevium of the common-pleas, who purchased it for his second son, Samuel Lennard, and, besides, left to him, by his will, five hundred marcs per annum.
He seated himself at Wickham, and was afterwards knighted, and married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Sir Stephen Slanie, of London, and had by her several sons and daughters. He died in 1618, and was buried in this church.
Sir Stephen Lennard, his eldest son, possessed this manor, and was created a baronet in 1642. He left by his third wife, Anne, daughter of Sir John Oglander, Sir Stephen Lennard, bart. his successor, who married Elizabeth, widow of John Roy, and daughter of Delaline Hussey, of Dorsetshire, esq. He was knight of the shire for the county of Kent, in the 7th year of queen Anne, and died in 1709, leaving by Elizabeth, his wife, one son, Sir Samuel Lennard, bart. and three daughters. He died, possessed of this manor, in 1727, without lawful issue, leaving two natural sons, Samuel and Thomas. To the former of whom by his will, in 1726, he devised this manor; and to the latter he bequeathed the advowson of this church.
Samuel Lennard, esq. the eldest son, died possessed of this manor, leaving his widow surviving, (afterwards re-married to Francis Austen, of Sevenoke, esq. since deceased) and an only daughter, Mary, who afterwards carried it in marriage to John Farnaby, esq. (younger brother of Sir Charles Farnaby Radcliffe, bart.) and he is the present possessor of it.
In memory of the Gunpowder Plot, Sir Samuel Lennard, bart. in 1617, gave 20s. per annum to the Minister of this parish, to preach on the 5th of November; and 40s. to 40 poor people, viz. 15 of this parish, 10 of Keston, 10 of Hayes, and 5 of Farnborow; all of whom were to be present at the sermon. The land in Hayes, called Dock-mead, pays it.
WEST WICKHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of Dartford. The church, which is dedicated to St. John Baptist, was built in the reign of king Henry VII. by Sir Henry Heydon, the patron and lord of the manor of West Wickham. It consists of two isles and a chancel; the steeple stands at the west end of the south side of it, and has five bells in it, the oldest of which was made in 1642; at which time the steeple was repaired, and a handsome vane erected on the top of it.
Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church, are the following: In the chancel three stones, with brass plates, one with the figure of a priest, and inscription for William de Thorp, once rector of this church, obt. May 10, 1407. Another like for Sir John Stockton, obt. Sept. 24, 1515. One against the south wall, with an inscription for John Langborne, at Richmond, in Yorkshire, afterwards fellow of St. John's college, Cambridge, then parson of this parish, and resident 37 years, obt. 1619, æt. 77. In the nave, a memorial for Elizabeth, wife of William Applebury, citizen of London, and daughter of Thomas and Martha Skewington, late of Haws, in this parish, obt. 1706, æt. 34. In the north chancel, which is solely appropriated to the Lennard family and their descendants, a monument with a shield for four coats, quarterly, first, Lennard, or on a siss gules, 3 fleurs de lis of the field; second, quarterly, argent and sable, an eagle displayed in the first quarter of the last; third, vaire, a chief ermine; the fourth, as the first, and an inscription for Sir Samuel Lennard, born at Chevening, bred at Cambridge and Lincoln's-Inn; he lived and died in this parish, having had by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Stephen Slanye, late lord-mayor of London, four sons and eight daughters, obt. 1618, æt. 65. In a window over it are his arms and quarterings, impaling quarterly, a bend between 3 martlets, or, and underneath, Lennard and Slanie; near which are three other shields of arms belonging to this family. In the same window are the figures of our Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and of death. In the three north windows are the figures of our Saviour, the Virgin Mary, St. Anthony and St. Christopher, carrying the insant Jesus over a river, and fix different shields of the relatives of the family of Lennard.—Against the south wall, on a marble monument, are the arms of Hobbes, impaling Lennard, and an inscription for Margaret, wife of Thomas Hobbes, esq. eldest daughter of Sir Samuel Lennard, who died in child-bed of her only child, in 1608, aged 20. (fn. 7)
This church, which is a rectory, was always esteemed an appendage to the manor of West Wickham, and as such in the pateonage of the owners of it, till Sir Samuel Lennard, bart. dying in 1727, devised the advowson of it by his will, in 1726, to his youngest natural son, Thomas, and the manor to his eldest, Samuel Lennard, esq. (fn. 8) And though afterwards, on the death of Thomas Lennard, it came again into the possession of his eldest brother Samuel, owner of the manor likewise, yet it remained an advowson in gross, in which state it has continued down to John Farnaby, esq. owner of the manor of West Wickham, and the present patron of this church.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. the church of West Wickham was valued at twenty-five marcs. (fn. 9) It is valued in the king's books at 11l. 10s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 3s. 1d. (fn. 10) It is now, 1784, of the clearly annual value of three hundred pounds.
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, out of the court of chancery, it was returned, that West Wickham was a parsonage, having a house and some glebe land belonging to it, worth seventy pounds per annum; one Mr. Cockerell enjoying it, a painful minister. (fn. 11)
Church Of West Wickham.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Lord of the manor of West Wickham||William de Thorpe, obt May 10, 1407.|
|John Stockton, obt. Sept. 24, 1515.|
|John Lang, 1582, obt. 1619.|
|Daniel Cockerell, D. D. in 1630.|
|Benjamin Spencer, August 21, 1657. (fn. 12)|
|Charles Bunting, 1666.|
|Edward Taylor, 1700.|
|Charles Humphrys, D. D. obt. Nov. 23, 1719.|
|Charles Hussey, D. D. 1720.|
|Trustees of Sir Samuel Lennard, bart.||Henry Austen, presented in Oct. 1761, resig. 1784. (fn. 13)|
|Sackvil Austen, A. M. 1784, obt. (fn. 14)|
|John Farnaby, esq.||Joseph Faulder, A. M. 1786, the present rector.|