The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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WHICH lies the adjoining parish to Nockholt, northward, is variously spelt in antient writings; in Domesday, it is written both Cillesfelle and Ciresfel, Ch being one of the eight English aspirates, not known to the old English Saxons; in the Textus Rossensis, Cilesfeld; in other records of a later date, Chellesfeld; and now CHELSFIELD. It most probably took its name from its cold and open situation; ceald or cile, in the Saxon tongue, signifying cold; and feld, a plain or field.
This parish, which is large, lies in general on high ground, among the hills. The village has nothing remarkable in it; at a small distance westward is the court lodge and the church, and at a like distance eastward, the parsonage. The high road from London, through Farnborough, to Sevenoaks, crosses this parish through the hamlets of Greenstreet-green and Spratt's bottom, southward. The soil is in general very poor and indifferent, and the lands are let at easy rents.
The liberty of the duchy of Lancaster claims over the manors of Chelsfield and Goddington, over the woodlands called Charm-wood, and over the rectory of Chelsfield. (fn. 1) These estates were accounted part of that duchy, as having been antiently held under the signory of Simon de Montfort, the great earl of Leicester, who forfeited them for rebellion in the 49th year of king Henry III. when his estates and honours were given by the king to his second son, Edmund earl of Lancaster, whose grandson, Henry, was created duke of Lancaster; since which these places have been esteemed as part of that duchy.
CHELSFIELD was part of those vast possessions with which William the Conqueror enriched his half brother Odo, bp. of Baieux, and accordingly it is entered in the book of Domesday, under the general title of that prelate's lands, as follows:
Ernuf. de Hesding holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Ciresfel. It was taxed at 2 sulings. The arable land is In demesne there are 2 carucates, and 20 vil- leins, with 4 borderers, having 8 carucates. There are 4 servants, and I mill of 10 shillings, and 10 acres of meadow, and wood for the pannage of 10 hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth 16 pounds, and afterwards 12 pounds, and now 25 pounds; and yet be who holds it pays 35 pounds. Tocchi held it of king Edward.
This Ernuf de Hesding I take to be the same person who, in the Textus Rossensis, is called Arnulf de Cilesfelda, and in another part of Domesday, Esbern de Cillesfelle, wherein he is recorded to have had the liberties of sac and soc for all his lands throughout the laths of Sutton and Ailesford.
This place afforded both seat and surname to his posterity. Letitia Domina de Chilefeld is mentioned in the Chartulary of St. Radigund's abbey, near Dover, as having been a benefactor to that monastery, wherein mention is made of Simon de Chilefeld her son. He held this manor, in the reign of Edward I. as one knight's fee, and the sixth part of a fee, of Sim. de Montfort, as of the honour of Newbury, (fn. 2) and upon a plea of prescription before the Judges Itinerant, in the 7th of Edward I. had an allowance of a market, to be held weekly in this manor, on a Monday. (fn. 3) In the 13th year of the above reign William de Chellesfeld, who was sheriff of this county in the 15th, 16th, and 17th years of it, had a grant of free warren for his lands here, and at Halstede, Shoreham, Nockholt, and Orpington, in this neighbourhood. (fn. 4)
From this family the possession of this manor passed to Otho de Grandison, who, in the 18th year of king Edward I. obtained licence for a market here, and a fair on the feast of St. James the apostle, and free warren in all his demesne lands in Chelesfeld. (fn. 5) But William de Grandison, his brother, in the reign of king Edward II. was become his heir, whose third son, Otho, succeeded to the possession of this manor, which he held in the 20th of Edward III. as appears by the Book of Aid, in which he accounted for it as one knight's fee, and the sixth part of a fee, which Otho de Grandison before held in Chellesfeld and Caldecote of Simon de Montforte, and he of the honour of Newbery. He died in the 33d of that reign, possessed of this manor, (fn. 6) having by his will, directed his body, if he died at Chelsfield, to be buried in the chapel of St. John there. He left by Beatrix his wife, daughter and coheir of Nicholas Malmains, Sir Thomas Grandison his son and heir, who died without issue, possessed of this manor, in the 50th year of the above reign. (fn. 7)
The manor of Chelsfield, in the 22d year of the next reign of king Richard II. was the inheritance of Philippa, grand daughter and heir of Sir Guy Bryan, and widow of John Devereux, who that year married Sir Henry le Scroope of Masham. She died in the 8th year of king Henry IV. being then possessed of this manor, and of others in this neighbourhood, leaving Elizabeth, wife of Robert Lovel, her sister and next heir. (fn. 8)
James Boteler, earl of Wiltshire, afterwards possessed this manor, and the advowson of the church of Chelsfield. Being in the battle of Towton-field, in Yorkshire, fought on Palm Sunday, in 1462, in which the Yorkifts obtained the victory, he was taken, and afterwards beheaded at Newcastle, and being that year attainted in parliament, with Jasper earl of Pembroke, and others, for procuring foreign princes to invade the realm, they were adjudged to forfeit all their hereditaments; upon which this manor and advow son became vested in the crown; (fn. 9) whence they were granted for life to Robert Poynings, youngest son of Robert lord Poynings, who died possessed of them, in the 9th year of king Edward IV. On which they returned again to the crown, where they remained but a small time; for in the 14th year of that reign they were granted to Henry viscount Bourchier, and earl of Essex, in consideration of his services, to hold himself and Isabel his wife (the king's aunt) in special tail, the same being the estates late of James earl of Wiltshire, attainted.
In the 13th year of king Henry VI.'s reign, bearing then the title of earl of Ewe, he had summons to parliament as such, but never afterwards by that title; and in the 25th year of that reign was advanced to the dignity of viscount Bourchier, as it seems; for by that title he had summons to parliament that year. Notwithstanding his being a fast friend to the house of York, he was, in the 33d year of king Henry VI. constituted lord treasurer of England, as he was again by king Edward IV. in his first year; and by letters patent, on June 30, that year, he was advanced to the dignity of earl of Essex. Being a person of singular parts, he was in such esteem with Richard duke of York, that, in his younger years, the more to oblige him to the interest of that house, the duke gave him his sister Isabel (aunt to king Edward IV.) in marriage. In the 11th year of which reign he was again constituted lord treasurer of England; and in the 14th year of it, in consideration of his services, obtained from that king this manor and advowson, as above mentioned. He died in the 23d year of king Edward IV. being then possessed of this manor, and was buried in the abbey of Byleigh, in Essex, leaving Henry Bourchier, his grandson, his next heir (son of William, his eldest son, who died in his life time) and Isabel his wife, surviving, who died soon after, in the 2d year of king Richard III. being at the time of her death possessed of this manor. Which Henry, in the 9th year of king Henry VII. had possession granted of all the lands of his inheritance. He was of the privy council to king Henry VII. and much caressed and employed, both by that prince and king Henry VIII. but in the 31st year of the latter reign, he was killed by a fall from his horse, at his manor of Basse, in Hertfordshire, and was buried at his manor of Estanes, in Essex, leaving by Mary his wife (daughter and coheir of Sir William Say) one sole daughter and heir, Anne, married to Sir William Parre, lord Parre of Kendal, and afterwards earl of Essex and marquis of Northampton, which marriage was annulled by act of parliament in the 5th year of king Edward VI. (fn. 10)
In the 33d year of that reign, this manor was become part of the possession of the crown, and was then held of it by James Walsingham, esq. at the yearly rent of 25l. 8s. 11d. whose son, Francis Walsingham, esq. parted with his interest in it in the 4th year of king Edward VI. to Robert Giles, descended from those of lords in Sheldwich, the same being held of the king in capite, as of his duchy of Lancaster. His descendant, Francis Gyles, gent. passed it away by sale, in the reign of king James I. to Capt. Henry Lee of London, whose two daughters and coheirs, in the reign of king Charles I. carried it in marriage to John Clerke, esq. sergeant-at-law, of Huntingdonshire, and Mr. Thomas Norton of London. (fn. 11) Which last, in the end, became possessed of this manor, which continued in his name till the death of Mr. Thomas Norton, gent. of London, his grandson, in 1749, who lies buried with Elizabeth his wife in this church, having borne for his arms, Gules a fess argent, over all a bend vairy gules or. He bequeathed it by will to Mr-Henry Martyn, who in 1758 sold it to Mr. James Maud, wine-merchant of London, on whose death, in 1769, it came to his daughter and sole heir, Mary, widow of John Tattersall, esq. of Gatton, in Surry, then married to Brass Crosby, esq. alderman of London, and he, jointly with her, possessed it; but since his death, in 1793, she again became entitled to it, in her own right, and is at present possessed of it. The messuage, called the Great Court lodge, in Chelsfield, is held of the manor of Farnborough, commonly called the duchy court, by the yearly rent of eighteen pence.
GODDINGTON is a small manor in this parish, which was antiently one of the seats of a family of the same name, who had another mansion at Great Chart in this county. (fn. 12) Simon de Godyngton held this place in the reign of king Edward I. his descendant, William, son of John de Godyngton, paid respective aid for this manor in the 20th year of king Edward III. as one fee, which Simon de Godyngton before held in Chellesfeld, of Henry de Scoland, and he of Simon de Monteforte. In the 25th and 26th years of which reign a fine was levied between Henry duke of Lancaster (the chief lord) and Henry de Scoland (the mesne tenant of this manor) of three knights fees, which the latter held of the duke, in Chellesfeld, Farnburgh, and Strode. (fn. 13)
Alan de Godyngton was in possession of it in the 3d year of king Henry IV. and then paid aid for it on the marriage of Blanch, that king's eldest daughter, as one knight's fee, held as above mentioned.
When this family was extinct here, this manor came next into the possession of the family of Poynings; and Robert, younger son of Robert lord Poynings, died possessed of it, anno 9 Edward IV. leaving Edward, his son, who being an active person in his time, became an expert soldier; and having been faithful to Henry earl of Richmond, in the time of his distresses, after the victory at Bosworth-field, wherein that earl attained the crown, he was chosen one of his privycouncil, and was much favoured both by him and king Henry VIII. being made governor of Dovercastle, knight of the Garter, and lord warden of the cinque ports. He died of a pestilential air, in the 14th year of the latter reign. By Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir John Scott, he had only one son, John, who died in his life time, though he left several natural children, (fn. 14) on which his estates escheated to the crown.
This estate went next into the name of Haddon, a family of good account, as appears by the registers of their arms, viz. A leg, couped and wounded, in the old rolls and ordinaries of the arms of the Kentish gentry; being always mentioned in them with the addition of Haddon of Kent, or of Godynton in Kent; (fn. 15) one of whom possessed it about the middle of the same reign. It continued in this name for several generations, till the latter end of the last century, when it passed into the possession of Styles, and about the year 1701, it was the property of James Styles, gent. from whom it descended to his son, John Styles, gent. who passed it away, about 1736, to Mrs. Mary Aynscomb, by the name and description of the manor of Goddington, alias Gouldington, lying in the several parishes of Chelsfield, Orpington, and St. Mary Cray; whose son, Mr. William Aynscomb, passed it away to James Harris, gent. who is the present possessor of it, and resides here.
HEWAT'S, or, as it is now called, HEWIT'S, is another small manor here, which had once owners of that name. Jeffry de Hewat possessed it in the reign of king Henry III. as appears by an old dateless deed of that time; after which it was, for many descents, the property of the Petleys, originally of the neighbouring parish of Downe, from whom it devolved to a younger branch of that family, which settled at Moulsoe, in this parish; one of whom, William Petle (as they then spelt their name) of Chelsfield, is witness to a deed of John Coldigate of Coldigate, a farm, in Halsted, which bears date in the 11th year of king Henry IV. (fn. 16) After this manor had been resident for several generations in this name, it was passed away by Mr. Edw. Petley to Mr. Thomas Petley of Filston, in Shoreham, descended likewise of a younger branch of the Petleys of Downe. He left it by will to his only son, by his second wife, Mr. Ralph Petley, of Riverhead, whose descendant Ralph Petley, esq. dying in 1751 unmarried, bequeathed this manor to his cousin, Mr. Charles Petley of Rochester, the only son of John, younger brother of Thomas Petley, esq. of Riverhead, father of Ralph Petley of Riverhead, esq. the testator above mentioned, who possessed it at his death, in 1765, as did his eldest son, Ralph Robert Carter Petley, esq. at his death in 1788, and his widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Petley now possesses it; but the mansion house with the lands, called Hewit's, in this parish, has been long separated from this family. It some few years since belonged to Mr. James Rondeau, who sold it to Mr. John Fuller, who now resides in it.
NORSTED is a small manor here, which extends into the parishes of Cowdham and Farnborough. It was in antient times part of that estate possessed by the family of Grandison in this parish, and was purchased of Otho de Grandison by Simon de Francis, a wealthy citizen and mercer of London. In the 16th year of that reign he was lord mayor. He served in parliament for that city in the 12th year of king Edward III. and was so wealthy, that, when the king borrowed twenty thousand marcs of the citizens for his expedi tion into France, he lent him eight hundred pounds, a great sum in those days, being as much as the lordmayor himself had lent. He bore for his arms, Gules, a saltier or, between four cross-croslets botonnè of the same. (fn. 17) He died in the 32d year of king Edward III. being then possessed of this manor, and of great estates, especially in London and Middlesex. (fn. 18)
About the beginning of Henry IV.'s reign, this family was extinct here, and this manor was come into the possession of Uvedall, or Udall, (fn. 19) a family of note, and owners of much land in Surry, Sussex, and Hampshire; in the former of which they chiefly resided. William Uvedall, who was sheriff of the county of Surry, in the 8th year of king Henry IV. was then owner of it; but in the 6th year of king Henry VI.'s reign, he passed this manor away by sale to John Shelley of Hall-place, in Bexley, whose ancestors had been settled at Gaysum in Westerham, as early as the reign of king Edward III. He died possessed of it in the 20th year of the former reign, and was buried, with Joane his wife, in Bexley church. Their son, William Shelley, about the latter end of the reign of king Henry VIII. passed it away by sale to John Lennard, esq. of Chevening, whose grandson, Henry Lennard, lord Dacre, in the beginning of king James I. conveyed it by sale to the lady Wolriche; and she, upon her decease, in the time of king Charles I. settled it on her kinsman, Mr. Skeggs of Huntingdonshire; whose descendant, Mr. Thomas Skeggs, gent. possessed it at his death in the year 1739, when this manor came to his two nephews, Thomas and John Skeggs; the latter died under age, and without issue. Upon which the sole property of it became vested in his brother, Mr. Tho. Skeggs, who resided here, bearing for his arms, A chevron, in chief a lion passant, and in 1784, alienated it to Godfrey Lees Farrant, esq. of Widmore, near Bromley, and principal register of the high court of admiralty, whose only daughter and heir, Margaret, married George Binsted, esq. by whom she had two sons, George and Thomas. He survived her, and in 1795, in pursuance of the desire of Elizabeth Farrant of London, spinster, sister of the said Godfrey Lee Farrant, obtained the king's licence for him and his issue to take and use the surname and arms of Farrant only; he is now of Norsted, and the present owner of this estate.
STEPHEN BRAZIER gave by will, to certain feoffees, a tenement, garden, and orchard, in Franborough, &c. the produce of it to be yearly divided between this parish and Farnborough, to the poor of them for ever.
CHELSFIELD is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester and deanry of Dartford. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. It is small; consisting only of one isle, a chancel at the east end, and a small chapel, dedicated to St. John, on the south side.
In this church, among other monuments and inscriptions in it, are the following: In the great chancel, on a grave stone before the rails, a brass plate, with the figure of a priest, and inscription in black letter, for William Robroke, rector of this church, obt. Sept. 17, 1420. On another adjoining, the figure of a woman, with inscription in black letter, for Alice, wife of Thomas Bray, and daughter of John Bouauetur, obt. 1510; beneath are the figures of four sons, that of one daughter is torn off. On an adjoining grave stone a memorial for Thomas Skeggs, junior, of this parish, gent. obt. 1722, æt. 56, nephew of Thomas Skeggs, senior, of this parish. Above, is a shield of arms, being a chevron in chief a lion passant; another for Thomas Skeggs, gent. obt. 1717, æt. 85, and for Margaret, his wife, daughter of John Bodinham, esq. obt. 1699, æt. 55. On the south side, before the altar rails, a memorial for Roger Goodday, gent. obt. 1674, æt. 51. Another within the rails, on the same side, for Michael Petty, rector of this parish, obt. June 28, 1751, æt. 84; above are these arms, on a bend three martlets, a label of three points. Another for Catherine, widow of Samuel Keck, of the Middle Temple, esq. obt. 1733, æt. 79. Above these arms, within a lozenge, a bend ermine between two cotizes slory, or an escutcheon of pretence, a sets dancette impaling the same. On the south side of the altar, against the wall, a tablet and inscription for three rectors of this parish, grandfather, father and son, named George Smith, of whom the first died on May 22, 1626, æt. 80; the second died on March 19, 1646, æt. 69, and the 3d on July 20, 1650, æt. 32. In an arch under the above is an altar tomb of black marble, to the memory of George Smith, sen. rector of this church as before-mentioned, put up by Edward Smith, rector of Keston, by the order of his mother Mary Smith, who lies near it. The black marble cover on which the above inscription is cut, is on an antient altar tomb of some other person, and made in form and shape to answer that, for Robert de Brun, on the opposite side, which is under an arch, being an antient altar tomb, on the cover of which are the portraits in brass, of the Virgin and St. John, on each side a crucifix, which is now lost, and behind them scrolls in black letter; on the verge is the following inscription in like letter, for Robert de Brun, rector of this church, obt. April 25, anno 1417. On the south side, at the west end of the chancel, is a mural monument, for John Brown, of Mile-End, obt. 1734, æt. 72, he was son of Captain Zachary Browne, and uncle to Thomas Browne, of Mile-End, esq. on the top a shield of arms, Browne, impaling sable a cross or. In the south chancel, on the south side, is a fine mural monument of alabaster, having underneath the figure of a man and woman, in the dress of the time, kneeling at an altar, with each a book open; behind him is a boy cumbent, and behind her two girls kneeling; and another at length. Beneath on a tablet, an inscription for Peter Collet, alderman and citizen of London, obt. 1607, æt. 64, leaving two daughters, his heirs, Hesther, married to Anthony Aucher, and Sarah, to Peter Heyman, both knights; Joan, his wife, put it up, on the top of the monument, these arms, sa. on a chevron argent, three ammulets of the field between three hinds tripping, of the second, a fleur de lis, or for difference; above the heads of the figures, within the arch, are two coats, first, ermine empaling as above; second, argent a chevron sa. between three ravens proper impaling Collet; adjoining to the former is a small mural monument, with the figure of a child resting on a cushion, and an inscription for Peter, eldest son of Sir Peter Heyman, of Sellinge, and Sarah, his wife, daughter of Peter Collet above-named, who died an infant. On the north side a monument, shewing, that in the family vault lie the remains of Thomas Norton, of London, gent. obt. 1749, æt. 80, and of Elizabeth, his wife, obt.1746, æt. 57; beneath are these arms, gules, a fret argent over all, a bend vairy gules, and or impaling qu. a fess between two chevrons argent. A memorial for Gravely Norton, obt. 1693, æt. 56. Another for Tho. Fothergill, esq. of Lincoln's Inn, obt. 1700, æt. 45, and Mary his wife, obt. 1711, æt. 58; arms, a buck's head couped, impaling a chevron between three fleurs de lis, Hughes. A memorial for Nicholas Hughes, gent. obt. 1703, æt. 47, arms, Hughes as above. (fn. 20)
The patronage of this church seems always to have been esteemed as an appendage to the manor of Chelsfield, and to have continued as such till one of the descendants of Mr. Thomas Norton, and lord of the manor, alienated it to Adolphus Meetkirk, esq. who, about the year 1753, passed it away to the warden and fellows of All Souls college, in Oxford, the present patrons of it.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. the church of Chelsfield was valued at thirty marcs. (fn. 21) In a taxation, in the reign of King Edward III. this church is said to have consisted of a messuage and fifty acres of arable, pasture, and wood, of the inheritance of the church, together with half a marc and six shillings payment of rent of assize, and accustomed oblations, with small tithes from ecclesiasticals and spirituals, worth sixty shillings. It is valued in the king's books at 24l. 14s. and 2d. and the yearly tenths at 2l. 9s. 5d. (fn. 22)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that Chelsfield was a parsonage, having about fifty acres of glebe land, and was worth, in all, eighty pounds per annum, one master Mills enjoying it, by gift from the heirs of master Lee, and that Farnborough had been a chapel of ease to Chelsfield, but was then already fitly divided. (fn. 23)
Ernulf de Cilesfeld, lord of Cilesfeld, gave to Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, and the monks of St. Andrew, the whole moiety of the tithes of his demesne lands of Cilesfeld, viz. in corn, lambs, pigs, cheese, calves, and foals of mares, if there be any such, and one husbandman, together with five acres of land. In consideration of which the bishop and monks received him and his wife, and those under his protection, such and as many of them as he should choose, into their fraternity, that is, to be partakers of the benefits of their prayers; and upon this they established an annual mass for his deceased father and mother; (fn. 24) which gift was, at times, confirmed by the several bishops of Rochester and others. (fn. 25)
Heimfred, tenant of the above mentioned Ernulf de Cilesfeld, on consideration of his having been admitted to partake of the like benefits, granted to the monks of St. Andrew, the tithes of the land which he had in Cilesfeld. (fn. 26) Thomas Toker, in 1442, gave to the rector of this church and his successors, five acres of land in Greatfield, lying under the parson's house, in this parish. (fn. 27)
Church Of Chelsfield.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Lords of the Manor of Chelsfield.||John de Rokesle, in 1345. (fn. 28)|
|Robert de Brun, obt. April 25, 1417.|
|William Robroke, 1417, obt. Sept. 17, 1420.|
|Richard Bonan, in 1442.|
|William Gybbins, obt. Sept. 16, 1576.|
|George Smith, 1576, obt. May 22, 1626.|
|George Smith, obt. March 19, 1646.|
|George Smith, obt. July 20, 1650.|
|Robert Mills, 1650, obt. 1692.|
|Michael Petty, A. M. instituted Feb. 16, 1692, obt. June 28, 1751.|
|Adolphus Meetkirk, esq,||Charles Meetkirk, A. M. obt. March 1774.|
|College of All Souls in Oxford||To. Sandford, D. D. presented April 1774, obt. 1781.|
|John Long, D. D. 1781, the present rector.|