The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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THE next parish eastward from Chidingstone is Penhurst, called in the Textus Roffenfis, Pennesherst. It takes its name from the old British word Pen, the height or top of any thing, and byrst, a wood. (fn. 1) It is called in some antient records, Pen cestre, and more vulgarly, Penchester, from some sortified camp or fortress antiently situated here.
There is a district in this parish, called Hallborough, which is within the lowy of Tunbridge, the manerial rights of which belong to Thomas Streatfeild, esq. and there is another part of it, comprehending the estate of Chafford, which is within the jurisdiction of the duchy court of Lancaster.
THIS PARISH lies in the Weald, about four miles Southward from the foot of the sand hills, and the same distance from Tunbridge town, and the high London road from Sevenoke. The face of the country is much the same as in those parishes last described, as is the soil, for the most part a stiff clay, being well adapted to the large growth of timber for which this parish is remarkable; one of these trees, as an instance of it, having been cut down here, about twenty years ago, in the park, called, from its spreading branches, Broad Oak, had twenty-one ton, or eight hundred and forty feet of timber in it. The parish is watered by the river Eden, which runs through the centre of it, and here taking a circular course, and having separated into two smaller streams, joins the river Medway, which flows by the southern part of the park towards Tunbridge. At a small distance northward stands the noble mansion of Penshurst-place, at the south west corner of the park, which, till within these few years, was of much larger extent, the further part of it, called North, alias Lyghe, and South parks, having been alienated from it, on the grounds of the latter of which the late Mr. Alnutt built his seat of that name, from whence the ground rises northward towards the parish of Lyghe. Close to the north west corner of Penshurst-park is the seat of Redleaf, and at the south west corner of it, very near to the Place, is the village of Penshurst, with the church and parsonage. At a small distance, on the other side the river, southward, is Ford-place, and here the country becomes more low, and being watered by the several streams, becomes wet, the roads miry and bad, and the grounds much covered with coppice wood; whence, about a mile southward from the river, is New House, and the boroughs of Frendings and Kingsborough; half a mile southward from which is the river Medway; and on the further side of it the estate of Chafford, a little beyond which it joins the parish of Ashurst, at Stone cross. In a deep hole, in the Medway, near the lower end of Penshurst-park, called Tapner's-hole, there arises a spring, which produces a visible and strong ebullition on the surface of the river; and above Well-place, which is a farm house, near the south-east corner of the park, there is a fine spring, called Kidder's-well, which, having been chemically analized, is found to be a stronger chalybeate than those called Tunbridge-wells; there is a stone bason for the spring to rise in, and run to waste, which was placed here by one of the earls of Leicester many years ago. This parish, as well as the neighbouring ones, abounds with iron ore, and most of the springs in them are more or less chalybeate. In the losty beeches, near the keeper's lodge, in Penshurst-park, is a noted beronry; which, since the destruction of that in lord Dacre's park, at Aveley, in Effex, is, I believe, the only one in this part of England. A fair is held here on July I, for pedlary, &c.
The GREATEST PART of this parish is within the jurisdiction of the honour of Otford, a subordinate limb to which is the MANOR of PENSHURST HALIMOTE, alias OTFORD WEALD, extending likewise over parts of the adjoining parishes of Chidingstone, Hever, and Cowden. As a limb of that of honour, it was formerly part of the possessions of the see of Canterbury, and was held for a long time in lease of the archbishops, by the successive owners of Penhurst manor, till the death of the duke of Buckingham, in the 13th year of king Henry VIII. in the 29th year of which reign, Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, exchanging Otford with the crown, this, as an appendage, passed with it, and it remained in the hands of the crown till the death of king Charles I. 1648; after which the powers then in being, having seised on the royal estates, passed an ordinance to vest them in trustees, to be sold, to supply the necessities of the state; when, on a survey made of this manor, in 1650, it appeared that the quit-rents due to the lord, from the freeholders in free socage tenure, were 16l. 18s. 3½d. and that they paid a heriot of the best living thing, or in want thereof, 3s. 4d. in money. That there were copyholders holding of it, within this parish, by rent and fine certain; that there was a common fine due from the township or borough of Halebury, and a like from the township of Penshurst, a like from the townships or boroughts of Chidingstone, Standford, and Cowden; and that there was a court baron and a court leet. The total rents, profits, &c. of all which amounted to 23l. and upwards. (fn. 2) After this the manor was sold by the state to colonel Robert Gibbon, with whom it remained till the restoration of king Charles II. when the possession and inheritance of it returned to the crown, where it remains, as well as the honour of Otford, at this time, his grace the duke of Dorset being high steward of both; but the see farm rents of it, with those of other manors belonging to the above mentioned honour, were alienated from the crown in king Charles II.'s reign, and afterwards became the property of Sir James Dashwood, bart. in whose family they still continue.
SOON AFTER the reign of William the Conqueror Penshurst was become the residence of a family, who took their name from it, and were possessed of the manor then called the manor of Peneshurste; and it appears by a deed in the Registrum Roffense, that Sir John Belemeyns, canon of St. Paul, London, was in possession of this manor, as uncle and trustee, in the latter part of king Henry III.'s reign, to Stephen de Peneshurste or Penchester, who possessed it in the beginning of the reign of king Edward I. He had been knighted, and made constable of Dover castle and warden of the cinque ports by Henry III. in which posts he continued after the accession of king Edward I. (fn. 3) He died without issue male, and was buried in the south chancel of this church, under an altar tomb, on which lay his figure in armour, reclining on a cushion. He left Margery, his second wife, surviving, who held this manor at her death, in the 2d year of king Edward II. and two daughters and coheirs; Joane, married to Henry de Cobham of Rundale, second son of John de Cobham, of Cobham, in this county, by his first wife, daughter of Warine Fitz Benedict; (fn. 4) and Alice to John de Columbers, as appears by an inquisition, taken in the 3d year of king Edward II. His arms, being Sable, a bend or, a label of three points argent, still remain on the roof of the cloisters of Canterbury cathedral. Alice, above mentioned, had this manor, with that of Lyghe adjoining, assigned to her for her proportion of their inheritance; soon after which these manors were conveyed to Sir John de Pulteney, son of Adam de Pulteney of Misterton, in Leicestershire, by Maud his wife. In the 15th year of that reign he had licence to embattle his mansion houses of Penshurst, Chenle in Cambridgeshire, and in London. (fn. 5) In the 11th year of king Edward III. Thomas, son of Sir John de Columbers of Somersetshire, released to him all his right to this manor and the advowson of the chapel of Penshurst; (fn. 6) and the year following Stephen de Columbers, clerk, brother of Sir Philip, released to him likewise all his right in that manor and Yenesfeld, (fn. 7) and that same year he obtained a grant for free warren within his demesne lands within the former. He was a person greatly esteemed by that king, in whose reign he was four times lord mayor of London, and is noticed by our historians for his piety, wisdom, large possessions, and magnificent housekeeping. In his life time he performed several acts of public charity and munificence; and among others he founded a college in the church of St. Laurence, since from him named Poultney, in London. He built the church of Little Allhallows, in Thamesstreet, and the Carmelites church, and the gate to their monastery, in Coventry; and a chapel or chantry in St. Paul's, London. Besides which, by his will, he left many charitable legacies, and directed to be buried in the church of St. Laurence above mentioned. He bore for his arms, Argent a fess dancette gules, in chief three leopards heads sable.
By the inquisition taken after his death, it appears, that he died in the 23d year of that reign, being then possessed of this manor, with the advowson of the chapel, Lyghe, South-park, and Orbiston woods, with lands in Lyghe and Tappenash, and others in this county. He left Margaret his wife surviving, who married, secondly, Sir Nicholas Lovaine; and he, in her right, became possessed of a life estate in this manor and the others above mentioned, in which they seem afterwards jointly to have had the see; for Sir William Pulteney, her son, in his life time, vested his interest in these manors and estates in trustees, and died without issue in the 40th year of the same reign, when Robert de Pulteney was found to be his kinsman and next heir, who was ancestor to the late earl of Bath. The trustees afterwards, in the 48th year of it, conveyed them, together with all the other estates of which Sir John Pulteney died possessed, to Sir Nicholas Lovaine and Margaret his wife, and their heirs for ever. Sir Nicholas Lovaine above mentioned was a descendant of the noble family of Lovaine, a younger branch of the duke of Lorraine. Godfrey de Lovaine, having that surname from the place of his birth, possessed lands in England in right of his mother, grand daughter of king Stephen, of whose descendants this Nicholas was a younger branch. He bore for his arms, Gules, a fess argent between fourteen billets or; which arms were quartered by Bourchier earl of Bath, and Devereux earl of Essex. (fn. 8) He died possessed of this manor, leaving one son, Nicholas, who having married Margaret, eldest daughter of John de Vere, earl of Oxford, widow of Henry lord Beaumont, died without issue, and a daughter Margaret, who at length became her brother's heir.
Margaret, the widow of Nicholas the son, on his death, possessed this manor for her life, and was afterwards re-married to Sir John Devereux, who in her right held it. He was descended from a family which had their surname from Eureux, a town of note in Normandy, and there were several generations of them in England before they were peers of this realm, the first of them summoned to parliament being this Sir John Devereux, who being bred a soldier, was much employed in the wars both of king Edward III. and king Richard II. and had many important trusts conferred on him. In the 11th year of the latter reign, being then a knight banneret, he was made constable of Dover castle and warden of the cinque ports. In the 16th year of that reign, he had licence to fortify and embattle his mansion house at Penshurst, the year after which he died, leaving Margaret his wife, surviving, who had an assignation of this manor as part of her dower. She died possessed of it, with Yensfield, and other lands, about the 10th year of king Henry IV. and was succeeded in them by Margaret, sister and heir of her husband, Nicholas Lovaine, who was twice married, first to Rich. Chamberlayn, esq. of Sherburn, in Oxfordshire; and secondly to Sir Philip St. Clere, of Aldham, St. Clere, in Ightham. (fn. 9) Both of these, in right of their wife, seem to have possessed this manor, which descended to John St. Clere, son of the latter, who conveyed it by sale to John duke of Bedford, third son of king Henry IV. by Mary his wife, daughter and coheir of Humphry de Bohun, earl of Hereford, Essex, and Northampton.
The duke of Bedford was the great support and glory of this kingdom in the beginning of the reign of his infant nephew, king Henry VI. his courage was unequalled, and was followed by such rapid success in his wars in France, where he was regent, and commanded the English army in person, that he struck the greatest terror into his enemies. The victories he acquired so humbled the French, that he crowned king Henry VI. at Paris, in which city he died greatly lamented, in the 14th year of that reign, (fn. 10) and was buried in the cathedral church of Roan. He was twice married, but left issue by neither of his wives. He died possessed of the manors of Penshurst, Havenden-court, and Yensfield, as was then found by inquisition; in which he was succeeded by his next brother, Humphry duke of Gloucester, fourth son of king Henry IV. by Mary his wife, daughter and coheir of Humphry de Bohun, earl of Hereford, &c. who in the 4th year of king Henry V. had had the offices of constable of Dover castle and warden of the cinque ports, granted to him for the term of his life; and in the 1st year of king Henry VI. was, by parliament, made protector of England, during the king's minority; and the same year he was constituted chamberlain of England, at the coronation of that prince was appointed high steward of England.
The duke was, for his virtuous endowments, surnamed the Good, and for his justice was esteemed the father of his country, notwithstanding which, after he had, under king Henry VI. his nephew, governed this kingdom twenty-five years, with great applause, he was, by the means of Margaret of Aujou, his nephew's queen, who envied his power, arrested at the parliament held at St. Edmundsbury, by John lord Beaumont, then high constable of England, accompanied by the duke of Buckingham and others; and the night following, being the last of February, anno 25 king Henry VI. he was found dead in his bed, it being the general opinion that he was strangled; though his body was shewn to the lords and commons, with an account of his having died of an apoplexy or imposthume; after which he was buried in the abbey of St. Alban, near the shrine of that proto-martyr, and a stately monument was erected to his memory.
This duke married two wives; first Jaqueline, daughter and heir of William duke of Bavaria, to whom belonged the earldoms of Holand, Zeland, and Henault, and many other rich seignories in the Netherlands; after which he used these titles, Humphrey, by the grace of God, son, brother, and uncle to kings; duke of Gloucester; earl of Henault, Holand, Zeland, and Pembroke; lord of Friesland; great chamberlain of the kingdom of England; and protector and defender of the kingdom and church of England. But she having already been married to John duke of Brabant, and a suit of divorce being still depending between them, and the Pope having pronounced her marriage with the duke of Brabant lawful, the duke of Gloucester resigned his right to her, and forthwith, after this, married Eleanor Cobham, daughter of Reginald, lord Cobham of Sterborough, who had formerly been his concubine. A few years before the duke's death she was accused of witchcrast, and of conspiring the king's death; for which she was condemned to solemn pennance in London, for three several days, and afterwards committed to perpetual imprisonment in the isle of Man. He built the divinity schools at Oxford, and laid the foundation of that famous library over them, since increased by Sir Thomas Bodley, enriching it with a choice collection of manuscripts out of France and Italy. He bore for his arms, Quarterly, France and England, a berdure argent. (fn. 11)
By the inquisition, taken after his death, it appears, that he died possessed of the manors of Penshurst, Havenden-court, and Yensfield, in this county, and that dying, without issue, king Henry VI. was his cousin and next heir.
The manor of Penshurst thus coming into the hands of the crown, was granted that year to Humphrey Stafford, who, in consideration of his near alliance in blood to king Henry VI. being the son of Edmund earl of Stafford, by Anne, eldest daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, sixth and youngest son of king Edward III. Mary, the other daughter and coheir, having married Henry of Bullingbroke, afterwards king Henry IV. and grandfather of king Henry VI. (fn. 12) as well as for his eminent services to his country, had been, in the 23d year of that reign, created duke of Buckingham. He was afterwards slain in the battle of Northampton, sighting valiantly there on the king's part. By the inquisition, taken after his death, it appears that he died in the 38th year of that reign possessed of this manor of Penshurst, among others in this county and elsewhere; which afterwards descended down to his great grandson, Edward duke of Buckingham, but in the 13th year of Henry VIII. this duke being accused of conspiring the king's death, he was brought to his trial, and being found guilty, was beheaded on Tower-hill that year. In the par liament begun April 15, next year, this duke, though there passed an act for his attainder, yet there was one likewise for the restitution in blood of Henry his eldest son, but not to his honors or lands, so that this manor, among his other estates, became forseited to the crown, after which the king seems to have kept it in his own hands, for in his 36th year, he purchased different parcels of land to enlarge his park here, among which was Well-place, and one hundred and seventy acres of land, belonging to it, then the estate of John and William Fry, all which he inclosed within the pale of it, though the purchase of the latter was not completed till the 1st year of king Edward VI. (fn. 13) who seems to have granted the park of Penshurst to John, earl of Warwick, for that earl, in the 4th year of that reign, granted this park to that king again in exchange for other premises. In which year the king granted the manor of Penshurst, with its members and appurtenances, late parcel of the possessions of the duke of Buckingham, to Sir Ralph Fane, to hold in capite by knight's service, being the grandson of Henry Vane, alias Fane, of Hilsden Tunbridge, esq. but in the 6th year of that reign, having zealously espoused the interests of the duke of Somersee, he was accused of being an accomplice with him, and being found guilty, was hanged on Tower-hill that year.
He died without issue and his estate became forseited to the crown, where this manor staid but a short time, for the king, by his letters patent that year, granted to Sir William Sidney, and his heirs, his manor and park of Penshurst, with its appurtenances, leCourt lands in Penshurst and Chidingstone, the manor of Endsfield, called Endsfield farm, and his park in the parish of Lyghe, by estimation three hundred acres of land, to hold in capite by knight's service. This family of Sidney, which was antiently seated at Cranleigh, in Surry, and Kingesham, in Sussex, had their original from Sir William Sidney, chamberlain to Henry II. who came with him from Anjou, a direct descendant from whom was Sir William Sidney above-mentioned, (fn. 14) who in the reign of king Henry VIII. had acquired great reputation in his prosession, as a soldier, and in the 5th year of that reign commanded the right wing of the army under the earl of Surry, at the battle of Floddenfield, when he was made a knight banneret. He was chamberlain and afterwards steward to prince Edward before his accession to the crown, after which he was one of the gentlemen of king Edward's privy chamber. He died in the 7th year of Edward VI. and was buried at Penshurst, leaving by Anne his wife, daughter of Hugh Pagenham, Sir Henry Sidney, his son and heir, and four daughters. Sir Henry Sidney had possession granted of the manors of Penshurst and Yensfield that year. He was highly esteemed by king Edward VI. with whom he had been bread from his infancy, and brought up in the court as a companion to him, at whose accession he was knighted, and made gentleman of his privy chamber, and in the 3d year of his reign sent ambassador into France, though not fully twenty-one years old. He was afterwards elected knight of the garter, was of the privy council, and four times made lord justice of Ireland, and thrice deputy for that realm, which is much indebted to him for the wife and prudent regulations he made, and the public works he effected during his government there. Having in his passage by water from Ludlow in Wales, of which principality he was then president, taken cold, he died after a few days sickness in the 28th year of queen Elizabeth, at the bishop's palace at Worcester; whence his body was, by the queen's order, conveyed with great solemnity, according to his degree, to Penshurst, where it was interred, but his heart was carried back to Ludlow, and buried there.
By the lady Mary, eldest daughter of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, he had three sons, Sir Philip, Sir Robert, and Sir Thomas Sidney, and one surviving daughter, Mary, married to Henry, earl of Pembroke. Her name is highly celebrated by her brother, Sir Philip Sidney, in his Arcadia.
Sir Philip Sidney, the eldest son, was born as is supposed at Penshurst, Nov. 24, 1554, and had he not been cut off so soon, would most likely have proved one of the greatest worthies that England had ever seen, as well for his learning as his other extraordinary qualities. Being made governor of Flushing, in Zeland, he went over into Flanders with the forces sent to assist the states, and encountering the Spaniards near Zutphen, in Guilderland, on Sept. 22, in the same year in which his father died, was there mortally wounded in the thigh, and died on October 10 following,at Arnheim, æt. 34. Camden, in his eulogium on this excellent person, says, he was the great glory of his family, the great hopes of mankind, the most lively pattern of virtue, and the darling of the learned world. (fn. 15) Not many months after, his corps was brought over to England, and interred with great honour above the choir in St. Paul's church, London, with no small lamentation, not only of the queen and court, but of the nation in general. He left by Frances his wife, daughter and heir of Sir Francis Walsingham, secretary of state, (who afterwards married Robert, earl of Essex, and after that the earl of Clanrickard) an only daughter named Elizabeth, who afterwards married Roger, earl of Rutland.
Sir Robert Sidney, his next brother and heir, succeeded to his estates, and in the 31st year of queen Elizabeth was appointed governor likewise of Flushing, and was afterwards sent ambassador into France. On king James's accession to the throne, he was by letters patent in the 1st year of that reign, created a baron by the title of lord Sidney, of Penshurst, in this county, and there were created with him lord Cecil, lord Knolles, and lord Wotton, the two latter came in their ordinary apparel before the king, and had their robes laid over their shoulders, when their patents were delivered to them, that Sir Robert Cecil's crookedness might be the less observed.
In the 3d year of that reign he was created viscount Lisle, (fn. 16) and in the 15th year of it installed knight of the garter, and in further consideration of his services he was next year created earl of Leicester, the ceremony of his creation being performed in the hall of the bishop's palace at Salisbury, and he was also of the council to the lord president of Wales, and of the privy council to king James, and dying at Penshurst in 1626, anno 2 king Charles I. was buried in this church.
He was twice married; first, to Barbara, daughter and heir to John Gamage, esq. of Coytie, in Glamorganshire, by whom he had three sons, Sir William, born at Flushing, and naturalized by act of parliament, who died unmarried. Henry, who died in his infancy, and Sir Robert, made knight of the Bath at the creation of Henry, prince of Wales, and eight daughters. Of whom, Barbara married Thomas Smith, esq. of Westenhanger, afterwards created viscount Strangford, afterwards married to Sir Thomas Colepeper. His second wife was Sarah, daughter of William Blunt, esq. and widow of Sir Thomas Smith, of Sutton-at-Hone, to whom he was married but on the 25th of April before his death.
Sir Robert Sidney, viscount Lisle, was his only surviving son, and in the 2d year of king Charles I. succeeded him as earl of Leicester. He was by king James several times sent ambassador to the king of Denmark, the states of Germany, and the court of France, and on the removal of the earl of Strafford, was nominated lord lieutenant of Ireland, though he never went over thither.
He died at Penshurst in 1677, having married Dorothy, eldest daughter of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. During whose residence here in 1649 the earl of Northumberland, her brother, being desirous of surrendering his trust of the custody of the duke of Gloucester and the princess Elizabeth, procured his sister, the countess of Leicester, the government of them; upon which they were removed to Penshurstplace, on June 11, and remained here about a year. The earl of Leicester had by his countess six sons and eight daughters, of those the eldest, lady Dorothy, whom Mr. Waller has celebrated under the name of Sacharissa, in his poems, was married to Henry, lord Spencer, afterwards created earl of Sunderland, and secondly, to Robert Smith, esq. of Bidborough, ancestor of the late lord chief baron Smythe; Lucy to Sir Thomas Pelham, bart. of Sussex; Anne to Joseph Cart, A.M. and Isabella to Philip, viscount Strangford. Of the sons who survived to maturity, Philip was his successor; Algernon was that most zealous republican, who set up Marcus Brutus for his pattern, and was beheaded on Towerhill in 1683, for being concerned in the Rye-house plot; and Robert, the third son, died at Penshurst in 1674. Henry, the youngest surviving son, was in 1689 created baron of Milton, and viscount Sidney of the isle of Shepey, and in 1694 was advanced to the title of earl of Romney in this county, and died unmarried in 1704.
The eldest son Philip succeeded to the titles and estate, and lived in great honor and esteem to a good old age, dying at London in 1698. He married Catherine, daughter of William Cecil, earl of Salisbury, who died in 1658, by whom he had Robert his successor, and two daughters.
Robert, his son and heir, was called up by writ to the house of peers in his father's life-time, in 1689, and succeeded his father as earl of Leicester in 1698. He died in 1702, and was buried at Penshurst, having had by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of John Egerton, earl of Bridgewater, four sons and two daughters, who survived him; of the former, Philip, the second son, was his successor; John, the fourth son, succeeded him as earl of Leicester; Thomas, the sixth son, was a colonel of dragoons, and left two daughters, his coheirs; Mary, who married Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. of Lowthorpe, in Leicestershire; and Elizabeth, who married William Perry, esq. of Turville-park, in Buckinghamshire, of whom hereafter; and Joceline, the seventh son, at length succeeded his brother John, as earl of Leicester.
Philip, the eldest surviving son, above-mentioned, succeeded his father as earl of Leicester, and married Anne, eldest daughter and coheir of Sir Robert Reeves, bart. of Suffolk. (Mary, the other daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas Reeves, married colonel Thomas Sidney, the earl's younger brother) by whom he left no surviving issue. He died in 1705, and was buried in this church, on which the titles and estate devolved to his next brother, John earl of Leicester, who was appointed one of the lords of the king's bedchamber, and in 1717 warden of the cinque ports, and constable of Dover-castle, after which he was made a knight of the Bath, captain of the yeomen of the guards, and lord lieutenant of this county; in 1732 he was sworn of the privy council, and at the same time constable of the tower of London. He died unmarried in 1737, and was buried at Penshurst. On which (Thomas, the third and next surviving son of Robert, earl of Leicester, having died in 1729, without male issue, leaving by Mary his wife, daughter and coheir of Sir Robert Reeves, bart. as before-mentioned, only two daughters and coheirs) the titles and estate devolved to Joceline, the fourth surviving son of Robert, earl of Leicester, who married in 1717 Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of Mr. Thomas, of Glamorganshire, but died without lawful issue in 1743, and lies buried in this church, being the last heir male of this noble family, in whom the title of earl of Leicester expired. They bore for their arms, Or, a pheon's head azure; and for their crest, On a wreath, a bear, sustaining a ragged staff, argent, his muzzle sable, and his plain collar and chain or; and they sometimes gave, On a wreath, a porcupine azure, his quills, collar, and chain or. (fn. 17)
Joceline, earl of Leicester, had in 1738, suffered a common recovery of his estates, consisting of the manors of Penshurst, Cepham, alias Cophams, Hawden, alias Havenden-court, Hepsbroke, alias Ford-place, West Lyghe, East and West Eweherst, Ensfield, alias Yensfield, and Rendsley, in this county, the capital messuage of Penshurst-place, with its appurtenances, Penshurst-park, and the grounds adjoining to it, mostly within the pales called the Old and New Park, containing upwards of 1050 acres, together with the advowsons of Penshurst and Cowden, and the rectories or parsonages impropriate of Lyghe and Ensfield, and the several woods and coppices in Penshurst, Lyghe, Bidborough, Tunbridge, Chidingstone and Speldhurst, Ford-place-farm, Redleaf-house, and other estates therein-mentioned, situated in the parish of Penshurst, together with several lands and tenements in Lyghe, Bidborough and Tunbridge, in this county, to the use of him and his heirs and assigns for ever.
Upon which Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. and dame Mary his wife, and William Perry, esq. and Elizabeth his wife, the daughters and coheirs of colonel Thomas Sidney as before-mentioned, laid claim to those ma nors and estates, insisting that earl Joceline, by suffering such recovery, being before only tenant for life, had forfeited such life-estate in them, and having no lawful issue, they as heirs of the body and heirs general of Robert, earl of Leicester, were entitled to the next estates in remainder created by a settlement made of them by him in 1700, expectant on the estate for life of Joceline, and therefore that they and their husbands were entitled to take advantage of such forfeiture, upon which in 1739, they commenced a suit in chancery for the recovery of them, during the litigation of which, Joceline, earl of Leicester, died in 1743, without issue, having by his will given all his estates to Anne Sidney, his natural daughter; being then an infant she, by her guardians a few months after the earl's death, exhibited a bill in chancery against Sir Brownlow Sherard and William Perry, esq. insisting that earl Joceline was tenant in tail by the former settlement, and by the said recovery was seised in see simple, and claimed the estates under his will as above recited.
After great litigation, the suit being at issue, was tried at the bar of the court of king's bench, in 1745, when after a long hearing the jury found a special verdict, wherein the insanity of the earl, before insisted on, was not touched on, but remained still to be controverted, and as both parties found these suits at law very expensive, and that it would be many years before they would be decided, and the guardians of Anne Sidney foreseeing if the will was set aside she would be destitute of maintenance, they agreed to compromise this dispute, and they agreed that Sir Brownlow Sherard and Mary his wife, and William Perry, esq. and Elizabeth his wife, should enjoy all the manors and estates whatsoever of the earl in the county of Kent, and that one moiety of them should be settled in trustees for the use of dame Mary Sherard, and the heirs of her body, with remainder to her and her heirs, and the other moiety in trustees for the use of Elizabeth Perry, in like manner as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants, and that each should be subject to a sum of money to be paid for the use of the said Anne Sidney, (afterwards married to Henry Streatfeild, esq. of Chidingstone,) who was likewise to enjoy the earl's estate in Glamorganshire, according to his will, subject to such estate as Elizabeth, countess of Leicester, had in it. All which was confirmed by an act of parliament passed for this purpose in the 20th year of the late king.
After which, Sir Brownlow Sherard and Mary his wife, and William Perry, esq. and Elizabeth his wife, remained possessed, as tenants in common, of the manors of Penshurst, Cepham, Hawsbrooke, Hepsbrooke, alias Ford-place, West Lyghe, East and West Eweherst, Rendsley, Penshurst-place, and the park, consisting of four hundred and nineteen acres within the pales, Well-place within the park, Ashore, part of it, and other lands belonging to it, and the rest of the estates mentioned in the act, part of them they divided into separate moieties; that moiety allotted to Sir B. Sherard and Mary his wife, consisted of the mansion of Fordplace-farm, Ensfield, Moody's-farm, Upper-Latterhams, now called Warrens, Lyghe-park, South-park, Priory and Crouch lands, Court lands, and other lands and woods, and the advowsons of the churches of Lyghe and Cowden; the other moiety allotted to Mr. Perry and Elizabeth his wife, consisted of the advowson of the church of Penshurst, Parsonage-farm at Lyghe, messuages and lands called Nashes, Doubletons, Redleafe, and other lands and woods belonging to the same.
Sir Brownlow Sherard was descended of a younger branch of the Sherards, earls of Harborough, and bore the same arms, viz. Argent, a chevron gules, between three torteaux, with a crescent for difference. He died in 1748 without issue, (fn. 18) after which his widow possessed this moiety of these estates, and in 1752, had the king's sign manual that she and her issue should use the name of Sidney, and the coat armour of Robert, late earl of Leicester, deceased.
Lady Mary Sidney Sherard died without issue in 1758, and by her will in 1757, gave her interest in these estates to Anne, widow of Sir William Yonge, bart. K. B. and daughter and coheir of Thomas, lord Howard, of Essingham, for her life, remainder to her son Sir George Yonge, bart. of Escot, in Devonshire. They in the year 1770 joined in the sale of the undivided moiety of the Sidney estate before-mentioned, to Mrs: Elizabeth Perry, of Penshurst-place, and in the sale of the divided moiety as above-mentioned (except the advowsons of Lyghe and Cowden) to Richard Alnutt, esq. merchant of London, who on part of it called SOUTH PARK, in this parish, built a seat for his residence, which he called by that name, and dying in 1789, left by his will this seat of South-park, with the manerial rights of it, together with the rest of these estates in trustees, for the benefit of his infant grandchildren (his eldest son Richard having deceased in 1779) the eldest of whom, Richard Alnutt, esq. who in 1793 married Frances, daughter of William Woodgate, esq. of Summer-hill, is now possessed of it, and resides here.
William Perry, esq. who married Elizabeth, the other daughter and coheir of colonel Thomas Sidney, as above related, and bore for his arms, Azure, a fess embattled argent, between three pears or, resided at Penshurst-place, which he repaired and beautified, enriching it with a good collection of pictures, which he had purchased in his travels through Italy. In 1752 he procured the king's sign manual, that the issue of himself and Elizabeth his wife, grand daughter and heir of Robert, late earl of Leicester, deceased, might use and enjoy the name of Sidney only, and bear and use the coat armour of the said late earl.
He died in 1757, having had one son Algernon Perry Sidney, who died unmarried in 1768, and five daughters, Mary, Jane and Anne, who died unmarried, Elizabeth, the second daughter, married Bishe Shelley, esq. and Frances, the fifth, married Mr. Poictiers, since deceased, by whom she has issue.
He left Elizabeth his wife surviving, who possessed the other divided moiety of these estates allotted to her in the division of them, and in 1770, purchased of lady Yonge, and Sir George Yonge, her son, the undivided moiety of the rest of them mentioned before, so that she became the entire possessor of the manors of Penshurst, Cepham, Hawsbrooke, Hepsbrooke, alias Fordplace, West Lyghe, East and West Eweherst and Rendsley, of Penshurst-place and the park, Well-place, Ashore, and other lands belonging to it.
But after Mrs. Perry had remained some years afterwards in the possession of these estates, another claim was set up to them by John Sidney, esq. who vouched, that he was the son and heir of Joceline, earl of Leicester, by his wife Elizabeth-Thomas, and accordingly he, by the title of John, earl of Leicester, instituted a suit against her to recover them, which came on in January, 1782, in the court of common pleas, to be tried on a writ of right, the proceedings of which are all antient and singular, by a grand assize, consisting of four knights of this county, with twelve gentlemen their companions, the tenor of whose oath is to say, whether the tenant who possesses the lands has more right to hold the lands than the demandant has to demand them. But Mrs. Perry, in support of her right, exhibiting the will of Joceline, earl of Leicester, to whom the demandant claimed to be son and heir, by which the estates in question were devised away from him, and consequently he could not claim them by heirship to the earl, and as the issue to be tried, was solely, whether the demandant had a better title than the tenant, the old maxim of the law, melior est conditie possidentis was cited, to prove that Mrs. Perry's title, being in possession, was better than that of Mr. Sidney the demandant, who had no possession, and had lost all right by the above will, which gave them away to another, let the claim of the devise against Mrs. Perry be what it would, and the court was of this opinion, and the grand assize unanimously gave their verdict in her favour. Mrs. Perry after this continued in the uninterrupted possession of these estates till her death, which happened in London the year afterwards. By her will she devised these, among her other estates in Kent, to trustees, for the benefit of her grandson John Shelley, esq. (eldest son of Bishe Shelley, esq. by Elizabeth, her daughter) who, in pursuance of her will in 1783, procured the king's sign manual, to take and use the name and arms of Sidney, and he is now the possessor of Penshurst manor and place, with the other manors and estates above-mentioned.
PENSHURST-PLACE is a fine old mansion standing at the south-west corner of the park, which is still, though greatly diminished, of no small extent, for it contains at this time upwards of four hundred acres of land, diversified with hills, woods and lawns, and well planted with large oak, beech and chesnut trees. The south side of it is watered by the river Medway. The celebrated oak in this park, now called Bears-oak, said to be planted at Sir Philip Sidney's birth, measures upwards of twenty-two feet in circumference. It stands at a small distance above the fine piece of water called Lancup-well, and is thus celebrated by Mr. Waller, in a poem, dated from Penshurst.
Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark Of yonder tree, which stands the sacred mark Of noble Sidney's birth; when such benign, Such more than mortal-making stars did shine; That there they cannot but for ever prove The monument and pledge of humble love.
SALMANS is an estate in this parish, which had antiently owners of that name, one of whom, William Salman, possessed it in the 9th year of king Henry VI. soon after which it became the inheritance of John Rowe, who was owner of it in the 12th year of that reign. In the 7th year of king Henry VII. Walter Derkinghall, alias Darkenol, possessed it, who by his will, in 1504, gave it to Robert Darkenol his son, and he passed it away by sale, in the 23d year of king Henry VIII. to Thomas Willoughby, one of the king's serjeants at law, afterwards knighted and made justice of the common pleas; one of whose descendants, Thomas Willoughby, alienated his interest in it by fine and recovery in the 13th year of king Charles I. to John Seyliard, esq. of this parish, (fn. 19) whose descendant, John Seyliard, esq. of Blechingley, in Surry, dying without issue, his neice and heir carried her interest in it in marriage to George Scullard, of London, who alienated it to Mrs. Streatfield, of Chidingstone, the present possessor of it.
THE MANOR OF HEPSBROOKE, the mansion of which is called FORD-PLACE, was the antient habitation of the Sidneys before they removed to Penshurstplace, in the reign of king Edward VI. and continued afterwards in the same family, earls of Leicester, till it passed in like manner as the rest of their estates in this parish to Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. and William Perry, esq. who possessed the manor itself as tenants in common, and the farm or demesne lands of it called Ford-place-farm in separate moieties. Sir Brownlow Sherard died in 1748 without issue, after which his widow possessed his interest in this manor and estate, and dying in 1758 by her last will bequeathed it to Anne, widow of Sir William Yonge, bart. for her life, remainder to her son, Sir George Yonge, bart. of Escot, in Devonshire. They in 1770 joined in the sale of their undivided moiety of this manor, to Mrs. Elizabeth Perry, widow of William Perry, esq. of Penshurstplace, who being owner of the other moiety of it before, became then possessed of the whole of it, after which it continued in her possession, in like manner as Penshurst manor, and the rest of her estates here, till her death in 1783, since which, by virtue of her will, this manor is now at length come into the possession of her eldest grandson, John Shelley Sidney, esq.
But the farm, or demesne lands, called FORDPLACEFARM, was in 1770 alienated by lady Yonge, and Sir George, her son, to Richard Alnutt, esq. merchant, of London, who died possessed of it in 1789, and his grandson of the same name is now in the possession of it.
AT THE SOUTHERN extremity of this parish stood a mansion called CHAFFORD-PLACE, which was for many descents the property and residence of the family of Roe or Rowe, a branch of those of Rowe's place, in Aylesford, in this county, who bore for their arms, Argent, on a chevron azure three bezants, between three trefoils slipt parted per pale, gules and vert. (fn. 20) But in the reign of king Henry VIII. it was come into the possession of the family of Rivers, descended from those of River-hill, in Hampshire, one of whom, Sir Bartholomew Rivers, lived in the reign of king Edward IV. to whom he was firmly attached. This family bore for their arms, quarterly, first and fourth, Azure, two bars dancette or, in chief three bezants, by the name of Rivers; second and third, Azure, a fess engrailed argent, surmounted by another not engrailed gules, charged with three roses argent, between as many swans proper, which last was an augmentation of honor given to Sir Bartholomew Rivers, by that king, for his good and faithful services to the house of York. This coat of arms, together with the crest of Rivers, viz. A bull at gaze, was carved on the gateway of Chafford-house, built by one of this family. Peacham says, the grant of this coat was in the hands of Sir George Rivers, of Chafford, and might be seen in Claus anno 5 king Edward IV. 4 M. 12 intus, in the tower of London. (fn. 21)
His son, William Rivers, had a command in the reigns of king Edward IV. and king Henry VII. and by his will in 1506, ordered his body to be buried in the cathedral church of Rochester. He left by Alice his wife Richard his son and heir, who was father of Richard Rivers, of Penshurst, steward of the lands of Edward, duke of Buckingham; his son, Sir John Rivers, was of Chafford, and served the office of lordmayor in the 15th year of the reign of queen Elizabeth.
His grandson, John Rivers, esq. was created a baronet in the 19th year of king James I. and having married Dorothy, only daughter and heir of Thomas Potter, of Well street, in Westerham, procured an act of parliament in the 21st year of that reign, to alter the tenure and custom of his lands, those of Sir George Rivers, his father, as well as those of Thomas Potter, esq. deceased, above-mentioned, being then of the nature of gavelkind, and to make them descendible according to the course of common law, and to settle the inheritance of them upon him, by dame Dorothy above mentioned his wife. (fn. 22)
After which this estate descended down to Sir George Rivers, bart. who by Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Beversham, bart. of Holbrooke-hall, in Suffolk, had four sons, who all died without issue, and seven daughters. (fn. 23) At his death in 1734, without male issue, he by his will gave Chafford-place, with the park, then used as a warren, and the other grounds belonging to it, among his other real estates, to his five natural children, by Anne-Maria Thomas, with whom he cohabited by the name of Rivers, but his surviving legitimate children, and the heirs of those deceased, filed a bill in chancery to set aside this devise, and after several decrees and process at law, this estate was by the court ordered to be sold in 1743, which it accordingly was to Mr. William Saxby, of Horsted Cayns, in Suffex, gent. who bore for his arms, Vert a garb between three partridges, or, which coat was granted to him in 1752. He pulled down the antient mansion, and built a farm-house on the scite of it, and died possessed of this estate in 1783, in which year it was afterwards sold, in pursuance of his will, to Robert Burges, esq. of Lyghe, who died possessed of it in 1794; since which his widow, Mrs. Sarah Burges, remarrying James Harbroc, esq. he is become the present possessor of it.
REDLEAFE-HOUSE is a seat in this parish, situated at the north-west corner of Penshurst-park, which remained for many years in the possession of the family of Spencer, who bore for their arms, Quarterly argent and gules, in the 2 d and 3 d a fret or, over all, on a bend sable, three escallops of the first, and were descended from the family of this name at St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire.
Gilbert Spencer, esq. son of Gilbert, son of Hugh, son of William Spencer, owned this seat, and resided at it in the reigns of king Charles II. and William III. He died possessed of it in 1709, and was buried in this church, having married Elizabeth, the eldest sister and coheir of Oliver Combridge, of Newhouse, alias Harts, a feat situated in the southern part of this parish, who bore for his arms, Gules, a cross moline or, between four swans proper, with their wings expanded, and standing on mounts vert. Anne, the other sister and coheir, married Mr. John Thorpe, grandfather of John Thorpe, esq. late of Highstreet-house, in Bexley. He had by her several sons and daughters; of the former Gilbert, the eldest son, dying in his father's life time, Robert, the second son, succeeded to this estate, who was of Darking, in Surry, and dying without issue, in 1730, it came to his brother Abraham Spencer, esq. of Penshurst, who was sheriff in 1736, and dying unmarried in 1740, lies buried in this church, having by his will devised this seat, with the estate belonging to it, to Thomas Harvey, esq. of Tunbridge, who died in 1779, and by his will devised it to his eldest son, now the Rev. Thomas Harvey, who possesses it and resides here.
Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church are the following:—In the middle isle, a grave-stone, with the figure of a man and his two wives, now torn off, but the inscription remains in black letter, for Watur Draynowtt, and Johanna and Anne his wives, obt. 1507; beneath are the figures of four boys and three girls, at top, arms, two lions passant, impaling or, on a chief, two lions heads erased; a memorial for Oliver Combridge, and Elizabeth his wife, obt. 1698. In the chancel, memorials on brass for Bulman and Paire; within the rails of the altar a gravestone for William Egerton, LL. D. grandon of John, earl of Bridgwater, rector of Penshurst and Allhallows, Lombard-street, chancellor and prebendary of Hereford, and prebendary of Can terbury, he left two daughters and one son, by Anne, daughter of Sir Francis Head, obt. Feb. 26, 1737; on the south side of the altar, a memorial in brass for John Bust, God's painful minister in this place for twenty-one years; on the north side a mural monument for Gilbert Spencer, esq. of Redleafe-house, obt. 1709, arms, Spencer, an escutcheon of pretence for Combridge; underneath is another stone, with a brass plate, and inscription for William Darkenol, parson of this parish, obt. July 12, 1596; on grave-stones are these shields in brass, the figures and inscriptions on which are lost, parted per fess, in chief two lions passant guardant in base, two wolves heads erased; on another, the same arms, impaling a chevron between three padlocks; another, a lion rampant, charged on the shoulder with an annulet, and another, three lions passant impaling parted per chevron, the rest defaced. In the south chancel, on a stone, the figures of a man and woman in brass, and inscription in black letter, for Pawle Yden, gent. and Agnes his wife, son of Thomas Yden, esq. obt. 1564, beneath is the figure of a girl, arms, four shields at the corner of the stone, the first, Yden, a fess between three helmets; two others, with inscriptions on brass for infant children of the Sidney family; a small grave-stone, on which is a cross gradated in brass, and inscription in black letter, for Thomas Bullayen, son of Sir Thomas Bullayen; here was lately a monument for lady Mary . . . . . . eldest daughter of the famous John, duke of Northumberland, and sister to Ambrose, earl of Warwick, Robert, earl of Leicester, and Catharine, countess of Huntingdon, wife of the right hon. Sir Henry Sidney, knight of the garter, &c. at the west end of the chancel, a mural monument for Sir William Coventry, youngest son of Thomas, lord Coventry, he died at Tunbridge-wells, 1686; on the south side a fine old monument of stone, under which is an altar tomb, and on the wall above it a brass plate, with inscription in black letter, for Sir William Sidney, knightbanneret, chamberlain and steward to king Edward VI. and the first of the name, lord of the manor, of Penshurst, obt. 1553; on the front are these names, Sir William Dormer, and Mary Sidney, Sir William Fitzwilliam, Sir James Haninngton, Anne Sidney, and Lucy Sidney; on the south side a handsome monument, with the arms and quarterings of the Sidney family, and inscription for lord Philip Sidney, fifth earl of Leicester, &c. obt. 1705, and was succeeded by John, his brother and heir; for John, sixth earl of Leicester, cosin and heir of Henry Sidney, earl of Romney, &c. obt. 1737, his heirs Mary and Elizabeth Sidney, daughters and heirs of his brother the hon. Thomas Sidney, third surviving son of Robert, earl of Leicester, became his joint heirs, for Josceline, seventh earl of Leicester, youngest brother and heir male of earl John, died s. p. in 1743, with whom the title of earl of Leicester expired; the aforesaid Mary and Elizabeth, his nieces, being his heirs, of whom the former married Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. and Elizabeth, William Perry, esq. on the monument is an account of the several personages of this noble family, their descent, marriages and issue, too long by far to insert here; on the north side is a fine monument for several of the infant children of this family, and beneath is an urn and inscriptions for Frances Sidney, fourth daughter, obt. 1692, æt. 6; for Robert Sidney, earl of Leicester, &c. fourth earl of this family, who married lady Elizabeth Egerton, by whom he had fifteen children, of whom nine died young, whose figures, as cherubims, are placed above, obt. 1702; Robert, the eldest son, obt. 1680, æt. 6; Elizabeth, countess of Leicester, obt. 1709, and buried here in the same vault with her lord. In the same chancel is a very antient figure in stone of a knight in armour, being for Sir Stephen de Penchester, lord warden and constable of Dover-castle in the reign of king Edward I. It was formerly laid on an altar tomb in the chancel, but is now placed erect against the door on the south side, with these words painted on the wall above it, SIR STEPHEN DE PENCHESTER. In the fourth window of the north isle, are these arms, very antient, within the garter argent a fess gules in chief, three roundels of the second, being those of Sir John Devereux, K. G. lord warden and constable, and steward of the king's house in king Richard II's reign; near the former was another coat, nothing of which now remains but the garter. In the same windows are the arms of Sidney; in the second window is this crest, a griffin rampant or. In the east window of the great chancel are the arms of England. In the east window of the south chancel are the arms of the Sidney family, with all the quarterings; there were also, though now destroyed, the arms of Sir Thomas Ratcliff, earl of Sussex, and lady Frances Sidney.
This church was of the antient patronage of the see of Canterbury, and continued so till the 3d year of queen Elizabeth, when Matthew, archbishop of Canterbury, granted it to that queen in exchange for the parsonage of Earde, alias Crayford; and though in the queen's letters patent dated that year, confirming this exchange, there is no value expressed, yet in a roll in the queen's office, it is there set down, the tenth deducted, at the clear yearly value of 32l. 1s. 9d. (fn. 24)
Soon after which the queen granted the church of Penshurst to Sir Henry Sidney, whose descendants, earls of Leicester, afterwards possessed it; from whom it passed, in like manner as Penshurst manor and place, to William Perry, esq. who died possessed of it in 1757, leaving Elizabeth his wife surviving, who continued proprietor of the advowson of this church at the time of her death in 1783; she by her last will devised it to trustees for the use of her eldest grandson, John Shelley, esq who has since taken the name of Sidney, and is the present owner of it.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church was valued at thirty marcs. By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of ecclesiastical livings, taken in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned that the tithes belonging to the parsonage of Penshurst were one hundred and ten pounds per annum, and the parsonage house and glebe lands about fifty pounds per annum, the earl of Leicester being patron, and master Mawdell, minister, who received the profits for his salary. (fn. 25)
The annual value of it is now esteemed to be four hundred pounds and upwards. The rectory of Penshurst is valued in the king's books at 30l. 6s. 0½d. and the yearly tenths at 3l. 0s. 7½d. (fn. 26)
John Acton, rector of this parish, in 1429, granted a lease for ninety-nine years, of a parcel of his glebe land, lying in Berecroft, opposite the gate of the rectory, containing one acre one rood and twelve perches, to Thomas Berkley, clerk, Richard Hammond, and Richard Crundewell, of Penshurst, for the purpose of building on, at the yearly rent of two shillings, and upon deaths and alienations, one shilling to be paid for an heriot, which lease was confirmed by the archbishop and by the dean and chapter of Canterbury. (fn. 27)
Church Of Penshurst.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Archbishop of Canterbury.||Sir Walter, in the 23d king Henry III. (fn. 28)|
|John Acton, in 1429.|
|John Armerer, A.M. presented in 1554. (fn. 29)|
|Family of Sidney.||William Darkenoll, obt. July 12, 1596. (fn. 30)|
|Henry Hammond, A.M. induct. August 22, 1633, sequest. 1643. (fn. 31)|
|John Mawaell, ejected August 1662. (fn. 32)|
|William Egerton, LL.D. 1720, obt. Feb. 26, 1738. (fn. 33)|
|Samuel Lidsey, A.M. March 1738, obt. 1741. (fn. 34)|
|... Stephens, June 1741. (fn. 35)|
|Hopton Williams, June 1743, ob. March 11, 1770. (fn. 36)|
|Henry Beauclerk, A.M. 1770. (fn. 37)|
|Richard Rycrost, D. D. obt. 1786. (fn. 38)|
|Matthew Nicholas, S. T. P. ind. 1787. Present rector.|