The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE PARISH of Cookstone, or Cuxton, is about four miles square; the river Medway is its northern boundary, close to which is the mansion of Whorne'splace, and not far distant from it the church, close by which the road leads from Stroud to Halling, &c. southward across this parish; hence the ground rises over much hill and dale, among the woods; among which is Ranscombe farm, and Upper and Lower Bush; about half a mile north west from which, beyond the summit of the high hill, is Cobham-park, a small part of which is within the bounds of this parish, as is Knight's-farm, adjoining the pale of it; which, as well as Ranscombe, is the property of the earl of Darnley. The soil of it is chalky in the lower parts of it, but more westward it is a loamy earth, and much of it very fertile land. It is rather more healthy than Halling, being freeer from the marshes, the ground or upland rising almost immediately from the river.
Buglossum latisolium semper virens, the larger never dying buglosse, found near Whorne's-place, by Mr. J. Sherad. (fn. 1)
This parish, with others in this neighbourhood, was antiently bound to contribute to the repair of of the first pier of Rochester-bridge. (fn. 2)
THIS PLACE, with the church of it, dedicated to St. Michael, was given to the church of St. Andrew, in Rochester, and Swithwlf, bishop of that see, by Ethelwolf, king of the Saxons, and son of king Ecbert, free from all service, together with all its appurtenances, with the seisure of thieves, and with all other matters which belong to the church of St. Andrew, together with the fields, woods, meadows, feedings, marshes, in small and in great, in known and unknown. Here, as well as at Halling, and other places described in this History, there is no small difficulty in settling the date of the gift; the charter of it, in the Textus Rossensis, mentions its being given in 880, the 13th year of king Ethelwolf's reign, and Ætherland, archbishop of Canterbury, is one of the witnesses to it, who came to that see in 871, and died in 888; but king Ethelwolf died in 857, which is fourteen years before that archbishop's time. The 13th year of king Ethelwolf's reign was 853, a time indeed when he was only king of the Saxons, his son Athelstane reigning in Kent. Philipott and the Register Rossensis mention its being given in 838, viz. the first year of king Ethelwolf. The reader therefore will form his own judgement of this matter as he likes best. The church of Rochester did not possess it long, for it was soon afterwards wrested from it in the Danish wars, which then disturbed this kingdom. William the Conqueror gave this place, among other vast possessions, to his half brother, Odo, bishop of Baieux, but archbishop Lanfrace recovered it, among others, which had been taken from the churches of Canterbury and Rochester, in that solemn assembly of the whole county, held at Pinenden-heath, in 1076. After which he restored it to bishop Gundulph and the church of St. Andrew, (fn. 3) and the gift of it was afterwards confirmed by several archbishops of Canterbury.
In Essamele hundred the same bishop (of Rochester) holds Coclestane. It was taxed in the time of king Edward the Confessor at two sulings and an half, and now for two only. The arable land is six carucates. In demesene there are two, and 15 villeins, with nine borderers, having five carucates. There is a church and two servants, and one mill of 30 pence, and 20 acres of meadow. In the time of king Edward and afterwards it was worth four pounds and 10 shillings, and now 10 pounds and 10 shillings.
Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, in the reign of king William Rusus, following the example of archbishop Lanfranc, separated his maintenance from that of the monks of his church, in which division this manor was allotted to the bishop and his successors.
On a taxation of the bishop of Rochester's manors, in the year 1255, it appears that Cukelstane, then esteemed as a member of the manor of Halling, had within it two hundred and fifty-eight acres of arable, each worth fourpence at the most, by reason there was no marle there; that there were twenty acres of salt meadow, each worth sixpence, and the mill at Cukelstance was valued at one marc. In the valuation of the bishop's manors, at the latter end of the above reign, this of Cukelstane, as an appendage to the manor of Halling, has been already fully mentioned under the description of that manor, but in a subsequent valuation, in which the manors of Halling and Cookstone are valued separately, the latter is valued at forty marcs. There is an account in a manuscript, in the Cotton library, of the stock which should remain on this manor of the bishopric after the decease of each bishop; but it is there remarked, that the several articles, during the vacancy of the see were frequently lost or purloined, and the succeeding bishops were forced to replace them with others. (fn. 4)
In the time of the great rebellion, after the death of king Charles I. this manor, together with that of Middleton Cheney, was sold by order of the state to Robert Fenwick, esq. for 627l. 12s. with whom it staid till the restoration of king Charles II. in 1660, (fn. 5) when on the re-establishment of episcopacy, the manor of Cookstone again returned to its right owner, the bishop of Rochester, as part of the antient possessions of that see, where the inheritance of it remains at this time, the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney being the present lessee of it.
WHORNE'S-PLACE, usually called Horne's-place, is a seat in this parish, situated close to the western bank of the river Medway. It was erected by Sir William Whorne, who had been lord mayor of London in the year 1487; from whose successor it passed by sale to Harper, in the next reign of king Henry VIII. in the 32d year of which, an act passed for the assuring to George Harper and Lucy his wife this manor of Horne-place. From this name it was, not long after wards, sold to Vane, who again alienated it to Barnewell; and he, about the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, conveyed it by sale to Nicholas Leveson, alias Lewson, esq. of Staffordshire. This family was originally of Willenhall, in Warwickshire, where Richard Leveson resided in the reign of king Henry III. His descendant, Richard Leveson, left two sons, one of whom was of Wolverhampton, in Staffordshire, and changed the paternal coat of his family from— Azure, three laurel leaves erect or—to Quarterly, azure and gules, three finister hands couped at the wrist, argent; which coat was continued to his descendants. John, the other son of Richard Leveson, kept the coat armour of his ancestors, and was ancestor of Nicholas Leveson or Lewson, above mentioned, (fn. 6) whose descendant, Sir John Leveson, of Whorne'splace, in great measure rebuilt this seat, and died without issue male. He was succeeded in this estate by his brother, Sir Richard Leveson, K. B. who was of Trentham, in Staffordshire; he, in the reign of Charles I. alienated all his lands in this county to different persons, and among them this of Whorne's-place to John Marsham, esq. descended from a family of this name in Norfolk; he was one of the six clerks in chancery in the above reign, which office he was afterwards divested of, and his estate plundered, for his loyalty to the king. At the Restoration he was reinstated in his place, and had the honour of knighthood conferred on him, being at that time of Whorne's-place; three years after which, on Aug. 12, 1663, he was created a baronet. He was esteemed as an accomplished gentleman, an excellent historian, and acknowledged to be one of the greatest antiquries of his time; (fn. 7) he died at Busheyhall, in Hertfordshire, in 1685, and lies buried with Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir William Hammond of this county, in this church of Cookstone, which afterwards continued the burial place of the family; by her he left two sons, John and Robert. Sir John Marsham, the eldest son, and heir to his father, was likewise a studious and learned gentleman. He married first Anne, daughter of Mr. Danvers, by whom he had no issue; and secondly Hester, daughter and heir of Sir George Sayer, by whom he left only one son, John. Having purchased the seat of the Mote, in Maidstone, he removed thither, where he died in 1692, in which year he was sheriff of this county, and was buried in this church, being succeeded by his only son, Sir John Marsham, bart. who survived his father but a few years, for he died unmarried in 1696, at the age of sixteen. On his decease, without issue, the title of baronet, and this seat of Whorne's-place, together with the rest of his estates in this county, came to his uncle, Sir Robert Marsham, of Bushey-hall, in Hertfordshire, who afterwards resided at the Mote. His only son, Sir Robert Marsham, bart. was in 1716, created lord Romney, baron Romney of this county, whose grandson, the present Rt. Hon. Charles lord Romney is now owner of Whorne's-place, and the estate in Cookstone and Halling belonging to it. (fn. 8)
WICHAM is a manor, which lies partly in this parish and partly in Stroud. Offa, king of the Mercians, to whom Kent was in some measure subject, and Sigerd, king of Kent, or at least some part of it, for that kingdom was in so low a state as to have several petty kings or tyrants ruling in different parts of it, in the year 1764, gave Æslingham, with its appendages, of Freondesbury and Wicham, containing twenty plough lands, to the church of St. Andrew, in Rochester, and commended the same to the care of bishop Eardulph; but this place, with others in this neighbourhood, was wrested from the church of Rochester during the confusion of the Danish wars in this kingdom.
William the Conqueror gave Wicham to his half brother Odo, bishop of Baieux; but archbishop Lanfrance recovered it, in that solemn assembly of the whole county, held by the king's command at Pinenden-heath in 1076. After which, the archbishop restored Wicham to bishop Gundulph and the church of St. Andrew, which donation was afterwards confirmed by archbishops Anselm and Boniface, (fn. 9) notwithstanding which the bishop soon afterwards gave Wicham, though part of the possessions of the church, to Goisfrid Talbot, reserving all tithes whatsoever out of it, which he gave to the monks of Rochester for ever. In the reign of king John this place was come into the possession of the family of Montchensie. William, son of William de Montchensie, who died in the 6th year of king John, held this manor at the time of his death, in the 15th year of that reign, upon, which Warine de Montchensie had livery of his whole inheritance. In the 37th year of king Henry III.'s reign, he obtained a charter of free warren for his several manors, (fn. 10) and died the next year, being succeeded by his son, William de Montchensie, who, in the 8th year of king Edward I. had a grant in fee of view of frank pledge, and the courts belonging to it, in all his lands; in the 17th year of which reign he died, leaving a daughter and sole heir, Dionisia, who marrying Hugh de Vere, third son of Robert earl of Oxford, entitled him to this manor, among others, of; her inheritance; after which it passed in like manner as the manor of Hartley and others above described, (fn. 11) into the families of Valence and Hastings, successively earls of Pembroke, and then to Reginald lord Grey of Ruthin, who was found to be his cousin and next heir of the whole blood to John de Hastings, the last earl of Pembroke, who died, s. p. in the 13th of king Richard II. but he being afterwards taken prisoner in Wales by Owen Glendower, was obliged to make over this manor, among others, to raise money to pay his ransom, for which purpose it was accordingly assigned over to Robert Braybrooke, bishop of London, and others, then feoffees of divers of his lordships, to sell this manor, among others, towards raising that sum. This manor is not mentioned in Dugdale, but it appears from several manuscripts that it was sold at that time by these feofees. To whom it wat sold I do not find; but in the reign of king Henry VII. it was in the possession of the name of Sprever, and at the latter end of the next reign of king Henry VIII. John Sprever was owner of it (fn. 12). It next came into the possession of the Marshams, in which family it continues at this time, being the estate of the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney.
There was a manor in this parish, called BERESSE, alias BERESH, (fn. 13) which in the reign of king John was owned by a family of that name, Simon de Beresse then possessing it; after which it passed into that of Wadetone; in the 49th year of king Henry III. John, son of Robert de Wadetone, gave it, with all its appurtenances (excepting a certain piece of land, which he had given to the chaunter of the church of Rochester) to the abbey of Lesnes, in free and perpetual alms. That year John, son of John de Cobham, of whom this manor was held, confirmed this gift to the abbot and convent, to hold in pure and perpetual alms, free from all services, customs, and suits of court, to the manor belonging, excepting to the bridge at Rochester, and the yearly rent due to him and his heirs; but this being transacted whilst Laurence de St. Martin, bishop of Rochester, was abroad, the abbot and convent, fearing to be dispossessed of this manor, as being of the bishop's fee, at his return signed an instrument, by which, in the year 1267, in consideration of the sum of one hundred and ten marcs sterling they released to him all their right and title to this manor, and gave up all the charters, deeds, and writings relating to it; at which time it appears, that there was a chapel at this place. On the death of bishop Laurence, in 1274, his heirs entered on this manor, as part of their inheritance; but Walter de Merton, the next successor in the see of Rochester, laid claim to it, by the description of one carucate of land, with its appurtenances, in Beresh, alledging, that bishop Laurence did not purchase it to him and his heirs, but as bishop of Rochester, to him and his successors in that see, and that this land being an appurtenance to the manor of Cookstone, one of the capital manors belonging to the see of Rochester, the abbot did not enfeoffe the bishop in it, but only surrendered it up, with its appurtenances, to him again, as to the capital lord of the fee, which he was not, but as being at that time bishop of Rochester; and the bishop had judgment accordingly, and recovered this manor, and Thomas de St. Martin, by his deed, released to him and his successors, all his right and title to it, as did his descendant, Robert de St. Martin, in the 6th year of king Edward III. who had brought his plea before the justices of the King'sbench, against Hamo, bishop of Rochester, for it, but not succeeding, he by his deed released all his claim and title to it to the bishop and his successors for ever; since which it has been blended with the manor of Cookstone, a part of which it is esteemed at this time.
THE PARISH of Cookstone has the right of nomination to one place in the new college of Cobham, founded by Sir Wm. Brooke, Lord Cobham, and now under the direction of the wardens of Rochester-bridge, for one poor person; inhabitant of this parish, to be chosen and presented so, and by such as by the ordinances of the college have power to present and elect for this parish, and if the parish of Gravesend should make default in electing such poor person in their turn, then the benefit of such election devolves to this parish.
Among other monuments and memorials in it are the following: In the chancel, within the rails on the south wall, a beautiful monument, arms, Or, a bend cotized sable, impaling barry of 4, parted per pale, argent and gules counterchanged, for Anne, daughter of Charles Barret, esq. of Belhouse, in Essex, married to Sir Robert Harley, K. B. obt. 1603, by whom she had Thomas, buried here likewise. It was repaired by Edward Lord Harley in 1723. A memorial for Sir John Marsham, knt. and bart. obt. 1685; another for Lady Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir William Hammond, of St. Alban's, in East Kent, obt. 1689; an inscription for Ferdinando Marsham, Esq. of the body to Charles I. and second brother of Sir John Marsham, bart. obt. 1681; another for Sir John Marsham, bart. son of John, obt. 1692; one for Anne, wise of John, eldest son of Sir John Marsham, bart. of the family of Danvers, obt. 1672. A memorial for Sir John Marsham, bart. son of Sir John Marsham, bart. grandson of Sir John Marsham, bart. obt. 1696, æt. 16, and Hester his sister; another for Sir Robert Marsham, bart. youngest son of Sir John Marsham, bart. and only brother of Sir John Marsham, bart. uncle and heir of John Marsham the grandson; he married Margaret, daughter and heir of Thomas Bosville, Esq. by whom he left Robert, Elizabeth married to Thomas Palmer, esq. Margaret, and Mary, obt. 1703. On the south wall are the arms of Marsham cut in stone, a lion passant between two cotizes, and underneath 1630. Under an arch, between this and the rector's chancel, is a large altar, monument and inscription, in brass, for Master John Bultyll, parson of this church, and chaplain to Prince Edward, obt. 1568. In the church yard, almost opposite the church porch, is an altar monument for John Bennet, gent. ob. 1662. (fn. 14)
This church was always an appendage to the manor of Cookstone, and as such, is now in the patronage of the Right Rev. the lord bishop of Rochester. In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church was valued at twelve marcs. (fn. 15)
GUNDULPH, bishop of Rochester, who came to the see in the reign of the Conqueror, gave to the prior and convent of Rochester the tithes of Wiham, and of Hugh de Stoches, and Gaufrid de Sunderesce in Cucclestan, which gift was confirmed by several of his successors. Gilbert de Glanvill, bishop of Rochester, having, about the year 1193, built an hospital at Stroud, gave to it, with the consent of the prior and convent of Rochester, as well as of his archdeacon, among other premises, the portion arising from the tithes of his knights fees in Halling and Holebergh, and Kukelstan, to hold in free and perpetual alms, and he likewise allowed the master and brethren to take of the gift of Galfrid de Sunderesh two seams of corn, of the mill of Kuklestan. The bishop gave likewise to that hospital ten shillings yearly, to be received from this church, towards finding lights in the hospital, which was confirmed to it by Thomas, parson of this church, and in 1295, by William de Handlo, rector of it. Soon after which great disputes arising between the bishop and the prior and convent of Rochester, concerning bishop Gundulph's gifts, some of which, in this parish bishop Gundulph had given to his new erected hospital above mentioned. At length, the latter though very unwillingly, submitted themselves entirely to the bishop, and the monks having disputed the right of the hospital to the small tithes of the manor of Wicham, the bishop decreed, that they should belong to the hospital, whose right to them they should maintain, which tithes were afterwards confirmed to it by archbishop Hubert in 1193, and by Richard, cardinal and archbishop of Canterbury, in 1258.
In the year 1267, Edmond, master of Stroud hospital, and Walter, rector of Cockelestane, appeared before Laurence, bishop of Rochester, in the chapel of Bererce, and agreed to submit the differences between them to his final decree, who then finally decreed that the rector and his successors should have in the name of his church, the entire tythes of the lands called Le Bempe and Le Lud, and Stonired, and of Stokesfelde, which were not free tenement, but gavelekende; but that the master of the hospital, and his successors, should receive of the free tenements, that is, those held by military service, two sheaves, and the rector the third; that of the lands newly broke up, the rector should receive nothing, but that the master of the hospital should receive the entire tythes of them. (fn. 16)
Hameline de Columbiers had given to the chantery of the church of Rochester, all the small tythes of his lordship in like manner, as that office was known to possess his tythes in corn, so that it might possess them in lambs, pigs, fleeces, and all other small things, which his tenants holding of his fee witnessed, when the dispute happened between Ralph the clerk of Frindsbury, and Peter, at that time chaunter of Rochester, whether the chauntery had always possessed the small tythes, together with the corn. John Erpyngham, rector of Cokelestan, by his indenture in 1392, granted that the prior and convent of Rochester should take all the tythes arising from forty-six acres three rood, and three deywerks of land therein, mentioned; and likewise a moiety of all the tythes of eighty acres and a half of land, belonging to the bishop of Rochester's table, lying in five fields, as therein mentioned; (which were let to ferm to the rector, for such time as he should continue rector of this church) at the yearly rent of 10s. And he further acknowledged that all the tithes whatsoever above mentioned, were the right and property of the church of Rochester, and had belonged to the table of the prior and convent there time out of mind; all which was, at the request of the rector, ratified and confirmed under the seals of the bishop, his official, and John Hoke, clerk, pub lic notary; John Shepey, prior of Rochester, and others present at the time. In the year 1539, anno 3r king Henry VIII. the hospital of Stroud was, together with all its possessions, surrendered, with the king's licence, to the prior and convent of Rochester, where it staid but a few months, for next year that priory also was dissolved, and as well as the rents and revenues belonging to it, were surrendered into the king's hands, all which were confirmed to him by the general words of the act passed that year.
These tithes and possessions of the priory and hospital in this parish remained but a small time in the hands of the crown, for king Henry VIII. by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled them on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, part of whose inheritance they continue at this time. The lessee, under the dean and chapter, of this portion of tithes, called the chaunter's portion, being at present the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney.
On the dissolution of bishops, deans, and chapters, &c. after the death of king Charles I. a survey was taken in 1649, by order of the state, as well of the rectory of Cookstone as of the portion of tithes in this parish, commonly called Chaunter's portion, late belonging to the dean and chapter of Rochester, by which it appeared, there was here a parsonage, presentative formerly by the bishop of Rochester, worth sixty-six pounds per annum, if that part taken into the duke of Richmond's park, amounting to three hundred and fifty acres, the tithe of which was valued at twenty-six pounds per annum, duly paid the tithes to Mr. John Robinson, as incumbent. (fn. 17) That there was a portion of tithes issuing out of chantery lands in Cookstone, belonging to the late dean and chapter of Rochester, containing forty-five acres, three roods, twenty perches; also five other fields, eighty acres, two roods; also a certain portion of tithes of land there, late the bishop of Rochester's warren, when the same should be sown, of which the dean and chapter had two sheaves, and the parson of Cookstone one, which land was estimated to contain sixty-seven acres: total of the whole, one hundred and ninety-three acres, one rood, twenty perches; all which were let to ferme, anno 10 king Charles I. by the dean and chapter for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent of one quarter of good wheat, (the eight bushels bearing their heap) but that they were worth above that sum, 8l. 4s. Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who was consecrated in 1077, gave the tithes of those lands, which he added to the manor of Cookstone, to the Benedictine nunnery founded by him at Malling, in this county; which gift was confirmed to that abbey by Gualeran, bishop of Rochester, Thomas archbishop of Canterbury, and others. These tithes continued part of the possessions of this abbey till the dissolution of it, anno 30 king Henry VIII. when it was, together with its revenues, surrendered into that king's hands, to the use of him, his heirs and successors for ever. This portion of tithes is now the estate of the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney.
The rector of Cookstone at this time receives no tithes of forty-six acres, of the half of seventy-eight acres, and of one third of seventy-six acres of land, as above mentioned, the remainder being in the possession of the lessee of the dean and chapter of Rochester. He likewise receives no tithe of the seventy-seven acres, which formerly belonged to the abbey of Malling. I have been credibly informed that archbishop Laud, who had been once rector of this parish, purchased this portion of tithes late belonging to Mallingabbey, and likewise the lease of the chaunter's portion, held from the dean and chapter, and gave them both to this rectory, but through the troubles of the times which followed, both were alienated from it, and the rector being sequestered, and not living till the Resto ration, there was no attempt made to recover them. In a suit brought by the Rev. Caleb Parfect, late rector of this parish, against the earl of Darnley, owner of Cobham-hall, with the parks, &c. belonging to it, about eighty acres of land inclosed in the inner park, were acknowledged to be within this parish.
Church of Cookstone.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Bishops of Rochester||Thomas, about 1200. (fn. 18)|
|Walter, 1267. (fn. 19)|
|William de Handlo, 1295. (fn. 20)|
|William de Twidale. (fn. 21)|
|William Cranewelle, 1386. (fn. 22)|
|John Erpyngham, 1392. (fn. 23)|
|John Botyll, ob. June 30, 1568. (fn. 24)|
|William Laud, D.D. instit. May 25, 1610, resig. Nov. 1610. (fn. 25)|
|Richard Tillesley, B.D. ob. Nov. 1621. (fn. 26)|
|Elizeus Burgeis, in 1630. (fn. 27)|
|John Robinson, in 1649. (fn. 28)|
|John Cooke, A.M. in 1765, obt. 1690. (fn. 29)|
|Tobias Swinden, A.M. (fn. 30)|
|Cable Parfect, A.M. pres. 1719, obt. Sep. 21, 1770. (fn. 31)|
|Charles Moore, A.M. 1770. Present rector. (fn. 32)|