The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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THIS PARISH has, in the upper part of it, much waste ground in it, which is a dreary barren sand, consisting in this and the adjoining parishes eastward, of several hundred acres, being in general covered with heath and furze, with some scrubby wood interspersed among the hills, which are high, and some of them of large extent; the soil in the middle part of the parish is Kentish rock stone, and below that very rich and sertile. It is computed to contain about three thousand acres of land. The high road from Westerham, over Wrotham heath, to Maidstone, leads across this parish; on which, near the eastern boundary of it, is the village of Seale, having the church on the north side of it; and near the western boundary, on the same road, is a large hamlet, called Seale Chart, about half a mile northward of which is the old seat of Stonepit; and about as far on the other side that of Diggin's, now called the Grove, the residence of Mrs. Harding, widow of Nicholas Harding, esq. and sister to the late Charles earl Camden; beyond which is Hall-place, situated among the coppice woods, where there are the several commons of Godding-green, Falk-Common, and Beechet-green; the parish extending here with a nook Southward, as far as Under River. The parish of Sevenoke comes up as far as the grounds of Wilderness, which is situated only a small distance southward of Seale village, and likewise bounds it towards the west. There is a fair held here on June 6, for pedlary and toys.
THE MANOR of Seale has, from the earliest accounts of it, had the same owners that the manor of Kemsing has, as may be seen more at large in the description of that place. It will be sufficient therefore to observe, that in king John's reign it was in the possession of Baldwin de Betun, earl of Albermarle, from whom it passed, by marriage, into the family of the Mareschals, earls of Pembroke, (fn. 1) and thence again in like manner to Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, from whose heir it passed by sale to Otho de Grandison; and he, two years afterwards, procured the king's special charter for a market every week, upon a Monday, at his manor of De la Sele, near Kem sing, with a fair every year, upon the eve, day; and morrow of the apostles Peter and Paul, and one day following. He died without issue, leaving William de Grandison, his brother, his heir, whose grandson, Sir Thomas Grandison, died possessed of this manor in the 50th year of king Edward III. leaving his wife Margaret surviving, who likewise died possessed of it in the 18th year of king Richard II. After which it came to Sir William de Bryene, who died in 1395, and lies buried in this church, with his effigies mailed in armour, with a huntsman's horn at his head; which seems to denote that he held some land by cornage tenure; (fn. 2) and after his death to Sir William Fynes, in whose descendants, lords Say and Sele, it remained till it again passed by the sale to the Bulleyns, with whom it continued till Thomas Bulleyn, earl of Wiltshire, dying without male issue, king Henry VIII. Seized on it in right of his late wife, the unfortunate Anne Bulleyn. Two years after which he granted it to his repudiated wife, the lady Anne of Cleves, to hold for her life, and she died possessed of this manor in the 4th and 5th years of king Philip and queen Mary, when it reverted again to the crown, where it staid till queen Elizabeth, in her 1st year, granted it to her kinsman, Sir Henry Carey, lord Hunsdon, from whom the manor of Seale descended to his grandson, Henry lord Hunsdon, who, in the reign of James I. passed it away, with the manors of Kemsing and Sevenoke, to Richard Sackville earl of Dorset, who, reserving to himself and his heirs, a lease of the same, quickly after passed them away again to Mr. Henry Smith, citizen and alderman of London, who, vested them in trustees, for certain charitable uses, which he confirmed by his last will, in the year 1627, as will be related more at large under Sevenoke. But this manor, as well as Kemsing, were demised by lease to the successive earls and dukes of Dorset, until his grace John Frederick, duke of Dorset, a few years ago, by an exchange of lands elsewhere, obtained the fee of both these manors, and is the present owner of them.
About three quarters of a mile south-eastward from the village of Seale lies the MANOR OF HALL, with the seat called HALL-PLACE, which, in the 36th of king Edward III. was the patrimony of Tho. Champneis, who that year conveyed part of it to Sir John Wroth, of Enfield, who had been lord-mayor of London in the 34th year of that reign; and he, in the 2d year of king Richard II. alienated his interest in it to Thomas Lovell, who purchased the remaining part of this estate of Robert Champneis, and thus became possessed of the whole of it. His feoffees, in trust, conveyed this manor, with Hall-place, in the 11th year of king Henry IV. to Thomas Theobald, alias Tybold, and Maud his wife; in which family it remainded till John Theobald, alias Tybold, in the 27th year of king Henry VII. alienated it to William Porter, whose family seems to have had some property in this place before; for in the 10th year of king Edward IV. John Alphey released, by deed, his right in Hall to William Porter, esq.
This estate continued in the descendants of this name to Mr. Andrew Porter, who, leaving a sole daughter and heir, Elizabeth, she carried it in marriage, about the end of king Charles I.'s reign to Peter Stowell, register of the diocese of Rochester. After which it was sold into the name of Thompson, in which it continued for several generations till Mr. T. Thompson sold it, in 1781, to his grace John Frederick duke of Dorset, who is the present owner of it, but Mr. Thompson still resides in it.
WILDERNESS is a seat near the boundaries of this parish, next to Sevenoke. It was formerly called Stidulfe's-place, to which belonged a manor of the same name, part of the demesne lands of which lay in that parish, where they are still known by the name of Stedall's Hoath-farm. This place afforded both residence and surname to the family of Stidulse, who possessed it, and bore for their arms, Argent, on a chief sable two wolves heads couped of the first; which arms were likewise borne by those of this name in Surry, who were descended from these in Kent.
Robert de Stidulse is mentioned in antient deeds, without date, to have held this, and much other land, in Seale. In the 36th year of king Edward III. Reginald Stidulfe, of Stidulfe, accounted with Thomas Champneis for land held of his manor of Hall. One of this family married the daughter and coheir of Badsell, in Tudeley, in the reign of Edward IV. whose grand daughter, Agnes, carried that estate, and much land in this parish and East Peckham, to Richard Vane, alias Fane, ancestor to the earls of Westmoreland. (fn. 3)
William Stidulfe, about the 11th year of king Henry VI. Conveyed this estate to William Quintin, who had before, anno 3 king Henry VI. purchased lands in this parish, called Hilks. His son, Oliver Quintin, was of Seale, (fn. 4) and by his will, in the 2d year of king Edward IV. devised his estates here to his eldest son, Thomas, who signed his name Thomas Quintin, son of Oliver. His son John was called Quintin, alias Oliver, and possessed this estate, from whom it descended to his great grandson, Robert Oliver, alias Quintin, who was of Leyborne, in this county; and about the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, sold this manor, with Stidulfe's-place, in Seale, and Stidulfe's Hoath farm, in Sevenoke, to Richard Tybold, alias Theobald, secondary of the queen's remembrancer in the exchequer, whose ancestors had resided in this parish, where they had possessed lands for some descents before; at which time it appears, that they had lands in this parish, called the Park, held of the queen, as of her honour of Newbery. (fn. 5)
He died in 1569, and lies buried in this church, as do his several descendants. At length one of them, Stephen Theobald, to whom Robert Cooke, clarencieux, in 1583, confirmed the coat of arms then used by him, viz. Gules, six cross croslets fitchee or, dying in 1619, left by Catherine, his wife, daughter of Richard Caryll, esq. two daughters and coheirs, Catherine, married to Edward Michell, esq. and Margaret to David Polhill, gent. of Otford. They shared their father's inheritance between them; and upon the division of it, this manor, and the large and antient mansion, called Stidulfe's-place, together with Stidulfe's Hoath-farm, was allotted to the former; one of whose descendants, in the reign of king Charles II. sold the manor, with Stidulfe's-place, and the lands belonging to it in this parish, to Sir Charles Bickerstaffe, descended of the antient family of Bickerstaffes, of Bickerstaffe, in the county of Lancaster. He resided at Stidulfe's-place, the name of which he changed to that of Wilderness, by which it has ever since been called, and enclosed the ground about his house for a park.
He died in 1704, and was buried here, being possessed of this manor and seat, which was soon afterwards sold, by his trustees, for which an act passed anno 2 and 3 queen Anne, to John Pratt, esq. sergeant-at-law, descended originally from Devonshire, one of whom was owner of Careswell priory, near Columpton, in that county, in the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, who bore for their arms, Sable on a fess, between three elephants heads, erased argent, as many mullets of the first. He resided at Wilderness occasionally, and in 1714, was appointed a justice of the King's-bench, and knighted, after that a commissioner of the Great-seal, and in 1718, chief justice of the same bench. He died in 1724, having been twice married, and leaving by each wife several children. By the second he had one son, Charles, created earl Camden, of whom an account has already been given under Chesilhurst; (fn. 6) Jane married to Nicholas Harding, esq. Anne Maria to the late Thomas Lennard Barrett, lord Dacre, and several other sons and daughters. He was succeeded in this estate by his eldest son, by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Henry Gregory, John Pratt, esq. who married first Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Jeffry Jeffries, of Brecknock-priory, by whom he had a son, John, and one daughter; and secondly Dorothy, daughter of Robert Tracy, esq. of Cosecombe, in Gloucesetershire, by whom he had a son, Robert, who afterwards ininherited that estate, but died, s. p. John Pratt, esq. above mentioned, eldest son of the chief justice, resided afterwards at Wilderness, of which he died possessed in 1770, and was succeeded in it by his eldest son, by his first wife, John Pratt, esq. who, in 1786, married Sarah, daughter of Sir Joseph Eyles, by whom he had no issue; he removed to Sevenoke, where he died in 1797; at which time he gave this seat to his nephew, the present Rt. Hon. John Jefferies, earl of Camden, who is the present possessor of it.
About a mile eastward from the church stands an antient seat, called STONEPIT, from the soil where it is situated, which was formerly the estate of the Tybolds, or Theobalds, before mentioned, who possessed it in the reign of queen Elizabeth. It afterwards became the estate and residence of the family of Piers, of Westfield, in Sussex, of which place was Laurence Piers, who married Catharine, daughter of John Theobald, esq. of Stonepit, by which marriage he came into the possession of this seat, to which he afterwards removed; and his son, Sir Thomas Piers, bart. died possessed of it in 1680, and lies buried in this church, as does his grandson, Sir George Piers, bart. who died possessed of this place, in 1720; soon after which it was sold to Richard Goodhugh, esq. from which name it passed, by a female heir, Sarah, in marriage to Mr. Richard Round; whose son, Mr. Richard Round, resided here, and died possessed of it, leaving by his wife, Sarah, one of the daughters of Mr. Stephen Amhurst, of West Farleigh, several infant children, whose trustees are now in possession of it.
There was an estate in this parish, called NULCOMB, now unknown; which, in the reign of king Edward III. was the property of Sir Thomas Cawne, who lies buried in Ightham church, his figure lying at length on his tomb; on his breast are his arms, A lion rampant ermine, a la quevee furchee.
JOHN PELSET gave by will, in 1558, lands then vested in Wm. Maynard, but now in the heirs of the late William Harvey, esq. for the use of the poor of this parish, and now of the annual produce of 6s. 8d.
JOHN PORTER gave by will, in 1678, to the usher of Sevenoke school and his successors, for educating the youth of Kemsing and Seale, out of lands in this parish, vested in Mrs. Harding, and now of the annual produced of 10l. and out of the same lands 2l. per annum, the same being vested in Mrs. Harding, to be paid to the two most antient married persons, dwelling in Seale, and now of that annual produce.
FRANCIS BICKERSTAFFE gave by will, in 1731, for the cloathing and educating eight poor girls of this parish, 20l. per annum, to be paid out of lands vested in the heirs of the late lady Smythe, and now of that annual produce.
SEALE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of Malling. The church, which stands on the north side of the village, is dedicated to St. Peter. It was always esteemed as a chapel to Kemsing, and as such is not rated apart in the king's books. It Consists of two isles and two chancels, having a square tower, and five bells.
Among other monuments and memorials, in the north isle, on a grave stone, were the figures of a man and woman, in brass. since lost, but those of ten boys and twelve girls yet remain, which, by tradition, belonged to one of the family of Theobald, and probably so, by the great number of children on John Theobald's monument. A mural monument for Mr. Maximilian Buck, vicar of Kemsing and Seale forty-six years, ob. Ap. 1720, æt. 70. In the chancel are several memorials for the Newmans of Sted-alls, in the parish of Sevenoke; one for Harward Bickerstaffe, esq. late of Chelsham, in Surry, obt. 1648; another for Charles Bickerstaffe, his son, late of Wilderness, obt. 1704, leaving one daughter, Frances. A memorial for Elizabeth Hunt of Bounds, in Bidborough, first married to Henry Smythe, esq. of Bounds, by whom she had one child, Sir S. S. Smythe, baron of the exchequer; She married secondly William Hunt, esq. by whom she had no issue, obt. 1754, and was burried here near her mother, Elizabeth Lloyd, widow of Dr. John Lloyd, and sister to Sir Charles Bickerstaffe, of Wilderness. A memorial for John Chichester and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir Charles Bickerstaffe, both died 1680. On a grave Stone, the figure, in brass, at large, of a man in armour, with a bugle born near his head, and a lion at his feet, with an inscription round the stone, in black letter, for Sir William de lechre lord of Kemsing and Seale, obt. 1395. A monument for Stephen Theobald, esq. and his two wives, ob. 1619. A monument for Sir John and lady Chichester above named. In the south chancel, a stone, with the figure of a man in brass and inscription, in black letter, for John Tebold, alias Theobauld, gent. ob. 1577. A memorial for Thomas Piers, of Stonepit, bart. ob. 1680. On a grave-stone, the figure of a man in brass, and inscription in black letter, for Richard Tybold, esq. secondary of the remembrancer's office in the exchequer, obt. 1569. A small mural monument for John Theobald, sen. gent. he had seven sons and nine daughters, by Clemence, who was mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, before she died, to one hundred and fifteen children; he died 1577. Thomas de Brinton, bishop of Rochester, who died anno 1389, is supposed to have been buried in this church, in which there is still remaining a grave-stone, on which was the figure of a bishop. inlaid with brass, long since torn away, most probably over the grave of that bishop. (fn. 7)
The vicar of Kemsing has the cure of this parish, under the description of which place an account has already been given of the endowment. patron, vicars, and other particulars relating to the church of Seale.
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that the parish of Seale was divided into three parsonages and one vicarage, whereof one parsonage and the vicarage belonged to the parish church of Seale, and was worth thirty-five pounds per annum, and one little house worth twenty shillings per annum, master Goodwin being patron of the cure, and master Martin incumbent, who had thirty six pounds per annum as his salary; that there was one other parsonage impropriate, belonging to Mr. Bunce, worth about twenty pounds per annum; and that there was likewife a third parsonage impropriate, belonging to Mrs. Mary Nicholson, worth about thirty pounds per annum. (fn. 8) The second parsonage, mentioned above, continues in the same family being now the property of James Bunce, esq. of Kemsing; and the third belongs to Mr. Keble.