The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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SOUTHWARD from Burham lies Aylesford, a name variously written by our antient historians. The Saxon Chronicle, supposed to be written about the time of Bede, names it Ægelesford; Nennius, the Bri tish historian, who flourished about the year 620, says, the Saxons called it Episford, and the Britons, Sathenegabail, from the overthrow of the Saxons here; Asserius, who lived in the time of king Alfred, calls it Ægelsthrep, as does the Saxon historian, Æthelwerd. In the record of Domesday it is written, Elesford, by later writers, Aillesford, and now, most commonly, Aylesford.
THE PARISH of Aylesford is pleasantly situated, about thirty-two miles from London. It is far more healthy than those last described. The river Medway, which flows through it north-westward, having in its course upward, from Woldham and Burham, become a pellucid stream of fresh water, the tide becoming weak, and having lost its saltness, from the superior force of those from above; of course, instead of the noisome smells, arising from the salt marshes, on each side of it lower down, when left by the tide, the river here is encompassed with a range of pleasant fertile meadows, greatly conducing both to health and profit. The soil in this parish, from its size and extent, must be various. About the village, and on the southern side of the river, it is a loam, spread over the quarry stone; to the northward it is an unfertile chalk, and to the eastward a deep sand.
THE VILLAGE of Aylesford is situated on the northern bank of the Medway; at the back of it the ground rises suddenly very high, insomuch that the church and yard of it, close to which is the vicarage, stands higher even than the tops of the chimnies of the houses below it. About a quarter of a mile westward, close to the river, is the priory or friery, as it is now called, great part of which remains entire, as before its dissolution, being converted into the different apartments of the mansion and the offices belonging to it; the adjoining grounds were formerly imparked, and much of the paling is still visible, though they have been disparked some years ago, made arable, and separated in different inclosures. At a small distance from hence northward is the manor house of Tottington, the moat round which is still visible; from hence the ground rises up to the high chalk hill, on the eminence of which is the noted monument, called Kit's Coty house; and about a mile eastward the house of Cosenton, which, though now only used as a farm house, is large, and has many apparent remains of its former state about it. In the grounds belonging to it, about two miles north-westward from the house, in a deep chalky loose soil, which is covered with coppice wood, there issue several springs or clear water, which change the flints, pebbles, and other stones, as well as the several pieces of wood which lie in them, to them, to the most beautiful carmine bue, which grow stronger after they are taken our and become dry. The water is very chilly, has a rough taste, and has no chalybeat qualities belonging to it.
From the village westward the road leads near the bank of the river, by Friers Coptry, and the stream, which riles at Boxley, runs into the river here, on which there is a paper mill; here the soil begins to be a deep sand, which continues up to the turnpike road at Sandling, leading from Rochester to Maidstone.
From the village of Aylesford to that part of the parish on the opposite side of the Medway, there is a handsome stone bridge of six arches, built many years ago, and now supported by the public charge of the county; from hence the grounds rise with a gentle ascent, beautifully picturesque, surrounding the seat of Preston hall, laid out so as to resemble a park well cloathed at intervals with stately elmsand other different plantations, through which the road leads, having a sunk sence on each side, at a proper distance from the house, which is of white stucco, having an elegant appearance, and making a beautiful contrast to the verdure of the adjoining lawns, up to the high turnpike road from London, through Wrotham, to Maidstone; on the opposite side this road the parish stretches itself more than two miles southward, over a deeper soil, through a continued range of coppice woods; in the further part of which is the antient chapel of Longsole, now called the hermitage, beyond which it extends, and takes within its bounds a small part of the northern side of Barming heath.
About a quarter of a mile westward from Prestonhall, lower down, close on the bank of the river, lies the hamlet of Milhale, which place is within the civil jurisdiction of the corporation of Maidstone. (fn. 1)
Vortimer, the British king, having assembled his forces, in order to give battle to the Saxons, first encountered them on the banks of the river Darent, in this county. In this conflict, it is most probable, the Saxons were worsted, as they retreated from their enemy, who followed them to Aylesford, where they had passed the river Medway, on the eastern side of which a bloody battle was sought between them, (fn. 2) the success of which remained for some time equal, tho' at last it appears that victory fell to the side of the Britons. (fn. 3)
In this sharp conflict, Horsa, brother to Hengist, the Saxon general, and Catigern, brother to king Vortimer, fighting hand to hand, were both killed on the spot. The former is supposed to have been buried a little more than three miles northward from Aylesford, at the place which, from this circumstance, acquired the name of Horsted, i. e. the place of Horsa; in the fields, near which there are numbers of large stones dispersed over the lands, some standing upright, and others thrown down by time, which might perhaps have been placed at first as memorials of those who were slain on the side of the Saxons in this memorable rencounter, and buried there. Catigern is supposed to have been buried still nearer the field of battle, on an eminence, about a mile northward from the village of Aylesford, and about a quarter of a mile westward from the high road, leading from Rochester to Maidstone. The field in which it stands formerly belonged to the demesnes of Tottington, but the late Mr. Best purchased it some years ago of Mr. T. Golding, where that rude monument, somewhat in the manner of Stone Henge, though in miniature, still remains, called Kit's Coty house, and more vulgarly the Kit's Cot house; which, as some interpret it, is Catigern's house.
KIT'S COTY HOUSE is composed of four large stones, which seem to be of the pebble kind, two of them are set in the ground, partly upright, forming two sides, and a third stands in the middle between them; the fourth, which is the largest, is laid transversly over, and serves as a covering. It fronts the north east, or rather north east by east. Some have imagined these stones were brought from the quarry on the other side the Medway, at six miles distance; but there could be no occasion for this trouble, when there were quarries both at Sandling and Allington, within two miles of this spot. Some have supposed them to be productions of neither, but rather to be of those large pebbles with which this part of this country abounds. The dimensions of these stones are nearly as follow; that on the south side is near eight feet high, and about seven and a half broad, and two thick; its weight is conjectured to be about eight tons. That on the north is near seven feet in height, and rather more in breadth, and about two thick; its weight is conjectured to be about eight tons and a half. The middle stone between these is very irregular; its medium is more than five feet in length, as well as breadth, and in thickness fourteen inches, weighing about two tons. The transverse, or impost, is a very irregular hexagon; its greatest breadth, from north to south is more than eleven feet, and from east to west near eight feet, and thickness two feet, and its weight about ten tons and seven hundreds. None of these stones have the least mark of the chisel or any workmanship on them. There is a print of this monument, with a differtation on it, by Mr. Colebrooke, published in the Archæologia of the Society of Antiquaries, vol. ii. page 107; and another by Mr. Grose, in his Antiquities, vol. ii. About seventy yards distance, towards the north west, there lies another stone of the same kind and form as those now standing.
At the distance of two fields southward from Kit's Coty house, in the bottom nearer to Aylesford, is a heap of the like kind of stones, some of which are partly upright, and others lying in a circle round them, in all to the number of nine or ten. Those that are partly upright, with a large one lying across over them, appear to have once formed a like kind of structure as that of Kit's Coty house, and to have fronted towards the same aspect; the whole is now intergrown with elms and other coppice shrubs.
Was I not deterred by the similarity of the name, and were there not so many respectable opinions that Horsted was the place where Horsa the Saxon general was buried, I should be much inclined to think that Kit's Coty house, and this last mentioned, were the monuments of the two chiefs who sell by each other's hand in this engagement; they were undoubtedly built for the same purposes, but like many others of the same appearance, in different parts of England, are of such high antiquity as to be spoken of by our earliest historians as of things beyond tradition, the use of which could be even in their time but barely conjectured.
This monument of antiquity is reported to have been demolished by some persons digging a trench underneath it, in expectation of finding either treasure or remains of antiquity, and the trench being left open, an elm tree grew up in it, and by degrees raised the stones, and threw them to the ground. Some years ago there was found in this field a spur of very antique form, with a remarkable long sprig and large rowel, and the handle and small part of the blade of a very antient sword.
About the year, 1016, king Edmund Ironside, having gained a great victory over the Danes at Otford, in this county, pursued them with great slaughter as far as Aylesford, and had he not desisted at this passage over the Medway, by the treacherous advice of his son in law, Edric, he would in all likelihood that day have entirely demolished the whole Danish army. (fn. 4)
Dr. Plott (fn. 5) was much inclined to think that Aylesford was the Roman station called Vagniacæ but in this he has not been followed by any one else that I have seen.
THE MANOR of Aylesford was part of the antient demesnes of the crown of England. These demesnes were afterwards granted out to different persons, from time to time, who were said to hold their lands in antient demesne, and those only were accounted so, which were actually in the hands of the crown in the time of king Edward the Confessor or William the Conqueror, and are mentioned as such in the survey of Domesday.
This tenure in antient demesne was a tenure in socage, the tenants of which, being in a great measure enfranchised by the royal favour, were only bound, in respect to their lands, to perform some of the better sort of villein services, but those determinate and certain; as to plough the king's lands, to supply his court with particular provisions, and the like, all which are now changed into pecuniary rents, and in consideration of this they had many immunities and privileges granted to them; as to try the right of their property in a peculiar court of their own, not to pay toll, or contribute to the expences of knights of the shire, to be put on juries, and the like.
That part of the parish which lies on the north east side of the river Medway, in which is the town and church of Aylesford, is in the manor of Aylesford, and is antient demesne, the jurisdiction of which extends likewise over the borough of Rugmerhill, in the parishes of Yalding, Hunton, and Horsmonden, and Brenchley.
In the survey of Domesday, taken about the 15th year of the Conqueror's reign, this place is thus entered, under the title of Terra Regis, under which the king's antient demesne is described throughout the whole of it.
In the lath of Elesford, in Laurochesfel hundred, king William holds Elesford. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is fifteen carucates. In demesne there are three carucates, and forty villeins, with five borderers, having five carucates. There are eight servants, and one mill of forty pence, and forty-three acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of seventy hogs. In the whole it was worth, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, fifteen pounds, and as much when Hamo the sheriff received it; it is now worth twenty pounds.
In the 9th year of king John, Osbert Gipford held this manor, (fn. 6) after whose death it seems to have reverted to the crown; for his successor, Henry III. in his 14th year, granted it to Sir Richard de Grey, of Codnor, who was the youngest of the three sons of Sir John de Grey, whose ancestors have been already fully treated of, as well as the other branches of this family seated at Rotherfield, Wilton, Ruthin, &c. under the description of Greys, earls of Kent, in the general history of this county. Sir Robert Grey, the eldest son, was of Rotherfield, and Walter, the second, was archbishop of York. Sir Richard de Grey, at the latter end of king John's reign, and afterwards, when the rebellious barons had taken arms, had kept firm to the king's interest, for which he had many grants and favors conferred on him, and was made constable of Dover-castle and warden of the cinque ports. In the latter end of the reign of Henry III. he went to the holy land, and returning from thence brought with him some Carmelites, and in the 25th year of it, anno 1240, he founded a priory of that order in his manor here, and next year another in London.
King Edward I. in his 21st year, brought a writ of right against his grandson Henry de Grey, for this manor; but the jury gave their verdict in his favor, as they did on a quo warranto, on his claim of pleas of withernam, assize of bread and ale, and gallows, within this manor.
Richard de Grey, of Codnor, his eldest son, succeeded him in this manor, and in the 4th year of king Edward III. obtained a charter for a market upon the Tuesday weekly, and a fair yearly on the eve and day of the Ascension, with free warren throughout all his demesne lands within his manor of Aylesford. In the 9th year of which reign he died, holding this manor of the king in capite, by the service of one knight's fee.
John, his eldest son, was of Codnor, and inherited this manor. He behaved himself so bravely, and by his activity so greatly gained the king's esteem, that in the 14th year of his reign, he received at the royal hands, a hood of white cloth, embroidered with blue men dancing, buttoned before with great pearls, and being to perform certain military exercises in a tournament at Canterbury, had his accoutrements of Indian silk, on which the arms of Sir Stephen de Cosyngton, of Aylesford, were painted, bestowed on him. Being grown infirm, he obtained, in recompence of his valour and fidelity, a dispensation in the 45th year of king Edward III. to exempt him from coming to parliament and councils, and from being charged with setting forth any soldiers in the king's wars, or in those of his heirs and successors.
His descendant, Henry lord Grey, who much affecting the study of chemistry, obtained the king's licence in the 3d year of king Edward IV. to practise the transmutation of metals by his philosophical skill, died in the 11th year of king Henry VII. (fn. 7) and was buried with his ancestors in the church of the priory here. Leaving no lawful issue, though he had two natural sons, from the youngest of whom, Henry, the Greys of Langley, in Leicestershire, were descended, The manor and castle of Codnor came to Elizabeth his aunt and heir, wife of Sir John Zouche, a younger son of William lord Zouch, of Harringworth; and this manor of Aylesford continued in the possession of his widow, the lady Catherine Grey, afterwards remarried to Sir William de la Pole, for her life; after which it devolved to Sir John Zouchc, (fn. 8) who was succeeded in it by Thomas Cornewall, and he possessed it at his death, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. as appears by the inquisition then taken.
Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington, was the next proprietor of it, whose son, Sir Thomas Wyatt, (fn. 9) being attainted in the 1st year of queen Mary, forfeited this manor, as well as the rest of his estates, to the crown; upon which the queen, by her letters patent, anno 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, granted this manor, with its appurtenances, the demesne lands belonging to it in Yalding, and other premises mentioned in them, to Sir Robert Southwell, of Mereworth, for his good services in suppressing Wyatt's infurrection, he being at that time sheriff of this county, to hold to him, and Margaret his wife, in tail special, remainder to the heirs of his body, in capite, with a reservation to the queen of the priory of Aylesford, and other lands. (fn. 10) On the surrender of which grant two years afterwards, he had another grant of this manor, to hold to him and their heirs, by the like service. He in the 40th year of queen Elizabeth, alienated this manor to Edward Randolph and Richard Argall, and they both joined in the sale of it, in the 2d year of James I. to Sir Thomas Colepepyr, of Preston-hall, in this parish, on whose death it descended to his eldest son, William Colepepyr, alias Culpeper, esq. who was created a baronet in 1627, and in his descendants it continued down to Sir Thomas Colepepyr, bart. of Preston hall, who died possessed of it in 1723, without issue, leaving Alicia his sister, then the widow of Sir Thomas Taylor, bart. of Maidstone, his heir, and she afterwards remarrying with John Milner, of Yorkshire, M. D. settled this manor on him and his heirs. After which this manor passed in like manner as Preston-hall in this parish, as will be more fully mentioned hereafter, to Joseph Butler Milner, D. D. whose widow, Mrs. Sarah Milner, is the present possessor of it.
It was founded in the 25th year of king Henry III. anno 1240, by Richard, lord Grey, of Codnor, for Friars Carmelites, being the first foundation of this order in England. Soon after which, the monasteries of this order increasing throughout Europe, they held the first general European chapter at this priory in the year 1245.
In the 11th year of king Edward II. Richard, lord Grey, of Codnor, great-grandson of the founder, granted to the prior, &c. of this convent, three acres of land to enlarge their mansion, and in the 17th year of king Richard II. the king granted to them a spring of water, at a place called Haly-garden, in the adjoining parish of Burham, and the land in which it was, for the making of an aqueduct for the use of their house. In which reign Richard Maidstone, S. T. P. so called from his birth in that town, was a Carmelite friar, and wrote several books. He died in this priory in 1396, and was buried in the cloister of it. (fn. 11)
This priory was dissolved soon after the 27th year of king Henry VIII. and the possessions of it were surrendered up to the king, who in his 33d year, granted, in exchange, to Sir Thomas Wyatt, among other premises, the scite or house of the late priory of the White Friars, in Aylesford, then dissolved, and all houses, buildings, gardens, and lands within the scite and precinct of it; and other lands in Aylesford belonging to it; to hold by knight's service, at the yearly rent of 10s. 3d.
His son, Sir Thomas Wyatt, having raised a rebellion against queen Mary, was attainted in the 1st year of her reign, by which all his estates became forfeited to the crown, where this priory, and the lands belong ing to it, remained till queen Elizabeth granted them to John Sedley, son of John Sedley, esq. of Southfleet, who resided at the priory, and dying without issue, gave it to his brother William, afterwards knighted, and anno 9 James I. created a baronet. He resided at the priory, then called the Fryars, and left one son, Sir John Sedley, bart. of Aylesford, who was sheriff in the 19th year of king James I. and had three sons, successors to each other in title and estate, viz. Sir Henry, who died unmarried; Sir William Sedley, who married Jane, eldest daughter of John Savage, earl Rivers, and widow of George, lord Chandois, by whom he had no issue; and Sir Charles Sedley, a posthumous son, who became noted for his wit and gallantry in the reign of king Charles II. who married Catherine, third daughter of John, earl Rivers, by whom he had an only daughter, Catharine, created by king James II. in his first year, Countess of Dorchester, and baroness of Darlington, for life. She afterwards married Sir David Colyar, ancestor of the present earl of Portmore. This branch of the Sedleys bore for their arms, Azure a fess wavy argent, between three goats heads erased of the second, and quartered with it the coats of Jenkes, Grove, and Darell. (fn. 12)
Sir William Sedley, bart. of the Fryars, above-mentioned, conveyed this estate by sale in the reign of king Charles I. to Sir Peter Ricaut, who with Mary his wife, lie buried in this church. They had ten sons, the youngest of whom, Sir Paul Rycaut, was a great traveller, not only in Europe, but in Asia and Africa, and published the state of the Ottoman empire, and other books, and was greatly employed both in Ireland and abroad, in the reigns of king Charles II. James II. and William III. He died in 1700, aet. 72, and was buried near his father and mother, in the south chancel of this church. They bore for their arms, Argent, a fess counter-embattled, gules; in base, the bend of a limb of a tree, raguled and trunked, couped at both ends proper, (fn. 13) whose heir, in 1657, alienated it to Caleb Banks, esq. of Maidstone, and his son, John, resided here, and was created a baronet in 1661. He died in 1699, æt. 72, and was buried in the north chancel of this church, where a magnificent monument was erected, with his and his wife's effigies in marble. He bore for his arms, Sable, on a cross, between four fleurs de lis ar gent, five pheons heads azure. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Dethick, of Norfolk, by whom he had a son Caleb, who died s. p. in 1696, æt. 37; and two surviving daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth, married to Heneage Finch; and Mary, to John Saville, eldest son of John Saville, esq. of Methley, in Yorkshire
He was the second son of Heneage, earl of Nottingham, sometime lord chancellor, and being bred to the law, acquired great reputation in that prosession, infomuch, that queen Anne, in consideration of his merits and great abilities, created him, on March 15, 1703, Baron of the island of Guernsey, in Southampton, and made him of her privy council. On the accession of king George I. he was on Oct. 19, 1714, created Earl of Aylesford, and constituted chancellor of the dutchy of Lancaster, and made a privy counsellor. He died in 1719, and was buried at Aylesford, having had nine children; of whom Heneage, earl of Aylesford, the eldest son, married Mary, daughter and heir of Sir Clement Fisher, of Packington, in Warwickshire, and had by her one son, Heneage, lord Guernsey, and four daughters. The earl died in 1757, and was succeeded by his only son, Heneage above-mentioned, who became the third earl of Aylesford, who married Charlotte, youngest daughter of Charles, duke of Somerset, and died in 1777, leaving his lady surviving, and thirteen children by her, of whom the eldest son, born in 1751, is the present right hon. Heheage, earl of Aylesford, who succeeded him in the inheritance of this seat, commonly called the Friars, but it is in the possession of the countess dowager of Aylesford, who makes it her chief residence in the country.
The earl of Aylesford married in 1781 Louisa, eldest daughter of the late marquis of Bath, by whom he has several sons and daughters. He bears for his arms, Argent, a chevron between three griffins passant sable. For his crest, On a wreath, a griffin passant, sable. And for his supporters, on the dexter side, a griffin sable, gorged with a ducal collar, or; and on the finister, a lion of the second, ducally gorged, azure. (fn. 14)
The greatest part of the antient priory remains very fair, and by far the least demolished of any conventual edifice in these parts. The great gate from the road is yet entire. It opens to a large square court, in which are seen all the door ways to the cells. The side where the high buttresses are left on the left hand within the gate was the great hall or refectory, now divided into rooms. The kitchen was likewife on the east side of the square, as appears by the large fire places in one part of it. The chapel was that part of the building which stands east and west; the north side of it fronts the garden, as the south does the river; the east window of it was where now is the dining room or gallery door, with the iron balcony facing the town. The principal part of this priory, as the hall, chapel, cloisters, &c. were converted into stately apartments by Sir John Banks, and the cloisters were by him inclosed and paved with white and black marble. There is a fair high stone wall which fronts the road and incloses the garden, the same as when in its antient state. The large ponds at the mill above belong to this estate, and without doubt supplied the religious here with fish.
TOTTINGTON, or TOTTENDEN, as it is called in the rolls of Aylesford manor, lies about half a mile north-eastward from the priory of Aylesford. In the reign of William the Conqueror it was part of the possessions of Odo, the great bishop of Baieux, and half brother to the king; and accordingly it is thus entered under the general title of that prelate's lands, in the survey of Domesday, taken about 1080.
Robert Latin holds to ferm of the king Tontintune, of the new gift of the bishop of Baieux. It was taxed at half a suling. The arable land is one carucate and a half. In demesne there is one, and three villeins, with nine borderers, having half a carucate. There are four servants and five acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of two hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth 30 shillings, when he received it 20 shillings, now 40 shillings. Ulnod held it of king Edward
The same Robert holds in Totintune to ferm of the king one yoke, and that is of the new gift of the bishop of Baieux, and there is nothing except two acres of meadow. It is and was worth separately 10 shillings. Godnin held it of king Edward.
Soon after this the manor of Tottington was become the property of Malgerius de Rokesle, so called from his possessions at Rokesle, (fn. 15) in this county, and his son Richard gave the whole tithe of his land, in Totintune to the monks of St. Andrew's, in Rochester, on condition, that he and his wife and son should receive the benefit of the prayers of that society; in whose descendants this manor continued the same as that of Rokesle before described, till at length it came into the possession of Robert de Poynings, who died in the 25th year of king Henry VI. anno 1446, possessed likewise of the advowson of the free chapel of St. Stephen in it, founded by his father, Richard de Poynings, both being held of the king, as of his castle of Leeds, which was of the barony of Crevequer, by knight service. (fn. 16) He gave it to Tho. Palmer, esq. of the Court lodge, in Snodland, who had married his only daughter, and was grandson of Thomas, of Snodland, who married the daughter of Fitz Simon.
His son, John Palmer, was of Tottington, and left one son, Thomas, and a daughter, Catherine, married to John Rowe. Thomas Palmer died possessed of it in the 23d year of king Henry VII. anno 1507, holding it of the king, as of his honour of Lisle, by knights service, and his descendant of the same name alienated it, in the reign of king Henry VIII. to Richard Warcup, descended from those of Cumberland, and bore for their arms, Argent, on a fess gules, three cushions ermine; whose grandson, Henry, anno 17 Elizabeth, levied a fine of it, and soon afterwards alienated it to Madox; after which it came into the family of Sedley, and thence into the possession of William Hodgkins, esq. who sold it to Putcheon, from which name it was conveyed to Golding; and Mr. Thomas Golding, of Ryarsh, dying in 1769, left it to his daughter, Mrs. Frances Golding, who is the present owner of it.
ECCLES was a manor in this parish, which was of some note in the time of the Conqueror, being then part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king's half brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the book of Domesday:
Ralf Fitz Turold holds Aiglessa of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at three yokes. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there is one carucate and seven villeins, with 14 borderers, having one carucate. There is one servant and 11 acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of 10 hogs, In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth three pounds, now four pounds.
Richard (de Tunbridge) receives for what is in his lowy 15 pence. The king eight shillings and five pence, for the new gift of the bishop, and in Rochester the bishop has three houses of three pence, which he took from this manor into his own hands. Alnod Cilt held this manor.
On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, soon after the taking of this survey, all his possessions were confiscated to the crown, and this manor was given to Malgerius de Rokesle, whose descendant, Richard de Rokesle, held it in the reign of king Edward I. as half a knight's fee of Margery Rivers, as she did of Warine de Montchensie. (fn. 17) From him this manor passed in like manner as the above described manor of Tottington, to the families of Poynings, and of Palmer of Snodland; and thence again to Warcup, in which it continued till Henry Warcup alienated this manor to John Sedley, esq. from one of whose descendants part of it passed, in like manner as Aylesford priory, to Heneage earl of Aylesford, whose grandson, the Rt. Hon. the earl of Aylesford now owns it. Another part of this manor became vested in the same owners as the manor of Tottington had, and as such is now owned by Mrs. Frances Golding above mentioned Another part of it was lately held by Mr. John Corrall; and another considerable part of it, which seems to have been made liable to the payment of castle guard rent for the whole of it to Rochester castle, was purchased by Mr. Tho. Best, of Chatham, whose grand son, Tho. Best, esq. of Chilston, died in 1795, s. p. and by his will gave it to his nephew, George Best, esq. now of Chilston, the present owner of it.
The manor of Eccles ought antiently to have contributed to the repair of the fourth pier of Rochester bridge. (fn. 18)
COSENTON, or COSINGTON, as it is usually spelt, is a manor in this parish, situated on the eastern side of it, adjoining to that of Boxley, near the high road from Rochester to Maidstone, the jurisdiction of the hundred of Maidstone claiming over it.
It was antiently a place of much note, as giving both residence and surname to the eminent family of Cosenton, or Cosington, who were seated here in the reign of king John, for that king, in his 18th year, absolved William de Cosenton by pardon, for having taken an oath to Louis the French dauphin. Sir Stephen de Cosenton was, with king Edward I. at the noted siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, and was there made a banneret by the king for his good services; at which time it appears there was a chapel at this seat, dedicated to St. Michael, with a chantry in it, founded by Sir Stephen de Cosenton. His son, Sir Wm. de Cosenton, was sheriff of this county in the 35th year of king Edward I. and was living here in the 8th year of king Edward II. His successor, Sir Stephen de Cosenton, in the 7th year of Edward III. anno 1332, obtained a charter of free warren for his lands in Cosyngtone, Acrise, and Suthbertone, in this county, held of the barony of Ros, as of the manor of Horton Kirkby.
The family of Cosenton having received this manor by antient feossment from the Ros's, the former lords of it, in imitation of whose arms, Or, three roses gules, the Consentons bore for their arms, Azure, three roses or. This coat, though the colours are now defaced, is carved on the roof of Canterbury cloisters.
At length his descendant, Thomas Cosenton, esq. dying in the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. without male issue, his three daughters, married to Duke, Wood, and Hamon, became his coheirs, the eldest of whom, on the partition of their inheritance, entitled her husband, Duke, to the possession of this manor and seat, (fn. 19) who bore for his arms, Perfess argent, and azure three chaplets, counterchanged. His descendants afterwards resided here; and in the reign of king Charles I. it was in the possession of Geo. Duke, esq. at length, about the year 1696, it devolved, for want of male issue, to Mary Duke, spinster, who died unmarried about 1750, and by her will gave this manor to her nephew, Mr. Samuel White, of London, merchant; since whose death, in 1770, it became, by his will, the inheritance of Stacey; whence it was, in 1797, alienated to Mr. John Spong, of Milhale, the present owner of it.
ROWE'S-PLACE is an estate in the eastern part of this parish, which was once the seat of the antient family of Rowe, who had their original here, and afterwards branched off into the several families of this name at Dartford, Penshurst, and Pluckley, in this county. (fn. 20) Robert Roe possessed this seat in the reign of king Edward III. from whom it descended down to Robert-a-Rowe, esq. who, in the 21st year of king Henry VII. anno 1495, settled it on the marriage of Christian, his daughter and heir, with Robert Nayler, esq. the son of Richard Nayler, citizen of London, by the lady Elizabeth his wife, widow of Geo. Nevil, lord Abergavenny, the deed of which is sealed with his arms, being Gules, a quarter soil or. From the name of Nayler it passed by another female heir to Warcup, one of whose descendants alienated it to Sedley, from whence it passed in like manner as Aylesford priory to Banks, by whose female coheir it went in marriage to Heneage Finch, esq. afterwards created earl of Aylesford; whose descendant, the Right Hon. Heneage, earl of Aylesford, is the present possessor of this estate.
THE MANORS of PRESTON and ALLINGTON, in this parish, together with the seat, called PRESTON-HALL, which lies at a small distance from the river Medway, on the south-west side of it, opposite to the town of Aylesford, and to that part of this parish, called Antient Demesne, as has been already mentioned before, were possessed in very antient times by the eminent family of Colepeper, commonly called and frequently written, Culpeper, who spread themselves in different branches over the whole face of the county; each of which produced men, who became eminent as warriors and statesmen in the different ages in which they flourished.
The first of this family noted in record is Thomas de Colepeper, who was one of the Recognitores Magnae Assisæ, or, judges of the great assize, in the reign of king John, an office of no small account in those times; whose descendant, Sir John de Colepeper, was of Bayhall, in Pembury, as was his son, Sir Thomas Colepeper, afterwards.
Soon after which they separated into different branches, one of which remained at Bayhall abovementioned, from which descended the several branches of this family settled there, and at Bedgbury, Losenham, Wakehurst, Leed's-castle, Hollingborne, St. Stephen's, and the Charter-house, all which are now extinct, excepting the latter.
The other branch seated themselves at Preston-hall, in Aylesford, and at Oxenhoath, in West Peckham, both which I shall proceed to give some account of here, taken from a large manuscript pedigree of the several branches of it, from the Visitation of the County of Kent, anno 1619, and from other authentic evidences and manuscripts; and a further account of the early part of the pedigree of Colepeper, and the several branches of it, may be found under Bayhall, in Pembury.
Walter Colepeper died in the last year of king Edward II. seised, as appears by the inquisition, taken that year after his death, of estates in Langley, Boughton, East and West Farleigh, Yalding, Malling, Brenchley, Tunbridge, and Shipborne. (fn. 21) He sealed with his coat of arms, A bend engrailed, the field of which appears to have been argent, and the bend, gules; which are carved more than once on the roof of Canterbury cloisters, and are once there impaled with a coat bearing a bend. By Joane his wife he left three sons, of whom Thomas, the eldest, was of Preston half, and died without issue. Sir Jeffry, the second, succeeded his brother in that estate, being the ancestor of the Colepepers, baronets, of Preston-hall, and of the Colepepers of Oxenhoath, both now extinct, and John was the third son.
Sir Jeffry Colepeper resided at Preston hall, and was sheriff of this county in the 39th and 47th years of king Edward III. He left a son, William, who was likewise of Aylesford. His son, Sir John Colepeper, was a justice of the common-pleas in the reign of king Henry IV. and was of Oxenhoath in this county; he left by Catherine his wife, Sir William Culpeper, of the same place, sheriff of this county in the 5th year of king Henry VI. the year after which he died, and was buried in West Peckham church, leaving a son, Sir John Colepeper, who lived in the reigns of king Henry V. and VI.
His son, Sir William Colepeper, was of Aylesford, and by a daughter of Ferrers, of Groby, had three sons, Sir Richard Colepeper, who was of Oxenhoath, and ended in three daughters and coheirs; William, who was of Aylesford; and Jeffry. Wm. Culpepyr, esq. the second, was of Preston hall, the lands of whose grandson, John Colepepyr, of Aylesford, and of Thomas his son, were disgavelled by the act of the 2d and 3d of king Edward VI. in whose descendants, resident at this seat, these manors, with Preston-hall, continued down to William Colepepyr, for so he appears to have spelt his name, who in 1627, anno 3d Charles I. was created a baronet. His great grandson, Sir Thomas Colepepyr, bart. was sheriff of this county in the 2d year of queen Anne, anno 1704, and kept his shrievalty at Preston-hall; he died without issue in 1723, and was buried in the south chancel of this church, leaving his sister Alicia, who had been first married to Herbert Stapeley, esq. and secondly to Sir Thomas Taylor, bart. of Maidstone, but then the widow of Thomas Culpeper, counsellor at law, second son of Sir Thomas, the third son of Sir Thomas Colepeper, of Hollingsborne, his sole heir; she afterwards married the same year John Milner, M.D. of Yorkshire, and then made a settlemennt of the fee of these among the rest of her estates (reserving a life estate to herself) on him and his heirs; she survived him likewise, and died in 1734, without issue by either of her four husbands.
Dr. Milner was descended of a good gentleman's family seated at Pudsey, in Yorkshire, who bore for their arms, Sable, three bridle bits or. He died before his wife, in 1724, having devised the inheritance of these manors, with Preston-hall, and his other estates in this county, to his brother, Charles Milner, M. D. who, on lady Taylor's death, for so she stiled herself, resided here, and dying unmarried, in 1771, gave the whole of them by will to his nephew, the Rev. Joseph Butler, who in pursuance of it, that year, procured the king's licence to take the surname and arms of Milner; and afterwards resided at Preston-hall, which he modernized and almost rebuilt, and laid out the grounds adjoining with much taste, at a very considerable expence. He married, in 1772, Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Stringer Belcher, rector of Ulcombe, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Justinian Champneis, esq. of Boxley, and died in 1784, s. p. leaving these manors, with Preston-hall, for life, to his surviving widow, who now resides here; and after her death, to his nephew, Cha. Milner, esq. now of Farningham.
On the window frame of a large antient barn, built of stone, belonging to Preston-hall, as well as on an outhouse near it, and on a chimney-piece, both likewise of stone, is carved the date of 1102, with the letters, T. C. on each of them; a representation of which window frame has been given above.
The date on the above window, as well as the others, has been the occasion of much altercation among the learned. Vossius, in his treatise, De Scientiis Mathematicis, says, that numeral figures came not in use in Europe till about the year 1300, or, at least, not earlier than the year 1250; and P. Mabillon, in his treatise, De Re Diplomatica, tells us, he had not found them any where sooner than the fourteenth century, which is somewhat later than the time mentioned by Vossius. Several dates have been produced, from different parts of England, to prove the much earlier use of numral figures in this kingdom; viz. an inscription over a gateway at Worcester, anno 975; the date on a window of a cellar at Colchester, anno 1090; another on a window at Rumsey, in Hampshire, anno 1016; one on a chimney-piece at Widgel hall, in Hertfordshire, of the like date; and on a chimney piece, at the parsonage house at Helmdon, in Northamptonshire, anno 1132; (fn. 22) but all of them have been supposed by most to have been either misunderstood or altered, to serve this particular purpose.
David Casley, in his Catalogue of Manuscripts in the King's Library, has given a specimen of a manuscript from the Cottonian library, called Callendarium Rogeri Bacon, dated 1292; the figures in which book are Arabian, and the oldest he remembered to have met with in either of those libraries.
Besides the above mentioned opinions, that these Arabian figures did not come into use till long after the year 1102, there is another objection to the date above mentioned having been put up so early as that year; which is, that the quarterings of coats armour did not come into use till the time of Edward III. who began his reign in 1326; which, if a fact, will prove this date to have been put up at least subsequent to the year 1300; and a still more convincing proof of it is, that the arms quartered are those of Colepeper and Hardreshull. John Colepeper, about the middle of the above mentioned reign, married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir John Hardreshull, so that his issue by her were the first who could use the arms of Hardreshull quartered with their own; their son was Thomas Colepeper. The T. C. on this stone must, no doubt, mean a Thomas Colepeper, owner of this estate; and none other, of those names, was so afterwards till the 16th century, when another Thomas Colepeper owned it, and died possessed of it in 1587. Many have supposed, that the o being so much higher in proportion to the other figures, there was some part adjoining to the bottom of it, now obliterated, and that the second figure was meant to ex press the figure 5; but on a close inspection of the several figures, I do not see the least probability for this supposition, the figures being plainly meant for what they now appear to be. The most probable conjecture therefore is, that a Thomas Colepeper, a descendant of John Colepeper and Elizabeth Hardreshull, put up this date, with his own name and arms, and added the date of 1102, which was either the æra when his ancestors first came into this county, or perhaps to this seat of Preston.
ABOUT a quarter of a mile northward from Barming heath, on an eminence, near the eastern side of the road, which leads through the woods from Aylesford thither, and surrounded by them, stand the ruins of the ANTIENT FREE CHAPEL OF LONGSOLE, now made use of as a barn, and called the HERMITAGE from its lonely situation.
King Edward III. in his 24th year, granted licence to Stephen Fynamour, chaplain of the chapel of St. Lawrence of Longsole, to purchase lands and rents of the yearly value of one hundred shillings, for the maintenance of himself and his successors, celebrating in this chapel for ever; and next year accordingly, there were granted, with the king's licence, to him and his successors, chaplains here, by several persons, different messuages and lands, to the amount of twenty six acres and upwards, lying in this parish, of the yearly value of sixteen shillings. After which, great disputes arising between the vicar of Aylesford and the rector of Allington, concerning the oblations offered in this chapel on the eve and festival of St. Lawrence, each claiming them as their right, as being within the bounds of their respective parishes, John, bishop of Rochester, issued his mandate in the last year of king Henry V. to ascertain, by inquisition, in which of those parishes this chapel was situated, and to whom these oblations of right belonged, and to certify the same to him; since which it has been esteemed to be within the bounds of the parish of Aylesford.
The remains of this chapel, now called the Hermitage, with the scite of it, is part of the possessions of the Rt. Hon. Charles lord Romney, having been purchased with the manor of Allington and other estates in the year 1732, of Sir Jacob Astley, bart. of Melston Constable, in Norfolk.
JOHN SEDLEY, esq. ordered by his will, that a house should be built for six poor aged and impotent persons, in the street of Aylesford, and that there should be bought lands and tenements for the poor persons, for their maintenance, 60l. per ann. and that his brother, William Sedley, and his heirs, should place the poor in it, from time to time. Sir William Sedley, bart. was sole executor to his brother, in pursuance of whose will he built a house of stone and other buildings for this hospital, or Maison de Dieu; and he purchased two farms, containing one hundred and eighty-four acres in Frittenden, and were of the clear yearly value of 76l. and Sir William, by his deed of foundation, dated in 1617, inrolled in chancery, added one poor person more to the former six poor persons, being four men and two women, to be as warden of the hospital; and he incorporated and made them a body politic, by the name of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity, in the parish of Aylesford, appointed that they should have a common seal, engraved with a goat's head rache, and circumscribed, Sigillu's Hospital. See. Trinitatis in Aylesford in Co. Kanc. and that the hospital and poor in it should, from time to time, be visited, ordered, and upon just cause displaced, by such persons, bodies politic, or corporate, their heirs, assigns, or trustees, as should be nominated or assigned, according to such rules as should be set forth by him, his heirs, or assigns, in writing, under his or their hands and seals, &c. The earl of Portmore, the patron and present trustee, has omitted to appoint any person to this hospital for some years past.
SIR ROBERT FAUNCE, of Maidstone, gave 10s. per annum, to be distributed to the poor on St. Swithin's day, and 10s. more on that day to the clergyman for reading prayers, to be paid out of land in this parish, now vested in Mrs. Milner.
THE REV. MR. MILNER, in pursuance of his uncle, Dr. Charles Milner's will, settled 20l. per annum, payable out of part of his estate, towards the support of a charity school, for the benefit of the poor children of this parish.
King Henry I. gave the church of Aylesford to St. Andrew and Gundulph, bishops of Rochester, and afterwards confirmed it to them. Bishop Gundulph, when he had separated his own maintenance from that of the monks of his priory, assigned this church to them, among others, for their maintenance; and he afterwards granted them the free disposition of the vicarage of it. (fn. 23)
This grant was set aside by bishop Gilbert de Glanvill, in the beginning of the reign of king Richard I. who, on the foundation of his hospital at Stroud, about that time, with their unanimous consent, which was however, without doubt, extorted from them, and that of his archdeacon, gave the appropriation of this church, in pure and perpetual alms, to the master and brethren of it, reserving only the pension of two marcs yearly from it, to be paid to the monks. (fn. 24) And he decreed, that the master should provide one of his brethren, being a priest, or other fit chaplain, to celebrate divine service at Aylesford, whom he should present to the bishop; all which was again confirmed by the prior and con vent of Rochester, who granted, that the master of the hospital should, as parson, present the vicar of this church to the bishop. (fn. 25)
The monks by no means acquiesced in this gift, but seized every opportunity of asserting their right to this church; and after several appeals to the pope, from time to time, and confirmations and decrees made in favour of each party, the dispute seems to have been finally settled by pope Alexander IV. (fn. 26) who in 1255, adjudged that, in consideration of the church of St. Margaret, in Rochester, with its appurtenances, remaining to the prior and convent, the master and brethren of Stroud hospital should possess this church free from the pensions of eighteen marcs (which had been, in 1239, decreed to be paid from it) and of two marcs, which had likewise been before decreed, to be paid from it, as above mentioned. Bishop Thomas de Inglethorp, on account of several disputes having arisen between the master of Stroud hospital and the vicar of this parish, in right of his vicarage, in 1287, anno 16th Edward I. examined into it, with the consent of all parties, and he ordained and decreed, that the vicar, for the time being, should take all small tithes, obventions, and oblations, of the whole parish, together with the tithe of the hay of Luggenemedwe, and Breggenemedwe, Suffletonemedwe, and all the tithe of hay on the eastern side of the bridge, and also of all mills, except the mill of the master and brethren aforesaid, and that he should likewise take the tithes of sheaves of the demesnes of the church, viz. of those lands which the rectors possessed at the time of this endowment, and the tithes of beans and peas of gardens, dug with the foot, but for other corn growing within the curtalage, he should take yearly from the rectors one seam of wheat at Michaelmas; and further, that the vicar and his successors should be free and exempt from all due and accustomed burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, of the supplying and procuring books and ornaments, and also the repairing of the chancel.
In the year 1288, an agreement was entered into before the above mentioned bishop, between the master and brethren of the hospital, and the vicar of this church, that the later should provide daily one chaplain in the name of the former, who should celebrate mass, and say the canonical hours in the chapel of Sir Stephen de Cosington, for which the master and brethren should give him yearly a certain sum of money, and a portion of corn at stated times, of wheat and barley, and of the small tithes at the accustomed time, so that the vicar should not demand any thing of Sir Stephen; and also of three roods of free land. This was confirmed by bishop Thomas de Woldham, in 1293, who declared, that the three roods of free land, mentioned above, were within that area of ground, where the vicar had built houses, and erected other buildings for himself and successors, and in which he then dwelt, near the court of the rectory, and had inclosed the same; all which should remain to the vicars, his successors, for ever.
Some time after which, some disputes arising between the vicar of Aylesford, and the master and brethren, and Sir Stephen de Cosingtone, it was decreed, that Sir Stephen and his heirs ought to pay the great and small tithes of his manor to the master and brethren, together with thirty shillings of silver; and that according to the ordination of Thomas, bishop of Rochester, above mentioned, they ought to satisfy the vicar in thirty shillings and four seams of corn, one half of wheat and the other of barley, yearly, and that the vicar should provide for a chantry in the said chapel, but that the profits arising from the oblations and consessions of Sir Stephen and his family, should belong to him who served the cure of the parish of Aylesford. The decree of the bishop, so far as related to the small tithes of the manor of Cosington, nevertheless to remain in full force.
Sir Stephen de Cosyngtone, lord of the manor of Cosyngtone, in the 23d year of king Henry VI. released to the master and brethren of the hospital, their providing a chaplain in the chapel or chantry of St. Michael, within his manor, &c. and they released to him their right of providing such chaplain, and all claims accruing to him and them on account of the same for ever, in the 34th year of the same reign.
The church of Aylesford remained in this situation till the reign of king Henry VIII. when the master of Stroud hospital and the brethren of it, in the 31st year of that reign, with the king's licence, surrendered their hospital, with all their lands and possessions in Aylesford and elsewhere, and this church among them, to the prior and convent of Rochester, to hold of the king by fealty, in lieu of all services.
A few months after which surrender, the priory of Rochester itself was likewise, together with all its estates and possessions, surrendered into the king's hands, who, by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled the parsonage of this church, with the advowson of the vicarage, as well as all other the possessions of the late priory of Rochester in this parish, among other premises, on his new erected dean and chapter of Rochester, where the inheritance of them now remains.
On the intended abolition of deans and chapters, after the death of king Charles I. this manor and parsonage, with its appurtenances, and a wood, called Blaze wood, late belonging to the dean and chapter, were surveyed in 1694, when it appeared, that the two barns, yards, and other necessary buildings, and two acres of glebe land, were worth 3l. per ann. and the tithes 77l. per ann. all which were let by the dean and chapter, anno 15 Charles I. to Sir George Fane, for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent of 22l. and two weather sheep, or 26s. 8d. in money; out of which lease the vicarage was excepted, which was then valued at 60l. per annum. (fn. 27)
CHURCH OF AYLESFORD.
Or by whom presented.
|Jordan, about the year 1145. (fn. 28)|
|Master and Brethren of Stroud Hospital||Gregory de Elmham, 1287. (fn. 29)|
|John Stubbecrost, 1422. (fn. 30)|
|John Roche, 1501. (fn. 31)|
|Dean and Chapter of Rochester||George Smith, S. T. P. 1626. (fn. 32)|
|Thomas Tilson, 1691. (fn. 33)|
|Thomas Tilson, instit. Aug. 26, 1702. (fn. 34)|
|John Lawry, A. M. obt. Aug. 1773, resig. 1781. (fn. 35)|
|Charles Coldcall, A. M. presented Nov. 1773. (fn. 36)|
|John Eveleigh, S. T. P. Present vicar. (fn. 37)|