The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THIS PARISH lies in a most unfrequented dreary country, upon very high ground, about a mile northward from the summit of the great ridge of chalk hills. From its high situation it lies very cold and bleak, being much exposed towards the north and north-east, where it has a beautiful and extended prospect. The soil of it is very poor, consisting either of chalk or a red stiff earth, both mixed with quantities of flint stones; in the western part there is some coppice wood. The church and village through which the road leads from Ash to Wrotham, is situated at the western part of it, not more than a mile from the twenty second mile stone on the high London road from Farningham to Wrotham and Maidstone. In the eastern part there are two hamlets, called Hodges-street and Farsee, in the latter of them is the seat of Mr. Wilson, which will be further mentioned hereafter. The road from Longfield through Hartley bottom leads through it to Trottesclive.
About Easter, in the year 1666, a pasture field in this parish, which is a considerable distance from the sea, or any branch of it, and a place, where there are no fish ponds, but a scarcity of water, was scattered all over with small fish, in quantity about a bushel, supposed to have been rained down from a cloud, there having been at that time a great tempest of thunder, hail, wind, &c. These fish were about the size of a man's little finger, some were like small whitings, others like sparts, and some smaller like smelts. Several of these fish were shewn publicly at Maidstone and Dartford. (fn. 1)
THE MANOR OF STANSTED, which is subordinate, and esteemed as a borough, belonging to that of Wrotham, in the reign of king Henry the IIId. was in the possession of a family of the name of Grapinett, by a female coheir of which it went in marriage to William de Inge, who was one of the judges in the reign of king Edward II.
In the first year of which he procured free warren for this manor, and in the 9th year of it a fair, to be held there yearly on the feast of the Assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary. He died in the 15th year of that reign, upon which Joan his daughter married to Eudo, or Ivo, la Zouch, (fn. 2) son of William, lord Zouch, of Haringworth, became entitled to it, in whose descendants it continued down to Henry la Zouch, who died possessed of it in the 26th year of king Henry VI. Soon after which it appears to have passed to Sir William Colepeper, of Aylesford, whose eldest son Richard, of Oxenhoath, was afterwards knighted, and succeeded to this manor. He died in the 2d year of king Richard III. anno 1484, leaving three daughters his coheirs; Margaret, married to William Cotton, of Oxenhoath; Joice, to Edmund lord Howard, and Elizabeth, to Henry Barham, of Teston. (fn. 3)
They, in the next reign of king Henry VII. joined in the sale of this manor to Thomas Leigh, of Sibton, in Lyminge, whose son John Leigh, esq. was of Addington, in Surry, and he died possessed of it in 1544. His grandson of the same name, in the 5th year of queen Elizabeth, devised it to Richard Blunt, alias Leigh, his natural son, for a long term of years, and died in 1576; the see of it was afterwards alienated to Robert Byng, esq. of Wrotham, sheriff in the 34th year of queen Elizabeth, who died four years afterwards, anno 1595. (fn. 4) His great grandson, John Byng, esq. of Wrotham, in the reign of king Charles II. passed it away, as well as the rest of his possessions at Wrotham, and elsewhere in this neighbourhood, to William James, esq. of Ightham, whose direct descendant, Richard James, esq. of Ightham, is the present proprietor of this manor.
THERE IS A MANOR in this parish called SORANKS, which in the reign of king Henry III. was held by Ralph de Sandwich, of the archbishop of Canterbury as one quarter of a knight's fee, but in the next reign of king Edward the 1st, it was got into the possession of a family, who implanted their name on it, one of whom, Edmund Sorank held it in the reign of king Edward II. (fn. 5) as did Roger Sorank in the 20th year of king Edward III. This manor did not remain long in this name, for in the beginning of the reign of king Richard II. it was become the property of Thomas Mortimer, of Mortimer's, in Cliff, near Rochester, and he in the 20th year of that reign passed it away by sale to William Skrene, from which name it was alienated to Wood, in whose descendants it remained until the latter end of the reign of king Henry VII. when Thomas Wood passed it away to Robert Barefoot.
He died in the 1st year of king Edward the VIth, being then possessed of this manor, and one hundred and forty acres of arable, and wood in Stansted, held of the king, as of the manor of Otford, by knight's service. Thomas Barefoot was his son and heir, and he, with Catherine his wife, in the 2d and 3d year of king Philip and queen Mary, sold this manor to Henry Fanshaw, and Dorothy his wife, who in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign alienated it to George Wifeman, and he passed it away to Launce, in whose descendants it continued till it was conveyed by sale to Mr. John Cox, who having purchased of Sir Roger Twisden, bart. an estate on the summit of the hill, on the eastern side of this parish, built A SEAT for his residence on it, naming it FAIRSEAT, from the pleasantness of its prospect, the extensiveness of which has caused it commonly to be called Fairfee. Of this family there are several memorials in Stansted church; they bore for their arms, Sable, a chevron argent between three attires of a stag fixed to the scalp of the second. He died possessed both of this manor and seat in 1736, leaving by Hannah his wife, who survived him, John Cox, esq. who was of Fairseat. He left no issue, and was succeeded by his only sister Sarah, married to George Wilson, esq. who is jointly with her the present possessor of this manor and seat.
MRS. ALICE HANBURY, time unknown, gave by will for the benefit of the poor, the yearly sum of 40s. issuing out of the estate of John Burgh, in the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft, London, which has not been paid since the year 1772.
The church, which is dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary, is only a chapel to the church of Wrotham, from which it was separated by ordinance of parliament, passed in 1647, and made a distinct church of itself, but at the restoration in 1660, it returned to its former state, in which it continues at present. It antiently paid six-pence chrism rent to the mother church of the diocese.
This chapel is not valued separate from Wrotham in the king's books. The whole emoluments of it are received by the rector and vicar of Wrotham, as an appendage to his church of Wrotham, and he appoints a curate from time to time to officiate here.