The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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SOUTHWARD from Hadlow lies Capel, so called from the church of it having been always esteemed as a chapel only, as it is at this time, to the church of Tudeley adjoining; though as to its civil jurisdiction it has always been a distinct parish of itself. Part of it is in the hundred of Wachlingstone, but the greatest part of it, together with the church, is within the lowy of Tunbridge.
THIS LITTLE PARISH is situated opposite to Hadlow, on the other or southern side of the river Medway, about a mile from it, it lies obscurely in a woody country, and is but little known or frequented, the surface of it is very low and flat, except in the middle of it, where there is a small rise, on which the church stands; here the soil is sand and stone, but in the rest of the parish it is a deep miry clay, the hedge rows broad, and filled with large and spreading oaks, which makes it exceeding gloomy. It is a wet place, full of ponds, and watered besides by two small streams, on the east and west sides of the parish, which runs from hence into the Medway; towards the south it joins to the Southfrith woods and the parish of Pembury.
TATLINGBURY is a manor in this parish, which as appears by the Book of Knights Fees, taken in the reign of king Edward I. was part of the possessions of the prior and convent of Tunbridge. with which it was surrendered up in king Henry VIIIth.'s reign, and was given by the king in his 17th year, towards the endowment of cardinal Wolsey's college, founded by him in Oxford, (fn. 1) but that great prelate being cast in a prœmunire, four years afterwards, all the possessions of the college, which for want of time had not been firmly settled on it, became forfeited to the crown, from whence this manor was afterwards granted to the elder branch of the family of Fane, settled at Badfell, in the adjoining parish of Tudeley, who became earls of Westmoreland, the last of whom, John, earl of Westmoreland, died s.p. in 1762, since which it has, with Mereworth and the rest of his estates in this county, at length come by the limitations of his will, to the right hon. Thomas lord le Despencer, the present owner of it.
The church is dedicated to St. Thomas Becket the Martyr. The body of it has lately been rebuilt of brick; the chancel seems very antient. It has a tower at the west end, with a small spire set on it. It has long been a chapel annexed to the church of Tudeley.
The rectory of Capel, with the chapel belonging to it, was antiently part of the possessions of the knights hospitallers, by whom it was annexed to the jurisdiction of their preceptory of West Peckham.
In the 22d year of king Henry VII. the prior and brethren of that hospital, let to ferm to Sir Thomas Starkey, chaplain, their chapel, commonly called Capel, together with all tithes, lands, and appurtenances, woods and underwoods only excepted, to hold for his life, he being beneficed in it, paying the yearly rent of forty shillings to the prior, and duly serving either by himself, or by some able curate in his stead, the cure of the chapel, and the parishioners of it; and further, that he should repair and maintain the mansion of it, and the barn and little stable belonging to it in a covering of straw, with other covenants therein mentioned.
On the dissolution of the order of knights hospitallers, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. by an act specially passed for the purpose, their lands and revenues were given to the king, who that year demised this rectory and chapel of Capel, belonging to the preceptory or commandry of Peckham, otherwise called the Chantry Magistrale, together with the mansion of it, and all the messuages, tithes, lands, &c. belonging to it, to Sir John Baker, at the yearly rent of four pounds. After which, the fee of this rectory, with the advowson of the chapel, seems to have been granted to Sir Ralph Fane, and he, in the 37th year of the same reign, alienated it to Thomas Stone, of Hadlow, yeoman.
How it passed back again into the same family of Fane, I do not find; but it was for some length of time, together with the above-mentioned manor of Tatlingbury, possessed by the elder branch of it, earls of Westmoreland, the last of whom, John, earl of Westmoreland, died s.p. in 1762, since which it has, by his will, in like manner with the rest of his estates in this county. at length descended to the right hon. Thomas, lord le Despencer, the present owner of it.