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 is situated both pleasant and healthy, it is but of small extent, and is incircled on three sides by the parish of Tunbridge, and on the fourth by Speldhurst; it lies mostly on high ground, the soil is in the higher parts a sand covering the quarry rock stone. The low lands extend westward along the stream by Barden furnace to Pound's bridge, which separates this parish from that of Tunbridge, and here the soil is of clay and very wet, but the whole of it is rather an unfertile soil. The high road from Tun bridge town towards the Wells, runs along the eastern side of this parish, close to the west side of which is the seat and grounds of Bounds, the residence of the countess dowager of Darnley; adjoining is the hamlet of Southborough, which is within the parish of Tunbridge.
IN THE REIGN of king Edward I. George le Chaun was in possession of this place; (fn. 1) but before the 20th year of king Edward III. the property of it seems to have been divided, for that year, on the levying the aid of forty shillings, on every knight's fee, for making the black prince a knight, Thomas Chaune, the prior of Tunbridge, and John Bounde, junior, paid aid for it as one knight's fee, which George le Chaun before held in Bitberg, la Leigh, Ealding, and Bokingfold, of the earl of Gloucester.
The manor of Bidborough continued in the name of Chaun till the reign of king Edward IV. when, together with an antient seat in this parish, now called BOUNDS, (though formerly, as appears by the antient deeds of it, Boons tenement, perhaps a contraction from the name of Bohun, a family who might have been the early owners of it) it passed into that of Palmer, one of which, Thomas Palmer, died possessed of them in the 23d year of king Henry VII. holding them of the duke of Buckingham by knights service. John Palmer was his son and heir, who in the beginning of king Henry VIII.'s reign alienated them to the family of Fane, alias Vane, one of whom, Sir Ralph Fane, knight banneret, in the 6th year of king Edward VI. espousing too zealously the interest of the duke of Somerset, was found guilty of high treason, and executed on Tower-hill. On his attainder, this manor and seat became vested in the crown, where they remained till queen Elizabeth, by letters patent in her first year, granted them to her kinsman Henry Carey, lord Hunsdon, who at his death in the 38th year of that reign, devised them by his will to his eldest son and successor, George, lord Hunsdon, who died in 1603, leaving an only daughter and heir Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Berkeley, K.B. eldest son and heir of Henry, lord Berkeley, who in her right became possessed of this manor and seat, which he soon afterwards alienated to Sir Thomas Smith, second son of Customer Smith, of Westenhanger, in this county, (fn. 2) who bore for his arms, Azure, a chevron ingrailed between three lions passant, guardant, or. He afterwards resided at Sutton at Hone, where he died, and was buried in 1625; his grandson Robert Smythe, esq. resided at Bounds, but his son Robert Smythe, esq. removed to Sutton, and died in 1695, possessed of this manor and seat, leaving Katherine his wife surviving, and two sons, Henry and William, to whom this manor and seat of Bounds descended as heirs in gavelkind.
In the 10th year of king William III. an act was obtained to vest this manor and seat, and all other their estates in this parish, among others in this county, in trustees, to discharge incumbrances, for sale, but the other estates elsewhere being found sufficient to discharge those incumbrances, this manor, with Bounds, and all their other estates in Bidborough, still continued unalienated. On the death of William Smythe, the second son above-mentioned unmarried, Henry Smythe, esq. possessed the whole fee of this manor and seat, and resided at Bounds. He died in 1706, and was buried in Sutton church, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, only daughter of Dr. John Lloyd, canon of Windsor, (afterwards married to William Hunt, esq.) an only son and heir, Sir Sydney Stafford Smythe, late chief baron of the exchequer, and of the privy council, who married Sarah, eldest daughter of Sir Charles Farnaby, bart. of Kepington, and died s.p. in 1778, as did his widow, the lady Sarah Smythe in 1790, and by her will devised this estate, among others, in trust, to be sold for the benefit of her nephews and nieces, which it accordingly was soon afterwards to the right hon. John, earl of Darnley, in whom the fee of it is now vested, but his mother the countess dowager of Darnley now resides at Bounds.
SIR THOMAS SMITH, who died in 1725, gave by will certain tenements in London, charged with the yearly payment of 5l. 10s. to this parish, to be disposed of 5l. 4s. for six fourpenny loaves weekly to six poor persons of this parish, and the remaining 6s. to be disposed of, 2s. to each church-warden, and 2s. to the clerk. The same estate is likewise charged by him with the payment of 6l. yearly for providing a piece of cloth of 20s. value for the cloathing of six poor persons; an additional two-penny loaf is likewise given yearly by the same charity to each of the said six poor persons, vested in the Skinners company, in London, and now of the annual produce of 11l. 10s. (fn. 3)
The church is dedicated to St. Laurence, there are no memorials in it. It is a rectory, and was always esteemed as an appendage to the manor, till lady Smythe gave it by will in 1790 to the Rev. Mr. Venn, who is the present patron of it.
Church of Bidborough.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Lords of the manor of Bidborough,||Hugo Wilcox, A.M. in 1630.|
|Nath. Bounds. obt. 1716.|
|Richard Davis, obt. Dec. 1731.|
|Edmund Latter, A. M. Jan. 5, 1731, obt. May 11, 1788. (fn. 4)|
|John Brock, A. M. 1788, the present rector. (fn. 5)|