The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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ASHURST lies at the southern boundaries of this county, a stream of the Medway separating it from Sussex, and bounding the western and southern sides of this parish. It is in the hundred of Wachlingstone, which here joins the rest of it by a narrow slip running eastward by Tophill and Mitchel's farms, towards Rusthall common and Bishopsdown in Speldhurst. The northern part of it joins both to Penshurst and Speldhurst, in the hundred of Somerden, a part of which joins the western part of this parish, separated from the rest of that hundred, and containing the hamlet of Groombridge, in Speldhurst. This parish consists of hill and dale, the western part is woody, the soil a stiff clay, wet and miry, and rather unfertile. The church is situated on the west side of the parish, about a quar ter of a mile from the river, which here separating, forms a small island, on each side of which there is a bridge, over which the road leads into Sussex; there is no village, the houses being interspersed at different spots throughout it. In this parish is a seat and estate, called Ashurst-place, formerly admiral Forbes's, now the property and residence of Peter Lesevre, esq. (fn. 1)
THE MANOR OF ASHURST, with the manor of Buckland appendant, was part of those lands assigned to Jeffry de Peverel, for his assistance in the defence of Dover-castle, and with other lands made up the barony of Peverel, as it was then called, being held of that castle in capite by barony.
Nicholas de Gerund afterwards held this manor, and its appendage of Buckland, and the advowson of the church of Ashurst, of the king in capite, and died possessed of them in the 52d year of king Henry III. His descendant, Richard Gerund, in the reign of king Edward III. leaving an only daughter Maud; she carried them in marriage to Sir Henry de Chalshunt, who bore for his arms, three bends ermine, and he died possessed of them in the 45th year of it, anno 1370, holding them in capite, and performing ward to the castle of Dover.
They continued in his descendants till Henry V.'s reign, when by the heir general of this family they came to Robert le Hadde, who was afterwards of Frinsted, in this county; (fn. 2) his descendant, Rob. Hadde, esq. of Frinsted, in the beginning of the reign of king Henry VIII. conveyed this estate to William Waller, esq. of Groombridge, who died in the 18th year of that reign, and it continued in his descendants till Sir Thomas Waller, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, alienated it to Thomas Sackville, earl of Dorset, and lord treasurer of England, who died possessed of it in 1608. His grandson, Richard, earl of Dorset, conveyed the manor of Ashurst, with its appendages, to Sir George Rivers, of Chafford, whose eldest son, John Rivers, esq. was created a baronet in the 19th year of king James I. two years after which his lands, as well as those of his father, were disgavelled by an act then particularly passed for that purpose. On his father's death he succeeded him in this estate, which continued in his descendants until Sir George Rivers, bart. dying in 1734 without issue male, by his will devised it, with his seat of Chafford, among his other real estates, to his five natural children, but his surviving legitimate daughters, and the heirs of those deceased, filed a bill in chancery to set this devise aside, and after a process at law, and several decrees, the court ordered the estates to be sold in 1743, (fn. 3) which this of Ashurst, together with Chafford, accordingly was to Mr. William Saxby, gent. of Horsted Cayns, in Suffex, who died possessed of it in 1783, in which it was afterwards sold in pursuance of his will to Robert Burges, esq. of Lyghe, who died in 1794, since which his widow, Mrs. Sarah Burges, re-marrying James Harbroc, esq. he is become in her right the present possessor of this estate.
The church is a low mean building, with a wooden steeple, over the porch are the arms of Sir John Rivers, who gave the dial. There are no memorials in it. In this church, before the reformation, was a famous rood, or crucifix, which was much resorted to for its supposed miraculous powers.
The church of Ashurst was antiently esteemed as an appendage to the manor, and continued so till the reign of king James I. when Richard, earl of Dorset, alienating the manor, reserved the church to himself; since which it has continued in his descendants, the present patron being his grace, John, duke of Dorset.
Church of Ashurst.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Lords of the manor of Ashurst.||Thomas, about the time of king Edward III.|
|Theophilus Beck, A. M. obt. 1715. (fn. 4)|
|Thomas Winterbottom, 1715, obt. 1717. (fn. 5)|
|Thomas Reves, instit. 1723.|
|Richard Onley, A. M. 1772, ob. 1780. (fn. 6)|
|C. Davis, 1788, the present rector.|