The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE PARISH of Wrotham is of very large extent, being, though only between two and three miles in breadth, near five miles in length from north to south. It lies of course in various situations, and is of various soils. The village, or town of Wrotham, is situated at the foot of the great ridge of chalk hills, above the summit of which this parish extends northward. From this hill, called here Wrotham hill, which is here luxuriantly cloathed with fine spreading beech trees, there is a most beautiful prospect southward over a variety of country, lying in the vale beneath, of vast extent, which is bounded by the sand hills at the southern extremity of it; the high road from London through Farningham to Maidstone leads through this town, which is a little more than twenty-four miles from London. At the entrance of it is the mansion of the rectory, a handsome house, well suited to the income of it, and on the opposite side the road stands the church, and the small remains of the archiepiscopal palace, but yet sufficient to remind us of its having formerly been such. In the center of the town stand the marketplace and public well, both repaired by the lord of the manor; the market, which was on a Tuesday, has been disused for many years, but here is a fair held yearly on May 4, for horses, cattle, &c. Opposite the marketplace is Wrotham place, the seat of Mr. Haddock, a further account of which will be given hereafter. Hence the road divides, that to the right leads to Yaldham and Ightham, and to the left the London road to Maidstone continues south-eastward along a chalky soil, through the borough of Neupiker, where there is a handsome sashed house belonging to Mr. Tomlyn, and a spring, which supplies the rivulet which runs afterwards by Ford, situated at the western boundaries of the parish, next to Addington, and thence by Leyborne towards the Medway; about a mile from Neupiker, is Wrotham heath, a barren sandy soil, both red and black, but on which great quantities of peat is dug; here the road divides, the left leading by the Royal Oak to Maidstone, near which are the two hamlets of Great and Little Comp, and the woods of that name, and the right towards Ightham, the antient Roman camp on Oldberry hill, and over Seal chart to Sevenoke and Westerham. On the southern side of the road this parish extends over the hill to Hale borough and the hamlet of Plaxtool, where the soil, from a sand becomes a deep stiff clay, and though a fertile, yet an unpleasant miry country. The chapel and street of Plaxtool, together with the seat of Fairlawn, are situated at the southern boundaries of it, next to Shipborne and West Peckham. In Plaxtool-street is a good house, built by Thomas Dalyson, esq. who resided here till his father's death, when he removed to Hamptons, in West Peckham. He lies buried in Plaxtool chapel, and his eldest son, William Dalyson, esq. of Hamptons, now resides in it. Near the last hill above-mentioned, but still within the circuit of this borough, are two hamlets, called Plaxtool-street likewife, and Crouch, the latter of which was formerly the residence of the Millers, baronets, about half a mile eastward from which is the large tract of woodland, called the Herst or Compwoods; through the other runs a stream, which rises near Ightham, and having turned a paper mill at Basted pasies through this borough towards West Peckham, Hadlow, and thence into the Medway.
That part of this parish which lies southward below Comp-hill, and the hill above Fairlawn, is in the district called the Weald, though there have been several, who have contended, that all that part of Wrotham lying below the chalk hill is in the Weald of Kent, and as a proof of it, urge the non payment of tithe for the wood in those parts of this parish. But the general received opinion is, that the Weald begins at the next sand hill above Fairlawn; wood being exempted from tithe can be no proof of its being in the Weald, as there are such large districts in this county plainly out of it, which claim and enjoy, as yet, a like privilege.
Besides the gentlemens' families mentioned hereafter who formerly resided in this parish, John Richers, a justice of the peace, resided here in 1570, a period when that office was truly an honor to those who were intrusted with it. He was descended from an antient family of Swanington-hall, in Norfolk.
William Bryan, esq. of this parish, son of John Bryan, of Kibworth, in Leicestershire, by Elianor, sister of Anthony Watson, bishop of Chichester, and at length heir to the bishop, resided here in the beginning of the reign of king James I. and bore for his arms, Or, three piles azure, a chief ermine.
A branch of the family of Polley, alias Polhill, once resided in this parish, of which was Sir Thomas Polley, who was living here in the reign of king James I. These were junior to those of Preston, in Shoreham, but elder to those of Chipsted and Otford, in this county. John Thomas, gent. was of Wrotham, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, whose grandson, William Thomas, gent. removed to Selling, in this county. They bore for their arms, Argent, a fess dancette, sable, between three Cornish choughs, proper. (fn. 1)
Thomas Shakerley, third son of Francis Shakerley, of Ditton, in this county, resided at Wrotham in the reign of king James I. (fn. 2)
In Blacksole field, in this parish, Sir Robert Southwell, sheriff of this county, and the lord Abergavenny, with about five hundred gentlemen and yeomen, routed the Isleys and their party, who were engaged in Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, in the first year of queen Mary's reign; the rebels were pursued from hence near four miles to Hartley-wood, many of them were killed, and about sixty taken prisoners. Those who were slain in this rencounter were buried in the field of battle. Sir Henry Isley himself escaped and fled into Hampshire.
Some of our antiquarians, as Talbot, and after him Lambarde, (fn. 3) have conjectured Wrotham to have been the station called in Antonine's itinerary Vagniacæ, but in this they have not been followed by any one else that I have seen.
About seventy years ago a considerable quantity of British Silver coin was discovered in this parish by a mole's casting up the earth, and by digging afterwards, which were all seized by the lord of the manor of Wrotham.
WROTHAM was given to Christ-church, in Canterbury, by king Ethelstan, in the year 964, and continued part of the possessions of that church, when Lanfranc came to the see in the year 1070, being the 5th year of the Conqueror's reign.
On the division, which the archbishop soon afterwards made of the revenues of his church, between himself and his convent, Wrotham was allotted to the archbishop and his successors, and as such it is entered under the general title of his lands in the survey of Domesday, taken about the year 1080, as follows:
In Broteham hundred. The archbishop himself holds Broteham. It was taxed at eight sulings. The arable land is twenty carucates. In demesne there are three carucates, and seventy-six villeins, with eighteen borderers, having fourteen carucates. There is a church and ten servants, and three mills of fifteen shillings, and nine acres of meadow; wood, when fruitful (in acorns) sufficient for the pannage of five hundred hogs.
In the whole value, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, this manor was worth fifteen pounds, and afterwards sixteen pounds. Now the demesne of the archbishop is valued at twenty-four pounds, and yet it pays thirty-five pounds. Of the knights eleven pounds.
In an antient taxation of the archbishop's revenues, this manor was valued at eighty five pounds. (fn. 4)
The archbishops had very antiently a palace here, in which they frequently resided till the time of archbishop Simon Islip, who came to the see in the 23d year of king Edward III. who having a desire to finish the palace at Maidstone, which John Ufford his predecessor had begun, and wanting materials for that purpose, pulled down the greatest part of this house, and transported the materials thither, in which situation, the manor, with the remains of it, continued till the reign of king Henry VIII. when Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, in the 29th year of it, conveyed it, as well as all his estates whatsoever in this parish, except the church of Wrotham, and its appendages, to that king, in exchange for other premiles; at which time the scite and demesnes of it were let by the archbishop at the yearly rent of 5l. 6s. 8d. and there were paid to the archbishop (who reserved the royalty and rents of the manor to himself) from the farmers and tenants of it, of antient custom, annually, two hundred and sixty-four hens, valued at sixty-six shillings; 1159 eggs at 5s. 9d. and two geese at ten-pence, (fn. 5) which is noted here to shew the small value of these articles at that time.
King Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted to Sir John Mason, the scite of this manor, and the park of Wrotham, to hold in capite by knight's service. And in his 6th year, he granted to him, and dame Elizabeth his wife, by letters patent, the manor itself in fee, at the yearly rent of 46l. 10s. 6d. of fee farm. Sir John Mason alienated it, with all its appurtenances, in the 3d and 4th year of king Philip and queen Mary, to Robert Byng, who resided at Wrotham, most probably at the palace, and bore for his arms, quarterly, Sable and argent in the first quarter, a lion rampant of the second, armed and langued, gules. (fn. 6) About which time this park was disparked, at least it was so before Lambarde wrote his Perambulation in 1570. It lay about half a mile south-east from Wrotham church, the lodge of it is still remaining. He died possessed of it in the 38th year of queen Elizabeth. George Byng, esq. his eldest son, by his first wife, succeeded him in this manor, and was of Wrotham. He demised it in lease, for the term of ninety-nine years, to Sir Robert Darell, of Calehill, in trust for particular uses, and died possessed of the fee of it in 1616. His grandson, John Byng, esq. (whose eldest son, George, was created lord viscount Torrington, and was direct ancestor of the present lord viscount Torrington) succeeded him in his possessions here, which he, soon after the death of king Charles I. alienated to William James, esq. of Ightham-court, at which time he had likewise an assignment of the remainder of the term granted to Sir Robert Darell, as above-mentioned. His great grandson, William James, esq. died in 1780, and was Succeeded by his eldest son, Richard James, esq. of Ightham, who is the present possessor of this manor, the remains of the palace and the estate belonging to them.
There is a court leet and court baron held for this manor, which is paramount over the whole hundred, at which, besides the constables of the upper, and lower half hundred of Wrotham, there are chosen six borsholders for the six villes or boroughs of Wrotham town, Stansted, Neupicar, Wingfield, Roughway, and Haleborough.
THE PALACE stood adjoining to the east side of the church yard, there are hardly any remains left of the house itself, though there is a large substantial stone building, once part of the offices belonging to the palace, and in which I imagine the Byngs dwelt, whilst in possession of this manor and estate, a gateway here having still their arms remaining carved in stone on it. In the field behind the ruins are marks of the garden, a bowling-green and terras round it, still plainly visible.
LITTLE WROTHAM is a district in the north-east part of this parish, next to Trottesclive, which in the reign of the Conqueror, was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, and earl of Kent, the Conqueror's half brother, under the general title of whose lands, it is thus entered in the book of Domesday.
Ralf Fitz Turald holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Litel Wroteham. It was taxed at one suling and an half. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there is one carucate and four villeins, with four borderers, having two carucates. There are two servants and two mills of four sulings, and two acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of five hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards it was worth forty shillings, now sixty shillings and fifty-four pence.
In the reign of king Henry I. Geoffry Talbot possessed the manor of Little Wrotham, the greatest part of which he gave to bishop Gundulph, and the church of St. Andrew, in Rochester, which gift was thenconfirmed by the king.
The before-mentioned part of Little Wrotham, containing about one hundred and thirty acres of land, continues at this time part of the possessions of the bishop of Rochester, and is now in the tenure of Thomas Whitaker, esq. of Trottesclive, by lease from the bishop. The other part of it containing about twenty acres of land is at present the property of Mr. Tomlyn, gent. of Neupiker, in this parish, the tithes of both parts are claimed and taken by the heirs of Sir Richard Battenson, bart. who pay from thence forty sheaves of corn, or as the rectors lease expresses it, forty shocks of wheat, yearly to the rector of Wrotham.
WROTHAM PLACE is an antient mansion, situated on the south side of the High-street of Wrotham town, which has been for many years the habitation of genlemen. It was formerly called Nyssell's, from a family of that name, proprietors of it, one of whom, Thomas Nyssell, died possessed of it in 1498, and lies buried, with Alice his wife, in this church.
When this name became extinct here, or who succeeded them I have not found; but in the reign of king James the Ist. it was purchased by John Rayney, esq. of London, who seated himself at Wrotham-place. He was lineally descended from John Reignie, for so the name was written in old deeds, who held the manors of Edgeford, in Devonshire, and of Smithely-hall, in Yorkshire, in the reign of king Edward III. which John was a descendant of Sir John de Reignie, who appeared by the muniments of this family, to have been possessed of lands in Cumberland, in the reign of king Henry III. whose descendant William Rayney, was of Yorkshire, and was ancestor of John Rayney, esq. of London, above-mentioned, who bore for his arms, Gules, two wings in lure ermine. (fn. 7) His son John Rayney succeeded him in this estate, where he resided, and was made a knight at the coronation of Charles I. and in 1641 was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, and in 1615 served the office of sheriff of this county. His son, Sir John Rayney, bart. was born at Wrothamplace in 1660, and dying in 1705, was buried in this church, leaving three daughters his coheirs, so that the title became extinct. His heirs some few years after his death, conveyed this seat to Stephenson, who shortly after, about the year 1723, conveyed it to Captain Nicholas Haddock, son of Sir Richard Haddock, comp troller of the navy. Captain Haddock was afterwards promoted to the rank of admiral in the royal navy, and bore for his arms, Argent, a cross sable, in the first quarter, a fleur de lis of the second. He resided at Wrotham-place occasionally, till the time of his death, which happened in 1746. He was buried in a vault which he had built a few years before his death, (his father being buried there in a separate one) in the church-yard of Leigh, in Essex, in which parish he was born. (fn. 8) He left three sons, Nicholas, who became his heir; Richard, comptroller of the navy, whose widow Mary, one of the four daughters of Charles Compton, fourth son of George, earl of Northampton, re-married Arthur Scott, esq. and Charles, late of Canterbury, esq. and a daughter who died unmarried.
Nicholas Haddock, esq. the eldest son, succeeded his father in this seat, of which he died possessed in 1781, and was succeeded by his brother and heir-atlaw, Charles Haddock, esq. who now resides here; he married Miss Medhurst, of Wrotham, by whom he has no issue.
YALDHAM is a district in this parish, situated somewhat less than a mile and an half westward from Wrotham church. The principal manor in it is called EAST, alias GREAT YALDHAM MANOR, and was formerly so called to distinguish it from the adjoining manor of West, alias Little Yaldham, 2nd likewise from the manor of Yaldham, alias St. Cleres, in the parish of Ightham. The original name of these manors was Ealdham, a name which denotes the antiquity of them, Eald in Saxon signifying old, and ham a dwelling.
These three manors were formerly owned by a family of the same name, one of whom, Sir Thomas de Aldham, was with Richard I. at the siege of Acon, in Palestine. His descendant, Sir Thomas de Aldham, possessed them in the reign of king Edward II. and dying without male issue, his three daughters became his coheirs, the eldest of whom married Newborough, of Dorsetshire; Margery married Martin Peckham; and Isolda was the wife of John St. Clere, and on the division of their inheritance, Martin Peckham became entitled to that part of the estate, which lay in Wrotham, as John St. Clere did to that in Ightham, in right of their respective wives.
The first of this name of Peckham, that I have met with of any note, was John de Peckham, who attended king Richard the 1st to the siege of Acon, in Palestine, in the year 1191, from whom descended John Peckham, who held the manor of Peckham, in Hadlow, in the reign of king Edward I. his son was Martin Peckham, who married Margery, daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas de Aldham, and possessed the manors of East and West Yaldham, in this parish, in her right, the former of which he made his residence, where his posterity continued for many generations; and Weever says, (from Francis Thinne, Lancaster herald) that the two tombs near the door of this parish church, were those of this Martin Peckham, and Margery his wife. This family bore for their arms, Ermine a chief, quarterly or and gules, which coat remains in one of the windows of Barham church, and underneath, Jacobus Peccam, His grandson Reginald or Reynold Peckham, esq. was of Yaldham, where he resided in the latter end of king Edward the IIId.'s reign, and then purchased the manor of Wingfield, in this parish. His son, James Peckham, esq. of Yaldham, was sheriff in the 1st and 12th years of king Richard II. He married Lora, the sole daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Morant, of Morant's-court, in Chevening, and widow of Sir Thomas Cawne, with whom he had, among other estates, the manor of Barsted, near Boroughgreen, in this parish.
His descendant James Peckham, esq. of Yaldham, was sheriff in the 12th year of king Edward IV. as was his son Reginald, or Reynold Peckham, esq. (as he is written on his grave-stone) in the 24th year of king Henry VII. and kept his shrievalty at Harrietsham, and on his father's death succeeded to these manors, and the mansion-house of Yaldham. He was esquire of the body to king Henry VIII. and dying in the 16th year of that king's reign, anno 1525, lies buried in this church, among others of his family, of which there are several gravestones remaining.
His grandson Reginald, or Reynold Peckham, of Yaldham, procured his lands to be disgavelled by the act of the 2d and 3d of king Edward VI. and died in the 1st and 2d year of king Philip and queen Mary, and as appears by the escheat rolls of that year, possessed of the manor of Aldham, alias Est Yaldham, with its appurtenances, held of the manor of Lullingstone-castle by knight's service, and the manor of Parva, alias West Aldham, and the manor of Downton's-court, of the duke of Northumberland, as of his manor of Otford, by knight's service, and he held at that time the lands called Goldsmith's, in this parish, and Stansted, near Compen wood, of the manor of St. John's, in Sutton. His descendant Reginald Peckham, esq. of Yaldham, left two daughters his coheirs, Dorothy, married to Thomas Chiffinch, esq. of Northfleet, by whom she had no issue, and Anne married to Bartlet, esq. of Westminster.
Reginald Peckham, esq. last mentioned, alienated the manors of East and West Yaldham, the mansionhouse of it, Terry's lodge, with other premises in Wrotham, about the year 1713, to George St. Loe, esq. captain of the royal navy, and commissioner of Chatham-yard, who bore for his arms, Argent, on a bend sable, three annulets or, a martlet in chief as a difference. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Chiffinch, esq. of Northfleet, who survived him, and their son and heir about the year 1733, alienated this estate to Mr. Francis Austen, of Sevenoke, who immediately afterwards passed it away by sale to William Evelyn Glanville, esq. of St. Cleres, in Ightham, whose son and heir, William Glanville Evelyn, esq. of St. Cleres, is the present owner of it.
GOSFRID DE ROS gave his tithe of Ealdeham for ever to the monks of St. Andrew, in Rochester, for the good of his wife's soul, which land belonged to Wrotham, for which the monks were to celebrate his wife's anniversary yearly.
This portion of tithes, which arose from one hundred and forty acres of land in this parish, (fn. 9) continued part of the possessions of the priory of Rochester till its dissolution in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. two years after which the king settled it, by his dotation charter, among other premises, on his new-founded dean and chapter of Rochester, with whom it now remains.
On the dissolution of deans and chapters after the death of king Charles I. this portion of tithes issuing out of Yaldham manor, was surveyed in 1649, in order to be sold for the benefit of the state, when it appeared that it consisted of the whole tithe of Stonefield, Broadfield, Perryfield, Dunnfield, and Perthfield, all bounding within the precincts of this manor, and containing by estimation one hundred and forty-two acres, and was let by the dean and chapter of Rochester, anno 10th Charles I. for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent of 6s. 8d. and two good capons; but that they were worth in improvements, over and above the rent, 7l. 13s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 10)
In 1770, the tenants of this portion of tithes were Nash Mason, esq. and Mrs. Margaret Wiffin, since married to Mr. Tomlyn, of Neupiker; the latter continues in possession of her part, but that of the former has been sold to William Glanville Evelyn. esq. the present tenant of it.
ABOUT a mile and a half eastward from Wrotham church, near Addington common, lies FORD, so called from the ford here over the brook, which rises at Neupiker in this parish, and runs close by this house to Leybourn, and thence to the Medway. Ford was very antiently in the possession of the family of Clerke, very frequently written in old evidences le Clerke, who resided at this place, and bore for their arms, Argent on a bend engrailed azure, a cinquefoil pierced or.
John Clerke, esq. was of Ford, in the reigns of king Henry V. and VI. His son and heir John Clerke, was made second baron of the court of exchequer in the 39th year of king Henry VI. which dignity he seems to have held till the 20th year of Edward IV. anno 1479, in whose descendants, residents at Ford, it continued down to William Clerke, esq. of Ford, who was a brave and valiant gentleman, and in 1641 received the honor of knighthood, after which he manifested his loyalty to the king by raising and arming a regiment at his own charge, at the head of which he was slain, together with Sir William Boteler, in the fight between the king's forces, and those of the parliament, under Sir William Waller, at Cropredybridge, on June 29, 1644. (fn. 11)
His widow held this estate afterwards, as part of her jointure, of which she continued possessed at the restoration in 1660, and her heirs alienated it to Mr. John Know, who resided at Ford, and dying possessed of it in 1723, was buried in this church, bearing for his arms, Argent on a bend ingrailed gules, three trefoils, slipt of the first. He left an only daughter and heir Mary, who had married Philip, eldest son of Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Oxenhoath, and dying in 1722, left two sons, Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Oxenhoath, and John Know Bartholomew, who, by his grandfather's will, became his heir, and succeeded to this estate of Ford. He died without issue, and was succeeded in it by his brother Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Oxenhoath, who likewise died without issue in 1757, and by his will bequeathed Ford, among the rest of his estates, to the second son, then unborn, of Sir Francis' Geary, bart. admiral of the royal navy, who had married Mary, his half sister, which son was born soon after the above devise of this estate, being the present Sir William Geary, bart. M. P. for this county, who at present owns, Ford, now only used as a farm-house, and the estate belonging to it. (fn. 12)
THE HAMLET OF BOROUGH-GREEN is situated about a mile southward from Wrotham church, on the high road leading from Maidstone to Sevenoke and Westerham, which here crosses the parish from the westward. Near this road is the manor of WINGFIELD, lying within the borough of that name, antiently belonged to the family of Quintin, in which it remained till Gil bert Quintin, and Joane his wife, in the 31st year of king Edward III. passed it away by fine to Reginald Peckham, gent. of Yaldham, in whose descendants it continued to James Peckham, esq. of Yaldham, who in the beginning of king James the 1st.'s reign, alienated it to Nicholas Miller, esq. of Crouch, then called Horsnells Crouch, in this parish, who kept his Shrievalty there in the 8th year of king Charles I. He died in 1640, and lies buried in this church, having at his death given both Wingfield and Crouch, to Nicholas Miller, his grandson, second son of his eldest surviving son, Sir Nicholas Miller, of Oxenhoath, who was of Crouch, gent. and died possessed of both Wingfield and Crouch in 1693, and was buried in this church, having had twelve children, five sons and seven daughters. These estates continued some years afterwards in this family, and till they were at length carried in marriage, by a female heir, to Mr. Munday, of Derbyshire, and he sold them in 1756 to Sarah, lady viscountess Falkland, who was daughter and heir of Thomas Inwen, esq. of Southwark, and first married Henry, earl of Suffolk, who died in 1745, by whom she had no issue; after which she married in 1752, Lucius Carey viscount Falkland, by whom she had one son and several daughters. She died possessed of both Wingfield and Crouch in 1776, and by her will devised these estates for life to her husband Lucius Carey, viscount Falkland, and the remainder in fee to Francis Motley Austen, esq. of Wilmington, who has since purchased lord Falkland's interest in them, and is now the present possessor of them.
ABOUT half a mile southward from Wrotham heath, in the road from thence to Mereworth walks, is a district in which there are TWO SMALL HAMLETS situated on the summit of the hill, called GREAT and LITTLE COMP, and more vulgarly Camps, no doubt from their having been once made use of as camps, and probably by the Romans, their military way running towards their camp at Oldberry, and to Stone-street, at a small distance only from these places.
The country hereabouts is wild and rough ground, covered with bushes and small scrubby trees, and near adjoining southward to them is the great tract of woodland called Comp and the Herst woods. There was formerly a chapel belonging to this district, the remains of which are still visible, being a chapel of ease to Leyborne, and built on a part of the glebe belonging to that rectory, on which account this land, though separated by two parishes intervening, is now esteemed as being within the bounds of Leyborne parish. In queen Elizabeth and king James the Ist.'s reign, Great Comp was the residence of Sir John Howell, descended out of Sussex, who bore for his arms, Argent, a lion with two bodies joined at the neck sable. (fn. 13) This estate has been many years possessed by the family of Lambard, and is now the property of Multon Lambard, esq. of Sevenoke; here is another farm belonging to Mr. Tomlin. Lord Despencer owns a large tract of the woodland, as does Sir John Honywood, Mrs. Hughes, and several others, different parts of it.
THE DISTRICT OF PLAXTOOL, situated in Haleborough, though now an appendage only to the parish of Wrotham, was made a distinct parish from it by ordinance of parliament, in 1647; (fn. 14) in which state it re mained till the restoration in 1660, when it was again united to Wrotham, and continues so at this time.
Walter Colepeper died possessed of it in the first year of king Edward III. and his descendants continued owners of it till Sir Thomas Colepeper, of Preston, alienated it about the end of the reign of queen Elizabeth, to Nicholas Miller, gent. of this parish, on whose death in 1621, it came to his son, Nicholas Miller, esq. of Crouch, sheriff in the 8th year of king Charles I. he died in 1640, leaving three sons and four daughters, of whom Nicholas, his eldest surviving son, succeeded to this estate. He was afterwards knighted, and was of Oxenhoath, in West Peckham. His grandson, Sir Borlase Miller, bart. died without issue in 1714, and was succeeded in this manor by his sister Elizabeth, then the wife of Leonard Bartholomew, esq. who in his wife's right became intitled to it. He afterwards resided at Oxenhoath, and left by her three sons, Philip, Leonard and Humphry.
Leonard, the second son, afterwards possessed this manor, and married Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Edmund Watton, esq. of Addington, (remarried to Sir Roger Twisden, bart.) his son Leonard Bartholomew, esq. now of Addington-place, at length succeeded to this manor, of which, together with that of Badlesmere adjoining, he is the present possessor.—There is an antient and very remarkable chapel still remaining in the manor-house of Sore, which was probably made use of by the inhabitants of this district in general, before the present chapel of Plaxtool was erected.
At a small distance southward from Plaxtool-street, lies the seat of FAIRLAWN, the house of which is at the extremity of this parish, part of the stables belonging to it being in that of Shipborne. It was formerly accounted a manor, though now it has lost all remembrance of having been such.
It was antiently the estate of the family of Bavent, of whom it was afterwards held by the family of Colepeper. Walter Colepeper died possessed of it in the 1st year of king Edward III. holding it in frank fee of Roger de Bavent, in which name it continued till the latter end of king Henry IV. when it was alienated to Chowne, whose descendant, John Chowne, resided at Fairlawne, in the reign of king Henry VIII. and bore for his arms, Sable, three attires of a stag in pale, argent. His descendants continued to reside here till Sir George Chowne, in order to confine his possessions within Sussex, alienated this seat, with the lands belonging to it, to Sir Henry Vane the elder, comptroller of the houshold to king Charles I. after which it continued the residence and estate of his descendants down to William, viscount Vane, who dying s. p. in 1789, (fn. 15) by will gave this seat, among his other estates in this county, to David Papillon, esq. of Acrise, the present owner of it.
One wing of the mansion of Fairlawn was burnt down in 1739, and a new wing built in the room of it, which, before it was quite finished, was again destroyed by fire in 1742, and was again rebuilt by lord Vane.
THE CHAPEL OF PLAXTOOL stands at the west end of the village. It was without any fixed establishment for the maintenance of a minister, or for the repairs of the building itself; and the vicar of Wrotham not being obliged to find a curate, divine service was very seldom, or at least, very irregularly performed in it. To remedy which, Mr. Thomas Stanley, gent. of Hamptons, in 1638, conveyed to Sir Henry Vane, and four other feoffees, a house and two acres of land, valued at upwards of seven pounds per annum, for the use and support of the curate, upon condition that the inhabitants of it should raise the sum of eight pounds annnally for the like purpose; in default of which, or the service of the chapel ceasing, the bequest was to revert to the heirs of the donor.
In the year 1647, an ordinance of parliament passed, to divide this district from the parish of Wrotham, and by it a collection was directed to be made throughout this county towards erecting a parochial church here, and establishing a congregation proportionable to it. In consequence of which the present chapel was erected in 1648, which by an inscription at the east end of it, is said to have been built at the charge of the inhabitants of Hale and Roughway boroughs; but this ordinance being rendered of no effect at the restoration, Plaxtool became again united to Wrotham, and remains so at this time. After which the inhabitants refusing to comply with Mr. Stanley's terms of contributing towards the support of a minister, the vicar of Wrotham allowed a salary of twenty pounds towards it; but Mr. Dalison (whose ancestor had married Mr. Stanley's sole daughter and heir) insisting that as the addition was not made by the inhabitants, the proviso in his bequest was not complied with, and that it reverted to him as heir to the donor; a trial at law was had, when it being determined that the intent of the donor was fully answered, in the sum being given by any person whatsoever, a decree was made for the future payment of it.
This curacy has since been augmented with two hundred pounds from queen Anne's bounty. The curate of it enjoys Mr. Stanley's gift to it, besides a very handsome and adequate salary from the vicar of Wrotham, who appoints the curate from time to time. The present curate is Mr. Thomas Dalison.
There was a house and land, worth about twelve pounds per annum, given by one of the Miller family, which continued to be enjoyed by the curate of Plaxtool, who resided at it till about the year 1750; when, upon some dispute with the vicar of Wrotham on the nominating a person to this curacy, it was withdrawn by Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Oxenhoath, and has been with-held ever since.
EDWARD DODGES gave by will, to be distributed among the poor not receiving alms, payable out of land in this parish, vested in the churchwardens and overseers, the annual sum of 5l. and now of that annual produce.
DR. CHARLES LAYFIELD gave by will in 1710, the sum of 416l. 15s. 8d. in O. S. S. annuities, vested in the accountantgeneral of the court of chancery, the yearly interest of which, till a purchase could be made, and afterwards the rents and profits of the land purchased to be received by the churchwardens and overseers, to be applied by them in placing out apprentices one or more child or children of industrious poor of this parish, who do not receive alms, to be nominated by a general vestry, and the yearly surplus, or if any year no child should be placed out, the whole produce to be given to such industrious poor, in such proportions as should be there thought fit towards their support.
MR. SILAS CHITTENDEN gave by will in 1778, to the poor of the borough of Plaxtool the sum of 40s. yearly, to be given in bread, and 2s. yearly in books, to be paid from 70l. in the three per cent. consolidated annuities, and now of that annual produce.
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of this parish extends over the district of the chapelry of Woodland, once a parish of itself, the civil jurisdiction of which is united to the parish of Kingsdown, though on the decay of the chapel, it was, in the 15th year of queen Elizabeth united, as to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, to this parish, the rector and vicar of which have a right to possess all emoluments arising from it till another chapel is built.
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of this parish extends likewise over the adjoining parish of Stansted, which is accounted as a chapel to the church of Wrotham. It was made a distinct church of itself, by the ordinance of parliament before-mentioned, in 1647, in which state it remained till the restoration, when it became again united to the church of Wrotham, and continues so at this time.
The church, which is dedicated to St. George, is situated on the north side of the town, adjoining to the London road at the foot of the hill. It is a very handsome large building, consisting of three isles, a cross isle, and a large chancel, which last was new-paved and otherwise much beautified some years ago, by the late rector, Dr. John Potter.
There seems to have been a rectory and vicarage belonging to this church very antiently, for in the 15th year of king Edward I. the former was valued at eighty marcs, and the latter at twenty marcs. However, the vicarage was not endowed till the middle of the reign of king Edward III. when Simon Islip, archbishop of Canterbury, at the request, and with the consent of William de Isleppe, then rector of this church, with the chapel of Stansted annexed, decreed, that there should be from that time in future one vicar, the collation of whom should belong to the archbishop and his successors, and he separated the portion, which the vicar should take in future from that of the rector, and he decreed, that the vicar's part so divided, with the permission of the rector, should be as follows: Imprimis, that he should have for the habitation of himself and his successors, a certain house lately assigned to the vicar, with the garden adjoining, as wholly and as freely as the vicar formerly held the same, and all manner of oblations in whatsoever things they should in any manner arise, in this church and chapel and elsewhere within the parish; and also the tithes of lambs, wool, chickens, pigs, geese, ducks, eggs, bees, honey, wax, cheese, milk, the produce of the dairy, flax, hemp, apples, pears, swans, and also of pidgeons, merchandisings, fisheries, pasture without the parks of the archbishop, onions, garlic, and other small tithes and obventions whatsoever, in any shape arising within the bounds and limits of the parish of this church; and also of the silva cedua of faggots and fardels. And that the vicar should have the tithes of the four water mills situated within the parish of Wrotham, and also the tithe of hay growing at Hale, Roghey, and Wynfield, within this parish, and the small tithes of a place called Pellesholte, titheable to the church of Wrotham from antient time, and all trentals left within the parish of this church and chapel; and he taxed and estimated the above portion at the sum of twenty marcs, and decreed it should pay accordingly to the tenth, whenever the same should be levied
And he decreed that the vicar should undergo the following burthens, viz. that he should find one fit chaplain to celebrate in the chapel of Stansted, and to administer to the parishioners there all sacraments, and sacramentals whatsoever, and to exercise all cure of souls, and when he had leisure, and the other part of the parish of Wrotham should be in want of his ministry, beyond the usual service, that he should give his assistance, as the same should be enjoined to him and the vicar. Moreover, that the vicar should provide for his chaplain's celebrating at both places, bread and wine and lights, and should pay the procurations due to the dean of Shoreham at his visitations, and should bind and repair the books, and cause the vestments to be washed as often as need should require. But that the sacrist assigned by the parishioners, according to antient custom, should carefully keep them, as he should answer it at his peril. And he decreed, that the vicar of this church for the time being, should not take any thing whatsoever beyond the above portion, or undergo any other burthens than those before expressed.
And he decreed, that the vicar and his chaplains, and their successors, should take an oath of obedience to the rector, that he would neither by himself, or by any other, publicly or privately, bring any damage or burthen to the rector or church, and that he should not knowingly ever usurp to himself, any thing of the rector's portion. And he further decreed, that as often as the vicarage should become vacant, the rector should take all and singular the tithes, and obventions whatsoever assigned as before mentioned, to the vicar of it, and arising during the time of such vacation, and that during the same, he should undergo and acknowledge all the before-mentioned burthens, and should cause, as well the said church, as the chapel of Stansted, to be served in divine services, saving to him the archbishop and his successors full liberty of correcting, amending and explaining his decree, and of adding to, or diminishing from the same, as often as need should require. (fn. 16)
Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1402, confirmed the above endowment, and being frequently requested by John Sondereshe, rector of this church, to inspect the said letters, how far he might with justice expound the decree, or endowment of this vicarage, which in several parts of it seemed doubtful and obscure, on account of the differences and disputes arising from thence, and the preventing those which might probably arise in future; the archbishop therefore having examined carefully into the premises, decreed, that that part of the endowment, where mention is made, that all small tithes, and obventions whatsoever, should belong to the vicar, ought to extend to the tithes, oblations and obventions therein expressed, and likewife to the tithes of trades and of calves, for the taking of which there had been no small contention, and that all occasion of dispute might be prevented between the rector and vicar, by reason of the endowment, he decreed, that the vicar should yearly receive from the rector for the time being 13s. 4d. in money, and four cart loads of wood of the tithes of silva cedua of this parish, yearly to be taken, when it should most suit the vicar, nevertheless by the direction and delivery of the rector, or of his locum tenens.
And in recompence of which 13s. 4d. of the tithes of calves and of trades, and of the fire wood, the rector of this church for the time being should take entirely all manner of tithes of hay, and silva cedua of whatever sort or quality, the same might be, the decree of his predecessor in any wise notwithstanding, which he nevertheless decreed to remain in all other parts firm and valid, saving to himself and his successors, full power to correct, amend or explain the same, and either to add to or diminish it, as often as need, or reason required it. (fn. 17)
An indenture was executed anno 6th Elizabeth, with the queen's consent, between the parson of Wrotham and George Bing, in which the latter conveyed in exchange a court lodge, and twenty-four acres of land to the former, and his successors in free alms, in lieu of the parsonage house, and twenty-four acres of glebe land.
The rectory of Wrotham continued a sine cure impropriate, under a lease from the archbishop, separate from the vicarage till the year 1715, when the lease expiring, archbishop Tenison having before refused to renew it, conferred this preferment on the vicar Mr. Thomas Curteis, since which both these preferments have been conferred on the same person who has a separate institution and induction, and conforms likewise in every particular to the act of uniformity for each.
The parsonage house is a handsome building on the opposite side of the road westward from the church. It was considerably improved of late years, first, by Mr. Curteis, and next by Dr. Potter, who was the principal benefactor to it, and expended a large sum of money upon this house and the offices belonging to it, during the time of his holding these preferments. The vicarage house is still remaining. It is a mean building situated in that part of Wrotham leading to Yaldham.
The extent of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of this parish, with the chapel of Stansted, is very great, containing a space of six miles and an half long, of which Stansted is two miles, and three miles in width, besides the chapel of Woodland. There is an exceeding fine glebe to it, and the first value of the rectory and vicarage is, as I am informed, upwards of one thousand pounds per annum, of which the latter is computed at three hundred pounds.
Church of Wrotham.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Archbishop of Canterbury.||William de Isleppe, in 1350. (fn. 18)|
|Robert de Faryndon, in 1393. (fn. 19)|
|Roger Stratton, S. T. P. (fn. 20)|
|John Sondereshe, in 1402, obt. May 12, 1426. (fn. 21)|
|William de Pyckenham, LL. D. (fn. 22)|
|Thomas Ward, in 1433. (fn. 23)|
|William Warham, Sept. 11, 1517, resig. about 1533. (fn. 24)|
|Andrew Peerson, about 1560, obt. 1570. (fn. 25)|
|Robert Grafton, in 1572.|
|Charles Sonibanke, S. T. P. ob. Oct. 12, 1638. (fn. 26)|
|RECTORS AND VICARS.|
|Thomas Curteis, A. M. 1715, obt. 1747. (fn. 27)|
|John Potter, S. T. P. 1747, obt. Sept. 1770. (fn. 28)|
|Hon. James Cornwallis, LL. D. 1771, vacated in 1781. (fn. 29)|
|George Stinton, S. T. P. October 1781, obt. 1783. (fn. 30)|
|Charles Tarrant, S. T. P. August 1783, obt. Feb. 23, 1791. (fn. 31)|
|Richard Levett, 1783, the present rector and vicar. (fn. 32)|