The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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It is situated obscurely among the hills, on high ground. The parish is very small, containing only six hundred acres of land, of which one half are wood. The lands in it are very poor, chalky, and much covered with flints; the church stands nearly in the centre of the parish, the woods are very thick throughout it, especially on the east and west sides; near the former is a hamlet called Dungate-green, and not far from it a good modern house, built by Mr. Stephen Allsworth, whose son John leaving an only daughter Anne, she carried it in marriage to Mr. Thomas Howe. Mr. Lushington Taylor now resides in it.
THE MANOR OF KINGSDOWN, in the beginning of the reign of king Henry III. was part of the possessions of Hubert de Burgo, earl of Kent, who, on his foundation of the hospital of St. Mary, otherwise called the Maison Dieu, in Dover, gave this manor to it. After which, anno 14 Edward I. the master of the Maison Dieu obtained a grant of free-warren for his lands here, among others.
In which situation this manor remained till the dissolution of the hospital, in the reign of Henry VIII. when it was surrendered up, with all its possessions, into the king's hands. After which, the manor of Kingsdown seems to have remained in the hands of the crown, till king Edward VI. in the last year of his reign, granted it, among other premises, to Sir Thomas Cheney, to hold in capite by knight's service, who in the 1st year of queen Mary, sold it to Thomas Finch, gent. who seems to have resided at Kingsdown at that time, as tenant of the manor under the master and brethren of the Maison Dieu. He was descended from John Finch, the second son of Vincent Herbert, alias Finch, of Netherfield, in Sussex, whose eldest son William was ancestor of the several branches of this family, of the name of Finch, enobled by peerages at different times, whose arms he likewise bore. John, the second son, above-mentioned, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard Seward, of Sewards, in Linsted, of which seat he became possessed in her right, and afterwards resided there. He died in 1442, and was buried at Sevington. His grandson John Finch, of Linsted, left two sons; Herbert, who was of Linsted, from whom descended those of Linsted, Norton, Faversham, Wye, and other places, and Thomas Finch, who purchased this manor of Kingsdown as above-mentioned. (fn. 1) He died anno 3 and 4 Philip and Mary, 1555 After which it continued in his descendants who resided here, down to Thomas Finch, esq. who dying s. p. by his will bequeathed the manor itself, and part of the demesnes belonging to it to his brother's daughter Judith Finch, who carried it in marriage to John Umsrey, esq. of Darent, who bore for his arms, Gules, across botony, argent, charged with five pellets; from who it descended down to Finch Umfrey, gent. of Dartford, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. John Jarvis, of Dartford. He died without issue, and at his death gave this manor, with the part of the demesnes before mentioned, to his widow, who died in 1781, and by her will, which had been made near twenty years before her death, devised it to her next heirs, which at the time of her death were two persons named Brook, uncle and nephew, as coheirs in gavelkind, and they joined in the sale of it in 1782, to Mr. Thomas Smith, gent. of Dartford, upon whose death in 1787, it came by his will to his nephews, Thomas, William, and George Smith, since which it is become vested in Mr. Thomas Williams, gent. of South Darent, the present possessor of this manor and estate. A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.
BUT THE REST OF THE DEMESNES of this manor, which comprehended by far the greatest part of them, were sold by one of the Finch's to the family of Bartholomerw, of Oxenhoath, in which name this estate remained till one of them sold it to Cockin Sole, esq. of Bobbing, who died in 1750, and was succeeded in it by his son John Cockin Sole, esq. afterwards of Norton-court, who some years afterwards passed it away by sale to Mr. Evans, who is the present possessor of it.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Catherine, is a very small mean building, consisting of one isle and one chancel; there is a tomb of Bethersden marble in the chancel, with a brass plate against the east wall, erected to the memory of Thomas Finch, gent. though buried at Chichester, anno 1555, and to that of his son Ralph Finch, esq. who lies buried near it, a great benefactor to this church, obt. 1591. At the west end there is a small turret, with one bell. This church has always been an appendage to the manor, and continued as such, till after the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Umfrey, when her two heirs at law, and devisees under her will, of the name of Brook, sold it in 1782 to Thomas Pennington, D. D. late rector of this church, who is the present possessor of it.
Church of Kingsdown.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Ralph Fynche, esq.||Laurence Collinson, Sept. 20, 1581, obt. 1623.|
|The King.||Christopher Batcheler, A. M. October 30, 1623. (fn. 2)|
|Nathaniel Godden, resigned.|
|Thomas Finch, esq.||Richard Tylden, clerk, March 10, 1661.|
|Thomas Allen, obt. 1668.|
|William Slaughter, A. M. Feb. 16, 1668, obt. 1699. (fn. 3)|
|Edmund Barrel, A. M. May 31, 1700, resigned 1712. (fn. 4)|
|Thomas Allen, A. M. 1717, ob. Dec. 17, 1732. (fn. 5)|
|Finch Umfrey, esq.||Tobias Swinden, May 31, 1733, obt. March 1754. (fn. 6)|
|Elizabeth Umfrey.||William Gardiner, B. D. presented April 1754, obt. May 1754.|
|Thomas Pennington, D. D. July 27, 1754, resigned 1786. (fn. 7)|
|Thomas Pennington, D. D.||Thomas Pennington, A. M. 1786, the present rector. (fn. 8)|