The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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NORTH-EASTWARD from Kingsdown lies Rodmersham. It lies at a mile southward from Bapchild-street and the high Dover road, on high ground, the church being plainly seen from it. It contains about 1050 acres of land, of which not more than seventy-five are wood. The village, which is built straggling along the road, having the church in it, has at the lower or northern part of it two or three pretty modern houses; at the opposite end of it is New house, which has been for some years tenanted by the Taylors; at the south-east corner of the parish is the hamlet of Upper Rodmersham, and on the western side that of Rodmersham-green, which joins to a long tract of woodland, called Minchin wood. The land in the lower or northern part of this parish is rich and fertile for corn, and is let at a high rent, but higher up among the hills it becomes chalky and light, and much of it very poor. It is not an unpleasant situation, and considering its nearness to a very unwholesome country, is not so unhealthy as might be expected.
THE PARAMOUNT MANOR of Milton claims over it, subordinate to which is
THE MANOR OF RODMERSHAM, which was antiently the inheritance of the family of De la Pine, whose seat of residence was at Easthall, in the neighbouring parish of Murston.
John de la Pine was possessed of it in the 20th year of the reign of king Henry III. as appears by private evidences, whose grandson James de la Pine, about the latter end of king Richard II.'s reign, sold it to John de Podach, descended originally from John de Podach, who held lands of his own name in Devonshire in the reign of king Henry III. as appeared by an antient pedigree of this family. His descendants, possessors of this manor, from being usually called Pordage, at length wrote their names so. The antient arms of which family were, Argent, a fess chequy, or, and gules, in chief, three cross-croslets, sable; but this John Pordage altered the fess to plain sable, in which form his descendants have borne it ever since.
His descendant Sir William Pordage, as well as his ancestors, resided at Rodmersham, where he rebuilt the manor-house in the reign of king James I. naming it New-house, at whose request in 1615, the pedigree of Pordage was drawn up from old evidences, by John Philipott, Somerset herald, by which it appears that he bore for his arms six coats, Pordage, Crowland, Gourly, Belton, Gisors, and Barrow; all which, except the first and last, were borne in right of the heir of Crowland, and in one of the windows of Faversham church were painted the arms of Pordage, impaling Crowland. (fn. 1) He died s. p. and was succeeded by his brother and heir Thomas Pordage, esq. who resided here. His grandson William Pordage, or Porridge, as the name was then usually called, about the beginning of queen Anne's reign alienated it, with the seat, and all the rest of his estates in this parish and neighbourhood, to Stephen Lushington, esq. of Sittingborne, whose father Mr. Thomas Lushington, had been in the possession of them under a mortgage term for some years before. He was the son of Mr. Augustine Lushington, gent. of Sittingborne, who bore for his arms, Argent, a fess engrailed, gules, between three lions heads erased, or. Of whose family was Thomas Lushington, a noted scholar of his time, born at Sandwich in 1589, and afterwards educated at Oxford, and preferred to a prebend of Salisbury, &c. He wrote several books, a list of which the reader will find in Wood's Ath. Oxon. At length retiring in his latter days to his relations at Sittingborne, he died there in 1661, and was buried in the south chancel of that church, having had a handsome monument, with his bust on it, set up to his memory, by his kinsman, Thomas Lushington, esq. of Sittingborne, whom he by will made heir to all he had.
Mr. Stephen Lushington was twice married, and left issue by both his wives, by his second he had several children, the eldest surviving son of whom was Henry, vicar of East Bourne, in Sussex, and D. D. who left several children, of whom Henry, was massacred in the East Indies, and Stephen was a proctor of Doctors Commons.
Thomas Godfrey Lushington, esq. of Sittingborne, the only son of Stephen, by his first wife, succeeded him in this estate, and afterwards resided at Canterbury, where he died in 1757, and was buried at Sittingborne, having had by his first wife Dorothy, daughter of John Gisborne, esq. of Derbyshire, three sons, Thomas, who died before him unmarried; William, a captain in the army, who died unmarried in 1763; and James-Stephen, now in holy-orders; and likewise two daughters, Dorothy, who died unmarried, and Catherine, married to John Cockin Sole, esq. At his death he gave this manor, with the seat of New-house, and the rest of his possessions in this parish, to his second surviving son, the Rev. JamesStephen Lushington, of Bottisham, near Cambridge, who is the present possessor of them.
The Rev. Mr. Lushington is a prebendary of Carlisle, and has been twice married; first to Mary, one of the daughters of Edmund Law, lord bishop of Carlisle, who died in 1768, having had by her two sons and one daughter; and secondly to Mary, daughter of the Rev. Mr. Christian, of Norfolk; by whom he has three sons and two daughters.
There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about twenty, casually fifteen.
RODMERSHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sittingborne.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Nicholas. consists of three isles and two chancels; the southern chancel belongs to the family of Lushington, as lords of the manor, in it are several memorials for the family of Pordage. In the high chancel are four seats, with a kind of wooden canopy over them; perhaps made use of for the knights of St. John, when they visited their estate here. At the west end is a handsome tower steeple, built of squared slint, very neat, and of much superior masonry to the rest of the church. There are four bells in it. In the east window of the high chancel are these arms remaining. A cross, between four mullets; there was likewise, anno 1719, a scrole remaining in the windows of William Somptere and John Cheynestere, who had been good benesactors to this church. In the south chancel is a brass plate for William Pery, 1482.
A person unknown gave one acre of woodland to beautify the church, now of the annual produce of twelve shillings.
King Henry II. gave the church of Rodmersham to the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, which was confirmed by king John in his 1st year.
About which time an agreement was entered into between Alanus, prior of the hospital, and the chapter of it, and the abbot and convent of St. Augustine's, near Canterbury, that when their chapel of Rodmersham should be dedicated, and the cemetery consecrated, they granted to the abbot and the convent, that they would diminish none of the rights of the mother church of Milton, one of which was, the burial of housekeepers, male and female, (fn. 2) of Rodmersham, at Milton, which should never be withdrawn by them, and that neither in that, nor in any thing else, they should sustain any injury, &c. (fn. 3)
After which, this church was appropriated by the prior and chapter of the hospital, to their preceptory established in the parish of West Peckham; in which state it continued till the general dissolution of the hospital, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. when this order of knights being suppressed, by an act specially passed for the purpose, their hospital, with all its lands and revenues, was given by it to the king. After which the fee of the rectory of Rodmersham, with the advowson of the vicarage, seems to have remained in the crown, till the king, in the 36th year of his reign, granted it, with its appurtenances, to John Pordage, esq. of this parish, to hold in capite by knight's service. Since which they have continued with the manor down to the Rev. James-Stephen Lushington, the present owner of them.
In 1640 the vicarage was valued at thirty pounds per annum. Communicants one hundred.
It is a discharged living in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of thirty pounds, the tenths of it being 16s. 8d.