The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE PARISH and town of Sittingborne is situated about forty miles from London, the high road from thence to Dover leading through it. The parish, though rather above the level of the marshes, which bound the northern side of it, from which the ground rises to the town, is still a damp situation, and both from the air and water is not accounted a healthy one, though much more so than several of the neighbouring parishes equally northward, than which it has a more chearful and populous aspect; from the town the ground still keeps rising southward till it joins Tunstall, in the road to which about a quarter of a mile from the town is a good modern house called Glovers, which lately belonged to Thomas Bannister, esq. who resided in it, and died in 1791, and his widow, Mrs. Bannister, now owns it; eastward from which, at about the same distance, are the estates of Chilston and Fulston, and Hysted Forstall, with Golden-wood at the boundary of the parish, part of which is within it, adjoining to Bapchild and Rodmersham. The parish, which is but small, contains little more than eight hundred acres of land, consisting of arable, pasture, orchards, hop ground, and woods. In the upper and western parts it is much inclined to chalk and thin land, but the rest of it is in general a fertile loam, especially about the town, which was formerly surrounded by orchards of apples and cherries, but many of them have been destroyed to make room for plantations of hops, which, however, are not so numerous as formerly, and several of those which remain are kept up only as nurseries for young plantations of fruit trees, to which they must soon in their turn give place. Northward from the town the grounds are entirely pasture and orchards, lying on a descent to the town of Milton and the creek, both about half a mile distant from it; on the latter is a key called Crown key, of great use to this part of the country for the exporting of corn and wood, and relanding the several commodities from London and elsewhere. At a small distance north-west from the town is Bayford-court.
It appears by a survey made in the 8th year of queen Elizabeth, that there was then in this parish houses inhabited eighty-eight; lacking inhabitants five; keys two, Crown key and Holdredge key; ships and boats three, two of one ton, and one of twenty-four tons.
THE town of Sittingborne is built on each side of the high road at the fortieth mile-stone from London, and stands on a descent towards the east. It is a wide, long street unpaved, the houses of which are mostly modern, being well built of brick, and sashed, the whole having a chearful aspect. The principal support of it has always been from the inns, and houses of reception in it for travellers, of which there are several.
The inhabitants boast much of John Northwood, esq. of Northwood, having entertained king Henry V. on his triumphant return from France, at the Red Lion inn, in this town; and though the entertainment was plentiful, and befitting the royalty of his guest, yet such was the difference of the times, that the whole expence of it amounted to no more than 9s. 9d. wine being then sold at two-pence a pint, and other articles in proportion. The principal inn now in it, called the Rose, is perhaps the most superb of any throughout the kingdom, and the entertainment afforded in it equally so, though the traveller probably will not find his reckoning near so moderate as that of John Northwood before-mentioned. About the middle of the opposite side of the town there is a good family seat, which was once the residence of the Tomlyn's, and then for many years of the Lushingtons, several of whom lie buried in this church, of whom a further mention has already been made under Rodmersham manor, which they possessed. At length Thomas Godfrey Lushington left it to reside at Canterbury, and his second son the Rev. James-Stephen Lushington, becoming possessed of it afterwards, sold it to Mr. John May, who resided in it for some time. Since which it has been converted into an inn. At this house, whilst in the possession of the Lushingtons, king George the 1st. and 11d. constantly lodged, whenever they travelled through this town, both in their way to, and return from visiting their German dominions.
Queen Elizabeth, by her charter, in her 16th year, incorporated the town of Sittingborne, by the name of a guardian and free tenants thereof; and granted to it a market weekly on a Wednesday, and two fairs yearly, the one at Whitsuntide, and the other at Michaelmas, with many other privileges: which charter was used for several years, and until the queen was pleased, through further favor to grant to it another more ample charter, in her 41st year, by which she incorporated this place, by the name of a mayor and jurats, and regranted the market and fairs, with the addition of a great number of privileges, and among others, of returning two members to parliament.
This charter does not appear ever to have been used, or the privileges in it exercised. The market, after having been used for several years, was dropped, and only the two yearly fairs have been kept up, which are still held on Whit-Monday and the two following days, for linen and toys, and on October 10, and the four following days, for linen, woollen, cloaths, hardward, &c. and on the second day of it, for the hiring of servants, both in the town, and in a field, called the Butts, at the back of it.
SOME FEW of our antiquarians have been inclined to six the Roman station, called, in the second iter of Antonine, Durolevum, at or near Sittingborne; among which are Mr. Talbot, Dr. Horsley, Baxter, and Dr. Stukeley in his comment upon his favorite Richard of Cirencester; (fn. 1) but they have but little to offer in support of their conjecture, except the distances made use of in one or two copies, which are so different in many of them, that there is no trusting to any one in particular; consequently each alters them as it suits his own hypothesis best. The reader will find more of this subject under the description of both Lenham and Newington.
In the year 893, the Danes having fitted out a great number of ships, with an intention of ravaging the coasts of this kingdom, divided them into two fleets; with one of which they failed up the river Limene, or Rother, and with the other, under the command of Hastings, their captain, they entered the mouth of the river Thames, and landed at the neighbouring town of Milton. Near Milton they built a castle, at a place called Kemsley-down, about a quarter of a mile north-east from where the church of Milton now stands, which being overgrown with bushes, acquired the name of Castle rough. King Alfred, on receiving intelligence of these depredations, marched his forces towards Kent, and in order to flop their incursions, some time afterwards built on the opposite or eastern side of the creek, about a mile from the Danish intrenchments, a fortification, part of the ditches of which, and a small part of the stone-work, is still to be seen at Bayford-castle, in this parish.
Colutea minima five coronilla, the smallest bastard sena; on the chalky barren grounds near Sittingborne, (fn. 2) and lately likewise by Mr. Jacob.
Oenanthe cicutæ facie Lobellii, hemlock dropwort, found by him in the water lane between Sittingborne and Milton. (fn. 3)
THE MANOR OF GOODNESTON, perhaps so called from its having been the property of Goodwyne, earl of Kent, who might have secured himself here at Bayford castle, in the year 1052, when having taken up arms against king Edward the Consessor, he raised an army, and ravaged the king's possessions, and among them the town of Milton, which he burnt to the ground.
On his death it most probably came to his son king Harold, and after the battle of Hastings into the hands of the crown, whence it seems to have been granted to the eminent family of Leyborne, of Leyborne, in this county. William, son of Roger de Leyborne, died possessed of it in the 3d year of king Edward II.
His grand-daughter Juliana, daughter of Thomas de Leyborne, who died in his life-time, became her grandfather's heir, and succeeded in this manor, to which she entitled her several husbands successively, all of whom she survived, and died S. P. in the 41st year of king Edward III. when no one being found, who could make claim to any of her estates, this manor, among the rest of them, escheated to the crown.
BAYFORD-CASTLE, where his ancestors had resided for several generations. Robert de Nottingham lived here in the reign of king Edward I. and dates several of his deeds apud castellum suum de Bayford, apud Goodneston. Robert de Nottingham, his successor, who became possessed of the manor of Goodneston as beforementioned, was sheriff in the 48th year of king Edward III. and kept his shrievalty at Bayford, bearing for his arms, Paly, wavy of two pieces, gules and argent, in which year he died, and was found by the inquisition to die possessed of lands at Sharsted, Pedding in Tenham, Newland, La Hirst, Higham in Milsted, Bixle, now called Bix, in Tong, and lastly, Goodneston, with Bayford, in Sittingborne; all which descended to his only son John Nottingham, who died without issue male, leaving Eleanor his daughter his sole heir, who marrying Simon Cheney, of Crall, in Sussex, second son of Sir Richard Cheney, of Shurland, he became, in her right, entitled to it. His grandson Humphry Cheney alienated both Goodneston and Bayford, at the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign, to Mr. Richard Lovelace, of Queenhyth, in London.
His son Launcelot Lovelace was of Bayford, and purchased the manor of Hever in Kingsdown, near Farningham, under which a more ample account of him and his descendants may be seen. His second son William, heir to his eldest brother Sir Richard, who died S. P. at length became possessed of Goodneston, with Bayford, at which he resided, and dying anno 17 king Henry VII. left two sons, John and William Lovelace, esqrs. who possessed this manor and seat between them; the former of whom resided at Bayford, where he died in the 2d year of Edward VI. holding the moiety of this manor in capite, by knight's service, and leaving seven sons, of whom Thomas Lovelace, esq. his eldest son, inherited his interest in this manor and seat. He procured his lands to be disgavelled, by the act passed anno 2 and 3 Edward VI. and afterwards in the 10th year of queen Elizabeth, together with his cousin William Lovelace, by a joint conveyance, alienated Goodneston, with Bayford, to Mr. Ralph Finch, of Kingsdown, in this neighbourhood, whose son Mr. Thomas Finch, of that place, passed it away by sale to Sir William Garrard, who had been lord mayor in 1555, whose ancestors had been of this parish for several generations before, and perhaps were seated at Fulston in it, as many of them lie buried, in the chancel belonging to that seat, in this church. (fn. 4)
He died in 1571, and was buried in St. Magnus's church, in London, bearing for his arms, Argent, on a fess sable, a lion passant of the field; which arms, borne by his ancestors, are carved on the roof of the cloysters at Canterbury. After which it descended down to his grandson Sir John Garrard, or Gerrard, as this family now began to spell their name, who was of Whethamsted, in Hertfordshire, and was created a baronet in 1621. He was succeeded in it by his eldest son of the same name (at which time Bayford was become no more than a farm-house, being called Bayford-court farm). He died in 1700, leaving an only daughter and heir Mary, who carried the manor of Goodneston, with Bayford, among the rest of her inheritance, in marriage to Montague Drake, esq. of Shardeloes, in Agmondesham, in Buckinghamshire, who bore for his arms, Argent, a wivern, with wings displayed, and tail moved, gules. In whose descendants it continued down to William Drake, esq. M. P. for the borough of Agmondesham, as his ancestors had been, some few intermissions only excepted, ever since its being restored to its privilege of sending members to parliament, as a borough, anno 21 James I. He died possessed of this estate in 1796, and his heirs are at this time possessed of it.
CHILTON is a manor situated in the south-east part of this parish, which was formerly accounted a manor, and had owners of that furname, who held the manor of Chilton in Ash, near Sandwich, both which William de Chilton held at his death in the 31st year of king Edward I. one of whose descendants, in the beginning of king Edward III.'s reign, passed it away to Corbie, whose descendant Robert Corbie, of Boughton Malherb, died possessed of this manor of Chilton, alias Childeston, in the 39th year of that reign. (fn. 5) After which it passed by a female heir of this name in like manner as Boughton Malherb, to the family of Wotton, and from them again to the Stanhopes, (fn. 6) in which it continued till Philip, earl of Chesterfield, about the year 1725, alienated it to Richard Harvey, esq. of Dane-court, whose grandson, the Rev. Richard Harvey, died possessed of it in 1772, leaving his widow surviving, since which it has been sold to Balduck, and by him again to Mr. George Morrison, who now owns it, and resides in it.
FULSTON, called antiently Fogylston, was a large mansion, situated at a small distance southward from Chilton last-described, which, from the burials of the Garrards in the chancel belonging to this estate in Sittingborne church, seems to have been the early residence of that family in this parish. However that be, in the reign of Henry VIII. it was become the estate and residence of John Cromer, esq. the third son of Sir James Cromer, of Tunstall, who died in 1539, and was buried in this church, leaving his three daughters his coheirs; and in one of the windows of this church were the arms of John Cromer, esq. of Fulston, and his two wives, Guldeford and Grove, and their several quarterings.
Probably, by his will, or by a former entail, on his dying without male issue, this seat descended to his nephew Sir James Cromer, of Tunstall, whose grandson, of the same name, dying without male issue in 1613, Christian, one of his daughters and coheirs carried it in marriage to John Hales, esq. eldest son of Sir Edward Hales, of Tenterden, knight and baronet, as has been already more fully mentioned before under Tunstall, and in his descendants it has continued down to Sir Edward Hales, bart. of St. Stephen's, near Canterbury, the present owner of it. The greatest part of this mansion has been pulled down within memory, and a neat farm-house has been erected on the ruins of it.
JOHN ALLEN, of Sittingborne, by his will in 1615, gave 40s. per annum for repairing the alms-houses in Crown-key-lane, and firing for the poor in them, to be paid out of Glovers, now Mrs. Bannister's.
KATHERINE DICKS, by her will, left the sum of 25l. to be put out on land security, the interest of it to be said out for ever in six two-penny loaves, to be given to six poor widows &c. who attend divine service, beginning every year on the first Sunday after Christmas-day, of the annual produce of 1l.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Michael, is a large, handsome building, of three isles and two chancels, and two cross ones; at the west end is a tower beacon steeple, in which is a clock, a set of chimes, and six bells.
On the 17th of July, 1762, the wind being exceeding high, a fire broke out on the roof of this church, occasioned by the plumbers, who were repairing the leads, having left their fire burning during their absence at dinner, which consumed the whole of it, except the bare walls and the tower. Next year a brief passed for rebuilding of it, which with the contribution of the inhabitants, and a gift of fifty pounds from archbishop Secker, they were enabled to set about.
This was stopped for some little time by the owners of the three chancels, belonging to the Bayford, Chilton, and Fulston estates, refusing to contribute to the rebuilding of them, and they were at length rebuilt at the same cost with the rest of the church; and the whole of it was afterwards completed and fitted up in a very handsome manner. By the fire the monuments against the walls were destroyed, and most of the gravestones broken by the falling of the timbers. The latter, in the rebuilding of the church, have, the greatest part of them, been most absurdly removed from the graves over which they lay, to other parts of the church, and some even from the church-yard, as it suited to make the pavement complete; so that there is now hardly a guess to be made, where the bodies lie, that the inscriptions commemorate, but the gravestones of the Lushingtons, I believe, were none of them removed. In the south cross chancel belonging to the estate of Fulston, is a monument for Thos. Bannister, gent. obt. 1750, arms, Argent, a cross story, sable. The brass plate, on which the inscription was, for John Crowmer, of Fulston, and his two wives, in this chancel, being loose, there was found on the under side of it one in Latin, for Robert Rokele, esq. once dwelling with the most revered lady, the lady Joane de Bohun, countess of Hereford, Essex, and Northton, who died in 1421, an instance of œconomy which has been discovered at times in other churches.
The south-east chancel belonged to the Chilton estate; there are many gravestones of the family of Lushington in it. Dr. Lushington's monument was entirely destroyed at the time of the fire. In the upper part of this chancel is a vault, belonging to the Chilton estate, in which is only one coffin, of Mr. Harvey, who died in 1751, and a great quantity of bonespiled up at one end of it.
The middle chancel is the archbishop's, and belongs to the parsonage; in which there is a memorial for Mathew, son of Sir John, and grandson of archbishop Parker, who died in 1645. The north chancel is made use of now as a vestry. The north cross chancel belongs to the Bayford estate. In the north wall of it there is the effigies of a woman, lying at length, in the hollow of the wall, with an arch, carved and ornamented, over her, and midway between the arch and figure, a flat table stone of Bethersden marble: the whole of it seems very antient.
The church of Sittingborne belonged to the Benedictine nunnery of Clerkenwell, to which it was appropriated before the 8th year of king Richard II. and it remained part of the revenues of it till its dissolution, in the 31st year of king Henry VIII.'s reign.
This church thus coming into the king's hands, seems to have remained part of the revenues of the crown till queen Elizabeth, in her 3d year, granted the parsonage of it, with the advowson of the vicarage, the former being then valued at 13l. 6s. 8d. to archbishop Parker. Since which they have continued parcel of the possessions of the archbishopric, and remain so at this time.
The parsonage has been from time to time leased out on a benesicial lease, at the yearly rent of 13l. 6s. 8d. In 1643 John Olebury, gent. was lessee; in later times, Cockin Sole, esq. of Bobbing, whose son John Cockin Sole, esq. died possessed of it in 1790, since which this lease has been sold under the directions of his will.
In 1578, on a survey of the diocese of Canterbury, it was returned, that this parsonage was impropriate to the queen's majesty; the vicarage also in her gift; dwelling-houses eighty; communicants three hundred; the tenths twenty shillings.
Church of Sittingborne.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Archbishop.||Edmund Littleton, A. M. Sept. 21, 1593, obt. 1602.|
|William Covell, S. T. P. Feb. 1, 1602, resigned 1603.|
|Francis Foxton, S. T. B. Nov. 9, 1603, resigned 1623.|
|Edward Garland, A. M. Oct. 3, 1623.|
|The King, by lapse.||George Jones, 1662, obt. 1705.|
|The Archbishop.||Mark Hildesley, A. M. April 24, 1705, resigned 1710. (fn. 7)|
|John Swanne, A. B. May 1, 1710.|
|Shadrash Cooke, A. M. Feb. 1721, obt. 1722.|
|Robert Tyler, A. B. January 18, 1723.|
|— Norse, obt. June 10, 1736.|
|Robert Tyler, A. M. resigned May 1740. (fn. 8)|
|Jonathan Monkton, A. M. May 23, 1740, resigned Nov. 1742. (fn. 9)|
|Thomas Bland, A. M. Nov. 26, 1742, obt. Aug. 23, 1766, (fn. 10)|
|Richard Podmore, LL. B. September 19, 1766, resigned 1777. (fn. 11)|
|Samuel Evans, 1778, the present vicar.|