The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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The whole of this parish is in the division of EastKent, which begins here, the adjoining parish of Gillingham westward, being wholly in that of West Kent. Its situation is for the most part low and unpleasant, and from its nearness and exposure to the marshes very unhealthy, it contains upwards of 2,100 acres of land, beside woods, which are about five hundred and forty acres. The high road from London to Dover leads through it, on which, at a little more than the thirty-fourth mile stone from London, is the village called Rainham-street, having the church, with the parsonage and vicarage in it; at the east end of it there is a neat modern-built house, belonging to John Russell, esq. of Greenwich, and about a quarter of a mile further eastward on the road, the hamlet of Moore-street. From the high road the ground rises southward to a dreary barren country among the woods, which is exceeding hilly, the soil at places chalky and much covered with flints, over which it extends till it joins Bredhurst, its southern boundary. About the street, and northward of it, where the country lies more flat and even, though declining to that aspect, the soil too changes, and becomes a fertile and kindly land both for corn and fruit, insomuch that this parish has been noted for growing some of the best wheat that this kingdom has produced; and it had will within memory many plantations of cherries and apples, especially on the lands adjoining the high road, and to the northward of it, but the greatest part of them have been displanted some years since. About a mile below the street north-westward, situated on the road leading from Chatham through Gillingham and this parish to King's Ferry and the Isle of Shepey, is the hamlet of West, or Lower Rainham-street, on the south side of which stood the old mansion of Bloor's-place, mentioned hereafter, great part of which was pulled down a few year ago to adapt the size of it to that of a farmhouse, though what still remains of it, with the garden walls, offices, &c. shew it to have been of large size, well suited to the hospitality of those times, and to the rank which the founder of it held among the gentry of the county; about half a mile south-westward from hence is Berengrave, and at a less distance eastward the estate of Mackland, belonging to the charity of the chest at Chatham, the present lessee of which is Mrs. Nash. At a small distance below the last-mentioned road are the fresh marshes, and beyond the wall which incloses them a quantity of salts, the northern boundary of which, and of this parish, is Otterham creek, which joins the Medway at each end of it. In the return of the survey made of the several places in this county, where there were any shipping, boats, &c. by order of queen Elizabeth, in her 8th year, Rainham is said to contain houses inhabited eight, and three keys, the common key, Blower's key, belonging to John Tufton the younger, and Hastings key, belonging to Henry Laurence, and the heirs of Jeffry Empson; ships and boats thirteen, from one up to thirty-five tons, and persons occupied in carrying from port to port twelve.
In king Henry VIth.'s reign Sir John Pashley resided at Rainham, he married the widow of John Beausitz, of the adjoining parish of Gillingham. The family of Norden resided in this parish for some generations, one of whom John Norden, died in 1580, and lies buried in the chancel of this church, their arms were formerly painted in the windows, and now remain at each corner of his grave-stone in brass.
In the 14th year of king Edward II. there were commissioners assigned to take a view of the banks and ditches lying on the banks of the Medway, near Rainham, which had received much decay from the fresh waters, and again, anno 50 Edward III. others were assigned for the view of those situated in Moteneye marsh, at the manor called Quenes-court, and to proceed according to the law and custom of the realm. (fn. 1)
Mere, alias Meres Court, which lies in the borough of Mere, in the southern part of this parish, adjoining to Bredhurst, and was in very early times part of the possessions of a family who implanted their name on it, as well as on another estate near it, formerly called Merethorne, but now usually Maresbarrow, corruptly for Mere's borough.
Peter de Mere, and Walter and Geoffry de Meredale, were owners of these and other estates in this parish as early as the reign of king John. However, before the reign of Edward I. the manor of Mere, with Merethorne alias Meresborough, was become the property of Roger de Leyborne, whose son Sir William de Leyborne became possessed of it in the 2d year of Edward I. on his mother's death, and held it in capite, together with the manor of Mere, by the service of walking principal lardner at the king's coronation. His grand-daughter Juliana, called the Infanta of Kent, carried this manor and estate in marriage to her several husbands successively, by neither of whom she had any issue, and surviving them, died in the 41st year of Edward III. when no one being found who could make claim to any of her estates, as her heir, they escheated to the crown, where this manor, with Meresborough, seems to have remained till it was purchased from thence, in the beginning of the next reign of Richard II. by the seossees in trust, for the performance of certain religious bequests in the will of Edward III. and was in consequence of it settled with Bredhurst manor and others, as already mentioned more amply before, on the dean and canons of St. Stephen's chapel, at Westminster, for the performance of the religious purposes therein mentioned. (fn. 2)
In which situation this manor continued till the 1st year of Edward VI.'s reign, when this free chapel was, among others, dissolved by the act of that year, and the lands and possessions of it were surrendered up into the king's hands, who in his 3d year granted the manor of Mere-court, with Meresborough, lately in the tenure of Sir Christopher Hales, deceased, to Sir Thomas Cheney, treasurer of his houshold, whose son and heir Henry Cheney, esq. of Todington, in Bedfordshire, together with Jane his wife, alienated these premises, held in capite, in the 12th year of that reign, by the description of the manors of Merecourt, alias Merescourt, Merethorne, and Bradhurst, with their appurtenances, to Richard Thornhill, grocer, and citizen of London.
After which, Sir Henry Cheney, then lord Cheney of Todington, granted and made over to him all liberties, franchises, royalties, assize of bread, wine, and ale, green-wax, and all other privileges within the above manors, which he had ever possessed, or had in any shape a right to; which liberties were claimed by Richard Thornhill, esq. and judgement was given for them in his behalf by the barons of the exchequer, on a trial had in Michaelmas term in the 17th year of that reign. (fn. 3)
From him they descended in like manner as Bredhurst down to Charles Thornhill, esq. who in the reign of king Charles II. alienated the manor of Merecourt, with that of Bredhurst, for Meresborough appears to have been sold elsewhere, to Sir John Banks, bart. whose daughter and coheir Elizabeth, then married to Heneage Finch, second son of Heneage, earl of Nottingham, entitled her husband to them, in whose descendants, earls of Aylesford, this estate has continued down to the right hon. Heneage, earl of Aylesford, who is the present possessor of it.
BUT MERETHORNE, called also Mereborough, and now usually Maresbarrow, was alienated by Charles Thornhill, esq. in the reign of Charles II. to John Tufton, earl of Thanet, whose descendant, the right hon. Sackville Tufton, earl of Thanet, is the present owner of it.
SILHAM, or Sileham-court, as it is now usually called, is a manor likewise, in the southern part of this parish, of which Walter Auburie died possessed in the 1st year of Edward I. After which it came into the possession of Peter de Meredale, in right of Agnes his wise, by whom he had two sons, William and Roger, who were possessed of it jointly, as heirs in gavelkind, in the reign of Edward II. After which it became the property of Donet, which family increased its possessions in this parish by the purchase of the estate of Roger de Reynham, in the beginning of the reign of Edward III. At length it descended down to James Donet, who died in 1409, holding this manor in capite. He lies buried in the high chancel of this church, in one of the windows of whichwere formerly his arms, Argent, three pair of barnacles, gules. On his death without male issue, his sole daughter and heir Margaret carried this manor in marriage to John St, Leger, esq. of Ulcomb, sheriff anno 9 Henry VI. whose descendant Sir Anthony St. Leger, lord deputy of Ireland in king Henry the VIIIth.'s reign alienated that part of his estate here purchased of Reynham, and other lands late belonging to the priory of Leeds, (which had been given to it soon after its foundation, by John de Evesham, clerk, and were possessed by it at the surrendry of it) to Sir Thomas Cheney, treasurer of the king's houshold, whose son Henry Cheney, esq. of Todington, sold them again (together with Merecourt and Meresbarrow, in manner as has been mentioned before) to Richard Thornhill, esq. whose descendant Charles Thornhill, in Charles II.'s reign, passed them away to John Sackville, earl of Thanet, and his descendant the right hon. Sackville Tufton, earl of Thanet, the present possessor of them. But the manor of Silham, or Sileham-court, was sold by Sir Anthony St. Leger to Christopher Bloor, esq. who rebuilt his seat in this parish, called
Bloors-place, in which his ancestors had resided for several generations. He procured his lands to be disgavelled by the act of 2 and 3 Edward VI. and died possessed of this manor and seat, having married the daughter of John Colepepyr, esq. of Aylesford, by whom he left no male issue; upon which Olympia, one of his daughters and coheirs, entitled her husband John Tufton, esq. of Hothfield, to the possession of them. He is said, by the pedigrees of this samily to have been descended from ancestors, whose original name was Toketon, and as appears by several deeds inserted in them, were possessed so early as the reign of king John, of lands lying near Meredale, and in the reign of Edward I. and II. of others near Sileham and in the borough of Mere and elsewhere in this parish, hence they removed to Northiam, in Sussex, and thence again in king Edward the VIth.'s reign, to Hothfield, in this county, where they have continued ever since. (fn. 4)
John Tufton above-mentioned, continued to reside at Hothfield, and was created a baronet in 1611. His eldest son Sir Nicholas Tufton was first created lord Tufton, and afterwards earl of Thanet, and in his descendants, earls of Thanet, the manor of Sileham-court, with Bloors-place, and other estates in this parish, have continued down to the right hon. Sackville Tufton, earl of Thanet, the present possessor of them. There is no court held for this manor.
THE MANOR OF QUEENS-COURT, with the farm called BEREBGRAVE, in this parish, was part of the possessions of the crown, and continued so till queen Alianore, widow of Henry III. and mother to king Edward I. anno 1273, gave them, together with a mill in this parish, by the description of her lands and tenements, with their rights, liberties, and free customs, in the parishes of Renham and Herclope, to the master aad brethren of St. Katherine's hospital, near the Tower, to hold in pure and perpetual alms, free from all secular service whatsoever, which was confirmed by king Edward I. in his 20th year. Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III. greatly enlarged this royal hospital, which had been founded by queen Maud, wife of king Stephen, before the year 1148, and was augmented afterwards by the several queens of England, so that there was sufficient to maintain a master, three brethren chaplains, three sisters, ten poor women, with six poor clerks. In which state it continued in the reigns of king Henry VIII. and Edward VI. when it escaped the general suppression of such foundation; so that the fee of this manor of Queens-court, with Berengrave, and other premises in this parish, remain at this time part of the possessions of it. Lady Sackville was lessee of it in 1653, and afterwards Sir Richard Colepepyr.
TWO ACRES and twenty-five perches of land, planted with cherries, of the yearly rent of 2l. 10s. One acre, three roods; and fifteen perches of land, planted with pears, of the yearly rent of 3l 10s. One acre, three roods, and twenty-four perches of land, planted with apples, of the yearly rent of 4l. Also one acre, or thereabouts, of wood-land in this parish, of the yearly value of 5s. are the gifts of persons unknown, to the poor of this parish.
AN ANNUITY of 4l. payable yearly out of Mardale and Chapel-fields, in this parish, purchased with the sum of 50l. given by Frances, countess dowager of Thanet, and with the sum of 20l. raised by the contribution of the parishioners in 1653, vested in John Russell, esq.
AN ANNUITY of 1l. was devised to the poor of this parish by the will of Mr. John Adams, in 1723, payable out of a cherry-garden, containing five acres, in Hydore-lane, in this parish, vested in John Russell, esq. All which gifts are disposed of by the minister and parish officers to such industrious poor as receive no alms, on Good Friday and St. Thomas's day yearly.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Margaret, is a handsome building, consisting of two very broad isles, and two chancels, with a high beacon tower at the west end of it, in which are six bells and a clock. There was formerly some good painted glass in the windows of this church, all which has been long since destroyed. Among it were the following coats of arms: Three lions passant, guardant, a label of three points; Azure, two bars, or, between nine cross-croslets of the second; Or, a saltier engrailed, sable; Or, a cross pointed and voided, sable; Per pale, gules and azure, a cross moline, argent; Three pair of barnacles extended, for Donet; A chevron, between three attires of a stag, fixed to the scalps, for Cocks, and, On a fess, between three beavers, passant, as many cross croslets fitchee, for Norden.
The high chancel belongs to the parsonage of Rainham. In it lie buried several of the family of Allen; John Norden, esq. as has been already mentioned; Thomas Norreys, esq. master of the Trinityhouse, and commissioner of the navy. There is a small monument with the effigies of him and his wife kneeling at a desk, arms, Argent, billettee, a cross pattee flore, sable. On the north side of the altar is a handsome tomb of Bethersden marble, the brasses gone. On the pavement a memorial in brass, for John Bloor, obt. 1529; near it are several others robbed of their brasses, some of which might probably belong to the same family. The north chancel belongs to the earl of Thanet. In it are two costly monuments, one of them having the effigies of a man in military attire, fitting on part of his armour, erected for George, sixth son of John Tufton, earl of Thanet, by Margaret; daughter and coheir of Richard, earl of Dorset, obt. 1670; the other having the figure of a person in his parliamentary robes, erected for Nicholas, earl of Thanet, obt. 1679. In the north-west corner of the north isle, is a vault for the family of John Russell, esq. of Greenwich. Underneath this chancel are two large vaults, partly above ground, in which are deposited the remains of the family of Tufton. These vaults, and perhaps the chancel over them, were most probably built by Christopher Bloor, esq. whose remains are deposited in the easternmost of them. On October 20, 1791, the steeple was greatly damaged by a storm of thunder, the lightning of which split the wall of it for several feet in length.
Robert de Crevequer, the founder of Leeds-abbey, about the year 1137, gave to the canons there, in free and perpetual alms, all the churches of his estates, with the advowsons of them, and among them that of Renham, with eighteen acres of land in that parish, which gift was made in the presence of William, archbishop of Canterbury, and John, bishop of Rochester. (fn. 5)
It was at the latter end of king Edward the IIId.'s reign, appropriated to that priory, and the parsonage of it was valued in 1384, anno 8 king Richard II. at 26l. 15s. 4d. which, with the advowson, continued part of the possessions of the priory till the dissolution of it in the reign of Henry VIII. when it was, with all its revenues, surrendered up into the king's hands.
This church, with the advowson of the vicarage, remained in the hands of the crown till the year 1558, anno 6 queen Mary, when the queen granted the advowson among others, to the archbishop of Canterbury, with whom it has remained ever since, his grace the archbishop of Canterbury being now patron of it.
But the parsonage of this church remained longer in the hands of the crown. Queen Elizabeth granted it, in her 10th year, to Dorothy Stafford, for the term of thirty years, at the yearly rent of sixteen pounds. After which the fee of it was granted to Moyle, and captain Robert Moyle died possessed of it in 1659, whose grandson, John Moyle, esq. of Buckwell, left an only daughter and heir Mary, who carried it in marriage to Robert Breton, esq. of the Elmes, near Dover, and he died possessed of it in 1708. His eldest son Moyle Breton, esq. of Kennington, succeeded him in this estate, which he alienated to Sir Edward Dering, bart. whose son Sir Edward Dering, bart. is the present possessor of it.
Church Of Rainham.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Archbishop.||Christopher Powell, S. T. B. July 6, 1595, obt. Jan. 10, 1609. (fn. 6)|
|John Grime, A. M. Feb. 21, 1609|
|The King.||The same, August 1, 1610.|
|The King, sede vac.||Thomas Bladen, A. M. Nov. 9, 1646. (fn. 7)|
|Thomas Lambe, A. M. obt. April 11, 1662. (fn. 8)|
|The Archbishop.||John Campleshon, A. M. May 14, 1662.|
|William Walter, A. M. July 19, 1665, resigned 1676.|
|Thomas Cradock, A. B. Oct. 2, 1676, obt. Oct. 9, 1723. (fn. 9)|
|The Archbishop.||Henry Shove, Oct. 19, 1723, obt. Dec. 8, 1771. (fn. 10)|
|William Taswell, A. B. 1772, resigned 1777. (fn. 11)|
|James Richards, Nov. 7, 1777, the present vicar.|