The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1799.
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LIES the next parish to Mersham eastward, being antiently written, and now usually called Smede, a name signifying an open smooth plain, and king Offa in 791, gave the pasture for fifty hogs binnam Smede, i. e. within Smede, to the church of Canterbury. It is but a small parish, being not more than a mile across each way; it lies mostly on the hill, where the country has but a rough and lonely appearance, there being but little traffic through it.
The village of Smeeth is situated, with the church close to it, on the brow of the hill, having a fine view from it over the valley southward; and there is another hamlet of houses called Ridgeway, at no great distance from it; towards Mersham-lees, there is a long narrow common, called Smeeth, alias Hatch heath. Near the foot of the hill southward is Scottshall, which stands some way down the hill. It is a very large mansion; the front of it eastward is modern, of brick; but the north front, built in the reign of king Henry VIII. is very grand, and has a fine effect. It is situated very pleasantly, having a good prospect from it; the grounds are well watered, by springs which rise between it and the church, on the side of the hill. About a mile westward from it, in the bottom, is Evegate; at a small distance from which is a farm called Stocks, which was for many generations the property of the Losties, originally of Westwell, where they resided in Henry the VIIIth.'s reign, and continued there till they removed hither, at least as early as King Charles the IId.'s reign, bearing for their arms, Sable, a chevron engrailed, between three trefoils slipt, argent. After which they continued owners of this estate till the Rev. John Loftie, of Canterbury, sold it lately to Mr. John Dunk, who lives in it. The head of the river Stour, which rises at Postling, flows along the southern side of this parish, where there is a mill on it, called Evegate-mill, and so on to Mersham towards Ashford. Archbishop Stratford procured the grant of a market and fair at Smeeth, in the 11th year of king Edward III. The market has never been used, but the fairs are still held on May 12, and Sept, 29, for toys and pedlary ware. The former of them was held likewise for the sale of live stock within remembrance. There are two boroughs in it.
The manor of Aldingtonclaims paramount over this parish, subordinate to which is THE MANOR OF EVEGATE, as it is now usually called, but in antient records written Thevegate, which lies at the bottom of the hill, about half a mile southward of the church. At the time of taking the general survey of Domesday, anno 1080, this manor was accounted to lie within the hundred of Longbridge, and was then part of the possessions of Hugh de Montfort, under the general title of whose lands it is entered in it as follows:
In Langebrige hundred, Hugo himself holds in demesne one yoke and an half in Tanegate. Gods. held it of king Edward. There is now one villein, with one carucate, and there are eight acres of meadow. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth twenty shillings, and afterwards ten shillings, now twenty shillings.
On the voluntary exile of Robert de Montfort, grandson of Hugo above-mentioned, in Henry I.'s reign, this manor, among the rest of his estates, came into the hands of the crown; after which it appears to have come into the possession of the family of Passele, or Pashley, as they were afterwards called, their arms, being A lion rampant, crowned, are carved on the roof of the cloysters at Canterbury; (fn. 1) one of whom, Edw. de Passele, held it in the 20th year of Edward III. by knight's service of the archbishop, as of his manor of Aldington. His descendant John Pashley, esq. died possessed of this manor in the 31st year of Henry VI. leaving a sole daughter and heir Elizabeth, who entitled her husband Reginald Pimpe, esq. of Nettlested, to it, and he likewise lest an only daughter and heir Anne, married to Sir John Scott, of Scotts hall, who in her right became possessed of it, and died about the middle of the reign of king Henry VIII. and in his descendants this manor continued down to Francis Talbot Scott, esq. whose trustees, about the year 1784, conveyed it, with Scotts hall and his other estates in this and the neighbouring parishes, to Sir John Honywood, bart. of Evington, the present possessor of it.
THE MANOR OF HALL, in this parish, with the mansion of it, from its having been for so many descents the inheritance and residence of the eminent and knightly family of Scott, has for a great length of time obtained the name of Scotts-hall. Indeed there are no earlier owners of it mentioned in any of our antient records. The original name of this family, whose possessions afterwards extended widely over this county, appears by papers in the possession of the family to have been Baliol. (fn. 2) William Baliol, younger brother of Alexander de Baliol, and brother of John Baliol, king of Scotland, frequently wrote his name William de Baliol le Scot; and it is further probable, after the contest between king Edward I. and his brother John, for the sovereignty of that kingdom, which ended in the latter's overthrow, that William Baliol above mentioned, to avoid the future anger of that prince, so highly incensed against his family, altered his name, and retained that of Scot only. And Philipott adds, that the antient arms of Baliol college, in Oxford, founded by John Baliol his grandfather, was a catherine wheel, now part of the paternal coat of this family, which is three such wheels; and although the present arms of that college are now wholly different, yet there seems some foundation for this assertion; for on the most antient part of the college now remaining, are two shields carved in stone, having a catherine wheel in each; and I am informed, the mark of the college on their plate and furniture, which has been of long time used, is likewise a catherine wheel.
The family of Scot, now spelt Scott, was originally seated in the adjoining parish of Braborne, the church of which has continued the place of their burials to the present time, their arms then being Argent, three catherine wheels, sable, within a bordure engrailed, gules. The first of them that we have any account of, as seated there, was Sir William Scott, knight marshal of England, who died in 1350, and was there buried, and they seem to have continued there till Henry VI.'s reign, when Sir Wm. Scott, removing to Scottshall, kept his shrievalty at it in the 7th year of king Henry VI. anno 1429; and his descendants, knights, for the next six successive generations, and men of eminent character, employed in stations of high trust and honor by the respective princes in whose reigns they lived, many of them sheriffs, and knights in parliament for this county, continued afterwards to reside at this seat with great reputation; of these, Sir William Scott, K. B. was warden of the five ports, and lieutenant of Dover castle in the reigns of king Henry VII. and VIII. He new built the mansion of Scotts-hall, the north front of which now remains, and has the appearance of much grandeur, according to the stile of building of that time. Sir Reginald, or Raynold Scott, captain of the castle of Calais in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. procured his lands to be disgavelledby the act then passed. Of his sons, Charles was of Eggarton, under which a full account has been given of him, and Raynold was author of the Discovery of Witchcraft. (fn. 3)
Sir Thomas Scott, the eldest son, in the memorable year of the Spanish armada, anno 1588, was appointed commander in chief of the Kentish forces, to oppose that formidable invasion. The day after he had received the council's letters, so much was he beloved by the country, that he was enabled to collect and send to Dover four thousand armed men. He was much noted for his great and liberal housekeeping, which he continued for thirty-eight years at Scottshall, feeding in his house not less than one hundred persons, besides other extraordinary resort of people, notwithstanding which, he increased his lands, buildings, and furniture. From his wife management of Romney Marsh he might be called the preserver of it, and from his contrivance at Dover pier, the founder of that haven. No man's death could be more lamented, or memory more beloved, insomuch that the inhabitants of the neighbouring town of Ashford solicited to pay the charges of his funeral, if they might have his remains deposited in their church. He died in 1594, and was buried with his ancestors in Braborne church, having had by his first wife seventeen children, of whom Thomas succeeded him at Scotts-hall, but died s. p. Sir John Scott, of Nettlested, the second son, died s. p. of whom a full account may be seen under Nettlested. Edward, the third son, became heir to his brother Thomas at Scotts-hall, and Robert the youngest son, was of Mersham, whose issue by his first wife settled at Liminge, where a full account may be scen of them. From Edward Scott, of Scott's hall, descended Geo. Scott, esq. likewise of Scotts-hall, who was twice married; by his first he had Edward, his successor here; by his second he had seven sons and seven daughters; of whom William is now of Canterbury, esq. unmarried, born in 1713; Arthur was a commissioner of the navy, and married Mary, daughter of Charles Compton, esq. and died s. p. and Cholmley was a colonel in the army. Of the daughters, Cecilia died unmarried at Canterbury in 1785, and Caroline married Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, but died s. p. The eldest son Edward Scott, esq. succeeded him here, and resided at Scotts-hall, where he died in 1765, having married Margaret, daughter of John Sutherland, esq. by whom he had twelve children, of whom Francis Talbot Scott, esq. the eldest, was of London, barrister-at-law, and died in 1789, having married his first-cousin Cecilia, daughter of his halfuncle George Scott, esq. and widow of Brice Fletcher, esq. of Bombay, in the East-Indies, by whom he had two sons, George and Francis-Peach; Edward Scott, esq. one of the equerries to the prince of Wales; Thomas, late vicar of Lenham and rector of Denton; William, an officer in the navy; and Tuston Charles; Cecilia; Katherine; Caroline, married in 1784, to George Best, esq. now of Chilston, younger son of James Best, esq. of Chatham, and Charlotte. (fn. 4) At length, after this mansion had continued for so great a length of time in this family, it descended down to Edward Scott, esq. (the eldest son of George as before-mentioned) who was the last of this family who resided at it. He died here possessed of it in 1765, and succeeded in the inheritance of this manor and seat by his eldest son Francis Talbot Scott, esq. whose trustees, about the year 1784, conveyed it, with the rest of his estates in this parish and neighbourhood, to Sir John Honywood, bart. the present possessor of them.
WILLIAM FORDRED, by will in 1550, gave to this parish, among others, a proportion of the rents of 25 acres of land, in St. Mary's parish, in Romney Marsn; which portion to this parish is of the annual produce of 4l. 12s. 4¾d. to be distributed annually to the poor, and is vested in certain trustees. This land is let for 35l. per annum, and is divided among the parishes of Smeeth, Aldington, Limne, Horton, Sellindge, Stanford, and Braborne.
TIMOTHY BEDINGFIELD, by will in 1691, gave towards the education and maintenance of poor children of this parish, Lyminge, and Dimchurch, and to pay 10s. yearly to two poor women of each of these parishes, a house and land lying in the parisnes of St. Mary, Romney Marsh, Lyminge, and Woodchurch, now of the annual produce of 54l. 10s. which is vested in trustees.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a small building, consisting of two isles and two chancels, having a low steeple shingled at the west end. The north chancel belongs to Scotts-hall. In the north wall is a tomb, with an antient ornamented arch over it, and in the window above these arms, Sable, a lion rampant, double tailed, or. Against the north wall is a monument, having two figures in a standing posture, and an inscription for Priscilla Scott, daughter of Sir Thomas Honywood, and wife of Robert Scott, esq. of Mersham, obt. 1648, and for Mary Scott, daughter of John Moyle, esq. of Buckwell, wife of Robert Scott, esq. obt. 1652, being formerly the wife of Richard Godfrey, esq. of Wye, by whom she had twenty-two children, being the first who made Mary Honywood, of Charing, a great-grandmother in the fifth generation, who lived to see 366 of her issue living. In the south isle is a memorial for Thomas Loftie, obt. 1678. Over the great arch at the east end of this isle, exceedingly high, are two monuments for the family of Loftie. The above arch is a very fine one, of Saxon architecture, with zig-zag ornaments round it. In the north isle is a memorial for Margaret, wife of Richard Gokin, of Canterbury, obt. 1719. In the church-yard is a tomb over John and Elizabeth Dunk. He died in 1779.
This church is exempted from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon. It has always been esteemed a chapel to the church of Aldington, the rector of which parish is presented to the church of Aldington with the chapel of Smeeth annexed. It is included in the valuation of Aldingtion in the king's books. In 1640 here were communicants one hundred and eighty.