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 north-eastward from Lid, being written in antient records both Romenel and Rumene, a name most probably derived, as both Lambarde and Somner conjecture, from the Saxon Rumen-ea, signifying a large water, or watery place, and well suited to the antient situation of it. This place was at first called Romney only, and afterwards Old Romney, as well to distinguish it, as in comparison of the new and more prosperous town of New Romney, which rose out of its ruins, when its port failed and was transferred thither.
The village or street, together with the church, is in that part of this parish which is within the liberty of the cinque ports, and within the jurisdiction of the justices of the corporation of New Romney; another part is within the liberty of the corporation of Romney Marsh, and the jurisdiction of the justices of it; and the residue is part in the hundred of Langport, and part in that of St. Martins, and within the jurisdiction of the justices of the county.
This PLACE is said to have been once of much note, and to have had a good and commodious harbour and port, at one of the then entrances of the river Limen, or Rother, close to it, insomuch, that it has been generally conjectured to have been one of the principal cinque ports at their first institution, but that the river Limen failing in its course hither, and the sea not flowing up to it with its accustomed force, the port or haven of Old Romney became useless, and the town being in a manner deserted, fell to decay, and that of New Romney and its port arose from out of its ruins, and became in its room the principal cinque port, to which this of Old Romney afterwards became a subordinate member, as it remains at this time; and it was no doubt reduced to still further obscurity and poverty by the two dreadful tempests which happened in the reigns of king Edward I. and III. which destroyed the face of this whole country. But as there are no records nor any traces whatever left at this time of its former supposed flourishing state, we must rely on report only for the truth of its ever having been more than it is at present. The village consists of about fifteen mean straggling houses, with the church in the midst of them, where it is much sheltered with trees, which gives it a more pleasant appearance than any part of the adjoining country, which, as well as the rest of this parish, is an open unsheltered flat of marshes. It contains upwards of 1800 acres of land, exclusive of those belonging to Aghne court, the quantity of which in this parish cannot be ascertained, as the bounds between it and Midley have been for many years lost. It is all pasture ground, except about thirty acres, which are converted into tillage, the whole being very rich and fertile. The course of the river Limen is plainly to be traced close to the west side of the village, the channel of which is now dry pasture ground.
Somner conjectures that the Portus Lemanis of the Romans, mentioned in Antoninus's Itinerary, was either here or at New Romney; in which opinion he has not been followed by any one, the general notion being, that it was near Stutfal castle, at the foot of Limne hill.
The principal manor in this parish, claiming over the greatest part of it, and extending into Midley, is that of AGHNE COURT, alias Old Romney court, and written in antient deeds both Agene and Hagene, which was given by king Offa, in 791, to the priory of Christchurch. (fn. 1) King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted and confirmed to the prior and convent, free-warren in all their demesne lands of this manor of Aghene; among others, Thomas Goldstone, who succeeded as prior of Christ-church in the year 1495, built a new hall and other apartments here at this manor. After which it continued with the priory till its dissolution, in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it was sur rendered into the king's hands, with the rest of the possessions of it, and was by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled on his new-founded dean and chapter of Canterbury, with whom the inheritance of it still continues.
There is no court held for this manor, the demesne lands of which have been from time to time demised by the dean and chapter on a beneficial lease for three lives. The present interest of the lease is vested in the right hon. George-John Spencer, earl Spencer.
BERRY-COURT, called in old deeds Bere court, is a manor in this parish, which, though now of small account, and only a manor by repute, had once large quit-rents and services belonging to it. Nicholas de Bere held it, as appears by an old court-roll, in the 20th year of Henry III. but before the 20th year of Edward III. this name was become extinct here. After which, before the end of that reign, the possession of this manor was become vested in the name of Belknap, for in the 1st year of Richard II. Sir Robert Belknap, chief justice of the common pleas, was owner of it, but favouring too much the designs of that king, for the extending of his prerogative, he was in the 11th year of that reign attainted, and this manor, among the rest of his estates, became forfeited to the crown, whence it was granted by letters patent, two years afterwards, to John Brokeman, esq. together with other lands in Stowting and Crundal, parcel of those forfeited possessions likewise, (fn. 2) and in his descendants this manor continued till it was at length alienated by another John Brokeman, about king Henry VIII.'s reign, to Newland, whose descendant John Newland died possessed of it in the 2d year of queen Elizabeth, holding it in capite, whose two coheirs, Martha, wife of Edward Williams, and Mary, wife of William Berworth, entitled their husbands to the possessions of it. From whose heirs, at the latter end of that reign, it was passed away by sale to Sir George Perkins, who in James I.'s reign sold it to Mr. Aldridge, of Tylers, near Reading from which name it was alienated to Christmas, and James Christmas, clerk, vicar of Godmersham, died possessed of it in the year 1713, and by will devised it to Elizabeth his widow, who alienated it to Mr. Adam Spracklyn, gent. of Canterbury, and he sold it at the latter end of king George I.'s reign to Mr. Joseph Sawkins, attorney-at-law, of Canterbury, who settled it in jointure on Hester his wife. She surviving him, continued in possession of it till her death in 1758, when it became the property of her surviving sons and daughters, who joined in the sale of it about the year 1775 to Mr. George Children, of New Romney, the present possessor of it.
The church, which is exempt from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon, is dedicated to St. Clement, and consists of three isles and three chancels, having a tower at the south-west corner, on which is a low pointed turret, covered with shingles, in which hang three bells. It appears by the thickness of the walls, as well as by the shape and size of the pillars, to be very antient. The two side isles are shorter than the middle, and the windows of a much more modern date than the rest of the building. In the middle chancel there is a memorial for John Defray, A. M. rector obt. Sept. 4, 1738. The south chancel, which is shut out from the church, and used to lay the materials in for the repair of the church, seems of a more modern date than the rest of it. In the north chancel there is an antient tomb, without any inscription, and a vault underneath it. On the pavement is a stone, coffin-shaped, very antient, having on it a cross, with leaves on each side of the stem, and a double bar across at the upper end. The font is very antient, supported on four stone pillars.
The advowson of the church was formerly part of the possessions of the family of Fitzbernard, for it appears by the escheat-rolls, that Ralph Fitzbernard died possessed of it anno 34 Edward I. His son Thomas dying s. p. his daughter Margaret entitled her husband Guncelin de Badlesmere to it, whose son Bartholomew de Badlesmere designing to found a priory at Badlesmere, obtained the king's licence, anno 13 Edward II. for that purpose, and to endow it with the advowson of this church among other premises. But the design never took place, and it afterwards came into the possession of his son Giles de Badlesmere, who died s. p. in the 12th year of Edward III. on which his four sisters became his coheirs, and jointly possessed of this advowson among the rest of their inheritance, which seems to have remained for some length of time afterwards in their descendants, almost till the reign of Henry VIII. when it appears to have been vested in the crown, whence it was granted by that king, in his 29th year, to archbishop Cranmer, in exchange. Since which it has continued parcel of the possessions of that see to this time, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.
This rectory is valued in the king's books at 15l. 19s. 2d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 11s. 11d. In 1588 it was valued at one hundred and fifty pounds, communicants sixty-four. In 1662 it was valued at 172l. 6s. 2d. the like number of communicants. It is now valued at 160l. per annum. The glebe land belonging to this church is twenty-seven acres and and half.
Church of Old Romney.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Archbishop.||Kenclm Digby, Jan. 15, 1567, obt. 1603.|
|Benjamin Carrier, S. T. P. June 17, 1603, deprived 1614. (fn. 3)|
|James Cleland, A. M. July 10, 1614, obt. 1627. (fn. 4)|
|John Jeffray, S. T. P. January 25, 1627, resigned the same year. (fn. 5)|
|Robert Say, S. T. P. March 17, 1627, obt. 1628.|
|John Gee, A. M. April 17, 1628.|
|Meric Casaubon, S. T. P. resig, 1634. (fn. 6)|
|John Swinnock, S. T. B. Dec. 5, 1634.|
|William Watson, A. M. April 6, 1670, obt. 1690.|
|The King, sede vac.||John Defray, August 6, 1690, obt. Sept. 4, 1738. (fn. 7)|
|The Archbishop.||John Peters, A. M. February 21, 1739, obt. February 1763.|
|John Fowell, S. T. P. August 3, 1763, resigned the same year.|
|Thomas Freeman, A. M. Dec. 14, 1763, resigned February 1788. (fn. 8)|
|Joshua Dix, A. M. February, 1788, the present rector. (fn. 9)|