The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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THE next parish northward is West Langdon, which takes its name from the long down or ridge of hills on which it is situated; and to distinguish it from the adjoining parish of East Langdon, in the hundred of Corniloe, and it is sometimes written in old records Monken Langdon, from the monastery formerly situated within it. The manors of Norborne and East Langdon claim over some parts of this parish.
THIS PARISH is situated among the high hills and wide capacious valleys of this part of Kent, and like the rest of the neighbouring parishes is mostly open and uninclosed, having no wood, and but little shelter within it; the soil is like that of the adjoining parish of Whitfield, chalky and poor. It is but small, containing about six hundred acres; the church which is in ruins, with about tweleve houses, forming the village, stands round a green of about an acre in compass, in the middle of the parish. About a quarter of a mile eastward from which are the ruins of the abbey, and the house called the Abbey farm, which latter was modernized and new fronted with brick by the Thornhills; but it appears now to be again falling to decay.
THE MANOR OF WEST LANGDON was antiently part of those lands which made up the barony of Averenches, alias Folkestone, of which it was antiently held by knight's service and ward to the castle of Dover, by the family of Auberville, or De Albrincis, as they were written in Latin deeds, whose capital seat was at Westenhanger; one of them, Sir William de Auberville, senior, resided there in king Richard I.'s reign, and held this manor as above-mentioned; and having in the fourth year of it, anno 1192, founded within this manor AN ABBEY of white canons of the Premonstratensian order, brought hither from Leyston, in Suffolk, in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary and St. Thomas the Martyr, of Canterbury, he gave this manor, among other lands, as an endowment to it in pure and perpetual alms, free from all secular service and payment, (fn. 1) which foundation and gift was afterwards confirmed by Simon de Auberville, or Albrincis; and in the 30th year of king Edward I. by Sir Nicholas de Criol, great grandson by a female heir of the founder before-mentioned, by which means this abbey from that time came under the patronage and protection of the family of Criol, after which, in the 19th year of king Edward II. Edward, earl of Chester, the king's eldest son, guardian of the kingdom of England, and the king's locum tenens in it, was here at Langedon, on the 3d of August.
But whether the endowment of this abbey was not sufficient for its maintenance as such, so that being unable to support the expence and dignity of an abbot, it seems at times to have discontinued the election of one, and to have remained contented under the government of a prior, as the head of it, and frequently to have been under the estimation of a priory, (as appears by many deeds and instruments at different times relating to it) in like manner as Combwell and many other religious houses elsewhere, in which estate it continued till the final dissolution of it in the 27th gear of king Henry VIII. when the abbot, (for so he is stiled in the instrument of surrender) and religious of this monastery, foreseeing the impending storm to crush them, and knowing themselves culpable of many irregularities, and being besides so artfully managed by the king's commissioners, that they desired to leave their prosession and habit, and to give up their house and possessions to the king, as their founder and patron, on No vember 13, that year, voluntarily surrendered both into his hands, which surrendry was confirmed by the act which passed afterwards that year, by which all religious houses, which were under the clear yearly value of 200l. were suppressed, and this act not only gave those to the king, but all such as within one year next before had been given up to him or otherwise dissolved, this house being at that time of the clear yearly value of 47l. 6s. 10d. and of the gross revenue of 56l. 6s. 9d.
WILLIAM SAYER was the last abbot, who with ten monks, surrendered this abbey into the king's hands. (fn. 2) The arms of the abbey were, Azure, two crosiers in saltier, argent, the dexter crook, or, the sinister, sable.
The manor of West Langdon, with the scite of the abbey, and other lands and possessions belonging to it, remained afterwards in the crown, till the king, in his 29th year, granted the whole of them, excepting the advowsons of churches, and subject to a payment, to the curate of West Langdon, and other payments, to archbishop Cranmer, who not long afterwards exchanged this manor, the scite of the monastery, and all the lands in this parish belonging to it, again with the crown, where they remained, till queen Elizabeth in her 33d year granted this estate to Samuel Thornhill, esq. of London, (fn. 3) in whose descendants it continued, till it was at length alienated to Master, of the adjoining parish of East Langdon, and from that name again about the beginning of queen Anne's reign to Henry Furnese, esq. of London, the son of George, brother of Sir H. Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, who passed it away by sale to Coke, descended from a younger branch of the family seated at Holkham, in Norfolk, and he devised it by will to his brother Edward Coke, esq. afafterwards of Canterbury. He married Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Hales, bart. of Bekesborne, by whom he had two daughters his coheirs, Mary married to Sir William Lynch, K. B. of Groves, in this county; and Annette married to Lewis Cage, esq. of Milgate, in Bersted. He died in 1773, and by will gave this estate to his grandson Lewis Cage, esq. jun. since of Combe, in Berstled, the eldest son of Lewis Cage, esq. by Annetta his youngest daughter; Mr. Cage married Fanny, the eldest daughter of the late Sir Brook Bridges, bart. of Goodnestone, by whom he has one daughter; (fn. 4) he is at this time the possessor of this estate. A court baron is held for this manor.
The church, which was dedicated to St. Mary, has been long in a ruinated state. In 1660, Sir Thomas Peyton, bart. of Knolton, had a design to repair it, for which purpose he provided a quantity of timber, but in the night the country people stole the whole of it away, and besides took away the pulpit, pews, &c. which had been left standing, out of the church; in which dilapidated situation it still continues. The ruins of it consist of a nave and chancel tolerably entire, excepting the roof. In the chancel is a gravestone, now covered with rubbish, for Sir Timothy Thornhill, once owner of this abbey.
The church of West Langdon was antiently appendant to the manor, and as a such was of the patronage of the abbot and convent of West Langdon, to which it was appropriated, and continued so till the dissolution of it in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when this church, with the manor, among the rest of the possessions of the abbey, was granted to the archbishop, who, though he not long afterwards exchanged the manor again with the crown, retained this church, among others, in his possession, and it has continued ever since in the patronage of his successors, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.
It is valued in the king's books at 6l. 13s. 4d. but since the dissolution of the abbey it has been esteemed only as a curacy, to which the archbishop nominates, and is now of the clear yearly value of sixteen pounds.
This curacy has been augmented by the governors of queen Anne's bounty, with the money from which, a small farm of about thirty pounds per annum, lying in this parish, Guston, and Little Mongeham, was purchased for the augmentation of the vicarages of the parishes of West Langdon and Guston. There are three acres of glebe, but no vicarage house.
The rectors of the adjoining parish of East Langdon have been for a long time past successively nominated to the several archbishops to this curacy, whose names may be seen under the description of that parish, ThoDelanoy, rector of East Langdon, being the present curate of West Langdon, nominated to it by the archbishop, in 1788.