The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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LIES the next parish eastward from Ewell, being written in Domesday, both Ripa and ad Ripam; in other Latin records, Ripa and Riparia; and in English ones, River, taking its name from the river which flows through it.
RIVER is pleasantly situated about two miles from Dover, in a variety of country of high hills and deep extensive valleys; the high London road goes through it, on the left side of which the uniclosed down hills rise very sudden and high. On the other side, the slope of the value is as sudden for two or three fields, at the bottom of which the river Dour meanders its little silver stream; on the further bank, among a narrow range of meadows, is a long straggling row of pretty neat-built houses, among which are three papermills, a corn, and a seed mill, comprehending the village of River, having the church in the midst of them, beyond which the hills rise again very high, being frequently arable, interspersed with small coppices and clumps of wood wildly placed among them. The view of this from the London road forms a most romantic and picturesque scene, when at the same time straight forward, through the opening of the valley, there is a view of the town of Dover and its churches, and beyond, the British channel and the high hills of Bologne on the coast of France, and on the height of the hills to the left, the stately buildings of Dover castle.
The soil, in the northern part of this parish on the hills, is mostly chalk, and on those on the other side of it the same, but interspersed with a red earth, intermixed with quantities of sharp flints; a barren and hungry soil. In the vale near the river the meadows are rich and fertile. Upon the hill, on the left side of the London road, near the lime kiln, are several tumuli, some of which were lately opened, and in each of them was found a skeleton, a sword of about three feet long and two inches broad, and the head of a spear.
IT APPEARS by the Testa de Nevill, that this parish in the latter end of king John's reign was an escheat of the crown, and held in three parts; one of which, the castle of Dover held; another part, the canons of St. Radigund's held; and the third part was held by Soloman de Dover, of the gift of king John, and the whole was worth xxx pounds. The former of these afterwards came into the possession of the hospital of St. Mary, otherwise called the Maison Dieu, of Dover; the other part, belonging to St. Radigund's, will be further mentioned below in the ecclesiastical account of this parish; and the third part was, what is now called, the manor of Archers court, situated likewise within the bounds of this parish.
THE MANOR OF RIVER, which was comprehended in that third part of this parish first above-mentioned, seems to have been in the reign of the Conqueror part of the possessions of Hugh de Montfort, and perhaps described among those lands mentioned in the survey of Domesday before, under the parish of Ewell. His lands, on the exile of his grandson Robert de Montfort, in king Henry I.'s reign, escheated to the crown, whence great part of them in this neighbourhood were afterwards granted to Robert, son of Bernard de Ver, constable of England, who had married Adeliza, daughter of Hugh de Montfort; after which these possessions came to Henry de Essex, who was constable likewise of England, from his succession to which as well as from other circumstances, it should seem that he became entitled to them by inheritance. Henry de Essex was baron of Raleigh, in Essex, and hereditary standard-bearer of England, but for his cowardice in a battle against the Welsh, in the 10th year of that reign, he forfeited all his possessions, which became escheats to the crown; among them was this manor of River, held of the king as above-mentioned, and it appears to have continued in the crown during king John's and the beginning of king Henry III.'s reign, who in the 13th year of it, at the petition of Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, confirmed it to the hospital of St. Mary, at Dover, (afterwards called the Maison Dieu) which Hubert had founded, to hold in pure and perpetual alms; (fn. 1) after which, in the 21st year of king Edward I. upon a quo warranto, the master of the Maison Dieu was allowed the usual privileges of a manor in this parish, and king Henry VI. in his 2d year again confirmed it to the hospital, part of the possessions of which it continued till the reign of king Henry VIII. when on the suppression of it this manor came into the king's hands, where it seems to have remained without interruption till Charles II.'s reign, when it was alienated by the crown to the dean and chapter of Rochester, with whom it remains at this time. A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.
ARCHERS-COURT is a manor situated in the northern part of this parish, on the hills adjoining to that of Whitfield, in which parish, as well as in those of Guston and Waldershare, some parts of it lie.
In the time of king John this manor was in the possession of Soloman de Dovere, as appears by the Testa de Nevill mentioned before, and it seems as if this person was the same as is mentioned in the pleas of the crown, anno 21 Edward I. by the name of Soloman de Champs, or Chauns, who might from his residence there be likewise called de Dovere; in which pleas, as well as by the inquisition taken after his death in the 31st year of that reign, he is said to hold certain lands, called Coperland and Atterton, (part of this manor, as will appear by the records mentioned hereafter) of the king in capite, by the sergeantry and service of holding the king's head between Dover and Whitsond, as often as it should happen for him to pass the sea between those ports, and there should be occasion for it. He died possessed of this manor and land above-mentioned, in the 31st year of king Edward I. and was succeeded by his son and heir Gregory de Dovere; but I find no more mention of this name afterwards, but that it became the possessions of a family named Archer, and sometimes I'Archer, from whom it acquired the name of Archers-court, one of whom, Nicholas Archer, held it in the 1st year of king Edward II. as did William Archer in the 20th year of king Edward III. then holding it in sergeantry. At length, after this name was become extinct here, this manor was alienated to Bandred, or Brandred, in which it continued for several years, till at length the manor itself, with the court-lodge, and part of the demesne lands, together with Coperland, were sold by one of them, in the 1st year of king Edward IV. to Thomas Doilie, esq. and the other part of the demesne lands, since known by the name of Little Archers-court, to Sir George Browne, of Beechworthcastle; a further account of which will be given hereafter.
From one of the descendants of the above-mentioned Thomas Doilie, this manor was in king Henry VIII.'s reign exchanged with the crown, and that king in his 36th year granted it to Sir James Hales, in whose family it continued till it was sold to Lee, who passed it away to Sir Hardress Waller, of Dublin, and he with others, in 1657, alienated this manor to Mr. Thomas Broom, of London, one of whose descendants of the same name sold it to Richards Rouse, of Dover, whose arms were Sable, a fess dancette, or, between three crescents, argent, and his daughter carried it in marriage to Phineas Stringer, esq. of Dover, who is the present owner of it.
THE OTHER PART of Archers-court, which was sold in king Edward IV.'s reign, as has been mentioned before, to Sir George Browne, of Beechworthcastle, was afterwards known by the name of LITTLE ARCHERS COURT. Sir George Browne was sheriff in the 21st year of the above reign, but was attainted anno I Richard III. and restored again in the first year of king Henry VII. His son Sir Matt. Browne died anno 4 and 5 Philip and Mary, possessed of this estate, with lands in River, alias Archers-court, called Copland, held in capiteby sergeantry, and the service mentioned before, as was found by inquisition taken after his death that year. His grandson Sir Thomas Browne, of Beechworth-castle, who has his landsdisgavelled by the two acts of the 1st and 8th years of queen Elizabeth, afterwards passed away this estate to Capt. Isaac Honywood, who was slain at the battle of Newport, and dying s.p. devised it by his will to his nephew, Col. Henry Honeywood, who died in 1662, and was buried in the cathedral of Canterbury, the register of which says, he was a colonel sometime under that grand rebel Oliver Cromwell.
After his death, this estate seems to have come into the possession of his first-cousin Sir Thomas Honywood, of Marks-hall, in Essex; since whose death, in 1666, it has descended down in like manner as Marks-hall, and his other estates in this county, to Filmer Honywood, esq. now of Marks-hall, late knight of the shire for this county, who is the present owner of it.
CASTNEY-COURT, as it is commonly called, but properly Kersoney, is another manor, situated partly in the western part of this parish, adjoining to the river, and partly in the parishes of Ewell and Whitfield. It was antiently accounted part of the barony of Saye, being held of Dover castle, and at the latter end of king Edward I.'s reign was in the possession of the family of Paganel, or Painall, as they were usually called. John Paganel died possessed of it anno 12 Edward II. leaving a daughter and heir Maud; after which, I find it held by Elias de Bocton, by knight's service, by the description of lands at La Kersony. After this the family of Norwood became possessed of it, and in later times the Ropers, of St. Dunstan's; for John Roper, esq. of St. Dunstan's, died possessed of it in the 5th year of king Henry VII. holding it by knight's service. In his descendants this manor continued till the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, when it was conveyed by sale to Best, of Canterbury; the last of which name who held it was George Best, who alienated it to Capt. Nicholas Toke, who after the death of king Charles I. conveyed his interest in it to Charles Fotherbye, esq. and he dying s.p. it came to his brother Thomas Fotherbye, esq. of Crixall, in Staple, whose only son of the same name alienated it to William Richards, of Dover, and he in 1701 devised it to his nephew. John Sladden, merchant, of Dover, who devised it to his sister Mary, who married Mr. Thomas Fagge, of Dover. Her trustees, after his death, disposed of it to fulfill the purpose of her will, to Mr. William Andrews, of London, who in 1788 devised it to Thomas Biggs, esq. of Dover, who bears for his arms, Argent, on a fess, between three martlets, sable, as many annulets, or, and he is the present owner of it. A court baron is held for this manor.
There are no parochial charities; the poor have a right to commoning on the Minnis, which is a large common or heath of three hundred actres, called River Minnis, lying on the hills at the southern boundary of this parish, next to Polton. A new workhouse is built in this parish, for the united parishes of Alkham, Capel, Hougham, River, Buckland, Charlton, and Whitfield. The poor constantly relieved are about twelve, casually the same.
King John, in his 9th year, granted to the abbot and canons of St. Radigund of Bradsole, this church of St. Peter of River, and his place and court of the manor, to hold in pure and perpetual alms, for the building of their abbey there, which was then at Bradesole. (fn. 2) After which the king, in his 17th year, granted licence to them to appropriate this church. Notwithstanding the grant for the removal of the abbey hither, it never took place, but continued at Bradesole, in the adjoining parish of Polton, to the time of its dissolution, which happened in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when this appropriation, with the advowson of the vicarage, and the lands and possessions of the abbot and convent in this parish, as well as elsewhere, came into the king's hands, who granted them to the archbishop in exchange, and he soon afterwards reconveyed them to the crown, by an act specially passed for this purpose; but in it, among other exceptions was one of this church, appropriate of River, with the advowson of the vicarage, which have ever since continued parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury, his grace the archbishop being at this time entitled to them.—The parsonage, with two pieces of land, is demised on a beneficial lease, to Mr. Tho. Lamb, of Crabble.
In the 8th year of king Richard II. anno 1384, the vicarage, on account of it smallness, was not taxed to the tenth. It is valued in the king's books at 7l. 1s. 0½d. and is now of about the clear yearly value of eighteen pounds. In 1588 and 1640, here were fifty-eight communicants. The archbishop still pays the pension of 2l. 13s. 4d. formerly paid by the abbot and convent of St. Radigund's, to the vicar of this church.