A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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EAST AND WEST MOLESEY
The two Moleseys, East and West, are two small parishes, which consisted in 1086 of three manors, all called Molesham. Parochially they first appear as two chapelries, which later became parishes, and now form one urban district under the Act of 1894. West Molesey, 3½ miles west of Kingston, is bounded on the north by the Thames, on the east and south by East Molesey, on the west and south by Waltonon Thames, of which it was a chapelry. Its extreme measurements are a mile each way, and it contains 656 acres of land and 81 of water. The parish was agricultural till the recent building of suburban or country houses in the Thames Valley. The soil is the gravel and alluvium of the Thames and Mole valleys; the latter partly bounds the parish. Dunstable Common is open ground south of the village, and Molesey Hurst is to the north of it on the banks of the Thames. This was a famous place for cricketmatches, prize-fights, and occasionally for duels. Hampton races used to be held upon it, Hampton being just across the Thames, over which is a ferry. The Hurst Park Racing Club was established on the ground in 1892. The Lambeth Waterworks have reservoirs partly in West Molesey.
There was an Inclosure Act in 1815 for East and West Molesey, though the award was not till 1 June 1821. (fn. 1) This inclosed commons and common fields.
In 1800, when Walton Commons were inclosed, the £6 13s. 4d. set apart from the Walton tithes for a curate of West Molesey was secured upon part of the inclosed land. The income has been raised to £150 by voluntary gifts.
East Molesey is a large scattered village 2 miles west of Kingston. It is bounded on the north-east by the Thames, on the east by Thames Ditton, on the south by Esher, on the west by Walton and West Molesey. It contains 743 acres of land and 38 of water. The Mole, which flows through the parish, divides to the south of the village, the western branch forming part of the boundary between West and East Molesey, the eastern branch between East Molesey and Thames Ditton. They re-unite and fall into the Thames within the parish. Dunstable Common and Molesey Hurst are partly in East and partly in West Molesey. The branch line from Surbiton to Hampton Court passes through part of the parish and terminates in it at Hampton Court station on the southern bank of the Thames. The soil is the gravel and alluvium of the river valleys.
Molesey was formerly a chapelry of Kingston parish, but was erected into a separate perpetual curacy by the Act 9 Geo. III, cap. 65. Previous to this date, however, it possessed parish officers of its own.
In 1856 Kent Town in East Molesey was made an ecclesiastical parish. A church (St. Paul's) was consecrated that year, but was finally rebuilt in 1888. It is of 15th-century style, of stone, with a tower and spire. The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1876 and the Baptist Chapel in 1885. The drinking fountain in Bridge Street was set up to commemorate the Jubilee of 1887. Hampton Court Bridge was built by James Clarke, who had a lease of the manor of Molesey Prior in 1750. (fn. 2) It was of wood and soon fell into disrepair. It was rebuilt of wood in 1778, and remained till 1865, when it was replaced by an iron bridge.
The limit of the tide in the unlocked Thames was near Molesey. Drayton refers to it in the Polyolbion, (fn. 3) and Selden's note on the passage is 'Mole's fall into the Thames is near the utmost of the flood.' As usual, near the head of the tide, there was a ford. When there was a question of the route by which Monmouth was to be brought as a prisoner from Guildford to London, Lord Lumley wrote, 'I think the best way will be by way of Hampton, where there is a good ford (opposite Molesey), and I think is a much better way than by Cobham and Kingston.' (fn. 4) However, the ford was not used then. (fn. 5) But its existence, as well as fords at Coway Stakes and Halliford, all near the flood limits, make the identification of Cæsar's crossing-place impossible.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two manors of 'Molesham' both held of Richard de Tonbridge by John (fn. 6) and by Roger D'Abernon respectively. They were both probably parts of what was afterwards Molesey Prior. Aluric and Toco had been the respective holders under King Edward. (fn. 7) Unless the two were amalgamated under Richard in the hands of the D'Abernons or under-tenants, the former disappears altogether.
Between 1129 and 1135 Engelram D'Abernon granted to Merton Priory this manor, thenceforth frequently called MOLESEY PRIOR. (fn. 8) Much confusion has arisen from the fact that both this manor and the manor of Molesey Matham are spoken of as 'the manor of East Moulsey.' Both seem to have included lands in both Moleseys and in Walton on Thames.
Early in the reign of Edward I the prior claimed rights of infangtheof, outfangtheof, &c., in Molesey. His claim was allowed. (fn. 9) In 1284 he complained that another of his rights there—pleas of theft —had been infringed. Amice of Ewell had been captured with stolen goods within his liberties at Molesey by two of his servants, and had been subsequently rescued. (fn. 10) The priory is stated in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas to have held property at Molesey which was taxed at £3 6s. (fn. 11) At the time of the Valor of 1535 the possessions of Merton Priory in Molesey were valued at £25 12s. 2d., being rents of assize and other rents, farm of the mill, &c. (fn. 12)
In 1518 the prior and convent demised to Sir Thomas Heneage, kt., the manor of 'East Molesey, with all their land and all their tithes in the precinct of East Molesey and Thames Ditton, and their live stock there; for which he was to pay a rent, partly in money and partly in kind, amounting in all to £26 2s. 2d.' The lease was for a term of sixtysix years. (fn. 13)
Henry VIII, when engaged in making the Chase of Hampton, desired to obtain possession of the manor and estate of East Molesey, and gave in exchange for it to the priory of Merton certain lands, tenements, advowsons, &c., formerly belonging to the suppressed monastery of Calwich, co. Stafford. (fn. 14) Whereupon 'John, Prior of Merton, and the convent by indenture dated 1536 conveyed to the king all their tithes, oblations, and profits in East Molesey, parcel of the parsonage of Kingston, and all their lands, &c., in East Molesey or elsewhere reputed parcel of the said manor.' (fn. 15)
Sir Thomas Heneage was Gentleman Usher to Wolsey and counsel to the Prior of Merton, and resided at East Molesey (fn. 16) in a stately house which he had himself built. The estate which he held on lease from Merton Priory becoming the property of the Crown, as shown above, he appears to have resigned his lease, and to have obtained from the king a new grant of Molesey Prior, with tithes in East Molesey of the annual value of £10, with court-leet and view of frankpledge. He died without issue in 1553; the renewed lease expired in 1584, but in 1571 Anthony Crane obtained from the queen a lease in reversion of the manor, which included a mansionhouse, with 2 acres and 2 roods of land annexed, and 125 acres and 2 roods of other land, at the same rent at which it was held by Sir Thomas Heneage. (fn. 17) In 1594 the manor was granted to Richard Cox, (fn. 18) and in 1629 to Sir Nicholas Fortescue, kt., to hold for thirty-one years. (fn. 19)
After the Restoration Charles II, in January 1668–9, granted to James Clarke for a fine of £450 and a rent of £2 14s. 2d. 'the manor of East Molesey, parcel of the honour of Hampton Court, and formerly a possession of the late monastery of Merton; except the advowsons of churches and chapels, and a mill and mines and quarries which were granted to Sir Nicholas Fortescue, kt., 19 October 1629, to hold for thirty-one years.' (fn. 20) This grant included the capital messuage called East Molesey Manor, the fishery of the River Mole from Cobham Bridge to the Thames, and Hampton Court ferry. In January 1675–6 James Clarke asked that the term for which he held the manor might be made up to ninety-nine years; (fn. 21) and the grant was finally made out for the respective terms of seventy-eight, seventy-seven, and seventy-six years from Michaelmas 1697, 27 May 1698, and Lady Day 1699, at which times some intermediate leases that had been granted to other persons would terminate. (fn. 22)
In 1696 William III, in consideration of services done by Thomas, Duke of Leeds, granted the manor and fishing to Charles Bertie, brother-in-law to the duke, and others, to hold in trust for thirty-one years after the death of Catherine, queen dowager. (fn. 23) Brayley says: (fn. 24) 'Since the expiration of those terms (i.e. the terms of the grant to Clarke) in 1775, the lease of this manor has always been granted from the Crown to the proprietors of the manor of Molesey Matham, except in one instance when a grant in reversion was made to a stranger; but before the estate came into his possession, his interest was purchased by the persons who held Molesey Matham.' The reversion is said by Manning and Bray (fn. 25) to have been purchased by Mr. Sutton and Sir Beaumont Hotham, (fn. 26) afterwards second Baron Hotham. Captain Hotham, great-grandson of the latter, is now lord of the manor.
A second manor of MOLESEY is mentioned in Domesday as held by Odard the crossbowman. Tovi had held it of King Edward. (fn. 27) It appears that the descendants of Odard continued to hold the manor, and assumed a territorial designation. The name of Robert of Molesey occurs in 1164. (fn. 28) In 1176 Samson of Molesey was charged with 30 marks for an amercement in the forest. (fn. 29) In 1231 Samson of Molesey, whose name occurs in connexion with various lawsuits, (fn. 30) 'attornavit' Gilbert of Eye against Walter of the Wood (fn. 31) and Margaret his wife of customs &c. which Samson exacted (exigit) from them in East and West Molesey. (fn. 32)
Samson son of Samson held half Molesey by the service of supplying a crossbowman for the king's army. (fn. 33) His serjeanty descended to Walter of Molesey, probably his son. (fn. 34) This Walter had a daughter, by name Isabella, and in 1279 Roger Clifford held this land by the serjeanty of a crossbowman [arcubalistarium] as guardian to her. (fn. 35) It seems probable that Isabella married John de Matham, who in 1333 died seised of the manor of Molesey, held of the king in chief by finding one man for the army, and by paying by the hands of the men of Kingston 8s. and to them 3s. The manor included a capital messuage, a water-mill, three tenants holding three messuages and 24 acres of land, eighteen customars holding eighteen messuages and 5 virgates of land, &c. (fn. 36)
John de Matham left several sons, the eldest being Walter, who died a year after his father, and was succeeded by his brother Samson. (fn. 37) The latter in 1358 gave the manor to his son Hamelin in tail. The estate now comprised pastures at Walton and lands at Kingston, Esher, and Hersham (Hauerychisham). (fn. 38) In 1379 a licence was granted to Hamelin de Matham to settle the manor on his wife Cicely. (fn. 39) Hamelin died in 1382 seised of 1 acre of land in East Molesey (fn. 40) (possibly the manor was then in the hands of trustees), leaving two daughters co-heiresses of his property: Elizabeth wife of John Thorpe, and Margaret who married John Michell. Elizabeth died in 1421, and the whole manor became the property of her sister. (fn. 41) Margaret lived on for another thirty-four years, and died seised of the manor held of the king in chief by the service of onetwentieth part of a knight's fee.
The property was now divided into three parts. The first fell to the share of William Sydney, son and heir of Cecilia daughter of Margaret Michell; the second to Margaret's second daughter, Elizabeth wife of John Wood; and the last to her third daughter, Joan wife of William Druell. (fn. 42) In 1463 John Wood, sen., and Elizabeth his wife settled their third of the manor on the heirs of Elizabeth. (fn. 43) In 1484 Sir John Wood, knighted in 1483, (fn. 44) died seised of a third of the manor in right of his wife, but leaving no direct heirs. His sister-in-law, Joan widow of William Druell, therefore inherited this portion of the estate, (fn. 45) which she held together with her own share till her death in 1495. Upon this John Druell, son of her son William, without livery from the king, entered and intruded on the property as her 'cousin' and heir. He was not ejected, but only survived his grandmother by a few months, and was succeeded by his brother Richard Druell, aged fourteen. This part of the manor is described as containing the site or house called 'le Manor Place,' 200 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, a water mill, a free fishery in the Thames, 10s. rent due at Easter and Michaelmas yearly from divers free tenants, view of frankpledge, and court baron. It was valued at £4 clear yearly, and was held of the king in chief by one-fortieth of a knight's fee. (fn. 46) In 1511 Richard Druell and Grace his wife conveyed one-third of the manor, probably this same part subsequently known as the manor of MOLESEY MATHAM or EAST MOLESEY, to William Frost and others (fn. 47) in trust for Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who settled it on that foundation as part of its endowment by deed dated 17 December 1518. (fn. 48) Henry VIII, wishing to annex this manor to the Chase of Hampton Court, exchanged for it with the college the manor of West Henreth or Hendred, co. Berks., with certain church property in cos. Berks. and Oxford; and the college conveyed the estate to the king by indenture dated 4 March 1536. The transaction was ratified by an Act of Parliament. (fn. 49) From this date the manor remained vested in the Crown.
James I in 1624 granted to William Holt and others for thirty-one years a wood called Hurst Coppice, parcel of the manor of Molesey Matham; (fn. 50) and by letters patent dated a few months later granted the manor of Molesey Matham with a water-mill to John Littcott for a similar period. (fn. 51) In 1633 Sir John Littcott purchased (fn. 52) for £862 14s. 8d. the fee-simple of the manor of Ralph Freeman, alderman of London. To him, or rather to Basil Nicoll and others in trust for him, it had been granted in the previous year by Charles I by the description of the manor of Molesey Matham, a water-mill there, Hurst Coppice, &c., valued at £34 12s. 10d. per annum, to be held as of the manor of East Greenwich in socage. (fn. 53) In 1641 Sir John conveyed the manor and lands to trustees, to the use of himself for life, and after his decease to be sold for the benefit of his wife and family. (fn. 54) In April 1646 the trustees, the widow, and the eldest son of Sir John joined in a sale of the estate, with the rectory of East Molesey, for £4,000 to Henry Pickering of London; (fn. 55) who on 30 March following sold it for £4,050 to James Clarke. (fn. 56)
Mary (fn. 57) daughter and sole heiress of James Clarke conveyed the estate by marriage to Sir James Clarke, kt., of a different family from her own, by whom she had a son, James Clarke, who died in 1758. He married Ann, only daughter of Christopher Clarke, and Lydia Henrietta, their only daughter and heiress, became the wife of the Reverend Sir George Molesworth. In 1765 'the manor of Molesey Matham or East Molesey' with the rectory of East Molesey appears to have been held by Joseph Clarke and Frances his wife. (fn. 58) In 1816 Beaumont Lord Hotham held a moiety of the manor. (fn. 59) The other moiety belonged in 1809 to Sir Thomas Sutton, bart., by whose father it had been purchased. (fn. 60) Lucy co-heiress of Sir Thomas Sutton married General Sir G. H. F. Berkeley. Captain Hotham and the Earl of Berkeley are now lords of the manor.
The other third of the manor (after the division in 1455) was held by William Sydney at his death in 1462. (fn. 61) It was inherited by his two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, between whom his share was divided. (fn. 62) Elizabeth, who was only six at the time of her father's death, subsequently married John Hampden, and in 1511 Elizabeth wife of John Hampden held one-sixth of the manor. (fn. 63) In that year she with her husband conveyed it to William Frost, (fn. 64) so that probably this sixth also formed part of the lands granted by the Bishop of Winchester to Corpus Christi College. The other sixth seems to have been afterwards acquired by Sir Richard Page, who was living at Molesey in 1532. (fn. 65)
In 1538 the king ordered Page to leave Molesey, and gave him in exchange the nunnery of St. Giles in the wood, Flamstead, Herts, from which he ejected John Tregonwell to make room for Page, much to the former's indignation. (fn. 66) The king gave Sir Richard lands in exchange for West Molesey, (fn. 67) which he annexed to the honour of Hampton Court.
Edward VI in 1553 granted the manor to Sir Richard Cotton, kt., by the name of WEST MOLESEY, (fn. 68) and from him it passed to William Hammond early in Queen Mary's reign. (fn. 69) In 1570 Queen Elizabeth granted to William Hammond licence to alienate the lordship and manor of West Molesey, with a capital messuage, &c., (fn. 70) to Thomas Brend, sen., and Thomas his son and heir. In September 1598 Thomas Brend, junr. died seised of the manor and farm in West Molesey late belonging to William Hammond, held of the Crown. (fn. 71) He was succeeded by his son Nicholas, whose will bears date 10 October 1601. (fn. 72) At the time of the death of Nicholas, his only son Matthew was not much over a year old. (fn. 73) Subsequently several conveyances took place between Matthew and his son Thomas and various members of the Smith family, (fn. 74) by whom it seems to have been ultimately acquired, for in 1767 the manor was in the possession of Sir Robert Smith, bart. (fn. 75) Before 1816 it seems to have become amalgamated with Molesey Matham, for Beaumont, Lord Hotham, then held a moiety of 'the manor of Molesey Matham, or West Molesey.'
In 1212 the Prior of Merton brought an action against Samson of Molesey, who had a mill in East Molesey called Upmilne, for having diverted the course of the water of Molesey to the injury of the free tenant of the priory there. (fn. 76) The grant to Sir Thomas Heneage by Henry VIII included a mill in East Molesey called Stert Mill, and two ferries leading from East and West Molesey to Hampton Court. (fn. 77)
In 1585 Anthony Crane, tenant of the manor, having died, his widow had a grant of Stert Mill and the two ferries for forty-one years. (fn. 78) One ferry was granted to Lady Dorothy Edmonds in 1606 for forty years, together with Stert Mill. (fn. 79) In 1611 Stert Mill was granted to Felin Wilson and others; (fn. 80) and in 1612 Martin Freeman received a grant of a rent of £7 reserved for the same mill. (fn. 81) 'Molesey-mill' is mentioned in 1536. (fn. 82)
Grants of free fishery at East Molesey occur from time to time. (fn. 83)
At Molesey Park was formerly an extensive powdermill situated on the River Mole, which runs through the grounds. The powder manufacture has long been discontinued. (fn. 84)
The church has been entirely rebuilt during modern times, and is in late 13th-century style. The east window of the chancel is of three traceried lights, and there is a single lancet in the north wall and three in the south. The nave has an arcade of four bays on the north and five on the south, with circular columns and foliate capitals, and the aisles are gabled to the north and south, the eastern bay of each aisle being larger than the rest, and marked by a wider arch in the nave arcades.
The tower is in two stages with two-light belfry windows and a slated broach spire with a wooden spire-light on each face. On the east wall of the nave is a brass tablet to Anthony Standen, 1611, third son of Edmond Standen, 'which Antonie was cupbearer to ye king of Scotland sometyme Ld: Darnley father to King James now of England.' The tablet was put up by Elizabeth his widow.
Above is a shield charged with a single molet, and on a chief indented a lion passant. In the walls of the porch a fragmentary tablet records Francis Eedes, 1667, Richard Eedes his son, 1660, and Francis son of Richard, 1690. A separate fragment has a shield: two bars vair impaling three molets between two bends.
The church of WEST MOLESEY, whose dedication is unknown, consists of chancel with north vestry, nave with north aisle, west tower, and south porch. With the exception of the tower the whole building is of yellow brick, having been rebuilt in modern times. The tower is of 16th-century date and is built of flint and stone. The tower arch is of straight-lined four-centred form with moulded capitals to the inner order. The west window of the ground stage has restored tracery of three trefoiled lights, and below it is a blocked four-centred doorway under a square head, with continuous mouldings and leaves in the spandrels.
The tower is in three stages, each slightly set back, with a square stair-turret at the south-east. Above the west window is carved a pelican in her piety. On the north and south faces of the second stage are single light windows in deep external reveals, and the belfry windows are square-headed with two uncusped lights. There is a plain brick parapet.
The church contains little of interest beyond a small altar table with 17th-century carving, and carved legs, partly gilt in modern times, and a good 17th-century pulpit with a fine hexagonal canopy which has a panelled soffit. The font is of 15th-century date and has an octagonal bowl with quatrefoiled panels inclosing flowers, an octagonal panelled stem and a moulded base. On the chancel floor is a brass tablet to Thomas Brend of West Molesey, 1598, the father of eighteen children, four sons and six daughters by Margery his first wife, ob. 1564, and four sons and four daughters by Mercy his second wife, ob. 1597.
The plate comprises a cup of 1800, a paten without date-letter, but c. 1680, a flagon of 1782, and a pretty two-handled porringer of about the same date, a secular piece of plate given in 1686 by Francis Brend.
The church stands at cross-roads on the straggling street which forms West Molesey. It is about half a mile south of the river, this ground being occupied on the west and north-west by the reservoirs of the Lambeth Water Works. On the south are flat open fields with hedgerows.
East Molesey was formerly a chapelry to Kingston. Gilbert Norman, Sheriff of Surrey, is stated by Dugdale, on the authority of Leland, to have added to the endowment of Merton Priory, about the year 1130, the church of Kingston with the chapelry of East Molesey. (fn. 85) The church, which is in the deanery of Ewell, is not mentioned in the Taxatio of 1291. In 1387 the Bishop of Winchester commissioned the Dean of Ewell to cite the Prior and convent of Merton and the vicar of Kingston to appear and answer for dilapidations in the chancel of East Molesey. (fn. 86) The rectory was granted in 1613 to Francis Morrice and others, with tithes of hay, &c. (fn. 87) In 1619 an annual rent of £10 3s. 4d. reserved from the rectory was granted to Laurence Whitaker. (fn. 88)
Early in 1769 the living was constituted a perpetual curacy, independent of Kingston, and East Molesey became a distinct parish. The patrons and impropriators are the Provost and Fellows of King's College, Cambridge, who in 1786 purchased the advowson from George Harding. This purchase was subject to the deduction of the next presentation, which had been previously granted to Mrs. Legh of Kingston, and afterwards sold by her to William Attwick, who presented in 1797. (fn. 89) The living is valued at £157.
There was a church on the Domesday holding of Odard at Molesey, the orgin of West Molesey Church; but the church is not mentioned in the Taxatio of 1291, and was a chapel of ease to Walton on Thames, the impropriators of which, St. Mary's Chantry, York, paid £6 13s. 4d. to a curate. (fn. 90)
Queen Elizabeth in 1583 granted the chapel of West Molesey to Theophilus Adams and Robert Adams and the heirs of Theophilus. (fn. 91)
It subsequently passed with Walton on Thames, the impropriator of which appointed. The endowment was increased in 1843, when the chancel was rebuilt and West Molesey was constituted a separate parish, with the advowson in the hands of the Rev. H. Binney. The patron was recently Lady Barrow, now Mrs. Forster.
CHARITIES IN EAST MOLESEY
From 1710, but how much further back is unknown, the parish held 18 or 19 acres of land called Hale, Hale Platts, and the Platts, for the repairs of the church and the relief of the poor. In 1789 these were leased to Thomas Sutton, lessee of the manor, for ninety-nine years. In 1815, after the Inclosure Act (see West Molesey), the lessee claimed the fee simple as owner under the Inclosure Award of these lands as ancient waste of the manor. A Chancery suit ensued in 1818, decided in 1823 in favour of the parish. (fn. 92) In 1728 the will of William Hatton of East Molesey (made in 1703) became operative, by which he left premises in Mark Lane on trust to pay £20 a year to the minister of East Molesey, provided that he was established with the consent of the inhabitants, and for '6 ruggs' a year to the poor of East and West Molesey, Thames Ditton, and Kingston 'wanting bed-clothes.' He also left his house and another in East Molesey for the poor. In 1772 Mr. John Grindell left twenty loaves annually, and in 1780 Mr. Thomas Willett left money producing £3 10s. annually for the poor. In 1786 the churchwardens returned that £5 10s. was received annually for coals for the poor, out of the rent of a house in Horse Shoe Court, London, donor unknown; and that there were three almshouses, donor unknown. In 1730 Mr. Thomas Kempe of Laleham left 10s. a year for the young men 'to ring the bells and make merry' on 6 August in memory of himself.
CHARITIES IN WEST MOLESEY
Mr. Joseph Palmer early in the 19th century built a gallery in the church, the two front pews in which were leased for the poor at £2 each. He also gave £500 3% consols for the poor in potatoes, coals, and bread, for coals for the church stove, and one guinea to the parish clerk.