A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Woldingham is a very small parish some 6 miles south-east of Croydon, standing upon the top of the Chalk Downs, and is 700 ft. and in places 800 ft. above the sea. The extreme length from north-west to south-east is about 1½ miles, the breadth about three-quarters of a mile. It contains 684 acres. Two bronze fibulae, some stone arrow-heads and celts were found here about 1800 and are illustrated by Manning and Bray.
The two farms, Upper Court and Nether Court, representing the divided manor, lie towards the northern part of the parish some way from the church. Besides the two farm-houses there were, when Brayley wrote in the earlier half of the 19th century, only four cottages, inhabited, however, by more than four families. The character of the parish has been changed, and is likely to be further modified, by the opening of the Croydon and East Grinstead railway in 1884. The line passes under the parish in a tunnel, no part of it being on the surface of Woldingham; but there is a Woldingham station, first called Marden Park, outside the parish in Godstone. The easy access from London and Croydon has caused the building of numerous small country houses. The estate of Upper Court Lodge has been largely broken up into small properties, and residents, attracted by the high situation and dry soil, are rapidly increasing. The parish being otherwise purely agricultural, and the soil (coarse gravel on the chalk) not particularly fertile, the poorer population has only grown to meet the needs of the new houses. The village is very small and is built round a green.
The Domesday Survey records that WOLDINGHAM was held by Ulstan of King Edward, but at the time of the Survey it was part of the possessions of Richard of Tonbridge. (fn. 1) The overlordship remained with the Clare family. (fn. 2)
Part of the manor was after 1290 held by the Earl of Gloucester and his successors in demesne. The rest (called Nethercourt, see below) continued to be held of him and his descendants as of their manor of Blechingley, the overlordship descending with that manor to Edward Duke of Buckingham, executed in 1521, when it escheated to the Crown.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Woldingham was held under Richard de Tonbridge by John, (fn. 3) probably an ancestor of John de Walton, who was holding in the beginning of the 13th century and died before 1232; the custody of his daughters and heirs was then granted to John the son of Philip. (fn. 4) Possibly one of these daughters had a son John de Walton, for the Testa de Nevill gives Hamon son of Philip holding half a knight's fee in Woldingham with the custody of John de Walton. (fn. 5) In 1290 John de Walton was holding the manor and enfeoffed his son John, (fn. 6) who had seisin and held his courts there until dispossessed by the bailiffs of Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester, to whom Sir John was forced to quitclaim the manor. The earl, however, apparently only succeeded in retaining a part of it, for at his death in 1295 he had 100 acres of pasture and 32s. rent of assize and the advowson of the chapel of Woldingham. (fn. 7) In 1307 his widow Joan died seised of 118 acres of land and pasture and 28s. 1d. rent. (fn. 8) For the rest of the manor, of which Sir John de Walton seems to have remained in possession, see Nether Court. Both holdings were sometimes called the manor of Woldingham. On the death of Gilbert de Clare (son of the above-mentioned earl) in 1314 his great estates were divided among his three sisters, and Blechingley, of which Woldingham was a parcel, passed to his second sister Margaret widow of Piers Gaveston, who in 1317 married Hugh de Audley. (fn. 9) They had one daughter and heir Margaret, who married Ralph Earl of Stafford. (fn. 10) He died in 1372 seised of a tenement in Woldingham and the church there. Their eldest son Ralph dying before his father, the second son Hugh succeeded to the title and estates. He enfeoffed his youngest son Hugh of Woldingham and this Hugh died seised in 1422 (fn. 11); leaving no issue, he was succeeded by his nephew Humphrey Earl of Stafford, (fn. 12) who in 1444 was created Duke of Buckingham. (fn. 13) In 1458 he executed a deed settling the manor on himself for life with remainder to his third son John afterwards Earl of Wiltshire and Constance his wife (fn. 14); he died in 1460. (fn. 15) At his death in 1473 John Earl of Wiltshire was found seised of the manor of Woldingham, held jointly with Constance his wife, (fn. 16) and she, dying two years later, left a son and heir Edward Stafford Earl of Wiltshire, (fn. 17) who died childless in 1499. The manor probably passed to his cousin's son Edward Duke of Buckingham, who was attainted and beheaded in 1521, when Woldingham (fn. 18) passed with his other possessions to the Crown.
Henry VIII granted Woldingham in February 1527–8 to John Bourchier Lord Berners, Deputy of Calais, (fn. 19) who died about four years afterwards, when the manor again reverted to the Crown. Although the limitation of the grant to John Bourchier was to him, his heirs and assigns for ever, the king claimed all his goods in Calais and certain English manors in satisfaction of large sums of money owing to him (fn. 20); Woldingham is not specified among these, but it was probably then seized. John Gresham, kt., of London appears to have obtained a grant of the estate; he died in October 1556, (fn. 21) having devised by will the manor of Woldingham to his wife Katherine for her life, with reversion to his son and heir William and his heirs male. (fn. 22) William died in 1578 and his widow Beatrice was enfeoffed of the manor for her life, with remainder to her son Thomas during the minority of Thomas third son of the said Thomas. (fn. 23) She died in 1604, and her son Sir Thomas seems to have kept the manor for his own use, for he died seised in 1630, (fn. 24) leaving three sons, of whom Thomas was in possession in 1650. (fn. 25) He appears to have conveyed it to trustees for sale, and it was purchased by Henry Bynes, (fn. 26) in whose family it remained until 1795. (fn. 27) It was then sold for £3,600 to William Bryant, (fn. 28) who in 1827–8 conveyed it with the liberties of foldage, sheep-walk, court leet and court baron to John Showell Withers. (fn. 29) Not long afterwards it was bought by William Jones, to whose family it belonged in 1862. (fn. 30) In 1870 Mr. J. Kitchen was lord of the manor, and twelve years later it was conveyed to William Gilford, who still holds it.
In 1363 Sir Thomas Uvedale, owner of Nether Court, leased the manor of Woldingham for ten years from Ralph Earl of Stafford, who reserved to himself and his heirs the advowson of the church and certain privileges as wardships, marriages, &c. (fn. 31)
In 1616 James I granted a court leet and view of frankpledge in Woldingham to William Jordan, (fn. 32) lord of Caterham. There is a fine dated 1825 between Thomas Clarke with Frances his wife and John Clarke concerning the manor of Woldingham (fn. 33); this may be a conveyance of these court leet rights.
—John de Walton continued to hold a part of Woldingham (see above) and obtained a grant of free warren in 1294. (fn. 34) He died before 15 January 1304–5, for at that date his heir, a minor, was in the custody of the king, Gilbert de Clare, his overlord, being also a minor. (fn. 35) In 1337 Joan, a daughter of Sir John de Walton, and probably the heir above-mentioned, released all her right in the manor to Eleanor late the wife of Sir Guy Ferre and to John de Bray. (fn. 36) It next appears in the possession of John Delamare, who is called 'lord of Woldingham' in 1348, when he granted the annual rent of a tenement in Woldingham to one Thomas Trot, (fn. 37) and two charters of the same date were witnessed by him. (fn. 38) In 1363 the manor was conveyed by trustees to Sir Thomas third son of John de Uvedale. (fn. 39) In 1473 Sir Thomas Uvedale, a greatgrandson of the former, made a settlement of the manor on himself and his (fourth) wife Elizabeth for their lives, with remainder to William their son. (fn. 40) At an inquisition taken at Godstone 3 November 1488 Elizabeth was found seised of Woldingham in her demesne as of fee, held of Edward Duke of Buckingham as of his manor of Blechingley. (fn. 41) She died 21 June 1488 and was buried in Grey Friars Church, London. (fn. 42) Her eldest son William had predeceased her and her second son Robert was her heir. He settled Woldingham on his wife Elizabeth (who afterwards married Thomas Leigh) for her life, with remainder to Arthur Uvedale, the grandson of his stepbrother William. (fn. 43) This Arthur in 1528 sold the reversion of the manor to John Gresham of London (fn. 44) and later in the same year released all right and title in the manor to William, John and Richard Gresham and the heirs of John, (fn. 45) who now owned the whole of the original manor of Woldingham. (fn. 46) John's grandson William conveyed Nethercourt Lodge Farm to Richard Hayward (1588–9), (fn. 47) in whose family it remained until 1731, (fn. 48) when Richard Hayward was succeeded by his sister, the wife of Mr. Hodsden. Her eldest son Richard Hodsden died before 1808, leaving a daughter. At the time when Brayley (fn. 49) wrote it was in the possession of a Yorkshire gentleman of the name of Carrol. The house is now a farm owned by Mr. Jackson of Croydon.
The church of ST. AGATHA is the smallest church in the county. It consists of a chancel, nave and western porch, and measures externally without the porch only 30 ft. 3 in. by 20 ft. 2 in. It was in a bad state of repair and was restored and much altered in 1890, when the porch was added.
Manning and Bray gave a drawing of it as existing in 1809, showing a rude gabled structure with low plastered walls and a solitary diagonal buttress at the north-east angle, resembling the poorest type of cottage; and Cracklow's View of 1824 shows it much the same, with a hipped gable at the west end, a square-headed doorway in the south wall and a long window with a wooden frame, divided into five by mullions, in which is diamond glazing. Manning and Bray describe the church as consisting of one room, about 10 yds. long and 7 yds. wide, divided into two parts by a wooden screen, without any tower, spire, or bell. The roof was tiled and there was only one window in the east wall. In the eastern division of the church were four open seats on the south and two pews on the north, with a small pulpit. In the western division was a stone seat against the west and north walls. There seem to have been no monuments and no ancient fittings, though possibly parts of the walls were of mediaeval date. In 1831 it was rebuilt or extensively repaired. A later writer describes it as 'very small and very mean, a compound of flint, stucco and brick, with a wooden bellturret; it is hedged in from the road, with a miserable little gate hardly fit for a cottage garden. The graves are half hidden by knee-deep grass and weeds, and the only stone is "in affectionate remembrance of a child."' (fn. 50)
The plate consists of a silver cup of uncertain date and paten of 1686. On the bowl of the cup and under the base of the paten are the initials 'R. G.' above 'R. H.,' followed by 'of Wolinggam, 1694.' The former are probably those of a member of the local yeoman family of Glover and the latter of Richard Hayward, who was buried at Woldingham in 1731, aged sixty-one. (fn. 51)
The registers date from 1765. (fn. 52)
No church is mentioned in Woldingham in the Domesday Survey, but a chapel is mentioned in 1295 as appurtenant to Gilbert de Clare's part of Woldingham. (fn. 53) The living was a donative, not subject to the bishop's jurisdiction (fn. 54) until 1880, when the Rev. J. B. Heard, vicar of Caterham, bought the donative from the lord of the manor and presented it to the bishop of the diocese. It remained a rectory in the gift of the Bishop of Rochester until 1905, when by the rearrangement of dioceses it passed to the Bishop of Southwark. According to Manning and Bray, Woldingham had not an altogether separate parochial existence of its own. No people's churchwarden was formerly elected there.