Parishes: Wilmington

Pages 328-342

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.

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LIES the adjoining parish southward from Dartford. In the Textus Roffensis it is written Wilmentuna and Wilmintune.

THIS PARISH may be well said to be aptly situated both for pleasure and health, the quantity of cherrygrounds which encircle the village contribute much to the pleasantness of its appearance, and in the spring, when the trees are in blossom, it seems a continued range of gardens. Though it has much hill and dale in it, yet it is in general high ground, and has pleasing prospects from it over the neighbouring country; the soil of it is dry, and much inclined to gravel mixed with loam. It contains about 1500 acres of land and wood, and 94 houses. It extends eastward beyond the road from Dartford and Farningham, which leads through this part of it, over some meadows to the river Darent, from thence the ground rises westward up the hill, on the summit of which the church stands, near which there is a handsome house, which with the estate adjoining to it, was once part of the possessions of Dartford priory, and at the dissolution of it, became part of the possessions of the crown. King Henry VIII. soon afterwards granted it to John Byer, or Beer, of Horseman's place, in Dartford; from whom it descended, in the same manner as that seat, to John Twisleton, esq. who died in 1757 without issue, and by his will devised this estate, with other lands in Wilmington, to his nephew, Thomas Cockshutt, of Kegworth, in Leicestershire, son of his sister Mary, by the Rev. Josias Cockshutt. John Twisleton devised the whole of his estates in Dartford, Wilmington, and Sevenoke, to his nephew; but the greatest part of them in the former parish being found to be entailed, the will only took place as to those in the two latter, and one farm in Dartford, as was adjudged at the assizes held at Maidstone in 1759. He took upon him the name of Twisleton, and afterwards passed this estate away by sale to Mr. Thomas Williams, of Dartford, who some few years ago alienated it to Mr. John Tasker, of Dartford, who has improved and made great additions to this house, in which he now resides.

At a little distance westward from thence, is the village, in which stands the vicarage, being a neat genteel house, built on a well conducted plan by the present vicar Mr. Denn, who resides in it.

A little to the southward of the village is a hamlet, called Barn End, where there is a good house called Mount Pleasant, built by Mr. Stephen Perry, of London, who, at his death in 1736, devised it with the lands belonging to it, and a capital farm called Sherehall, with the lands belonging to it, to his nephew Stephen Perry. The latter estate in 1724, had belonged to Thomas Bennet, esq. master in chancery, and was then on his marriage with Hannah, daughter of Stephen Martin, afterwards Leake, sen. settled on the issue of that marriage. But anno 12 George I. it was, by act, vested in trustees, who sold it to Stephen Perry, sen. by whom it was devised as before-mentioned, on the death of his nephew Stephen Perry, and afterwards of his widow. In 1765, their son, Mr. John Perry, became entitled to it. He conveyed Shere-hall to Francis Austen, esq. of Sevenoke, whose son, Francis Mottley Austen, esq is the present possessor of it; but he died owner of the seat, called Mount Pleasant, soon afterwards without issue, and by his will devised it to be sold, which it accordingly was to Mr. Thurston Ford, who died possessed of it in 1776, without issue, and by his will devised it to his brother, Gilbert Ford, whose son Thurston Ford now owns the inheritance of it, but Duncan Campbell, esq. resides in it, who has greatly enlarged this seat.

About three quarters of a mile from the church westward, adjoining to Dartford-heath, is Wilmington common, on which there stands a good house, which was built in 1743, by Edward Bathurst esq. of this parish, at the same time that he pulled down the antient seat belonging to this estate, situated at Barn. end; the ruins of which still remain there. He was the only son of Mr. William Bathurst, gent. who be came possessed of this estate, in right of his wise Anne, widow of Lancelot Bathurst of this parish, gent. a younger brother of Sir Edward Bathurst, of Franks. Edward Bathurst, esq. before-mentioned, having removed to Goudhurst, in this county; conveyed this seat to Thomas Motley, esq. of Beckingham, whose daughter carried it in marriage to Mr. Francis Austen, of Sevenoke, and his son, Francis Motley Austen, esq. clerk of the peace for this county, is the present owner of it. Almost adjoining to Wilmington-common westward, is Dartford-heath, a small part of which is within the bounds of this parish; the south-west parts of which rise to very high ground, are a poor chalky soil, and are much covered with coppice wood, among which are the two hamlets of Hook-green and Stanhill.

In Joydens wood, on the western side of this parish is an hollow way, formerly a high road, which has not been made use of for more than an hundred years as such. There are yet remains of its continuance from hence, in a field or two belonging to Ruxley farm, towards the turnpike road from Farningham to Foots Cray, which it appears to have joined at a very small distance eastward from the gate near Ruxley farm. In the woods hereabout, there have been found quantities of bricks and other materials of buildings, perhaps the remains of depopulation, occasioned by the wars between the houses of York and Lancaster.

The following SCARCE PLANTS plants have been observed by our herbalists in this parish: Polygonatum, or Solomon's seal. (fn. 1)

Centaurium luteum, or yellow centory.

Flos adonis flore rubro, the adonis flower, with red flowers.

Elleborine minor flore Albo, wild white Hellebore.

Nidus avis five satyrium abortivum, bird's nest, plentifully all on Rowehill.

THIS PLACE is not mentioned by name in the general survey of Domesday, but is included in the account of the antient demesne of the king's manor of Dartford, of which it was an appendage, that manor extending itself over the whole parish of Wilmington at this time, as may be seen more at large in the preceding account of that manor.

THE MANOR OF GRANDISONS, alias WILMINGTON, was the inheritance of the noble and illustrious family of Grandison, written for shortness in old deeds and writings Grauntson. Otho de Grandison, who flourished in the reigns of king Henry III. and king Edward I. possessed this manor; (fn. 2) on whose death, without issue, William de Grandison, his brother, succeeded to it, to whom, and Sibilla his wife and their heirs, king Edward I. gave a rent issuing out of the manor of Dartford, in exchange for lands in Sussex. He left several sons and daughters, of the latter Agnes, married Sir John de Norwood, who afterwards in her right became intitled to it. (fn. 3) After which Richard Fitz Alan, earl of Arundel, held it and died possessed of it in the 21st year of king Richard II. (fn. 4) Richard Nevill, the great earl of Warwick, surnamed the King-maker, held it in the reign of king Henry VI. He was slain at the battle of Barnet, endeavouring to replace king Henry on the throne, in 1471, after whose death the vast inheritance of the Warwick family was taken from his widow, by authority of parliament, as if she had been naturally dead, and much of it was given to her two daughters; but this manor was granted by king Edward IV. to Sir William Stanley, who bore for his arms, Argent, on a bend azure three bucks heads caboshe or, a chief gules, being next brother to Thomas lord Stanley, to whom the king had granted the manor of Dartford. It staid with him till he was attainted, and lost his head in the 10th year of that reign, under pretence of his having been engaged in the conspiracy of Perkin Warbeck, (fn. 5) when it became again vested in the crown, where it remained till king Henry VIII. in his 2d year, granted it to Sir Thomas Howard, afterwards created earl of Surry, and the lady Anne his wife, one of the daughters of king Edward IV. to hold to her in tail male, by knights service. (fn. 6) She died without issue, on which it came again to the crown, and was presently after granted to Margaret Plantagenet, wife of Sir Richard, son of Sir Jeffry Pole, K. G. This lady, as being only sister and heir of Edward, earl of Warwick and Salisbury, and daughter of Isabel, daughter and heir of Richard Nevill, earl of Warwick and Salisbury, by George Plantagenet, duke of Clarence, and brother to king Edward IV. was, on her petition, restored by parliament in the 5th year of king Henry VIII. to the dignity of countess of Salisbury. But after the king's marriage with Anne Bullen, losing his esteem, she was, on several pretences, attainted in parliament in the 31st year of that reign. In her misfortunes she behaved with great resolution, notwithstanding she was seventy years of age; and though she could not be persuaded to confess any thing prejudicial to herself, yet she had sentence of death passed upon her, without ever being heard; and two years after, without arrangement or trial, had her head cut off in the tower, in the 33d year of the same reign. She left by Sir Richard Pole four sons, Henry, who in the 21st of king Henry VIII. had been summoned to parliament by the title of lord Montague, and was afterwards attainted and beheaded; Jeffry, of whom hereafter; Arthur, who was attainted, and Reginald, who was the cardinal, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury.

King Henry VIII. in his 35th year, granted this manor of Grandisons, late parcel of her possessions, to Sir Jeffry Pole, her second son before-mentioned, together with other lands in Dartford, Stone, Wilmington, Crayford, Chiselhurst, and Sutton at Hone, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 7) Next year he alienated this manor, and the lands before-mentioned, and certain annual rents called Grandisons Rents, issuing from several lands in those parishes, to Sir Thomas Moile; (fn. 8) who, in the second year of queen Elizabeth, settled this manor in marriage with his youngest daughter and coheir Amy, on Sir Thomas Kempe, of Ollantigh. (fn. 9)

After his death, in the 15th year of queen Elizabeth, Katherine, his eldest daughter and coheir seems to have had some interest in this manor and Grandisons Rents. However that may be, it was soon after conveyed by sale to Sir Christopher Heron, who, in the beginning of king James I's reign, passed it away to George Cole, esq. of the Middle Temple, London, and he, in the 16th year of it conveyed it to Sir Thomas Smith, of Sutton at Hone, second son of Customer Smith, of Westenhanger, who likewife purchased the manor of Rowe-hill, in this parish, and his great grandson, RobertSmythe, esq. died possessed of both these manors in 1695, leaving Katherine his wife surviving; and two sons, Henry and William, to whom these manors descended as heirs in gavelkind.

In the 10th year of king William, the said Katherine, as guardian to her two infant sons, obtained an act of parliament for vesting these manors in trustees to sell them, who accordingly, with her and Henry Smythe, her eldest son, in 1699, conveyed them, with the ma nor of Sutton, and other premises in these parts, to Sir John Lethieullier, of London, whose grandson, John Lethieullier, esq. of Sutton-place, died possessed of them in 1760 without issue, and, by his will, devised them to his second wife Anne, who survived him; and after some litigation in the court of chancery, she, with Mary Browne, who had contested her right to these manors, but had compromised the same, by their deed, in 1766, conveyed them to Nathaniel Webb, esq. of Taunton, in Somersetshire, who sold this manor to John Mumford, esq. of Sutton at Hone, the present owner of it.

THE MANOR OF ROWEHILL, as it is now called, though the proper name of it is Ruehill, was, in the reign of king Edward I. in the possession of the family of Gyse; as eminent for their illustrious extraction, as they were for the largeness of their estates. In the very beginning of the above reign Anselm de Gyse was owner of this manor, who having likewise the manor of Elmore, in Gloucestershire, by the gift of John de Burgh, son of Hubert, chief justice of England and earl of Kent, bore the same coat of arms as that great earl did. (fn. 10)

This Anselme de Gyse had a charter of free warren granted to him and his heirs for his lands in Wilmington and Sutton, near Dartford, in the 22d year of king Edward I. (fn. 11) and died the next year, whose great grandson John Gyse, sold it to Simon Franceys, a wealthy citizen and mercer of London, who was lord-mayor in the 16th year of king Edward III. He died possessed of this manor in the 32d year of that reign. (fn. 12)

The next proprietor of it was Nicholas, son of Sir John de Brembre, (fn. 13) who becoming obnoxious by his attachment to the arbitrary measures of Richard II. was, in the 10th of that reign, attainted, and forseited both his life and estate. This manor being thus vested in the crown, king Richard II. in his 14th year, granted it to Adam Bamme, esq. of London, goldsmith, in whose posterity it remained several generations, till one of his descendants sold it to Brett; whose successor passed it away by sale to Sir Thomas Smith, of Sutton at Hone before-mentioned. Since which this manor has had the same owners as the adjoining manor of Grandisons, alias Wilmington, being with it sold by Nathaniel Webb, esq. of Taunton, in Somersetshire, to John Mumford, esq. of Sutton at Hone, the present possessor of it.

There is a large conspicuous hill, covered with wood, situated on the south side of Dartford-heath, called Rowehill-wood, part of the demesne of this manor; on the south side of which, at the extremity of it, stood the Court-lodge, a mean farm house, which being burnt down about thirty-five years ago, has not since been rebuilt.

THE MANOR OF STANHILL, alias WARDENDALE, antiently belonged to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester, the manor-house still bearing the name of the Court-lodge. At the dissolution of the priory, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. this manor came to the crown, and was, next year, granted to the newerected dean and chapter of Rochester, who possess the inheritance of it. The present lessee is William Player, esq. of Greenwich.

King Henry VIII. in his 36th year, granted to John Wroth, land in Westbrockall, in Wilmington, together with other lands there, called Estbrockall, near Dartford heath, late parcel of Dartford priory, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 14) They were afterwards sold to Humphry, and thence again in the 2d year of king Edward VI. to Sir Maurice Denys; (fn. 15) on his death lady Elizabeth Denys, his widow, possessed them, and in Easter term, anno 17 queen Elizabeth, levied a fine of the manor of Estbrockall, which is now wholly unknown both as to its situation and owner.

On her death, Elizabeth, her only daughter and heir, married to Vincent Randyll, then deceased, had that year possession granted of these lands before-mentioned, and three hundred acres of wood in Wilmington, holding them in capite by knights service. (fn. 16)


The poor have a prescriptive right to 1 bushel of wheat, and 12 bushels of peas, payable yearly out of the parsonage of Sutton and Wilmington, which is distributed at the parsonage barn at Sutton, on St. Thomas's day.

JOHN LAKE, sen. of Stone, by will in 1604, gave 6s. 8d. payable out of a piece of land, called Longacre, in Wilmington, that is one half on All Saints Day, and the same on Good Friday, to be distributed in bread by the churchwardens, to the poor, where most need should be, vested in Francis Motley Austen, esq.

THOMAS ROUND, of Wilmington, by will in 1631, gave 10s. a year, payable out of two messuages, and several parcels of land in this parish, in the possession of several different owners. It is distributed to the poor in bread.

ANTHONY POULTER, of Dartford, by will in 1635, gave 13s. 4d. payable yearly out of a piece of land, called Deane, in Wilmington, to be distributed in bread to the poor on Rogation Sunday, vested in the heirs of John Pettit, esq. and of that annual produce.

Mr. HENRY BLAITHWAITE, AND ANNE his wife, by will in 1652, and Mr. LANCELOT BATHURST, by deed in 1670, and different contributions from the most respectable inhabitants of this parish, gave different sums, with which were bought a messuage, barn, and 7 acres of land, now of the annual value of 5l. 10s. of which 2l. 10s. is distributed in bread to the poor, 2l. distributed to them in money on St. Thomas's day, and 20s. is reserved for repairs, vested in the minister and churchwardens.

GEORGE LANGWORTH, of St. Thomas Apostles, gent. by will in 1708, gave 20s. a year, payable out of an estate in Wilmington, which belonged to him, to be distributed to the poor on Christmas day, in money, vested in Mr. Thomas Plummer, of London, woolstapler, of 1l. per annum produce.

ANTHONY POULTER, of Dartford, by will in 1637, gave 20s. to be paid yearly on Easter-day, out of his lands and tenements in Wilmington, to be distributed to the poor of this parish, but this legacy, for what reasons is unknown, has never been paid, though it seems to be the same person as has been already mentioned before.

SIR THOMAS SMITH, by will in 1621, devised in trust for several charitable uses to the Skinners Company, several different tenements in London, and in the last clause in his will, declared that when by the expiration of the leases, the revenues of them should be increased, it should be distributed among the poor of the parishes, therein particularly named, or any other in which he should have lands at the time of his decease; Wilmington is one of the parishes particularly named, and from the return of benefactions made to the archdeacon in 1712, it appears that, till the fire of London in 1666, 5l. had been annually given to the poor of this parish by the above company, which has not been paid to it since.

WILMINGTON is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of Dartford.

The church is dedicated to St. Michael, and consists of one isle and a chancel, having a spire steeple at the west end, which standing on the knoll of the hill, is an object for many miles round. There are three bells in it.

Among other monuments and memorials in this church, are the following:—In the isle, on the south wall, a hatchmet, with the arms of Bunce, impaling, or 3 wolves heads erased gules, and inscription for Mary, wife of Mr. James Bunce, of London, son of Sir James Bunce, bart. of this county. In the chancel, are several monuments and inscriptions for the family of Bathurst, of this parish; near which is a grave-stone, on which has been the figure in brass of a man, and a coat of arms above, all which, as well as the inscription are lost, but the stone has been purloined for another purpose, and there is a modern brass plate on it for Oliver Godfrey, esq. obt. 1610, who had 10 children. Besides which there are buried in this church several of the family of Stanley, of this parish, and of West Peckham, in this county. (fn. 17)

In the church yard is a monument for Sir Edward Hulse, bart. M. D. who lies buried, with his lady, &c. in a vault underneath, and another for Edward Fowke, esq. and Hester his wife. There are likewise vaults for the families of Hobbes, Perry, and Neve, and several decayed tombs for the family of Langley, which has been extinct here for many years, one of them was a benefactor to the poor of this parish.

The church was at first only a chapel to the church of Sutton at Hone, the adjoining parish to Wilmington. Henry I. granted the church of Sutton, with the chapels of Wilmington and Kingsdown, to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester; which gift Henry II. confirmed, as did Henry, bishop of Rochester. (fn. 18)

Bishop Gundulph, who was elected to that see in the reign of the Conqueror, having divided the revenues of his church between himself and his priory, allotted the church of Sutton, and these chapels, to the share of the monks. (fn. 19)

Bishop Gilbert de Glanvill, in the reign of king Richard I. on the compromise of the great dispute, which he had with his priory, concerning the gifts which his predecessor, bishop Gundulph, had made to it, in prejudice of his see, granted the church of Sutton, with this chapel of Wilmington, towards the support of the almonry of the convent, and ordained, that Gilbert, then rector of it, should be perpetual vicar of the above mentioned church and chapel, paying to the monks, as parsons of it, an annual pension of four marks, and that the perpetual vicar of Wilmington should have the cure of souls in the said chapel, and, in the name of a vicarage, should take for his maintenance all the altarage, as well in small tithes as in oblations, and all obventions belonging to the church, with the alms land which then belonged to it, or which any one should give in future to it: and he furher ordained, that the cellarer of the priory should sustain all the burthens of these churches, as well in respect to the bishop as the archdeacon, except synodals, which the vicars should pay. (fn. 20) But it does not appear that this appropriation ever took place; it was conditional, as may be seen by the decrees of the archbishops Hubert and Richard. (fn. 21)

Bishop Laurence, in the year 1253, appropriated and confirmed to the priory the church of Sutton, with the chapels of Wilmington and Kingsdown, toward the support of the almonry of the convent, saving, in all things, his episcopal right, and that of the archdeacon of Rochester, provided that the cure of souls in the above-mentioned church and chapels should be served, and in no wise neglected, by a proper vicar, who should be from time to time provided by the bishop and his successors in the church of Sutton, and by proper vicars in those chapels, to be presented to him and his successors by the prior and convent. This was confirmed to the priory by John bishop of Rochester, in 1478.

In consequence of the above appropriation, the parishes of Sutton and Wilmington continued one parsonage, with two distinct vicarages, which, at the general dissolution, were surrendered into the hands of the crown, and two years after, anno 33 Henry VIII. were settled on the new erected dean and chapter of Rochester, where the inheritance of them still remains.

Thomas bishop of Rochester, in 1436, confirmed the antient endowment of this vicarage, which was of four quarters of corn, viz. one of wheat, one of rye, one of barley, and one of peas, of the value of sixteen shillings, a pension of two marcs, the altarages and oblations, and the tithes of wool, lambs, pigs, geese, hemp, fruits, honey, wax, cows, calves, milk-meats, wood, mills, and conies, and in other small tithes, and in twelve acres of arable, which in the whole were worth 4l. 8s. 6d. at that time, beyond reprises; and he further augmented it with the annual sum of four marcs and four shillings, to be paid quarterly, out of the profits of the parsonage, and two bushels of wheat, to be delivered half yearly at the parsonage barn, or sixteen pence in money, in lieu of the two bushels, at the option of the prior and convent, who he decreed should continue to discharge all burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, belonging to this church, the bread and wine for the use of the altar, and the repair of the vicarage house only excepted. (fn. 22)

By virtue of the commission of enquiry in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that Wilmington was a vicarage, and had eleven acres of glebe land, with the composition money of 5l. 1s. 4d. per annum from the parsonage, and was worth, if the tithes were truly paid, 28l. per annum, master John Killey then inbumbent of it. (fn. 23)

It is valued in the king's books at 6l. 17s. 6d. and the yearly tenths at 13s. 9d. (fn. 24)

The vicar claims all tithes except corn and grain, which belongs to the appropriation; and he still receives the antient pension of 5l. 1s. 4d. together with an augmentation of 10l. per annum soon after the restoration, both paid by the dean and chapter of Rochester.

There is a certain portion of tythes in this parish, called Stanhill and Strodeland tithes, which was granted to the hospital at Strode, by bishop Gilbert de Glanvill, being the decimæ novalium of lands in Dartford and Wilmington, which the canons of Lesnes had then first cultivated, to which Gilbert, then parson of Sutton, consented; which gift was confirmed by Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, and by king Richard I. (fn. 25)

At the dissolution of the hospital, this portion of tithes was granted to the dean and chapter of Ro chester, who now demise it to Mr. William Mumford, their lessee of the parsonage of Sutton.

Church of Wilmington.

Or by whom presented.
Dean and Chapter of Rochester. John Wells, obt. 1477. (fn. 26)
Thomas Botelere, in 1557.
William Boyden, inst. 1604.
Martin Watson, A.M. instituted 1606.
Robert Warburton, inst. 1635.
Jeremiah Clayton, A. M. inst. 1642.
Robert Hartley, in 1652.
Robert Bedle, B. A. inst. 1661, obt. 1695. (fn. 27)
John Percival, A. B. inst. 1695, obt. Nov. 1725.
John White, A.M. inst. 1726, ob. April 29, 1767. (fn. 28)
Samuel Denne, A. M. inst. May 12, 1767. Present vicar. (fn. 29)


  • 1. Johnson's Gerarde's Herbal, p. 903. Merrett's Pin. p. 24, 39, 60, 83.
  • 2. Philipott, p. 334.
  • 3. Leland. Itin. vol. iii. p. 67.
  • 4. Philipott, p. 334.
  • 5. In the Visitation of 1619 is a pedigree of Stanley, of Wilmington.
  • 6. Augtn. off. Inrolments.
  • 7. Sandford's Gen. Hist. p. 416, 417.
  • 8. Rot. Esch. ejus an. pt. 24.
  • 9. Ibid. pt. 9. anno 12 Eliz. John Mabbe was a trustee for this manor for particular uses. See Rot. Esch. ejus an. pt. 9.
  • 10. Philipott, p. 366. Atkins's Glouc. p. 325.
  • 11. Rot. Cart. ejus an. No. 27.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Philipott, p. 366.
  • 14. Rot. Escn. ejus an. pt. 6.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Rot. Esch. ejus an. pt. 6.
  • 17. See the monuments and inscriptions at large in Reg. Roff. p. 991.
  • 18. Reg. Roff. p. 45, 59.
  • 19. Text. Roff. p. 153. Reg. Roff. p. 2, 3, 6.
  • 20. Dugd. Mon. p. 53.
  • 21. Dugd. Mon. p. 69, 105.
  • 22. Reg. Roff. p. 138, 654, 689.
  • 23. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth lib. vol. xix.
  • 24. Bacon, Lib. Regis. Lambeth Queries.
  • 25. Reg. Roff. p. 688.
  • 26. He was buried in the chancel. Cust. Roff. p. 105.
  • 27. Buried in this church, as was his successor.
  • 28. Vicar of Erith. He lies buried in this church yard.
  • 29. Second son of Dr. John Denne, archdeacon of Rochester, by the daughter of bishop Bradford; also vicar of Darent, and a good benefactor to this vicarage—a gentleman to whom literature in general, and the editor of these volumes in particular, is highly indebted for his liberal communications.