The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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ADJOINING to Swanscombe southward, lies Southfleet, called in Domesday, Suthfleta, and so named to distinguish it from Northfleet. It is called in the Textus Roffensis, Fletis and Fleotis, (fn. 1) which name it acquired from its situation close to the fleet, or arm of the Thames, which now flows under Northfleet bridge, and formerly came up as high as this parish, and was probably then navigable a great way up. These parishes taking their names from it, at least shews it to have been a water of no small consequence.
This PARISH is rather an unfrequented place, nor is it much known, there being no public thoroughfare or high road through it; and the gentlemens' seats in it, of which there were several, having been greatly neglected, and suffered to run to ruin, some of them have been pulled down, and the remaining ones being inhabited only by the occupiers of the lands, the roads in it have been likewise neglected, and there are none to it now, but for waggons and carts of husbandry; otherwise it is situated very pleasant and rural, the air is very healthy, and the lands more level and fertile, and less covered with slints, than those of the neighbouring parishes. The village is situated nearly in the middle of the parish; in the centre of it is a space called Hook-green, having Hook-place on it, now used as a farm-house, and the church and free school on the north-west side of it, and the parsonage at a small distance southward. The antient seat of Scadbury stands at a small distance northward from it, being now converted into a farm house, and excepting the rector, there is not a gentleman residing in the parish, though the farmers in it are very respectable and opulent. About a mile northwest from the village is the hamlet of Betsham, formerly called Bedesham, through which the roads lead from Greensted-green to Wingfield-bank, where it meets the antient Watling-street or Roman highway, which having passed through Swanscombe-park wood, runs with the present road along the northern side of this parish, towards Shinglewell, and thence on to Cobham-park and Rochester.
On the remains of this road, about half a mile westward of Wingfield-bank, near adjoining to Springhead, in the land now called Barkfields, in this parish, some years ago, a stone was discovered, which, when dug up, was judged to be a Roman milliare, or mile stone. It stood nearly upright, the top of it about six or seven inches below the surface of the ground, so that it has been much surrowed by the passing of the plough over it. It measured two feet and a half long, two of its sides were sixteen inches, the other two fourteen. The corners of it were chiselled, but its faces were rustic; on one side there was a cross or figure of tin, deeply cut, which was undoubtedly to shew that it stood that distance from some particular station.
Somner and some others have placed the station of the Romans, called VAGNIACÆ, at Northfleet, not far distant, but the objection to this is, that the valley between Northfleet-hill, leading to the bridge, and the opposite hill westward from it, was at that time a broad fleet of water, the Thames then flowing up to near Southfleet, as it would now, was it not hindered by the obstruction formed by the main road and the bank along side of it; therefore it is reasonable to suppose, that to avoid this water, the Romans shaped their course more to the southward, towards Southfleet, where it was more narrow, and where they had the benefit of a fine spring, which rises there, still known by the name of Spring-head, near which the stone above mentioned was discovered, and a great number of their coins, some of silver, and many of copper, have at times been turned up by the plough, one was of the empress Faustina, very fair, and among these there has been found parched corn, such as wheat, and other grain. (fn. 2) Dr. Thorpe conjectured, that hereabouts was the above mentioned station, this spot answering to the numeral cross on the mile stone, being about ten Italian miles from the Medway at Rochester.
Gerarde, the herbalift, seems to have visited this place very frequently, on account of the aptness of the soil for simpling, which accounts for his observations being so numerous here.
The FOLLOWING PLANTS and HERBS he has taken notice in his Herbal as peculiar to this parish.
Iberis cardamantica sciatica cresses.
Thlapsi vulgatissimum, mithridate mustard.
Argemone capitulo torulo, bastard wild poppy.
Ophris bifolia, twaiblade.
Virga aurea, golden rod.
Helleborine, wild white hellebore.
Trachelium majus, blue Canterbury bells; and Trachelium majus Belg. five giganteum, giant throatwort.
After atticus, starwort; and after Italorum, Italian starwort.
Chamæpitys, ground pine, several sorts of which grow here and in this neighbourhood.
Ascyron, St. Peter's wort.
Ptarmica, sneeze wort.
Lithospermum majus and minus, great and small gromell.
Anagallis, pimpernell of several sorts.
Veronica fæmina fuchsii five elatine, the female fuellin; and elatine altera, sharp pointed fuellin.
Tragoriganum, goats marjorum.
Trichomanes mas. the male maiden hair.
Cannabis spuria tertia, small bastard hemp, here and in general in the road towards Canterbury.
Lathyrus major latifolius, peas everlasting.
Helianthemum Anglicum, the English cistus, here, and most part of the way to Dover.
Colutea minima five coronilla, the smallest bastard senna, here and towards Dover.
Rhamnus solutivus, the buckthorne.
Sorbus, the service tree, in great plenty here and in this neighbourhood.
Lautana five viburnum, the wayfaring tree.
Satyrium abortinum five nidus avis, bird's nest.
Rheseda plinii, Italian rocket; and reseda maxima, crambling rocket.
Cynocrambe, dogs mercury.
The MANOR of SOUTHFLEET, with the church, seems to have been given to the church and priory of of St. Andrew, in Rochester, by some of the antient Saxon kings, and their estate here was afterwards increased by the gift of one Birtrick, a rich and potent man, who at that time resided at Meopham, and gave, with the consent of Alfswithe, his wife, his land here and in other places to that church and priory; but their whole property here was wrested from them in the troublesome times which soon afterwards followed, and they continued dispossessed of their estate here till the time of the Conqueror, when it was restored to the church of St. Andrew again, by the famous trial of Pinenden. This appears by a confirmation of this manor, among others, to the church of Rochester, by archbishop Boniface, in which it it mentioned, as having been the gift of the antient kings of England, and to have been taken away, and restored as above mentioned; and it continued part of the possessions of the above mentioned church at the time of the taking the survey of Domesday, in the 15th year of the Conqueror's reign, anno 1080, in which it is thus described, under the general title of the lands of the bishop of Rochester.
The bishop of Rochester holds Sudfleta. It was taxed at six sulings. The arable land is 13 carucates. In demesne there is one carucate and 25 villeins, with nine borderers, having 12 carucates. There are seven servants, and 20 acres of meadow; wood for the pannage of 10 hogs. It is now taxed at five sulings. There is a church. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth 11 pounds, now 21 pounds, and yet it pays 24 pounds, and one ounce of gold.—Of this manor there is in (the lowy of) Tunbridge as much wood and land as is rated at 20 sulings.
Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who was elected to this see, in the reign of the Conqueror, having divided the revenues of his church between himself and his convent, allotted this manor, and the church appendant to it, to the share of the monks, for the use of their refectory. (fn. 3)
King Henry I. king Stephen, and king Henry II. confirmed Southfleet, with its appendages, to the church of Rochester, and the monks there, as did several of the archbishops of Canterbury, from time to time. (fn. 4)
On bishop Gilbert de Glanvill's coming to the see in 1185, there arose a dispute between him and the monks, the bishop claiming several of the possessions given to them by bishop Gundulph, among which was the manor of Southfleet, which he alledged belonged to the see of Rochester. At last the monks were obliged to submit; but though he restored several manors and churches to his see, yet it appears that he left them in the quiet possession of this manor.
In the 7th year of king Edward I. the bishop claimed certain liberties, by the grant of Henry I. in all his lands and fees, by antient custom, in the lands of the priory of Frendsbury, Stoke, Denystone, Woldham, Southfleet, and in all other lands belonging to his church; he likewise claimed gallows, assize of bread and ale, tumbrell, pillory, chattels of fugitive and condemned persons, with year and waste of those lands, and all amerciaments of the tenants of his church, all which were allowed him by the jury. (fn. 5)
In the 21st year of king Edward I. upon a 2uo warranto, the prior of Rochester claimed that he and his predecessors had, in Woldham, Stokes, Frendsbury, Denington, and Southfleet, view of frank pledge, and a fair in Southfleet, from the time beyond memory, and that these liberties had been used without inter ruption; all which were allowed by the jury.
And as to free warren, he claimed it by the grant of king Henry I. and said, that he and his predecessors had used it in all these parishes, from the time of that grant; but the jury found to the contrary, therefore it was adjudged, that they should remain without that liberty. (fn. 6)
Two years afterwards, king Edward, in his 23d year, granted to the prior and convent free warren in all their demesne lands of Southfleet, Frindsbury, Darent, Woldham, and Stokes, so that no one should enter those lands to hunt in them, or to take any thing which belonged to warren, without the leave of the prior and convent, on penalty of forfeiting to the king the sum of ten pounds. (fn. 7) On a 2uo warranto, anno 6 king Edward II. bishop Thomas de Woldham claimed, and was allowed the before mentioned liberties in this manor, (fn. 8) belonging to the prior of Ro chester, which were confirmed by inspeximus in the 30th year of king Edward III.
In a taxation of the manors, &c. of the prior and convent of Rochester, anno 15 king Edward I. the manor of Southfleet was valued at 16l. 12s. per ann.
In the 5th year of king Henry VIII. it was worth as appeared by the account of William Fressell, the prior, in the whole 40l. 19s. 4d.
At the suppression of the priory of Rochester, this manor came, among the rest of its possessions, into the king's hands, who, two years after, settled it on his new erected dean and chapter of Rochester, where it did not stay long, for he required it from them again soon afterwards, by way of exchange; in consequence of which the dean and chapter, in the 36th of that reign, granted it to him, with all its rights and appurtenances, and had in lieu of it a grant of the rectory impropriate and advowson of the vicarage of Shorne, in this county. (fn. 9) By which means the original tenth, payable by the dean and chapter, on their foundation, to the king, being 115l. was advanced for, as Shorne was esteemed worth 9l. 6s. more than Southfleet, that sum was added to it, and they now pay 125l. 6s.
The next year the king granted the manor of Southfleet, with its appurtenances, to Sir William Petre, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 10) Sir William Petre was a man of great eminence in his time, of approved wisdom, and exquisite learning. He was first taken notice of by king Henry VIII. as a man fit for his purpose, in managing the dissolution of the religious houses, and was put into the commission by Thomas Cromwell, the visitor-general, in order to gather matter sufficient to found their ruin on; in which business he behaved so well to the king's liking, that he ever after employed him in state affairs, and made him chief secretary of state, and of his privy council. Sir William knew so well how to accommodate himself to the humour even of those fickle times, that he found means to continue in favour, and in his office of secretary, during the reigns of king Edward VI. queen Mary, and queen Elizabeth. But in queen Mary's reign, discerning that the restoring the Roman religion would deprive him of those vast grants of abbey lands, which he had so industriousry acquired, he got a special dispensation from the pope for retaining them; affirming, that he was ready to employ them to spiritual uses. His only son John, by his second wife, in the 1st year of king James I. was made lord Petre of Writtle, in Essex. (fn. 11) Sir William Petre sold this manor the same year in which it was granted to him to William Gerrard, or Garret, as some called him, citizen and haberdasher of London, and afterwards knighted, and lord-mayor in 1553; (fn. 12) who was the son of John Gerrard, alias Garret, of Sittingborne, and bore for his arms, Argent on a fess, sable, a lion passant of the field. He died in the 14th year of queen Elizabeth, and was succeeded here by his son and heir, William Gerrard, who was afterwards knighted. He died in the 22d year of that reign. His son, Sir John Gerrard, lord-mayor in 1601, passed it away to Sir William Sedley, of the Friars, in Aylesford, (fn. 13) created a baronet on May 22, 1611. From him it descended down to his grandson, Sir Charles Sedley, bart. so much noted for his wit and gallantry; who by Catharine, one of the daughters of John earl Rivers, left one only daughter, Catherine, created by king James II. in his first year, countess of Dorchester and baroness of Darling ton for life. (fn. 14) Sir Charles died in 1701, on which the title became extinct, and this estate came by settlement to Sir Charles Sedley, of St. Giles's, who was, next year, created a baronet, and resided at Scadbury, now called Scotbury, the antient seat in this parish belonging to this family. This branch of the family bore for their arms, quarterly five coats, 1. Sedley, azure, a fess wavy argent, between three goats heads erased of the second; 2. Fenks; 3. Grove; 4. Darell; and 5. Savile.
The family of Sedley was possessed of Scadbury so high as the year 1337, as appeared by a pannel of wainscot in the dining room of this house; on which there was carved the arms of the Sedleys, A fess wavy between three goats heads erased, and underneath the letters, W. S. and the above mentioned date. (fn. 15) John Sedley was of Scadbury in the reign of Henry VII. and one of the auditors of the exchequer to that prince. He died in 1500, and left by Elizabeth his wife, daughter and coheir of Roger Jenkes, of London, two sons; William, of whom hereafter; and Martin Sedley, who was of Morley, in Norfolk, from whom descended the Sedleys of that county.
William Sedley, the eldest son, was of Scadbury. He was sheriff of this county in the 1st year of king Edward VI. and married Anne, daughter and heir of Roger Grove, of London, by whom he left three sons and two daughters; of the former, John, the eldest, was of Scadbury, of whom hereafter; Robert was the second son; and Nicholas, the third son, left one son, Isaac Sedley, bart. of Great Chart, the father of Sir John Sedley, bart. of St. Clere's, in Ightham.
John Sedley, of Scadbury, eldest son of William, was sheriff in the 8th year of queen Elizabeth, and having married Anne, daughter of John Culpeper, esq. of Aylesford, died in 1581, leaving three sons; of whom William was of Aylesford, and was created a baronet in 1611, as has been before mentioned in the account of him and his descendants. John died, s. p. (fn. 16) and Richard was of Southfleet, and afterwards of Digonswell, in Hertfordshire. By an ordinary of arms, belonging to the gentry of this county, in 1595, the arms of Sedley, of Southfleet are given, Per pale azure and sable, a fess chequy argent and gules, between three goats heads erased argent, attired or; which, I should imagine were those of this Richard Sedley, who married Elizabeth, daughter of John Darell esq. of Calehill, by whom he had William Sedley, esq. who died in 1658, leaving by his second wife, Mary, daughter of Sir John Honywood, of Charing, a son, named Charles, who was knighted in 1688, and died in 1701. (fn. 17) His son Charles, after the death of Sir Charles Sedley, bart. of Aylesford and Southfleet, became possessed both of the manor of Southfleet and the ancient family seat of Scadbury, and was created a baronet on July 10, 1702, being the 1st year of queen Anne. He died in 1727, leaving by Frances his wife, daughter of Sir Richard Newdigate, bart. one son, Charles, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married in 1739, to Sir Robert Burdet, bart. of Bramcote, in Warwickshire. (fn. 18)
Sir Charles Sedley, bart. the son, married in 1718, Elizabeth, daughter of William Frith, esq. by whom he became possessed of the estate and seat at Nuthall, in Nottinghamshire, where this family afterwards resided. He died in 1730, leaving Sir Charles Sedley, bart. of Nuthall, his only son and heir, who some few years ago exchanged the manor of Southfleet, Scadbury, and the estates belonging to them, for other lands, with the Rev. Mr. Thomas Sanderson, of Haslemere, in Surry; and his daughter, Mary Anne, is the present possessor of them.
Among the antient contributory lands, towards the repair of Rochester bridge, is this manor; the owner of which, as well as those of Halling, Trottesclive, Malling, Stone, Pinenden, and Fawkham, and likewise the bishop of Rochester, are bound, when necessity requires, to repair the third pier of that bridge. (fn. 19)
Pole or Pool, is a manor here, which was antiently estimated at one suling or plough-land. It formerly was the inheritance of a family, called Berese; one of whom, Richard de Berese, gave the tithes of his lands (fn. 20) in Southfleet to the church of Rochester; and they were allotted, by bishop Gundulph, to the share of the monks of his priory. It afterwards gave name to a family who were possessors of it; and it appears by the book of Knights Fees, taken in the reign of king Edward I. and now remaining in the exchequer, that Sarah de Pole was owner of it in that reign, holding it in dower, as two parts of a knight's fee, of the bishop of Rochester. In the reign of king Edward III. this manor was part of the possessions of Sir John, son of Henry de Cobham, of Cobham, the eldest branch of that noble family; who, in the 17th year of that reign, obtained a charter for free warren within this his lordship of Pole among others. (fn. 21) In the 20th year of that reign, he paid aid for it, as two parts of a knight's fee, which Sarah de Pole before held in Southfleet of the bishop of Rochester. Sir John de Cobham died, full of years, in the 9th year of king Henry IV. being then possessed of this manor, (fn. 22) leaving Joane his grand daughter his next heir, the wife of Sir Nicholas Hawberk. She afterwards married Sir John Oldcastle, who, on that account, assumed the title of lord Cobham, and died possessed of this manor in the 5th year of king Henry VI. (fn. 23) though she is said to have had five husbands; one of whom, John Harpden, died possessed of Pole in his wife's right, in the 12th year of king Henry VI. yet she had issue only by her second husband, Sir Reginald, second son of Sir Gerard Braybrooke, one sole daughter and heir, named Joane, who became the wife of Sir Thomas Brooke, of Somersetshire, who was, in his wife's right, lord Cobham, though he never received summons to parliament. He had by her a numerous offspring, and died anno 17 king Henry VI. (fn. 24) possessed of this manor, which descended from him to his great grandson, Sir Thomas Brooke, lord Cobham, who gave it in marriage with his third daughter, Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Wyat, of Allington-castle; who, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. exchanged it, together with all his other lands in Southfleet, with that king, for the monastery of Boxley and other premises; after which it remained in the hands of the crown till queen Mary, in her 2d year, through her bounty, granted it to the lady Jane, the widow of Sir Thomas Wyat, who had been the year before attainted and executed for high treason, to hold in capite by knight's service. (fn. 25) Theirson, George Wyat, was of Boxley-abbey, and was restored in blood in the 13th year of queen Elizabeth, by act of parliament. On his death, in 1624, this manor descended to his eldest son, Sir Francis Wyat, of Boxley-abbey, who died in 1644, leaving Henry his successor in this manor; and Edwin, afterwards made a sergeant-at law; and Elizabeth, married to Thomas Bosvile, esq. of Little Mote, in Eynsford.
Henry Wyat, the eldest son, was of Boxley-abbey, and possessed Pole manor. He left by Jane his wife, an only daughter, Frances, who married Sir Thomas Selyard, bart. and he, in her right, took possession of it; but her father's brother, Mr. Sergeant Wyat, above mentioned, claimed, and soon afterwards recovered at law, the whole of the manor itself, with a moiety of the farm and demesne lands, as his right.
Sir Thomas Selyard died possessed of the farm and demesne lands, after which the lady Selyard, his widow, passed it away by sale to Fisher, by a female heir, of which name it is now by marriage become the property of Mr. John Colyer, who is the present owner of it.
The manor, with the other moiety of the farm and demesne lands, possessed by Mr. Sergeant Wyat, after his death continued some years in his family, till, by the death of the last of that name, it became vested in Robert Marsham, lord Romney, great grand son of Elizabeth, sister of Mr. Sergeant Wyat, who married Thomas Bosvile, esq. above mentioned, and his son, the Rt. Hon. Charles lord Romney, is the present owner of it.
The TITHES of this place were given to the church of Rochester by the owner of it, Richard de Berese, as above mentioned, and were, by bishop Gundulph, who came to the see in 1076, allotted to the share of the priory there; which donation, bishop Henry de Sandford, in the reign of Henry III. bishop John Russel, in the reign of Edward IV. and others, confirmed.
William, prior of Rochester, and the convent of the same place, in the 7th year of king Henry VI. let to ferm to William Waltham, rector of Southfleet, these tithes, at the yearly rent of 8s. 4d. (fn. 26). This portion of tithes continued part of the possessions of the priory of Rochester, till the dissolution of it in the reign of king Henry VIII. when being surrendered into the king's hands, it was settled by him in the 33d year of his reign, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Rochester, whose inheritance it still remains, the present lessee being the right honourable Charles lord Romney.
Hook-PLACE is a seat in Southfleet, which was for some centuries the seat of a family named Swan, who, as early as the reign of king Richard II. wrote themselves gentlemen, as appears by their own deeds. Sir William Swan possessed it in the reign of James I. and dying in 1612 lies buried in this church, as does Hester lady Swan, his mother, who died the beginning of that year, his grandson Sir William Swan was likewise of Hook-place, and was created a baronet in 1666. He left Sir William Swan, bart. who conveyed this seat, with the estate belonging to it, to Harrington, who bore for his arms, sable fretty, or, semee of fleurs de lis gules, and Aaron Harrington, esq. died possessed of it in 1739, and lies buried in this church, as does Sarah his sister, who married Mr. Samuel Russel, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who, as devisee under her uncle Harrington's will, carried it in marriage to Joseph Brooke, esq. late recorder of Rochester, who by his will devised it, after his wife's decease, to the reverend John Kenward Shaw, now of Town-Malling, who has taken the name of Brooke, and is the present owner of it.
Sir John Sedley, bart. gave by will in 1637, the sum of 500l. to found a free school for the use of this parish, which money is vested in the rector and churchwardens, and Mrs. Elizabeth Sedley, his daughter, gave by will in 1639, the sum of 400l. to maintain the school, charged on the manor farm, vested in the same, and of the annual produce of 20l.
Sir Charles, son of Sir John Sedley before-mentioned, was likewise a benefactor to this school.
Robert Marshall gave by will an annuity of 4l. for the benefit of the poor of this parish, charged on land vested in the minister and churchwardens, and of the above annual product.
This parish is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The church, which is dedicated to St. Nicholas, is spacious, consisting of three isles and a chancel, it contains some curious brass plates, monuments, and remains of fine painted glass, in the windows, particularly in the great east window, which is very full, and there were some figures of bishops in the windows of the north isle, but they have been lately destroyed. In the chancel there is an antient tomb or stone coffin, with a cross on it, and at the sides six antient stalls for the use of the monks of Rochester, when they visited this place, and for the clergy in general, who for distinction sake always sat in the chancel. The pavement before the altar, till lately, was laid with small red tiles, ornamented with yellow, on them were these arms, within a bordure ingrailed 7 mascles 3, 3 and I, two fesses in chief 3 bezants, and old France and England quarterly. These tiles have lately been removed and replaced with plain red ones. The whole chancel was repaired and beautified in 1768 by the then rector. The south chancel belonged to the Sedleys. The font is curious, being an octagon ornamented with carve work in each compartment. (fn. 27) The tower is at the west end, in which is a good peal of six bells.
Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church are the following:—In the chancel, a grave-stone, with the figures of a man and woman, and inscription for John Urban, esq. who died in 1420, and Joane his wife, daughter of Sir John Reskymmer, of Cornwall. Another, with the figure of a man, and inscription for John Tubney, rector of this church, archdeacon of St. Asaph, and chaplain of John Lowe, bishop of Rochester. In the south isle, a stone, with an inscription in brass, for Joane Urban before, mentioned, with her little ones, she died in 1414; on an altar monument, east of the former, are the figures of a man and woman with two labels from their mouths, and likewise of three sons and two daughters, and round the verge of the stone an inscription, all in brass, for John Sedley, one of the auditors of the exchequer, and Elizabeth his wife, he died in 1500; on the same monument a brass plate and inscription for John Sedley, esq. of Southfleet, and Anne his wife, daughter of John Colepeper, esq. of Aylesford, he died in 1581. On the south wall is a large and beautiful monument, with the figure of a man, lying at full length in armour, and an inscription for John Sedley, esq. obt. 1605, æt. 44. Sir William Sedley, knight and baronet, erected it; on it his arms, azure a fess wavy between three goats heads erased argent, a crescent for difference, and two other shields with impalements, and above his banners, crest, &c. a memorial, with the figure of a man, and inscription in brass for Thomas Cowell. In the north isle, a memorial for Hester lady Swan, obt. 1712, and for Sir William Swan, bart. her son, who died a few weeks after her in the same year, arms, azure a chevron ermine between three swans proper, with the arms of Ulster impaling argent a fess ingrailed between three grissins heads, couped sable. A memorial for Cecilie lady Peyton, on a brass plate, fixed to the south wall of the belfry, is an inscription, shewing that master John Swan, William Swan, and Richard Swan, his brothers, and master Thomas and William Swan, his grand-children, gave the biggest bell to this church. (fn. 28)
This church, being an appendage to the manor of Southfleet, was given with it to the church of Rochester, and by bishop Gundulph to the priory there, as has been already mentioned; with whom it stayed till the time of bishop Gilbert de Glanvill; who, on the compromise of the quarrel between him and them, concerning the manors and churches, which bishop Gundulph had given them, decreed, that whenever any of the churches (excepting Wilmington and Sutton-atHone) belonging to the church of Rochester, and within the bounds of that bishopric, should become vacant, the bishop, without asking their consent, of his own proper authority, should freely institute a parson to them; saving, nevertheless, to the monks the pensions usually payable to them. By which decree, this church again returned to the see of Rochester; part of the possessions of which it remains at this time.
Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, in 1091, granted, with the assent of archbishop Anselm, to the monks of St. Andrew's, that they should have and retain the tythes, arising as well from the food of their cattle, as from their agriculture within their manors, situated within his diocese; viz. in Frendesbury, Denton, and Southfleet, and in others, to the use of their resectory. Which was confirmed by archbishop Theobald, Ralph, prior, and the convent of Canterbury; by Walter and Gilbert, bishops of Rochester, and others.
Henry, bishop of Rochester, confirmed to them the small tythes, together with the other tythes, arising from their manors and demesnes within his diocese; in Frendesbury, Southfleet, and in their other manors, according to former custom before his time; all which was confirmed by Richard, bishop of Rochester, in 1280; who at the same time, at the instance of the prior and convent of Rochester, made a solemn inquisition, in an assembly of both clergy and people of the neighbourhood, whom he had called together; that by them he might be more fully certified concerning the retention of the above tythes, and in what manner the monks used to retain tythes in their manors, and in what manner they used to impart them to the parish churches. These persons, being sworn to the truth, deposed, that in the manor of Southfleet, the parish church took, in the name of tythe, the sixteenth sheaf of wheat and rye, and the fifteenth sheaf of barley, oats, and peas, with vetches only; but of the small tythes, nor of the mills and hay, in this as well as the rest of their said manors, the parish church did not, nor ever used to take any thing. And he decreed, that the parish church should be content with the said sixteenth sheaf of wheat and rye, and the said fifteenth sheaf of barley, oats, and peas, together with vetches only; and that the monks should have and retain for ever, all other tythes, both great and small, by whatever names they were called, in all their manors and places within his diocese, the tythes of sheaves, &c. in each of the same, as particu larly mentioned in his instrument, only excepted. All which were confirmed to them (as well as the former grants of the bishops Walter, Gilbert, and Henry) by John, archbishop of Canterbury, by his letters of inspeximus in the year 1281.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church was valued at thirty marcs. (fn. 29) It was returned by the commission of enquiry into the value of livings in 1650, issuing out of chancery, that Southfleet was a parsonage, having a house and five acres of land, worth 160l. per annum; Mr. Richard Simons enjoying the same, a sequestration of master Elizeus Burgis, archdeacon of Rochester. (fn. 30)
The parsonage house is one of the most antient edifices of the kind in the diocese. It is built of stone, the windows large with pointed arches, and stone munions, much resembling those of a church. The porch is with a strong arch, and the whole has a most venerable and ecclesiastical appearance, and had much more so till the front of it was lately plaistered over and whitewashed, and the gothic windows altered and sashed, which has taken much from the antient beauty of it. Some of the windows on the south side next the yard still retain their old form. (fn. 31)
It is valued in the king's books at 31l. 15s. and the yearly tenths at 3l. 3s. 6d. (fn. 32)
Henry Stace, in 1442, gave a tenement and four acres of land to the churchwardens for the use of this church for ever.
Church Of Southfleet.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Bishop of Rochester||William Werde, 1425. (fn. 33)|
|William Waltham, 1428. (fn. 34)|
|Laurence Horewode, in 1441. (fn. 35)|
|John Tubney, June 10, 1453, obt. 1457. (fn. 36)|
|Thomas Candour, May 10, 1457.|
|Elizeus Burgis, S.T.P. in 1628 and 1650. (fn. 37)|
|Daniel Hill, in 1720.|
|William Geekie, S. T. P. July 1729, obt. 1767. (fn. 38)|
|John Darby, 1767, obt. Oct. 6, 1778. (fn. 39)|
|Thomas Bagshaw, A.M. 1778, obt. 1788. (fn. 40)|
|Peter Rashleigh, A.M. 1788, the present rector.|