Parishes: Eynsford

Pages 527-539

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

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SOUTHWARD from Farningham lies Eynsford, sometimes written Aynsford, so named from a noted ford here over the river Darent.

THIS PARISH extends about four miles from east to west, and about three miles from north to south; on the north side it reaches almost up to the village of Farningham, near to which stood the antient mansion of Sibell's; and towards the west, over the hills, by Wested-farm and the obscure and little known hamlet of Crockenhill, both within its bounds, among a quantity of woodlands. The soil is in general chalky, except towards the west, where there is some strong heavy land. The village of Eynsford, through the eastern part of which the high road leads from Dartford through Farningham, and hence towards Sevenoke, is situated near the south-west bounds of the parish, in the valley on the banks of the Darent; over it there is a bridge here, repaired at the public charge of the county. At the north end of the village, near the river, are the remains of Eynsford castle, (fn. 1) and at the south end of it the church; beyond which this parish extends southward, on the chalk hills, a mile and an half; where, near the boundaries of it, is Afton lodge.

THIS PLACE was given to Christ church, in. Canterbury, in the time of archbishop Dunstan, who came to the see in 950, by a certain rich man, named Ælphege; after whose death one Leossune, who had married the widow of Eadric, Elphege's nephew, retained this land as his own, notwithstanding this devise of it. Upon which the trial of it was appointed at Ærhede, before Uulsi, the priest seir-man, or judge of the county, in presence of archbishop Dunstan, the parties themselves, the bishops of London and Rochester, and a multitude of lay people; and there, in the presence of the whole assembly, the archbishop taking the crossin his hand, made his oath upon the book of the ecclesiastical laws to the scir-man, who then took it to the king's use, as Leossune himself refused to receive it, that the right use of these lands was to Christ church; and as a farther confirmation of it to future times, it had the ratification of a thousand of the choicest men out of Suthex, Westsex, Middlesex, and Eastsex, who took their oaths also on the cross to the truth of it after him. (fn. 2)

At the time of taking the general survey of Domesday, Eynesford was held of the archbishop of Canterbury, by knight's service, and accordingly it is thus entered, under the general title of Terra Militum Archiepi, in that record.

Ralph Fitz Unspac holds Ensford of the archbishop. It was taxed at six suling. The arable land is. In demesne there are five carucates and 29 villeins, with nine borders, having 15 carucates. There are 2 churches and nine servants, and two mills of 43 shillings, and 29 acres of meadow; wood for the pannage of 20 hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth 16 pound, and now it is worth 20 pounds.—Of this manor Richard de Tonebridge holds as much wood as 20 bogs may go out from, and one mill of five shillings, and one fishery in this lowy.

In the reign of king Henry II. a family of the name of Eynsford was in the possession of this place, one of whom. William de Eynesford, was sheriff of London in that reign. (fn. 3) They bore for their arms, A fretty ermine, which coat is carved on the roof of the cloisters, at Canterbury. William de Eynesford, whether the same as above mentioned does not appear, held the MANOR and CASTLE of Eynsford of the archbishop, at which time archbishop Becket, having given the church of Eynsford to one Laurence, William de Eynesford dispossessed him of it, for which he was excommunicated by the archbishop, which offended the king exceedingly; (fn. 4) another of the same name possessed this manor and castle in the 12th and 13th years of king John. (fn. 5) In the reign of king Edward I. this estate was become the property of the family of Criol, in the 21st year of which, as appears by the Tower records, John de Criol and Ralph de Sandwich claimed the privileges of a manor here; Nicholas de Criol, a descendant of this John, died possessed of it, anno 3 king Richard II. (fn. 6) after which it passed by sale to the Zouches, of Harringworth. William Zouche died possessed of it in the 5th year of that reign, and left three sons, Sir William le Zouche of Braunfield, Edmund. and Thomas; which last and this castle and manor, of which he was possessed at his death, anno 6 king Henry IV. (fn. 7) After which it passed into the name of Chaworth; and Elizabeth, wife of William Chaworth, was found to die possessed of it in the 17th year of king Henry VII. Soon after which, it was conveyed by sale to Sir Percival Hart, of the body of Henry VIII. His son, Sir George Hart, died anno 22 queen Elizabeth possessed of this castle and manor, with the mill, called Garsmill, holding them of the king, as of his manor of Otford, by knights service; (fn. 8) since which they have descended in the same manner that Lullingstone has, to Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. the present possessor of them.

There are large ruins still remaining of Eynsford castle. The walls, which are built of squared flint, are near four feet thick, being entire for near forty feet in height. The circuit of these walls are of a very irregular form, and contain about three quarters of an acre of ground, in the middle of them is a strong keep or dungeon. It stands at a small distance eastward from the river Darent, between which and the castle, as well as for the same space about it, there is much rubbish and foundations of buildings, and there are remains of a broad moat round it, now quite dry.

Many lands in Eynsford are held of this manor by annual quit rents. A constable is chosen at the court leet, held for it, for the liberty of Eynsford, which extends over the parish of Eynsford, and great part of the south side of Farningham-street.

SOUTH-COURT is a manor here, which was antiently part of the estate of the family of Eynesford, already mentioned, and was formerly parcel of Eynsford-castle. John de St. Clere possessed this manor in the 20th year of king Edward III. at which time he paid aid for it. In the reign of king Henry VII. it was come into the name of Dinham; and John Dinham died possessed of the manor of South-court, with its appurtenances, in Eynsford, which he held of the archibshop, as of his manor of Otford, by knights service, in the 17th of king Henry VIII. (fn. 9) From Dinham it passed by sale to Sir Thomas Wyatt of Allington-castle, from which family it was sold to Hart; and Sir John Hart, son and heir of Sir Percival Hart, knight of the body to king Henry VIII. (fn. 10) died possessed of it in the 22d year of queen Elizabeth, holding it of the queen, as of her manor of Otford, by knight service.

Since this unity of possession, the style of these manors has been, the castle and manor of Eynsford cum Southcourt; by which title they have descended, in the same manor as Lullingstone, to Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. the present possessor of them.

The MANOR of ORKESDEN, the mansion of which is now called, by corruption, Aston-LODGE, was antiently possessed by a family, who took their surname from their residence here. William de Orkesden, in the 12th and 13th years of king John's reign held half a knight's see in Eynsford, by knight's service of the archbishop. He was one of the Recognitores Magna Assise, or justices of the Great Assize. (fn. 11)

In the reign of king Edward III. Reginald de Cobham was become possessed of this manor; in the 14th year of which he obtained a charter of free warren in all the demesne lands within his lordship of Orkesdenne; and in the next year he obtained licence to castellate his house here. He was son of Reginald de Cobham, who was son of John de Cobham of Cobham, by his second wife, Joane, daughter of Hugh de Nevill. (fn. 12)

This Reginald de Cobham was a great warrior; and in the 18th year of king Edward III. was constituted admiral of the king's fleet, from the Thames mouth westward. In the 20th of king Edward III. he paid aid for one quarter of a see in Orkesden, which he held of William de Eynesford, as of his manor of Eynsford. He died of the pestilence in the 35th year of that reign possessed of this manor, leaving Regihald his son and heir, and Joane his wife, daughter of Sir Maurice de Berkeley surviving, who possessed this manor at her death, anno 43 king Edward III. (fn. 13) Her son, Reginald, was lord of Sterborough, castle, in Surry, from whence this branch of the Cobhams was henceforward called, Cobhams of Sterborough-castle. (fn. 14)

His grandson, Sir Thomas Cobham, left a sole daughter and heir, Anne, who carried this manor in marriage to Sir Edward Borough, who survived him, and died possessed of it in the 20th year of king Henry VIII. then holding it of the lord Zouche, as of his manor of Eynsford, by knights service. (fn. 15)

Thomas, their son and heir, was summoned to parliament, as lord borough, anno 21 Henry VIII. He left Thomas his son and heir, who bequeathed this manor of Orkesden to his youngest son, Sir William Borough; and he, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, passed it away by sale to Francis Sandbache, esq. who sold it to John Lennard, esq. custos brevium of the court of common-pleas, who purchased it for his second son, Samuel Lennard, who was afterwards knighted, and was of West Wickham, in this county. On his death, in 1618, he was succeeded here by his son, Sir Stephen Lennard, who was created a baronet in 1642; he sold it to Richard Duke, esq. from whom it passed to Nathaniel Tench, esq. who died in 1710, and was buried at Low Leyton, in Essex. His only surviving son, Fither Tench, was created a baronet in 1715. (fn. 16) and died possessed of Orkesden manor in 1736; soon after which it was conveyed by sale to Percival Hart. esq. of Lullingstone, whose grandson, Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. is the present owner of it.

Many lands in Eynsford, Lullingstone, and Sevenoke, are held of this manor by small annual quit rents.

On the western side of this parish, next to St. Mary Cray, lies the HAMLET of CROCKENHILL, which, as appears by a writ, Ad quod damnum, brought against the prioress of Dartford, in the 11th year of king Edward IV. was in the possession of that prioress and convent; with whom it staid till their suppression, in the reign of king Henry VIII. when their lands and revenues were surrendered into the king's hands; all which were confirmed to him and his successors by the general words of the act of the 31st of his reign, the year after which the king granted to Percival Hart, esq. among other premises, the manor of Crekenhill, alias Crokenhill, with its appurtenances, to hold of him in capite by knights service. (fn. 17) His son, Sir George Hart, of Lullingstone, died possessed of it, being then stiled Crockenhill, alias Court-hawe, in the 22d year of queen Elizabeth, holding it by the above tenure. Since which it has descended, in the same manner as the rest of his estates in this parish, to Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. the present possessor of it.

This manor pays a yearly fee-farm rent to the crown of eleven shillings and five-pence.

LITTLE-MOTE and PETHAM-COURT are two manors, situated at the two opposite sides of this parish; the former being at the north east corner of it, near Farningham; and the latter at the north-west corner of it, near adjoining to Crokenhill and St. Mary Cray. These manors were, for many generations, part of the possessions of the family of Sibell, who resided at a mansion, called after them Sibell's, situated in Little or Lower Mote, and bore for their arms, Argent, a tiger gules, viewing himself in a glass or mirror, azure. Their estate here was much increased in the reign of king Henry VIII. by one of them marrying the female heir of Cowdale. These Cowdales bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron gules between three cows heads caboshed sable; which coat, both impaled and quartured with Sybill, Philipott says was remaining in the mansion here, both in painted glass and carved work, in his time. (fn. 18)

One of this family, John Sibell, died in the 17th year of queen Elizabeth, possessed of these estates, and also of the demesne lands of the manor of Hiltes bury; all which were held of the manor of Eynsford. He left an only daughter and heir, Elizabeth, and Jane his wife surviving, who held these estates for her life, and afterwards married Francis Hart, esq.

Elizabeth Sibell, the daughter, in the 24th year of queen Elizabeth, married Robert Bosevile, esq. afterwards knighted, the younger brother of Henry Bosevile of Bradborne, and son of Ralph Bosevile, of that place, clerk of the court of wards; and he, on her mother's death, became, in her right, possessed of Sibell's, with the manors of Littlemote and Petham. His descendant, Sir Thomas Bosevile, was of Littlemote, and had been a colonel in the king's army, and knighted by king Charles I. at Durham, in May 1642. He died the next year, and was buried in St. Mary's church, Oxford. (fn. 19) By Sarah, his wife, who afterwards married Col. Richard Crimes, he had a son, Thomas, who possessed these manors and Sibell's on his father's death. He married Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Francis Wyat, of Boxleyabbey, and died in 1660, leaving an only daughter and heir, Margaretta, who carried the manor of Petham-court in marriage to Sir Robert Marsham, bart. of Bushey-hall, in Hertfordshire; and his great grand son, the Right Hon. Charles Marsham, lord Romney, is the present possessor of it.

But the manor of Littlemote, with Sibell's, became the property of Sir Henry Bosevile, who died in 1702, (fn. 20) without issue, and devised this manor and estate to his kinsman, Robert Bosevile, esq. of Staffordshire, whose family was originally of Ardesley, in Yorkshire, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, a younger branch of them settled in Kent, at Bradborne, in Sevenoke, and here at Eynsford; and a younger branch of these again in Staffordshire; they bore for their arms, Argent, a fess lozengy gules, in chief three bears heads erased sable.

His son of the same name, in the year 1755, sold it, in several parcels, to different persons, since which it has been of no consequence worth mentioning, and the old mansion of Sibell's has been pulled down some years ago, and two tenements have been erected on the scite of it.


PERCIVAL HART, esq. gave by will, for the benefit of the poor, an annuity out of lands, vested in Sir John Dyke, bart. and of the annual produce of 2l.

AN UNKNOWN PERSON gave for the like use, a house, let by the parish to Philip Weller, and of the annual value of 4l.

SIR ANTHONY ROPER and . . . . . . . . HATCLIFF, esq. (as is supposed) gave for the benefit of the same, lands and houses in Greenwich, the rents to be divided, to the parish of Farningham threefifths, to Horton Kirkby one-fifth, and to this parish of Eynsford one-fifth, the annual produce being to this parish, on an average, 7l.

EYNSFORD is in the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION OF THE diocese of Rochester, and being a peculiar of the archbishop, it is as such in the deanry of Shoreham. The church, which is dedicated to St. Martin, is situated at the south-east end of the village.

It seems from the form of it to be one of our early Norman structures, and coeval with the castle. It is built in the form of a cross, with two large wings or side chancels; that on the south side belonged to the Sibell's, and afterwards to the Bosevile's, many of whom lie buried in it, several of whose gravestones and inscriptions are now so covered with fifth and rubbish that they are illegible; and the place itself, through continued neglect, is hastening to a total ruin. The north chancel is kept in good repair, and is filled with pews and a neat vestry room. In this chancel, according to Weever, was a stone, on which was engraved, in wondrous antique characters, Ici gis. la famme de la Roberg de Eckisford, perhaps it may have been so spelt for Einesford, or one of his mistakes for it, and if so, this chancel might belong to the Eynesfords, lords of this manor and castle; the stone is now hid by the wooden flooring over it. At the west end of the church is a spire steeple, underneath which is a curious circular door way of Saxon or very early Norman architecture. (fn. 21)

Among other monuments and inscriptions in this church, in the chancel, a gravestone, arms, a lion passant guardant, in chief three stirrups, for George Gifford, esq. obt. 1704, æt. 85; another for Thomas Gifford, esq. obt. 1705, æt. 59. In the chancel, on the south side of the church, a gravestone for lady Sarah Bosevile, wife of Col. Richard Crimes, obt. 1660; another for Tho. Bosevile, esq. of Littlemote, in Eynsford, only son of Sir Thomas Bosevile; he married Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Francis Wiat of Boxley-abbey, by whom he left Margaretta, his sole daughter and heir; obt. 1660; another, arms, five lozenges in fess, in chief three bears heads erased, impaling two bends engrailed, and a canton, for Sir Henry Bosevile, of Littlemote, and dame Mary his wife; she died 1693, he died 1702. On the south wall, a monument with the above arms, for Mrs. Margaret Bosevile, only daughter and heir of Sir Henry Bosevile, of Littlemote, ob. 1682, æt. 26. (fn. 22)

William de Eynesford, lord of this parish, gave the church of Eynsford to the monks o Christ-church, in Canterbury, when he became a monk there; which was confirmed by William de Enysford, his grandson. (fn. 23) Archbishop Richard, in the reign of king Henry II. appropriated this church to the almonry of Christ church. (fn. 24) In the time of Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, there was a dispute, whether the church of Farningham was a chapel to the church of Eynsford or not ?

In consequence of which, the archbishop, by his decree, made with the consent of all parties in 1225, ordained, that the rector of Eynsford and his successors, should possess entirely the whole church of Eynsford, with all its tythes, as well great as small, houses, lands, gardens, and all other things belonging to it, which the rector of it was wont to have before; and that the almoner of Christ-church, and not the monks, should possess, to the use of the almonry, the chapel of Farningham, with its appurtenauces, &c. belonging to it, as is therein mentioned; and that the rector of this church of Eynsford should, on a vacancy, present to the vicarage of this church; and that further than this, neither should intermeddle, or claim a right in the above premisess. (fn. 25)

Thus this rectory became a fine cure, the parson of this church from that time having presented to the vicarage, the incumbent of which has had the cure of souls, in which situation the rectory still remains, being esteemed as a donative of the patronage of the archbishop of Canterbury.

In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church was valued at thirty marcs. (fn. 26) In 1575, Henry Withers, clerk, parson of the parish church and benefice of Eynsford, leased this rectory to Thomas Dunmoll, yeoman, at 12l. 6s. 8d. per annum. In 1633, John Gifford, D. D. rector, let the same to Thomas Gifford, his son, at forty pounds per annum rent.

By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that Eynsford was a donative, with a house, and one hundred acres of glebe, and the great tythes, worth altogether one hundred and ten pounds per annum, then in the possession of George Gifford, esq. that the vicarage had a house, but no glebe land, and was worth thirty-five pounds per annum, one master Heriot enjoying it, and preaching there. (fn. 27)

Francis Porter, rector in 1674, let to George Gifford, esq. of Pennis, this rectory, or parsonage of forty pounds per annum, and of twenty pounds to the vicar, Edward Tilson, which last sum is mentioned to be an augmentation made in pursuance of the king's letters recommendatory, which lease was confirmed in 1707, in pursuance of like letters of queen Anne.

George Gifford, esq. of Pennis, continued lessee till his death, in 1704, when his interest in it devolved to his son, Thomas Gifford, who died the next year, and left three daughters and coheirs, viz. Margaret, married to Thomas Petley; Mary to John Selby, and Jane to Finch Umsrey; this parsonage being let by them at one hundred and forty-five pounds per annum.

The interest of this lease passed by sale from them to Percival Hart, esq. of Lullingstone, whose grandson, Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. a few years ago, suffered the lease to expire.

The rectory of Eynsford is valued in the king's books at 12l. 16s. 8d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 5s. 8d. the vicarage at twelve pounds, and the tenths at 1l. 4s. (fn. 28)

Church of Eynsford.

Or by whom presented.
Laurence, about 1165. (fn. 29)
Henry, in 1225. (fn. 30)
Archbishop of Canterbury John Lynton, col. 1391. (fn. 31)
Henry Withers, in 1575.
John Bowles, D. D. vacat. 1629. (fn. 32)
John Gifford, D. D. Feb. 18, 1629. (fn. 33)
Francis Porter, in 1677.
Paul Colomeiz, 1691.
Peter Tascher, 1699.
John Lynch, D. D. Oct. 1731, obt. 1760. (fn. 34)
George Secker, D. D. 1760, resigned 1763. (fn. 35)
John Fowel, D. D. 1763. Present rector. (fn. 36)
Rectors of Eynsford Heriot, in 1650. (fn. 37)
John Bedle, in 1661.
Edward Tilson, in 1674. (fn. 38)
Edward Tilson, 1726, obt. 1748. (fn. 39)
Herring, presented in 1748.
Benjamin Longley, presented 1750, obt. 1783. (fn. 40)
Thomas Verrier Alkin, April, 1780, obt. Jan. 20, 1784. (fn. 41)
James Andrew, L.L.D. 1784, ob. March 7, 1791. (fn. 42)
H. M. Davis, 1791. Present vicar.


  • 1. See an engraving of the remains of this castle, in Custumale Roffense.
  • 2. See Crayford, p. 268.
  • 3. In the reign of king Henry II. William de Eynesford was sheriff of London. Strype's Stow's Survey, b. v. p. 369.
  • 4. Dec. Script. col. 711.
  • 5. Lib. Rub. Scacc.
  • 6. Rot. Esch.
  • 7. Ib. and Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 691.
  • 8. Rot. Esch. ejus an.
  • 9. Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 691.
  • 10. Rot. Esch. ejus. an.
  • 11. Lib. Rubr. Philip. p. 45.
  • 12. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 67. MSS. pedigree of Cobham.
  • 13. Rot. Esch. ejus an.
  • 14. See more of these Cobhams under Chidingstone.
  • 15. Rot. Esch. ejus an.
  • 16. Morant's Essex, vol. i. p. 25.
  • 17. Rot. Esch. an. 32 Henry VIII. pt. 5.
  • 18. Philipott, p. 46.
  • 19. See Wood's Ath. vol. ii. Fasti, p. 7.
  • 20. The Boseviles all lie buried in the S. chancel of this church.
  • 21. See Custom. Roff. p. 94, 106, where there are engravings of the east end of the church, and of this door way.
  • 22. See the monuments and inscriptions at large, in Reg. Roff. p. 784.
  • 23. Regist. of Christ church, Canterbury, Cart. 1372.
  • 24. Somner's Canterbury, p. 112.
  • 25. Regist. Christ Church, Cant. Cart. 155.
  • 26. Stev. Mon. vol. i. p. 456.
  • 27. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth-library, vol. xix.
  • 28. Bacon's Lib. Regis.
  • 29. Decim. Script. col. 711.
  • 30. Regist. Christ-church, Canterb. Cart. 155.
  • 31. He was then rector of Tunstall, More's Hist. of Tunstall, p. 53.
  • 32. Made bishop of Rochester in 1629.
  • 33. Presented by the lord-keeper. Rym. Fæd. vol. xix. p. 146.
  • 34. Afterwards dean of Canterbury, &c. &c.
  • 35. And prebendary of Canterbury; both which he resigned on being made residentiary of St. Paul's.
  • 36. Rector of Chartham and Bishopsborne.
  • 37. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth-library, vol. xix.
  • 38. Rector of Lullingstone.
  • 39. Ibid. Son of the former.
  • 40. Curate of Ash, near Sandwich, and vicar of Tong.
  • 41. He had been before vicar of Lenham, which he resigned.
  • 42. Formerly prebendary of Rochester, and vicar of Ashford.