Parishes: Downe

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

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'Parishes: Downe', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (Canterbury, 1797) pp. 54-59. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

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SOUTH-WESTWARD from Farnborough lies Downe, which takes its name from its high situation; the word Dune, in Saxon, bearing that signification.

This parish is but small; it is situated among the hills on high ground, the soil is poor, being clay mixed with chalk. It extends beyond Northend and Highelms, almost to the foot of Farnborough-hill, on the Sevenoke-road. The village is in the southern part of it; Petley's-place, situated within it, which though now only a farm-house, was formerly one of the seats of the antient family of Petley. Their arms, with different quarterings, still remain in the windows of it. It is now the property of Richard Gee Carew, esq. of Orpington.

Near the church is the mansion, formerly called Trowmer's, now belonging to Mr. Omer, and in the centre of the village one called The Great House, which formerly belonged to George Butler, esq. who resided here, and died possessed of it in 1783, after which it was purchased by Dr. John Thomas, late bishop of Rochester, who died in 1793, leaving his widow, lady Yates, surviving; whose daughter, by her first husband, Sir Joseph Yates, one of the judges of the King's-bench, having married Cholmondeley Dering, esq. he now resides in it. The church stands on the east side of the village, and about a quarter of a mile southward from it Downe-hall, farther than which there is nothing remarkable in this parish.

This parish is within the manor of Great Orpington, to which it is an appendage, which manor is now in the possession of Sir John Dixon Dyke, of Lullingstone, bart.

THE MANOR OF DOWNE-COURT, with the scite of it, in the reigns of king Edward I. and II. was the property and residence of Richard de Downe, who lies buried, with his wife Margery, in the chancel of this church, but without any inscription on his grave stone, the brass having been torn from it. This family was extinct here before the middle of the next reign of king Edward III. when the Petle's of Trowmer, in this parish, were become lords of it. John Petle of Trowmer, esq. died possessed of it in the 18th year of king Richard II. in whose descendants this manor continued down to John Petley, esq. (for so the name began now to be spelt) who lived in the reign of king Henry VIII. He died without male issue, leaving by Christiana his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Philipott, four daughters his coheirs; John Petle, the ancestor of this family, was settled at Downe, in the reign of king Henry III. and bore for his arms, Argent, two bends ingrailed, a canton sable. His son, Richard, left two sons, of whom John, the eldest, was possessor of Downe manor, in the reign of king Richard II. as above mentioned; and Richard left two sons, John, ancestor to those of Halsted, now extinct, and William, ancestor to those of this name seated at Filston, in Shoreham, now likewise extinct, and those of Riverhead, in Sevenoke, now remaining there. John Petle, eldest son of Richard, married Juliana, daughter and heir of William Troumer of Downe, by whom he had Thomas Petle, who died in the 9th year of king Henry V. and lies buried with Isabel his wife, in this church. His son, John Petle, married Alice, daughter and coheir of James Brampton, by whom he had John Petley, who lived in the time of king Henry VIII. and left four daughters his coheirs, as above mentioned. (fn. 1) Of whom Agnes, the eldest, was married to John Manning, esq. of Downe, who, on the division of their inheritance, became en titled to it. (fn. 2) He was descended from John Manning, who was of Cowdham, and died in the 14th year of king Henry IV. leaving John Manning, his son, who by Juliana, daughter and heir of Richard Brockhill, had Hugh Manning of St. Mary Cray, who married the daughter of Sir William Brandon, by whom he had two sons, of whom Richard, the youngest, settled at St. Mary Cray, where his posterity continued till within these few years; and John Manning, the eldest, married Agnes Petley, as above mentioned. (fn. 3) He died possessed of it in the 35th year of king Henry VIII. and lies buried with Agnes his wife in this church. His descendant, Peter Manning, esq. of Trowmer, in the reign of king James I. alienated this manor to Palmer, and in 1657 it was in the possession of John Palmer, whose son and heir, Michael Palmer, in 1662, sold it to Mr. Richard Glover, from whom it descended to Mr. Richard Glover, merchant of London, whose daughter marrying James Gladhill Vernon, esq. intitled him to the possession of it, and he is the present owner of it.

But the seat itself, formerly called DOWNE-COURT, but since DOWNE-HALL, which passed, together with the manor, to John Manning, in right of his wife Agnes, one of the daughters and coheirs of John Petle, as before mentioned, was, by his son, Henry Manning, esq. of Greenwich, separated from the manor, and sold by him to Sir Francis Carew of Beddington, in Surry, who some time afterwards alienated it to Mr. Ellis of London; from whom it passed by sale, in the reign of king Charles I. to Col. Richard Sandys, third son of Sir Edwyn Sandys of Norborne; the second son of Dr. Edwyn Sandys, archbishop of York, by Cicely, daughter of Thomas Wilsford of Cranbrooke. Henry Sandys, the eldest son of Richard above mentioned, by Hester his wife, daugh ter of Edwin Aucher, esq. of Wilshorough, was of Downe-court, and married Catherine, widow of Sir John Kay, bart. and daughter of Sir William St. Quintin, bart. by whom he had Jordan Sandys, esq. who passed away Downe-court, by sale, to Rich. Oldner, esq. of Exton; and he a few years ago alienated it to Thomas Omer, esq. who left it by will to his grandson, Thomas Omer, esq. the present owner of it.


RICHARD STEVENS by will, in 1647, gave for the use of the indigent poor, an annuity of 40s. out of land, now vested in earl Stanhope, and of the same annual produce.

DOWNE is within the ECCLESTASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester. It is a peculiar of the archbishop of Canterbury, and as such is in the deanry of Shoreham. The church is small, consisting of only one isle and a chancel, having a spire steeple, at the west end, in which are three bells.

In it, among other monuments and inscriptions, are the following. In the isle, a grave stone and inscription for Anne, wife of Roger Know, dec. obt. 1702, æt 76, and for Anne, wife of Henry Powle, their daughter, ob. 1693, æt. 29. On the north side, a mural monument for Mr. Rob Durling, gent. late attorney in Gray's-inn, ob. 1760, æt. 38; another for Mr. Tho. Know of this parish, ob. 1728, æt. 70; he married Mary, daughter of Jos. Marsh, citizen of London, who died in 1723, æt. 62; at the top are these arms, viz. Argent on a bend ingrailed gules, three trefoils slipped of the field, impaling gules, a horse's head couped argent between three cross croslets fitchee of the second. Near the pulpit, on a grave stone, a brass plate with the figure of a man and woman, and inscription in black letter, for Tho. Petle, and Isabella his wife, the escutcheon of arms torn off. In the great chancel, on the south side of the altar, a grave stone and brass plate, with inscription in black letter for Jn. Manning and Agnes his wife, daughter and coheir of John Petle of Trowmer; he died in 1543; above a shield of arms, being a cross flory between four cinquefoils impaling two bends ingrailed and a canton. On the south side, a grave stone and memorial for Edw. Manning, once of prince Charles' household, youngest son of Peter Manning, esq. of Trowmer, and Elizabeth his wife, daughter and coheir of Jacob Verzelini, lord of the manor of Downe, obt. 1622, æt. 20; above the arms of Manning, on the south side, a grave stone and brass, having the figure of a man and woman, the inscription gone, but preserved in Weever, being for John Petle and Christian his wife, and John Petle and Alice, and Tho. Philipott, &c. another like with the figures of a man and woman, and inscription for Jacob Verzelini, esq. born in Venice, and Elizabeth his wife, born in Antwerp, of the antient houses of Vanburen and Mace, who lived in matrimony forty-nine years; he died in 1606; æt. 84; she died in 1607, æt. 74; beneath are the figures of six sons and three daughters, above them two shields of arms in brass, first coat, two battle axes in saltier, in chief a helmet; second coat, quarterly first and fourth, three frame saws; second and third, two cinquefoils, a canton charged with an hour glass; beneath another shield, Verzelini impaling as above. On the north side, within the rails, a grave stone with a brass plate and inscription for John Bederenden, citizen and chamberlain of London, obt. 1445. In the east window are several coats of arms of Manning, Paton, Verzelini, as before described, and others. In the north window of the chancel are the arms of Petley and the relatives of that family. In the south window of the chancel, above the pulpit, a shield, being or a bend ermine. In the first window, on the north side of the body of the church, is a large rose, finely coloured in glass, parted per pale argent and gules; within a glory, furmounted with a crown, for the union of the houses of York and Lancaster. (fn. 4)

This church is esteemed as a chapel to the church of Hayes, the rectors of which are now instituted to the rectory of Hayes, with the chapel of Downe annexed.

The rector of Orpington, who is patron of the church of Hayes, possesses the parsonage of Downe, in right of his rectory, with which it is from time to time leased out by him.

By virtue of a commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, out of the court of chancery, it was returned, that this parsonage was in one lease with that of Orpington, to one Mr. Robinson, and was worth thirty-four pounds per annum; that the vicarage of this parish was worth twenty pounds per annum, belonging to master King, who was a painful honest minister, and kept the school here. (fn. 5)

This chapel is not in charge in the king's books.

The lessee of the parsonage of Orpington is bound by his lease to pay 13l. 6s. 8d. yearly to the curates of Downe, which covenant was first inserted in the lease of it, granted by the rector in 1687, and confirmed by the archbishop, and dean and chapter, the same year. (fn. 6)

Chapel Of Downe.

Or by whom presented.
Rector of Orpington. Oliver Bagthwaite, obt. Sep. 1, 1585.
King, in 1650.
John Bradshaw, May 7, 1654.
Wood, 1665.
Philip Jones, 1672.
James Farier, 1688, resigned 1689. (fn. 7)
John Dinham, A. M. Feb. 13, 1689.
Robert Davidson, A. M. May 6, 1693, resigned 1696. (fn. 8)
Christopher Clarke, A.M. Mar. 7, 1696, resigned 1714. (fn. 9)
Thomas, Walwyn, A. M. 1714, obt. 1747. (fn. 10)
Walter Walker Ward, D. D. 1747, obt. 1755. (fn. 11)
Wm. Farquar, 1755, obt. Mar. 1774. (fn. 11)
Francis Fawkes, A. M. April 1774, obt. 1777. (fn. 12)
John Browne, Oct. 1777, obt. 1788. (fn. 13)
Henry Fly, A.M. 1788. Present curate.


  • 1. Pedigree of Petley, attested by Sir William Segar, &c.
  • 2. Philipott, p. 133.
  • 3. Visitation of the Co. Kent, 1619, Pedigree, Manning.
  • 4. See an account at large of the monuments and memorials in this church, in Reg. Roff. p. 947.
  • 5. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth lib.
  • 6. See Ducarel's Rep. p. 193.
  • 7. He was one of the fellows of Magdalen college, in Oxford, and deprived by king James II. he was minister of this chapel for one year, when he was again restored to his fellowship.
  • 8. He was instituted to the rectory of Hayes in 1696, where he lies buried.
  • 9. He was presented to the rectory of Hayes in 1714, being also rector of Keston, archdeacon of Norwich, and prebendary of Ely.
  • 10. He had been vicar of Cowdham, and was afterwards presented to Hayes.
  • 11. Also rectors of Hayes.
  • 12. And rector of Hayes. He was before vicar of St. Mary Cray.
  • 13. See Nockholt.