Parishes: Hever

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.

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'Parishes: Hever', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797) pp. 190-202. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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SOUTH-EASTWARD from Eatonbridge lies Hever, called in the Textus Roffensis, and some antient records, Heure, and in others, Evere.

This parish lies below the sand hill, and is consequently in that district of this county called The Weald.

There is a small part of it, called the Borough of Linckbill, comprehending a part of this parish, Chidingstone, and Hever, which is within the hundred of Ruxley, and being part of the manor of Great Orpington, the manerial rights of it belong to Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. the owner of that manor.

THE PARISH of Hever is long, and narrow from north to south. It lies wholly below the sand hills, and consequently in the district of the Weald; the soil and face of the country is the same as that of Eatonbridge, last described, the oak trees in it being in great plently, and in general growing to a very large size. The river Eden directs its course across it, towards Penshurst and the Medway, flowing near the walls of Hever castle, about a quarter of a mile southward from which is the village of Hever and the parsonage; near the northern side of the river is the seat of Polebrooke, late Douglass's, now Mrs. Susannah Payne's; and a little farther, the hamlets of Howgreen and Bowbeach; part of Linckhill borough, which is in the hundred of Ruxley, extends into this parish. There is a strange odd saying here, very frequent among the common people, which is this:

Jesus Christ never was but once at Hever.

And then he fell into the river.

Which can only be accounted for, by supposing that it alluded to a priest, who was carrying the bost to a sick person, and passing in his way over a bridge, sell with it into the river.

Hever was once the capital seat and manor of a family of the same name, whose still more antient possessions lay at Hever, near Northfleet, in this county, who bore for their arms, Gules, a cross argent. These arms, with a lable of three points azure, still remained in the late Mote-house, in Maidstone, and are quartered in this manner by the earl of Thanet, one of whose ancestors, Nicholas Tuston, esq. of Northiam, married Margaret, daughter and heir of John Hever of this county. (fn. 1)

William de Heure. possessed a moiety of this place in the reign of king Edward I. in the 2d of which he was was sheriff of this county, and in the 9th of it obtained a grant of free warren within his demesne lands in Heure, Chidingstone, and Lingefield.

Sir Ralph de Heure seems at this time to have possessed the other moiety of this parish, between whose son and heir, Ralph, and Nicholas, abbot of St. Augustine's, there had been, as appears by the register of that abbey, several disputes concerning lands in Hever, which was settled in the 4th year of king Edward I. by the abbot's granting to him and his heirs for ever, the land which he held of him in Hever, to hold by the service of the fourth part of a knight's fee.

William de Hever, in the reign of king Edward III. became possessed of the whole of this manor, and new built the mansion here, and had licence to embattle it; soon after which he died, leaving two daughters his coheirs; one of whom, Joane, carried one moiety of this estate in marriage to Reginald Cobham, a younger son of the Cobhams of Cobham, in this county; (fn. 2) whence this part of Hever, to distinguish it from the other, acquired the name of Hever Cobham.

His son, Reginald lord Cobham, in the 14th year of that reign, obtained a charter for free warren within his demesne lands in Hever. (fn. 3) He was succeeded in this manor by his son, Reginald lord Cobham, who was of Sterborough castle, in Surry, whence this branch was stiled Cobhams of Sterborough.

The other moiety of Hever, by Margaret, the other daughter and coheir, went in marriage to Sir Oliver Brocas, and thence gained the name of Hever Brocas. One of his descendants alienated it to Reginald lord Cobham, of Sterborough, last mentioned, who died possessed of both these manors in the 6th year of king Henry IV.

His grandson, Sir Thomas Cobham, sold these manors to Sir Geoffry Bulleyn, a wealthy mercer of London, who had been lord mayor in the 37th year of king Henry VI. He died possessed of both Hever Cobham and Hever Brocas, in the 3d year of king Edward IV. leaving by Anne, his wife, eldest sister of Thomas, lord Hoo and Hastings, Sir William Bulleyn, of Blickling, in Norfolk, who married Margaret, daughter and coheir of Thomas Boteler, earl of Ormond, by whom he had a son and heir, Thomas, who became a man of eminent note in the reign of king Henry VIII. and by reason of the king's great affection to the lady Anne Bulleyn, his daughter, was in the 17th year of that reign, created viscount Rochford; and in the 21st year of it, being then a knight of the Garter, to that of earl of Wiltshire and Ormond; viz. Wiltshire to his heirs male, and Ormond to his heirs general.

He resided here, and added greatly to those buildings, which his grandfather, Sir Geoffry Bulleyn, began in his life time, all which he completely finished, and from this time this seat seems to have been constantly called HEVER-CASTLE.

He died in the 30th of the same reign, possessed of this castle, with the two manors of Hever Cobham and Brocas, having had by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, one sonGeorge, executed in his life time; and two daughters, Anne, wife to king Henry VIII. and Mary, wife of William Carey, esquire of the body, and ancestor of the lords Hunsdon and the earls of Dover and Monmouth.

On the death of the earl of Wiltshire, without issue male, who lies buried in this church, under an altar tomb of black marble, on which is his figure, as large as the life, in brass, dressed in the robes of the Garter, the king seised on this castle and these manors, in right of his late wife, the unfortunate Anne Bulleyn, the earl's daughter, who resided at Hever-castle whilst the king courted her, there being letters of both extant, written by them from and to this place, and her chamber in it is still called by her name; and they remained in his hands till the 32d year of his reign, when he granted to the lady Anne of Cleves, his repudiated wife, his manors of Hever, Seale, and Kemsing, among others, and his park of Hever, with its rights, members, and appurtenances, then in the king's hands; and all other estates in Hever, Seale, and Kemsing, lately purchased by him of Sir William Bulleyn and William Bulleyn, clerk, to hold to her during life, so long as she should stay within the realm, and not depart out of it without his licence, at the yearly rent of 931. 13s. 3½d. payable at the court of augmention. She died possessed of the castle, manors, and estates of Hever, in the 4th and 5th year of king Philip and queen Mary, when they reverted again to the crown, where they continued but a short time, for they were sold that year, by commissioners authorised for this purpose, to Sir Edward Waldegrave and dame Frances his wife; soon after which the park seems to have have been disparked.

This family of Waldegrave, antiently written Walgrave, is so named from a place, called Walgrave, in the county of Northampton, at which one of them was resident in the reign of king John, whose descendants afterwards settled in Essex, and bore for their arms, Per pale argent and gules. Warine de Walgrave is the first of them mentioned, whose son, John de Walgrave, was sheriff of London, in the 7th year of king John's reign, whose direct descendant was Sir Edward Waldegrave, who purchased this estate, as before mentioned. (fn. 5) He had been a principal officer of the household to the princess Mary; at the latter end of the reign of king Edward VI. he incurred the king's displeasure much by his attachment to her interest, and was closely imprisoned in the Tower; but the king's death happening soon afterwards, queen Mary amply recompensed his sufferings by the continued marks of her favour and bounty, which she conferred on him; and in the 4th and 5th years of that reign, he obtained, as above mentioned, on very easy terms, the castle and manors of Hever Cobham and Brocas; and besides being employed by the queen continually in commissions of trust and importance, had many grants of lands and other favours bestowed on him. But on the death of queen Mary, in 1558, he was divested of all his employments, and committed prisoner to the Tower, (fn. 6) where he died in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth. He left two sons, Charles, his heir; and Nicholas, ancestor to those of Boreley, in Essex; and several daughters.

Charles Waldegrave succeeded his father in his estates in this parish; whose son Edward received the honour of knighthood at Greenwich, in 1607, and though upwards of seventy years of age, at the breaking out of the civil wars, yet he nobly took arms in the king's defence, and having the command of a regiment of horse, behaved so bravely, that he had conferred on him the dignity of a baronet, in 1643; after which he continued to act with great courage in the several attacks against the parliamentary forces, in which time he lost two of his sons, and suffered in his estate to the value of fifty thousand pounds.

His great grandson, Sir Henry Waldegrave, in 1686, in the 1st year of king James II. was created a peer, by the title of baron Waldegrave of Chewton, in Somersetshire, and had several offices of trust conferred on him; but on the Revolution he retired into France, and died at Paris, in 1689. (fn. 7) He married Henrietta, natural daughter of king James II. by Arabella Churchill, sister of John duke of Marlborough, by whom he had James, created earl of Waldegrave in the 3d year of king George II. who, in the year 1715, conveyed the castle and these manors to Sir William Humfreys, bart. who that year was lord mayor of the city of London. He was of Barking, in Essex, and had been created a baronet in 1714. He was descended from Nathaniel Humfreys, citizen of London, the second son of William ap Humfrey, of Montgomery, in North Wales, and bore for his arms two coats, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, sable, two nags heads erased argent; 2d and 3d, per pale or and gules, two lions rampant endorsed, counterchanged.

He died in 1735, leaving by his first wife, Margaret, daughter of William Wintour, of Gloucestershire, an only son and heir, Sir Orlando Humfreys, bart. who died in 1737, having had by Ellen, his wife, only child of colonel Robert Lancashire, three sons and two daughters; two of the sons died young; Robert, the second and only surviving son, had the castle and manors of Hever Cobham and Brocas, and died before his father possessed of them, as appears by his epitaph, in 1736, ætat. 28.

On Sir Orlando's death his two daughters became his, as well as their brother's, coheirs, of whom Mary, the eldest, had three husbands; first, William Ball Waring, of Dunston, in Berkshire, who died in 1746, without issue; secondly, John Honywood, esq. second brother of Richard, of Mark's-hall, who likewife died without issue, in 1748; and lastly, Thomas Gore, esq. uncle to Charles Gore, esq. M.P. for Hertfordshire; which latter had married, in 1741, Ellen Wintour, the only daughter of Sir Orlando Humfreys, above mentioned.

They, with their husbands, in 1745, joined in the sale of Hever-castle and the manors of Hever Cobham and Hever Brocas, to Timothy Waldo. He was descended from Thomas Waldo, of Lyons, in France, one of the first who publicly opposed the doctrines of the church of Rome, of whom there is a full account in the Atlas Geograph. vol. ii. and in Moreland's History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont. One of his descendants, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, to escape the persecution of the duke D'Alva, came over to England, where he and his descendants afterwards settled, who bore for their arms, Argent a bend azure, between three leopards heads of the second; of whom, in king Charles II.'s reign, there were three brothers, the eldest of whom, Edward, was knighted, and died without male issue, leaving two daughters his coheirs; the eldest of whom, Grace, married first Sir Nicholas Wolstenholme, bart. and secondly, William lord Hunsdon, but died without issue by either of them, in 1729. The second brother was of Harrow, in Middlesex; and Timothy, the third, was an eminent merchant of London, whose grandsons were Edward, who was of South Lambeth, esq. and died in 1783, leaving only one daughter; and Timothy, of Clapham, esquire, the purchaser of this estate, as above mentioned, who was afterwards knighted, and died possessed of it, with near thirteen hundred acres of land round it, in 1786; he married, in 1736, Miss Catherine Wakefield, by whom he left an only daughter and heir, married to George Medley, esq. of Sussex, lady Waldo surviving him is at this time intitled to it.

The castle is entire, and in good condition; it has a moat round it, formed by the river Eden, over which there is a draw bridge, leading to the grand entrance, in the gate of which there is yet a port cullis, within is a quadrangle, round which are the offices, and a great hall; at the upper end of which, above a step, is a large oak table, as usual in former times. The great stair case leads up to several chambers and to the long gallery, the cieling of which is much ornamented with soliage in stucco; the rooms are all wainscotted with small oaken pannels, unpainted. On one side of the gallery is a recess, with an ascent of two steps, and one seat in it, with two returns, capable of holding ten or twelve persons, which, by tradition, was used as a throne, when king Henry VIII. visited the castle. At the upper end of the gallery, on one side of a large window, there is in the floor a kind of trap door, which, when opened, discovers a narrow and dark deep descent, which is said to reach as far as the moat, and at this day is still called the dungeon. In a closet, in one of the towers, the window of which is now stopped up, there is an adjoining chamber, in which queen Anne Bulleyn is said to have been consined after her dis grace. The entrance to this closet, from the chamber, is now by a small door, which at that time was a secret sliding pannel, and is yet called Anne Bulleyn's pannel.

In the windows of Hever-castle are these arms; Argent, three buckles gules, within the garter; a shield of four coasts, Howard, Brotherton, Warren, and Mowbray, argent three buckles gules; a shield of eight coats, viz. Bulleyn, Hoo, St. Omer, Malmains, Wickingham, St. Leger, Wallop, and Ormond; and one, per pale argent and gules, for Waldegrave. (fn. 8)

It is reported, that when Henry VIII. with his attendants, came to the top of the hill, within sight of the castle, he used to wind his bugle horn, to give notice of his approach.

There was a court baron constantly held for each of the above manors till within these forty years, but at present there is only one, both manors being now esteemed but as one, the circuit of which, over the neighbouring parishes, is very extensive.

SEYLIARDS is an estate here which extends itself into the parishes of Brasted and Eatonbridge, but the mansion of it is in this parish, and was the antient seat of the Seyliards, who afterwards branched out from hence into Brasted, Eatonbridge, Chidingstone, and Boxley, in this county.

The first of this name, who is recorded to have possessed this place, was Ralph de Seyliard, who resided here in the reign of king Stephen.

Almerick de Eureux, earl of Gloucester, who lived in the reign of king Henry III. demised lands to Martin at Seyliard, and other lands, called Hedinden, to Richard Seyliard, both of whom were sons of Ralph at Seyliard, and the latter of them was ancestor to those seated here and at Delaware, in Brasted. (fn. 9)

This place continued in his descendants till Sir Tho. Seyliard of Delaware, passed it away to John Petley, esq. who alienated it to Sir Multon Lambarde, of Sevenoke, and he died possessed of it in 1758; and it is now the property of his grandson, Multon Lambarde, of Sevenoke, esq.


A PERSON gave, but who or when is unknown, but which has time out of mind been distributed among the poor of this parish, the sum of 10s. yearly, to be paid out of land vested in the churchwardens, and now of that annual produce.

The Rev. JOHN PETER gave by will, about 1661, the sum of 10s. yearly, to be paid for the benefit of poor farmers only, out of land vested in the rector, the heirs of Wm. Douglass, and the heirs of Francis Bowty, and now of that annual produce.

The Rev. GEORGE BORRASTON, rector, and several of the parishioners, as appears by a writing dated in 1693, purchased, with money arising from several bequests, the names of the donors unknown, except that of WILLIAM FALKNER, to which the parishioners added 15l. a piece of land, the rent to be distributed yearly among the poor of the parish, vested in the rector and churchwardens, and of the annual produce of 3l. 12s.

Rev. THOMAS LANCASTER, rector, gave by will in 1714, for buying good books for the poor, and in case books are not wanting for the schooling of poor children at the discretion of the mimister, part of a policy on lives, which was exchanged for a sum of money paid by his executor, being 20l. vested in the minister and churchwardens.

SIR TIMOTHY WALDO gave by will in 1786, 500l. consolidated 3 per cent. Bank Annuities, one moiety of the interest of which to be applied for the placing of some poor boy of the parish apprentice to a farmer, or some handicraft trade, or to the sea service, or in cloathing such poor boy during his apprenticeship, and in case no such poor boy can be found, this moiety to be distributed among such of the industrious poor who do not receive alms. The other moiety to be laid out in buying and distributing flannel waistcoats, or strong shoes, or warm stockings, among such of the industrious or aged poor persons inhabiting within this parish, as do not receive alms, vested in the Salters Company.

HEVER is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and being a peculiar of the archbishop, is as such within the deanry of Shoreham. The church, which stands at the east end of the village, is a small, but neat building, consisting of one isle and two chancels, having a handsome spire at the west end of it. It is dedicated to St. Peter.

Among other monuments and inscriptions in it are the following:—In the isle is a grave-stone, on which is the figure of a woman, and inscription in black letter in brass, for Margaret, wife of William Cheyne, obt. 1419, arms, a fess wavy between three crescents.—In the chancel, a memorial for Robert Humfreys, esq. lord of the manor of Heaver, only son and heir of Sir Orlando Humfreys, bart. of Jenkins, in Effex, obt. 1736. Against the wall is a brass plate, with the figure of a man kneeling at a desk, and inscription in black letter for William Todde, schoolmaster to Charles Waldegrave, esq. obt. 1585.—In the north chancel, an altar tomb, with the figure on it at large in brass, of Sir Thomas Bullen, knight of the garter, earl of Wilcher and earl of Ormunde, obt. 1538. A small slab with a brass plate, for ........ Bullayen, the son of Sir Thomas Bullayen.—In the belsry, a stone with a brass plate, and inscription in black letter in French, for John de Cobham, esquire, obt. 1399, and dame Johane, dame de Leukenore his wife, and Renaud their son; near the above is an antient altar tomb for another of that name, on which is a shield of arms in brass, or, on a chevron, three eagles displayed, a star in the dexter point. These were the arms of this branch of the Cobhams, of Sterborough-castle. (fn. 10)

This church is a rectory, the advowson of which belonged to the priory of Combwell, in Goudhurst, and came to the crown with the rest of its possessions at the time of the surrendry of it, in the 7th year of king Henry VIII. in consequence of the act passed that year for the surrendry of all religious houses, under the clear yearly revenue of two hundred pounds. Soon after which this advowson was granted, with the scite of the priory, to Thomas Colepeper, but he did not long possess it; and it appears, by the Escheat Rolls, to have come again into the hands of the crown, and was granted by the king, in his 34th year, to Sir John Gage, to hold in capite by knights service; who exchanged it again with Tho. Colepeper, to confirm which an act passed the year after. (fn. 11) His son and heir, Alexander Colepeper, had possession granted of sundry premises, among which was the advowson of Hever, held in capite by knights service, in the 3d and 4th years of king Philip and queen Mary; the year after which it was, among other premises, granted to Sir Edward Waldegrave, to hold by the like tenure.

Charles Waldegrave, esq. in the 12th year of queen Elizabeth, alienated this advowson to John Lennard, esq. of Chevening, and being entailed to his heirs male, by the last will of Sampson Lennard, esq. his eldest son, under the word hereditament possessed it, and it being an advowson in gross, was never disentailed by Henry, Richard, or Francis, lords Dacre, his descendants, so that it came to Thomas lord Dacre, son of the last mentioned Francis, lord Dacre, afterwards earl of Sussex, in 1673, and at length sole heir male of the descendants of John Lennard, esq. of Chevening, above mentioned; and the same trial was had for the claim of a moiety of it, at the Queen's-bench bar, as for the rest of the earl's estates, and a verdict then obtained in his favour, as has been already fully mentioned before, under Chevening.

The earl of Sussex died possessed of it in 1715, (fn. 12) whose two daughters, his coheirs, on their father's death became entitled to this advowson, and a few years afterwards alienated the same.

It then became the property of the Rev. Mr. Geo. Lewis, as it has since of the Rev. Mr. Hamlin, whose daughter marrying the Rev. Mr. Nott, of Little Horsted, in Sussex, he is now intitled to it.

In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church of Heure was valued at fifteen marcs.

By virtue of a commission of enquiry, taken by order of the state, in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that Hever was a parsonage, with a house, and twelve acres of glebe land, which, with the tithes, were worth seventy-seven pounds per annum, master John Petter being then incumbent, and receiving the profits, and that Francis lord Dacre was donor of it. (fn. 13)

This rectory was valued, in 1747, at 1831. per annum, as appears by the particulars then made for the sale of it.

It is valued, in the king's books, at 15l. 17s. 3½d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 10s. 8¾d. It is now of the yearly value of about 200l.

The priory of Combwell, in Goudhurst, was endowed by Robert de Thurnham, the founder of that house, in the reign of king Henry II. with his tithe of Lincheshele and sundry premises in this parish, for which the religious received from the rector of this church the annual sum of 43s. 4d.

Church Of Hever.

Or by whom presented.
William de Bradestede, in the reign of king Edward 1. (fn. 14)
John Petter, in 1650, ejected in 1662. (fn. 15)
George Boraston, A.M. in 1670, obt. 1700. (fn. 16)
Thomas Lancaster, in 1700, obt. 1714.
George Lewis, A. M. 1714, obt. 1771. (fn. 17)
Stafford New, 1771. Present rector.


  • 1. Philipott, p. 185. MSS. Le Neve. MSS. pedigree, Tuston.
  • 2. See more of the Cobhams of Sterboro' under Chidingstone.
  • 3. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 67. Philipott, p. 186.
  • 4. There are several pedigrees of this family of Bulleyn among the Harleian MSS. in the British museum.
  • 5. MSS. pedigree of Waldegrave. There are several pedigrees of this family among the Harleian MSS. in the British museum.
  • 6. Coll. Peer. vol. v. p. 89, et seq. Morant's Essex, p. 182.
  • 7. Manuscript pedigree of Waldegrave. Collins's Peerage, last edit. vol. iii. p. 98, et seq.
  • 8. See Biog. Brit. vol. ii. p. 1050. Brook's Errors, p. 9.
  • 9. MSS. pedigree of Seyliard; and Philipott, p. 137.
  • 10. See the mon. and inscrip. more at large, in Reg. Roff. p. 892.
  • 11. Acts in the Rolls chapel. Bundle of Certiorari.
  • 12. See Chevening. Ect. Thef. p. 387.
  • 13. Parl. Surv. Lamb. lib. vol. xix.
  • 14. He was indicted for homicide in the iter of J. de Berwick, and acquitted. Reg. Christ ch. Cant. Cart. 301.
  • 15. He was ejected by the Bartholomew act. Calamy's Life of Baxter.
  • 16. His father was minister of Bewdley, in Worcestershire, where he was born. See Wood's Ath. vol. ii. Fasti, p. 107.
  • 17. Also vicar of Westerham.