Parishes: Cowling

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Cowling', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797), pp. 516-525. British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Cowling", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797) 516-525. British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Cowling", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797). 516-525. British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

In this section


EASTWARD from Cliff lies Cowling, antiently written Colinges and Culinges, so called from its cold and bleak situation.

THIS PARISH of Cowling is more than four miles in length, from north to south, and not half so much in width; that part of it next to the marshes, which are more than two miles across, and bounded by the river Thames northward, lies low and flat; the soil a stiff wet clay, having much rough ground, and thick inclosures throughout it. In this part of it, near the edge of the marshes is Cowling castle, the ruins of which are converted into a farm house, about half a mile from which is Cowling-street; besides which there is another village, with the church in it, at the eastern side of the parish, close to the marshes, whence the ground rises southward to a very high hill, on which is the seat, called from its situation, Lodgehill, having a most extensive prospect on all sides round it. Cowling is an unfrequented place, the roads of which are deep and miry, and it is as unhealthy as it is unpleasant.

COENULF, king of Mercia, in the 12th year of his reign, anno 808, gave to his faithful servant, Eadulf, one ploughland and a half, with all its appurtenances in Culinges, according as the bounds are in his charter mentioned. (fn. 1)

In the reign of king Edward the Confessor, the lordship of Culinges was in the possession of earl Leofwyne, sixth son of earl Godwin, who was slain in the battle of Hastings, fighting on the behalf of his brother, king Harold, against William duke of Nor mandy, afterwards called the Conqueror, on his landing in this kingdom.

Soon after the Conqueror's attaining the crown of this realm, he gave Culinges, among other vast possessions, to his half brother Odo, bishop of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it is thus described in the survey of Domesday, taken about the 15th year of that reign.

The same Adam holds of the bishop (of Baieux) in Colinge, one suling and an half. The arable land is one carucate and an half In demesne there are two carucates and five villeins, having half a carucate. There are four servants, and seven acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of ten hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor and afterwards it was worth 40 shillings, now four pounds. What Richard de Tonebrige has in his lowy is worth seven shillings. Uluuin held it of earl Leuuin.

And somewhat further in the same record:

The same Odo holds Colinges of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at half a suling. The arable land is half a carucate. There is with one borderer, and four acres of meadow. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth 20 shillings, now 30 shillings. Goduin held it of king Edward.

On the disgrace of Odo, bishop of Baieux and earl of Kent, about four years afterwards, these estates at Cowling, as well as the rest of his possessions, were seised on, and became forfeited to the crown.

In the reign of king Edward I. Cowling was in the possession of Henry de Cobham of Cobham, in this county. His son, John de Cobham, in the 17th year of king Edward III. obtained a charter for free warren within all his demesne lands within his lordship of Coulyng, among others. In the 20th year of that reign he paid respective aid for this manor, as one knight's fee, which Henry de Cobham before held in Coulyng of Margery de Revers, as she did of the king. He died possessed of this manor in the 36th year of that reign, and was succeeded in it by his son, John de Cobham, who in the 4th year of Richard II. obtained licence to embattle and fortify his manor house, which he then erected here, (fn. 2) which grant he caused to be engraved on a tablet, and placed on a tower at the entrance of it, where it still remains visible; the words are engraved on brass, in antient characters, as follows:


It is made in imitation of a deed or charter, with his seal of arms appendant, and is fixed on the eastern tower of the gate-house. And henceforward this mansion acquired the name of Cowling-castle; at which time it appears, there was then a large park adjoining to it. He died possessed of this manor and castle in the 9th year of king Henry IV. leaving Joane, his grand daughter (viz. daughter of Joane his daughter, by Sir John de la Pool) his next heir, and wife of Sir Nicholas Hawberk, whom she had married on the decease of Sir Reginald Braybrook, her former husband. She afterwards married Sir John Oldcastle, who in her right possessed this estate, and on account of his marriage with her, assumed the title of lord Cobham, and had summons to parliament accordingly; but in the next reign, engaging with others in a conspiracy, he was tried for it, condemned and executed, in the 6th year of king Henry V. being at the time of his death possessed, jointly, with Joane his wife of this manor and castle.

The story of Sir John Oldcastle's being accused of heresy, before Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Can terbury, and the proceedings had on it, are related in Fox's Acts and Monuments. (fn. 3) Sir John Oldcastle, on this accusation of heresy, betook himself to his castle of Cowling, as to a place of strength and security; before which the person sent with a citation from the archbishop appearing, desired leave of him to enter and serve the same, but was refused; on which, not daring to enter without the owner's good will, he returned without performing his errand. After the execution of Sir John Oldcastle, Joane his wife surviving him, became again possessed of this manor and castle, together with the advowson of the church of Cowling, and the rest of the estates of her inheritance; of which she died possessed in the 12th year of king Henry VI. She was then the wife of John Harpden, who, if he was living, did not possess this or any other of her estates after her death, for her only daughter and heir Joane, by her second husband, Sir Gerard Braybrooke above mentioned, then entitled her husband, Sir Thomas Brooke, of Somersetshire, to them who was in her right lord Cobham, though he never received summons to parliament. His descendant, Sir George Brooke, lord Cobham, resided at times both here and at Cobham; during whose time, Sir Tho. Wyatt, in the 1st year of queen Mary, marched with six pieces of cannon to this castle, which finding too strong to take, after having broke down the gate and part of the wall, and having had some discourse with the lord Cobham, who was in it, he marched next night to Gravesend. He died in 1558, and by his will gave to Anne his wife all his household stuff at Cowling-castle. His son and heir, Sir William Brooke, lord Cobham, at his death, in the 39th year of queen Elizabeth, by his will gave this estate to his second son, George Brooke, esq. who being engaged with his brother, Henry lord Cobham, and others, in a conspiracy, was attainted of high treason, in the 1st year of king James I. and executed, upon which his estates became forfeited to the crown, and were confirmed to it by an act passed in the 3d year of that reign. After which, king James, of his royal bounty, restored the manor, castle, and advowson, of Cowling, to his son William, then an infant, afterwards made a knight of the Bath; who died possessed of them about the year 1668. He was twice married; first to Penelope, daughter of Henry lord Dacre, by whom he left no issue; and secondly to Penelope, daughter of Sir Moses Hill, by whom he left issue four daughters, his coheirs; viz. Pembroke, married to Matthew Tomlinson, esq. Hill to Sir William Boothby, bart. of Broadlow Ash, in Derbyshire; Margaret to Sir John Denham, K. B. and Frances to Sir Thomas Whitmore, K. B. who in right of their wives became joint proprietors of this estate. Soon after which, Sir John Denham and Margaret his wife died without issue, on which her share descended to her three sisters, and their husbands, who in their right then became each of them possessed of a third part of it.

In the year 1669, Mathew Tomlinson, Sir William Boothby, and Sir Thomas Whitmore, made a division of this estate, excepting the advowson, into three equal parts, by deed, under their hands and seals; in which partition COWLING-LODGE, and certain lands adjoining, were allotted to Matt. Tomlinson; Newbarn, and lands adjoining, to Sir William Boothby; and the CASTLE, and other lands, to Sir Tho. Whitmore; and it was agreed between them, that all royalties, privileges, and liberties belonging to the manor, should be equally divided among them; after which, COWLING-LODGE, with the estate belonging to it, was sold after Tomlinson's death by his heirs, to Tho. Farrington, esq. of Chesilhurst; whose descendant of the same name, alienated it to Mr. Jacob Harvey, of Islington; and his descendant, Samuel Clay Har vey, esq. about the year 1760, built a good seat on this estate, called Lodge-hill, from its situation on the summit of it, intending the same for his residence, but before it was quite finished, he alienated this estate to Mr. John Smith, since deceased; whose brother, Mr. Tho. Smith, is the present possessor of it.

NEW-BARN, with the estate belonging to it, was conveyed by Sir William Boothby and Hill his wife, to Samuel Clay, merchant of London, from whom it passed in marriage to Harvey, whose descendant, Samuel Clay Harvey, esq. died possessed of it in 1791, and his nephew, Jacob Harvey, is the present owner of it.

COWLING-CASTLE, with the estate belonging to it, was alienated by Sir Thomas Whitmore to Frederick Herne, esq. who passed it away by sale to Mr. Thomas Best, of Chatham, whose grandson, Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, died possessed of it in 1795, s. p. and gave it by his will to his nephew, George Best, esq. now of Chilston, the present owner of it.

The ruins of the castle or mansion shew it to have been a place of some strength. There are great parts of the towers and outward walls of it remaining; it was a square building, having a most round it, which is now almost choaked up. At a small distance southeastward from the castle, and entirely independent of it, is a handsome gatehouse, flanked by two round towers and embattled, having a portcullis to let down. Through this gate was the approach to the castle, as it is at present to the farm-house.

IN THE YEAR 961, queen Ediva, mother of king Edmund and king Eadred, gave to the church of Christ, in Canterbury, her land in Culinge, free from all secular service, excepting that of repelling invasions, and the repairing of bridges and castles; and king Edward II. in his 10th year, granted to the priory of Christ church free warren in all their demesne lands in this parish, among others therein mentioned.


The parish of Cowling has the right of nomination to one place in the New College of Cobham, for one poor person, inhabitant of this parish; at the election of which one, such as by the ordinances of the said college have power to choose for this parish, nominate and choose two such poor persons, out of which two, the baron of Cobham for the time being is to select and present one, to be admitted and placed there; and if the parish of Shorne makes default in electing, then the benefit of such election devolves to this parish.

HENRY WHITE, of Chalk, near Gravesend, who lies buried in St. Mary's church, in the hundred of Hoo, left an annual sum of money to the poor of this parish.

COWLING is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The church is dedicated to St. James.

In the chancel of it, on a stone, are two brass plates, arms in a canton, a falcon volant with bells, for Sybell, daughter of Gilbert Thurston, of London, the wife of Nathaniel Sparks, rector of this church 28 years, obt. 1639; in the east window these arms, gules, a chevron, or, and in the south window two coats, gules three lions passant guardant, or, and gules a fess fufillee, or. In the nave, near the pulpit, a brass, with the figure of a woman, for Feyth Brook, daughter of Sir John Brook, lord of Cobham, obt. 1508; another brass for Thomas Woodyear, gent. of Cooling, who married Mary, daughter of William Linch, gent. and had one son and three daughters, obt. 1611.

The church of Cowling paid an annual pension of 6s. 8d. to the priory of Rochester, on account of the tithes which had been given to it, in this parish, by Ralph, the butler of Eudo, (pincerna Eudonis) soon after the conquest, in pure and perpetual alms, being the tithes of his demesne field, called Westbrooke, which gift was confirmed by his descendant, Adam, butler, (pincerna) so that Richard, his brother, parson of this church, and his successors, should pay yearly to the monks there half a marc of silver, and it was confirmed likewise by bishop Gundulph, who allotted the above pension for their cloathing, (fn. 4) and it was confirmed to them by several of his successors.

This pension, at the dissolution of the priory in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. came to the crown, and was granted by that king, by his dotation charter, next year, to his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, to whom it continues still to be paid.

The patronage of the church of Cowling, about the reign of king John, seems to have belonged to the before-mentioned family named Pincerna, or Butler, at which time Adam Pincerna, or Butler, had the right of presentation to it. How long they possessed it, I do not find; but before the middle of the reign of king Edward I. it was come into the family of Cobham, and afterwards continued to have the same proprietors as the manor of Cowling had till the division of it in 1669, between Mathew Tomlinson, esq. Sir William Boothby, and Sir Thomas Whitmore. After which, the right of presenting to this church became vested in each of them, and their respective heirs alternately, in succession, as they are mentioned before.

Mathew Tomlinson's turn passed, with Cowlinglodge, to Farrington, and thence to Harvey, and afterwards to Mr. John Smith, who sold it to the Rev. Mr. Hopkins Fox, of Linsted, whose son, John Hopkins Fox, sold it to Mr. Thomas Smith, of Stroud, the present owner of it.

Sir William Boothby's turn was excepted out of the sale of New barn to Samuel Clay, and after his death descended to William Boothby, esq. (eldest son of Sir William, by his second wife, Hill Brooke, who on the death of his half-brother, Sir Henry, became his heir to both title and estates) and on his death it came to his next brother, Brooke Boothby, esq. of Ashbornehall, in Derbyshire, who, in 1748, conveyed his third turn of presentation to John Unwin, gent. of the Inner Temple, and he in 1757, conveyed his interest in it to Mr. George Gordon, wine-merchant, of Rochester, who by his will, in 1760, devised it to his son, William Gordon, esq. who alienated it to the Rev. Mr. Thomas Ashcroft, clerk, who died possessed of it in 1768, after which it was sold to the Rev. Mr. Hopkins Fox before-mentioned; whose son, John H. Fox, sold it to Mr. Thomas Smith, of Stroud, the present proprietor of it.

Sir Thomas Whitmore's turn passed with Cowlingcastle to Herne, and thence to Best, whose grandson, Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, died possessed of it in 1795, and by his will gave it to his nephew, George Best, esq. now of Chilston, the present patron of this third turn of presentation to this rectory.

This church, in the 15th year of king Edward I. was valued at twenty marcs. (fn. 5) The rectory is valued in the king's books at fourteen pounds, and the tenths at 1l. 8s. (fn. 6) It appears by the survey of it taken by order of the state in the year 1650, that it was then valued at seventy pounds. (fn. 7) It is now worth, with nine acres of glebe land, upwards of 200l. per annum.

Church of Cowling.

Or by whom presented.
Adam (pincerna or butler) Gervase, the Dean. (fn. 8)
Richard, (pincerna or butler,) about the reign of king John. (fn. 9)
Family of Cobham Reginald de Cobeham, anno 43 king Edward III. (fn. 10)
Brookes, lords Cobham Edward Monam, anno 17 king Henry VII. (fn. 11)
Thomas Mudd, A. M. in 1630. (fn. 12)
Nathaniel Sparkes, in 1650. (fn. 13)
The King, has vice William Lord, clerk, presented Sept. 3, 1660.
Matthew Tomlinson, esq. Joes Lord, March 1, 1669.
William Boothby, esq. Thomas Greenhalgh, July 19, 1673.
Sir Thomas Whitmore Daniel Griffith, Dec. 22, 1674.
Matthew Tomlinson, esq. Richard Slater, July 29, 1681.
William Boothby, esq. Thomas Truelove, Aug. 7, 1688.
Frederick Herne, esq. Robert Pickering, April 16, 1706.
Thomas Farrington, esq. Edward Robinson Payne, June 27, 1733.
William Gordon, esq. Thomas Ashcroft, April 1760, obt. Feb. 1768.
Thomas Best, esq. Peter Wade, A. M. March 4, 1768, obt. Sept. 1783. (fn. 14)
Rev. Hopkins Fox Matthias Rutton, A.M. Nov. 20, 1783, the present rector. (fn. 15)


  • 1. The original charter is now in the Surrenden library.
  • 2. Philipott, p. 126. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 66.
  • 3. Vol. I. from p. 635 to 668, and p. 731.
  • 4. Text. Roff. p. 164. Reg. Roff. p. 268–47, and passim seq.
  • 5. Stev. Mon. vol. i. p. 456.
  • 6. Ect. Thes. p. 384.
  • 7. Parl. Surveys, Lambeth-library, vol. xix.
  • 8. Reg. Roff. p. 268.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. MSS. Surrenden-libr.
  • 11. Reg. Roff. p. 426.
  • 12. MSS. Twylden.
  • 13. He was rector in 1639.
  • 14. Also vicar of Boughton-Monchelsea, and minor canon of Rochester.
  • 15. And vicar of Sheldwich, in this county.