Parishes: Ryarsh

Pages 488-496

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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SOUTHWARD from Birling lies Ryarsh, commonly called Rash. In Domesday it is called Riesce, and in the Textus Roffensis, REIERSCE.

THE PARISH of Ryarsh is rather an unfrequented place, more healthy than it is either pleasant or fer tile. It is in length about two miles, but in breadth it is very narrow. The water, called Addington brook, crosses the center of the parish eastward, beyond which it extends southward up to the high road from London through Wrotham to Maidstone, and beyond it about half a mile to Fartherwell, Mr. Oliver Golding's, situated at the boundary of the parish, within a very small distance from Ofham-street. The village stands close on the north side of the above brook, with the church about a quarter of a mile eastward from it, almost adjoining to Leyborne parish, hence the ground rises northward, where, at near a mile's distance, is another hamlet, called Ryarsh likewise, which is larger than the former village. The soil between the two villages is a deep unfertile sand, but on the rising ground southward of the turnpike road it borders much upon the quarry rock.

THIS MANOR in the time of the Conqueror, was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king's half-brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the book of Domesday.

The same Hugh (de Port) holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Riesce. It was taxed at two sulings and an half. The arable land is five carucates. In demesne there are two, and ten villeins, with two borderers, having three carucates. There is a church and ten servants, and a mill of ten shillings, and nine acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of five hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth eight pounds, when he received it one hundred shillings, now six pounds. Alured held it of king Edward.

On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, about the year 1084, his lands and possessions were seized on by the king, and confiscated to his use. Soon after which this manor seems to have been granted to the family of Crescie, one of whom is mentioned in the Battle Abbey Roll, as surviving after the battle of Hastings.

William de Crescie possessed this manor in the reign of king John, in the 5th year of which reign, he obtained a charter of liberties in Ryarsh and Birling; his descendant, Hugh de Crescie, died in the 47th year of king Henry III. without issue, and Stephen de Crescie, his brother, became as his heir entitled to this manor. At the latter end of the next reign of king Edward I. John de Mowbray held it, as appears by antient court rolls of the reign of king Edward II. as parcel of the barony of Bedford. (fn. 1)

Being afterwards discontented concerning some part of his wife's inheritance, (she was Aliva, daughter and coheir of William de Brewes) being kept from him, he, with other great men, took up arms, but being defeated at the battle of Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire, in the 15th year of king Edward II. he was, there taken prisoner, and carried to York, where he was hanged, and his estates confiscated to the crown.

His descendants were summoned to parliament as lords Mowbray, of Axkolme, (fn. 2) one of them John lord Mowbray, was created earl of Nottingham on the day of king Richard the IId.'s coronation, with this special clause in the charter of his creation. That all his lands and tenements, of which he was then possessed, or should afterwards purchase, should be held sub honore comitali, and as parcel of his earldom. He enjoyed this honor only till the 18th year of his age, and then died in the 6th year of that reign, and was buried in the church of the Carmelites, near Fleetstreet, London.

He was succeeded by Thomas, his brother, who two days afterwards was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Nottingham, per cincturam gladii, and by patent in the 9th year of the above reign, anno 1385. He had granted to him the title and office of earl marshal of England, being the first earl marshal of England, for before they were only marshals, and stood then in such favor with the king, that, acknowledging his just and hereditary title to bear for his crest, A golden leopard, with a white label, which of right belonged to the king's eldest son, he by his letters patent granted to him and his heirs, authority to bear The golden leopard for his crest, with a coronet of silver about his neck, instead of the label. (fn. 3) Of which office he had a confirmation in the 20th year of it, with a union of the office of marshal in the courts of king's bench and exchequer, with other privileges annexed to them, and that he and his heirs male, by reason of their office of earl marshal, should bear a golden truncheon enamelled with black at each end, having at the upper end of it the king's arms, and at the lower end their own arms. And next year the king advanced him to the title of duke of Norfolk, his grandmother Margaret, daughter and heir of Tho mas of Brotherton, being the same day created duchess of Norfolk for life.

Notwithstanding these favors, he was banished next year, for having brought accusations against Henry, duke of Hereford, and it being determined to try them by the laws of chivalry, a day was assigned for the trial by combat, every thing being prepared with great solemnity by the king's command, who, after they had entered the lifts, forbad the combat by the advice of his council, and banished the duke of Hereford for ten years, and the duke of Norfolk for life; who never returned to England, but died at Venice in his way back from Jerusalem, in the 1st year of king Henry IV. as it is said by some, of the plague, but by others of grief, and was buried in the abbey of St. George, in that city; being at the time of his death possessed of vast possessions in different counties. and among them of this manor of Ryarsh, and in his descendants it continued down to John, duke of Norfolk, who died at his castle of Framingham, in Norfolk, in the 15th year of king Edward IV. and was buried in the abbey of Thetford, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury, Anne, his sole daughter and heir, then an insant, afterwards married to Richard, duke of York, second son of king Edward IV. but she died without issue, by which means the inheritance of this family was divided between the Howards and Berkeleys, descended from Margaret and Isabel, daughters of Thomas Mowbray, the first duke of Norfolk; and a partition of their great estate was made between their heirs in the 14th year of king Henry VII. After which the manor of Ryarsh was alienated to one of the Nevills, lords Abergavenny; Henry, lord Abergavenny, was found to die possessed of it in the 29th year of queen Elizabeth. Since which it has, in like manner as the adjoining manor of Birling, continued in the same family, the present proprietor of it being the Right Hon. Henry Nevill, earl of Abergavenny. (fn. 4)

The manor of Ryarsh is held of the manor of Swanscombe, by castle-guard, to the castle of Rochester.

CAREWS COURT, now commonly called CALLIS COURT, is a manor in this parish, which was for many descents the inheritance of the family of that surname, who were seated at Beddington, in Surry; with whom it remained till the 12th year of king Henry VI. anno 1433, when Nicholas Carew, of Beddington, alienated it to Thomas Watton, who settled it on his nephew, William Watton, esq. of Addington, and his descendant of the same name, in the reign of king Charles II. sold it to Edward Wal singham, gent. who bore for his arms, A chevron between three cinquefoils. Several of them lie buried in Ryarsh church. His descendant, Mr. Edward Walsingham, of this place, dying without male issue, his daughter Elizabeth carried it in marriage to Sir Edward Austen, bart. of Boxley abbey, who died possessed of this manor in 1760, and by his will devised it to his wife's cousin, John, son of Nicholas Amhurst, in tail general, with several remainders, subject to the life and future devise of his wife lady Austen, who at her decease confirmed her husband's disposition of this manor; whereupon John Amhurst, esq. above-mentioned, late of Bersted, but now of Boxley Abbey, became entitled to it, and he is the present possessor of it.

Part of the bishop of Rochester's manor of Halling appears to have extended into Rershe, and that he had a grange here.


MR. MILLER, in 1786, gave by will a sum of money, to be distributed to the poor, vested in his executors, and of the annual produce of 10s.

MR. OLIVER GOLDING gave by will a sum of money, to be annually distributed in like manner, now vested in Mr. Oliver Golding, and of the annual produce of 6s. 8d.

RYARSH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of Malling.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Martin, is a small building, with a tower steeple, having nothing remarkable in it.

This church was part of the possessions of the priory of Merton, in Surry, as early as the beginning of the reign of king Henry III. in the 22d year of which reign, anno 1237, an assise was taken before the king's justices, concerning the last presentation to this church of Reyers, at the instance of Henry, prior of Merton, against John de Curtenay, and Matilda his wife; when it appeared, that the prior and convent had presented in the time of peace, master Peter de Sausintone to this church, whom the bishop accordingly admitted and instituted. Upon which the prior recovered his seisin of it, &c. and he had his writ to the archdeacon of Rochester; the see being then vacant, for him to admit a sit parson, &c.

There is frequent expression made in antient records of Tempore Pacis, and Tempore belli aut Guerræ, which means thus: Tempore Pacis is when the courts of justice are open, and the judges and ministers of justice free to protect men from wrong and violence, and distribute justice. Tempore Belli is when by invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, &c. the peaceable course of justice is disturbed, and the courts of justice are, as it were, shut up, and military law of course takes place. (fn. 5)

Richard, bishop of Rochester, in the year 1242, appropriated this church to the church of St. Mary of Merton, and the canons there, to the building and maintaining of their church and buildings; and he decreed, that the canons should have appropriated to them all tithes late of sheaves, and the moiety of the tithe of hay, and the chief messuage of the church, together with the buildings, and the grove, the alder bed, and the meadow, and the rents of assise, except the annual rent of four-pence, from Hugh de Catesby, and his heirs, which the bishop assigned to the vicar.

And he decreed, that the vicar and his successors, should have the house usually assigned to the priest, with its territory, and the altarage, and all the arable land belonging to the church; so that the canons should not take, in the name of tithe, any thing arising from the produce of the land, or messuage aforesaid; and further, that the vicar should receive yearly of the canons the sum of forty-eight shillings; and lastly, that he should sustain all ordinary burthens; this grant being made during the vacancy of the church, by the resignation of Andrew de Winton, rector of it, into the bishop's hands, &c.

The rector and vicar of this parish, in the year 1448, made their petition to the bishop of Rochester, that the feast of the dedication of this parish church on the feast of St. Lambert, frequently happening in the Ember days, and in the time of harvest, hindered it from being kept with due solemnity and reverence; therefore, in compliance with their request, he changed it to the feast of the Translation of St. Martin, in summer, to be kept on the 4th day of June; on which he decreed it to be celebrated yearly for the future.

The church of Ryarsh, and the advowson of the vicarage, remained part of the possessions of the priory of Merton till the dissolution of it in the reign of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands.

In the year 1608, the advowson of the vicarage belonged to Thomas Watton, esq. of Addington, whose descendant Edmund Watton, esq. of Addington, leaving an only daughter and heir, she carried it in marriage, first to Leonard, Bartholomew, esq. and secondly to Sir Roger Twisden, bart. both of whom she survived; and dying in 1775, it came to her son by her first husband, Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Addington, who is the present patron of it.

The vicarage is a discharged living, of the clear yearly certified value of forty pounds, the yearly tenths of which are seventeen shillings. (fn. 6)


PATRONS,Or by whom presented. RECTORS.
Prior and canons of Merton Peter de Sausintone, in the beginning of the reign of king Henry III. (fn. 7)
Andrew de Wintone, resigned 1442. (fn. 8)
Richard Whyte, 1524. (fn. 9)
Family of Watton. Henry Levet, A. M. about 1630. (fn. 10)
Henry Burville, A. M. inst. June 5, 1730.
Sir Roger Twisden, bart, and his lady. Thomas Buttonshaw, A. M. Dec. 1742, obt. 1768. (fn. 11)
James Thurston, A. M. Dec. 1768. Present vicar.


  • 1. See Dugd. Mon. vol. i. p. 121 et seq.
  • 2. See Cotton's Records, p. 95, 96. Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 127.
  • 3. Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 128. Sandf. Gen. Hist. p. 210.
  • 4. See a further account of this family under Birling.
  • 5. Coke's Instit. pt. i. p. 249.
  • 6. Stey. Mon. vol. i. p. 456. Ect. Thes. p. 384.
  • 7. Reg. Roff. p. 596.
  • 8. Ibid. p. 597.
  • 9. In the archives of the bishop of Rochester's Consistory court.
  • 10. MSS. Twysden.
  • 11. And rector of Addington by dispensation.