Parishes: West Farleigh

Pages 136-145

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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SOUTHWARD from Teston, on the opposite side of the river Medway, lies the parish of West Farleigh, so called to distinguish it from the adjoining one of East Farleigh.

It is called in Domesday, FERLAGA, and in the Textus Roffensis, FEARNLEGA, and most probably took its name from the passage over the river Medway at one, or both of these parishes, Fare in Saxon signifying a journey or passage, and lega, a place, i e. the place of the way or passage.

The borsholder of the borough of West Farleigh is chosen at the court leet of that manor, and does not owe service to the court leet of the hundred; nor do the inhabitants of that borough owe any service to that court; but at that court there may be chosen a constable of that hundred out of this borough.

Part of the parish of West Farleigh is held of the manor of Newington near Sittingborne, in free socage tenure, by certain freeholders, at different yearly rents.

THIS PARISH is pleasantly situated on the southern side of the Medway, on the side of a hill declining towards the river; its northern boundary, the meadows, on the bank of which, abounding with large and spreading oaks, as does the whole parish, contributing greatly to the grandeur and beauty of the scene. The soil of it is much the same as that of the adjoining parish of East Farleigh, and is equally fertile in corn, fruit, and hops, of which there are many plantations. The high road across the Medway over I eston bridge, ascends East Farleigh, and is equally sertile in corn, fruit, and hops, of which there are many plantations. The high road across the Medway over 1 eston bridge, ascends the hill through the village, in which is Smith's hall, a handsome well-built seat, and the vicarage, both of them having a fine view of the valley and river, Mereworth, and Teston-house and park, on the opposite hill. About a quarter of a mile eastward is the small hamlet of Farleigh-green, and at the lower edge of the hill, not far from the river the church and the courtlodge, Mr. Stephen Amhurst's, where there is a pretty steep descent of grass and meadow lands to the bank of the river, and the bridge across it to Barmjet. On the opposite side of the village, at no great distance, are the ruins of the mansion of Tutsham, which was pleasantly situated on a rise above the river, and encircled with stately oaks, and its canals plentifully supplied by a small swisftly running brook, called the Ewell, from its rising near the manor of that name, in the eastern part of this parish, and which here falls into the Medway. The house was pulled down a few years ago, when the improvements were made at Teston-house, and the ruins left as an object in the prospect from it. From the village of Farleigh, the high road continues down to Yalding, and thence to the Weald and Sussex. Another road from the village, the ground still rising, leads to Cocks-heath, and the summit of the quarryhill above Burston, where the district of the Weald begins. In the south east part of the parish there is much coppice wood.

IN THE WOODS in this neighbourhood there grows Cyclamen Europæum, sowbread, although Gerarde says, he could not learn that this plant grew any where in England, and Mr. Raye and Mr. Hudson have entirely omitted it in their catalogue of British plants. (fn. 1)

Aristolochia Clematitis, climbing birthwort, grows in the woods between this place and Maidstone. (fn. 2)

THIS PLACE, soon after the conquest, was given by William the Conqueror to Odo, bishop of Baieux, his half-brother, under the general title of whose lands, it is thus entered in the survey of Domesday, taken in that king's reign:

Ranulf de Columbels bolds of the bishop (of Baieux) Ferlaga. It was taxed at one suling, The arable land is four carucates. Rannulf does not hold more than three yokes, and he has there in demesne one carucate, and ten villeins, with four cottagers, having three carucates. There is a church, and seven servants, and one mill of five shillings, and ten acres of meadow, Wood for the pannage of fifteen hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, and now it is worth seven pounds. Alnod held it of king Edward.

Of this suling, Rayner holds one yoke of the bishop in the manor of Pimpe, and he has there one carucate, with nine servants and three acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of four bogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth twenty shillings, now forty shillings. Alnod Cilt held it of king Edward.

On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, about the year 1084, this manor, with the rest of his possessions, became confiscated to the crown; whence it seems to have been granted by the Conqueror to Robert, son of Hamon de Crevequer, whose descendant, Robert de Crevequer afterwards held it as a member of the manor of Chatham. He took part with the rebellious barons against the king; upon which this manor was seized, among the rest of his estates; and through it appears that he was afterwards restored to the king's favor, yet he never regained possession of the manor of West Farleigh, which seems to have remained in the hands of the crown, till king Edward I. gave it to Eleanor his queen, who, in the 18th year of that reign, made a gift of it, with other premises, to the priory of Christ-church, in Canterbury, in exchange for the port of Sandwich. (fn. 3)

King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted to the prior of Christ-church, free-warren in all their demesne lands, which he possessed here in the time of his grandfather, or at any time since. (fn. 4)

This manor continued part of the possessions of the priory of Christ-church till its dissolution, in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, who that year granted this manor, among other premises, to Sir Thomas Wyatt, to hold in capite, but his son of the same name having raised a rebellion in the 1st year of queen Mary, was attainted, and his estates were forfeited to the crown; (fn. 5) and the queen, by her letters patent, in her second year, granted this manor to Sir John Baker, her attorney-general, (fn. 6) to hold by the like service. In his descendants it continued down to Sir John Baker, bart. of Sisinghurst, who alienated it soon after the death of Charles I. to Mr. Robert Newton, grocer, of London, who conveyed it to Augustine Hodges, gent. and he sold it in the reign of king Charles II. to John Amhurst, esq. of East Farleigh court lodge, who by will in 1711 devised it to his brother, Nicholas Amhurst, gent. of West Barming, and his grandson, Stephen Amhurst, esq. is the present proprietor of it, and resides in the manor-house.

SMITH'S-HALL is a seat in this parish, to which the Brewers, a family who had resided at Brewer's place, in Mereworth, for many generations, removed in the reign of king Henry VI. and which afterwards branched off to Boxley and Ditton, both in this neighbourhood. (fn. 7) They bore for their arms, Gules, three bends wavy or, a canton vaire, argent and azure.

Of this family was Wm. de Brewer, who was lieutenant of Dover-castle under king John, as appears by the special præcipe directed to him from that king, to deliver this then important fortress to Hubert de Burgh, lord warden of the cinque ports. (fn. 8)

This feat continued the residence of this family to Thomas Brewer, esq. who died possessed of it in 1690, and was buried in this church, whose second wife Anne, was daughter of Richard Kilburne, esq. of Hawkhurst, the Kentish topographer, by whom he had several children. His eldest son, John Brewer, esq. of Smith's hall, died in 1724, leaving by Jane his wife, an only daughter and heir, Jane, who was twice married; first to John Carney, esq. and secondly to John Shrimpton, esq. both of whom she survived, and again possessed this seat, where she resided in her own right. She died here s.p. in 1762, having by her will devised this feat, with the rest of her estates, to her kinsman John Davis, D. D. rector of Hamsey, in Sussex, whose mother was daughter of Thomas Brewer, esq. above-mentioned, by his second wife, daughter of Richard Kilburne, of Hawkhurst, and he died possessed of it in 1766, and was buried in Canterbury cathedral, of which church he was a prebendary. He left issue one son John and three daughters, of whom Elizabeth the eldest, married Henry Pratt, esq. late of Harbledown, Jane the second, died unmarried in 1768, and Anne, the youngest, married Robert Knipe, esq. of London. John Davis, esq. the son, was afterwards knighted, and married the second daughter of Dr. Tattersal, rector of Streatham, in Surry. He sold this feat in 1774 to William Perrin, esq. who resided at Smith's hall, where he kept his shrievalty for this county in 1776, bearing for his arms, Gules, three crescents argent, and he is the present owner, and at times resides in it.

THE MANOR OF TOTESHAM-HALL, usually called Tutsham, in this parish, was antiently the residence of a family, who assumed their surname from it.

John de Totesham was one of the recognitores magnæ assisæ, or judges of the great assize in the reign of king John, as appears by the pipe rolls of that reign, and bore for his arms, Gules, within a bordure a cross argent, between twelve billets of the last; as appears by his seal appendant to a deed in the Dering library.

From him this manor and estate descended in a direct line to Anthony Totesham, esq. who about the latter end of the reign of king Henry VIII. alienated Totesham, with an appendage to it, called Henhurst, (fn. 9) to Thomas Chapman, gent. one of the grooms of the king's chamber, in whose name they staid till the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, when they were sold to John Laurence, esq. captain of Tilbury fort, who by Anne, one of the two daughters and coheirs of Robert Gidding, esq. left a son and heir, Edward Laurence, esq. who was of Totesham-hall, and died in 1605. His heirs joined in the sale of this manor, to Augustine Skynner, esq. of Devonshire, the younger brother of Richard, of Columpton, in that county, of a family who bore for their arms, Ermine, three lozenges sable, in each a fleur de lis or. (fn. 10) He, on this purchase, removed into Kent, and resided at Totesham-hall.

Augustine Skynner, his eldest son, resided likewise at Totesham-hall, where he died in 1672, without surviving issue, and was buried here. Sometime after his decease, his heirs alienated this manor and feat, with the manor of Ewell in this parish, and other estates in the adjoining parishes, to Edward Goulston, esq. who afterwards resided at Tutsham, and bore for his arms, Barry, nebulee of six argent and gules, over all a bend sable, charged with three plates. He died in 1720, s.p. and was buried in this church, having by his will given them after his wife's death to her nephew, Francis Goulston, son and heir apparent of Richard Goulston, esq. of Widdial, in Hertfordshire. This family, of Widdial, was descended from Thomas Goulston; of Wimondham, in Leicestershire, whose grandson John, son of William, was one of the prothonotaries of the common pleas in the reign of king James I.

James Goulston, esq. his eldest son, was of Widdial, and was father of Richard, and of Anne, the wife of Edward Goulston, of Tutsham, as above mentioned. They bore the same coat of arms as those of this county.

She resided at Tutsham after the death of her husband, and dying in 1724, the property of these manors and estates became vested in Francis Goulston esq. before-mentioned, of Widdial, who on his marriage in 1722, had settled the reversion of them on Sarah his intended wife, and on their issue in tail male, with a power of revocation on his settling other estates, of as great value, in lieu of them. After which, in the 13th year of king George I. anno 1726, having contracted for the sale of them with Sir Philip Boteler, bart. and the expressions in the above settlement being doubtful and ambiguous, an act of parliament was procured to enforce them, and the fee of them was conveyed to Sir Philip Boteler, bart. He died in 1772, s.p. and by will bequeathed one moiety of his estates to Mrs. Elizabeth Bouverie, of Chart Sutton; and the other moiety to the viscountess dowager Folkestone, and William Bouverie, earl of Radnor, both since deceased; and on a partition of his estates, these abovementioned were, among others, allotted to Mrs. Elizabeth Bouverie, now of Teston, the present possessor of them.


MRS. ANNE GOULSTON, in 1724, gave by will certain lands, the produce to be distributed yearly to the poor not receiving alms, vested in the churchwardens and overseers, and now, excepting repairs, of the annual produce of 14l.

THE REV. OLIVER NORTH, vicar, gave by will in 1725, to be distributed in like manner, land vested in the vicar and parish officers. and now, excepting land-tax and repairs, of the annual produce of 81.

WEST FARLEIGH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester and deanry of Malling.

The church, which stands near the court lodge, consists of one isle, and has a low pointed steeple. It is dedicated to All Saints. In it are monuments for the Brewers, Skinners, and Goulstons, and in the south wall there is an antient tomb fixed in a recess, and over it an arch engrailed, having at each corner a coat of arms; that towards the east is obliterated, but the western one, a cross within a bordure engrailed, is still visible.

Robert de Crevequer, at the time of his founding the priory of Leeds in 1119, gave all the churches of his estates, among which was this of West Farleigh, with all their customs, goods, liberties, and privileges, to that priory. (fn. 11)

William Corboil, archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign of king Henry I. soon after the above-mentioned gift, granted that the canons there should possess this church, and should take the tithes of corn yearly, appropriated to them, and two parcels of land of the possessions of this church, (duas culturas de tenemento) of which, nevertheless, he decreed, that the vicar of it should take the tithes yearly, when they should be cultivated, saving, nevertheless, a third parcel, and all other appurtenances belonging to it, to the vicar serving in it, who should be presented by the prior of Leeds to the bishop, saving to him episcopal right in all things.

This church, together with the advowson of the vicarage, remained part of the possessions of the priory, till the dissolution of it in the reign of Henry VIII. when it was confirmed to that king and his heirs, among the other estates of the priory, by the general words of the act passed in the 31st year of that reign. After which the king, by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled both the parsonage, and advowson of the vicarage, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Rochester, with whom they now remain.

The lessee of the parsonage is Mr. John Savage; but the dean and chapter reserve the presentation of the vicarage to themselves.

The vicarage is valued in the king's books at 6l. 10s. 5d. and the yearly tenths at 13s. 0½d.

On the intended dissolution of deans and chapters, after the death of king Charles I. the possessions of the dean and chapter of Rochester in this parish, were surveyed in 1649, by order of the state; by which it appeared that this parsonage consisted of all the tithes, &c. with a house, barns, &c. and gardens containing one rood, of the improved rent of seventy-four pounds, and also another barn and premises belonging to it, containing three roods and three perches, of the improved rent of five pounds per annum. All which were let anno 11 Charles I. to Thomas and John Wood, by the late dean and chapter, at the rent of 10l. 11s. 4d. so there remained clear the rent of 68l. 8s. 8d. per annum; that the vicarage was excepted out of the lease, and was worth thirty-five pounds per annum, and that the lessee covenanted to repair the chancel, and to pay the accustomed pension of 3l. 6s. 8d. to the vicar.

Church of West Farleigh.

Or by whom presented.
Dean and Chapter of Rochester. William Allen, in 1597.
Robert Feild, A. M. about 1630. (fn. 12).
John Reve, 1636. (fn. 13)
Edmund Hills, 1640. (fn. 14)
Oliver North, 1720. obt. 1726. (fn. 15)
John Davis, A.M. presented 1726, ob. July 1776. (fn. 16)
Robert Fountain, A. M. Nov. 1776, resigned 1779. (fn. 17)
Francis Taynton, A. M. 1779. obt. Nov. 14, 1794. (fn. 18)
Tho. Weeks Dalby, A. M. 1794, the present vicar. (fn. 19)


  • 1. Johnson's Gerarde's Herbal, p. 845.
  • 2. Hudson's Flora Anglica, vol. ii. p. 394.
  • 3. Dugd. Mon. vol. i. p. 22. Tan. Mon. p. 201.
  • 4. Register of Christ-church, charter 134.
  • 5. See more of the Wyatts under Allington, vol. iv. p. 451.
  • 6. See more of the Bakers, under Cranbrooke. See also East Farleigh, vol. iv. p. 375.
  • 7. See MSS. in the British Museum, No. 2230.
  • 8. Rot. 17, Joh. memb. 2, N. 102. Philipott, p. 150.
  • 9. In Yelding, where see a further account of it.
  • 10. See Vigtation of the county of Kent, 1619. Pedigree of Skynner.
  • 11. Dugd. Mon. vol. ii. p. 110, &c. Reg. Roff. p. 211.
  • 12. MSS. Twysden.
  • 13. Reg. Roff. p. 888.
  • 14. Walker's Suff. of Clergy, p. 267.
  • 15. Also vicar of East Farleigh. He was a good benefactor to this vicarage, by the improvements he made to the house and gardens.
  • 16. And rector of Mereworth.
  • 17. He exchanged this vicarage, for that of Frindsbury, with his successor.
  • 18. Likewise rector of Trottesclive.
  • 19. And vicar of Chippenham, in Wiltshire.