Parishes: Hunton

Pages 146-154

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 West Farleigh lies the parish of Hunton, called more frequently in antient deeds Huntington.

A small part of this parish, being of the antient demesne of Aylesford, is in the hundred of Larkfield; another small part is within the hundred of Maidstone, the residue being in the borough of Hunton, is in the hundred of Twyford, which borough claims a court leet of itself, where the borsholder is chosen, and the inhabitants of it owe no service to the court leet of the hundred, only at that court a constable for the hundred may be chosen out of this borough.

HUNTON lies on the side of the quarry hills, the summit of which above it is the northern boundary of this parish, as well as of the Weald, consequently this parish lying below it, is within that district. The soil of it about the hill partakes of the quarry or rag stone, thinly covered with a loam or red earth, below which it changes to a stiff clay. Upon the hill adjoining to Cocks-heath there is a range of coppice wood along it, below which, midway down the hill is the seat of Burston, having a fine view southward over the Weald; the right wing of it is built of brick, ornamented with stone, and seems to be of the time of queen Elizabeth, the rest of it is much more modern. The whole seems approaching to hasty ruin, being uninhabited, the house, where the farmer inhabits, being built adjoining to it. There was a park round this seat, inclosed about king James the Ist.'s reign, which has been disparked some years, and converted into a farm. At a little distance eastward is the parsonage, a good house much improved by the present bishop of London, who made it his summer residence whilst rector of this parish, it is now in like manner inhabited by the present rector, lord George Murray. Just below it is the seat called GENNINGS, formerly the property of one Snatt, who sold it to Sir Walter Roberts, bart. of Glassenbury, who rebuilt the house on his death in 1745; his only daughter and heir Jane, carried this seat in marriage to George, duke of St. Alban's. She died s.p. in 1778, having disposed of it by her will to Miss Davies, who after the duke's death possessed it, and sold it to the lady dowager Twysden, the present owner of it. At a small distance lower down is the church, and still further, about a quarter of a mile eastward the village, called Hunton-street, close to the passage over the river at Hunton Clappers, being a principal stream of the river Medway, which here directs its course along the southern boundary of this parish, being increased in its course here by several springs, which rise in the upper part of it, and join together the main river at the adjoining parish of Yalding. That part of this parish below the hill, from the nature of its deep clay soil, is very miry in wet weather, whilst, like the rest of the Weald, in hot and dry weather, it becomes a hard cakey or panny surface, which resists every impression; of course the opportunity for the tillage of it, whilst in an intermediate state, must not be neglected, left the possibility of a season be lost. It is very kindly for wheat, of which it produces, especially when manured with marle or chalk, which is brought from the further ridge of hills, at nine or ten miles distance, very good crops, of near three seams an acre; the whole of it abounds with broad hedge rows, in which are numbers of fine spreading oaks of a large size, which though very profitable to the owner, are exceeding prejudicial to the occupier and his crops of corn. To the sight this country is a beautiful prospect, but to the traveller and resident, it is in wet weather almost impassable, and in the drought of summer from the heat arising from the soil, the reflection of the sun beams, and the quantity of large buzzing flies which continually assault you from their haunts among the oak branches, it is most disagreeable and unpleasant to the extreme, the only exception being when you are stationary under the thick shade of a spreading oak.

In the year 1683 there was found, at the opening of a piece of ground to enlarge a pond, near Mr. Hatley's house in this parish, at six yards deep, a hard floor or stratum, composed of shells, or petrifactions like them, crowded closely together, the interstices of which were filled up with marle. This layer was about an inch deep, and several yards over. These shells were of the sort called concbites, and resembled sea fish of the testaceous kind; most of them were turbinated or wreathed, the rest were of the bivalvular sort; none of them with their valves closed together, but single. This Stratum, when exposed to the air and grown hard, appeared much like the coarse fort of marble, composed of such shell-like petrifactions, with marle mixed betwixt them, as is dug up about Bethersden, Pluckley, &c. in the Weald of Kent, and about Petworth, in Sussex. Upon enquiry, no instance was known of the river Medway's having, in any floods, reached so far as this place. (fn. 1)

THE MANOR of Huntington, alias Hunton, was part of the antient possessions of Christ-church, in Canterbury, and was soon after the time of the Conqueror held of the archbishop of Canterbury by knight's service, by a family of the name of Lenham, who were afterwards proprietors of another manor in this parish, called Benstede.

The latter of these manors, at the time of taking the survey of Domesday, about the year 1080, was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux and earl of Kent, the Conqueror's half-brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:

Adehold held Benedestede of the bishop (of Baieux) and Robert held it to serme. It was taxed at one yoke. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there is one carucate, with five servants, and one acre of meadow. Wood for the pannage of six hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards it was worth twenty shillings, now forty shillings. Godric held it of Alnod Cilt.

The above-mentioned manor, on the bishop's disgrace about four years afterwards, was seized on, among the rest of his possessions, and was granted to one of the family of Crevequer, of whom it was held by proprietors, who, in all likelihood, assumed their surname from it.

John de Benstede held this manor as one fourth part of a knight's fee, in the reign of king Henry III. of the barony of Crevequer; (fn. 2) at the latter end of which reign, he alienated it to Nicholas de Lenham, who at that time held likewise the manor of Hunton, for which, in the 41st year of it, he obtained a charter of free warren, a market on a Tuesday weekly, and a yearly fair to continue five days, viz. the vigil, the day of the assumption of our Lady, and three days afterwards.

In the above year there was a fine levied between Nicholas, prior of Christ-church, and Nicholas de Lenham, of an annual rent of six pounds of this manor of Huntington. (fn. 3)

His descendant, William de Lenham, leaving an only daughter and heir Alianor; she carried both these manors in marriage to John de Gyfford, who paid aid for them in the 20th year of king Edward III. and died possessed of them in the 22d year of the above reign; soon after which they were sold by his heirs to William, second son of John de Clinton, who was afterwards knighted, and was a person of eminent worth. He married Juliana, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas de Leyborne, commonly stiled from her great possessions, the Infanta of Kent; which was in great measure the means of his future honor and preferments, of which he had many conferred on him; and standing still high in the king's favor, he was, in the 11th year of that reign, advanced to the title of earl of Huntingdon. (fn. 4) He died anno 28 king Edward III. s. p. possessed of the manor of Huntington, alias Hunton, with Bensted; Sir John de Clinton, lord Clinton, son of John, his eldest brother, being found, by the inquisition to be his next heir, who paid relief in the 4th year of king Henry IV. at the marriage of Blanch, that prince's daughter, for this manor, with Bensted, and in the 6th year of it, he had possession granted of his part of the lands of William de Say, as heir to him by his grandmother Idonea; whereupon he bore the title of lord Clinton and Say, and was afterwards accordingly summoned to parliament. His son, John, lord Clinton, in the 27th year of king Henry VI. released to his kinsman, Sir James Fienes, then lord Say and Seal, and his heirs, the title of lord Say, which he claimed a right to, and the arms likewise, by reason of that title.

In his descendants this manor and estate continued down to Edward, lord Clinton, (fn. 5) who in Henry VIIIth's reign, alienated them to Sir Thomas Wyatt, but his son, Sir Thomas Wyatt, having raised a rebellion against queen Mary, was attainted in the Ist year of her reign, by which all his estates became forfeited to the crown; and the queen, by her letters patent, in her 2d year, granted this manor, with Bensted, to Sir John Baker, her attorney-general, to hold in capite by knight's service. (fn. 6) In whose descendants they continued down to Sir John Baker, bart. of Sisinghurst, who possessed them in the reign of king Charles II. he sold them to Mr. Clarke, of Boughton, who left the manor of Hunton by his last will to Mr. Thomas Turner, of this parish, for his life, remainder to his own brother, of whom Mr. Turner, having purchased the reversion of it, and dying S.P. gave it by will to his nephew Mr. Thomas Turner, of Hunton, who died possessed of it in 1776, leaving by his wife, daughter of Mr. Durrant, one son and four daughters; of whom Mary married the Rev. Thomas Verrier Alkin, late vicar of Lenham; Anne married the Rev. John Ward, rector and vicar of Yalding; and the other two are single, which son before-mentioned is the present Thomas Turner, who now owns and resides in it.

A court-baron is held for this manor.

But BENSTED, now called BENSTEDDLE, the scite of which at present consists only of a parcel of land, with a ruinated house on it, passed by sale from Clarke to Bartholomew, in which name it descended down to Leonard Bartholomew, esq. of Oxenhoath, who died in 1757, s. p. since which it is at length by his will in like manner as that seat, become the property of Sir William Geary, bart. who owns besides a considerable estate in this parish.

At the south side of the chancel of this church, was once a tomb for one of the noble family of Clinton, possessors of this manor, whose seat, called the Courtlodge, near the church, has been long ruinated; but the scite of it, as well as the moat which surrounded it, are still visible.

BURSTON is a manor in this parish, the name of which Kilburne says, was antiently Buston, alias Burricestune, alias Burregicestune; however that may be, it was antiently eminent for being the residence of a family, which took their surname of Burston from it.

John de Burston is mentioned in the dateless deeds, relating to this family, which, from the probable con jecture of the hand writing are supposed to be of the time of king Henry III. at which time there was land about Wye and Crundall, in this county, which belonged to this family; for in the 45th year of the above reign, Sir Waretius de Valoignes, released to John de Burston his title to lands in those parishes. In his descendants Burston remained for many generations, and it appears, that they were esteemed among the antient gentry of this county; for Gervas Cliston, sheriff of Kent in the 29th year of king Henry VI. returned William Burston, then possessor of this manor, among those who had a right to bear the antient coat armour of their ancestors, their arms being Quarterly, argent and sable, on a bend gules, three griffins heads erased or.

In the reign of king Henry VIII. alderman Head, of London, resided here, and made additions to the house; but he seems to have possessed it only for a term of years; for the see continued in the name of Burston, by one of whom it was alienated, in the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Fane, second son of George Fane, esq. of Badsell, in Tudeley, who was afterwards of Burston, knight, and was lieutenant of Dover-castle. He died without surviving issue in 1606.

By his will he gave this manor and seat, among the rest of his estates, to Sir George Fane, second son of Sir Thomas Fane, of Badsell, by his wife Mary, baroness le Despencer, who after the death of his uncle resided at Burston. In the 18th year of king James I. he was chosen to represent this county in parliament, and in the 21st year of it kept his shrievalty at Burston. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas Fane, esq. who was of Burston, and taking to a military life, became a colonel in the army. He died unmarried here in 1692, and was buried with his ancestors in this church, having by his will given this manor and seat, among the rest of his estates, to Mildmay Fane, the 7th and youngest son of Vere Fane, earl of Westmoreland, then but two years old, intending by it, that this manor and that title, should never be possessed by the same person. He afterwards resided a Mereworth castle, and died unmarried in 1715, and was succeeded in this manor and seat, as well as the rest of his estates, by Thomas, earl of Westmoreland, his eldest surviving brother, who dying as well as his younger and only surviving brother John, earl of Westmoreland, S. P. the latter in 1762, this manor and seat, together with the rest of his estates in this county, are come by the limitations of his will in like manner as Mereworth, to the right hon. Thomas, lord le Despencer, the present owner of them.

There are no parochial charities.

HUNTON is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and being a peculiar of the archbishop, is as such in the deanry of Shoreham.

The church is dedicated to St. Mary. In it there is a monument and memorials of the family of Fane, of Burston, of alderman Head, mentioned before, and for one of the family of Clinton, and there was in Philipott's time, in one of the windows of it, the effigies of two of the lords Clinton, owners of this manor.

It is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 161. 13s. 1½d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 13s. 3¾d.

His grace the archbishop is patron of this church.

Church of Hunton.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop of Canterbury. Theophilus Higgons, A.M. sequestered about 1643. (fn. 7)
. .Latham, ejected 1662. (fn. 8)
Thomas Yardley, 1680. (fn. 9)
Richard Burton, 1691. (fn. 9)
The Archbishop of Canterbury George Fage, A.M. 1713, obt. Sept. 8, 1728 (fn. 10)
Herbert Taylor, 1728, obt. Sept. 29, 1763. (fn. 11)
John Fowel, S.T.P. 1763, resigned 1765. (fn. 12)
Beilby Porteus, S.T.P. 1765, vacated 1788. (fn. 13)
Rt. Hon. Lord George Murray, the present rector.


  • 1. Philosophical Transfactions, vol. xiv. No. 155. p. 463.
  • 2. Book of Knights fees in the Exchequer.
  • 3. Register of Christ Church, cart. 2027.
  • 4. Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 530 et seq. Rot. Esch. ejus an.
  • 5. See more of the family of Clintons under Folkestone.
  • 6. Dalton's Reports, Rot. Esch. ejus an. pt. 1.
  • 7. Walker's Suff. of Clergy, pt. ii. p. 266. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. p. 240.
  • 8. Ejected by the Bartholomew act.
  • 9. Reg. Roff. p. 874. Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 286.
  • 10. Also vicar of Marden and preb. of Litchfield. Willis's Cath. vol. i. p. 467. He lies buried in this church.
  • 11. And vicar of Patricksborne, in 1753, by dispensation.
  • 12. And sinecure rector of Eynsford, in 1763. In 1764 rector of Chartham likewise by dispensation, in 1765; he resigned this vicarage for Bishopsborne with Barham, which he now holds.
  • 13. And prebendary of Peterborough, and in 1767 presented to the rectory of Lambeth, which he resigned in 1777, on being consecrated bishop of Chester, which he held with this rectory, in commendam. Now bishop of London.