Parishes: Pembury

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

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'Parishes: Pembury', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5, (Canterbury, 1798) pp. 260-272. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

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LIES the next adjoining parish southward from Tudeley. It is called in the Textus Roffensis, PEPPINGEBERLIA, and in antient deeds, Pepenbery. It seems always to have been pronounced Pembury, and is now usually written so.

THE PARISH of Pembury, though of small breadth, extends the length of four miles from north to south, that is from Tudeley to the stream at Fant, which separates this county from that of Sussex, the surface of it consists of various hill and dale. The whole has a very woody appearance, and the outer parts every way, excepting towards Tudeley, are greatly covered with coppice woods and quantities of large spreading oaks throughout them; the soil consists on the higher grounds, especially towards the west and south, of sand, and much of the rock stone underneath; and in the valleys mostly of clay, and having plenty of marle for manure, it produces good corn, and the land is of course well let. It is watered by several little streams which rise here, and run either towards the north into the Medway, opposite to Hadlow, or southward towards the stream which separates the two counties, and runs by Beyham-abbey towards Lamberhurst. The church stands pretty high and conspicuous, the principal village is about a mile southward from it, standing round Pembury Upper, and Lower Greens, below which there are several smaller hamlets, built in like manner round the greens. The high road from Tunbridge towards Lamberhurst and Sussex, runs through Southfrith woods on the western side of the parish, and at the thirty-fifth mile stone crosses it, but at Kipping's cross, so called from its having been the early residence of that family, it takes its direction along the eastern bounds of the parish, till it enters Lamberhurst, in the hundred of Brenchley. In the southern part of this parish, about a mile further than the thirty-fifth mile stone of the Tunbridge-road is Bay-hall, pleasantly situated on the southern side of a hill, and just below it the small rivulet, which runs from thence till it joins the larger stream near Beyham abbey. A fair is held in this parish on Whit-Tuesday yearly for cattle, toys, and pedlary.

THE MANORS OF PEPENBURY MAGNA, and PEPENBURY PARVA, alias BOWRIDGE, with the appendant advowson of the church, the land of Crockherst, and other premises, were given by Simon de Wahull to the abbey of Begham, in Sussex; which gift was confirmed by Walter de Wahull, his son and heir, and by Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford. And king Edward III. in his 2d year, granted to the abbot and convent for ever, free warren in all their demesne lands in this parish, among others.

These manors continued in the possession of this abbey till its final dissolution, in the 17th year of king Henry VIII. when being one of those smaller monasteries, which cardinal Wolsey had obtained of the king, for the endowment of his college, called Cardinal's college, in Oxford, it was surrendered, with all the possessions belonging to it, into the Cardinal's hands.

But that great prelate being cast in a præmunire, about four years afterwards, before he had firmly established his college, these manors, among the rest of its revenues, were seized into the king's hands, and became part of the royal revenue of the crown, (fn. 1) where they remained till king Henry VIII. in his 25th year, granted them to Sir Edward Guildford, warden of the cinque ports, &c. to hold by fealty only, and his daughter, and at length sole heir Joane, entitled her husband, Sir John Dudley, to the possession of them; they, in the 30th year of that reign, joined in the conveyance of these manors, with their appurtenances, to Sir Thomas Cromwell, lord Cromwell, who next year procured his lands to be disgavelted by the act then passed, and was in the same year created earl of Essex, and quickly afterwards made knight of the garter, and lord high chamberlain of England. But this hasty rise was succeeded by as sudden a ruin; for on the king's displeasure, he was arrested at the council table, and being afterwards tried and convicted of high treason, he was condemned and executed in the 32d year of that reign. (fn. 2) On his attainder these manors came again to the crown, whence they were granted, anno 37 king Henry VIII. with other premises in this parish, to William Wybarne, to hold in capite by knights service. He bore for his arms, Sable, a fess between three swans argent, and in his descendants these manors continued down to John Wybarne, esq. who left two daughters his coheirs, Anne, married to Robert Berkeley, esq. of Spetchley, in Worcestershire, and Catherine, to Philip Jones, esq. who in right of their respective wives, on his death, inherited these manors and estates in undivided moieties. Robert Berkeley, esq. above-mentioned, was descended from Sir Robert Berkeley, who was a judge in king Charles I's reign, whose grandson, Robert Berkeley, esq. of Spetchley, married the eldest daughter of Sir Richard Blake, a lady eminent for her exemplary life and conversation. He died in 1693, and his widow, seven years afterwards, married Dr. Burnet, bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 3) The pedigree of the Berkeleys, of Spetchley, is inserted in Nash's history of Worcestershire, where there are many curious particulars relating to them. They bore for their arms, Gules, a chevron between ten crosses patee argent; on the chevron within a crescent sable a mullet, or, quartered with the coats of Brotherton, Mowbray, Brewose, Segrave, Fitz-Alan of Clun, Albani, or Arundel, and Warner, as may be seen on their monuments in Spetchley church.

These manors continued afterwards in the situation above-mentioned, and in 1777 an act passed to enable Robert Berkeley and Philip Jones, esqrs. to sell them, among others in this county and Sussex, but nothing was done in consequence of it till about the year 1788, when these manors, with the parsonage and appendant advowson of the church of Pembury were sold by Robert Berkeley and John, son and heir of Philip Jones, then of Lanark, in Monmouthshire, to William Woodgate, esq. of Somerhill, the present owner of them.

HALKWELL, commonly called Hawkwell, is a manor on the eastern side of this parish, which consists at present of two farms called Great and Little Hawkswells, and is held of the superior manor of Tipperidge, in this parish likewise. This estate was once the property and residence of a family of that name; after which, it appears by the register of Begham abbey, to have become part of the possessions of that abbey, with which it remained till its dissolution in the 17th year of king Henry VIII. when it was obtained by cardinal Wolsey, towards the endowment of his college, called Cardinal's college, in Oxford; but on his being cast in a præmunire, about four years afterwards, before he had firmly established his college, this manor, among the rest of his possessions, became forfeited to the crown, from whence it was presently granted to John Wybarne, of Culverdens, in this parish, who had been tenant to the abbey for this manor before the suppression of it, being descended of a family seated near Croston, in Orpington, about the end of king Henry III.'s reign, whence they removed to Culverdens, some generations before the reign of king Henry VIII. and it continued for several generations in his descendants, being the mansion in which they resided so long as they remained in this county, until it devolved, in like manner as the manors of Pembury above-described, to Robert Berkeley and John Jones, esqrs. by whom it was conveyed about the year 1786 to Pollard, since which it has become the property of James Lewin, esq. the present owner of it.

THE MANOR OF BAYHALL, which lies in the southern part of this parish, was part of the antient possessions of the eminent family of Colepeper, whose demesnes spread over the whole face of this county, but more especially the western parts of it.

The two principal branches of it were seated at this manor of Bayhall, and at Aylessord, from the latter descended those of Oxenhoath, and of Preston, in Aylesford, barts. both now extinct; and from the former, those of Bedgbury, which terminated in the lords Colepeper, of Leeds castle; those of Losenham, in Newenden, afterwards of Hollingborne, the heir male of which branch is John Spencer Colepeper, esq. late of the Charter-house, and those of Wakehurst, in Sussex, barts. now extinct.

The first of the family of Colepeper, eminent on record, is Thomas de Colepeper, who, as appears by the bundles in the pipe-office, was one of the recognitores magnæ assise, or justices of the great assise, in the reign of king John, an office of no small trust and consequence, before the establishment of conservators of the peace.

His descendant, Sir Thomas Colepeper, was possessed of the manor of Bayhall, where he resided, and seems to have left two sons; Thomas, of whom hereafter; and Walter, who was ancestor of the Colepepers, of Oxenhoath, and of Preston, in Aylesford, baronets. (fn. 4)

Sir Thomas Colepeper, the eldest son, inherited Bayhall, and was castellan of Leeds castle under the lord Badlesmere, in the reign of king Edward II. in the 15th year of which he was executed, for resusing queen Isabel entrance into his castle, upon which this manor became forfeited to the crown, whence it was soon afterwards restored to his son, but whether by that prince's indulgence, or by any family entail, I do not find.

John Colepeper, esq. the son, kept his shrievalty at Bayhall in the 39th, 40th, and 43d years of king Edward III. and married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir John Hardreshull, of Hardreshull, in Warwickshire, by whom he had a son, Sir Thomas Colepeper, who succeeded him in this manor, and resided at Bayhall. He was sheriff in the 17th and 18th years of king Richard II. from whom he procured licence to inclose fifty acres of land into a park at Pembury.

He left by Alianor his wife, daughter and coheir of Nicholas Green, esq. of Exton, in Rutlandshire, three sons; Sir Thomas Colepeper, Walter Colepeper, of Goudhurst, ancestor of the branches of this family settled afterwards at Bedgbury, Losenham, Leeds, Hollingborne, and Wakehurst, and Nicholas, who ended in a daughter, married to Walter Lewknor, esq. and also a daughter Alianore, married to Sir Reginald Cobham, of Sterborough. Sir Thomas Colepeper, the eldest son, who was of Exton, in Rutlandshire, (fn. 5) seems to have alienated this manor in the reign of king Henry VI. to Humphry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, whose grandson Henry, duke of Buckingham, became one of the chief considents of Richard, duke of Gloucester, afterwards king Richard III. and the principal agent in advancing him to the throne, but being attainted in the 1st year of that reign, his possessions became forseited to the crown, and the king made a grant of this manor, to the value of one hundred shillings, to John Water, alias Yorke Heraulde; but on the accession of the earl of Richmond to the crown soon afterwards, by the title of king Henry VII. an act passing for the restitution of Edward, son and heir of Henry, duke of Buckingham, he became entitled to the inheritance of all the estates of the late duke, his father, and he had accordingly possession granted him of this manor among the rest of them, but this duke being likewise accused and found guilty of high treason in the 13th year of king Henry the VIIIth's reign, an act passed for his attainder, and though another passed likewise for the restitution in blood of Henry, his eldest son, yet it did not extend to his honors and lands, which remained forseited to the crown, where the see of this manor remained till Edward VI. in his 1st year, granted it to William Parr, marquis of Northampton, who that year conveyed it to Sir Anthony Browne, knight of the garter, who had been master of the horse to king Henry VIII. and of his privy council; and he, in the very beginning of the next year, alienated it to William Wybarne, one of whose descendants sold it, in the 7th year of James I. to Robert Sackville, earl of Dorset, who died possessed of it within a few months after his purchase. His eldest surviving son Richard, earl of Dorset, alienated this manor, with the seat belonging to it, to Richard Amherst, esq. serjeant-at law, who afterwards resided at Bayhall. He was the son of Richard Amherst, esq. who left three sons; Richard, serjeant atlaw, as above-mentioned; Jessry, rector of Horsmonden, ancestor of that branch of the family settled at Riverhead, in Sevenoke, and William, who left an only daughter. This family of Amherst bear for their arms, Gules, three tilting-spears, two and one, erected in pale, or, headed argent; which coat was confirmed to Richard Amberst, esq. by William Camden, clarencieux, in 1607. (fn. 6) Sergeant Amherst died possessed of this estate in 1632.

His grandson, Charles Amherst, esq. was of Bayhall likewise, and died s.p. in 1709, and by his will devised this manor and seat, together with all his other lands and possessions, to his nephew and heir at-law, Charles Selby, esq. son of Sir Henry Selby, sergeantat-law, and recorder of London, (the second son of George Selby, esq. of Ightham) by Elizabeth his eldest sister, at the same time enjoining him to take on him the surname and arms of Amherst.

Charles Selby Amherst, esq. accordingly inhabited Bayhall, where he resided, but dying s.p. he by his will gave this manor and seat of Bayhall, with the rest of his estates, to his nephew Charles Browne, esq. counsellor-at-law, son of Dorothy his sister, by John Browne, esq. of Salop. He resided at Bayhall, where he died in 1753, and was buried in this church, leaving no issue by Elizabeth Mittel his wife, who survived him, and afterwards resided here, where she died in 1790, soon after which this estate was sold to Thomas Streatfield, esq. the present possessor of it.

A court leet and court baron is holden for this manor.

DENCROUCH, HIGHLANDS, and PRIGLES, are three small manors in this parish, which formerly belonged to the Cistertian abbey of Robertsbridge, in Sussex, with which they remained till the final dissolution of it, when that abbey was surrendered into the king's hands, with all its lands and possessions; all which were confirmed to the king and his heirs by the general words of the act, passed in the 31st year of his reign, for that purpose.

Soon after which, the king granted them to George Guldeford, esq. (son of Sir Richard, knight banneret, and of the garter) who quickly after conveyed them by sale to Sir Alexander Colepeper, of Bedgbury, who had a confirmation of them from the crown, about the 35th year of that reign. His great-grandson, Sir Anthony Colepeper, of Bedgbury, alienated these manors in the beginning of king James I.'s reign, to Nicholas Miller, esq. of Horsnells-crouch, in Wrotham, when they passed from his descendants I have not found, only that they afterwards went into the possession of Pollard, and in 1766 they were the property of Elizabeth Pollard, widow, since which they have come into the possession of James Lewin, esq. who now owns them.

TIPPERIDGE is a manor in this parish, which has been many years in the possession of the family of Ne vill, lords Abergavenny, the present proprietor being the right hon. Henry Nevill, earl of Abergavenny.


Charles Amherst, esq. of Bayhall, by will in 1702, directed that the several persons to whom he had devised the manor of Bayhall, with its appurtenances Successively, under the limitations therein expressed, should build an alms house, for six old, blind, or impotent persons of this parish, within one year after his death, and the death of his sisters, dame Elizabeth Selby, and Mrs. Dorothy Amherst, and should allow each of them twenty shillings a month for ever, The said persons to be appointed from time to time by those to whom that manor, with its appurtenances, should remain, after the house should be built.

The poor who receive constant relief yearly from this parish are about twenty-five.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, has a spire steeple at the west end. It was built by one of the family of Colepeper, patrons of it, and most probably by John Colepeper, esq. in the reign of king Edward III. for on the three buttresses on the south side of the chancel, there remain three shields of coat armour, each carved on an entire stone of about two feet and an half in depth, and the breadth equal with that of the buttress, which shews them to be coeval with that of the building itself. On the first is a rectangular cross; the second is the coat armour of Hardreshull, A chevron between eight martlets, viz. five and three, the above-mentioned John Colepeper having married the coheir of that family; the third is that of Colepeper, a bend engrailed. On a very antient stone on the pavement of the chancel, is an antient inscription in old French, for Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas Colepeper, which seems as early as the above mentioned reign. There are several monuments and memorials in it of the family of Amherst and their re latives; an inscription and figure in brass for Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Rowe, esq. of Hawkwell, anno 1607; a tomb for George Bolney, esq. who married a Wybarne; and in the porch are two antient stones with crosses on them.

The advowson of the church of Pembury was given with it, by Simon de Wahull, to the abbey of Begham, in Sussex, in pure and perpetual alms, as has been already mentioned.

Pope Gregory IX. anno 1239, granted licence to the abbot and convent to hold this church, then of their patronage, and not of greater value than ten marcs, as an appropriation upon the first vacancy of it, reserving, a competent portion for a vicar out of the profits of it. Notwithstanding which, it was not appropriated till the year 1278, when Richard Oliver, the rector, resigned it into the hands of John de Bradfield, bishop of Rochester, who granted his letters mandatory, for the induction of the abbot and convent into the corporal possession of the church, with its appurtenances, according to the tenor of the above-mentioned bull. (fn. 7)

The parsonage of the church of Pembury, with the advowson of the vicarage appendant to the manor, continued with the abbey of Begham till the dissolution of it in the 17th year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, after which it passed in the same tract of ownership as the manor of Pembury, and appendant to it, till it became the property of William Woodgate, esq. lord of that manor, and the present patron of it.

It is a discharged living, of the clear yearly certified value of 46l. 10s. the yearly tenths of which are 12s. 8d.

Charles Amherst, esq. of Bayhall, by his will in 1702, gave as an augmentation to this vicarage, the sum of ten pounds to be paid yearly by such persons to whom the manor of Bayhall, with its appurtenances, should come and remain after his death.

In 1733 the Rev. George May, vicar, augmented it with the sum of 100l. 17s. 6d. to entitle it to the benefit of queen Anne's bounty.

There is an annual pension of forty shillings paid out of the parsonage to the vicar, which was settled on him and his successors, at the time of the appropriation of this church. The tithes of corn and grain of which this parsonage consists are now worth about one hundred and twenty pounds per annum.

The vicarage is now worth about one hundred and fifty pounds per annum.

KING EDWARD III. in his 28th year, in consideration of twenty marcs paid to him by John Colepeper, of Bayhall, granted licence to him to sound a perpetual chantry for a chaplain to celebrate daily for his soul, and those of his ancestors in the chapel of St. Mary, in the cemetery of this church, and to endow it with lands and rents in this and the adjoining parishes; and in his 38th year, in consideration of one hundred shillings paid to him by the prior and convent of Rochester, he granted licence for them to assign an annual rent charge of ten marcs out of their manor of Woldeham, to the before-mentioned chaplain.

This chantry remained till the general suppression of such foundations, by the act of the 1st year of king Edward VI at which time it appeared by the survey then taken of it, that the total revenues of it were 11l. 15s. 4½d. per annum. Soon after which the building itself was pulled down, and the materials sold, and the lands belonging to it were granted in parcels to different persons. The chapel was situated in the church-yard, without the church, being covered with lead, and was in length thirty feet, and in breadth eighteen feet. In 1553, there remained a pension of 6l. 13s. 4d. in charge to Richard Hill, the last incumbent of this chauntry. (fn. 8)

Church of Pembury.

Or by whom presented.
Abbot and convent of Begham. Richard Oliver, last rector, resigned 1278. (fn. 9)
Lords of the manor of Pembury Charles Hutchinson, in 1630.
James Plate, sequestered about 1640.
Woodward, 1702.
George May, A. M. instit. May 4, 1731, obt. Dec. 1738.
Elcock, instit. Dec. 29, 1738, obt. 1752.
John Whitaker, A.M. 1752, the present vicar.


  • 1. Dugd. Mon. vol. i. p. 1037. Tan. Mon. præ. p. xxxv. Rym. Fæd. vol. xiv. p. 156.
  • 2. See more of him in vol. iii. of this history. p. 533.
  • 3. 0ee Biog. Brit. vol. ii. p. 1041. note K.K.
  • 4. See Lamb. Per. p. 601, and Aylesford, vol. iv. p. 436.
  • 5. Called Jehn by Dugale, in his Baronage, vol. ii, p. 416.
  • 6. Harl. MSS. No. 1084.12. See more of this family under Riverhead, vol. iii. p. 93.
  • 7. Reg. Roff. p. 517. Where see the confirmations of this church to the abbey.
  • 8. Willis's Mitred Abbeys, vol. ii. p. 104.
  • 9. Reg. Roff. p. 516.