Parishes: Brenchley

Pages 280-294

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

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


In this section


WRITTEN in old deeds BRANCHESLE, and in the Textus Roffensis, BTÆNCESLE, lies the next parish eastward from Pembury. The village of it is, almost all of it, within this hundred, though the hundred of Twyford extends itself over a narrow district of the northeast part of this parish into the town of Brenchley, some of the houses of which on the eastern side are within the jurisdiction of it.

The boroughs of Stoberfield and Roeden, in this parish, are within the manors of East Farleigh and East Peckham, of which the lands in them are held in free socage tenure. (fn. 1)

THIS PARISH is of large extent, being upwards of four miles from north to south, and about three in width. It consists of hill and dale, the soil is various, on the hill on which the village stands, it is a sand, intermixed with much of the rock or sand stone, which soil continues mostly over the northern part of it, and towards Horsemonden green, the rest of it is a stiff miry clay in winter, excepting the high road, hardly passable, and in summer has a cakey surface, as hard as iron.

This parish is very woody, especially on the skirts of it, the whole of it has a dreary gloomy aspect, as well from that as from the quantities of large spreading oaks throughout it. The houses, which are mostly old-fashioned timbered buildings, are situated in general round the different small greens or sostals; the bye roads here are broad, and covered on each side with green swerd, and in wet weather, as well as the country round them very deep and miry; the farms are but small, and of moderate rents, and there are several plantations of hop-ground belonging to them.

The village, or town of Brenchley, as it is frequently stiled in antient writings, is situated pleasant enough on a hill, the turnpike road leading through it towards Horsemonden, Goudhurst, and the southern parts of the Weald. The houses in it are mostly large well-timbered buildings, and of antient date; at the south end of it is the church and parsonage; at a small distance eastward is a seat called BROADOAK, which was in queen Elizabeth's reign purchased of several persons, by George Paine, citizen of London, whose heirs in 1698 alienated it to Mr. John Hooker, of West-Peckham, younger brother of Thomas, the grandfather of Thomas Hooker, esq. late of Tunbridge, his son of the same name, died in 1717, whose third son Stephen at length became possessed of it, and left one son, John Hooker, esq. now of Broadoak, which he rebuilt. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas Cooke, of the county of Salop, by whom he has one son Stephen, and now resides in it.

About a mile westward of the village, among others round Matfield-green, is a modern house belonging to Mr. Bowls Merchant, whose father Thomas Merchant, built it about sixty years ago, and he resides here as his ancestors have done for some generations. At no great distance eastward from Broadoak, at Castle-hill, just at the point of the eminence, stands the remarkable toll of trees, called Brenchley toll, which from their high situation, are a remarkable object for many miles round.

In the adjoining wood there are the remains of a square mote, containing between three and four acres of ground, probably the scite of some manor. This wood, and the farm belonging to it, are the property of Mr. John Monckton, they have now no particular name, but have the reputation of having had a very extensive manor once belonging to them.

There are the remains of another mote or intrenchment in this parish, of great width and depth, undoubtedly inclosing a building of considerable strength; the area of which is, I think, not quite so large as that above-mentioned. There is no name used either to the wood or farm adjoining to it. The family of Daffy, of Rumford, in Essex, were formerly owners of it, and continued so till one of them alienated it to Mr. Thomas Outeridge, the present possessor of it.

THE MANOR OF BRENCHLEY was antiently part of the possessions of the noble family of Clare, the descendants of which were afterwards earls of Gloucester and Hertford, an ample account of whom and their descendants has already been given in the description of the manor and castle of Tunbridge, with which this manor continued in like manner down to Edward, duke of Buckingham, who being found guilty of high treason, and beheaded in the 13th year of king Henry the VIIIth's reign, an act passed for his attainder, and another for the restitution of his son Henry in blood, but not to his honors and lands. After which the manor of Brenchley rested in the crown, till the king, in his 31st year, granted it, with other premises in this parish, to Paul Sydnor, esq. whose son William Sydnor, in the 20th year of queen Elizabeth, passed it away by sale to William Lambarde, esq. of Greenwich, the perambulator, who settled it on the alms-house he had founded in that parish, called queen Elizabeth's hospital, with this limitation, that the heirs male of his line should hold it in lease for ever, and in case they failed, the last of them should have power to dispose of his interest in it, by will. By virtue of which reservation, the lease of this manor has passed in direct successions to Multon Lambard, esq. of Sevenoke, in this county, the present possessor of it. (fn. 2)

CRIOLS is another manor here, lying about a mile and a half south west from Brenchley village, which in the reign of king Henry III. was in the possession of the eminent family of Criol, in which reign Bertram de. Criol held it, as half a knight's fee, of Alicia de Waltham, as she again did of the earl of Gloucester. He resided, at Ostenhanger, in this county, which seat he rebuilt, and being much in the king's favor, among other offices of trust, was made sheriff of Kent in the 16th and 26th years of that reign, and had the custody of the castles of Dover and Rochester committed to him. His great grandson, John de Criol, died in the 34th year of king Edward the 1st.'s reign, leaving Joane his sister his next heir, married to Sir Richard de Rokesle, who in her right inherited this manor. His eldest daughter and coheir Agnes, married Thomas de Poynings, and intitled him to this manor, in whose name and descendants it continued down to Sir Edward Poynings, a man much in favor with king Henry VII. and VIII. being governor of Dover-castle, lordwarden of the cinque ports, and knight of the garter, and he died possessed of it in the 14th year of the latter reign, anno 1522, not only without legitimate issue, but without any collateral kindred, who could make claim to his estates; so that this manor, among others, escheated to the crown, where it seems to have remained till that king, in his 31st year, granted it, with other premises in this parish, to Paul Sydnor, esq. his agent to the court of Spain, who died in the 6th year of king Edward VI. and his son William, who had not possession of it till the 5th year of queen Elizabeth, passed it away in the 20th year of that reign, with the manor of Brenchley as above-mentioned, to William Lambarde, esq. of Greenwich, the perambulator, who settled it on his new-founded alms-house in that parish, called queen Elizabeth's hospital, with the like limitation as that which he had made in respect to the manor of Brenchley. By virtue of which, the lease of this manor has passed in direct succession to Multon Lambard, esq. of Sevenoke, in this county, the present possessor of it.

THE MANOR OF MASCALS, antiently called Manescalls, with the two appendant ones of COPGROVE and CHEKESWELL, are situated near the northern boundary of this parish.

The first of them, as appears by antient writings, in the reign of king Edward II. was owned by the family of Colepeper; one of whom, Walter Culpeper, died possessed of it in the last year of that reign, holding in gavelkind, as appears by the inquisition then taken, certain tenements in the parish of Brenchley, called Marescales, of the lord Hugh de Audley, as of his honor of Tunbridge, by the service of paying yearly at his larder eight hogs and an half, value fifteen shillings, and that his sons, Thomas, Geoffry, and John, were his heirs and next of kin.

COPGROVE was in possession of a family of the same name, who afterwards became likewise owners of Chekeswell, which in the preceding reign of Edward I. had been in the possession of the family of Hoese, of whom Henry de Hoese died possessed of it in anno 18 Edward I. leaving Henry his son and heir, who, anno 22 of that reign, was summoned to parliament among the barons of this realm. From one of this family of Copgrove, as is supposed, was descended, though some time afterwards, John Capgrove, the famous friar Eremite, of St. Augustine, S.T.P. of Oxford, and at length provincial of his order in England. He was probably born at this place, and became provincial of his order, and the most learned man of it. Humphry, duke of Gloucester was his patron, under whose protection he published those works, which shew how great his abilities were, he died at Lynn, in 1484. (fn. 3) One of them, John de Copgrove, some time about Edward the IId.'s reign, sold both these manors to John de Vane, who was likewise become owner of the manor of Marescals, or Mascals, as it was then called; his heir, Robert de Vane, paid respective aid for them all three, in the 20th year of king Edward III. as half a knight's fee, which John de Copgrave held in Brenchesley, at Chekeswell, of the earl of Gloucester. (fn. 4)

These manors continued in the name of Vane, till the latter end of king Henry VI. when one of that family alienated them to Humphry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, from whom they afterwards passed in succession to his great-grandson Edward, duke of Buckingham, who being found guilty of high treason in the reign of king Henry VIII. was beheaded in the 13th year of it, and an act passed for his attainder, and another soon afterwards for the restitution of his son Henry in blood, but not to his honors and lands.

Soon after the duke's attainder, the manors of Mascalls and Copgrave, for I find no further mention of Chekeswell, were granted to John Lyghe, who died possessed of them in the 15th year of that reign. After which they came into the possession of Sir Edward Ferrers, of Badsley Clinton, in Warwickshire, (son of Sir Henry, by Margaret Hextall, of East Peckham, in this county,) who died in 1535, these manors being then held of the king as of the honor of Warbilton, parcel of the possessions of the late duke of Buckingham attainted, by knights service. His great-grandson, Henry Ferrers, seems to have passed them away by sale in the 16th year of queen Elizabeth's reign to Whetenhall, commonly called Whetnall, of East Peckham, and he sold them about the beginning of king James I's reign to Ouldsworth, who not long after conveyed them to Bartue, and he in the reign of king Charles I. transmitted them by sale to Mr. Charles Tucker, whose son of the same name owned them at the restoration, anno 1660. How they passed afterwards, I do not find; but in the beginning of this century they were in the name of Putland, one of whom, Mr. George Putland, of Tunbridge, by will devised them to Mr.Thomas Barton, of Sevenoke, his nephew, for life, remainder to Mr.Thomas Barton, his great-nephew, son of Mr.Walter Barton, of Courtlodge, in Hadlow, whose son John is the present owner of these manors.

PARROCKS is a manor, which lies at the northern extremity of this parish, within the hundred of Twyford, and was antiently a manor appendant to that of West Malling, which was given by Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, in the 4th year of William Rufus, to the benedictine nunnery founded there by him about that time.

This manor remained part of the possessions of the abbey of Malling till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it was, with all its revenues, surrendered into the king's hands, who that year granted it, with the rest of the possessions of the abbey, in exchange for other premises, to Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. These estates were again exchanged with the crown in the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, where the fee of the manor of Parlock lay, till king James I. in his 21st year, granted it to John Rayney, esq. which grant was confirmed by king Charles I, in his 2d year, to Sir John Rayney, bart. his eldest son, who was of Wrotham-place, in this county, who, though he had then a grant of the fee of the manor of Parrocks, yet he never gained possession of it till about the time of the death of king Charles I. for it had been leased out by the abbess and convent, for many years to the family of Hextall, of East Peckham; one of whom, William Hextall, dying without male issue, his only daughter and heir Margaret, carried his interest in it in marriage to William Whetenhall, esq. whose descendant, Sir Richard Whetenhall, sold the remainder of his term in it to George Brooke, lord Cobham, who died possessed of it anno 5 and 6 Philip and Mary. His son, Sir William Brooke, lord Cobham, succeeded him in it, and in the 12th year of queen Elizabeth, procured a fresh term in this manor, and then alienated it to Sir Thomas Fane, of Badsell, whose grandson, Mildmay, earl of Westmoreland, afterwards became possessed of it, in whose time the lease expired, about the time of the death of king Charles I. when the see of this manor came to Sir John Rayney, as above-mentioned. Soon after which it was alienated to Bosville, in which name it continued till Henry Bosville, of Bradborne, in Sevenoke, dying in 1761 unmarried, devised it among the rest of his estates, in tail male, to his kinsman, Sir Richard Betenson, bart. who died s. p. in 1786, on which it came by the limitations of the same will, to Thomas Lane, esq. of Sevenoke, the present possessor of this manor. (fn. 5)

A court baron is regularly held for it.

IT APPEARS by the escheat rolls, that there was an estate here called MOATLANDS, which was formerly part of the possessions of the eminent family of Pimpe. Reginald Pimpe died in the 16th year of Henry VI. possessed of a messuage in Brenchley, called Le Moat, with the lands and appurtenances belonging to it. Soon after which it appears to have come into a family, called, from their residence in this parish, Brenchley, one of whom was Sir William Bruchelle, or Brenchley, one of the justices of the common pleas, who died May 20, 1446, without issue, and lies buried with Joane his wife, in the nave of Canterbury cathedral. They bore for their arms, A cross patent engrailed, as may be seen carved on the roof of the cloysters of that cathedral.

John Brenchley, esq. was owner of it in Henry VI.'s reign, and left an only daughter and heir Margaret, who, in the 21st year of it, carried it in marriage to William More, esq. of More-court, in Ivechurch, who was succeeded in it by his son, Walter More, esq. of Benenden, who died in the 19th year of Henry VII. leaving two sons, Thomas, of Benenden; and William, of Bettenham, in Cranbrooke; between whom this estate became divided, the line of separation crossing the Mote and the foundations of the old mansion of it. That part of Moatlands to which the manerial rights were annexed, was allotted to the former, whose son John, about the reign of queen Mary, alienated Moatlands to Thomas Robert, alias Robertes, gent. who lies buried, with his three wives, Elizabeth, Joane, and Agnes, in this church; whose descendants resided here till George Roberts, leaving a son Walter, and a daughter Margaret, married to Walter Roberts, son and heir of Sir Thomas Roberts, bart. of Glassenbury, she on the death of her brother without surviving issue, entitled her husband to this estate; and from him this estate descended in direct succession to Sir Walter Roberts, bart. of Glassenbury, who died in 1745, leaving one only daughter and surviving heir Jane, who carried this estate in marriage to George, duke of St. Albans, who survived her, and afterwards possessed a life estate in it. He died in 1786, on which it devolved by the dutchess's will, who had the power of disposing of the see of it to her father's heir male, of the family of Roberts, of Ireland, of whom John Roberts, esq. is the present owner of it.

The other part of Moatlands seems to have been alienated from the descendants of William More, of Bettenham, about the reign of queen Elizabeth, to George Payne, of London, by whose heirs it was sold in 1698, with Broadoak in this parish, as has been already mentioned before, to John Hooker, esq. the present owner of it.

CATT'S-PLACE, with the manor belonging to it, called Catlets, alias Salmon, is likewise situated in this parish, about a mile northward from Brenchley town, but within the hundred of Twyford, being held of the manor of Yalding. The mansion of it was antiently the residence of Hugh de Catt, who implanted his name on it; his descendants continued in the possession of it till the reign of king Henry VI. when it was passed away to Tilden, of Marden, one of whose descendants, after the death of king Charles I. alienated it to Bassage, in which name it continued will William and James Bassage sold it to James Turvin, esq. of Hertfordshire, whose son of the same name leaving two daughters his coheirs, one of whom marrying Robert Buttery, esq. he is at this time entitled to the possession of it.

STOCKSHILL AND STUDMORE are two manors here which had antiently owners who assumed their surnames from them, and continued thus distinguished till the time of king Henry VI. and then the latter was likewise by purchase come into the family of Stock. In the reign of king Henry VIII. both these manors were in the possession of Paul Sydnor, who was owner of other principal estates in this parish, and his son, William Sydnor, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, conveyed them by sale to Robert Berney, and he, about the year 1584, alienated them to Robert Byng, esq. who died possessed of Stockshill and Stodmerhill manors, in Brenchley and Yalding, in 1595, as appears by the inquisition then taken; after which they continued in his descendants to his great-grandson John Byng, esq. who soon after the restoration alienated both these manors. Since which, after several intermediate owners, they passed into the name of Monckton, in which they still continue, Mr. John Monckton being the present proprietor of them.


RICHARD BISHOP gave by will to the poor of this parish, the sum of 10l. the interest of it to be distributed yearly among five poor and impotent parishioners, vested in Mr. Solomon Norris, and now of the annual amount of 10s.

JOHN DOWNER, late of Brenchley, gave by will in 1578, the sum of 2l. per annum, to be paid out of certain lands in this parish, called Pucksted fields, now vested in Mr. Edward Monckton.

GEORGE PAIN, ESQ. formerly of Broadoak, in 1682 gave by will to the poor of this parish the sum of 10l. per annum, to be distributed in such manner as the minister, churchwardens, and substantial inhabitants should think fit, to be paid out of that estate.

CAPTAIN STEPHEN WOODGATE, gave by will in 1672, 1l. 10s. per annum, to be paid out of a messuage and orchard near Broadoak, in this parish, vested in John Hooker, esq.

JOHN PORTER, late of Brenchley, gave by deed in 1763, 3l. per annum, to be paid out of lands in this parish, to be applied towards the teaching of two or more poor children to read, if a school here, and if no school, then 1s. to be given weekly in bread, and 1s. a piece on St.Thomas's day to six poor persons, and the other 2s. to be laid out in wine for the trustees, by whom the poor and children should be nominated, vested in John Botten, and now of the above annual amount.

The poor who receive constant relief yearly are in number about eighty, those casually 180.

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

The church is dedicated to All Saints. In it there are monuments and inscriptions for the families of Roberts and Courthope, and an inscription for Elizabeth, wife of George Fane, esq. of Tudeley, in 1566.

This church seems antiently to have been esteemed but as a chapel to the adjoining parish church of Yalding; Richard de Clare, earl of Hertford, gave that church, with this chapel, and all its appurtenances, in pure and perpetual alms, to the priory of Tunbridge, lately founded by him there.

After which I find it no longer mentioned as a chapel, but as an independent parochial church. Bishop Henry de Sandford, who came to the see of Rochester in 1227, confirmed the church of Brenchley to the prior and canons before mentioned, to be possessed by them as an appropriation for ever; saving, a perpetual vicarage for a priest, to be presented to it by them, who should for the time being personally serve in it; and that he should, in the name of a perpetual vicarage, have the whole altarage, and all small tithes, obventions of the altar, and tithes of curtilages, and all the tithes of corn and pulse, and hay of Westroterindenne, (now called Witherenden) which was of the fee of the abbess of Malling, and lay between the way which leads from Yalding towards Condingebery and the land of Hamon de la Downe, and extended itself in length from Badeshulle to Matefeld; and that he should have, in the name of a glebe, four acres of land, which lay adjoining to the messuage of Simon de Wahull, towards the north, between the road which leads to the house of the parson of Brenchley and the house of Fulk; and that he should have yearly from the barns of the prior and canons of Brenchesle, two seams of oats, and two seams of crowe for his palfry, paying yearly to the prior and canons from the vicarage, two wax tapers of four pounds each; but that the vicar should sustain all episcopal burthens, and all others due and accustomed. As to the two seams of crowe as above-mentioned, in the Latin deed it is, duas Summas de Crowe, the meaning of which, I own, I do not understand, but think it is most probably a mistake of the transcriber. At present the payment is made to the vicar in two seams of oats.

In which state this rectory, with the advowson of the vicarage, and THE MANOR OF BARNES likewise appendant to the rectory of Brenchley, remained till the dissolution of the priory of Tunbridge in the reign of king Henry VIII. who in the 17th year of it, granted that priory, with all its possessions, among which was this church and the manor of Barnes, with the land and appurtenances belonging to them, to cardinal Wolsey, for the better endowment of his college, commonly called Cardinal's college, in Oxford. (fn. 6) But that great prelate being cast in a prœmunire, all the estates of the above-mentioned college, which had not been firmly settled on it, were forfeited, and came into the king's hands, where this rectory, manor, and advowson remained, till the 31st year of that reign, when the king granted them to Paul Sydnor, gent. to hold in capite by knights service. His son, William Sydnor, esq. succeeded to these premises in the 5th year of queen Elizabeth, and not long afterwards alienated them to William Waller, esq. of Groombridge, who married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir Walter Hendley, by whom he had three sons and three daughters. She survived him, and appears to have possessed these premises in Brenchley, and afterwards married George Fane, esq. of Badsell.

Her eldest son, by her first husband Sir Walter Waller, succeeded her here, and his son Sir Thomas Waller, of Groombridge, alienated the manor of Barnes, and the rectory of Brenchley, with the advowson of the vicarage, to John Courthope, esq. afterwards of Brenchley, youngest brother of Sir George Courthope, of Whileigh, in Suffex, who died possessed of them in 1649, in whose family they have continued down to George Courthope, esq. now of Uckfield, in Sussex, the present owner of them.

This family is supposed by some to have been originally seated at Courthope-street, commonly written Court-at-street, near Limne, in this county. One branch of them settled at Goddards green, in Cranbrook, whence descended those of Danny, in Sussex, and of Horsemonden, in this county, both now extinct. Another branch settled at Stodmarsh, near Canterbury, now likewise extinct; and another at Whileigh, in Sussex, the only one now remaining of it, who now reside at Uckfield, in Sussex; of which branch is George Courthope, esq. the present possessor of this rectory, whose father and grandfather, both of the name of George, intermarried into the family of Campion, of Danny, in Sussex. The present Mr. George Courthope, (whose younger brother Henry was vicar of this parish, and died unmarried), married Francis Barbara, daughter of William Campion, esq. of Danny, and has two sons, George; and William now vicar of this parish, and a daughter Frances. They bear for their arms, Argent, a fess between three estoils azure.

The vicarage is valued in the king's books at 12l. 18s. 9d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 5s. 10½d.

In 1608 there were 664 communicants.

Church of Brenchley.

Or by whom presented.
John Ferral, in 1581. (fn. 7)
Edrus Henshall, about 1630. (fn. 8)
John Monkton, obt. 1709.
Josiah Strother, A.M. instit. May 4, 1709, obt. March 8, 1744.
George Courthope, esq. William Courthope, obt. 1773.
Henry Courthope, A.M. instit. April 1773, the present vicar.


  • 1. Augmentation-office, Parliamentary Surveys.
  • 2. See Sevenoke, vol. iii. p. 89.
  • 3. Tan. Bib. Brit. p. 152. Stev. Mon. vol. ii. p. 219.
  • 4. Book of Aid. anno 20 Edward III.
  • 5. See Bradborne, in Sevenoke, vol. iii. p. 85.
  • 6. Rym. Fœd. vol. xiv. p. 173. Strype's Eccles. Memoirs, vol. i. Append. No. 28.
  • 7. A noted story of him is related in Scott's Discourse on Witcherast, p.5.
  • 8. He was afterwards driven out by the rebels of those times.