Parishes: Eastchurch

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Eastchurch', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798), pp. 245-258. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Eastchurch", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798) 245-258. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Eastchurch", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798). 245-258. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


LIES the next parish eastward from Minster, from which situation it takes its name.

A small part of this parish was antiently accounted to lie within the hundred of Tenham, though the whole of it is now esteemed to lie within the hundred of Milton.

THE PARISH is situated on high ground, in the middle of the eastern part of the island, the village is nearly in the centre of it, with the church at a small distance; about half a mile eastward is the mansion of Shurland, which appears by the remains of it to have been very grand and spacious. The front of it, which is lofty, is built of hewn stone, and has a small octagon tower on each side of the principal entrance. It had embattlements till within these few years, when the high winds demolished several of them, and the rest were taken down. There was a quadrangle at the back of it, the north-west side of which, with the front above-mentioned, is all that is left standing of it. The garden walls of stone, and some few of the out-buildings, are still in being. The front is moder nized and sashed, and though it is made use of now only as a farm-house, yet it is not inferior to many gentlemens seats in different parts of this county.

About the same distance in the valley southward is the parsonage; the upland pastures here are but poor, and almost covered with large ant hills, which look very slovenly; in the northern part of the parish the corn lands are very fertile, part of the parish exthe corn lands are very fertile, part of the parish extends southward into the island of Elmley.

A fair is held in this village on May 31, for pedlary, toys, &c.

The scarcity of fresh water here and in this neighbourhood, makes the inhabitants very careful to preserve such as falls from the clouds, for which purpose there are numbers of spouts leading from the leads of the church into large tubs. set round it in the churchyard underneath, for conducting the water into them; these have lids to them, and are secured with locks for the use of those who are at the expence of putting them up; but they make a most grotesque and unsightly appearance.

PHILIP HERBERT, younger brother of William, earl of Pembroke, was by letters patent, in the third year of king James I. created Baron Herbert, of Shurland, in this parish; and likewise earl of Montgomery. (fn. 1)

The paramount manor of Milton claims over this parish, subordinate to which is the MANOR OF SHURLAND, which had antiently owners of this surname; the first of whom, that is mentioned as being of note, is Sir Jeffry de Shurland, who resided here in the reign of king Henry III. in the 9th year of which he was constable of Dover castle. His son was Sir Robert de Shurland, who was a man of eminent authority in the reign of king Edward I. under whom he was lord warden, and in the 28th year of it attended that prince at the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, where, with many other Kentish gentlemen, he received knighthood. In the 10th year of that reign he obtained a grant of liberties, among which was wreck of the sea, for his manor here, as he did of freewarren in it in the 29th year of it; soon after which he died, and was buried under a tomb within an arch in the south wall of Minister church, with his effigies in marble lying at length on it, and a horse's head carved on the tomb on his right hand. The figure of the horse's head (which seems either part of the marble on which it lies, or at least to have been firmly fixed to it when the tomb was put up) has given rise to a tale, which has been reported among the common people for many years, that Sir Robert having upon some disgust at a priest, buried him alive, swam on his horse two miles through the sea to the king, who was then on ship-board near this island, and having obtained his pardon, swam back again to the shore, where being told, his horse had performed this by magic art, he cut off his head. About a twelvemonth after which, riding a hunting near the same place, the horse he was then upon stumbled, and threw him upon the scull of his former horse, by which he was so much bruised, that it caused his death: in memory of which, the figure of a horse's head was placed by him on his tomb. The foundation of which story is with more probability supposed to have arisen from Sir Robert Shurland's having obtained the grant of wreck of the sea, as above-mentioned; which privilege is always esteemed to reach as far into the water, as upon the lowest ebb, a, man can ride in and touch any thing with the point of his lance; and on this account the figure of the horse's head was placed by him. (fn. 2) He bore for his arms, Azure, five lions ram pant, argent, a canton, ermine; which arms are on the roof of the cloysters of Canterbury cathedral.

He left an only daughter Margaret his heir, who marrying with William, son of Sir Alexander Cheney, entitled him to this manor, of which he died possessed in the 8th year of king Edward III. anno 1323. His grandson Richard Cheney, of Shurland, married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Robert Cralle, of Cralle, in Suffex, by whom he had two sons, Sir William, of Shurland, and Simon, who was of Cralle, and ancestor of the Cheneys, of Higham, in this neighbourhood, and of Warblinton, in Suffex.

Sir William Cheney, the eldest son, possessed this manor, in whose descendants, who were at times knights of the shire and sheriffs of this county, it descended down to Sir Thomas Cheney, who was a man of great account in his time; in the 7th year of king Henry VIII. he was sheriff of this county, and served several times in parliament for it. He was elected a knight of the garter in the reign of king Henry VIII. in the 31st of whose reign, as well as in the 2d and 3d years of the succeeding one of king Edward VI. his lands in this county were disgavelled by the acts of those years. By king Henry VIII. he was appointed constable of Queenborough-castle, governor of Rochester, warden of the five ports, and treasurer of the houshold, in which office he continued in the next reign of Edward VI. of whose privy council he was one, and at his death espousing the cause of queen Mary, he was made again lord warden. Queen Elizabeth continued him treasurer of her houshold, and made him of her privy council. He new-built the mansion of Shurland with the materials of Chilham castle, where he before resided, and which he is said to have pulled down and brought hither, and he continued to reside here with great hospitality and sumptuous housekeeping, till the time of his death, which happened in the tower in the 1st year of that reign, and was buried, with great pomp and magnificence, in a small chapel adjoining to the parish church of Minster. Henry Cheney, esq. his only son by his second wife, succeeded him at Shurland, among his other estates in this county, and in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth had possession granted of it among the rest of his inheritance; in the 5th year of it he kept his shrievalty at this seat, in which year he was knighted; in the 14th year of that reign, he was created lord Cheney, of Tuddington, in Bedfordshire. By his expensive method of living, he acquired the name of the extravagant lord Cheney, and before his death had dissipated the great possessions which his father had left him, and died S.P. in the 30th year of that reign, anno 1587. Sir Thomas Cheney Seems to have had some fore-knowledge of his son's future extravagance; for by his will he devised his lands and manors to his son Henry, in tail general; remainder to Thomas Cheney, esq. of Woodley, in tail male, upon condition, that he or they, or any of them, should not alien or discontinue; and it was a question, anno 33 and 34 Elizabeth, in the court of wards, between Sir Thomas Perot, heir-general to Sir Thomas Cheney, and several of the purchasers of the lord Cheney his son—if Sir Thomas Perot should be received to prove by witnesses, that it was the intent and meaning of the devisor to include his son and heir within those words of the condition—he or they—or only to restrain Thomas Cheney, of Woodley, and his heirs male. But Wray and Anderson, chief justices, upon conference with the other justices, resolved, that he should not be received to such averment out of the will, for that it ought to be concerning lands, in writing, and that construction of wills ought to be collected out of the words of the will in writing and not by any averment out of it. By which resolution, the purchasers under the lord Cheney's title were established in their several possessions, which had been se cured to them by fines levied by the lord Cheney, both in the 3d and 17th years of queen Elizabeth, of all his lands. (fn. 3)

The Cheneys bore for their arms, Argent, on a bend, sable, three martlets, or; which coat, on their marrying the heiress of Shurland, they bore in the second place, and that of Shurland, in honor of the alliance, in the first: but the lord Cheney bore his own coat in the first place, and that of Shurland second.

The lord Cheney long before his death, having removed to Tuddington, where he had built a most magnificent seat, exchanged the manor and seat of Shurland, with other estates in the neighbourhood of it, with the queen, who in 1593 granted a lease of Shurland, with other lands in Shepey, to Sir Edward Hoby, then of Queenborough Castle, and lady Margaret his wife, and Thomas-Posthumus, for their three lives. (fn. 4) Before which there had antiently been a park belonging to this seat, which was disparked when Lambarde wrote his Perambulation in 1570. The pales of part of it are still remaining. But the fee of this seat and estate remained in the hands of the crown till king James I. in his second year, granted it to Philip Herbert, younger brother of William, earl of Pembroke, who the next year was created Lord Herbert of Shurland, and Earl of Montgomery. On his brother's death without surviving issue, he Succeeded him as earl of Pembroke. Since which this estate has continued in his descendants, in like manner as the manor of Milton and other estates in this neighbourhood, already described, down to the right hon. Philip, viscount Wenman, and Mrs. Anne Herbert, who are at this time the joint possessors of it.

THE TITHES within this parish of the antient lordship of Shurlond, belonged to the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and their right to them was solemnly adjudged by sentence given, by Robert de Malmayns, commissary-general to archbishop Walter Hubert, in the reign of king Edward II. and the whole of this manor claims an exemption from all kind of tithes at this time.

NORTHWOOD is an eminent manor in this parish, which was in very early times the inheritance of Jordan de Shepey, whose son Stephen having fixed his residence at the manor of Northwood, in the neighbouring parish of Milton, assumed the name of Northwood from it, which circumstance fixed that name on this manor likewise, as part of his possessions; these two manors being afterwards distinguished in antient records, by the names of the manor of Northwood, within Shepey, and the manor of Northwood, without Shepey.

Jordan de Shepey died possessed of this manor, and was buried in Minster church, where his tomb still remains, without any inscription or character, though it had once the coat armour, which this family afterwards bore on it.

Stephen de Northwood, his son above-mentioned, succeeded him in it, and resided at his manor of Northwood, in Milton, as most of his descendants did afterwards. His son Roger de Northwood lies buried afterwards. His son Roger de Northwood lies buried in the south chancel of Minster church, with the figures of himself and of the lady Bona his wife, in brass, with their arms, on their grave-stone.

His grandson, Sir John de Northwood, of Northwood and of Shorne, was several times sheriff of this county, and was summoned to parliament among the peers of this realm. He died anno 14 Edward II. holding this manor of the king in capite, as of his manor of Middleton. His descendant, Sir John Northwood, appears to have been the last of this fa mily who received summons to parliament, who died anno 2 Richard II. being then possessed of this manor held of the king in manner as before-mentioned.

At length one of his descendants, John Northwood, esq. of whom, and of this family, a more ample account may be seen, under the description of Northwood manor, in Milton, about the latter end of king Edward IV.'s reign, alienated this manor to William Warner, esq. whose grandson of the same name succeeding to it, in the beginning of king Henry the VIIIth.'s reign, soon afterwards sold it to Sir Thomas Cheney, afterwards knight of the garter, &c. whose only son Henry, lord Cheney, of Tuddington, in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth, having levied a fine of all his estates, quickly afterwards exchanged this manor with Shurland, and other premises, with the queen, and it remained in the hands of the crown till king James I. in his 2d year, granted it to Philip Herbert, younger brother of William, earl of Pembroke, created lord Herbert of Shurland, and earl of Montgomery. (fn. 5)

On his brother's death, without surviving issue, he succeeded him as earl of Pembroke, since which, this manor has continued down in his descendants, in like manner as Shurland and Milton manors before described, and his other estates in this neighbourhood, to the right hon. Philip, viscount Wenman, and Mrs. Anne Herbert, of Oxford, who now possess this manor in undivided moieties.

KINGSBOROUGH is a manor in this parish, which, as the name denotes, was always part of the possessions of the crown, and being situated in the very midst of the island, and as such most commodious for assembling the inhabitants of it, has ever been, and still continues to be, frequented for the holding of their general courtandlaw day,in the king's name yearly, before the steward, and homage there sworn, for the choice of the constable, who has jurisdiction over the island, and for the election of the bailiff, or serrywarden, as he is usually called, and two serrymen, and for the assessing of rates, and other matters relating to the serry between this island and the main land, and the maintenance of that and the roads leading to it; all which was established and enforced by an act passed in the 18th year of queen Elizabeth, as has been already more fully mentioned under the description of the serry itself.

BUT THE DEMESNE LANDS of this manor, called Kingsborough farm, lying in this parish and Minster, were granted by queen Elizabeth to Henry Cary, esq. afterwards created Lord Hunsdon, who in the beginning of the reign of king James I. passed it away by sale to Swaleman, in whose descendants it remained at the death of king Charles I. in 1648; soon after which it was sold by Mr. Thomas Swalman to Mr. Henry Allard, of Rochester, in whose name it continued till Sarah Allard passed it away to Benjamin Martin, as he did to Mr. Dansey Sawkins, in whose two daughters the present property of it is now vested.

Sir Brook Bridges is possessed of a good estate in this parish, as is Samuel-Elias Sawbridge, esq. of one called Swanley, in the northern part of it, being part of that purchased by his father of James West, esq.

STEPHEN OSBORNE, yeoman, devised by will in 1583, a legacy of 53l. the yearly produce to be distributed to the poor of Eastchurch and Leysdown, in equal shares, and to the poor of Warden, 8s. annually, with this sum was purchased an house and en acres of land in this parish, the yearly produce of which is now 8l per annum.

ABOUT FOUR ACRES of meadow land, near the street, has been left to the poor of this parish, the rent of which is now 9l. 0s. 6d. per annum.

TWO ACRES adjoining to Barnland and Rayham, were left to it, formerly part of Sir John Hayward's estate, the rent of which is now 9l. 0s. 6d. per annum, and is distributed to widows on Old Chrillmas day yearly.

RICHARD FOSTER, D. D. vicar in 1721, gave for the instruction of poor children, to learn to read and write the catechism, an house, and one acre and one rood of land in Leysdown, the yearly produce of which is 2l. 2s. per annum. The master to be nominated by the minister and churchwardens.

MADARN DADE gave an annuity of 20s. to four widows receiving no alms, which money is paid out of Sir John Lade's estate, formerly the Green Man, and is distributed yearly on Old Christmas day in money.

The poor yearly relieved are about thirty, casually fifteen.

EASTCHURCH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanryof Sittingborne.

The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is a large handsome building, of three isles and three chancels, with a flat roof, leaded and surrounded with battlements. The inside of the roof is wainscotted and painted, and it is handsomely pewed with east country oak. The steeple, which is at the west end, is a square tower, in which are five bells.

The present church seems to have been erected subsequent to the 9th year of king Henry VI. for there is a patent of that year for a piece of land in this parish, to the abbot and convent of Boxley, for the building of a new church here. (fn. 6)

This church was in very early times appropriated to the abbot and convent of Dunes, in Flanders, and confirmed to it by pope Cœlestine, in 1196; but at a general congregation of the monks of the Cistertian order, at which the abbot of Clarevall presided, it was agreed, in consideration of the great expence which the abbot and convent of Boxley were at, in entertaining the brethren of their order, as they went to, and returned from their general congregation beyond sea; and that the abbot and convent of Dunes, who from their great distance from Eastchurch made little or no profit of it, to transfer this church to the abbot and convent of Boxley; for which purpose they obtained licence from king Henry III. in his 7th year, that they might give twenty-three acres of land in Shepey, and thirty-six acres of land in Eastchurch, and the advowson of the church there, which they appropriated to the abbot and convent, and the same was confirmed by archbishop Walter Reynolds, and the prior and convent of Christ church, in 1313.

After which the abbot and convent of Boxley obtained of king Edward II. in his 7th year, a licence of mortmain to appropriate this church to their monastery, and to take the advowson of it; in consequence of which, a perpetual vicar was endowed, and in the year 1472, anno 13 Edward IV. pope Sixtus IV. at the petition of the abbot, confirmed the vicarage likewife of this church to that abbey, giving licence for them to serve the cure of it by one of their own monks, amoveable at pleasure. In which situation it remained on the dissolution of the abbey in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. when this church, with the vicarage of it, together with the rest of the possessions of the monastery, was surrendered up into the king's hands.

The rectory of Eastchurch, as well as the vicarage, remained in the hands of the crown till the king in his 35th year, granted them to Sir T. Cheney, of Shurland, knight of the garter, &c. whose son Henry, lord Cheney, of Tuddington, levied fines of all his lands in the 3d and 17th years of that reign, and in the 21st year of it alienated these premises, held in capite by knight's service, by the description of the church or rectory of Eastchurch, and the scite of the parsonage, with all houses and buildings on it, and one field of pasture, containing eighteen acres adjoining, and several other fields therein named; and by another indenture he alienated likewise all the tithes arising within this parish, excepting those of certain lands therein mentioned, and the vicarage of the church, to Robert Livesey, esq. whose son Gabriel Livesey, or Levesey, as he usually spelt his name, was of Hollingborne-hill, esq. and sheriff of Kent in the 18th year of king James I. He died in 1622, and lies buried with his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Michael Sondes, of Throwley, in this church, under a handsome monument, on which are both their effigies lying at full length. His son Sir Michael Livesey, or Levesey, was created a baronet in 1627. (fn. 7) He made this parsonage-house his residence, appoiuting from time to time a curate for the service of the church. He was a great republican in the reign of king Charles I. and was one of the king's judges at his trial, and one of those who signed the warrant for his execution, and afterwards served the office of sheriff in 1656 and 1657, and though he died before the restoration of king Charles II. yet immediately afterwards an act passed for the attainder of him, among others, and the forfeiture of all his lands, goods, and chattels.

This rectory and vicarage thus becoming forfeited to the crown, king Charles II. granted all Sir Michael Livesey's estates to his brother James, duke of York, with an exception of the advowson of the vicarage, the patronage or right of presentation to which he, in his 13th year, granted to Sir Henry Palmer, bart. of Wingham, and eleven other gentlemen of this county, and to the longest liver of them, and to the heir of the survivor of the grantees, in trust, that they should permit the vicar for the time being to enjoy all manner of tithes and profits belonging to it, and arising within this parish; and that they should from time to time present a fit person to the archbishop, to be instituted vicar of this church,

By this grant were conveyed omnes domi terræque glebarum, but means were devised to convey them to another possessor, so that the vicar and his successors have never enjoyed them.

Sir Henry Palmer, bart. became the survivor of the other grantees, and consequently became possessed of the advowson of this vicarage, for the purpose beforementioned, of which he died possessed in 1706. s. p. and by his will devised his interest in it to his nephew Sir Thomas Palmer, bart. who succeeded him both in title and estate. He died in 1723, having by his will given it to his natural son Herbert Palmer, esq. who died likewise s. p. leaving his widow, Mrs. Bethia Palmer, surviving, who on his death became possessed of this advowson, which she entitled her second husband, lieutenant-colonel John Cosnan, to; he died in 1778, and she again, in her own right became entitled to it; after which she alienated it to Mr. Barton, of Lancashire, who is the present proprietor of it.

In the 8th year of king Richard II. anno 1384, this church vas valued at 33l. 6s. 8d. It is valued in the king's books at 13l. 6s. 8d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 6s. 8d.

In 1640 the stipend to the curate was twenty pounds. Communicants 156.

The antient valuation and tenths, rated in the king's books above-mentioned, the former as first fruits by the vicar on his institution, and the latter from time to time yearly, were directed by king Charles II. to be paid into the exchequer, by which means they do not belong to the archbishop, but are parcel of the fund called queen Anne's bounty, and are yearly paid to it accordingly.

The vicarage house, which is little more than a cottage, adjoins to the west end of the church-yard. There is no glebe land whatever belonging to it; such lands as the vicar is entitled to take tithes of, pay those of every kind to him; but there are several large farms and estates in this parish, such as Shurland, Little Bell farm, and some others, which claim an exemption from all tithes whatever.

In the 33d year of king Edward III. the abbot of Boxley obtained a charter of free-warren for his lands in this parish, among other places.

There seems to be no rectory or parsonage now; all that belongs to the parsonage house is the beforementioned adjoining pasture of eighteen acres, and some few other lands, but there are no kind of tithes whatever belonging to it. It was the property of viceadmiral Francis Hosier, who died in 1727, and his heirs conveyed it to Mr. Edward Chapman, the heirs of whose son Mr. James Chapman, at present own it.

Church of Eastchurch.

Or by whom presented.
John Eades, about 1640, sequestered.
The King. Robert Wilkinson, Clerk, March 4, 1660.
Anthony Wolrich, clerk, obt. 1684.
Sir Henry Palmer, bart, and others. James Jeffreys, S. T. P. July 2, 1684, obt. 1689.
William Mills, A. M. Jan. 8, 1689, obt. 1699. (fn. 8)
Sir Henry Palmer, bart. Richard Foster, A. M. April, 1699. obt. 1729. (fn. 9)
Herbert Palmer, esq. by his guardian Elizabeth Hey. Alexander Young, B. D. March 29, 1730, obt. March 21, 1755. (fn. 10)
Thomas Kinnaston, gent Thomas Hey, S. T. P. May 29, 1755, the present vicar. (fn. 11)


  • 1. The patent is among the Harleian MSS. No. 66-13. See more of him under Milton before.
  • 2. See Philipott, p. 382. Harris's Hist. of Kent, p. 108.
  • 3. See Coke's Reports, pt. 5–68, p. 430.
  • 4. Murdin's State Papers, p. 803.
  • 5. Philipott, p. 381. See more of the family of Herbert under Milton before.
  • 6. Tan. Mon. p. 214. Pat. 9 Henry VI. p. 2, m. 4. Claus 10 Hen. VI. m. 5, dorso.
  • 7. Rymer's Fœd. vol. viii. p. 985.
  • 8. Patrons, Henry Palmer, bart. Anthony Aucher, and Wm. Rooke, knt.
  • 9. Also rector of Crundal. When Mr. Foster came to take possession of this vicarage, he was opposed in it by another clerk, presented by a person who claimed under the duke of York's grant before-mentioned, who was afterwards obliged to give up his pretensions to it.
  • 10. Rector of Wickhambreux.
  • 11. Prebendary of Rochester, rector of Wickhambreux, and curate of Swingfield.