Parishes: Sheldwich

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: Sheldwich', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798), pp. 481-498. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Sheldwich", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798) 481-498. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Sheldwich", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798). 481-498. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


THE next parish northward from Badlesmere is Sheldwich, which is written in antient charters, Schyldwic.

The high road from Faversham to Ashford leads through this parish, from the former of which it is distant between five and six miles, it lies mostly on high and even ground, to which the land rises from the London road, in rather a pleasant and healthy country, the greatest part of it on a chalky soil, having much poor land in it, and that covered with slints, though in the northern part of it, where the chalk prevails less, there is some tolerable fertile land; in the eastern part, where the hill rises, there is much rough ground, and adjoining woodland. The church stands close to the Ashford road, along which the houses are dispersed, as they are in that leading to Sheldwich lees, and round it mostly neat chearful dwellings. The Lees, which is about a quarter of a mile distance on the left side of the Ashford road, has a pleasant look from the trees planted on it, leading to Leescourt, at the further part of it, not unpleasantly situated, for though the fine front of it faces the east, with no great prospect, except towards a rough and barren hill, which rises at no great distance, yet towards the north and north-east it has a beautiful view over its own planted grounds, towards a wide extent of fertile country, and the channel beyond it. At the boundary of the parish, next to Badlesmere, on the Ashford road, is the manor house of Lords, which has been modernized and made a neat genteel residence by the present possessor of it.

There is yearly a running match on Sheldwich lees, which first took its rise from the will of Sir Dudley Diggs, in 1638, who left by it twenty pounds, to be paid yearly out of the rent of Selgrave manor, to two young men and two maids, who on May 19, should run a tye at Old Wives lees, in Chilham, and prevail. In pursuance of which the two young men and maids run at Old Wives lees yearly, on the Ist of May, and the same number at Sheldwich lees on the Monday following each by way of trial, and the two of each sex which prevail at each of those places, run for the ten pounds at Old Wives lees as above-mentioned, on the 19th of May. (fn. 1)

MR. JACOB, in his Plantæ Faver Shamienses, notices several scarce plants in this parish, to which the reader is referred.

THIS PLACE was given by the name of Schyldwic, in 784 by Alcmund, king of Kent, to Wetrede, abbot, and the convent of Raculf Cestre, or Reculver, as twelve plough-lands, with all its appurtenances, free from all secular service and all regal tribute, excepting the repelling of invasions, and the repairing of bridges and castles.

This monastery seems in 949 to have been annexed to Christ-church, in Canterbury, by king Edred; but this estate of Sheldwich does not appear ever to have come into the possession of the latter, no notice being taken of it in any of the charters or records relating to it, nor have I seen how it passed afterwards, till the time of its becoming the property of the family of Atte-Lese, in the reign of Edward I. when this estate, which seems to have comprehended the manor of Sheldwich, became the property of that family which, from their residence at the Lees here, had assumed the name of At-Lese, their mansion here being called Lees-court, a name which this manor itself soon afterwards adopted, being called THE MANOR OF LEESCOURT, alias SHELDWICH. Sampson Ate-Lese was possessed of it in the 27th year of the above reign, and bore for his arms, Gules, a cross-croslet, ermine. His son, of the same name, left several children and Lora his wife surviving, who afterwards married Reginald de Dike, who in her right resided at Lees-court, where he kept his shrievalty in the 29th year of king Edward III.'s reign.

Sir Richard At-Lese, the eldest son, at length succeeded to this manor, and resided at Lees-court. He served in parliament for this county in the 40th year of that reign, and the next year was sheriff of it. He died in 1394, anno 18 Richard II. and was buried, with Dionisia his wife, in the north chancel of Sheldwich church, where their essigies and inscription in brass still remain. He died s. p. and by his will gave his manor of Lese, among others, to John, son of Richard Dane, and his heirs male, remainder to the heirs male of Lucy his niece, one of the daughters and coheirs of his brother Marcellus At-Lese, then the wife of John Norton, esq. the other daughter Cecilia married Valentine Barrett.

By the above will, this manor at length came into the possession of their son William Norton, esq. who resided both at Lees-court and at Faversham, where he died in the 9th year of king Edward IV. and was buried in the church of Faversham, leaving two sons, Reginald, who by his will became his heir to this manor, and Richard, who was likewise of Sheldwich, and dying anno 1500, was buried in Faversham church. (fn. 2) Reginald, the eldest son, of Lees-court, left two sons, John, who succeeded him in this manor, and William, who was of Faversham, and ancestor to the Nortons, of Fordwich. Sir John Norton, the eldest son, lived in the reign of Henry VIII. and resided at first at Lees-court, but marrying Joane, one of the daughters and coheirs of John Northwood, esq. of Northwood, in Milton, he removed thither, whose grandson Sir Thomas Norton, of Northwood, about the reign of king James I. alienated this manor to Sir Richard Sondes, of Throwley, whose son Sir George Sondes, K. B. succeeding him in it, pulled down great part of the old mansion of Lees-court, soon after the death of king Charles I. and completed the present mansion of Lees-court, the front of which is built after a design of Inigo Jones, to which he afterwards removed from the antient mansion of his family at Throwley.

He was a man of great power and estate in this county, being a deputy-lieutenant, and sheriff in the 13th year of Charles I. in which year the difficult business of ship-money was agitated, in the levying of which he conducted himself with such justice and moderation, as gained him much reputation and esteem of the gentry. (fn. 3) Being a man strictly loyal in his principles, he underwent during the unsurpation much persecutation, as well in regard to his person as estates, all which may be learned from the Narrative which he printed in 1655, on the death of his two sons, which is rather an apology for his own conduct on some accusations of immorality, brought against him by the fanatic ministers of those times in it, says, he had three fair houses in his own hands, all well furnished, and at least 2000l. per annum about them, his lands all well stocked; that he had at least one hundred head of great cattle, half an hundred horses, some of them worth 40 or 50l. a piece, besides five hundred sheep and other stock, about 1000 quarters of wheat and malt in his garners, and ten barnes, none of the least, all full of good corn, and great quantities of flax and hops; that as to his housekeeping, his house was open at all times to rich and poor, twenty poor people at least were relieved in it weekly, the lowest proportion in his house, whether he was there or not, was every week a bullock of about fifty stone, a quarter of wheat, and a quarter of malt for drink, which made about a barrel a day for his household; that he had employed for near thirty years labourers and workmen continually, to the amount of at least 1000l. a year.

He says, that in the time of the troubles he had been injured in his goods and estates near 40,000l. in value, all that he had as above-described having been seized and taken at one time, together with his plate and jewels, and the rents and profits of his estates for seven years together, during the two first years of which neither himself nor his children had any thing out of them, and at last to prevent his estates being sold he was forced to compound for them, by paying the sum of 3500l. for his delinquency; besides which, he sussered much in his person, being imprisoned for several years, at first on shipboard, and afterwards, with many other royalists, in Uppor castle, near Rochester.

After the restortation, he was, in recompence of his former sufferings for the royal cause, created by king Charles II. in his 28th year, anno 1676, earl of Faversham, viscount Sondes, of Lees-court, and baron of Throwley, for his life, with remainder to his sonin-law Lewis, lord Duras, and his heirs male, the year after which he died at Lees-court, and was buried in the family vault in the south chancel of Throwley church. Sir George Sondes had been twice married; first to Jane, daughter and heir of Sir. Ralph Freeman, of Aspeden, in Hertfordshire, lord mayor of London anno 9 king Charles I. by whom he had two sons, George and Freeman, who were both in 1655, whilst youths, cut off by untimely deaths, the youngest murdering the eldest whilst asleep in his bed in this house, for which horrid deed he was tried at the assizes then holding at Maidstone, and being convicted, was executed for the crime at Pennendenheath on the day fortnight afterwards, and interred in the neighbouring church of Bersted. (fn. 4)

Sir George Sondes married secondly Mary, daughter of Sir William Villars, bart. of Brokesby, by whom he had two daughters, who became his coheirs, of whom Mary, the eldest, married Lewis de Duras, marquis of Blanquefort, in France, and baron of Holdenby, in this kingdom, and Catherine, the youngest, married the hon. Lewis Watson, afterwards on his father's death, lord, and then earl of Rockingham.

On Sir George Sondes's death, this manor, with the rest of his estates in this county, descended to Lewis, lord Duras, in right of his wife Mary. He had been naturalized by parliament in 1664, and created in 1672 baron Duras, of Holdenby, in Northamptonshire. He bore for his arms, quarterly, first and fourth, Argent, a lion rampant, gules; second and third, Argent, a bend, azure. On the death of his father-in-law without male issue, he succeeded, by limitation of the patent, to the title of earl of Faversham. In the 1st year of James II. he was elected a knight of the garter, and in 1688 made general of the king's forces, in which post he continued at the revolution. He survived his wife some years, and died in 1709, s. p. and possessed of this manor, for on his wife the countes's death who died in 1687, the house of lords had adjudged the estates of the Sondes's to her surviving husband, the earl of Faversham, though she had never been with child. The late Daniel, earl of Winchelsea, a man as wife and experienced as most of his time, used to affirm, that there were but two instances on the journals of that house, which could cast the least imputation on the honor of it, and that this was one of them. Upon which this manor, with Lees-court, and the rest of the estates in this county, late belonging to Sir George Sondes, became the property of Lewis, lord Rockingham, by virtue of the limitation made of them on his second daughter Catherine, on failure of issue by his first daughter Mary, which Catherine was afterwards married to lord Rockingham, but had deceased in 1695 as above-mentioned. The family of Watson was originally of Cambridgeshire, a branch of which settled at the latter end of king Henry the VIIIth's reign, at Rockinghamcastle, in Northamptonshire. Sir Lewis Watson, of Rockingham-castle, was created a baronet anno 19 James I. and afterwards, for his loyalty and services to the king in his troubles, was created lord Rockingham, anno 20 Charles I. By his second wife Eleanor, sister of George, earl of Rutland, he left one son Edward, and six daughters; which Edward, lord Rockingham, married Anne, eldest daughter of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Stafford, and died in 1691. By her he had four sons and four daughters; of the former, Lewis was created earl of Rockingham, and married Catherine, youngest daughter of Sir George Sondes, as above-mentioned; Thomas was heir to his uncle William, earl of Strafford, by his will, in pursuance of which he assumed the name and arms of Wentworth, whose son was created earl of Malton, and afterwards marquis of Rockingham, the two other sons died young.

Lewis, lord Rockingham, resided afterwards at Lees-court, in 1705 he was made lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of this county; and on king George's accession he was in 1714, created earl of Rockingham, viscount Sondes, of Lees-court, and baron of Throwley. He died in 1724, and was buried at Rockingham, having had two sons, Edward and George, the latter of whom died s. p. and four daughters; of the latter, Mary married Wrey Sanderson, of Lincolnshire, grandson and heir apparent of viscount Castleton; Anne died young; Arabella married Sir Robert Furnese, bart. and Margaret in 1725 John, lord Monson, ancestor of the present Lewis-Thomas, lord Sondes, as will be further mentioned hereafter.

Of the sons, Edward, viscount Sondes, the eldest, died in 1721, in his father's life-time, and was buried in Throwley church, having married in 1708 Catherine, the eldest of the five daughters and coheirs of Thomas Tuston, earl of Thanet, by whom he left three sons, and a daughter Catherine, married in 1729 to Edward Southwell, esq. of Kings Weston, in Gloucestershire.

Lewis, the eldest son, succeeded his grandfather in the possession of his estates and as second earl of Rockingham, and in 1737 was made lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of this county. He died in December, 1745, having married in 1736 Catherine, daughter of Sir Robert Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, afterwards remarried in 1751 to Francis, earl of Guildford, by whom he had no issue, upon which this manor, among the rest of his intailed estates, descended to his next and only surviving brother Thomas, (Edward the youngest having died before unmarried) who became the third earl of Rockingham, and succeeded his brother likewise as lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of this county. He enjoyed his honors but a short time, for he died in the February following, 1746, unmarried, upon which the title of earl, &c. became extinct, and the barony of Rockingham descended to his kinsman Thomas Watson Wentworth, earl of Malton, afterwards created Marquis of Rockingham.

But this manor, with the seat of Lees-court, and the rest of his estates in this county and elsewhere, were devised by him to his first cousin Lewis Monson, second son of John, lord Monson, by Margaret his wife, youngest daughter of Lewis, first earl of Rockingham, and aunt to earl Thomas above-mentioned, whom he enjoined to take on him the surname, and use the arms of Watson.

The family of Monson, or Munson, as they were antiently written, were seated in the county of Lincoln as early as the reign of king Edward III. when they were denominated of East Reson, in that county, soon after which they were seated at South Carlton, near Lincoln, in which church there are several memorials of them. A younger son of this family was Sir William Monson, an admiral of the English navy in the reigns of queen Elizabeth and king James I. a man of untainted reputation for conduct and bravery, who lived till the year 1642, but his issue is extinct in the male line. He compiled large Tracts on Naval Affairs, in six books, which are published in a collection of voyages, printed in 1703 and 1745.

At length the principal line of this family, of whom several had been from time to time knighted, and had served in different parliaments, descended down to Sir Thomas, eldest surviving son and heir to Sir John Monson, and brother of the admiral above-mentioned, who was created a baronet in 1611, and had the character of a person of fine breeding and a most accomplished gentleman. He died in 1641, and was buried with his ancestors at South Carlton, having married Margaret, daughter of Sir Edmund Anderson, chief justice of the common pleas, by whom he had issue four sons and three daughters; of the former, Sir John Monson, bart. the eldest son, became in 1645 possessed of Burton, in Lincolnshire, which became the family residence of his descendants; one of whom, Sir John Monson, K. B. was in 1728, anno 1 George II. created lord Monson, and afterwards made a privy counsellor. He died in 1748, having married the lady Margaret Watson, youngest daughter of Lewis, first earl of Rockingham, who survived him, and dying in 1752, was buried beside her husband, at South Carlton, in Lincolnshire. They left three sons, John, who succeeded him as lord Monson; Lewis, possessor of Lees manor and court, created lord Sondes, as before-mentioned; and George, who was a general in the army, and died some years since in the East-Indies. (fn. 5)

Lewis Monson Watson, before-mentioned, thus becoming possessed of this manor and seat, was in 1754 chosen to represent this county in parliament, in which year he was appointed one of the auditors of the imprest, and by letters patent, bearing date May 20, 1760, anno 33 George II. was created Lord Sondes, baron of Lees-court, to him and his heirs male. In 1752 he married Grace, second surviving daughter of the hon. Henry Pelham, who died in 1777, by whom he had four sons, Lewis-Thomas, born in 1754; Henry now in the army; Charles, who died young; and George, in holy orders. Lord Sondes died in 1795, having before his death settled this manor and seat on his eldest son the hon. Lewis-Thomas Watson, who afterwards resided here, and in 1785 married Mary, only daughter and heir of Richard Milles, esq. of Nackington, by whom he has several children. On his father's death he succeeded to the title of lord Sondes, being the present possessor of this manor and seat, at which he resides. He bears for his arms, quarterly, first and fourth, Watson, argent, on a chevron engrailed, azure, between three martlets, sable, as many crescents, or; second and third, Monson, or, two chevrons, gules.

For his supporters, on the dexter side, a griffin, argent, gorged with a ducal coronet, or; on the smister, a bear, proper, gorged with a belt, buckled, with strap pendent, argent, charged with two crescents, or. For his crest, A griffin's head erased, argent, gorged as the dexter supporter above-mentioned.

COPESHAM SOLE, alias COPSHOLE FARM, is an estate in this parish, which remained for several centuries in the possession of the family of Belk, written originally Bielke, and descended out of Sweden, who bore for their arms, Gules, a chevron between three leopards faces, argent. Stephen de Belk is mentioned in the Testa de Nevil, as having paid respective aid for land in this part of Kent at the marriage of Isabel, sister to king Henry III. in the 20th year of that reign. Valentine and John Belk were of Sheldwich in the reign of queen Elizabeth, in the 9th year of which they purchased of Edward Livesey several parcels of land in this parish and Selling.

John, the eldest son of Valentine Belk, gent. resided at Sheldwich, and died possessed of this estate in 1633, and was buried in the great chancel of this church. His son William Belk, D. D. was prebendary of Canterbury, and dying in 1676, was buried in that cathedral, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Hardres, a son Thomas Belk, D. D. who succeeded his father in that dignity, and married in 1677 Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Oxenden. He died in 1712, and was buried near his father, having by his will devised this estate to his neice May, daughter of his brother Mr. Anthony Belk, auditor to the chapter of that church. She in 1713 married Mr. Bryan Bentham, gent. of Chatham, whose sons Edward and Bryan afterwards became possessed of it under their mother's marriage settlement; Edward in 1752 conveyed his moiety to his brother Bryan, and he by his will in 1767 devised the whole of it to his brother Edward for life, remainder to his nephew, son of Edward-William Bentham, who alienated it, with Southouse lands in this parish likewise, in 1775, to Lewis, lord Sondes, whose son the right hon. Lewis-Thomas is the present possessor of it.

LORDS is a manor situated about a mile southward of Sheldwich church, on the Ashford high road, which had formerly owners of that name, in which it continued till Richard II. when it was come into the possession of Giles, a family who bore for their arms, Per pale, azure and gules, a griffin passant, or; one of whom, in the preceding reign, had been steward to the abbot of Lesnes, in which name this manor continued till the year 1678, when Christian Giles, marrying Mr. Thomas Hilton, gent. of Sheldwich, entitled him to it. He was the son of Mr. Thomas Hilton, gent. of Faversham, at which place his ancestors had been for some generations, as appears by the parish register, before which they resided at Throwley, in the register of which they are likewise mentioned, almost at the beginning of it in 1558, being the last year of queen Mary's reign. He afterwards resided here, and was succeeded in it by his son Mr. Giles Hilton, gent. who in 1702 married Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. John Law, by whom he had three sons and three daughters; of the former, John succeeded him in this manor; William was of Faversham, and married Mary Oldfield, by whom he had no issue; and Robert was of Selling, and left by his wife Elizabeth Chambers, of the same place, two sons, Thomas Gibbs Hilton, of Selling, who married Anne, daughter of Mr. Stephen Jones, of Faversham, by whom he has seven sons, and John, who married Eleanor, daughter of Mr. John Cobb, of Sheldwich, and two daughters, Elizabeth-Farewell and Christian. Mr. John Hilton, the eldest son, resided at Lords, where he died unmarried in 1780, being much noted for his generous housekeeping and old English hospitality. By his will he gave this manor to his brother Mr. Robert Hilton, for life, remainder in tail to his nephew Mr. John Hilton, second son of his brother above-mentioned, which Mr. John Hilton, since his father's death in 1782, is become the possessor of it, and now resides in it.

SELGRAVE, now usually called Selgrove, is a manor situated both in this parish and in that of Preston, but it has of long time been separated into moieties, and has become two distinct manors, of which that lying within this parish, at the north-east boundary of it, was formerly the property of the family of St. Nicholas, one of whom, Laurence St. Nicholas, paid aid for it in the 20th year of Edward III. being then held of the honor of Gloucester. After which it seems to have come into the possession of Roger Norwood, of Northwood, in Milton, in whose descendants it remained for several generations, and till it came at length by one of the two sisters and coheirs of John Northwood, in marriage to John Barley, esq. of Hertfordshire, from one of which name it was alienated to Clive, of Copton, in the adjoining parish of Preston. Soon after which, this manor seems to have come into the hands of the crown, and king Charles I. in his 7th year, granted it to Sir Edward Hales, knight and baronet, of Tunstall, in fee, who soon afterwards conveyed it to Sir Dudley Diggs, of Chilham-castle, who died possessed of it in 1638, and by a codicil to his will devised the sum of twenty pounds yearly for a running match at Old Wives lees, in Chilham, to be paid out of the profits of the lands of that part of this manor, which had escheated to him after the death of lady Clive, and by purchase from Sir Christopher Clive, these lands being in three pieces, lay in the parishes of Preston and Faversham, and contain about forty acres, and are commonly called the running lands. After Sir Dudley Diggs's death the manor of Selgrave descended to his two sons, Thomas and John Diggs, esqrs. who about 1641 alienated it to Sir George Sondes, K. B. since which it has descended, in like manner as Lees-court, in this parish, described before, to the right hon. Lewis Thomas, lord Sondes, the present owner of it.

A borsholder is chosen yearly for this part of the manor of Selgrave, by the name of the borsholder of the borough of Selgrave, at the court leet holden for the hundred and manor of Faversham.

The sheerway, called Portway, alias Porters, alias Selgrave-lane, leading from Copton to Whitehill, in Ospringe, seems to separate this moiety of the manor from the other.

HUNTINGFIELD is a small court held in this parish, which seems to be an appendage to the manor of that name in Easling, and to have continued with it part of the possessions of the free chapel or college of St. Stephen, in Westminster, till its dissolution in the 1st year of Edward VI. since which it has continued in the like chain of ownership as that in Easling, to the family of Grove, of Tunstall, in which it continued down to Richard Grove, esq. of London, who at his death in 1792 s. p. devised it by his will to William Jemmet, gent. of Ashford, and William Marshall, of London, who are the present possessors of it.

THE MANOR OF LITTLES, antiently called Lydles, which is situated in the north-west part of this parish, and in those of Throwley and Preston adjoining, was formerly owned by the family of At-Lese, one of whom, Richard At-Lese, possessed it, as appears by the chartulary of Knolton manor in the 49th year of king Edward III. How long it continued in his descendants I have not found, but in much later times it came into the possession of the Chapmans, of Molash, from which it was alienated, with other estates in this neighbourhood, by Edward, Thomas, and James Chapman, to Christopher Vane, lord Barnard, who died in 1723, leaving two sons, Gilbert, who succeeded him in title and in his estates in the North of England, and William, who possessed his father's seat of Fairlawn, and the rest of his estates in this county, having been in his father's life-time created viscount Vane, of the kingdom of Ireland. He left an only son William, viscount Vane, who dying in 1789 s. p. gave it by his will to David Papillion, esq. of Acrise, who is the present owner of it. (fn. 6)

SHEPHERDS FORSTAL is an estate in the north-east part of this parish, which takes its name from the green or fostal of that name near which it is situated, and was for many descents in the possession of the family of Ruck, one of whom lies buried at Rye, and was a person of some note in the reign of Henry VIII. being bow-bearer to that prince, and bore for his coat armour, as appears by his grave-stone, Sable, a plain cross, argent, between four fleurs de lis, or. The last of this name, who possessed this estate, was Nicholas Ruck, who about the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign dying s. p. gave it to his nephew Mr. Nicholas Oliver, who soon after the death of Charles I. passed it away, with other estates in the adjoining parishes of Selling, to the president and fellows of Corpus Christi college, in Oxford, in whom it still continues vested.

A BRANCH of the FAMILY OF SOUTHOUSE, of Selling, resided for some generations in this parish. Robert, son of Henry Southouse, of Selling, by his will in 1475, anno 16 Edward IV. devised it to John his son his tenement in Sheldwich, remainder to his son Robert; in after times, Henry, son of Henry Southouse, of this parish, died in 1705, and was succeeded in his estates here by his eldest son Henry, who died in 1720, leaving one son and four daughters; several of this name, descendants of this branch of the family, yet remain in these parts. Part of their lands called Southouse, came afterwards into the possession of Mr. John Hilton, of Lords, who sold them to Lewis, lord Sondes, whose son the right hon. Lewis-Thomas, lord Sondes, is the present possessor of them. Another parcel of them, called Southouse-lands, came into the hands of the owners of Copersole farm, in this parish, and were owned with it by Mr. Brian Bentham, whose grandson Edward William Bentham, in 1775, passed them away to Lewis, lord Sondes, whose son the right hon. LewisThomas, lord Sondes, is the present possessor of them.


THERE is the sum of 40s. a year, payable on St. Barnabas's day, out of a farm called Bellhorn, in Throwley, towards the relief of the poor of this parish, the donor of which is unknown.

SHELDWICH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Ospringe.

The church, which is dedicated to St. James, is a handsome building, consisting of one isle and one chancel, with a chapel in the middle of the south side of the isle, and a small chapel on the north side of the chancel. The steeple, which is a tower, stands at the west end, having a beacon-tower on the top, on which is a small leaden spire and vane. There are four bells in it. In the south chancel are two arches in the south wall, which seem to have been for tombs. On the pavament is a brass plate, with the figures, for John Cely and Isabel his wife; he died in 1429; there is only one part of a coat of arms left, being a coat full of eyes, impaling a coat gone. In the isle are memorials for Southouse, and in the great chancel for Belk, and one with a brass plate, having the figure in brass for Joane, once wife of William Marrys, obt. 1431, under her a coat nebulee, and at one corner a coat per pale, and fess, indented. In the north-east chancel, a stone with the figures in brass, with a lion under his feet, for Sir Richard Atte-Lese, and Dionisia his wife; he died in 1394. Near it is a large stone, with very old French capitals round the edge of it, but mostly obliterated. The coat of arms of Atte-Lees is in several places of the north windows of the isle, and there were formerly in the windows of this church several other shields of arms, all which have been defaced.

The church of Sheldwich, or Cheldwich, as it was antiently written, was once accounted only as a chapel to the church of Faversham, as an appendage to which it was given, with it, by William the Conqueror in his 5th year, to the abbey of St. Augustine, and was included in the several confirmations made afterwards of that church to the abbey. When this chapel became an independent church, I have not seen, but it was certainly before the 8th year of Richard II. when it was rated as a distinct vicarage, to the tenth and the parsonage of it, was become appropriated to the abovementioned abbey, to which the patronage of the vicarage likewise belonged. In which state this church continued till the general suppression of religious houses, when it came with the rest of the possessions of the abbey, anno 30 king Henry VIII. into the hands of the crown; after which, the king, by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled both the church appropriate of Sheldwich, and the advowson of the vicarage, among other premises, on his new-founded dean and chapter of Canterbury, with whom the inheritance of the parsonage remains, the present lessee being the right hon. lord Sondes; but the advowson of the vicarage the dean and chapter retain in their own hands, and are the present patrons of it.

It appears by the endowment of the vicarage of Faversham, in 1305, that the vicar of that parish was entitled to all manner of oblations to be made by the thirteen inhabitants of certain tenements in the hamlet of Schelwych, in the chapel of that hamlet annexed to the above-mentioned church, and to be made within the tithing of Schelwych parish, the names of which tenements have been already specifically named before, under the description of the church of Faversham, to which the reader is referred.

It is a vicarage of the clear yearly certified value of forty pounds, the yearly tenths of which are 13s. 8d. In 1587 the communicants here were 120; in 1640 it was valued at forty pounds, communicants 160. The vicar receives an annual payment of five pounds, from the dean and chapter of Canterbury, in augmentation of his vicarage. It is exempt from the payment of procurations to the archdeacon.

Church of Sheldwich.

Or by whom presented.
Dean and Chapter of Canterbury. William Cowell, 1582, obt. 1624.
Abraham Bromidge, A.M. March 18, 1624.
Percival Ratcliffe, 1666, obt. 1667.
Isaac Bates, A. M. Dec. 4, 1667.
The Crown, by lapse William Sale, A. B. March 14, 1689.
Dean and Chapter Francis Greene, May 14, 1691, resigned 1694.
Benjamin Hollingworth, A. M. June 15, 1694, resig. 1696. (fn. 7)
John Nichols, resigned 1714.
John Willis, LL. B. Jan. 25, 1714, obt. Feb. 1, 1757. (fn. 8)
John Tucker, A. M. Nov. 17, 1757, obt. Dec. 12, 1776. (fn. 9)
Benjamin Symonds, May 31, 1777, obt. 1781.
Matthias Rutton, Dec. 1781, the present vicar.


  • 1. See Selgrave in this parish, and Chilham, vol. vii. of this history.
  • 2. See Jacob's Hist. of Faversham, p. 118 et seq. and more of the Nortons, under Milton, vol. vi. p. 179.
  • 3. MSS. Twysden, in which a full account is given of his proceedings in this business.
  • 4. A narrative of his life and death was published by the Rev. Mr. Boreman, who attended him at his execution; Sir George Sondes himself likewise published a narrative of the life and death of his two sons as above-mentioned.
  • 5. See Collin's Peerage, vol. vii. p. 237 et seq.
  • 6. See Shipborne, vol. v. of this history, p. 50.
  • 7. Likewise vicar of Throwley, which he resigned with this, for that of Stone, in Oxney.
  • 8. And vicar of Throwley. He was suspended ab officio, and the profits sequestered, in 1750.
  • 9. Rector of Ringwold, and second master of the king's school, Canterbury.