The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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LIES the next parish southward from Cranbrooke. A small part on the southern side of it, called Haselden, consisting of two houses, and a small quantity of land to each, is in the hundred of Shoyswell, and county of Sussex, and the residue of it is in the county of Kent. So much of it as in the borough of Hawkhurst, alias South Borough, or in the North Borough, is in the hundred of Great Barnefield. So much of it as in the East Borough, is in the hundred of Sel brittenden; and the residue in the borough of Crothall, being a very small part of it, is in the hundred of Cranbrooke.
The borough of Hawkhurst above-mentioned, has a court leet of itself, where the borsholder of that borough is chosen; and the inhabitants of it owe no service to the court leet holden for the hundred of Great Barnefield: but at that court an inhabitant of this borough may be chosen constable of that hundred; the liberty of Wye claims over this borough. It is in the division of West Kent.
THE MANOR OF SLIPMILL, alias MOREHOUSE, which includes the denne of Hawkhurst, was antiently esteemed as one of the appendages belonging to the royal manor of Wye, the liberty of which extends over the greatest part of this parish, and passed as such with that manor, in the gift made of it by William the Conqueror, to the abbey of Battel, at the first foundation of it in the year 1067. (fn. 1)
In the reign of king John, Odo, abbot, and the convent of Battel, granted by charter, to which there is no date, to the owners of the lands in this parish, within the liberty of their manor of Wye, by the name of his men of Hawkhurst, the ville of Hawkhurst, at a certain rent in money, hens, and eggs. And afterwards the abbot and convent, anno 14 Edward I. granted to them, by the name of their tenants of Hawkhurst, all the tenements there which they held of his fee, in certain dennes therein mentioned, to hold at a yearly rent, reserving suit to their court of Wye, from three weeks to three weeks, by two men only.
King Edward II. in his 5th year, granted to the abbot and convent, a market to be held here weekly on a Wednesday, and a yearly fair for three days, on the vigil, the day, and the day after the feast of St. Laurence.
In which state this manor continued till the suppression of this abbey in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it came, with the manor of Wye, into the hands of the crown, whence the royalty, with the quit-rents at Hawkhurst appendant to that manor, which still continued there, was granted, by the name of the manor of Morehouse, with its appurtenances, anno 33 Henry VIII. to Sir John Baker, of Sissinghurst, to hold in capite by knight's service. His descendant Sir Henry Baker, knight and baronet, anno 17 king James I. Conveyed his interest in it to Henry Carey, lord Hunsdon, lord of the manor of Wye, which had been granted to his grandfather of the same name, by queen Elizabeth, in her third year. He was afterwards created viscount Rochford, and earl of Dover; soon after which he sold both the manor of Wye, and this of the denne of Hawkhurst, alias Morehouse; with their appurtenances, to Sir Thomas Finch, knight and baronet, of Eastwell, who, on the death of his mother in 1633, succeeded to the titles of viscount Maidstone and earl of Winchelsea. In his descendants these manors continued down to Daniel, earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, who died in 1769, without issue male, and by his will devised them, among the rest of his estates in this county, to his nephew George Finch Hatton, esq. now of Eastwell, the present possessor of them.
At the court baron held for this manor, now stiled Slipmill, otherwise Morehouse, the alterations of tenancies, and the apportioning of the rents formerly paid to the abbey, and now to the proprietors of Wye manor, are presented; two beadles are elected, to gather the rents; and a reeve is likewise chosen. All which privileges are in consequence of the grant of the 14th of Edward I. above-mentioned.
THE WHOLE PARISH of Hawkhurst is situated exceedingly pleasant and healthy. It is in length from north to south about four miles, and in breadth three, from east to west. It is well watered by several streams, the southernmost and largest of which, called here Kent dyke, and the stream itself the river Kent, or Kennet, runs into the river Rother just below Sandhurst, separating this parish from that of Salehurst, and the counties of Kent and Sussex.
This parish, till about the time of king Charles I. was divided from Salehurst, in Sussex, by a bridge, called Kent-bridge, under which this river then ran about six rods at the narrow entering into the way beyond the present bridge; which old bridge being taken away, and the river being turned to run under the present one, the broad place between this last and the narrow place, is now accounted to be in Salehurst, in Sussex, but is really in Hawkhurst, in Kent.
The market, granted as above-mentioned, anno 5 Edward II. has been long since disused; it was formerly kept upon the green at the moor, opposite the seat of Elfords, where a market-cross once stood, and near it was a small house, called St. Margaret's cross, long since demolished, in which the corn unsold was put; and this place is yet called the marketplace. But the fair is still held yearly, near the church, on the day of St. Laurence, August 10, and the day following, for cattle and pedlary ware. There was formerly another fair kept in this parish on St. Valentine's day, Feb. 14, in the field at the next gate beyond Moor-house, at a place where once stood a pound; but it has been a long while discontinued.
In the hedge of Beaconfield, near Beacon-land, leading between Fourtrowes and Foxhole, stood a beacon and watch-house, long since taken down.
There is hardly any wood in this parish, excepting in the western part, adjoining to Goudhurst, which is entirely covered with part of the Fryth woods; the soil is in general clay, abounding with marle, and in the northern part there is much sand; though few parishes have a greater diversity of soil. It is still very populous, the present in habitants being computed to be about 1500, and formerly, whilst the cloathing manufacture flourished in this and the neighbouring parishes, was much more so. There is not one clothier left here now; but there is a worsted-marker, who constantly employs one hundred people in spinning.
There are two principal villages, one called Highgate, built on high ground on each side the great road leading from Lamberhurst and Stonecrouch through this parish southeastward to Newenden and the country of Sussex, which road is joined here by another principal one from Maidstone through Staplehurst and Cranbrooke hither. On the north side of this village are situated the school and alms-houses, founded by the will of Sir Thomas Dunk, as will be mentioned hereafter. The other village, which is the more antient one, stands about half a mile southward of the other, on another hill of equal height, having a deep valley between, most of which is a kind of heath or common, interspersed, the greatest part of it, with cotages and gardens to them, which makes a pleasing picturesque view from every part of both. In this latter village stand the church, and the minister's house, and at a very small distance eastward of the church, is the antient family seat, surrounded with pleasuregrounds, called ELFORDS, which once belonged to a family named Castleman, one of whom, Walter Castleman, anno 34 Henry VI. sold it to William Conghurst, one of whose descendants passed it away to Roberts, and John Roberts died possessed of it in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, and lies buried in this church. His son Edmund Roberts alienated it, in the 12th year of that reign, to Richard Boys, gent. who resided here, and died possessed of it in 1605. He lies buried in this church, as do most of his descendants, in whom, resident here, this seat continued down to Samuel Boys, esq. of Elfords, who died in 1772, leaving two sons, Samuel, now of Hawkhurst, esq. who married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Gatland; esq. of Sussex, by whom he had one daughter Elizabeth, and William, who married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Richard Harcourt, esq. of Wigsell. Samuel Boys, esq. the eldest son, succeeded his father in this seat, and kept his shrievalty here in 1782, and is the present possessor of it. He bears for his arms, Or, a griffin, segreant, sable, but it appears by their gravestones, that they bore it within a bordure, being the same coat as that borne by the family of this name in East Kent; though I cannot make out any connexion between them.
AT A SMALL DISTANCE further southward is LILSDEN, which at least as early as the reign of queen Elizabeth, was the property of the Chittendens, eminent clothiers here, in which name it continued down to John Chittenden, gent. in which name it still continues.
On the great road from Lamberhurst above-mentioned, and at the western extremity of this parish, is Siccoks, commonly called Seacocks-heath. On this heath, but in the parish of Etchingham, in Sussex, is a seat lately belonging to the Rev. Mr. Robert Gunsley Ayerst, and on the same road, a Small distance eastward, is a good house, which was formerly the property of Mr. James Pott, who in 1681 alienated it to Redford, in whose descendants it has continued down to Thomas Redford, esq. who now resides in it; and at much the same distance still further eastward, is a seat belonging to the Bakers. George Baker died possessed of it in 1740, and his son John Baker, esq. receiver-general for the county of Kent, rebuilt it, and gave it the name of Hawkhurst-lodge. He died unmarried, and by his last will devised it to his brother Mr. Geo. Baker, surgeon, of Canterbury, descended of ancestors who bore for their arms, Argent, three keys, a castle triple towered, sable. Several of whom lie buried in the church-yard here. He was succeeded in his estate here by John Baker, esq. of St. Stephen's, near Canterbury, who married one of the daughters of the Rev. Mr. Tattersal, of Stretham, in Surry, and he is the present owner of it.
At a Small distance still further eastward is the village of Highgate, in which is Hawkhurst-place, formerly a seat of good account, though now only a farm-house. It has been for many years the property of the Peckhams, of Eridge, in Suffex, and now belongs to Henry Peckham, esq. and on the north side of the road is a mansion called FOWLERS, which is particularly deserving notice, as having been the property and residence of Richard Kilburne, esq. author of the survey of this county, published in 1659. He was a man of some eminence in his prosession as a lawyer, having been five times principal of Staples-inn, and of as worthy a character, both as a magistrate and an historian. He died in 1678, and lies buried in the north chancel of this church. The Kilburnes originally were of Kilburne, in Yorkshire, whence they came into Cambridgeshire and Effex. Richard Kilburne above-mentioned, was the youngest son of Isaac Kilburne, of London, third son of John Kilburne, of Saffron Walden, in Effex. They bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron, azure, between three hald cootes, proper. (fn. 2) Richard Kilburne, esq. left an only daughter and heir Anne, who entitled her husband Thomas Brewer, esq. of West Farleigh, whose second wife she was, to the possession of it. He had by her two sons John and Philip, and a daughter married to Davis. John, the eldest, succeeded him at West Farleigh; and Philip, the youngest, had this seat at Hawkhurst; but he died by a fall from his horse, unmarried, in 1721, upon which it came to his eldest brother John, of West Farleigh, who died in 1724, leaving an only daughter Jane, who surviving both her husbands, died s.p. in 1762, and by her will devised this seat, among the rest of her estates, to her kinsman John Davis, D. D. son of Davis abovementioned, who died possessed of it in 1766, and was succeeded in it by his only son Sir John Brewer Davis, knt. the present proprietor of it. (fn. 3)
NEAR the east end of Highgate, a little to the north of the high road, lies a seat called Tongs, which was formerly the seat of the Dunks, who were great clotheirs here. Simon Donke died possessed of it in 1512, anno 4 Henry VIII. as did his descendant Thomas Duncke in 1617, and from him this seat continued down to Sir Thomas Dunk, who resided here, and dying possessed of it in 1718, was buried in the middle isle of this church, (fn. 4) and by his will gave it to William Richards, gent. who died possessed of it in 1733, leaving by Anne his wife, daughter of Mr. John Davis, gent. of this parish, one only daughter and heir Anne, who carried it in marriage to George Montague Dunk, earl of Halifax, who, reserving the see of the mansion itself only, passed the possession of it away by lease for one thousand years, at the yearly rent of sixpence, with the see simple of the offices, as well as of the lands belonging to it, to Mr. Jeremiah Curteis, of Rye, and he soon afterwards conveyed his interest in it to William Jenkin, esq. who resided here, and died in 1784; since which it has been sold by his executor to David Langton, esq. the present owner of it.
About three quarters of a mile northward from Tongs, lies WOODSDEN, formerly the property of the Springetts, one of whom, Robert Springett, died possessed of it in 1619, and they continued here down to John Springett, who died in 1733; (fn. 5) and his son alienated it to the Norris's, of Hemsted, in Benenden, from whom it passed in like manner as that seat to Thomas Hallet Hodges, esq. the present owner of it.
CONGHURST is a manor in the southern part of this parish, next to Sandhurst, into which parish likewise it extends, which once was the property and residence of a family of the same name, whose still more antient seat, now called Old Conghurst, the moat and scite of which are still visible, was at no great distance from it, nearer to the county of Sussex, which being burnt by the Danes, they erected a mansion here, where they afterwards resided. But in the reign of king Henry VIII. Mildred, daughter and coheir of George Conghurst, esq. of Conghurst, carried this seat in marriage to Thomas Scot, who was descended from John Scot, of Halden, in the reign of Henry VI. His grandson, Henry Scot, of Halden, left two sons, Henry, the eldest, was of Halden, and ancestor of the Scots, of that place, of the parish of Hayes, and of Langley, in Beckenham; and Thomas, the second son, married the coheir of Conghurst, and had two sons. From the eldest, George, descended the Scots, of Conghurst; and from Thomas, the youngest, those of Sutton-at-Hone, and of London. They bore for their arms, Argent, a cross-croslet fitchee, sable, quartered with the arms of Conghurst, Azure, three congers heads, erased fessway, or. (fn. 6) Thomas Scot abovementioned, began to build this seat, but he died in 1533, and was buried in the Lady's chancel, in this church, leaving the finishing of it to Mildred his wife, after whose death their son George Scot Succeeded to it, and in his descendants it continued for some generations afterwards, till at length it was alienated to Weller, in which name it remained for some years, and till Capt. Weller, of Rolvenden, conveyed it by sale to Russell, of London, whose heirs sold it to Mr. John Piper, and he is the present owner of this antient seat, now occupied only as a farm-house.
There has not been any court held for this manor for many years.
A BRANCH of the family of Courthope lived at Nettershall, in the northern part of this parish. Henry Courthope, gent. died possessed of it in 1743, and lies buried in this church. By a female heir of this name this estate went in marriage to Charles Moore, esq. who gave it with one of his daughters to John Frost, esq. and he lately sold it to John Boddington, esq. since deceased, whose heirs are now entitled to it. The WOODGATES, lived at Henfill, of whom there are several tombstones remaining of them in the church-yard here. They bore for their arms, On a chevron, cotized, three trefoils slipt, between three squirrels, sejant. It was purchased of the Woodgates, by Richard Harcourt, esq. of Wigsell, and by Elizabeth, one of his daughters and coheirs, came to Wm. Boys, esq. the present possessor of it; and the Popes resided at Hockeridge. These Popes were a younger branch of those of Halden, and bore the same arms, Or, two chevrons, gules, on a canton, a mullet. It is now only a small farmhouse, though it gives name to one of the dennes of the manor of Glassenbury. It was lately the property of the Rev. Thomas Hooper, of Beckley, in Suffex, and now of Mr. William and Richard Foster. There was a branch of the family of Pix resident here a long while, who bore for their arms, Azure, a fess between three cross-croslets, fitchee, or; many of whom lie buried in this church; an elder branch to those of Crayford. They had formerly large possessions in this parish, and resided at a house called Pixes-hall, in Highgate. From this family this seat was purchased by John Russel, gent. whose only daughter and heir Mary carried it in marriage to John Knowler, esq. recorder of Canterbury, whose two daughters and coheirs, were married, Anne to Henry Penton, esq. and Mary to William, lord Digby, who in their wives right, became entitled to it. (fn. 7)
THE FAMILY OF BARRETT, from whom those of Belhouse, in Essex, descended, was possessed of lands in this parish, upon the denne of Cecele, by grant from Simon de Cecele and John Retford, anno 23 Edward III.
HENRY PARSON and WILLIAM NELSON, by deed anno 22 Edward IV. conveyed to the use of this parish for ever, a messuage and an acre of land, adjoining to the church-yard, called the church house, the rent whereof is employed towards the reparation of the church.—Kilburne, in his Survey, p. 134, says, upon part of this land was erected an alms house, and another house, usually called the sexton's house, the same having been, from about the beginning of king James I.'s reign, used for the habitation of the sexton.
THOMAS IDDENDEN devised by will in 1556, several messuages and lands at or near Highstreet, in this parish, to be for ever employed for pious uses, and are now of about the annual value of 23l. 10s. being vested in the churchwardens and four other trustees, the produce of which is given away at Christmas yearly, in gift-money.
THOMAS GIBBON, by deed anno 15 Elizabeth, granted to trustees for ever, an annuity of 43s. 4d. per annum, out of his messuage and three pieces of land upon the denne of Amboldeshurft, containing seven acres; which annuity was purchased of him by the parishioners, to be employed towards the maintenance of the church.
SIR THOMAS DUNK, by will in 1718, gave the sum of 2000l. to be laid out in building and endowing a free school and six alms-houses at Highgate, for six decayed housekeepers, three men and three women; the schoolmaster to receive 16l. and the alms-people 6l. each per annum. The school and aims-houses were accordingly erected and endowed, by William Richards, esq. his executor; (the surplus of these sums, after the compleating of the buildings, being laid out in the purchase of a farm, now let at 70l. per annum); who, to make the building and endowment more complete, added to the 2000l. about 600l. of his own money, and further by his will ordered, that a further sum, not exceeding 250l. should be laid out in the purchase of lands, the income of which should be employed to augment the salary and pensions pavable to the master and alms-people. In pursuance of which bequest, George Dunk, earl of Halifax, who married Anne, only daughter and heir of William Richards, (as being the representative of the executor of Sir Thos. Dunk, as perpetual visitor) in 1753, in consideration of the said 250l. and 70l. raised from the sale of timber from Tilden, the estate settled before on this charity, conveyed to the trustees of it, and their successors for ever, being the minister of Hawkhurst, and ten others, a messuage and land lying near Fourtrows, in this parish and in Sandhurst, of the yearly rent of 17l by which means the salary of the scoolmaster was augmented to 20l. per annum, and the alms-people to that of 7l. per annum each.
WILLIAM BIRCHETT, of this parish, appears by his will, proved 1508, to have been a good benefactor, both to the poor and church of Hawkhurst.
The poor constantly relieved are about two hundred and fifty, casually fifty.
THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDiction of the diocese of Canterbury, and dcanry of Charing.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Laurence, stands on the southern side of the village of Hawkhurst. It consists of three isles and three chancels, having a tower steeple, with a beacon turret, in which are six bells. It was founded by the abbot of Battel, in the reign of king Edward III. whose arms, as well as his son's, were in the windows of it; and the windows throughout it were filled with much curious painted glass, almost all which was demolished in the civil wars of the last century, and there are now hardly any figures left in the windows; there are two or three, much defaced, in two of them in the north isle, and two shields, one, quarterly, first and fourth, A sword, argent; second and third, A crown, or. The other, Fretty, azure, fleurs de lis, or. An account of the former state of them may be seen at large in Kilburne's state of this parish in his survey. The font seems very antient, and has four shields of arms; first, A cross; second, A saltier; third, A chevron; and the fourth is hid against the pillar.
In the church are many gravestones of the family of Boys, one of John Roberts, inlaid with brass, before the pulpit; of Thomas Iddenden, 1556; of Humphry Scot, and many others; and in the church yard several tomb-stones for the Bakers, Davis's, Woodgates, &c.
It was formerly esteemed a rectory, and the advowson of it was part of the possessions of the abbey before mentioned, the rector paying to the sacrist of it five shillings yearly, as an acknowledgment; in which state this church continued till the suppression of that abbey in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it came into the king's hands, who, within a few months afterwards in the same year, granted the patronage and presentation of it to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, to hold in capite by knight's service, (fn. 8) and he sold it soon afterwards to Sir William Peke, who, in the 37th year of that reign reconveyed it to the king, who fettled this rectory or parsonage as an appropriation, by his dotation-charter in his 38th year, on his newerected dean and chapter of Christ-church, in Oxford, to take place after the death of Henry Simonds, then rector of it; ordering, nevertheless, by it, that they should present an able clerk to the ordinary, who should be named perpetual vicar of this church, and should bear all ordinary and extraordinary charges, except the reparation of the chancels, and that he should have a dwelling, and a yearly pension of 12l. 10s. 10d. and should pay the king yearly for his tenths 25s. 1d. and be charged with first fruits; but it does not appear that any act was done by the dean and chapter in consequence of this towards the endowment of a vicar at that time, and it has ever since been presented to by them as a donative, and served as a perpetual curacy. In which flate it continues at this time.
In the year 1534, during the time this church was a rectory, it was rated in the king's books at 36l. 13s. 4d. but since it has ceased to be so, no first fruits have been paid, and it has paid only 11s. 8d. as a stipendiary. The valuation of it in the king's books, made after the above-mentioned grant of the appropriation and advowson to Christ-church, Oxford, is, according to the provision made then by the king in it, for the support of a vicar, under the notion of which it is there rated at 12l. 10s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 5s.
After which the dean and chapter, anno 2 and 3 Philip and Mary, granted to Sir William Peter eight pounds per annum, to be paid out of the parsonage towards the support of the vicar or incumbent; and in the reign of James I. the stipendiary incumbent had of the dean and chapter a salary of twenty pounds per annum, the profits of the Easter book, then of some value, some rooms in the parsonage-house, called the vicarage-rooms, a small croft, called the vicaragecroft, and the herbage of the church-yard; all which together were of so inconsiderable a value, that upon this living being sequestered about 1642, no one could be sound who would serve it, but the place was destitute of a pastor for more than fourteen months; after which the parishioners were obliged to provide a minister themselves, which not being able to bear, the charge of an augmentation was procured from the state, which in a few years afterwards was likewise taken away, and the former allowance only left to the minister; which, by reason of the Easter book becoming of no value, was in 1659, at the most, but twenty four pounds per annum.
This slender income of the incumbent, induced Sir Thomas Dunk, an inhabitant of this parish, to make an addition to it; which he did by his will in 1718, by which he gave 200l. to be employed with the like sum of queen Anne's bounty in the purchase of lands, in see simple, to the augmentation of the living of the minister of this parish, and his successors for ever; with which sums, land lying near Seacocks-heath, of about twenty pounds per annum value, was purchased, situated in Pepper mill-lane, and at Delminden-green. And it was again augmented in 1767, by 200l. of queen Anne's bounty; to which was added 200l. more paid by Sir Philip Boteler, bart. from Mrs. Taylor's legacy, and fifty pounds given by the dean and chapter of Christ-church, Oxford; which sums, amounting to 450l. were lately laid out in the purchase of a small farm, called Roughlands, lying near the church. So that the profits of it, at the time of this donation, amounting, according to a recent certified valuation, to 27l. 2s. 6d. (which arose from the pension of twenty pounds payable by the lessee out of the parsonage and surplice-fees, the minister having no right to any tithes whatever) are now almost double to what it was heretosore, but they are yet by no means adequate to so laborious a cure of souls.
In 1578 here were communicants six hundred and eighty; in 1640 fourteen hundred.
The parsonage is held by lease from the dean and chapter of Christ-church, in Oxford, by Mr. Braborne. There was a suit between Sir John Wildegos, lessee of the parsonage, and John Gibbon, parishioner here, in the ecclesiastical court, touching the manner of tithing; and Gibbon, in Michaelmas term, anno 5 Jacobi regis, obtained a prohibition thereon out of the king's bench, which was tried at Lent assizes at Rochester that year, and a verdict was found for Gibbon, and in Easter term following judgment was given accordingly in Banco Regis; and the suggestion and depositions are entered Trin. 4 Jac. Regis. Rot. 692.
Church of Hawkhurst.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Dean and Chapter of Christ-church, Oxford.||Robert Watson, obt. 1617. (fn. 9)|
|Edward Goodwin, 1617, sequestered 1642. (fn. 10)|
|George Hall, about 1648.|
|Ephraim Bothell, from 1657, ejected 1662. (fn. 11)|
|Jonathan Pleydell, 1662 to 1691.|
|Benjamin Horner, 1692 to 1697.|
|Richard Saunders, in 1702.|
|John Nash, 1725 to 1727.|
|Thomas Willis, 1727 to 1728.|
|Thomas Glover, 1729 to 1737. (fn. 12)|
|William Taswell, 1738 to 1739.|
|William Pysing, 1739 to 1748.|
|Richard Parry, D. D. 1748 to 1751.|
|John Chawner, A. M. 1751, obt. 1797.|
|Arnold French Pinkhurst, A. M. the present curate.|