The township and parish of Newenden

Pages 163-172

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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LIES adjoining to Sandhurst eastward. It was called in Latin, Noviodunnum. Lambarde says, in Saxon. Nifeldune, that is, the low or deep valley. Leland calls it Noviodunum, which word is framed out of the Saxon, Niwandune, and soundeth as much as the new hill. (fn. 1) But it most probably took its name from its being raised on the scite of some more antient town, perhaps built in the time of the Romans, of whom there are many vestigia in and about this place.

Part of this parish is in the hundred of Selbrittenden, the rest of it, called The Township Of Newenden, is exempt from any hundred, having an officer of its own, called the bailiff, whose power is much the same here as that of high constable in other parts of the county, and is appointed merely to prevent this district merging into the jurisdiction of the hundred; and this bailiff has an under bailiff subordinate, who is the same as a borsholder in other parts.

At A SMALL DISTANCE north-eastward from the present village of Newenden, it is conjectured by many, among which are Lambarde, Camden, and Selden, that the station and city of the Romans stood, called by Pancirollus, in his Notitia Provinciarum, ANDERIDA, and sometimes Anderidos; by the Britons, Caer Andred, and afterwards by the Saxons, the castle of Andred, or Andredceaster; being situated in the immense forest which extended from hence for the space of eighty miles into Hampshire. It was called by them Andredwald; by the Britons, Coit-Andred; and now by us, the Weald. This was one of those ports where the Romans placed their castra riparensia, for the defence of the coast against the piracies of the Saxon rovers. And here they placed a detachment of soldiers, under the command of the honourable the count of the Saxon shore, distinguished by the name of Præpositus numeri Abulcorum; for hither at that time the river Limen, long since called the Rother, was sufficiently navigable. After the Romans had deserted Britain, this place seems to have been still accounted a port of great strength by the Britons, and to have been used by them as one of their principal places of refuge, when harrassed by the Saxons. Hengift, the Saxon king of Kent, died in 488, and was succeeded by his son Escus, during the three first years of whose reign there was a general truce between the Saxons and Britons; at the end of which Ella, a famous Saxon chief, who had come over from Germany, with a large company of Saxons, on the invitation of Hengift, and had placed themselves in Sussex, having received a strong reinforcement out of Germany, renewed hostilities, and went and besieged the Britons in this their principal port of Andred-ceaster, which at length, after a vigorous defence, was taken by storm. But the Saxons were so much enraged at the losses and satigues it had occasioned them, that they put all the inhabitants to the sword, and totally demolished the city itself. (fn. 2) In which desolate state it afterwards continued, a monument of curiosity to future ages, till at length it was granted, by the name of Andred, by king Offa, to Christ-church, Canterbury.

There are two places here, by which the remains of the antient station may still be discovered; the one is called Castle-toll, and is a raised piece of ground, containing about twenty acres, situated on a point of land between the river Rother and Haydon sewer, about a mile and a quarter east north-east from Newenden church, and about two miles south-west from Rolvenden. On the east side of it are the remains of a deep ditch, and bank, which seem to have been continued quite round it.

The other lies at a small distance from the above, north-north-east, and is a piece of ground raised much higher than the former; this was encompassed with a double ditch, the traces of which are still visible in some places, and within the innermost of them is somewhat more than an acre of land. The shape is a square, with the corners a little rounded; and at each corner, within the area, is a circular mount of earth. When Dr. Plot viewed this place in 1693, the valla were then very losty, and he was informed by an antient countryman, who had often ploughed upon this hill, that both the mounts and the valla were then at least four feet lower than when he first knew the place; so that in a process of time it is most probable they will be reduced by the plough to a plain level with the adjoining lands. The plain remains of such strong entrenchments, together with the circumstance of several Roman coins having been sound from time to time in and about this place, gives no small weight to the opinion of those, who have placed the scite of the antient Anderida here at Newenden.

THE MANOR of Newenden was given by Offa, king of Mercia, by the name of Andred, to the monks of Christ-church, in Canterbury, for the seed of their hogs, being in the vast wood or forest then called Andred, or the Weald. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was accounted part of the archbishop's demesnes, and was held of him by one Leofric, being then taxed at one suling, and esteemed as an appendage to Saltwood, and in the general survey of Domesday, taken in the year 1080, it is thus described, under the title of the archbishop's lands:

In Selebrist hundred the archbishop himself holds Newedene. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is. . . . There are twenty-five villeins, with four borderers having five carucates. There is a market of forty shillings all but five pence. Wood for the pannage of forty hogs. In the whole, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth one hundred shillings, when he received it twelve pounds, and now ten pounds, and yet the bailiff paid eighteen pounds and ten shillings.

After which, anno 21 Edward I. it appears that Boniface, archbishop of Canterbury, had claimed an exemption for his tenants here from service in the hundred court, and from such taxations as were usually made; but upon trial it was given against him.

In which state this manor continued till the 51st year of Henry VIII. when Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, by deed that year, and inrolled in the Augmentation-office the year afterwards, conveyed it in exchange, among other premises, to that king; and after the death of king Charles I. anno 1648, the powers then in being having seized on all the royal estates, this manor, as one of them, was sold to Hugh Peters, (fn. 3) with whom it continued till the restoration, when it returned to the crown, and remained there, till at length it was granted to the earl of Aylesford, in whom the fee of it was afterwards vested by act of parliament. His descendant Heneage Finch, earl of Aylesford, conveyed it, together with the fishery belonging to it, (which extends on the river Rother from New Barn, at the eastern extremity of this parish, to Odaiarne Oak, about a mile beyond Bodiam westward) by sale in 1760 to Mr. Samuel Bishop, of Losenham, in this parish, who is the present possessor of it. A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.

LOSENHAM, usually called Lossenham, is a manor and seat in this parish, about half a mile north-east from the church, situated within the township of Newenden, and within the hundred of Selbrittenden. It was antiently the seat of a branch of the family of Aucher, who were both eminent and numerous, as well in this county as in those of Essex, Sussex, Nottingham, and elsewhere, deriving their origin from Ealcher, or Aucher, the first earl of Kent, who had also the title of Duke, from his being intrusted with the military power of this county. His descendant Walter Fitz Auger, a noble Briton, flourished at the time of the conquest, and was a good benefactor to the monks of St. Saviour's, Bermondsey. His descendant Thomas Fitz Aucher was become possessed of this manor of Losenham, with divers other lands in Essex, in the reign of king John. His descendant Henry Fitz Aucher is in the roll of those Kentish gentlemen, who were with Edward I. in his 28th year, at the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, and for his service there was made a knight-banneret, bearing for his arms, Ermine, on a chief, azure, three lions rampant, or. Nicholas Aucher, esq. resided at Losenham in the next reign of king Edward II. His grandson Henry, married first Isabel at Towne, by whom he had Thomas, who succeeded to Losenham; and Robert, from whom descended those of Westwell. And secondly Joane, daughter and heir of Thomas St. Leger, of Otterden, (remarried to Robert Capys) from whom came the Auchers, of Otterden, Bourne, and Nonington. (fn. 4) At length his descendant Henry Aucher, esq. of Losenham, left an only daughter and heir Anne, who, in the reign of Henry VII. carried this manor, together with that of Woods, in this parish likewise, in marriage to Walter Colepeper, esq. of Bedgebury, (fn. 5) whose grandson Sir John Colepeper, of Wigsell, in 1628, sold them to Adrian Moore, esq. of Egham, in Surry, in whose family they continued till they were alienated in 1702, to Mr. Nicholas Bishop, whose grandson Mr. Samuel Bishop is the present owner of them, and resides at Losenham. There has not been any court held for this manor for many years.

There is a moat round the present house, which was built in 1666. Many foundations have been dug up southward of the house, and a few years ago a stone coffin was dug up, composed of four flat stones, perforated with several holes to let the moisture through.

AT LOSENHAM above-mentioned, Sir Thomas Alcher, or Fitz Aucher, in the year 1241, being the 26th of Henry III. founded A HOUSE, or PRIORY, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, for Friars Carmelites, or Carms, as they were commonly termed, being so called from their being brought hither from Mount Carmel, in Palestine; this place being most desirable to them, as they affected to take up their abode in retired and solitary habitations. The first institution of their order was in 1170; and they were likewise called White Firars from the colour of their habit. They were first brought into England in 1240, and were settled at Alnewick, in Northumberland, and Aylesford, in this county, and the next year here, and at Brunham, in Norfolk. William Stranfield, born in Kent, a Carmelite friar here, S. T. P. of Oxford, was well versed in the history of his order, and particularly of his own house, of which he became prior, and wrote the history of this monastery of Newenden, with lectures and other discourses of divinity. He died and was buried at Newenden in 1390. (fn. 6) Under the patronage of this family of Aucher, whose residence was almost adjoining to this priory, it continued safe till the general dissolution of religious houses in the reign of Henry VIII. in the 27th year of which it was suppressed, as not having revenues to the clear amount of two hundred pounds per annum, and was, with all its possessions, surrendered up into the king's hands.

The scite of this priory seems to have continued in the crown till the 5th and 6th year of Philip and Mary, when it was granted to Edmund and Henry Gilberd. It afterwards passed into the family of Colepeper, and from thence into the name of Moore, from which it was sold, at the same time with the manors of Losenham and woods, to Mr. Nicholas Bishop, whose grandson Mr. Samuel Bishop, of Losenham, has now the property of it.

Kilburne, p. 198, says, that in this parish, near the priory, stood a castle, which was destroyed by the Danes in 892, and not so much as the ruins then remained, only the memory of it was preserved by a place here still called Castle toll.

NEWENDEN is situated on the southern confines of this county, adjoining to Suffex, from which it is parted by the river Rother, which flows along the southern bounds of it for upwards of two miles, being the whole length of this parish. The high road from the western parts of Kent into Suffex, across the river Rother, over which there is a modern bridge of three arches, built of brick, called Rother bridge, leads through it south eastward. There are but fifteen houses in the whole parish.

The village, which is but small, consisting of a very few cottages, with the church amongst them, stands on this road, near Rother-bridge. It was built on its present spot in the reign of Edward I. and seems, from the many remains of foundations and wells, all round the church, especially on the north and east sides of it, to have been formerly a place of considerable size; and the reports of the inhabitants, from tradition, of the antient and more flourishing state of this place, are very extraordinary. The middle part of this parish, from east to west, being a narrow slip, is high ground and arable, the rest, being by far the greatest part of it, is a low flat of pasture and marsh lands, the whole of it has a most forlorn and dreary aspect, and is far from being healthy. About a quarter of a mile eastward from the village is a spring of water, which is a strong chalybeat. It is situated in the marshes, at a small distance northward from the Rother. This water, with oaken leaves put into it, turned blackise; and with powder of galls, it sparkled and turned like Champaigne wine.

There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about five, casually three.

NEWENDEN is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Charing.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, stands within the township of Newenden. It was formerly much larger, but becoming very ruinous in 1700, a faculty was procured from the archbishop for the parishioners, to take wholly away the steeple and chancel, and that they might put the body of the church only in repair, and build a turret upon the top of it, to hang up one of the bells in; and that they might fell the other two bells, with the materials of timber and stone remaining after they had made such repairs. All which was soon afterwards done; so that the church is now very small, about sixty feet long, consisting of one isle, and a very narrow one on the north side of it. The chancel is a small room, about eight feet square, on the south side very dark, having the altar-rails across it, being very mean, and unfitting for the purpose. There is a fine old stone, font, standing on four stone pillars, with capitals of flowers and antient Saxon ornaments round the top.

Over the porch of the church was a room, with iron grates to the windows, called the gaol, and was so to the jurisdiction of the township. It was taken down about eighteen years ago, by order of the archdeacon. Thomas Twysden, of Newenden, as appears by his will, was buried in this church-yard in 1521.

This church is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 7l. 13s. 4d. the yearly tenths of which are 15s. 4d.

In 1640 this rectory was valued at fifty pounds, and the communicants here were sixty.

Church of Newenden.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. John Tunbridge, obt. 1609.
Richard White, A. M. Dec. 14, 1609.
Thomas Brown, resigned 1664.
Walter Collins, Jan 26, 1664.
James Kay, A. M. July 18, 1668.
David Maccorne, Nov. 2, 1677, obt. 1686.
James Stretion, March 4, 1686, resigned 1694.
Thomas Fishenden, A. M. June 10, 1694, obt. 1737. (fn. 7)
William Huddleston, A. M. inducted Sept. 1, 1738, obt. June 8. 1743.
Richard Morton, A. M. July 28, 1743, obt. October 21, 1772. (fn. 8)
Thomas Morphett, A. M. Nov. 19, 1772, the present rector. (fn. 9)


  • 1. See Lambarde's Peramb. p. 219. Dict. 240.
  • 2. Chron. Sax. ad an. 490. Flor. Worc. p. 545. Hen. Hunt. lib. 2. Matth. Westm. ad an. 492.
  • 3. See the survey and sale of it in Parliamentary Surveys, Augmentation-office.
  • 4. See pedigrees in the Heralds-office, and in the Heraldic Visitations of 1574 and 1619.
  • 5. See a further account of the Colepepers before, under Bedgebury, in Goudhurst.
  • 6. See Stev. Mon. vol. ii. p. 167.
  • 7. Likewise rector of Rolvenden.
  • 8. He was buried within the altar-rails of this church.
  • 9. And rector of Rolvenden.