Parishes: Woodchurch

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

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Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Woodchurch', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7( Canterbury, 1798), British History Online [accessed 20 July 2024].

Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Woodchurch', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7( Canterbury, 1798), British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024,

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Woodchurch". The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7. (Canterbury, 1798), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.

In this section


IS the next parish south-eastward from Halden, and is within the court of the bailiwic of the Seven Hundreds, which claims paramount over the denne of Ilchenden, being a great part of it; though the manors of Apledore and of Wye claim over some parts of it.

This PARISH, which stands rather on high ground, is about five miles in length from north to south, and three miles and an half in breadth. The soil of it is in general a stiff clay, though in the southern part of it there is some light land, inclining to sand. It is exceedingly covered, throughout most of it, with oaken coppice wood, and the face of the country here, as well as the roads, are much like those of Halden, last described. The village is near the centre of the parish, built mostly round a green, with the church on the north-west side of it, and the parsonage-house. In the south-west part of the parish is Shirley-house and farm, which formerly belonged to the family of Clarke, and afterwards to the Harlackendens, from whom it was purchased by Anne Blackmore, widow of John Blackmore, esq. of Tenterden, who died in 1717; and their grandson Thomas Blackmore, esq. of Hertfordshire, now owns it, with other adjoining estates in this parish. Below this farm southward is a large tract of marshes, called Shirley, or Sherles-moor, being about three miles in length and two in breadth, lying in Woodchurch, Apledore, Eboney, and Tenterden, containing 1245 acres, and is what is called the Upper Levels, the waters of which few through Scots-float into Rye harbour. It is allowed to be the richest land for satting cattle in all these levels. It belongs to several different proprietors, among whom Sir Edward Hales, bart. Thomas Blackmore, esq. the dean and chapter of Canterbury, Richard Curteis, and the heirs of William Henley, esqrs. are the most considerable.

Sir Edward Hales, bart. and Richard Hulse, esq. are lessees of the dean and chapter of Canterbury, for lands in this level, which formerly belonged to the priory of Christ-church there.

About three quarters of a mile northward from the church, is Redbrooke-street, at which formerly resided a family named At-hale, possessed of lands in this and the neighbouring parishes.

THE MANOR OF TOWNLAND, alias WOODCHURCH, is subordinate to that of Apledore, and was part of those lands and estates assigned for the desence of Dover-castle, to the constable of which it was allotted, and made a part of his barony, which was usually stiled from him, the Constabularie, being held by him of the king in capite by barony, by the service of maintaining a certain number of soldiers from time to time for the desence of the castle. Of him and his heirs this manor was held in capite by the service of ward to the castle, Ralph de la Thun held this manor and other lands in Woodchurch, by the above service, in the 43d year of Henry III. in which year he died possessed of it, and from him it acquired the name of Thunland, or Townland, as it was afterwards called. After him Richard de Tunland became possessed of it, whose grandson John Ate Towneland paid aid for it in the 20th year of Edward III. and in his descendants it continued down to Thomas Townland, who died possessed of it in the 7th year of Henry IV. (fn. 1) After which it passed by sale into the family of Norton, whence it was sold, about the beginning of king Henry VIII.'s reign, to the prior and convent of Leeds, who were then possessed of it, as appears by the receipt in the exchequer anno 8 of that reign, Mich. Rot. 35; and it remained part of their possessions till the dissolution of the priory, in the 31st year of that reign, when it came into the hands of the crown; from whence it was granted that year to Thomas, lord Cromwell, earl of Essex, on whose attainder next year, this manor, among the rest of his estates, became forfeited to the crown, where it staid but a small time, for the king, in his 36th year, granted it to Sir Thomas Moile, chancellor of his court of augmentation, who in the 4th year of Edward VI. alienated it to Thomas Ancos, who afterwards sold it to Thomas Lucas, gent, who died possessed of it in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth, hold ing it in capite by knight's service. He was descended from William Lucas, gent. of Ashford, who is recorded in Fuller's history, among those gentry who were returned as such, and qualified to bear arms, by the commissioners anno 12 Henry VI. (fn. 2) By the inquisition taken after his death, it was found, that Thomas Godfrey was his nephew and next heir. He died in the 7th year of that reign, and was succeeded by his brother James Godfrey, who two years afterwards alienated it to Mary, the widow of Sir John Guldeford, of Hemsted, who in the 19th year of that reign sold it to John Shellie, whose son John Shelley, esq. of Michelgrove, was created a baronet in 1611; and in his descendants, baronets, this manor continued till the reign of Charles II. How long it continued in this name, I do not find; for it was now become but of very little note. At length, after some intermediate owners, it became the property of Mr. Gabriel Richards, and since his decease of Mr. William Evans, the present possessor, who resides in it.

THE PLACE-HOUSE, or Woodchurch house, is a seat situated at a small distance eastward from the church, and was the habitation of a family who took both their surname and original from it. Anchitel de Woodchurch was possessed of it about the time of the Conqueror, and gave for his arms, Gules, three swords, erected in pale, argent. His grandson Roger de Woodchurch, is the first that is mentioned in the antient deeds, without date, of this estate, and his grandson Sir Simon de Woodchurch, is in the register of those Kentish gentlemen who accompanied king Edward I. in his victorious expedition into Scotland, where he was knighted, with many others of his countrymen. But in him the name, though not the male line, determined; for by matching with Susan, daughter and heir of Henry le Clerk, of Munsidde, in the parish of Kingsnoth, who brought a large inheritance into his family; his successors, out of gratitude to those who had added so much splendour, and annexed so plentiful a revenue to their name, altered their paternal appellation from Woodchurch to Clerke; and in several of their deeds subsequent to this match were written, Clerke, alias Woodchurch. He left two sons, Simon, who died without male issue; (fn. 3) and Clerke Woodchurch, heir to his mother's lands, as well as to his elder brother at this place, on his failure of male issue; which latter left a son Peter Clerke, alias Woodchurch, who inherited this seat on his father's death, and in his descendants it continued down to Humphry Clarke, for so they then wrote their name, who resided at Buckford, in Great Chart. He sold this seat, with the estate belonging to it, to Martin Harlackenden, esq. of this parish, whose successor Walter Harlackenden resided here in the reign of James I. and his descendant Geo. Harlackenden, esq. of Woodchurch, sold it to Winifred Bridger, widow, and Laurence her son, the latter of whom at his death devised it to his son John, who dying s.p. his sister Mrs. Winifrid Bridger, of Canterbury, succeeded to it, and dying in 1776, unmarried, by will gave it to the Rev. William Dejovas Byrch, of Canterbury, and Elizabeth his wife. He died in 1792, and she in 1798, having surviving issue an only daughter Elizabeth, since deceased, who married Samuel Egerton Brydges, esq. of Denton, who is now in his late wife's right became entitled to it.

Great part of this house has been pulled down, and the remainder of it makes but a very mean appearance, and is inhabited by several different persons.

HENDEN is an estate in this parish, which from having had for a length of time the same owners as that last-described, was once almost accounted an ap pendage to it. This place is supposed (for there are no records existing of it) to have been the original seat of the Hendens, who were in much later times seated at Biddenden-place, in this neighbourhood, as has been mentioned before, where they continued till within these few years. How long they remained possessors of it, cannot therefore be traced; but in the reign of king Richard II. the Capells, of Capellscourt, in Ivychurch, were become owners of it; in the 15th year of which reign Richard Capell died possessed of it. At length, after it had continued in his descendants for some generations, it went by the marriage of a female heir into the family of Harlackenden, of this parish, where it remained till Deborah, daughter and heir of Martin Harlackenden, entitled her husband Sir Edward Hales, knight and baronet, to the possession of this estate, together with others in this parish and neighbourhood, and in his descendants it has continued down to Sir Edward Hales, bart. of St. Stephen's, the present owner of it.

HARLACKENDEN, usually called Old Harlackenden, situated within the boroughof that name which extended likewise over part of the adjoining parish of Shadoxhurst) was for some hundred years the patrimonial demesnes of that name and family, as appeared by a tomb in this church, the inscription on which, long since obliterated, shewed that one of them lay interred there soon after the conquest. Philipott says, the proportion and shape of the characters were much like those in use in the reigns of king Henry IV. and V. which he thinks was occasioned by this tomb having been renewed by one of this person's successors and descendants in one of the above reigns, and the former one might have been in old characters, suitable to the time in which it was first erected. There are none now remaining on it. Kilburne says, it was for William Harlackenden, anno 1081. They bore for their arms, Azure, a sess, ermine, between three lions beads erased, or; which arms were painted in an upper window of Grays-Inn hall, and appeared to have been of long standing there. In his descendants, residents here, many of whom lie buried in this church, this seat continued down to Thomas Harlackenden, esq. of Woodchurch, who procured his lands to be disgavelled by the acts of 31 Henry VIII. and 2 and 3 Edward VI. He died in 1558. (fn. 4) At length his descendant George Harlackenden, esq. of this place, alienated it to Winifried Bridger, widow, and Laurence her son, whose heirs, in the 9th year of queen Anne, procured an act to vest it in trustees, and they accordingly sold it, in 1711, to dame Sarah, widow of Sir Paul Barrett, sergeant-at-law. She died that same year, and by the limitation in her will, (fn. 5) this estate devolved to her grandson Sir Francis Head, bart. son of her first husband Francis Head, esq. who died possessed of it in 1768. After which his widow, lady Head, by virtue of her jointure, came into the possession of it. She died in 1792, and it then devolved to the daughters and coheirs of her late husband Sir Francis Head, and to their heirs, in the like proportions as the Hermitage, in Higham, and his other estates in this county, in which state it remains at present. (fn. 6)

HENHURST is an estate in the north-east part of this parish, which formerly belonged to a family of the same name, whose more antient seat was at Henhurst, in Staplehurst, of which this was but a younger branch. They were likewise often written in old deeds both Henhurst and Enghurst, and continued owners of this place until the reign of king Henry VII. and then Sir Thomas Henghurst dying without issue male, his daughter and sole heir carried it in marriage to Humphry Wife, whose daughter and heir Agnes entitled her husband Mr. Robert Master to the possession of it, who bore for his arms, A lion, rampant, holding in his paws an escallop shell. His son Mr. Thomas Master resided here, but his son Giles Master quitted this residence and removed to Canterbury, where he died in 1644. At length it descended to Sir Harcourt Master, alderman of London, who became possessed of it for the term of his life, by the will of his father's eldest brother's daughter, Mary Master. He died in 1648. Since which it has continued in his descendants, one of whom, Harcourt Masters, esq. of Greenwich, owns it at this time.

HENGHAM, now usually called Great Hengham, corruptly for Engeham, its original name, lies enveloped by woods, about a mile and an half northward from Woodchurch. It was once accounted a manor, and was in early times possessed by a family of the same name, who resided at it, and were stiled sometimes Engham, alias Edingham, in antient deeds, relating to their possessions in different parts of Romney marsh, the latter being probably their original name, and the former one an abbreviation of it. (fn. 7) Alanus de Engham resided here in the reign of king John, and married the daughter of Townland, of this parish, as did his descendant Moses de Engham, alias Edingham, who by marriage with Petronell, daughter of Alan de Plurenden, greatly increased his estate in Woodchurch; and probably of kindred to this family was Odomar Hengham, esq. who died in 1411, and lies buried in the body of Canterbury cathedral. They bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron, sable, between three pellets; on a chief, gules, a lion passant, guardant, or. A branch of this family became possessed of Singleton, in Great Chart, where they rebuilt the mansion, and afterwards resided; but the last residence of the Enghams, in this county, was at Gunston, where they flourished till the beginning of this century. At length Robert Engham, of Woodchurch, leaving two daughters his coheirs, this manor, about the latter end of the reign of Henry VIII. was carried in marriage by Mary, the eldest of them, to Thomas Isley, who leaving five daughters his coheirs, Mary, married to Francis Spelman; Frances, to William Boys, esq. Elizabeth, to Anthony Mason, esq. Anne, to George Delves, esq. and Jane, to Francis Haut, esq. they, in right of their respective wives, became jointly entitled to it. This occasioned a partition of this estate, which was afterwards called by the name of Great and Little Hengham; the former having the antient mansion and manor annexed to it. This part was afterwards alienated to William Hales, esq. of Nackington, who possessed it in the reign of king James I. and in 1640, passed it away by sale to Thomas Godfrey the younger, esq. of Lid, who conveyed it to Clerke, whence it was sold in the reign of king Charles II. to John Grove, gent. of Tunstall, whose descendant Richard Grove, esq. of London, who died unmarried in 1792, by will devised it to Mr. William Jemmott and Mr. William Marshall, the former of whom, on a partition of his estates, became the sole proprietor of it, and continues so at this time. A court baron is held for this manor.

THE OTHER PART of this manor, now called Little Hengham, which lies adjoining to it southward, is now the property of the heirs of Abbot, the Whitfields, and the Combers.

PLERYNDEN, now corruptly called Plunden, is situated in the north-west part of this parish, in the midst of a wood, and in the denne of the same name. It had in early times owners, who took their furname from it and continued so till Petronell, daughter and heir of Alan de Plerynden, who bore for his arms, Perchevron, in chief, two mullets, in base, a martlet, as they appear, carved in stone, on the roof of Canterbury cloysters, carried it in marriage to Moses de Engham, in whose descendants it remained till Vincent Engham, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, passed it away by sale to William Twysden, esq. of Chelmington, whose descendant Sir Thomas Twysden, bart. of Roydon-hall, in East Peckham, about the beginning of queen Anne's reign, sold it to Mr. John Hooker, of Maidstone, who died possessed of it in 1717, and devised it to his second son John, of Broadoak, in Brenchley, gent. who dying unmarried in 1762, devised it to his youngest and only surviving brother Stephen Hooker, gent. of Halden, and he alienated it to John Children, esq. of Tunbridge, whose son George Children, esq. of that place, is the present owner of it.


RICHARD BROWNE, late of Woodchurch, by will in 1562, gave to the poor of this parish a rent charge of 4l. 10s. per annum, on every Trinity Sunday for ever, out of a messuage called Webbes, in this parish, of the clear annual produce of 3l. 8s.

SIR EDWARD HALES, of Woodchurch, by deed in 1610, gave to the poor yearly rents out of a farm, called the Legg farm, in Kenardington.

PHEBE GOBLE, of Woodchurch, by will in 1692, gave to the poor 2l. per annum, to be paid by her heirs for ever, out of a farm, called the Bonny Cravat, in Woodchurch, (now an alehouse) the first Sunday after Old Lady-day.

THERE IS A SCHOOL, for reading and writing, supported by contribution, in this parish.

The poor constantly relieved are about ninety, casually 45.

WOODCHURCH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the dioceseof Canterbury, and deanry of Limne.

The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is large and handsome, consisting of three isles and three chancels, with a spire steeple, shingled, at the west end, in which hang six bells. The windows in the high chancel are small and elegant. There are some very small remains of good painted glass. In this chancel is a stone, with the figure in brass, of a priest praying, and inscription for master Nicholas de Gore, in old French; and another stone, with inscription in brass, for William Benge Capellanus, obt. 1437. In this church are many tombs and gravestones of the family of Harlackenden, which have already been mentioned before. In the south chancel there is a handsome tomb, of Bethersden marble, for Sir Edward Waterhous, chancellor of the exchequer, and privy counsellor to queen Elizabeth, in Ireland, third son of John Waterhous, esq. of Whitechurch, in Buckinghamshire, obt. s. p. 1591, his arms on his tomb, Or, a pile engrailed, sable, quartered with other coats. Kilburne says, in the east window of this chancel, were the arms of Ellis; and in the east window of the north chancel, were several essigies of the Clerkes; and in the north window of it, those of William Harey; all long since gone. The sont in this church seems very antient, being of Bethersden marble, square, and standing on four pillars.

This church was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, and continues so at this time, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.

It is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 26l.13s. 4d. and the yearly tenths at 2l. 13s. 4d. In 1640 it was valued at one hundred and ten pounds. Communicants three hundred and forty-nine. In 1729 at two hundred and thirty pounds per annum.

Among the Lambeth MSS. is a decree of archbishop Peckham, concerning the tithes of Woodchurch, anno 1281. (fn. 8) There are about two acres of glebe land.

Church of Woodchurch.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. John Bancrost, S. T. P. resig. 1633. (fn. 9)
Edward Boughan, A. M. presented April 13, 1633, and in 1640. (fn. 10)
Stephen Mun, obt. April 1684.
Thomas Huxley, S. T. B. May 1684, obt. 1685.
John Love, A. M. Oct. 1685, obt. 1688.
Henry Hughes, inducted Jan. 1689.
Henry Hughes, obt. 1704. (fn. 11)
Edward Brooke, Sept. 30, 1704, obt. Feb. 28, 1729.
John Geekie, LL. D. March 3, 1729, resigned 1730. (fn. 12)
Herbert Randolph, A. M. 1730, obt. Sept. 1, 1755. (fn. 13)
Nicholas Carter, S. T. P. Sept, 1755, obt. Oct. 23, 1774. (fn. 14)
John Courtail, inducted April 6, 1775, the present rector. (fn. 15)


  • 1. There are divers inquisitions taken on their deaths, viz. anno 6 Edward III. anno 47 Edward III. anno 9 Richard II.
  • 2. See likewise Chauncy's Herts, p. 534.
  • 3. See Vistn. co. Kent, 1619. Collins's Bar. vol.i.p.280.
  • 4. See Philipott p. 370. Harl. MSS. No. 433 259. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. col. 841.
  • 5. See more of her, p. 440.
  • 6. See more of the family of Head, and the coheirs of Sir Francis, under Higham, vol. iii. p. 489.
  • 7. Philipott, p. 371. There are pedigrees of this family both in the Heraldic visitations of 1574 and 1619.
  • 8. See Durcarel's Repertory, p. 122.
  • 9. He was consecrated bishop of Oxford June 10, 1632, and dying in 1640, was buried at Cuddesdon. See Rym Fœd. vol. xix. p. 544. LeNeve's Fasti, p. 228.
  • 10. See an account of him in Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. p. 188. Rym. Fœd. vol. xix. p. 544. Walker's Suff. of the Clergy, pt ii. p. 203. He acted in this parish as a justice of the peace, for which he was petitioned against by Presbyterian inhabitants, anno 1640, and removed from this benefice; but was restored again on the restoration. See Ruthworth, vol. v. p. 169. He was author of several works, a list of which is in Wood's Ath.
  • 11. Son of the former.
  • 12. He resigned this rectory for Chevening. See Southfleet, vol. ii. p. 440. and chevening, vol.iii. p. 126.
  • 13. Also rector of Deal, and one of the Six Preachers in Canterbury cathedral, where he lies buried.
  • 14. In 1755 he had a dispensation to hold this rectory with that of Ham, and was likewise perpetual curate of Deal chapel. He was father of the justly celebrated and learned Mrs. Elizabeth Carter.
  • 15. And vicar of Burwash, in Suffex, by dispensation.