Parishes: Apledore

Pages 250-261

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 south-westward, and is the last to be described in the lower division of the lath of Scray and western division of the county; though it should seem, by the entry in Domesday, that it was antiently accounted in the lath of Shipway, or Limouwart, as it is there called. That part of it which is upon the Rhee wall, to Redhill, is in the liberty of the town and port of New Romney, and the jurisdication of the justices of that town and port; and the residue of it is in this hundred, some small part of which is in the liberty of Romney Marsh, and jurisdiction of the justices of that corporation. (fn. 1)

It was written by the Saxons, Apuldre, in Domesday, Apeldres, and now and for a long time since, Apledore, and takes its name from its low and damp situation near the channel, which formerly flowed up to it from the sea.

THE SITUATION of Apledore was formerly very different from what it is at present, having been in antient time a maritime town, to which the sea flowed up, and large fleets frequently navigated; but the river Rother, or Limene, as it was then called, having long since directed its course from this channel, it has been for ages past left dry and destitute, both of falt and fresh water, and covered with pastures and cattle, the stream of it flowing by a far different one into the sea; the only water near it at this time being the small rivulet or dyke, which passes between the main land and the Isle of Oxney, at the east end of which it now runs, just below Apledore, and encompassing the eastern side of that island, where, though an inconsiderable stream, it takes the name of Apledore channel, and passing the White Kemp sluice, flows into Rye haven, where it meets the sea.

This river Rother, or Limene, instead of its present course, formerly flowed by Newenden to Maytham, and so along by Smalhyth and Reading between the main land and the Isle of Oxney to the town of Apledore, where, instead of turning its course to the southward, as it does now, towards Rye haven, it kept on close by Apledore still eastward, along by where the Rhee-wall now is, where the remains of the old trench, in which this river flowed between Apledore and Old Romney, being about four miles, is plainly traced, being of large extent and breadth, though long since become dry and converted into pasture ground.

This river did not forsake its antient course all at once, but at times and by degrees, as appears by the continued means taken to prevent it, as well as against the inundation of the sea, so early as king Henry I's time; and there happened one not long afterwards, which is mentioned both by Matthew Paris and Westminster. The former, in his relation of this violent rage and serment of the sea, in 1250, and the inundations consequent, says, that at Winchelsea above three hundred houses, and some churches, were by its violence overturned; but the very year in which this change of course happened, appears to have been in the 15th year of Edward I. when, as Camden says, the sea, raging with the violence of winds, overflowed this tract, and making a dreadful destruction of people, catde, and houses, caused this river to forsake its old channel, and opened a new and nearer way, as at present, into the sea at Rye. And though every means were used afterwards by frequent commissions to view and see to the repair of these broken walls, yet by future tempests, one of which in particular happened in the 8th year of Edward III. all thoughts of the river's ever returning to its old channel, seem to have been given up; and three years afterwards, the king by his letters patent granted this old trench or channel, leading from an arm of the sea, called Apuldre, towards the town of Romene, to the different owners of the soil, with licence for them to obstruct, dam, and stop it up, as it had by reason of the sands and other matter flowing in, been so filled up, that ships could not pass by it; and reciting, that there was another trench leading from the said arm to Romene, lately made by force of the sea, by which ships passed to that town, as they had before used to do by the former one, and was more proper and sufficient. (fn. 2)

Whilst the river continued navigable to this town in its antient state, the Danes, in the time of king Alfred, anno 893, with an intent to plunder this country, entered the mouth of it, and went up this channel with a fleet of two hundred and fifty fail of ships as high as Apledore, to which at that time the Weald, or great forest of Andred, extended itself eastward. There are strong appearances remaining to support this opinion; and that the tract of land called the Dowles, in the south-east part of this parish, nearer to Romney, a further notice of which will be taken hereafter, was once covered with wood; among others, that the dean and chapter of Canterbury have a parcel of land in the western part of the Dowles, which are said in the records of that church to lie in Apuldore wood; and that at the depth of from three to six feet, there have been frequently sound in different parts of this tract of land, oak leaves, acorns, birch, and willow, and the stalks of brakes, &c. in high preservation, and likewise large trees of various kinds and sizes, lying in different directions, and sometimes across one another; and what is worth observation, they appear to have been cut down with an ax or sharp instrument, and not with a saw; strong proofs that these Dowles were once part of the forest before-mentioned, and covered with trees and wood.

At Apledore the Danes entrenched themselves on the scite of a small half-built fort, inhabited by a few boors, which they demolished, together with the village, and built one of a larger size and strength, and kept their rendezvous here (fn. 3) for some time. What became of this castle afterwards, I do not find; but it is probable that it was ruined by the French in 1380, who then burnt this town, and tradition reports, that on the ruins of this castle the present church was built; and the situation of it renders it very probable.

THE SOIL of this parish is for the greatest part moorish, boggy, and senny; though some of the upper or northern part of it is sandy, with some coppice wood on it. It is about two miles and an half in length, and about two in breadth. It contains forty-eight houses, and three hundred and twenty inhabitants, and near two thousand acres of land. The village is situated very low, close to the marshes in the southern part of it, near a quarter of a mile from the eastern part of the Isle of Oxney, with the church standing close on the eastern side of it. The houses are but meanly built, and mostly inhabited by graziers, lookers, and smugglers. The vast quantity of marshes which lie contiguous and come close up to it, make it very unhealthy, and this is rendered much more so, by a large tract of swamp, called the Dowles, lying about a mile south eastward from the village, within the marsh; they are about two miles long and more than one wide, containing about four hundred acres. One part of it is hardly ever free from water, unless for a month or so at the end of a very dry summer; the other part has some few spaces of sound ground, but is wholly overflowed during the winter, and in a year when fodder is scarce, or the season backward, is of great service to the farmers, for the grass, having no want of rain, springs early, and in great plenty, and affords excellent feeding for the larger stock. There are some thoughts of draining this tract of land, which, if it can be effected, will render it a most fertile and valuable parcel of pasture, the soil of the whole of it appearing to be very rich. The large quantity of stagnating waters continually on this tract of land, which is almost an entire swamp, engenders such noxious and pestilential vapours, as spread sickness and frequent death on the inhabitants of this and many of the adjoining parishes for some distance round it; the sickly countenances of them plainly discovering the unwholesome air they breath in.

King Edward III. in his 32d year, granted to the prior and convent of Christ-church, in Canterbury, a weekly market at their manor here, which has been long disased, and a yearly fair on the 11th of January. There are now two fairs held annually here, on Jan. 11, and June 22.

THE PLANT, called morsus diaboli, floribus albis et subrusis, or devils bit, with white and blush coloured flowers, grows about Apledore.

THE MANOR OF APLEDORE was in early times possessed by one Eadsy, a priest, who, on his turning monk, had licence granted him by king Cnute, and Ælgise his queen, in the year 1032, to dispose of it as he pleased, and he accordingly gave it to the convent of Christchurch, in Canterbury; (fn. 4) and it remained part of the possessions of that church at the time of the conquest; and when archbishop Lanfrance soon afterwards divided the revenues of his church, Apuldore, in this division, sell to the share of the monks, and was allotted for their subsistence, or de cibo eorum, as the record of the monastery mentions it. In Domesday it is thus entered, under the title of Terra monachorum Archiepi, i. e. the land of the monks of the archbishop.

In Limowart lath, in Blacheborne bundred, the archbishop himself holds Apeldres. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was taxed at two sulings, and now for one. The arable land is eight carucates. In demesne there are three carucates, and thirty-seven villeins, with forty-one borderers having eleven carucates. There is a church, and six fisheries of three shillings and four-pence. There are two acres of meadow, and wood for the pannage of six bogs. In the time of king Edward the Consessor, and afterwards, it was worth six pounds, now sixteen pounds and seventeen shillings and six-pence.

In the 10th year of Edward II. the prior of Canterbury obtained a charter of free-warren for his manor of Apuldre among others. Thomas Goldstone, prior of Christ-church, in king Henry the's reign, among other beneficial acts to his convent, wholly rebuilt the court ledge of Apledore, with its offices, which had been burnt down. (fn. 5) After which it continued part of the possessions of this priory till its dissolution in the 31st year of Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, who by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled it on his new-sounded dean and chapter of Canterbury, with whom the inheritance of it still remains.

A court leet and court baron is held for this manor yearly, by the dean and chapter, which claims over all this parish, excepting such part of it as is in the borough of Great Kenarton, and extends itself over the two boroughs of Townborough and Hothborough, the borsholders of which are there chosen, and not at the court leet held for the hundred of Blackborne; nor do the inhabitants of these borough, owe any service to the court leet of that hundred, only at that court a constable may be chosen out of either of these boroughs for that hundred. (fn. 6) The court-lodge, together with the demesne lands belonging to it, have been from time to time demised by them on a beneficial lease for a term of years. The Digges's were formerly lessees of them, afterwards the Culpeper's, then the Westrow's, from whom the interest of the lease passed to the Hulse's, with whom it still continues; the present lessee being Richard Hulse, esq. of Blackheath.

HORNES-PLACE, or Hornes-farm, as it is now called, is an estate in the north-east part of this parish, the mansion of which was for a great length of time the residence of a family of that surname, and continued so till they removed to the adjoining parish of Kenardington in the reign of Henry VII. on their purchasing that manor, on which they likewise fixed their name. Michael Horne, who was sheriff anno 7 Henry IV. held his shrievalty here, and probably it may be his tomb now remaining under an arch in the south chancel of this church, though now much sunk into the ground. At length this family, as has been related before, ended in a female heir Benet, daughter of Henry Horne, esq. who carried this estate in marriage to Richard Guldeford, gent. who being attainted, this, among the rest of his lands, were confiscated to the crown, and the queen soon afterwards granted Hornesplace, in Apledore, with the lands belonging to it, to Philip Chute, esq. captain and standard bearer at Bullein, who afterwards resided here, and in his descendants it continued down to Sir George Choute, or Chute, bart. who dying in 1721 s. p. gave it with the rest of his estates, by will, to Edward Austen, who afterwards succeeded on the death of Sir Sheffield Austen to the title of baronet. He resided at Boxley abbey, where he died in 1760, and by his will devised it, in like manner with that seat and the rest of his estates, to his cousin John, son of Nicholas Amhurst, esq. who was afterwards of Boxley abbey. (fn. 7) He sold his interest in this with the other estates adjoining, devised to him as above-mentioned, for the term of his life, to William Dunning, esq. who is now in the possession of them.

This estate is now called Great Horne, to distinguish it from an estate called Little Horne, in the adjoining parish of Kenardington. Great Horne seems, from the extensive foundations, and the quantity of stones dug up, to have been very considerable. The only part of the antient structure now remaining is, what was the chapel, which adjoined to the mansionhouse, and seems to have been once an elegant and uniform building; underneath it is a vault, in which there is a well.

FRENCHAY is a manor here, which had once, as appears by old evidences, owners of that surname, but it was more noted for having had the family of Haut for its owners, from the reign of king Edward III. until that of king Henry VIII. when Jane, the youngest daughter and coheir of Sir William Haut, of Bishopsborne, entitled her husband Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington-castle, to it, who was attainted in the first year of queen Mary. He left a son George, who in the 13th year of queen Elizabeth was restored in blood by act of parliament, and in the 24th year of that reign had a grant of this manor from the queen. He was succeeded in it at his death, in 1624, by his eldest son Sir Francis Wyatt, who passed it away by sale in the next reign of king Charles I. to Thomas Floyd, or Fludd, esq. of Gore-court, in Otham, who in the year 1636 alienated it to Sir Edward Hales, knight and baronet, of Tunstall, in whose descendants it has conti nued down to Sir Edward Hales, bart. of St. Stephens, the present owner of it.

The abbot and convent of St. Augustine, were in the reign of king Henry III. anno 1247, possessed of lands here, in the demesne of Horyngbroke and Sherle moor, consisting of marsh and woodland. In which year the controversy between that abbot and the prior and convent of St. Martin, Dover, who had the appropriation of this parish, concerning the tithes of these lands, was settled; that so long as the abbot, &c. held them in their own hands, they should be free from tithes; but that whenever they were let to ferme, that then the prior and convent of Dover should receive them as of the tenants who occupied them, and not as of the estate, with this reserve, that the portion of sheaves and rents of money belonging to the abbot, should remain to him freely without tithes. (fn. 8)

There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about sixty, casually sixteen.

APLEDORE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Limne.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, stands on a knoll of ground close to the eastern side of the village, and, by report, was erected on the scite of the antient castle, demolished by the French in 1380, probably within a very small time afterwards, the ruins furnishing many materials for the building of it. Before this the church, by report, stood in a field adjoining to Redhill bridge, which is about midway between Apledore and Reading, on the road leading to Tenterden, the field where it stood being called Churchfield at this time. The present building is but a mean one, consisting of three isles and three chancels, with a square tower at the west end, which seems more antient than the rest of the church. In it hang six bells and a small one. The font is an octagon, on which are three coats of arms; first, A cross; second, Two keys in saltier; third, Three swords in the same manner. On the steeple at the west end, on the outside over the door, on the north side, A cross; in the middle, France and England; and on the south side, Canterbury impaling Warham. Henry Goulding, of Apledore, who lies buried in the south pace, was, by his will, in 1569, a good benefactor to the fabric of it; as was Thomas Knelle, who was buried in our Lady's chancel. In the south chancel is an antient tomb, remaining under an arch, now much sunk into the ground, supposed to be one of the family of Horne.

This church formerly belonged to the priory of St. Martin, in Dover, to which it was given by archbishop Langton, in the beginning of king Henry III.'s reign, and was not long afterwards appropriated to it, together with the appendant chapel of Ebene; both which were confirmed by the chapter of Christ-church, in Canterbury, with the deduction of a competent portion of sixteen marcs to the vicar of it, for his maintenance. (fn. 9)

This church, in the 8th year of king Richard II. was valued at twenty pounds, and in this state it continued till the dissolution of the above priory, in the 27th year of Henry VIII. when this priory, whose revenues did not amount to the clear yearly value of two hundred pounds, was suppressed, and, together with all its possessions, became vested in the crown; after which that king, by his indenture in his 29th year, granted both the appropriation and advowson of the vicarage, to archbishop Cranmer, and his successors, part of whose possessions they remain at this time.

The lessees of this parsonage seem to have been the same as of the demesnes of the manor mentioned before. The present lessee is Richard Hulse, esq. The vicarage of the church of Apledore, with the parochial church or chapel of Ebeney annexed, of which the archbishop is patron, is valued in the king's books at twenty one pounds, and the yearly tenths at two pounds. In 1640 it was valued at one hundred pounds. Communicants in Apledore one hundred and fifty, in Ebeney eighty. (fn. 10)

The lessee of the rectory has been paid, time out of mind, four shillings per acre for wheat, and two shillings per acre for Lent corn, in lieu of all rectorial tithes. The vicar receives six-pence per acre for all uplands, and twelve-pence an acre for all moor lands in the parish, whether sowed or not, which is supposed to be in lieu of all vicarial tithes, and to comprehend the tithe of hay likewise.

Among the Lambeth archives are several litigations concerning tithes, between this church and those of Bruckland, Snargate, and Kenardington; and a composition between the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and the prior and convent of St. Martin, concerning tithes of lands in Horingbroke and Sherle, anno 1247. See Ducarel's Repertory, p. 29.

Church of Apledore, with the Chapel of Ebeney annexed.

Patrons, VICARS.
Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. John Walsall, S. T. P. March 5, 1590, resigned 1608. (fn. 11)
Samuel Walsall, S. T. B. Feb. 8, 1608, resigned 1611. (fn. 12)
Robert Newman, S. T. P. Feb. 1, 1611, obt. 1612.
Richard Sheldon, S. T. P. Nov. 27, 1612. (fn. 13)
John Richards, in 1646.
John Vaughan, in 1655. (fn. 14)
The King. Francis Drayton, Jan. 17, 1660, obt. 1697. (fn. 15)
The Archbishop. John Johnson, A. M. 1697, obt. Dec. 15, 1725. (fn. 16)
Joseph Disney, A. M. April 19, 1726, obt. August 3, 1777 (fn. 17)
Richard Podmore, LL. B. Dec. 3, 1777, the present vicar. (fn. 18)


  • 1. Kilb. Survey, p. 12. See Somner's etymology of Apledore, in his Rom. Ports, p. 65.
  • 2. Dugd. Imb. p. 44. Somn. Roman Ports, 56. Reg. Roff. p. 678. Somn. Cant. p. 147. Willis's Mitred Abbeys, vol. i. p. 240, 243.
  • 3. Roman Ports, p. 51. See Sax. Chron. anno 393.
  • 4. See Somner's Gavelking, p. 213. Thorn. Chron. in Dec. Script. col. 2223.
  • 5. See Willis's Mitred Abbeys, vol. i. p. 246.
  • 6. Kilb. Surv. p. 13. Among the Harl. MSS. in the British Museum, are several custumal & tenent de Apledore ad Eccl. Cant Spect. No. 1006.
  • 7. See a further account of Sir Edward Austen, and his devise of his estates, and the entails created under his will, under Boxley, vol. iv. p. 339.
  • 8. Decem. Scriptores, col. 1895.
  • 9. See Ducarel's Repertory, p. 27.
  • 10. See Augtn. office, deeds of purchase and exchange, box D. 75.
  • 11. Prebendary of Chichester, one of the Six Preachers in Canterbury cathid, and rector of Easling, and died in 1617. Lel. Coll. vol. v. p. 210.
  • 12. Son of the former. He afterwards commenced S. T. P. was rector of Wilburgham Parva, in Cambridgeshire, and master of Benet college in 1617. Lel. Coll. ibid.
  • 13. He appears to have continued vicar in 1639. He had been a convert from the church of Rome, and was of the family afterwards possessed of Aldington, in Thurnham, in this county.
  • 14. Buried in this church.
  • 15. Afterwards rector of Wittersham, by dispensation. He died at St. Stephens, near Canterbury, to which he had retired a few years before his death.
  • 16. And vicar of Cranbrooke by dispensation.
  • 17. Likewise vicar of Cranbrooke by dispensation.
  • 18. In 1777 a dispensation passed for his holding this vicarage with that of Cranbrooke.