Parishes: Bethersden

Pages 485-496

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

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IS situated the next parish eastward from Smarden last-described. So much of this parish as is in the boroughs of Hales, Bridge, and Engeham or Povenden, is in the hundred of Blackborne, and west division of this county; and the residue of it, being part in the hundred of Chart and Longbridge, in which the church stands, and part in the hundred of Calehill, is in the eastern division of the county. The liberty of the manor of Wye claims over the borough of Snodehill, in the northern part of this parish.

THIS PARISH is situated within the bounds of the Weald, adjoining to Pluckley, at no great distance below the quarry hills southward, and contains about 4000 acres of land. It lies very low and flat; the soil is in most parts of it a stiff miry clay, and the face of the country very unpleasant and dreary; the roads wide, with a considerable breadth of green swerd on each side of them, much like those about Halden and Woodchurch, described before. There is a great deal of coppice wood of oak, with much good timber in them, interspersed throughout the parish, the houses in which are mostly built round the small greens or forstalls in the different parts of it. The head of the river Medway, which rises near Goldwell, in Great Chart, runs along the northern part of it westward towards Smarden, as has been already mentioned. The turnpike road from Tenterden to Halden, crosses this parish over Bull-green, round which there is a hamlet of houses, towards Great Chart, and thence to Ashford north-eastward; but this road, from the natural depth of the soil, and its never having had any improvement made on it since the trust has been created, is, like that part of it at Smarden before-described, hardly passable without the greatest danger, during the winter months; indeed there is a causeway, of the greatest use for the safety of travellers, along the side of it throughout this parish, made of the grey turbinated marble, which abounds in the northern part of it, especially about Frid, where much of this sort has been formerly dug; but those quarries are now but little used. This kind of marble, from its being dug up both here and at Petworth, in Sussex, is known by the names both of the Bethersden and the Petworth marble. It bears a good polish, and is very hard and durable, if dug up in its perpendicular state; but if horizontally, it usually peels off in flakes. It was formerly in great esteem in this county, for decorating the several religious buildings and churches in it; the cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester abound with it; in which, as well as in many of the churches, most of the antient tombs and monuments of the bishops and gentry are made of it; and in several of the antient mansions, the chimneypieces of the grandest apartments are composed of it. On the south-east side of Bull-green is a house, which has been for some years possessed by the Wilmotts, who bore for their arms, Argent, on a fess, gules, two escallops, between a bull, couchant, or, between three eagles heads, erased. The church stands at a small distance northward from the above green, on a small rise of ground, with the village close to the southward of it, at the east end of which is a good house, called THE Thorne, from a large thorn-tree growing near it, which in the time of king Charles I. belonged to a branch of the family of Whitfield, of Tenterden, one of whom, Francis Whitfield, gent. resided here, and died possessed of it in 1660. His grandson Francis Whitfield, gent. of Thorne-house, died in 1782, leaving two daughters his coheirs, the youngest of whom dying unmarried, the eldest, Elizabeth, became entitled to the whole of it, which she carried in marriage to William Curteis, esq. merchant, of London, youngest son of Edward Curteis, esq. of Tenterden, who has, in right of his wife, the entire property of it.

A fair is kept here yearly on St. Margaret's day, now, by the alteration of the stile, on July 31.

THE MANOR OF OLD SURRENDEN, alias BETHERSDEN, lies near the eastern bounds of this parish, and was formerly the original seat of the family of Surrenden, whence it gained the name of Old Surrenden, being prior to that at Pluckley, which afterwards became the residence of a junior branch of them, which ended about the beginning of king Richard II.'s reign. The arms of Surrenden, twice singly, and once impaled with Crouch, are in this church. In the reigns of king John and Henry III. Adam de Surrenden, called likewife in old dateless deeds, Suthrinden, was owner of this manor and resided here, as did his descendant Robert de Surrenden in the reign of king Edward II. in the 11th year of which he was bailiff of Westgate, and was then possessed of lands in this parish, Smarden, and Pluckley; and in this name it continued till king Henry VI.'s regin, in the beginning of which John Surrenden alienated it to cardinal archbishop Kempe, who in the 10th year of king Henry VI. settled it, among other premises, on his new-founded college of Wye, with which it staid till the dissolution of it in the 36th year of king Henry VIII. when this manor came into the hands of the crown; whence it was granted that year, to Walter Bucler, esq. (fn. 1) who two years afterwards alienated it to Sir Maurice Dennys, and he, in the 2d year of king Edward VI. sold it to Sir Anthony Aucher, who, in the 6th year of the same reign, passed it away to Philip Choute, esq. Standard bearer to king Henry VIII. at the siege of Bullein, where for his gallant behaviour, which the king rewarded, by assigning to him a canton to his antient coat of arms, of the like bearing as on the standard, viz. Party, per fess, argent, and vert, a lion, passant-guardant, or, being the lion of England; in whose descendants this manor continued down to Edward Choute, esq. whose name was frequently spelt, and usually pronounced Chewte. Their paternal coat was, Gules, semee of mullets, or, three swords in fess, argent, pomelled, or, the middlemost encountering the other two; which is authenticated by the books of the Heralds office; but on Sir G. Choute's monument in this church, they are, erroneously painted Gules, three swords, in pale, argent, pomelled, or; on a canton, parted per fess, argent and azure, a lion passantguardant, gules; when from its long continuance in them, and improvements they had made to this antient mansion, it had gained the name of Surrenden-Choute; as that at Pluckley had from its owners, in like manner, the name of Surrenden-Dering. He removed his residence to Hinxhill, the manor of which he had purchased, where he kept his shrievalty anno 11 king Charles I. and where his son Sir George Choute likewife resided; who was succeeded in this manor of Surrenden by his son George Choute, esq. who in 1684 was created a baronet, and afterwards residedat Lovelace, in this parish, of which he was only tenant, and dying there s.p. in 1721, devised this manor by will to Edward Austen, esq. of Tenterden, afterwards baronet, who soon afterwards sold it to Thomas Best, esq. of Chatham, and his grandson, Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, in Boughton Malherb, died possessed of it s.p. in 1793, and by will gave it to his youngest nephew George Best, esq. now of Chilston, the present owner of it.

THE MANOR OF LOVELACE is situated at a very small distance south-westward from the church. It was in early times the property of a family named Greensted, or Greenstreet, as they were sometimes called, the last of whom, Henry de Greensted, a man of eminent repute, as all the records of this county testisy, in the reigns of both king Edward II. and III. passed away this manor to Kinet, in which name it did not remain long; for William Kinet, in the 41st year of king Edward III. conveyed it by sale to John Lovelace, who erected that mansion here, which from thence bore his name in addition, being afterwards stiled Bethersden-Lovelace; from whence sprung a race of gentlemen, who in the military line acquired great reputation and honor, and by their knowledge in the municipal laws, deserved well of the commonwealth; from whom descended those of this name seated at Bayford, in Sittingborne, and at Kingsdown, in this county, the lords Lovelace of Hurley, and others of Berkshire. (fn. 2) At length, after this manor had continued in this family for many generations, resident at Lovelace-place, Colonel Richard Lovelace, soon after the death of king-Charles I. passed it away to Mr. Richard Hulse, descended from the antient family of that name, of Norbury and Nantwich hundred, in Cheshire, and bore the same arms, being Argent, three piles, sable, one issuing out of the chief, between the other two, reversed of the second. He resided at Lovelace-place, in which, together with this manor of Lovelace, he was succeeded by his son of the same name. His son and grandson of both, resident here, the latter of whom alienated it soon after his coming to the possession of it, to Sir Edwyn Stede, colonel and governor of Barbadoes, who died possessed of it in 1695, and in his descendants it continued down to Edwyn Stede, esq. of Harrietsham, who sold it soon after the year 1735, together with Harrietsham-place and other estates in this county, to William Horsemonden Turner, esq. of Maidstone, who died possessed of it in 1753, s.p. (fn. 3) and by will devised it to his wife Elizabeth, for her life. She died in 1782, being succeeded in this, as well as the rest of her estates, according to the limitation in her husband's will, by Charles Booth, esq. afterwards knighted, who died s.p. in 1795, upon which it came by the entail and limitations in Mr. Turner's will, to William Baldwin, esq. now of Harrietsham-place, who is the present owner of this manor.

FRID, usually called the Frid farm, corruptly for the Frith, is a manor in the northern part of this parish, which was antiently the patrimony of the family of Mayney, as appeared by several old deeds formerly in the hands of Mr. George Choute, one of whom, John Mayney, of Biddenden, died possessed of it in the 50th year of king Edward III. After they were become extinct here, the Darells, of Calehill, became possessed of it, in which it continued down to Sir John Darell, who in the reign of king Richard III. was a great promoter of the earl of Richmond's interest, insomuch that the king declared him a rebel and a traitor, and seized on all his estates, and in his 3d year granted this manor, by the name of Fridin Bodersdon, to the duke of Norfolk, who losing his life in the battle of Bosworth, in which the king likewise was slain, and being attainted in the 1st year of Henry VII. that king restored Sir John Darell, in his 2d year, to this manor, among the rest of his forfeited estates. His descendant George Darell, esq. died possessed of it in the year 1578, as appears by his will in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury, whose son Sir John Darell, at the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, alienated it to Thomas Gibbon, a younger branch of those of Rolvenden, who afterwards resided here, and Harris says, (fn. 4) their arms, being Sable, a lion rampant, or, between three escallops, argent, were in this church; as were those of Mayney, Party, per pale, argent and sable, three chevrons between three cinquesoils, all counter changed. He left issue three sons; Robert, who possessed this manor, and died without issue; Thomas, who succeeded his brother in it; and John, who was of Bishopsborne. Thomas Gibbon, the second son, resided here in the reign of king James I. and left two daughters his coheirs; the youngest of whom, Lydia, entitled her husband Edward Choute, esq. of Surrenden, in this parish, to the possession of this manor; since which it has passed in like manner as the manor of Lovelace before described, down to William Baldwin, esq. of Harrietsham, who is the present possessor of it.

HACCHESDEN, now called Eytchden, is another manor, which lies adjoining to a heath or hugh, at the north-east bounds of this parish, and was formerly reputed a member of the manor of Boughton Aluph; which was held of the honor of Bologne, of which it was held for some time by the same owners; though in Henry III.'s reign I meet with one William de Hacchesden, who had some claim to the possession of it.

Stephen de Bocton died possessed of that manor, with this of Hacchesden, in the 14th year of king Edward I. holding it in capite by knight's service. Soon after which it passed into the family of Burghersh, one of whom, Stephen de Burghersh, in the 1st year of king Edward II. obtained a charter of free-warren in all his demesne lands within it, and died two years afterwards. Thomas de Aldon died possessed of it in the 35th year of the next reign of king Edward III. Soon after which Sir Thomas Tryvet became possessed of the reversion of it, in right of his wife, leaving two daughters his coheirs, from one of whom it passed into the family of Brockhull, of Saltwood, one of whom, Thomas de Brockhull, of Calehill, in the 12th year of king Henry IV. enfeossed John Darell in this manor, in whose family it continued till about the reign of king James I. when it was alienated to Tuston, in whose descendants, earls of Thanet, excepting the woods belonging to it which have been sold off, it has descended down to the right hon. Sackville, earl of Thanet, the present owner of it.

There was once a chapel at this manor of Hecchindenne, which has been time out of mind ruinated. Archbishop Hubert, in the reign of king Richard I. confirmed the church of Bethersden, together with this chapel, to the priory of St. Gregory, in Canterbury, among the rest of their possessions.

WISENDEN is a district, lying at the north-west bounds of this parish, in which there is a seat of that name, which has been for several centuries in the family of Witherden, whose name was antiently written Wetherynden, who have constantly resided at it; one of whom, Robert Wetherynden, of Betrysden, appears, by his will, to have died owner of it, anno 18 Henry VIII. bearing for his arms, Argent, on a chief, azure, three catherine wheels, or. Thomas Witherden, gent. died possessed of it in 1663, and was buried in this church, in whose descendants it has continued, together with the manor of Thornden, in this parish, in a direct line, down to Thomas Witherden, esq. now of Wisenden.


THOMAS MARGANT gave an house, barn, stable, and seven pieces of land, containing about fourteen acres, in this parish, of the yearly rent of 9l.

STEPHEN GLOVER gave to the poor of this parish, a parcel of land in it, containing about eight acres, of the yearly rent of 4l.

EDWARD TUESNOAD gave 10s. per annum, out of land, known by the name of Tuesnoad-land, now vested in John Hills.

A SMALL PIECE of ground, containing about 20 perches, adjoining to Bull-green; and the land of Mr. Whitaker, of the yearly rent of 2s. 6d. were given by a person unknown.

The number of poor constantly relieved are about eightyfive, casually one hundred and fifteen.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. Margaret, consists of three isles and three chancels, having a tower steeple, with a beacon turret, in which are six bells. In the middle isle of this church lie the Wilmotts, of this parish, and in the middle chancel the Witherdens, both which have been taken notice of before. In this chancel is likewise a gravestone, with brass, and an inscription for William Lovelace, gent. once citizen of London, obt. 1459. On another, the figure of an old man in robes, and an inscription for Thomas, one of the sons of Wm. Lovelace, sergeantat-law, obt. 1591, æt. 28, a much younger age than his figure denotes. And within the altair rails are several memorials for the Dynes, ancestors of those of Milton, Rochester, and Malling, in this county. The south chancel is called the Lovelace chancel, in which several of the Hulses of this parish lie buried. The north chancel is called the Frid chancel, in which the Choutes likewise of this parish lie buried, all whom have been already noticed before.

In a peculiar chancel on the north side of this church, built by one of the Lovelaces, there was a perpetual chantry, founded about the 38th year of Henry VI. anno 1459, by William Lovelace, mercer and merchant adventurer of London, a younger son of this family, who lies buried in the middle chancel of it as before-mentioned, which foundation was confirmed by the above-mentioned king. This chantry was dissolved anno 2 Edward VI. but the tenths of it, being 13s. 0¼d. are still paid to the crown-receiver. (fn. 5)

This church was part of the antient possessions of the priory of St. Gregory, founded by archbishop Lanfranc; and archbishop Hubert confirmed this church of St. Margaret of Beatrichesdenne, with the wood and tithes, together with the chapel of Hecchisdenne to it, in king Richard I.'s reign. In the 8th year of Richard II. this church was become appropriated to the above priory, and a vicarage endowed of it. The church, with the advowson of the vicarage, remained part of the possessions of the above-mentioned priory till the dissolution of it in king Henry VIII.'s reign, when it was, with all its lands and possessions, surrendered into the king's hands, where this church and advowson remained among the other possessions of the priory but a small time, for an act passed that year to enable the archbishop to exchange the scite of the late dissolved priory of St. Radigund, with all its possessions, with the king, for the scite of the late dissolved priory of St. Gregory, and the greatest part of its possessions. This church of Bethersden becoming thus part of the revenues of the see of Canterbury, was demised by the archbishop, among the rest of the revenues of the above-mentioned priory, in one great beneficial lease for twenty-one years, in which all advowsons and nominations of churches and chapels were excepted; under which same king of demise it has continued from time to time ever since. Philip, earl of Chesterfield, as heir to the Wottons, was lessee of the above premises, in which this parsonage was included; since whose decease in 1773, his interest in the lease of them has been sold by his executors to George Gipps, esq. of Canterbury, who is the present lessee under the archbishop for them.

The rectory or parsonage of Bethersden, to which there is a manor appendant, pays 6s. 4d. procurations to the archbishop, and 7s. 6d. for the same to the archdeacon of Canterbury.

The vicarage is valued in the king's books at twelve pounds per annum, and the yearly tenths at 1l. 4s. In 1587 there were communicants here three hundred and fifty-two, and it was valued at sixty pounds. In 1640 there were four hundred, and it was then valued at one hundred and twenty pounds. Archbishop Juxon, anno 13 and 28 Charles II. augmented this vicarage with thirty pounds, to be paid yearly by the lessee of the great tithes. There is a modus claimed of four-pence an acre for all land in this parish, (excepting woodland, which claims an exemption from the payment of tithes) paid to the vicar, in lieu of all tithes whatsoever. The lessee of the parsonage claims the tithe of corn only. The archbishop continues the patron of this vicarage.

The vicarage-house, which was built of timber and thatched, was burnt down in 1669, and was rebuilt of brick, as at present, by Jonathan Whiston, vicar, in 1676.

Church of Bethersden.

The Archbishop. Richard Gresbrooke, A. M. Nov. 14, 1698, obt. 1609.
John Hepborne, A. M. Oct. 27, 1609, obt. 1612.
John Copley, Oct. 17, 1612, resigned 1616.
John Arnoyn, A. M. Nov. 3, 1616, deprived 1622.
Richard Taylor, A. M. May 27, 1622.
John Thriste, A.B. Feb. 23, 1626, obt. May 1630. (fn. 6)
William Turner, obt. 1631.
Ralph Abbot, A. B. Dec. 19, 1631, and in 1642.
Wood, in 1653. (fn. 7)
Richard Rands, A. M. March 19, 1667.
Jonathan Whiston, A. M. Aug. 9, 1669, obt. November 30, 1697. (fn. 8)
Henry Hughes, A. M. June 8, 1698, obt. 1704.
Simon Hughes, A. M. Sept. 2, 1704, resigned 1711. (fn. 9)
Thomas Muriell, A. B. April 3, 1711, obt. 1717.
Thomas Hardis, LL. B. Oct. 3, 1717.
James Barham, obt. 1734.
John Fetherston, A. M. inducted April 6, 1734, obt. 1747. (fn. 10)
Henry Dell, April 2, 1747, ob. Oct. 18, 1763. (fn. 11)
William Jones, A. B. Dec. 16, 1763, resigned 1765.
Henry Kent, D. D. Nov. 24, 1765, resigned 1780.
David Martin, Jan. 24, 1781, resigned 1786. (fn. 12)
Lisc. M. Stretch, A. M. May, 1786. (fn. 13)
Daniel Wilcox, 1787, the present vicar.


  • 1. Rot. Esch. 32, N. 124. See Pluckley before.
  • 2. Philipott, p. 72. See a further account of this family and its different branches, vol. ii. of this history, p. 479.
  • 3. See more of the Stedes and Turners, vol. v. of this history, p. 449, 450.
  • 4. See his History of Kent, p. 39.
  • 5. Philipott, p. 73. Bacon's Liber Regis, p. 21.
  • 6. Buried here. His will is in the Prerog. off. Cant.
  • 7. See Cries of the Quakers, p. 3.
  • 8. See History of archbishop Laud's Troubles, p. 16.
  • 9. And rector of Herst. See Smarden before.
  • 10. Before rector of Warden, and vicar of Leysdown.
  • 11. He had been for some time minister of a Presbyterian congregation in Canterbury.
  • 12. He resigned this vicarage for that of Leysdown, in Shepey.
  • 13. He resigned the vicarage of Leysdown for this of Bethersden.