Parishes: Mersham

Pages 592-602

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

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THE next parish to Kingsnoth north-eastward is Mersham, being the last to be described in this hundred. It is written in Domesday and other antient records Mersham. A small district of the eastern part of it is in the hundred of Bircholt Franchise, and the rest of it in this hundred of Chart and Longbridge.

MERSHAM lies about four miles from Ashford, on the quarry hills, where it is a dry and pleasant situation. The high road from Ashford to Hythe crosses it eastward, along the high ground, over Mershamlees or heath, on the north side of which is the mansion and park of Hatch, pleasantly situated on the brow of the hill, having a beautiful view from the back front, bounded by the down hills. It is a very elegant building of brick, embellished with quoins, balustrade, and other ornaments of free-stone. The apartments in it are superb, as well as commodious. The park, which adjoins on the north side of it, extends into the vale beneath, where it is well watered. On the high ground the soil is mostly a sand, or loam mixed with the quarry-stone, but northward, at the lower part of Hatch-park, it changes to a deep miry clay, where the stream which runs on towards Swatfield bridge and Ashford, bounds it from Hinxhill northward; at a small distance on the opposite or south sides of the lees, going down the hill, is the village or street of Mersham, in which is the rector's house, and opposite a large good mansion, which lately belonged to Mr. Turner Marshall, who resided in it. He left two daughters his coheirs, Elizabeth married to Mr. Edward Hughes, and Anne to Mr. William Mantell, late of Tenterden, deceased. Mr. Hughes now resides in it. And at a small distance further down, on the east side of it, is the church, from which there is a fine view southward; and at the west end of the church-yard is the court lodge of the manor. On the same side, somewhat lower, is a neat fashed house, late the Rev. Mr. Tournay's, but now belonging to Mr. Fox, who lives in it; about one field distant westward stands a great old house, called the Boys house, inhabited for several generations by a branch of the Boys family, the last of whom, Mr. John Boys, was descended from Thomas Boys, of Bonnington, in Goodnestone, in king Henry the VIIIth.'s reign, a younger son of William Boys, of Fredville, by Isabel Phallop. From Thomas above-mentioned, descended likewise those of Sevington and Willesborough; be died possessed of it in 1767, leaving three daughters his coheirs, of whom the two surviving ones, Elizabeth and Mary, are still living, unmarried, at Ashford, and are the present owners of this house, which is inhabited by Mr. Cole, father of the Rev. Dr. Cole, rector of this parish, and Mr. Charles Staples, who married Mr. Cole's daughter. Further down it is called Kingford-street, formerly Kyngesfysh-street, beyond which there is a bridge over that branch of the Stour, called the Old Stour, which runs from hence by Sevington towards Ashford, as has been already mentioned, on which there is a corn-mill. Here there is much pasture ground, seemingly very rich; and at a small distance a good sashed house, formerly belonging to the Mantells, and from them usually called the Mantell house. It was purchased some years ago of the children of Edward Mantell, esq. by Mr. Joseph Hodges, who again sold it to Mr. Stephenson, of London, banker, who resided in it for some time, till he removed thither. The road, through the village southward, is the high and most frequented one from Ashford to the lower part of the Weald, by the four vents at Broadoak, and thence to Bilsington-cross; during the whole of which the soil is a deep stiff clay a miserable wet and dreary country, and the roads execrably bad.

There is a fair in this parish on the Friday in Whitsun week, for pedlary and toys.

THE MANOR OF WYE claims over some small part of this parish, as do the manors of Polton, Saltwood, and Brockholt, over other lands in it.

MERSHAM was given by one Siward and Matilda his wife, to the monks of Christ-church, though Somner in his Roman Ports, p. 110, says, that king Etheldred, (who died in 1016) granted it to that priory, with the privilege of several denberries in the Weald, and the same year he granted to them free-warren, and other liberties, and king Edward the Confessor, called in the register of that monastery St. Edward, confirmed this gift in the year 1061, and it was apportioned de cibo eorum, that is, to the use of their refectory. Notwith standing this gift to the monks, it is entered in the record of Domesday among the archbishop's lands, and follows:

In Langebrige hundred, the archbishop himself holds Merseham in demesne. It was taxed at seven sulings. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and now, for three. The arable land is twelve carucates. In demesne there are three carucates, and thirty-nine villeins, with nine borderers having sixteen carucates. There is a church, and two mills of five shillings, and two saltpits of five shillings, and thirteen acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of thirty bogs. In its whole value, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth ten pounds, now twenty pounds.

By what means it came into the possession of the archbishop, for so it certainly was, or when it returned to the monks, does not appear, only that they soon afterwards were again in the possession of it; and accordingly in the 17th year of king Edward I. anno 1289, the prior and convent appear to have released certain base or villein services to their tenants of this manor, for which the lord received a pecuniary rent or fine, (fn. 1) and in the 10th year of king Edward II. they had a grant of free warren from their demesne lands within this manor, among others. In which situation it continued till the final dissolution of the priory in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it came, with the rest of the possessions of it, into the king's hands; where this manor did not remain long, for the king, in his 33d year, settled it by his donation-charter on his new erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it remains at this time.

A court baron is regularly held for this manor by the dean and chapter; but the demesne lands are demised from time to time on a beneficial lease. Samuel Goddard is the present lessee, and resides in the courtlodge, in the walls of which are several gothic arched windows and door-ways of ashlar stone, and other marks of its antient appearance.

HATCH is a manor and seat in this parish, which is frequently written in antient deeds Le Hatch, and was formerly in the possession of a family named Edwards, in which it continued till it was at length sold by the executors of the last of that name, in king Henry VII.'s reign, to Richard Knatchbull, who afterwards resided at it, being descended of a family originally of Limne, in this county, where, as appears by very antient deeds, they were possessed of a plentiful patrimony, and bore for their arms, Azure, three cross-croslets fitchee, between two bendlets, or; his descendant, Sir Norton Knatchbull, kept his shrievalty at Hatch in the 5th year of James I. and died here in 1636 s. p. having by will founded the free grammer school at Ashford. His successor in this manor and seat, was his nephew and heir Norton, eldest surviving son of his next brother Thomas, who resided at Hatch, and served in parliament for this county, being a gentleman of great abilities and learning. On August 4, 1641, being the 17th year of Charles I. he was created a baronet. He died in 1684, and was buried in the family vault under the south chancel of this church. His descendant Sir Edw. Knatchbull, bart. was of Hatch, and served in parliament for this county likewise. He died in 1730, having married Alice, daughter of John Wyndham, esq. of Nonington, in Wiltshire, and sister to Thomas, lord Wyndham, lord chancellor of Ireland, by whom he left five sons and three daughters; Wyndham, who succeeded him in title; Thomas died unmarried; Edward, who succeeded his nephew in title and estate, as will be mentioned hereafter; Wadham, who was chancellor and prebendary of Durham, and died in 1760, leaving three sons and one daughter Frances, who married. Thomas Knight, esq. late of Godmersham, and Norton, who was of Babington, in Somersetshire, esq.

Sir Wyndham Knatchbull, bart. the eldest son, kept his shrievalty at Hatch in 1733, and took the surname and arms of Wyndham, pursuant to the will of his uncle the lord chancellor Wyndham, who died s. p. and by will devised his estates to him with that injunction, and for which an act passed that year. He died in 1749, having married Catherine, daughter of James Harris, esq. of Salisbury, by whom he left two daughters, Joane-Elizabeth, now of St. Stephen's, near the city of Canterbury, unmarried; Catherine, who likewise died unmarried; and one son Sir Wyndham Knatchbull, bart. who about 1760 pulled down the antient seat of Hatch, and began the building of a new mansion at a small distance southeastward from it, which he did not live to finish, for he died in 1763, being then knight of the shire, unmarried, and was succeeded in title and estates by his uncle and heir Sir Edward Knatchbull, bart. then of Salisbury, but afterwards of Hatch, who completed the building of this elegant seat. He died in 1788, having married Grace, second daughter of William Legg, esq. of Salisbury, by whom he left three daughters, Anne-Elizabeth, who married her cousin Wyndham Knatchbull, esq. eldest son of Dr. Wadham Knatchbull, late prebendary of Durham above-mentioned; Catherine-Maria, and Joane. Edward, his only surviving son, succeeded him in title and estates, being then of Provenders, who served the office of sheriff in 1785, having married first Mary, daughter and coheir of William Western Hugessen, esq. of Provenders, by whom he has two sons, Edward, born in 1782, and Norton; and secondly, Frances, second daughter of Charles Graham, esq. by whom he has a son Wyndham. Sir Edward Knatchbull, bart. now resides at Hatch, having been member in two successive parliaments for this county.

QUARINGTON, or Quatberington, as it was sometimes written, is a small manor, lying in the valley in the northern part of this parish, near the stream, which was once the property of owners of that name, one of whom, Simon de Quarington, resided at it in the 4th year of king Edward I. anno 1275, as appears by the chartularie of Christ-church. Soon after which, this name became extinct here, and it came into the possession of Nicholas Blechenden, who resided here at the latter end of that reign, whose grandson William Blechenden being the earliest possessor of this manor that is mentioned in the deeds of it, was owner of it in the reign of king Richard II. He married Agnes, daughter and coheir of Godfrey, of Simnells, in Aldington, of which becoming possessed in her right, he left this place and removed thither, though his descendants seem to have continued proprietors of it till the latter end of the reign of queen Elizabeth, when it was alienated by one of them to Claget, of Canterbury, and George Claget, alderman, and thrice mayor of that city, son of Robert Claget, of Malling, who bore for his arms, Ermine, on a fess, sable, three pheons, or, (fn. 2) passed it away by sale, in the reign of James I. to Henry Estday, of Saltwood, whose arms were, Azure, a griffin segreant, argent, a chief of the second. (fn. 3) He sold it to Sir Norton Knatchbull, of Hatch; since which it has continued in the same family, resident at Hatch, and baronets, down to the present owner of it, Sir Edward Knatchbull, bart. of Mers ham-hatch.


DAME JANE KNATCHBULL, of Godmersham, widow of Sir John Knatchbull, bart. by will in 1700, devised to her nephew Edward Knatchbull, esq. and his heirs for ever, all her share of one-third part in the reversion of all such lands and tenements in Kent as belonged to her, expectant on the death of her mother dame Elizabeth Monins, upon trust, that they should lay out the money arising from the sale of them, in the purchase of lands in this county, in trust, that they should yearly for ever, dispose of the rents of them as follows, 10l. to a schoolmaster, to teach poor children of the parish to read English, write, and cast accompts; and the residue to be distributed yearly among such of the poor people of this parish as they should think fit. These lands are now vested in Sir Edward Knatchbull, bart. and are of the annual produce of 78l.

This school is taught by the clerk of the parish, in a small room adjoining to the church, who is paid the above salary of 10l. for the instructing of a limited number of children, and the liberty of taking others for his further emolument.

RICHARD BRETT, by will in 1711, devised land to the use of the poor of this parish, now vested in Mr. Thomas Brett, and of the annual produce of 1l.

MRS. ELIZABETH MAY, of Sittingborne, by will in 1721, gave 9l. every third year, chargeable on the estate called Bilham-farm, to this parish, Sevington, and Kingsnoth, to be paid clear of all deductions, to be applied for the binding out yearly a child an apprentice, of the poorest people in those parishes, to be approved of by such persons as should be owners of that estate, in manner as has been already more fully mentioned under these parishes.

The poor constantly relieved are about fifty eight, casually sixty-five.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. John Baptist, consists of two isles and two chancels, having a handsome square tower at the west end, in which are five bells. In the north window of the high chancel is the figure of a bishop, with his mitre and crosier, praying, and the figure of a saint, with the dragon under his feet. On the rector's pew is carved in wood, a coat of arms, being A fess, in chief, three balls. In this chancel is a memorial for Elizabeth, widow of William Legg, of New Sarum, and mother of dame Grace, wife of Sir Edward Knatchbull, bart. obt. 1771; and several monuments and memorials for the Knatchbull family. The south chancel belongs to them, in which are several monuments and memorials of them, particularly a most superb one for Sir Norton Knatchbull, who died in 1636, having his figure in full proportion lying on it, and above that of his lady kneeling in a praying posture, under a canopy supported by two figures; above are the arms of Knatchbull impaling Ashley; underneath this chancel is a large vault, in which this family lie buried. A monument for Margaret Collyns, daughter of Thomas Tourney, gent. and wife of William Collyns, gent. obt. 1595; arms, Vert, a griffin, or, gerged with a ducal coronet, argent, impaling Tourney. In the north isle are several memorials for the Boys's, of this parish; for Richard Knatchbull, esq. and for Mary Franklyn, obt. 1763. In the west window, which is very large, nearly the whole breadth of the isle, and consists of many compartments, are eight figures of men, pretty entire, and much remains of other painted glass in the other parts of it. The arms of Septvans and Fogge were formerly in one of the windows of the high chancel.

The church of Mersham was formerly appendant to the manor, and belonged with it to the convent of Christ-church; but when the survey of Domesday was taken in the year 1080, it appears to have been in the possession of the archbishop, with whom the manor did not continue long before it was again vested in the convent; but the advowson of the rectory remained with the archbishop, and has continued parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury to this time, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.

This rectory is valued in the king's books at 26l. 16s. 10½d. and the yearly tenths, which are now payable to the crown-receiver, at 2l. 13s. 8¼d.

In 1578 here were communicants two hundred and forty-seven. In 1640, one hundred and eighty, and it was valued at eighty pounds.

Church of Mersham.

Or by whom presented
The Archbishop. John Whiting. obt. 1605. (fn. 4)
William Covell, S.T.P. April 12, 1605, obt. 1613.
Francis Foxton, S.T.P. Feb. 9, 1613, obt. 1626. (fn. 5)
William Master, S.T.P. April 3, 1626, obt. 1628. (fn. 6)
Thomas Hackett, A. M. Oct. 22, 1628.
John Ramsey, Oct. 5, 1636.
George May, jun. resig. 1665.
John Castilion, S. T. P. April 29, 1665, resigned 1677. (fn. 7)
John Cooke, A.M. Oct. 27, 1677, obt. Aug. 13, 1726. (fn. 8)
Henry Archer, S.T.P. Oct. 14, 1726, obt. 1744. (fn. 9)
John Chapman, S.T.P. June 27, 1744, ob. Oct. 14, 1784. (fn. 10)
Thomas Drake, S. T. P. 1784, resigned 1786. (fn. 11)
Houflonne Radcliffe, S. T. P 1786, resigned 1790. (fn. 12)
William Cole, S. T. P. 1790, tbe present rector. (fn. 13)


  • 1. See Somn. Gavelkind, p. 58, append. p. 187.
  • 2. As attested in the pedigree signed by Sir Wm. Segar, parter, See Book of Testifications in Heralds-office, marked M. 2.
  • 3. There is a pedigree of them in Vistn. co. Kent, anno 1619. See also Saltwood.
  • 4. His will is in the Prerog. office, Canterbury.
  • 5. He was buried in the chancel. His will is in the above office.
  • 6. Likewise rector of Sevington, and prebendary of Canterbury.
  • 7. Likewise vicar of Minister, in Thanet, and prebendary of Canterbury, and being made dean of Rochester he resigned this rectory. He died in 1688, and was buried in Canterbury cathedral.
  • 8. Likewise rector of St. George's, in Canterbury, and a six preacher. He had been before rector of Cookstone, near Rochester. See Wood's Ath. vol. ii. f. 175. He lies buried in the high chancel of this church.
  • 9. He held the vicarage of Faversham with this rectory. He had been before likewise vicar of Herne, which vicarage he resigned on being presented to this rectory.
  • 10. He was likewise rector of Aldington by dispensation, and treasurer of the church of Chichester. He died æ. 81, and was buried in the chancel of this church. For the doctor's character, see the printed case relating to archbishop Potter's options, devised by him in his will to his executors, of which Dr. Chapman was one. Brown's Cases of Appeals to Parliament, anno 1760, vol. v. p. 400.
  • 11. He resigned this rectory for that of Catford, in Huntingdonshire.
  • 12. On being collated to the rectory of Ickham, which he now holds with the vicarage of Gillingham. He was also, prebendary of Ely, which he quitted on being collated to the sixth prebendal stall of Canterbury cathedial. He and his predecessor had been both domestic chaplains to Archbisbop Moore.
  • 13. And prebendary of Westminster.