Parishes: Cranbrooke

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: Cranbrooke', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7, (Canterbury, 1798), pp. 90-113. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Cranbrooke", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7, (Canterbury, 1798) 90-113. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Cranbrooke", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7, (Canterbury, 1798). 90-113. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

In this section


LIES the next parish eastward from Goudhurst, a small part of it is in the north borough of the hundred of Great Barnefield, and another small part in the borough of Iborden, in the hundred of Barkley, and all the residue in the hundred of Cranbrooke. It is an the western division of the country.

THIS PARISH is situated in the centre of the Weald, of which it is a principal one as to its wealth, size, and consequence, being about eight miles long, and fix in breadth; it is exceeding healthy, and considering the deepness of the soil, and the frequency of the woods, far from being unpleasant; the oaks interpersed over it, like the adjoining country, are numerous and of a large size, the hedge-rows broad, and the inclosures small. The north and east parts especially are covered with woods, which consist mostly of oak. There are several rises of small hill and dale throughout it; the soil is in general, excepting in that part of it northward of the church, about Anglye, where it is a light sand, and the lands of course poor, a kindly fort of clay, which is rendered more fertile by its native rich marle, of which there is much throughout it; besides arable, there is much rich pasture and fatting land, and some hundred acres of good hop-ground. The principal high roads from London, Maidstone and Tunbridge, by Brenchley, Yalding, and Stylebridge, meet here near the town, and lead from hence by different branches to Tenterden and Romney Marsh; to Hawkhurst and Suffex, and to Smarden, Charing, and the eastern parts of Kent. They are wholly made with sand, and though in wet weather they are exceedingly firm and good, yet in dry seasons, from the looseness of the sand, they become very deep and heavy, and by the heat and dust arising from them, are so very offensive and painful, as to become almost intolerable; the bye roads are very bad in winter, and so very deep and miry, as to be but barely passable till they are hardened by the drouth of summer. It is well watered by several small Streamlets, the principal ones of which joint the branch of the Medway just below Hedcorne.

There are three chalybeate springs in the parish, at Sifinghurt, Glassenbury, and Anglye. The waters of them are much like those at Tunbridge, and when weighed prove heavier, but they have not near so much spirit. The town of Cranbrook is situated on the western side of the parish, on the road leading from Maidstone by Stylebridge towards Hawkhurst and Suffex. at the 52d mile-stone, and consists of one large wide street, of about a mile in length, having the church nearly in the centre of it. There is but a very small part of it paved, from the market-place eastward, which was begun in 1654, being done through mere necessity; the depends and mire of the soil before, being not only a great hindrance to the standing of the market people, but to the passing of all travellers in general. The market is still held on a Saturday, for corn and hops, and is a very plentiful one for meat and other provisions. It was obtained by archbishop Peckham, anno 18 Edward I. And there are two fairs held yearly, on May 30, and Sept. 29, for horned cattle, horses linen drapery, toys, &c. but the latter is the largest, at which there is a great deal of business done in the top trade.

Here was the centre of the cloathing trade, one of the pillars of the kingdom, which formerly flourished in these parts, and greatly enriched not only this county, but the nation in general. The occupation of it was formerly of considerables consequences and estimation, and was exercised by persons who possessed most of the landed property in the Weald, insomuch that almost all the antient families of these parts, now of large estates, and genteel rank in life, and some of them ennobled by titles, are sprung from, and owe their fortunes to ancestors who have used this great staple manufacture, now almost unknown here. Among others, the Bathursts, Ongleys, Courthopes. Maplesdens, Gibbons's, Westons, Plumers, Austens, Dunkes, and Stringers. They were usually called, from their dress, the grey coats of Kent, and were a body to numerous and united, that at county elections, whoever had their votes and interest was almost certain of being elected. It was first introduced here by king Edward III who, in his 10th year, invited some of the Flemings into England, by promises of large rewards, and grants of several immunities, to teach the English the cloth manufacture; but this trade, after flourishing here for so many centuries, is now almost disused in these parts, there being only two houses of it remaining in this parish; but there is yet some little of the woolstapling business carried on. The inhabitants throughout the parish, who are in general wealthy and substantial, are computed to be about 3000, of which a great part are differenters from the church of England, for whose use there are four meeting-houses in the town, one for Presbyterians, the second for Methodistical Baptists, the third for Cavinistical Baptists, and the fourth for Independants. The Presbyterians formerly were the most numerous fect throughout this county; but they are greatly diminished of late years, and the Methodistical Baptists are the prevailing sect, and greatly increasing every year, through every part of it. Besides these there is a meeting-house for the Quakers, with a burying ground, but I beleive there is not one of this fact in the parish, though they yet hold an annual meeting here.

In the upper or western part of this town is a good house, called Sheppards, late the property and residence of William Tempest, esq. who died possessed of it in 1784, and his only surviving son John Templet, esq. is now the owner of it. At a small distance from the west end of the town is Goddards green, the antient residence of the family of Courthope. Alexander Courthope died possessed of a house and estate here in the year 1525, as did his grandson, of the same name, in 1608. He had issue eleven sons and five daughters, and lies buried under a tomb in Cranbroke church-yard. (fn. 1) From one of these sons was descended, in the fourth generation, the late Alexander Courthope, esq. of Sprivers, and the eldest of them was father of Peter Couthope, esq. who in the reign of Charles I. having purchased Danny, in Suffex, of the earl of Norwich, removed thither. His grandson, of the same name, left an only daughter and heir, who carried this estate in marriage to Henry Campion, esq. of Combwell, and his great grandson, John William Campion, esq. of Danny, is the present owner of it.

At Upper Wilsley, which is a small hamlet almost adjoining to the north-east end of the town, is a seat, for several generations inhabited by the Westons, several of whom lie buried in Cranbrooke church yard, though some of their inscriptions are obliterated through length of time. They bore for their arms, Three lions heads, erased and crowned. John Weston, clotheir, resided here, and died possessed of it in 1694. John Weston, gent. his grandson, died possessed of it a few years ago, whose widow, is become entitled to the possession of it, for her life, and now resides in it.

The manor of Glassenbury claims over the greatest part of the town of Cranbrooke; the manor of Godmersham claims over the remainder of it, and all the denne of Cranbrooke, excepting the George inn, with its appurtenances, which is out of it, and is held of the king by knight's service; and the liberty of the manor or Wye claims over the brought of Frechisley, alias Abbots Franchise, which has a court leet of itself, the borsholder where of is chosen there, and the inhabitants of the same owe no service to the court leet holden for the hundred, only at this court a constable for the hundred may be chosen out of that borough.

THE MANOR OF GLASSENBURY is of considerable note, the mansion of which is situated near three miles north-west from the church. This seat was for many generations the residence of the antient family of Rokehurst, the first of whom, who settled in this county, was William Rookehurst, alias Roberts, a gentleman of Scotland, of the shire of Anandale, who, leaving his native country, came to the adjoining parish of Goudhurst in the 3d year of king Henry I. and then purchased lands at Winchett hill there, where he built a mansion for his residence; which lands were afterwards named from him, the lands and denne of Rookeburst, which name it still retains, and there is a tablet put up over a tomb in the south chancel of this church, giving an account of him and his posterity, who bore for their arms, Azure, on a chevron, argent, three miles, sable. This family continued at Goudhurst for 274 years, till, in the reign of king Richard II. Stephen Roberts, alias Rookehurst, marrying Joane, daughter and heir of William Tilley, esq. of Glassenbury, whose ancestors had resided here, as appeared by private evidences, from the time of king Edward I. removed to his manor, where he built a mansion, on the hill of Glassenbury, which came by lineal descent to Walter Roberts, esq. who possessed it in the reigns of king Edward IV. and Henry VII. and was the first who wrote himself by that name only. He, about the year 1473, pulled down this antient seat, and built another lower down the valley, being the present seat of Glassenbury, which he moated round, and inclosed a large park which lay at some distance from it; to enable him to do which, in the 4th year of king Henry VII. he had a grant to impark six hundred acres of land, and one thousand acres of wood, in Cranebrooke, Gowdehurst, and Ticehurst, in Kent and Suffex, and liberty of free warren in all his lands and woods, and of fishing in all waters in his lands in those parishes, with all liberties and franchises usually granted in such cases. The park of Glassenbury has been long since disparked. He was afterwards dispossessed of this seat, and forced to fly into sanctuary. for endeavouring to conceal his friend and neighbour Sir John Guildford from the resentment of king Richard III. for which he was attainted, and this manor and seat, together with all other his lands in Kent, Suffex, and Surry, were granted by the king, in his first year, to his trustly friend Robert Brackenbury, esq. constable of the tower; but on the accession of Henry VII. his attainder was taken off by parliament likewise, and all his estates restored to him. And in the 5th year of that reign, he was sheriff of this county, He died in the year 1522, aged more than eighty years, and was buried under the old tomb on the north side of the south chancel, being the first who appears by clear evidences to have been interred in this church, in which there are many gravestones and memorials of his posterity, who continued to reside here, several of whom were at times sheriffs of this county, until within memory.

His descendant Sir Thomas Roberts, of Glassenbury was created a baroner in 1620, the lands of whose grandfather Thomas Rohertes, were disgavelled by the act of 2 and 3 of King Edward VI. and from him it continued in succession down to Sir Walter Roberts, bart. who new fronted this antient mansion, in which he resided with a most distinguished character for his worth and integrity. (fn. 2) He died in 1745, leaving only one daughter and heir Jane, who carried this manor and seat, together with the rest of her estates, in marriage of George Beauclerk, duke of St. Albans, who died in 1786, s.p. on which this manor and seat, with the rest of the estates of the late Sir Walter Roberts, in this county, came by the duchess's will, who died before him in 1778, and was buried in the family vault in this church, (having been for several years separated from him, and residing at Jennings, in Hunton, a seat of her father's) to the youngest son of Sir Thomas Roberts, bart. of Ireland, to whom the title had descended on Sir Walter's death, and he is now entitled to the see of them.

FLISHINGHURST, or Plushinburst, as it is sometimes called, is a manor, situated some what less than a mile north eastward from that of Glassenbury. It was the antient seat and inheritance of the family of sharpeigh, of Sharpeigh, in this parish, one of which, Robert de Sharpeigh, was resident here at Cranebrooke about the begining of king Edward I.'s reign, and was witness to a dateless deed of William de Brindren, of Brindren, in this parish, an estate which formerly belonged to the Linds, and afterwards to the Holdens. Anothe Robert Sharpeigh, of the same place, was, as appeared by an antient roll, in commission as a justice of the peace, about the latter end of king Henry VII.'s reign. They bore for their arms, Ermine, on a bend, azure, three spears heads, argent. But after this family had remained here for so many years, and had spread itself into the parishes to Benenden, Marden, and Staplehurst, in which they continued till the latter end of the last century, this manor was alienated, about the reign of king Charles I. to Martin, and from him again to Walter, from which name it passed into the possession of the Plumers, of Milkhouse-street, in which name it continued down to Mr. Samuel Plumer, gent. of that place, from whom it came to Mr. Charles Nairn, gent. late of Milk-house-street, deceased, whose heirs are the present owners of it.

THE BOROUCH OF FRIZLEY, as it is now called, corruptly for Freechister, alias Abbots Franchise, is a district situated about a mile eastward from Flishinhurst, and is within the liberty of the royal manor of Wye, which formerly belonged to the abbey of Batteli, whence it has likewise the name of Abbots Franchise. (fn. 3) This borough has a court leet of itself. The principal estate in it formerly belonged to the Wilsfords, of Hartridge, one of whom sold it to the Hovendens, great clothiers here, whose principal mansion it was. From one of them, in 1719, It was alienated to Richard Children. esq. and it is now in the possession of his grandson George Children, esq. of Tunbridge.

WITHIN the bounds of this borough is the MANOR OF ANGLYE, alias Anglynglye, which was part of the possessions of the above-mentioned abbey, from it foundation by William the Conqueor, and continued so till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when this manor came into the hands of the crown. and the king, in his 31st year, sold it, with its appurtenances, to Walter Hendley, gent. afterwards sergeant-at-law, knighted, and solicitor of the court of augmentation, to hold in capite by knight's service, and in the 37th year of the same reign, he had the reserved tenths of it likewise granted to him. He died possessed of it in the 6th year of Edward VI. leaving three daughters his coheirs, who, on his death, became jointly possessed of this manor and estate. After which, thought the manor continued in the family of Hendley down to William Henley, esq. of Otham, who died possessed of it a few months ago, yet the estate of farm of Angley afterwards was alienated to one of the family of Tempest, who bore for their arms, Argent, a bend between six wartlets, sable. In which name it continued down to William Tempest, who came and settled in Cranbrooke, died possessed of it in 1761, much advanced in years, and by his will devised it to his second son George Tempest, esq. of Cranbrooke, who in 1785 passed it away by sale to Mr. Smart, of London, and he is the present proprietor of it.

HARTRIDE is a manor, which lies at the northern boundary of this parish, next to Stapelhurst, the mansion of which was formerly a seat of note, being the property and residence of an antient and worthy family of the time name, one of whom, Thomas Hartridge, was a conservator or justice of the peace in this county in the 34th year of Edward III. when there were eight only in the whole shire. In his descendant, who bore for their arms, Or, a chevron between three griffins heads, erased, sable, this seat continued, till it was at length sold by one of them, about the reign of Henry VIII. to Thomas Wilsford, esq. who came and resided here at Hatridge, and by the acts of 31 king Henry VIII. and 2 and 3 Edward VI. had his lands disgavelled. He was descended from William Wilsford, of Devonshire, anno 4 Henry IV. of whose grandson, James was alderman and sheriff of London, anno 15 Henry VII. and Edmund was S. T. P. provost of Oriel college, in Oxford, &c. and died in 1507. They bore for their arms, Gules, a chevron ingrailed, between three leopards heads, or. By his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Colepeper, of Bedgbury, he had two sons of nine daughters, of the former, Francis, the youngest, was of Nonington, and ancestor of the Wilsfords, of Dover and Yorkshire; and James Wilsford, esq. the eldest, was of Hartridge. By this second wife he had Sir Thomas, who was of Ilden, in kingston, ancestor of those of that place, and of Rochester; and one daughter Cecilia, wife of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York. James Wilsford, esq. the eldest son by the first marriage, inherited and resided at Hartridge, and was afterwards knighted; from whom this seat at length descended down to James Wilsford, esq. his eldest grandson, who having married Anne, daughter and heir of Thomas Newman, esq. of Quendon, in Essex, removed to the seat of her inheritance there, where he died in 1619, before which he had alienated, this estate of Hartridge to Tindal, of Sutton Valence; from which name it passed by sale to Cooke, and on the death of his descendant Mr. John Cooke, of Penhurst, his three daughters and coheirs became entitled to it, and they joined in the sale of it to Mr. George Lewis, who in 1778 alienated it to Sir Horace Mann, bart. the present owner of it. A court baron is held for this manor.

THERE is an estate adjoining southward, once part of the above, called Lower Hartridge. It now belongs to Mr. Abraham Walter.

HOCKREDGE is an estate in this parish, which, with another called HOLDEN, was the property of the family of Holden for many generations, who resided at the former of them, being stiled clothiers in their wills, remaining in the Prerogative office, in Canterbury, until the time of Robert Holden, who is in his will, proved in 1667, is stilled gentleman, and bore for his arms, Ermine, on a chief, gules, three pears, or. (fn. 4). From him these estates descended down to Robert Holden, esq. of Whitewell, in this parish, at the begining of king George I.s' reign, and his grandson alienated Holden a few years ago, to Sir Horace Mann, bart. the present possessor of it, but that of Hockeridge is become the property of Mr. Thomas Shirley.

SISSINGHURST is a manor of great note here. It was antiently called Saxenburst, and is very early times was in the possessions of a family of the same name, as appears by the Testa de Nevil, kept in the exchequer, being an account of all those who, holding their lands by knight's service, paid their relief, in the 20th year of Edward III. towards the marriage of the king's sister; in which John de Saxenhurst is there taxed, towards that did, for his lands at Cranebrook, which certainly were those of Sissinghurst, with the two small appendant manors of COPTON and STONE, which always have had the same owners. By a female heir of Saxenhurst, this manor, with its appendages above-mentioned, passed into the name of Berham. Richard, son of Henry de Berham, resided here in the reign of Edward III. and in his descendants it continued down till the latter end of Henry VII. When one of them alienated part of Sissinghurst, with Copton and Stone, to Thomas Baker, esq. who was before settled in this parish. This family had been settled in Cranbrooke so early as the reign of Edward III. as appears by the records of the court of king's bench, in the 44th year of which reign Thomas Bakere, of this parish, was possessed of lands in it, and was then fued by the prior of Christ-church in a plea of treaspass, for cutting down trees, which grew on his own soil here, in a place called Omendenneshok, within the prior's lodge of Cranbrooke, which was a drosdenne, the prior prescribing for all oak and beech in the drovedens within his lordship, together with the pannage; and the jury found for the plaintiff, &c. (fn. 5) Sir John Baker, grandson of Thomas first before-mentioned, was bred to the law, and became eminent in that profession, as well as in his promotion to different high posts of trust and honour in the service of the crown and state; being in several parts of his life recorder of London, attorney general, chancellor of the exchequer, and privy counsellor in king Henry VIII. and the three following reigns, and ambassador to the court of Denmark in 1526. He died in London in 1558, and was brought hither in great state, and buried in the vault in Cranbrooke church, in which his several descendants lie deposited likewise. They bore for their arms, Azure, on a fess, or, three cinquesoils pierced, gules, between three swans heads, erased, or gorged with coronets, gules. (fn. 6) He had procured his lands to be disgavelled by the acts both of 31 king Henry VIII. and 2 and 3 Edward VI. and before the latter year, at least, had purchased the remainder of this manor and estate, and becoming thus possessed of the entire fee of it, he built a most magnificent seat on it, the ruins of which still remind us of its former splendor, and he inclosed a large park round it. He left two sons, Richard; and John, who was father of Sir Richard Baker, the English Chronicler, and from this family likewise was descended the learned John Selden, born in 1584, whose mother was the only daughter and heir of Thomas Baker, of Rushington. (fn. 7) Sir Richard Baker, the eldest son, resided at Sissinghurst, where he entertained queen Elizabeth, in her progrels into this county, in July 1573. His eldest grandson Sir Henry Baker, of Sissinghurst, was created a baronet in 1611, Sir John Baker, of Sissinghurst, knight and baronet, his grandson, the last of his name here, died in 1661, leaving only four daughters, who became his coheirs, Anne, married to Edmund Beaghan, esq. Elizabeth, to Robert, Spencer, esq. Mary, to John Dowel, esq. of Over, in Gloucestershire, and Katherine, to Roger Kirkby, esq. whose respective husbands became in their rights jointly entitled to this estate.

A moiety of this estate, as well as two-thirds of it, by the deaths of Robert Spencer, and Elizabeth his wife, s. p. and by the conveyance of Catherine, widow of Roger Kirkby, afterwards coming into the possession of Edmund Hungate Beaghan, esq. (son of Edmund above-mentioned) who resided at Sissinghurst, and bore for his arms, Argent, a chevron, gules, within a bordure, sable, bezantee, were by him passed away by sale in 1730, an act having passed to enable him so to do, to the trustees of Sir Horace Mann, bart. who is the present possessor of them.

The fourth part of John Dowel, esq. came on his death in 1698, to his son John Baker Dowel, esq. of Over, who bore for his arms, Argent, a lion rampant, within a bordure engrailed, sable. (fn. 8) He died possessed of it in 1738, as he likewise did of the remaining third of the fourth part, which had descended to him by the deaths of Robert Spencer, and Elizabeth his wife, s. p. in both which he was succeeded by his son John Baker Bridges Dowel, esq. of the same place. At this death in 1744, he devised his interest in this estate to the Rev. Staunton Degge, who conveyed them to Galfridus Mann, esq. whose son Sir Horace Mann, bart. being thus entitled to all the several interests as abovementioned in this estate, is become the possessor of the entire fee of these manors, the mansion of Sissinghurst, and the lands and estates belonging to them.

The mansion of Sissinghurst stands towards the northeast boundaries of this parish, in a situation far from pleasant, lying low in a wet clayey soil, without prospect, and enveloped with large tracts of surrounding woodland. The house having been long uninhabited was let out during the late war for the confinement of the French prisoners, whence it gained the name of Sissingburst castle, after which it became again uninhabited, and has since been pulling down piecemeal from time to time, for the sake of the materials, so that what is left of it is now no more than ruins. The park has been disparked many years since. There was a chapel founded at Sissinghurst by John de Saxenhurst, which was re-edified by Sir John Baker, bart. in the reign of king Charles I. and by a deed delivered in 1627 to John Bancrost, bishop of Oxford, was devoted to the service of God, and dedicated, as it was before, to St. John the Evangelist; upon which it was consecrated by the bishop, with the usual ceremonies and benedictions.

MILKHOUSE-STREET is a hamlet of houses, situated on the road from Biddenden, about a mile north-east from Cranbrooke town. At the east end of it there is a SEAT, which was for many generations the residence of the Plumers; W. Plumer, counsellor-at-law, died possessed of it in 1621. His eldest son Tho. Plumer, esq. was justice of the peace, and kept his shrievalty here, and dying in 1660, lies buried in the church-yard of Cranbrooke, as do several of his descendants, who bore for their arms, Azure, two wings conjoined, argent, a chief, ermine, as appears by a certificate annexed to their pedigree in the Herald's office, one of whom, Thomas Plumer, gent. resided here at his death in 1769, and dying s. p. devised it to Mr. Charles Nairn, gent. who resided here, and married Miss Philadelphia Balderston, and his heirs since his decease are now entitled to it.

AT THE eastern corner of the road leading from this street to Tenterden, are the remains of a chapel, which was founded and endowed by John Lawless, about the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity, as well for the benefit of the inhabitants of this eastern part of the parish, who in the depth of winter could not get to church, as for the receiving the alms, and offering up prayers for the welfare of travellers passing this way. This chapel was suppressed by the act of the 37th year of the next reign of Henry VIII. for the general dissolution of all such chantries and other religious foundations; and the scite and revenues of it, then valued at 9l. 19s. 8½d. (fn. 9) were sold, in the 2d year of king Edward VI. to Sir John Baker, of Sissinghurst. Since which they have continued in a like succession of owners with that place, down to Sir Horace Mann, bart. the present proprietor of them.

BETENHAM is a manor, situated close to the northeast boundary of this parish, and is now usually called Betnams-wood, having a street, or hamlet of houses adjoining to it, at the east end of which the large mansion of it is situated. It was a place of some note formerly, for giving name to, as well as being the residence of the family of Betenham. Stephen de Betenham was possessed of it in the reign of king Henry VI. and left three sons, from the eldest of whom descended those of Shurland, in Pluckley. John, the youngest son, inheried this manor by his father's gift, and resided here. He left three daughters his coheirs; Elizabeth, married to William More, of Benenden; Alice, to Nicholas Dering; and Thomasine, to John Fisher, of Maidstone, who became entitled to this manor in equal shares, and on a partition of their inheritance, it became the sole property of the former of them, who afterwards resided here. He was the second son of Walter More, of Benenden, and left a son Nicholas, who was of Wigmore, in Eltham, and married Clara, daughter of Nicholas Tooke, esq. of Goddenton, but he died without issue in 1556, anno 4 queen Mary, and gave all his lands, by will, to the sons of his cousin John More, of Pluckley, by one of whom this manor was alienated to Sir Thomas Rowe, lord mayor in 1568, who died possessed of it two years afterwards, from whose second son Sir Henry Rowe, lord-mayor, descended the Rowes, of Shaklewell, and Muswell-hill, in Middlesex; and from the fourth Robert, was descended Sir Thomas Rowe, ambassador to the porte, &c. who died in 1644. Sir Thomas Rowe, lord-mayor, bore for his arms, Sable, a chevron, charged with three bezants, between as many cinquefoils; which coat was afterwards varied by his different descendants, who still retained the cinquefoil, as the principal bearing of their arms. But one of his descendants, in the reign of king James I. sold it to Mansfield, from which name it was conveyed to Hendley, in which family it continued down to William Henley, esq. of Otham, who died possessed of it a few months since, and his heirs now possess it.

COURSEHORNE is a manor, situated less than a mile eastward from the church, and is eminent for having been for above four hundred years, as appears by evidences both private and public, the inheritance of the family of Hendley, or as they afterwards spelt themselves Henley, and in an escheat roll of the 17th of king Edward III. No. 92, Gervas Hendley, of this place, appears to have been one of the jury, on an inquisition taken after the death of Sir Richard Handloe, who it seems died possessed of lands at Buckhurst, in this parish. After which it continued the mansion and residence of them, down to Sir Walter Hendley, sergeant at-law, a man of eminent repute in the reign of king Henry VIII. who was born here, having procured his lands to be disgavelled by the acts of the 2d and 3d of king Edward VI. He died in the 6th year of the latter reign, leaving three daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth, married to William Waller, esq. of Groombridge, and afterwards to George Fane, esq. of Badsell, Helen, first to Thomas Colepeper, esq. of Bedgebury; secondly to Sir George Somerset, and thirdly to Sir Thomas Fane, of Burston, and Anne to Richard Covert, esq. of Slaugham, in Suffex. Upon which this seat descended to his brother Thomas Hendley, esq. who resided here, as did his several descendants, till Bowyer Hendley, having purchased Gore-court, in Otham, removed thither. His grandson William Henley, esq. of Gore-court, died possessed of it a few months ago, and his heirs are now entitled to it. (fn. 10)

BUCKHURST is an estate here, which had once owners of its own name; but in the reign of Edward III. it was possessed by the family of Handloe, one of whom, Sir John de Handloe, died possessed of it in the 17th year of that reign, as appears by the inquisition then taken. After this family was become extinct here, it became the property of Drayner, or Dragener, as it was sometimes spelt, in the reign of Henry VII. Another branch of whom settled at Smarden. They bore for their arms, Sable, a fess nebulee, between three close helmets, argent, plumed, or. Stephen Drayner possessed it in the next reign of Henry VIII. and his descendant William Drayner sold it, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, to Alexander Couchman, in whose descendants it continued at the restoration of king Charles II. (fn. 11) At length, after some intermediate owners it was sold to Cooke, in which name it remained till John Cooke, esq. of Swifts, in this parish, not many years ago, passed it away by sale to Pearce, of this parish, who now possesses it.

GREAT SWIFTS is a mansion situated about a quarter of a mile north-eastward from the end of the town, on the knoll of a hill, it was antiently the property of the Courthopes. Alexander Courthope, of this parish, died possessed of it in 1525, as appears by his will; but after this family had possessed it for a great length of time, it was sold to one of the family of Cooke, a younger branch of those of Middlesex. John Cooke, esq. sheriff in 1745, resided here, and died possessed of it in 1747, bearing for his arms, Gules, three pales azure over all, three eagles, argent, crowned and garnished, or. He was succeeded in this seat by his eldest son, of the same name, who died in 1782. Although he left issue, yet having, during his life-time, sold the reversion of this seat to Mr. Jeremiah Curteis, gent. of Rye, he became possessed of it, and afterwards sold it to Thomas Adams, esq. who has made great alterations in it, and now resides here.

The abbot and convent of Beyham were possessed of lands in this parish, in the dennes of Swetlynden and Rodelynden, in the reign of Edward III. of the gift of John de Chivene, and John de Kaynesham, vicar of Cranbrooke; and in the 2d year of Edward III. the abbot, &c. had free-warren for his lands in this and other parishes in Kent and Suffex.

James Benynden, of Bettenhams Wode, in this parish, died in 1469, as appears by his will, possessed of a great house called Sparrowhall, at Bethamyswode, and a house called Castetanys, lying in the denne of Bettenham, in Cranbrooke.

The archbishop, in the reign of Henry VIII. was possessed of lands here, called Charleymore, and Betnams wood; which were particularly excepted and reserved to him in the great deed of exchange, which archbishop Cranmer made with the king in his 31st year; in which he conveyed to the king all other his lands and tenements, except advowsons, in this parish.


JOHN ROBERTS, Esq. of Glassenbury, by his will in 1460, ordered, that housing and grounds be purchased, for seven poor men of Cranbrooke to dwell in; every poor man to have 13s. 4d. yearly, as likewise 13s. 4d. yearly to repair their houses, his right heirs to have the election of them, who should be of this parish, and if not found here, then of the parishes adjoining; his kinsmen, if they had need thereof, to be provided before any other; the same to be paid out of his manor and lands of Deryngdale, in Suffex; and he ordered, that five marcs should be raised out of his goods, for seven years after his decease, to be dispended in the cloathing of twelve poor men and women with gowns, hoods, and coats.

MR. ALEXANDER DENCE, as appears by private evidences, about the year 1573, gave a farm in that part of this parish called Swattenden, now let at 14l. per annum, to be distributed by the feoffees, according to their discretion, to indigent people, receiving no relief of the parish.

SIR THOMAS ROBERTS, knight and baronet, of Glassenbury, by will gave 10l. to the overseers of this parish, to increase the sum of money appointed for the stock of the poor, either to buy land, or to remain for ever to that use, except their whole sum might be employed towards erecting a house of correction there, for then he would have it bestowed for that use.

THE GRAMMER SCHOOL here, commonly called queen Elizabeth's grammar school, was founded and endowed by Simon Lynch, gent. of this parish, by deed in the year 1574, and the queen granted a charter of incorporation to it; by which it is vested under the management of thirteen trustees, freeholders of this parish, of which the vicar is always to be one. It is endowed with a house and land in Cranbrooke, and a farm at Horsemonden, the whole of the annual produce of 75l. The Rev. Mr. Greenail is the present master of it.— The school, which bears a good reputation, is free for all the boys in the parish, who, by a late regulation, have classical books given them by the trustees. There are generally from twenty to thirty boarders in the master's house The family of Lynch had been resident here some time; one of whom, William Lynche, was of this parish, and was ancestor of those of Groves, in East Kent. He died in 1480, possessed of much property in it, and was buried in the church-yard here.

MR. SAMUEL DENCE, in 1573, founded a writing-school here, which is at present endowed with a school-room for teaching children, a separate dwelling for the schoolmaster, under the same roof, and the interest of 160l. put out by the churchwardens. And he is supposed to have left by will land, now of the annual produce of 18l. vested in fifteen feoffees, to be distributed yearly among indigent persons receiving no relief from the parish.

MR. SAMUEL HAYWARD, left by will in money 100l. the interest to be distributed equally among five poor widows receiving the sacrament, now vested in the executors of the late Mr. Thomas Hope, and of the annual produce of 4l.

MR. JOSEPH WILLARD, left by will in 1770, for the benefit of the poor belonging to the Anabaptist meeting, three houses, vested in five trustees, inhabitants of this parish, and of the annual produce of 7l. 18s.

The poor constantly relieved are not more than about 135; casually about twenty.

CRANBROOKE is within the ECCLESTASTICAL. JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Charing.

The church is dedicated to St. Dunstan, confessor, and is very large and handsome. It consists of three isles and three chancels. The pillars on each side of the middle isle are beautifully slender and well proportioned. The west end has a gallery over it, ornamented with printing. The pews are uniform, and made of wainscot, and the pavement black and white marble. The high chancel is well ceiled, and decorated with paintings. The east window is full of fine stained glass, many of the rigures of it being entire, and richly ornamented as to their drapery, &c. There are several shields of arms remaining in it, among which are those of Wilsford, Guldeford, quartered with Halden, within the order of the garter, and archbishop Bourchier, being those of the see of Canterbury, impaling first and fourth, Bouchier, second and third, gules, a fess between twelve billets, or. Archbishop Tenison, in 1710, was a benefactor in repairing of the high chancel. (fn. 12) Against the east wall of the south chancel is a very high and broad pyramid of white marble, on which there is a full account of the family of Roberts, inscribed by a most pompous scheme of pedigree, with the numerous coats of arms properly emblazoned. At the west end is a square tower steeple, in which are eight bells and a set of chimes. On the west side of the tower were formerly carved in the stone-work, though now decayed by time, the arms of Berham, Bectenham and Wilsford, in antient times owners of lands, as has been already mentioned, in this parish. In the south isle over the vault, in which the remains of the Bakers and their descendants lie, is a superb pyramid of white, marble, on which are the names and the dates of their deaths, and at the top of it their arms. It was erected by John Baker Dowel, esq. of Over, son of John and Mary, in 1736.

In 1725, part of this church fell down, but was quickly afterwards rebuilt. It was occasioned by some persons digging in the vault belonging to the Baker family, by which two stones, on which one of the main pillars stood, gave way, and the pillar cracked, soon after thirty or forty feet of the middle isle fell in, by which the pews were all crushed, and the cost to repair it was estimated at near 2000l. There is a room; with a staircase to it, adjoining the church, in which there is a large dipping-place, for the use of such Baptists who are desirous of being admitted into the established church; but in seventy years past it has been but twice made use of for this purpose. It was provided by Mr. Johnson, vicar of this church. In this church was a chantry, founded by the will of J. Roberts, esq. of Glassenbury, in 1460, for a priest to say mass here for ever. And he ordered that twenty pounds be laid out to remove the rood-lost, and setting it on the high chancel. And being so considerable a benefactor to this church, his figure was painted in the windows of the north isle, kneeling, in armour, with his helmet lying by him, before a desk, with a book on it, and an inscription, to pray for him and his wife, and his son Walter, and his three wives. Walter Roberts abovementioned, by his will 13 Henry VIII. directed Thomas his son to find a priest to celebrate divine service at St. Giles's altar in this church, for the souls of his father, mother, his wives, and his own; for which service he should have been marcs yearly, payable by his heirs for ever, out of his lands in this parish and Goudhurst. And he gave further to this church towards the making of the middle isle, one half of all the timber of that work.

The church of Cranbrooke was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, to which it was appropriated in the 6th year of Edward III. with the king's licence; and the same was afterwards confirmed by pope Clement VI. at which time there appears to have been a vicarage endowed here. The archbishop continued owner of the appropriation of this rectory, and of the advowson of the vicarage till the reign of Henry VIII. when archbishop Cranmer, by his deed, anno 31 Henry VIII. granted the rectory, among other premises, in exchange, to that king, reserving the advowson of the vicarage to himself and his successors. Soon after which the king settled it by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains. (fn. 13) In 1644 Sir John Roberts was lessee, at the rent of 33l. 6s. 8d. per annum. The present lessee is Mrs. Lawson.

When the vicarage of Cranbrooke was endowed, I have not found; but in 1364 and 1371, the portion of the vicar was augmented, and in the latter year the prior and convent of Christ-church, Canterbury, confirmed the confirmation of archbishop William, of the donation of his predecessor archbishop Simon, of 6000 of towod granted to the vicar of Cranbrooke, of the tenths, of silve cedue belonging to the church of Cranbrooke.

It is valued in the king's books at 19l. 19s. 4½d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 19s. 11¾d. In 1578 here were 1905 communicants. On a survey taken in 1648, after the abolition of deans and chapters, it appeared that there was a parsonage-house, an orchard, little garden, two great barns, and other buildings; and that the late dean and chapter, in 1636, demised to John Roberts, esq. these premises, and all manner of tithes of corn and grass, for twenty-one years, at 33l. 6s. 8d. per annum, but that they were worth, over and above that rent, 228l. 13s. 4d. per annum. The lessees to repair the chancel and the market-cross of the town.

There is no part of this parish which claims an exemption of tithes; but there is a small and irregular modus upon all the lands in it, in lieu of vicarial tithes. There are no tithes paid Specifically for hops, though there are upwards of six hundred acres planted in this parish, as being included in the above mentioned modus.

The glebe land consists of the scite of the vicarage, the garden, and about three quarters of an acre of meadow. There are some old houses belonging to the vicarage, which, when the taxes and repairs are deducted, produce very little clear income.

Anno 1314, a commission was issued for settling a dispute between the rectors of Biddenden and Cranbrooke, concerning the bounds of their respective parishes.

Church of Cranbrooke.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop William Eddye, A. M. Dec. 29, 1591, obt. 1616.
Robert Abbot, A M. Nov. 28, 1616, sequestered March 9, 1643. (fn. 14)
John Saltmarsh, in 1645. (fn. 15)
William Goodridge, ejected 1662. (fn. 16)
John Cooper, A. B. Nov. 21, 1662.
Charles Back, inducted 1668, obt. 1706.
John Johnson, A. M. inducted April 25, 1707, obt. Dec. 15, 1715. (fn. 17)
Joseph Disney, A. M. Dec. 23, 1725, obt. Aug. 3, 1777. (fn. 18)
Richard Podmore, LL. B. Dec. 3, 1777, the present vicar. (fn. 19)


  • 1. There are several wills of this family in the Prerogativeoffice, Canterbury.
  • 2. There are pedigress of this family in the Heraldic Vistn. of Kent. taken in 1574 and 1619.
  • 3. See Tan. Mon. p. 551. See an account of this abbey, Ten. Mon. p. 550. Willis's Matred Abbeys, vol. i.p. 32.
  • 4. See Heralds Office, marked Book D. 18. fol. 177 b.
  • 5. See Robinson's Gavelkind, p. 206.
  • 6. See Vistn. co. Kent, anno 1619. Pedigree Baker.
  • 7. See Biog. Ent. vol. vi. p. 3605, note [A]. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. p. 179.
  • 8. See Atkins's Glouc. p. 110.
  • 9. Survey Augtn. off. See Strype's Ecclesiastical Memoirs, vol. ii. coll. p. 93.
  • 10. See Otham, vol. v. of this history, p. 516.
  • 11. See pedigree of Couchman, Vistn. co. Kent, anno 1619, and Herald's off. marked C. 16, fol. 111.b
  • 12. See Biog. Brit. vol. vii. p. 3929. [V]
  • 13. Augtn. off Deeds of Inrolment and Exchange, box marked A. 14.a Ratified and confirmed by the convent, A. 14.b
  • 14. Walker's Suff. of Clergy, pt. ii. p. 183. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. i. p. 431, fasti p. 177.
  • 15. Likewise rector of Brasted, which he was put into by the parliament, being a bigonted enthusiast.
  • 16. Ejected by the Bartholomew Act. Calamy's Life of Baxter.
  • 17. See his life, Biog. Brit. vol. vii. append. p. 111. He was first vicar of Boughton Blean and Hernehill, then curate of St. John's, Margate, and vicar of Apledore, with Ebony. He lies buried in the church-yard here, close to the wall of the venry. He was a very learned man, and published many books, sermons and treatises.
  • 18. He succeeded his predecessor in the vicarage of Apledore with Ebony, and died here far advanced in years, insomuch, that the vicar, clerk, and sexton, made together the amount of 254 years; an instance of the healthiness of this place. The clerk, Samuel Jeaner, died in 1782, æt. 96 and upwards.
  • 19. He was before vicar of Sittingborne. In Nov. 1777, a dispensation passed for his holding the vicarage of Apledore with Ebony; together with this vicarage.