Parishes: Aldington

Pages 314-327

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1799.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


USUALLY called Allington, is the next parish south-westward from Sellindge, being written in the earliest records Ealdintune, which name implies the antiquity of it. The greatest part of it, is in the hundred of Street, and the remainder of it, including the church, in that of Bircholt Franchise. (fn. 1)

THE PARISH of Aldington is exceedingly pleasant and healthy. The great ridge of quarry or sand hills cross it in length about two miles and an half, and it extends northward into the vale beyond them as far as the Old Stour, and on the other side southward into Romney Marsh, in all about two miles. On the ridge of quarry-hills is the village of Aldington, through which the road leads from Limne to Smeeth and Ashford, having the church on the north-east side of it, and the court-lodge and parsonage-house on the opposite sides of the church-yard, from whence there is an extensive prospect over Romney Marsh and the sea on one side, and the inland country on the other, There are several hamlets in it, as at Aldington-corner, Stone-street-green, which lies in the vale near the river, and at Claphill, where the quarry-hills end, and you descend from it into the clays towards Mersham. Still further westward is Aldington-Fright, corruptly so called for the Frith, which was once a chace, for deer and wild beasts, belonging to the archbishop's manor of Aldington, where they ranged at large as in a forest. This is now a large heath, of a very uneven surface, about two miles in length, and near as wide, but it is separated into two parts by some cottages and lands inclosed round them, which have been purloined from it. Round the whole of the Fright, there are numbers of houses and cottages, at different distances from each other. At the entrance of it, at the southeast corner, is a large old timbered mansion, being the court-lodge of the manor of Poulton Stansted, belonging to the archbishop, and leased out for many years past to the family of Gilbert, now held by Donald Macdonald, esq. About three quarters of a mile northwest from Aldington Fright, is a very remarkable hill, called Colliers hill, which I believe is just within the parish of Mersham, and belongs to Sir Edw. Knatchbull, bart. It is high and stands single, being of a conic form, and what is worthy of note here, though it may be no uncommon thing in other places, it has at the very top of it, a large pond, which does not give rise to any of the springs below, nor communicate with them, except when the water in it is very flush and runs over; nor has it ever been dry, when by a very dry spring and summer almost all the springs and ponds below round the country have been so for a considerable time, during which the surface of this pond has been generally of large extent, and has had a considerable depth of water in it. (fn. 2) The corn-land in this parish is very fertile. There is some hop-ground, and but little wood, most of which lies to the southward of the village, on a height, in which is a very conspicuous toll of trees, called Aldington-knoll; and at no great distance from thence an estate called Merwood, or Merrud, which formerly belonged to the Hugessens, of Provender, and now to Sir Joseph Banks, and Sir Edward Knatchbull, barts. The ridge of clay-hills begins here, and as they go on widening their distance from the quarry-hills, the course of which is north-west, continue west south-west along the edge of Romney Marsh, of which they are the boundary, and so on by Bonnington and Ruckinge to Warehorne, where they end.

A younger branch of the family of Cobbe, or Cobbes, as they were originally called, was settled at this place in king Edward IV.'s reign, in the person of Thomas Cobbes, the youngest son of John Cobbes, of Cobbes place, in Newchurch, their mansion here being situated not far from the church, and was called Goldwell. Thomas, son of Thomas above-mentioned, died here in 1528, from whom descended those of this place, Bilsington, Chilham, and other parts. They bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron between three cocks, gules, combed and gilled, or. (fn. 3) At length one of them sold this estate to White, since which it has become but of little account, and is at this time divided into shared, the property of at least twelve different persons.

THE MANOR OF ALDINGTON was given in 961, by queen Ediva, mother of king Edmund and king Edred, by the name of Ealdintune, among others, to Christ-church, in Canterbury, free from all secular service, except the repairing of bridges, and the building of fortifications. After which it remained till archbishop Lanfranc, in the Conqueror's reign, on the partition of the possessions of that church between the monks and himself, for before that time their revenues were enjoyed as one common stock, this manor was allotted to the latter. Accordingly in the survey of Domesday it is thus entered, under the general title of the archbishop's lands:

In Limo Wart left, in Belicolt hundred, the archbishop himself holds Aldintone in demesne. It was taxed at twenty one sulings in the time of king Edward the Consessor, and now for fifteen sulings. The arable land is one hundred carucates. In demesne there are thirteen carucates, and two hundred villeins all but ten, with fifty borderers having seventy carucates. There is a church, and thirteen servants, and three mills of sixteen shillings, and three fisheries of twenty-one pence. There are one hundred and seventy acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of sixty hogs. In its whole value in the time of king Edward the consessor it was worth sixty-two pounds, and as much when he received it. It now yields one hundred pounds and twenty shillings.

The archbishop himself holds the ville called St. Martin's, and it belongs to Estursete, and lies in that hundred, and it was taxed for one suling and an half. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there are two carucates, and thirty six borderers. To this land there belong seven burgesses in Canterbury, paying eight shillings and four-pence. There are five mills of twenty shillings, and a small wood. In this ville Radulphus holds half a suling of the archbishop, and there he has two carucates and an half. In the time of king Edward the Confessor the half suling of St. Martin was worth seven pounds, and the other half suling was worth four pounds. In Romenel there are as many as twenty and five burgesses which belong to Aldint: the archbishop's manor and they were and are now worth to the lord six pounds.

Then follows in the same record, a description of the lands belonging likewise to this manor in Limne and Stowing, both which have been already transcribed above, in the account of those parishes; all which plainly shew how great and extensive it was at that time. The mansion of it afterwards became the residence of the archbishops, who had a large park here, and a chase for beasts of the forest, adjoining to it, which, with the healthiness as well as pleasantness of the situation, probably induced archbishop Morton, in king Henry VII.'s reign, to add much to the buildings of this house, which, as well as the manor, continued in this state till archbishop Cranmer's time, who finding himself unable to resist the torrent, was obliged to give up this, among the rest of his best manors and palaces, most of them the antient possessions of his see, by a forced exchange to king Henry VIII. in the 31st year of that reign, (fn. 4) who for some time kept the mansion and park of it in his own possession, and purchased lands of different persons to add to it, and make the park more complete, and it remained in the crown till king Edward VI. in his first year, granted this manor, with all its members and appurtenances, to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, to hold in capite, who in the 3d year of that reign, joined with Joane his wife in the reconveyance of it to the king, in exchange for other premises elsewhere. After which it continued in the crown till the reign of Charles I. when the king, by his letters patent, granted the manor itself, with its appurtenances and rents of assise in Southre, Northsture above and beneath, Wald, Sibbersnoth, Newchurch, and Oxney, (the scite and demesnes of the manor having been granted to others, as will be mentioned hereafter) to Nicholas Siddenham, esq. and Edward Smith, gent. to hold in fee, at the yearly rent of 260l. 17s. 4½d. After which it passed by sale into the family of Randolph, of Biddenden, and Herbert Randolph, esq. recorder of Canterbury, died possessed of it in 1724, having been twice married, whose issue by his first wife, has been already mentioned under Biddenden. (fn. 5) By his second wife he had eight children, Thomas, D. D. president of Corpus Christi college, Oxford; Grace, who died unmarried in 1775; George, of Bristol, M. D. Dorothy, married to Roger Huggett, clerk, of Eaton; Charles, bred to the law; Francis, D. D. principal of Alban-hall, in Oxford; Elizabeth, married to Thomas Dimmock; and Anne, to James Bannister, both of Bristol. By his will he gave this manor to the seven younger children of his second marriage abovementioned, who about thirty years ago joined in the sale of it to Mr. John Mascall, of Ashford, who died possessed of it in 1769, and his son Robert Mascall, esq. of Ashford, has lately sold it to William Deedes, esq. of Hythe, the present owner of it.

The fee-farm rent before-mentioned of 260l. 17s. 4d. which is still paid for this manor, has been for many years vested in the family of Brockman, and is now in James Drake Brockman, esq. (fn. 6)

A court leet and court baron is held for this manor. About ninety years ago the owner, Mr. Randolph, required the tenants to appear and make personal service at this court, or in lieu to make composition for their default, which brought a considerable profit, but this has been wholly refused by the tenants for a considerable time past.

BUT the scite and demesnes of the manor of Aldington, which had remained in the crown from the reign of king Edward VI. were first granted by James I. anno 1610, to John Eldred and James Whitmore, for a term of years, and then by king Charles I. by letters patent in his 5th year, among other premises, to Sir Edward Hales, knight and baronet, to hold of his manor of East Greenwich by fealty only, in free and common socage, and not in capite, or by knight's service, in see ferme for ever, but he was only a trustee for Sir Dudley Diggs, into whose possession they then came, and in his descendants they continued down to Thomas Digges, esq. of Chilham castle, who in 1724 passed them away by sale to Mr. James Colebrooke, of London, whose son Robert Colebrooke, esq. alienated them in 1775, under the authority of an act to Thomas Heron, esq. of Newark-upon-Trent, afterwards of Chilham castle, and he that same year sold them to William Deedes, esq. of St. Stephen's, whose son of the same name is the present owner of them.

The court-lodge stands close on the north side of the church-yard, being the remains of the archbishop's mansion. It is built of the quarry-stone, with ashlar door and window cases, &c. The chapel is entire, and is now made use of as part of the house.

SHRYMPENDEN is a manor here, which was in king Charles I.'s reign, part of the possessions of the family of Kingsley, (fn. 7) and William Kingsley, archdeacon of Canterbury, died possessed of it in 1647, on which it descended to his eldest son George Kingsley, of Canterbury, whose grandson Capt. William Kingsley left one son William, a lieutenant-general, and two daughters, Alice, married to Stephen Otway, gent. of Maidstone, and Caroline. At his death he devised this manor to his two daughters, who in 1741 joined in the sale of it to Mr. James Colebrooke, of London, whose son Robert Colebrooke, esq. in 1775, alienated it with the Chilham estate to Thomas Heron, esq. who that same year sold it, with other estates as abovementioned, to William Deedes, esq. of St. Stephen's, whose son of the same name is the present owner of it.

RUFFIN'S HILL, is an antient mansion here, on the hill, at a small distance from the church, which took its name from a family, who were the early possessors of it, one of whom, Robert Ruffyn, as appears by the register of St. Radigund's abbey, was in very early times constable of Saltwood castle, in this neighbourhood. After this name was extinct here, the Godfreys, owners of the adjoining manor of Hurst, under which a farther account of them will be given, became possessed of it, in which it continued down to Thomas Godfrey, who died in 1490, anno 6 Henry VII. and was buried in this church, leaving two sons, Thomas and Humphry, who both dying s. p. their two sisters succeeded to their inheritance, Agnes, married to William Blechenden, of Mersham, and Rabege, to John Clerke, gent. of this parish, and on the division of their estates, the latter had Copherst, in this parish, and the former had this seat of Ruffin's hill, (fn. 8) and in his descendants it remained down to Humphry Blechenden, esq. descended from Nicholas de Blechenden, of Mersham, in king Edward the Ist.'s reign. They bore for their arms, Azure, a fess nebulee, argent, between three lions heads erased, argent, collared, gules. He rebuilt this mansion, and died possessed of it in 1639, leaving several children, of whom the eldest, Thomas Blechynden, prebendary of Canterbury, succeeded him in it, and resided mostly here. He died possessed of it in 1663, and was buried at the upper end of the little chancel, at the feet of his father, in this church. (fn. 9) His son of the same name, in the year 1677, alienated it to Julius Deedes, esq. of Hythe, whose descendant William Deedes, esq. of Hythe, is the present owner of it.

SIMNELLS, or Simnolds, as it is sometimes spelt, is an antient seat in this parish, about a mile from the church, which had formerly owners, who gave name to it, one of whom, Robert Simnell, as I find by a will in the Prerogative-office, in Canterbury, was possessed of it as late as the reign of king Henry VI. and then sold it to Thomas Crosby, of Aldington, who died possessed of it in 1460, and left it to his son Thomas. After which it passed into the possession of the Godfreys, and in king Henry VII.'s reign, Agnes, daughter of Thomas Godfrey, and coheir of her brothers, entitled her husband William Blechenden to the possession of it. How long it continued in his descendants does not appear, but before the restoration of king Charles II. it was become the property of John Cason, esq. of Woodnesborough, who in 1663 alienated it to Thomas Blechynden, gent. of Aldington, who afterwards resided here. His son John Blechynden likewise resided at Simnells, who left Anne his wife surviving, and she joined with her eldest son Thomas, gent. of New Romney, in 1715, in the sale of this estate to Stephen Hassenden, clerk, of Egerton, whose grandson Stephen Greenhill, his daughter's son, succeeded him in it, and his grandson of the same name is now entitled to it.

COPTHALL, or Cophall, is an estate in this parish, situated in the valley, at no great distance westward from Ruffin's hill. It was formerly the property of the family of Knight, who had resided here from the reign of king Henry VIII. and in whom it continued down to Henry Knight, gent. of Cophall, who died possessed of it in 1687, leaving one daughter Katherine, but by his will he devised his house and land here to James Symons, of Aldington, his executor, who sold it to Hogben, whence it passed in 1681 to Mr. John Baker, who in 1702 sold it to Laud Cade, clerk, and he in 1728 passed it away to William Stanley, who by will in 1734 devised it to his four daughters, one of whom marrying Mr. John Franklyn, of Littleborne, he in her right became possessed of a fourth part of it, and afterwards purchased the remaining parts of the other three sisters, and in 1777 alienated the whole of it to William Deedes, esq. of St. Stephen's, whose son of the same name is the present owner of it.

COPHURST is an estate in the southern part of this parish, and partly down the hill, which was antiently the property of the family of Godfrey, owners likewise of Hurst, in which it continued down to Thomas Godfrey, who resided here, and dying possessed of it in the 6th year of king Henry VII. was buried in this church, as has been mentioned before, at which time it was called Cophurst, otherwise Bastard. He gave it by will to his two sons Thomas and Humphry, successively, remainder to his two daughters, Agnes and Rabege. Agnes, the former, married William Blechenden, and Rabege married John Clerke, and they, on the deaths of their two brothers, s. p. became entitled to this estate, among the rest of their inheritance, and on the division of it, the latter, in right of his wife, became possessed of Cophurst. From the Clerkes it passed into the name of White, one of whose descendants alienated it to Honywood, in which family it has continued down to Sir John Honywood, bart. of Evington, the present possessor of it.


WILLIAM FORDRED, of Sellindge, by will in 1550, gave to the poor of this parish, among others, a portion of the rents of twenty-five acres of land in St. Maries' parish, in Romney Marsh, the proportion of which to this parish is 4l. 12s. 4¾d. to be distributed annually on Christmas-day, and vested in certain trustees.

WILLIAM PANTRY, by will in 1587, gave to the poor, an annuity of 10s. to be paid yearly out of lands, called Cabbin lands, in Limne, to be distributed yearly at Lady-day, by the minister and churchwardens.

THOMAS WHITE, D. D. bishop of Peterborough, gave by his will, 240l. to be laid out in good security, and 10l. of the interest of it to be distributed yearly among twenty poor householders: but it has been for many years lost through a mistake, and has not been since recoverable.

THOMAS HOGBEN, late of Aldington, by will in 1712, gave to twenty poor families one shilling each, out of a piece of marsh land, called Shrowsbury, in Bilsington.

The poor constantly relieved are about forty, casually 25.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. Martin, is large and handsome, and consists of two isles and two chancels, having at the west end a handsome tower steeple, well and strongly built, the top of it being covered with lead, flat and without battlements, seemingly as if unfinished. This steeple was begun about the year 1507, and went on so slowly, most probably for want of money, that it was not finished in 1557, as appears by the legacies left towards the work of it, in several wills in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury. There are six bells in it, cast about twenty-four years ago. The south chancel, dedicated to St. Mary, belongs to the two estates of Ruffin's hill and Simnells. In it is a memorial for William Deedes, M. D. obt. 1738. Memorials for Mary, daughter of Edward Metcalf, widow of Henry Gregory, obt. 1707; and for Humphry Blechinden, esq. of Ruffin's hill, obt. 1639. A monument for John Blechynden, esq. of Simnells, who died an immature death, being then married to his second wife, and father of a numerous issue. He lived the latter part of his life at Monkton, in Thanet, obt. 1607, arms, Blechynden impaling a lion rampant, gules. In the north chancel a stone, having in brass the figures of a man and woman, under his feet a dog, and below them three sons and two daughters, and an inscription for John Weddeol, gent. and Maud his wife, obt. 1475. In the south isle was a tomb for James Godfrey and Katherine his wife, now defaced. On the outside, at the south-east corner of the church, there appears to have been an adjoining chancel or chantry, but there is no account remaining of it.

The church of Aldington, with the chapel of Smeeth annexed, being exempt from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon, was appurtenant to the manor of Aldington until the exchange made by the archbishop with king Henry VIII. as has been above related, in which, though the manor was granted to the king, yet all presentations and advowsons being excepted out of it, the patronage of this church continued parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury, as it does at this time, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.

There was a vicarage endowed in this church in the 24th year of king Edward I. anno 1295, which continued so in the 5th year of king Edward IV. in which year William Pope died vicar of it, as appears by his will in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury, but I find nothing of it afterwards.

This rectory of Aldington, with the chapel of Smeeth, is valued in the king's books at 38l. 6s. 8d. and the yearly tenths at 3l. 16s. 8d. In 1588 it was valued at one hundred and sixty pounds, communicants one hundred and ninety-seven. In 1648 here were communicants two hundred and fifty-six, and in Smeeth one hundred and eighty. There are about fourteen acres of glebe land belonging to this rectory. There is a modus of nine-pence per acre on the grassland here, except when sown with corn, grain, flax, or planted with hops, in lieu of all tithes whatever; to break through which, there was a suit in 1754, between Dr. Chapman, then rector, and Smith, who was an occupier of such lands here, in which the rector was cast. (fn. 10)

The rector supports voluntarily a school here, for reading English and writing.

Church of Aldington, with the Chapel of Smeeth annexed.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. Thomas Linacre, M.D. in 1509. (fn. 11)
Erasmus Roterodamus, March 22, 1511, resigned the same year. (fn. 12)
John Thornton, D. D. (fn. 13)
Richard Masters, A. M. Nov. 18, 1514, obt. April 21, 1535. (fn. 14)
The King, jure preg. John Caldwell, M. D. 1558, vacated 1592. (fn. 15)
The Archbishop. Charles Fotherbye, S. T. B. May 1592, obt. March 29, 1619. (fn. 16)
John Simpson, D. D. inducted April 1619, obt. 1630. (fn. 17)
Robert Austin, D. D. in 1636.
Elias Juxon, A. M. inducted April 1661.
Alban Eales, A. M. inducted May 1665.
George Screven, A. M. inducted June 1670.
Herbert Richards, A. M. April 1671, obt. 1678.
John Brazier, D. D. inducted 1678, obt. 1679.
William Cade, A. M. inducted March 30, 1680, obt. 1706. (fn. 18)
John Ibbut, inducted 1706, resigned 1708.
James Janeway, inducted June 1708, obt. 1739. (fn. 19)
John Chapman, D. D. inducted August 1739, obt. Oct. 14, 1784. (fn. 20)
David Ball, LL. B. 1784, the present rector. (fn. 21)


  • 1. Since the printing of the former part of this work, I find, notwithstanding all printed authorities are to the contrary, that the church of Aldington, (conformable to the account of it in Domesday) is within that part of this parish within the hundred of Bircholt Franchise, in the description of which it ought therefore to have been inserted.
  • 2. See Pack's Explanation to his Chart, p. 87.
  • 3. Pedigree of Cobbe in Heraldic Visitation, anno 1619.
  • 4. Augtn. off. box Kent A. 14, and ib. 14b. See also ibid. off. box C. 10. Box Kent, E. 75.
  • 5. See vol. vii. of this history, p. 135.
  • 6. See a decree in the Exchequer anno 1705, concerning the proportion of the land-tax to be allowed from this rent, and appeal to the house of lords in 1706, when the decree was affirmed, in Brown's Cases in Parliament, vol. i. p. 131.
  • 7. See more of the Kingsleys, vol. vii. p. 551.
  • 8. There is a pedigree of them in Vistn. co. Kent, anno 1574.
  • 9. His will is in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury.
  • 10. See Vexcy's Reports, vol. ii. p. 506.
  • 11. And rector of Mersham.
  • 12. He resigned it soon afterwards, on condition of a pension of 20l. per annum being paid out of it by Dr. John Thornton, who was collated to it in his room.
  • 13. Suffragan, bishop of Dover. See Ducarel's Repert. p. 129.
  • 14. Afterwards D. D. Erasmus says, he was a young man well skilled in divinity, but being a principal encourager of Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, he was attainted and executed at Tyburn. See before, under Limne, and Wood's Ath. vol. i. fasti, p. 21.
  • 15. Dean of Rochester, and vacated on being made bishop of Salisbury. See Wood's Ath. fasti, vol. i. p. 110, 124.
  • 16. Dean of Canterbury, and lies buried in that cathedral.
  • 17. Prebendary of Canterbury, and was buried in the nave of that cathedral. In 1626, by dispensation, rector likewise of Sandhurst. Rym. fæd. vol. xviii. p. 874.
  • 18. See Wood's Ath. vol. ii. fasti, p. 217. He lies buried in this church.
  • 19. And rector of Wotton by dispenfation.
  • 20. Likewise rector of Saltwood, which he resigned on being presented to that of Mersham, which he held with this rectory by dispensation. See more of him before under Mersham.
  • 21. Before vicar of Chistelet.