Parishes: Bonnington

Pages 331-337

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

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USUALLY called Bunnington, lies the next parish south-westward, upon the clay hills, extending southward into the level of Romney Marsh, which part of it is within the liberty and jurisdiction of the justices of it. It is a very lonely and unfrequented place, the situation cannot but be unpleasant, for the soil is a deep clay, the roads consequently are very miry and bad, the north-west part of the parish is mostly woodland. The village, usually called Bonnington-cross, stands on high ground, on the clay-hills, at no great distance from which is the church, nearly down the hill, at the foot of which, only one meadow intervening, is Romney Marsh. A little way from the cross is a small forstal, with several house round it, one of which, on the south side, is the Pinn-house. Northward is a large common, called Bonnington-common, over which the road leads to Aldington-corner, at the north-east end of which the quarry-stone begins. The southern part of this parish is within the level of Romney Marsh, the bounds of which are at the foot of the hill just below the church. There used to be a court leet holden here for the boroughs of Bonnington and Hamme, at which the borsholders of those boroughs were elected, but it had been discontinued ever since about the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, only the memory of it remained, by a great old oak standing in the high way where it used to be held, and from thence called the law-day oak. (fn. 1) This seems to be that which is still held, being the king's court, appointed and held by the constable of the lower half hundred of Street, of which mention has already been made before.

THE MANOR OF BONNINGTON seems to have been, soon after the Norman conquest, part of the possessions of Hugo de Montfort. Accordingly it is entered, under the general title of his lands, in the record of Domesday, as follows:

William, son of Grosse, holds of Hugh, Bonintone. Norman held it of king Edward, and it was taxed at one suling. The arable land is four carucates. In demesne there is one, and nine villeins, with four borderers having two carucates. There is a church and eight servants, and wood for the pannage of eight hogs. In the time of king Edward the Consessor it was worth four pounds, and afterwards three pounds, now one hundred shillings.

On the voluntary exile of Robert de Montfort, grandson of Hugh above-mentioned, in Henry I.'s reign, this manor, manor the rest of his estates, came into the king's hands as an escheat. After which it appears to have become part of the possessions of the knights hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, the prior of which held it by knight's service of the castle of Dover, being part of those lands which made up the barony called the Constabularie there, but before the 20th of king Edward III. this manor was divided into two parts, one of which acquired the name of Bonnington, alias Singleton, and was held of the prior, as will be further mentioned hereafter; and the other, which retained its name of the manor of Bonnington, remained with the prior of the hospital. In which state it continued till the dissolution of the hospital, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. when it came, with the rest of the possessions of it, into the king's hands, whence it was granted, among other premises, to John Williams, to hold in capite, who alienated it that year to Sir Thomas Moyle, and he soon afterwards sold it to Sir James Hales, of the Dungeon, whose grandson Sir James Hales, of the same place, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, exchanged it, together with the advowson of the church of Bonnington, with Sir Christopher Mann, of Canterbury, from one of whose descendants it passed in 1695 to Thomas Turner, esq. of Lincoln's-Inn. His son John Turner died about 1748, whose daughter married Sir Thomas Lombe, alderman of London, who had introduced into this kingdom from Savoy, a most curious machine for working Italian organzine silk, for which he obtained a patent in 1718, and in 1732 had a reward of 1400l. granted by parliament. He died in 1739. His two daughters and coheirs afterwards became entitled to it. The eldest of whom was married in 1740 to Sir Robert Cliston, bart. and the youngest Mary, to James Maitland, earl of Lauderdale, so that the latter, in right of his wife, and Sir Gervas Cliston, bart. son of Sir Robert, in right of his mother, became possessed of it in undivided moieties. Sir Gervas Cliston sold his share in 1780 to David Papillon, esq. of Acrise, who likewise some years afterwards purchased of the earl of Lauderdale his interest in it, so that he is now become the proprietor of the whole of this manor.

THE MANOR OF BONNINGTON, alias KENNETTS, formerly called the manor of Bonnington, alias Singleton, was antiently a part of that estate in this parish, which belonged to the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, from which it was separated as early as the reign of king Edward II. being held of the prior of that hospital, by a family called De Bonnington, from their possessions here. After which it became divided again between two brothers Nicholas and John de Bonnington, the former of whom had the manor of Bonnington, alias Singleton, and the latter had a parcel of the lands adjoining, afterwards called Kennetts; but both these estates seem to have passed from this name before the 20th of king Edward III. in which year Peter Basant was become possessed of the former; as Richard de Otford was of the latter.

I find no other mention made of the name of Basant, and in the beginning of king Henry VI.'s reign, the above manor was become the property of Roger Bregland, or Bresland, as the name was sometimes spelt, who had good estates in East Kent, who had married Dionisia, daughter and heir of Bonnington, of this parish, by whom he had one son Roger, and three daughters. She survived him, and afterwards married John Cobbes, of Newchurch, and entitled him to the lands of her inheritance in this parish, of which this manor does not seem to have been a part, but to have been purchased by him before, most probably of her former husband Roger Bregland. They afterwards bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron, three cocks, gules, which coat probably they in some measure took, as being descended from the female heir of Bonnington, who bore Sable, three cocks, argent. He died possessed of it in the 13th year of Edward IV. (fn. 2) and it continued in his descendants, till Edw, Cobbe, leaving an only daughter and heir Anne, or Alice, for she is called by both names; she carried it in marriage, first, to Sir John Norton, of Northwood. She afterwards married John Cobham, alias Brooke, third son of George, lord Cobham, and dying in 1580, was buried in Newington church by Sittingborne; by her former husband she had a son Thomas, whose grand son Sir Thomas Norton, of Northwood, in the beginning of king James I.'s reign, alienated it to White, whose son seems to have purchased of the heirs of Valentine Knight, gent. of Sellindge, son of Thomas Knight, of that place, those lands in this parish mentioned before, as having been held in Edward the IIId.'s reign by Richard de Otford, which afterwards came into the possession of a family named Kennett, in which they remained for some time, insomuch that they at length gained the name of Kennetts, from whom they passed to the Knights, descended from those of Aldington, and from them to White as before-mentioned, who becoming thus possessed of the manor of Bonnington, and the estate of Kennetts likewise, the whole of it assumed the name of the manor of Bonnington, alias Kennetts, and the house of that the Pinn farm, or Bonnington Pin, as it is sometimes called, situated on the Kennetts estate, became reputed the manor-house. In the name of White this manor and estate continued down to Thomas White, gent. who in 1690 married Grace, sister of John Lynch, esq. of Groves, by whom he had a son Thomas, and three daughters, married to Goddard, Beake, and Hawkins. On his death it descended, one moiety to the son, and the other to the three daughters. Thomas White the son, alienated his moiety to Goddard, who afterwards purchasing the remainder of the other moiety of the children of Beake and Hawkins, both deceased, became possessed of the whole of it, which he afterwards sold to his nephew Mr. Samuel Goddard, of Mersham, the present owner of it.


VALENTINE KNIGHT, of Sellinge, by will in 1614, gave the annual sum of 8s. to the poor, out of his farm called the Pinn, and the manor of Bonnington, yearly at Christmas.

The poor constantly relieved are about ten, casually five.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. Rumwold, is small, consisting of an isle and chancel. It has no steeple, but a pointed turret raised on the roof at the west end. It is kept very clean and neat. There are no memorials in it, but some small remains of painted glass.

The advowson of the rectory of this church passed as an appendage to the manor of Bonnington till the dissolution of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. when it came into the hands of the crown, whence it was two years afterwards granted by the king to Arthur Stringer, from whose descendant it passed into the name of Kempe, and Sir Thomas Kempe, of Ollantigh, was owner of it in the 21st year of queen Elizabeth's reign, from whom it passed to Sir James Hales, of the Dungeon, owner of the manor, with which the advowson has continued in the same chain of ownership down to the present proprietor of it, the patronage of it being now vested in David Papillon, esq. late of Acrise.

This rectory is valued in the king's books at 101. 12s. 8½d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 1s. 3¼d. It is now of the clear yearly certified value of 52l. 13s. 1¼d. In 1588 it was valued at fifty-eight pounds, communicants thirty-nine. In 1640 it was valued at fifty pounds per annum, communicants forty, and in 1742 it was valued at seventy pounds per annum, and has about twenty-six acres of glebe.

There is a modus of one shilling an acre on the marsh land in this parish.

John Knight, of Aldington, by will in 1547, ordered that one parcel of land, sometime belonging to the churches of Aldington and Bonnington, should after his death remain to the use of those churches, in such manner and form as it had in times past.

Church of Bonnington.

Or by whom presented.
The King, hac vice. William Stacye, resigned 1615.
Thomas Cox, A. M. July 12 1615.
Thomas Swinnerton, resigned in 1643.
Sir William Mann. Joyner Brooke, A. M. Nov. 9, 1643, obt. 1669.
Samuel Atwood, A. B. July 30, 1669, resigned 1680.
William Mann, esq. Jonathan Bernard, A. M. March 10, 1688, resigned 1701. (fn. 3)
John Turner, gent. John Turner, A. M. Nov. 1, 1701, resigned 1709.
Thomas Turner, A. M. Oct. 31, 1709, obt. August 1742.
Curteis Wightwick, A. M. Nov. 26, 1742, obt. 1753. (fn. 4)
Matthias Unwin, resigned 1753;
George Mapleiost, gent. George Adams, A. M. Nov. 2, 1753, resigned 1757.
Mrs. Hannah Turner. Robert Tournay, A. M. August 23, 1757, obt. June 1, 1785. (fn. 5)
David Paphillon, esq. Philip Papillon, A. M. June 1715, the present rector. (fn. 6)


  • 1. See Kilburile's Surveys, p. 132.
  • 2. His will is in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury.
  • 3. He resigned on being presented to Throwley.
  • 4. And vicar of St. Mary Bredin, in Canterbury.
  • 5. In 1765, by dispensation, rector of Newchurch.
  • 6. And rector of Eythorne by dispensation.