Parishes: Whitstaple

Pages 505-517

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

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CALLED in antient records Northwood, alias Whitstaple, lies the next parish eastward from Seasalter, the whole of it being within the hundred of Whitstaple, excepting the small borough of Harwich, which the hundred of Westgate claims over.

Though not an unpleasant situation, it has till of late been considered as and unhealthy one, owing partly to the damps arising from the salt marshes on the southwest side of the street, and partly to the general badness of the water thereabouts, though these objections have been since in a great measure remedied, for a few years ago the marshes were drained, and thrown into arable land, and Mr. Bunce, of Canterbury, who owns the salt-works carrying on here, persevering in his hopes of finding more wholesome water, though the public opinion was decidedly against him, yet having found a bed of clay on the sea shore, a thing very uncommon here, he caused it to be perforated, and after some days labour and anxious expectation, at the depth of seventy-two feet, the soil changing from clay to sand, he had the satisfaction of seeing an abundant flow of fresh water, good and sweet, which by proper means rose to the height of six feet above the ground's surface, and so continues. It affords nine quarts of water in a minute, which is more than sufficient for all the purposes of the place, and the use of it has ever since been liberally permitted to the inhabitants of Whitstaple gratis; who, however, have since availed themselves of Mr. Bunce's discovery, and there is now scarcely a house in the street where the owner has not, in like manner, supplied himself with fresh water, of the same good quality, sufficient for all the purposes of his family.

The description of this place, as in king Henry the VIIIth.'s time, is thus given by Leland, in his Itinerary, vol. vii. p. 144: "Whitstaple is upward into Kent a ii myles or more beyond Feversham, on the same shore, a great fisher towne of one paroche, longging to Playze college in Effex, and yt stondeth on the se shore. Ther abowt they dragge for oysters." In the year 1565, on a return made by the queen Elizabeth's order, there were found to be eighty-two houses inhabited in Whitstaple. The turnpike road from Canterbury crosses the west side of it towards the sea shore, and it is observed by the inhabitants, that the sea gains greatly on this shore every year, especially in and near the bay. Near the shore, on each side the above road, stands the present village, called Whitstaple-street, consisting of about eighty houses, most of which have been erected within memory, the numbers of which are continually increasing. Great part of this street, notwithstanding its name, is in the parish and liberty of Seasalter, which having taken in part of it, runs down northward in a strait line to the sea shore. Part of this street, within this parish, is within the borough of Harwich, in three several places detached one from the other. The church stands on an eminence, about half a mile from this street, in a hamlet called Church street, which was formerly the only village in this parish; and the vicarage house at some little distance from it. About half a mile from the street, near the sea shore and Tankerton, are six copperas-houses, where the manufacture of copperas, or green vitriol, is carried on; and there have been lately some salt-works made, which are still carried on here.

The street is very populous, and the inhabitants of it thriving, though of an inserior condition in life, and course trades, consisting mostly of those employed in the fishery and oyster dredging, the coal trade, the passage-hoys to and from London, and in the shops which supply the whole of them with the necessaries of life, and above all, the illicit trade of smuggling, though that has been within these few years much more than at present.

The fishery of Whitstaple, being a royalty of fishery or oyster dredging, appendant to the manor, is regulated at a court held yearly for the purpose in February. The number of boats employed in it are of late greatly increased; for in 1734 there were but twenty two, whereas there are now upwards of seventy. There are six colliers, which frequent the bay of Whitstaple, from which the city of Canterbury and its neighbourhood are in a great measure supplied, to the amount of near 5000 chaldrons of coals yearly; and there are three hoys, for the conveyance of passengers and goods to and from London, which sail alternately each week; all which bring a great increase of traffic to this place. In 1761 a remarkable large sea eel, six feet long, 20 inches round, and weighing thirty pounds, was taken in a shallow water here, where it had been left by the tide.

There are three fairs kept in this parish, viz. on the Thursday before Whit Sunday, at the water-side; on Midsummer-day, in Church-street; and on St. James's day, on Greensted-green, in Whitstaple-street.

For Some considerable length of time past, there have been found by the fishermen of this neighbour hood, when dredging with their nets for oysters on and round about a rock in the channel near Whitstaple, called the Pudding-pan rock, which is never dry, quantities of Roman earthen ware; some of the pans entire, but more only fragments; though for some years past there have been but few found.

The traditional story of the country (and tradition has been in general found to have some truth for its foundation, however misrepresented by ignorance and a series of time) that some vessel, freighted with this manufacture, was many ages since cast away on this rock, and its lading dispersed on and about it by the force of the waves from time to time. This, though only tradition, appears to be the most probable conjecture of any that has yet been made, of these pans and their fragments having been deposited here. Such as have been found, have been from time to time carried home by the fishermen, and made use of for domestic purposes in their houses; but of late years, the circumstance of their being found coming to the knowledge of the curious antiquaries, they have been in general sought out and purchased by them, and are now preserved among their respective collections.

Mr. Jacob, of Faversham, wrote some observations on this earthen ware found here, (in answer to governor Pownall, who had ingeniously conjectured this rock to have once had a Roman pottery established on it, of which these were the remains, and to correct several of the governor's mistakes) and strongly inclines to the idea, of their being dispersed here by the misfortune of some ship, loaded with them, having been wrecked on this rock. In which he is followed by Mr. Keate, in a very sensible paper of observations wrote on the same subject. (fn. 1)

Several Scarce Plants have been found here, as Kali spinosum, prickly sea grape. (fn. 2)

Peucedanum, sulphur wort, or hogs fennel. (fn. 3)

Brassica sylvestris, wild colewort. (fn. 4)

Papaver cornutum flore luteo, yellow horned poppy. (fn. 5)

Chamælyce, spurge thyme. (fn. 6)

Grithmum spinosum, thorny samphire. (fn. 7)

Glaux exigua maritima, black saltwort. (fn. 8)

Eryngium marinum, sea holly; all plentifully on the beach here. (fn. 9)

THE MANOR OF WHITSTAPLE, called formerly, as above-mentioned, Northwood, alias Whitstaple, together with the hundred and the church of Whitstaple appendant, seems to have been in very early times part of the possessions of the same owners that the barony of Chilham had, and to have continued in like manner in the descendants of Fulbert de Dover. In king Henry the IIId.'s time I find it stiled the manor of Northwood, alias Whitstaple, with the church of Northwood, appertaining to the barony of Chilham, and in the next reign of king Edward I. the manor of Whitstaple, which, with its appendages of Northwood and Grafton, in this parish, had descended down in like manner as Chilham, to John, earl of Athol, who being attained, and his lands consiscated, this manor, with its appurtenances, remained in the crown till Edward II. in his 5th year, granted it to Bartholomew de Badlesmere, the rich lord Badlesmere of Ledes, and he, in the 9th year of that reign, had a grant of free warren within this manor, but in the 15th year of that reign, having joined the discontented barons, his lands were all seized, and the king granted this manor to David de Strabolgie, son of John, earl of Athol, before-mentioned, for his eminent services, for his life, and he had licence in the 18th year of that reign, to impark his wood of Northwood, in his manor of Northwood, and died anno I Edward III. upon which it reverted again to the crown, whence it was granted next year to Giles de Badlesmere, son of Bartholomew before-mentioned, who had all his lands and manors restored to him. He died s.p. in the 12th year of that reign, possessed of this manor, leaving his four sisters his coheirs, and upon the division of their inheritance, this manor of Whitstaple, alias Norwood, was allotted to Maud, widow of Roger Fitzpain, and then the wife of John de Vere, earl of Oxford. His grandson Robert, earl of Oxford, created marquis of Dublin, and duke of Ireland, was by parliament in the 11th year of king Richard II. banished, and his estates consiscated, among which was this manor, with the church appendant, which seems to have been granted soon afterwards to Thomas. duke of Gloucester, the king's uncle, who, in the 17th year of that reign, settled this manor, as well as the church, being then held in capite, with the king's licence, on his new-founded college of Plecy, in Essex, to hold in free, pure and perpetual alms, and it continued with the college till the dissolution of it in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when it came into the king's hands, as not having the clear revenue of two hundred pounds per annum. After which the king, in his 38th year, granted this manor, with the rectory and advowson of the church, among other premises, to John Gate, gentleman of his privy chamber, to hold in capite. He was knighted in the next reign of king Edward VI. in the second and third of which reign, his lands were by the act then passed, disgavelled; but after king Edward's death, being attainted in the 1st year of queen Mary, he was beheaded, and this manor, with the rest of his estates, became forfeited to the crown, where it seems to have staid till queen Elizabeth, in her 16th year, granted it, with its appurtenances, to Thomas Heneage, esq. to hold in capite, who in the 23d year of it, with the queen's licence, alienated the manor of Whitstaple, alias St. Agnes Court lees, to Thomas Smith, esq. of Westenhanger, commonly called the Customer, who died possessed of this estate in 1591. His descendant Philip, viscount Strangford, dying possessed of it about the year 1709, Henry Roper, lord Teynham, who had married Catherine his eldest daughter, became by his will entitled to it, and he soon afterwards sold it to Sir Henry Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, who died possessed of it in 1712; after which it passed in like manner as Ellenden manor, in Seasalter above-described, down to the right hon. George St. John, lord viscount Bolingbrooke, who sold it some few years since to Messrs. Nutt, Salisbury, and Foad, and who have since conveyed it to Charles Pearson, esq. who is the present owner of it.

A court leet and court baron is held for this manor, usually at Michaelmas; and another court for the regulating of the oyster fishery, in the month of February.

GRIMGILL, as it is now called, is a manor in this parish, situated at a small distance south-eastward from the church. It was once a seat of note, though now reduced to a very mean state indeed, and the house is now made use of as the parish poor-house. Its antient name was Greenshields, which it took from a family who in early times possessed it; one of whom, Henry Greenshield, died in the last year of Edward IV. s. p. and by his will devised this, as well as his other estates, to be sold; for he appears by it to have been possessed, by descent, of lands besides at Herne, Woodnesborough, and in the neighbourhood of Sandwich. Accordingly, after his death, this manor was sold by his feoffees to John Quekes, esq. of Quekes, whose sole daughter and heir Agnes carried it in marriage to John Crispe, esq. afterwards of Quekes, whose descendant Nicholas Crispe, esq. resided here at the time he served the office of sheriff, at the latter part of the first year of queen Elizabeth; but it still continued the property of his father Sir Henry Crispe, before whom he died in 1564, and was buried in this church, leaving only one daughter Dorothy. (fn. 10) Sir Henry Crispe died possessed of it in 1575, but his grandson of the same name, of Quekes, sold this manor in 1605, to Thomas Paramor, and he in 1648 conveyed it to his brother Henry Paramor, gent. who in 1657 passed it away to Mr. Anthony Farrer; after which it passed, by virtue of his settlement made of it, in moieties, into the names of Twyman and Hamond, whose descendants joined in the conveyance of the whole of it to Mr. Joseph Stanwix, who remained owner of this manor till 1735, when he alienated it to William Jenkins, esq. and he, in 1751, sold it to William Lipyeatt, gent, of Swacliffe, who died in 1752, and it came to his two only surviving sons, James Lipyeatt, of Swacliffe, and Bonnick Lipyeatt, gent. of Faversham, the latter of whom died in 1789, and devised his moiety in trust for the benefit of his widow and two daughters; the former died in 1790, and his moiety became the property of his three nephews William, James, and Thomas Foord, in which state this manor now remains.

CONDIES HALL, or place, was so called from the antient possessors of it, one of whom, John de Cundishall, held it, as appears by the books of knights fees, in the reign of king Edward I. by knight's service, of Walter de Clifford. His descendant, of the same name, resided at it in Edward III.'s reign, and established a high character for his courage, for having made one of the king's enemies, of eminent note, a prisoner in personal combat, in congressu bellico, as the record expresses it, at Seine, in Normandy; he had as a reward, thirty pounds per annum settled on him, out of the king's profits of the staple at Canterbury. His son William Cundie, dying without any lawful issue, Margaret, one of his sisters, became his coheir, and she marrying with Robert Grubbe, entitled him to this estate; but he likewise dying without male issue, Agnes, one of his coheirs, carried it in marriage to John Isaac, esq. of Bridge, one of whose descendants alienated it to the family of Roper, of St. Dunstan's, afterwards of Wellhall, in Eltham, (fn. 11) with whose estates in this parish it became afterwards so blended, that it entirely lost all memory of its former name; and it continued with them, in the same line of descent, down to Edward Roper, esq. of Wellhall, who left one son Edward, and a daughter Elizabeth, married to Edward Henshaw, esq. by whom she left surviving three daughters and coheirs; the eldest of whom, Katherine, by her uncle Edward Roper's will, who died s. p. in 1723, at length entitled her husband William Strickland, esq. to the possession of it. He died in 1788, s. p. upon which it came, by the limitations of the same will, to Sir Edward Dering, bart. the eldest and only surviving son of Sir Edward Dering, by Elizabeth his wife, the second daughter and coheir, and to Sir Rowland Wynne, bart. son of Sir Rowland Wynne, bart. by the third daughter and coheir of Mr. Henshaw, and their descendants, Sir Rowland Wynne, bart. of Nostall, in Yorkshire, great grandson of Sir Rowland Wynne above-mentioned, and Sir Edward Dering, bart. of Surrenden, the grandson of Sir Edward Dering, bart. above-mentioned, are now jointly become, by the entail of the abovementioned will, entitled to it.

THE MANOR OF TANKERTON, lies within the borough of Harwich, which is within the hundred of Westgate, though within the bounds of this parish and Seasalter. This borough takes in a part of Whitstaplestreet, at three different places detached one from the other, whence it extends north eastward about sixty rods wide, half a mile in length to the sea shore at Tanker ton, which it includes within its bounds; and there is a small hamlet of houses, now called Tankerton, close to the sea shore, about half a mile from Whitstaplestreet. This borough had antiently owners of the same name, one of whom, William de Tangreton, held it in king Edward I.'s reign, by knight's service; but in the 20th year of king Edward III. it was become part of the possessions of the hospital, or Maison Dieu, at Ospringe, the master of which then held this manor of Tangreton, alias Beconfield, in Whitstaple, by knight's service. In which state it continued till the 20th year of king Edward IV. when there being no members left in this hospital, it escheated, with all its possessions, to the crown, as being desolated. After which, this manor most probably was granted, with the rest of the possessions of the hospital, to Fisher, bishop of Rochester, for the better endowment of St. John's college, in Cambridge; but it has been for a great length of time obsolete, and the name of it only remains, and the royalty of the whole borough of Harwich, as part of the hundred of Westgate, is now claimed by his grace the archbishop, as is the royalty of a fishery appendant to it, so far along the sea shore as this borough extends; but this fishery is now become of little or no value.

A borsholder is appointed for this. borough at the court leet held for the hundred of Westgate.


A HOUSE, with buildings, &c. in Harwich borough; two pieces of land called Coppins, containing seven acres, in Whitstaple; a piece of land called Cliffe-field, containing three acres, in Whitstaple and Seasalter; a piece of land called Gadberries, in Seasalter, containing two acres and an half; a house with stable and appurtenances, in Whitstaple; one other house, kitchen and stable, and two acres of land, in Seasalter, all which were given to the use of the poor, by persons unknown, and amount in the whole to the yearly rent of 35l. 15s.

A PIECE OF LAND called Culvers, in Seasalter, containing an acre and an half of land called Petticroft, in Whitstaple, near Cutbeards Stroud, containing one acre; four pieces of land, containing 23 acres, two pieces of which are in Whitstable and Swacliffe, called Stockfish, containing fourteen acres, and two other pieces, called Swinfield, alias Binfield, and Upperfield, containing nine acres, which last-mentioned lands were formerly the estate of Thomas Lunce, and by his will in 1588 devised to the use of the poor, paying out of the same yearly to the poor of Seasalter 40s. and to the poor of Swaycliffe yearly 26s. 8d. and are altogether of the yearly value of 12l. 6s.

A HOUSE and piece of land in Whitstaple, called Grahams, alias Grandams, containing one acre and a half; four pieces of land called Wilkins Watts, containing twenty acres; a piece of land called Alice Stephens, containing two acres and an half; a piece of land, formerly in two pieces, called Keets, containing twelve acres; a piece of land called Richard Alleyn's, containing four acres and an half; a piece of land, let to Mr. James Lipyeatt; two pieces of land, called Brookfield and Bedisham, containing seven acres and an half; a piece of land, called Brookfield, all lying in Whitstaple, containing eight acres, and amounting to the yearly value together of 30l. 16s. were given in the first place to the use of the poor, and afterwards towards the repairing and adorning of the church of Whitstaple.

A HOUSE in Whitstaple, called the Clerk's house, was given, by a person unknown, to the use of the poor, and is now occupied by John Goldfinch, at the yearly rent of 4l. a piece of land, called Bushy close, in Herne, containing three acres, let at the yearly rent of 1l. 16s. which was purchased of George Goatham, for the clothing of such of the poor as the churchwardens should think fit. Total of all the above charities, 80l. 13s. yearly value. All which premises were in 1783 vested in ten feoffees.

Besides which, John Meadman, of Whitstaple, yeoman, by will in 1615, devised to the poor 50s. yearly, to be paid out of his house, and three acres of land lying at the back of it, and eight acres of land lying in Whitstaple, called Bennenels, quarterly to the churchwardens of the parish, with liberty of distress, &c. And he ordered that the same should be distributed by the churchwardens upon every sabbath-day, after the second lesson at morning service, twelve pence to six of the poor, that is twopence a piece.

THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Westbere.

The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, consists of two isles and two chancels, which are embattled, having a tower steeple at the south-west corner, in which hang six bells. The church seems antient, and the walls of it, though much repaired, are in a very decaying condition, owing to the land-springs underneath the whole of it. It is kept very neat and clean. There are few memorials of any account in it, but in the south isle is a stone with an inscription on brass, for Thomas Birde, obt. 1440. Another on brass, for Joan, daughter of John Meadman, whose first husband was Christopher Goulsonn. The font is of an octagon form; on the compartments of the cover to it are these arms; first, Manwood, a crescent for disserence, and the crest. Second, Vert, a chevron, between three lions rampant-guardant, or. Third, within the garter, A rose, gules, garnished, or; at the top, a royal crown, and on each side, a lion and unicorn supporters. Fourth, within the garter (of green) A thistle, vert; at the top, a royal crown; supporters, two savages, proper, with clubs in their hands, or. Fifth, within the garter, Gules, a ducal crown, or, and, argent. Sixth, Gules, a plume of three feathers, argent, bound together, or; supporters, two naked boys proper, crined, or, a golden ball in their right hands. Seventh, within the garter, Gules, a harp, or; over them, a royal crown; supporters, the lion and unicorn. Eighth, Gules, a fleur de lis, or; supporters, two naked boys proper, crined, or. At the west end of the south isle is a gallery, erected in 1770. Several of the Paramors were buried in this church, as was Sir N. Crispe, of Grimgill, in this parish, but there are not any memorials remaining of them; most probably they were buried in the north chancel.

This church was always esteemed an appendage to the manor, and accordingly was settled in the 17th year of king Richard II. on the college of Plecy, as has been already fully mentioned before, with a licence to the master and chaplains to appropriate it. Notwithstanding which, the appropriation did not take place till the year 1477, anno 18 Edward IV. when archbishop Bourchier appropriated it to the college, and assigned a stipend of twelve marcs to the chaplain or curate serving in it. In which state it continued till the dissolution of the college in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when it came with the manor, into the king's hands, which was granted in the 38th year of that reign to Sir John Gate, on whose attaint in the 1st year of queen Mary, it came to the crown, where the manor staid for some years; but the patronage of the perpetual curacy of the church was separated from it, and granted by queen Mary, in her 6th year, anno 1558, among several others, to the archbishop, as was the church itself, or parsonage appropriate, by queen Elizabeth in her third year, by way of exchange, to the archbishop, being then valued at 30l. 3s. 4d. with the reprise from it of ten pounds, being the annual stipend to the curate. In which state it continues at this time, his grace the archbishop being owner of the parsonage appropriate, and patron of the perpetual curacy of this church.

Archbishop Sheldon, by indenture in the 22d year of king Charles II. augmented the stipend of the curate here with ten pounds per annum. It is now of the yearly certified value of 22l. 10s.

Church of Whitstaple.

Or by whom presented.
Edward Gonneston, in 1643. (fn. 12)
Matthew Smith, in 1666.
Thomas Patten, March 13, 1711, obt. Oct. 9. 1764.
Thomas Gurney, A. B. Jan. 31, 1765, obt June 1774.
Thomas Johnson, A.M. July, 1774, the present curate.


  • 1. See the Archæologia, vol. v. p. 282; vol. vi. p. 121, 125, and 392.
  • 2. Merrett's Pinax, p. 68.
  • 3. Ibid. p. 93. Gerard, p. 1055.
  • 4. Gerard, p. 316.
  • 5. Ibid. p. 367.
  • 6. Ibid. p. 504.
  • 7. Ibid. p. 533.
  • 8. Ibid. p. 562.
  • 9. Ibid. p. 1162.
  • 10. His will is in the Prerogative-office, Canterbury.
  • 11. Mr. Petit Fœdary of Kent his book,
  • 12. He and his successors were all likewise vicars of Seasalter.