The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1799.
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IS the next parish northward from Liminge, being written in Domesday, Stellinges. The greatest part of it, in which the church stands, is in this hundred of Loning borough, and the rest of it is in the hundred of Stowting.
Stelling is an obscure parish, lying close on the east side of the Stone-street way, just above or southward of Lower Hardres, in a wild hilly country. It is mostly situated on high ground, and is exceeding healthy. The soil is but barren, consisting of an unfertile red earth, intermixed with quantities of slints. On the north and east sides it is covered with woods. The heath called Stelling-minnis, comprehends most of the parish, extending across it, and a considerable way beyond, into the parishes of Liminge and Eleham, being in the whole more than two miles in length, though it is of a very different breadth at different parts of it. It is along the whole of it interspersed with houses and cottages, many of which are built on the middle of it, with fields and orchards taken out of it and inclosed round them, which form altogether an uncommon and not unpleasant scene, the inhabitants of them being as rude and wild as the country they live in. These dwellings on the minnis may be said to form the village of Stelling, for there is no other. A little beyond the minnis stands the church, on an hill, and a little further the court-lodge, at the north-west boundary of the parish.
There are two fairs held annually, one on Ascensionday, the other on Alhollan-day, Nov. 1, now, by alteration of the stile, on Nov. 12, yearly, on the minnis, for horses, cattle, and pedlary.
At the time of taking the survey of Domesday, Stelling was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king's half-brother, under the general title of whole lands it is entered in it as-follows:
The same bishop (of Baieux) holds in demesne Stellinges. It was taxed at one yoke. The arable land is one carucate and an half. In demesne there is nothing, except one borderer. There is a church. Wood for the pannage of two bags. In the time of king Edward the Confesser, it was worth sixty sbillings, and afterwards and now forty shillings. Alret held it of king Edward.
Four years after the taking of this survey the bishop was disgraced, and his estates were consiscated to the crown; but how this manor passed from it afterwards, I have not found, nor further concerning it, till it was become part of the possessions of the family of Haut, one of whom, William de Haut, was possessed of it in the 1st year of king Edward I and resided at Wadenhall, in the adjoining parish of Waltham; and in his descendants it continued till the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign, when William Haut, esq. of Bishopsborne, conveyed it to Humphry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, whose grandson Edward, duke of Buckingham, being attainted and beheaded anno 13 Henry VIII. this manor, with the rest of his estates, came to the crown, (fn. 1) where it lay till the 1st and 2d of Philip and Mary, when the queen granted it to Edw. Fynes, lord Clinton, who about the end of that reign conveyed it to Mr. Henry Herdson, whose grandson Mr. Francis Herdson alienated it to his uncle Mr. John Herdson, about the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, and he deceasing, s.p. gave it by will to his nephew Sir Basill Dixwell, knight and baronet, afterwards of Terlingham, who likewise dying s.p. in 1641, Mark Dixwell, esq. his nephew, became his heir, but succeeded only to his estates, for his title became extinct. His son Sir Basill Dixwell, bart.of Brome, so created in 1660, died possessed of it in king Charles II.'s reign. (fn. 2) Soon after which it was alienated by his heirs to Sir Thomas Hardres, bart. of Hardrescourt, and his grandson Sir William Hardres, bart. dying s.p. in 1764, devised it by will to his widow Frances, (third daughter and coheir of Thomas Corbet, of Salop), on whose death intestate in 1783 it became vested in her heirs, who were her four sisters or their representatives, viz. the Rev. James-Charles Beckingham, son of Katherine her sister, second wife of Stephen Beckingham, esq. who is possessed of one fourth part of it; Elizabeth her sister, wife of Thomas Denward, clerk, deceased, who is possessed of another fourth part of it; Ignatius Geohegan, esq. of London, in right of his wife Antonina, her sister, and Ignatius Geohegan, their son, all three since deceased; when by the death of the latter his fourth part devolved to his sister, since married to the baron Montesquieu; and Wm. Hougham, jun. esq. of Bartonplace, only son of her sister Hannah deceased, late wife of Wm. Hougham, esq. of Barton, who is possessed of the remaining fourth part of it in undivided shares.
The manor of Holyrood, alias Fryerne Park, lies in the eastern part of this parish, and in the book of aid, anno 20 Edward III. it is said to have been held by the abbot of Langdon, by knight's service, which the heirs of simon de Holte before held in Holyrode of the heirs of William de Auberville. This manor continued in the possession of the monastery till the dissolution of it in the reign of king Henry VIII. when it came into the hands of the crown, whence anno 29 Henry VIII. it was granted to the archbishop, who exchanged it again with the crown, (fn. 3) whence it was granted to Heyman, who sold it to Hewytt. The demesnes called the Park, afterwards became the property of John Whitfield, esq. of Canterbury, and are now of Wm. Philpot, gent. of Sandwich, but the manor belongs to the right hon. George-Augustus, earl of Guildford.
There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about fifteen, casually ten.
Stelling is within the Eceelstastical Jurdisction of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Bridge.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is large and handsome, consisting of two isles and one chancel, having a low square tower at the north-west corner of it. There are exceeding good remains of painted glass in this church, especially in the east window of the south isle, in which there are many figures well preserved, with curious canopies and ornaments about them, very little of it having been destroyed. At bottom are two shields of arms, one, Azure, semee of cross croslects, or, a lion ermine, over all a fess; gules; the other, Gules, a lion rampant, ermine, over it a chevron, or. In the church-yard are three fine yew-trees, of a remarkable large size.
The church of Stelling has always been esteemed as a chapel to the church of Upper Hardres, the rector of which is inducted to that rectory, with the chapel of Stelling annexed to it.
It is included in the valuation of that rectory in the king's books. In 1588 here were communicants ninety-two, and in 1640, ninety.