Parishes: Chistlet

Pages 101-109

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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CALLED in antient records Chisteley, lies the next parish eastward from Hothe. In the donation charter of it to the monastery of St. Augustine, it is called Sturigao alias Cistelei, which seems as if this parish and Sturry were at that time esteemed together but as one parish. There are six boroughs in it, viz. Hatch, Armsborough, Craft, Blengate, Westbere, and Westbeach.

THIS PARISH lies both unwholesome and unpleasant, in a lonely unfrequented part of the country, excepting where the high road from Canterbury to the Isle of Thanet runs through the southern part of it, on which the hamlet of Upstreet stands; southward of which it extends over the marshes as far as the river Stour, next to Stourmouth. Northward from Upstreet, on a hill, stands the street, or village of Chistlet, in which are the church, court-lodge, and vicarage on the road leading to Reculver. Eastward of which this parish extends over a level of marshes, called North and South Chistlet levels, between Reculver and the Isle of Thanet, as far as the sea shore; and north-eastward beyond the manor of Grays, alias Ores, as far as the antient south wall of Reculver castle. It extends westward to the road from Sturry to Herne common, which it crosses, and takes in a considerable quantity of the archbishop's woods on the other side of it. The upland of this parish has much hill and dale in it, the soil of which is various, and for the most part but poor and wet; yet there is near the village, some tolerable kindly and fertile land. There is a fair held here yearly on the 29th of May.

THE MANOR OF CHISTLET was given by king Ethelbert, on his founding the monastery of St. Augustine, in 605, by the above name, to the prior and convent of it, and it continued in their possession at the time of taking the survey of Domesday, in which it is thus entered, under the general title of their lands:

In Cistelet hundred, the abbot himself holds Cistelet, which was taxed at twelve sulings. The arable land is thirty carucates. In demesne there are five carucates, and seventy-two villeins, with sixty-eight borderers having thirty-nine carucates. There is a church of twelve shillings, and fourteen servants. There are fifty acres of meadow, and forty seven saltpits of fifty semes of salt. Of pannage for one hundred and thirty bags. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth fifty-three pounds, and afterwards forty pounds, now seventy-eight pounds. There are three arpens of vineyard. Of this manor, four knights, who are Frenchmen, held as much as was valued at twelve pounds per annum.

The vineyard above-mentioned, appears by the register of the abbey, to have remained here so late as the year 1434.

King Henry III. in his 54th year, granted to the abbot and convent, free-warren in all their demesne lands of Chistlet; (fn. 1) and in the 7th year of Edward II. anno 1313, in the iter of H. de Stanton and his sociates, justices itinerant, upon a quo warranto, the abbot claimed and was allowed free-warren in all his demesne lands of this manor, view of frank-pledge, wrec of the sea, and other liberties therin mentioned, as having been granted by several of the king's predecessors, and confirmed by him in his 6th year, the same having been allowed in the last iter of J. de Berewick, (fn. 2) all which was afterwards confirmed by Edward III. by inspeximus, in his 36th year, and by king Henry VI. afterwards. After which, although the park of Chistlet was granted by the abbot and convent to Henry VIII. in his 29th year, yet the manor with its appurtenances remained with the monastery till its dissolution next year, when it likewise came into the king's hands, who that year granted the abbot's park here, called Chistlet park, with the lodge and other premises, late belonging to the monastery, to the archbishop of Canterbury and his successors. (fn. 3) And in his 31st year he granted the manor and parsonage, or restory, to the archbishop, together with the tenths due to the crown, in exchange for other premises; and three years afterwards the advowson of the vicarage of Chistlet likewise. Since which all these premises have continued parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury to this time.

There is a court leet and court baron held for this manor. At this court a constable is chosen three years successively, for the lower half hundred of Blengate, and every fourth year at that of Sturry.

THE DEMESNES OF THE MANOR, as well as the park of Chistlet, which has been from the time of the dissolution of the abbey disparked, have been, together with the lodge, ever since demised by the several archbishops on beneficial leases; Sir Brook Bridges being the present lessee of the park, with the lodge belonging to it; and Mr. John Denne of the demesnes of the courtlodge, in which he at times resides. But the manor his grace the archbishop retains in his own hands. The lodge is situated in the vale, near the centre of the park. It is now only a modern farm-house, and there is hardly any remains left of the antient abbot's lodge, excepting an arched gateway. Anno 1335, Solomon Ripple, Keeper of this manor under the abbot, built a most beautiful chapel here from the ground.

THE MANOR OF GRAYS, alias ORES, situated at the north-east boundary of this parish, near Reculver, was antiently in the possession of Nicholas de Hopland, who held it of the abbot of St. Augustine, as of his manor of Chistlet. After which it became the property of William de Graie, who in the 13th year of king Edward I. had a grant of free-warren for his lands in Chistlet and Hopland. His descendant William de Grai held it by knight's service, in the 20th year of king Edward III. at which time it had acquired the name of Ores, alias Graies. After which this manor does not seem to have continued long in the name of Grai; for in the 40th year of that reign, anno 1365, after much litigation between Sir John Conn, who was then in possession of it, and the abbot, who claimed it as an escheat, it was passed away by the former to the latter, by fine; and it was afterwards appropriated to the chamber of the monastery, and continued in their own occupation till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. When it came into the hands of the crown, and was granted that year, by the name of the manor of Greys, alias Coppinheath, to Sir Christopher Hales, master of the rolls. (fn. 4) His three daughters and coheirs joined in the sale of it to Thomas Colepeper, esq. of Bedgbury, who in the 3d and 4th year of king Philip and queen Mary, alienated the manor of Ores, alias Greys, to Henry Crispe, esq. of Quekes, afterwards knighted, in whose name and family it continued till at length in 1757 the sole daughter and heir of Thomas Crispe, esq. of West Ham, in Essex, carried it in marriage to Capt. John Elliott, afterwards a rear-admiral in the royal navy, and of Copford, in Essex. He died in 1795, and his son Captain Elliot, an officer in the army, is now in the possession of it.

IN THE NORTHERN PART of this parish is an estate, called Highsted, antiently stiled a manor, which belongs to the dean and chapter of Canterbury, and is demised by them on a beneficial lease to Mr. John Carey.


JOHN TAYLOR, by will in 1582, gave a farm and lands at Marsh-row, in this parish, for the benefit of such poor people, who had not received alms of the parish for the space of one whole year; which land is vested in trustees, and is of the annual produce of 28l.

THOMAS PETIT, esq. of St. George's Canterbury, by his will in 1626, gave 50l. to be disposed of to young married people for ever, the poorest, as near as might be, of four parishes therein named, of which Chistlet was one, a more particular account of which has already been given under Chilham, which was one of them. And he further gave, out of the two parts of the tithes of the demesnes of Chistlet manor, belonging to him, 40s. yearly to the poor of this parish for ever; and 40s. yearly to the minister or vicar of it, and his successors for ever.

The poor constantly maintained are about fifty, casually forty.

THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Westbere. (fn. 5)

The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a handsome building, consisting of three isles and a chancel, between which, nearly in the centre of it, is the steeple, on which, above the roof, is a low square wooden turret, flat at the top, in which hang six bells. The chancel is large and losty, with narrow lancet windows, and of a much older date than the rest of the church. In the former, against the south wall, is a monument for Stephen Hunt, gent. of this parish, obt. 1680; arms, Sable, on a fess, or, a lion passant, gules, between three cinquesoils, or. Against the north wall, a beautiful monument of different marbles, for Thomas Jones, esq. of Chistlet-court, obt. 1760; arms, Argent, on a bend, gules, three lozenges, argent, on a chief, sable, a stag trippant, argent, impaling ermine, a fess dancette, sable. Another monument for several of the same family, and memorials of them likewise on the pavement. A memorials for Edward Foche, obt. 166-, the rest obliterated; arms, Or, a chevron, chequy, between three water-bougets, sable. In the wall on the south side, is a confessionary, and nitch for the holy water. In the middle isle, is a memorial for William Young, vicar of this parish and St. Nicholas, obt. 1727. A memorial for the Rev. Thomas Williams, obt. 1787. At the west end of the north isle is a gallery. In the church yard are several tombs and stones for the family of Denne, of this parish, and a tomb for John Knowler, of Hoad, obt. 1693.

There is given towards the repair of this church, a house near it, of the yearly value of three pounds, and a house lately burnt down, and two acres of land, rented at fifty shillings per annum.

The church of Chistlet was antiently appendant to the manor, and as such was part of the possessions of the monastery of St. Augustine; and the profits of it were assigned in 1128, to the use of the infirmary there, (fn. 6) for which purpose it was then appropriated to it. But though there was a vicarage instituted, there was no endowment of it till the year 1345, when the abbot and convent assigned a suitable portion out of the profits and revenues of this church to the vicar of it, for his support and maintenance, which being approved of by the archbishop's commissary, he that year decreed, that the vicar should have the usual mansion of the vicarage, with the garden adjoining to it, and should receive, in the name of his vicarage, all oblations whatsoever made in this church and parish. And that he should take all tithes of wool, lambs, calves, ducks, pigs, pigeons, cheese, milk-meats, hemp, flax, merchandizes, apples, pears, gardens, eggs, pasture, the salt of fifteen saltcotes, as they were usually called, and all other small tithes whatsoever, belonging to the church, and also all legacies left to it, and which the rectors of it, or the vicars, might have of right or custom. And that the vicars should receive from the religious at Chistlet, one pound or waye of cheese, in the name of their tithes of cows and sheep seeding in the parish, and also the tithe of the vension of their park there, and the tithe of their mills in the parish, when they were demised and let to farm, which had been for some time unduly with-held from the vicar by them. But that the vicars should undergo the burthen of serving by himself, or some other fit priest, the church in divine services, of providing bread and wine, lights, and of other things which should be necessary there for the celebration of divine services, to be provided or found by the rectors either of custom or right, and also the washing of the vestments and ornaments of the church, and should undergo at their own costs expences the payment of the tenths and other impositions, to be imposed on the church of England, whensoever it should happen, or should be incumbent on the church of Chistlet, at the taxation of one hundred shillings. But that the repairing and rebuilding of the chancel of it, within and without, and also the finding and repairing of books, vestments, and ornaments of the church, which ought or were wont of right or custom to be found by the rectors of churches, and all other burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, incumbent on the church not ascribed before to the vicar, the religious should undergo and acknowledge for ever.—All which the archbishop, by his authority as ordinary, approved of. After which, this church and the advowson of the vicarage remained part of the possessions of the monastery till its final dissolution, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, where they did not remain long, for the king separated them, by granting the manor and rectory of Chistlet, in his 32d year, to the archbishop, and retaining the advowson of the vicarage till his 34th year, he granted that likewise to the archbishop. (fn. 7) Since which both appropriation and advowson have remained to this time parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury.

The vicarage is valued in the king's books at 29l. 19s. 9½d. and the yearly tenths 2l. 19s. 11¾d. In 1588 it was valued at sixty pounds, communicants three hundred and forty, and in 1640 the same. It was augmented by archbishop Sheldon, by indenture anno 23 Charles II. with ten pounds per annum, and is now of the clear yearly certified value of 67l. 19s. 0¼d.

THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LAURENCE, near Canterbury, was possessed of a portion of certain tithes arising from the demesne lands of the manor of Chistlet, which on the dissolution of it became a lay see, and continues so at this time. One moiety of these tithes is now in the possession of Mr. John Denne, of Chistlet-court; and the other of Mr. Richard Wraith, of Grays, in this parish. At this time this portion of tithes consists, as I am informed, of only the sisteenth part of the tithes of the demesne lands of the manor of Chistlet.

Church Of Chistlet.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. Alexander Cooke, A. M. June 23, 1662, obt. 1672.
Richard Howard, A. B. May 15, 1672, obt. 1682.
Gilbert Innys, A. M. Jan. 15, 1682, resigned 1686. (fn. 8)
William Syms, A. M. May 17, 1686, deprived 1691.
The King, hac vice. Thomas Revett, Nov. 23, 1691, resigned 1700.
The Archbishop. William Trent, A. M. Sept. 11, 1700, resigned 1705.
William Young, A. M. May 1, 1705, obt. Aug. 30, 1727. (fn. 9)
Henry Pearson, A. M. December 19, 1727, obt. August 17, 1748.
Nicholas Simons, LL. B. Oct. 21, 1748, obt. Dec. 1776.
David Ball, LL. B. May 15, 1777, resigned 1785. (fn. 10)
Sir John Fagg, bart. A. M. 1785, the present vicar. (fn. 11)


  • 1. Dec. Script. col. 2134. Regist. Sci Aug. cart, 181.
  • 2. Dec. Script, col. 2015 to 2018. Tan. Mon. p. 205.
  • 3. Deeds of purchase and exchange, box Kent, A. 28, Augtn. off. Ibid. office, box Kent, E. 8.
  • 4. Rolls of partic. temp. inter regni, Rot.6, N.8, Augtn. off. See Rot. Esch. anno 33 Henry VIII.
  • 5. See the institution of new deanries, by the abbot of St. Augustine's, before, under Sturry.
  • 6. Dec. Script. col. 1799. This church was afterwards confirmed to the monastery by several popes.
  • 7. The advowson being by this means once separated, could never afterwards be appendant to the manor again. See Modern Reports, vol. ii. p. 1.
  • 8. And vicar of St. John's, in Thanet, which he resigned for the curacy of Maidstone. See Lewis's Thanet, p. 148.
  • 9. And vicar of St. Nicholas's, in Thanet, as were his several successors.
  • 10. He resigned this vicarage and St. Nicholas, on being collated to the rectory of Aldington with Smeeth.
  • 11. In June, 1785, a dispensation passed for his holding this vicarage, with that of St. Nicholas in Thanet.