Parishes: Upper Hardres

Pages 304-309

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

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OR Hardes, as it is usually pronounced, written formerly Great, and High Hardres, and sometimes Much Hardres, lies the next parish south-eastward from Lower Hardres. The greatest part of it in the upper half hundred of Bridge, but there is a small part, on the eastern side, in the hundred of Loningborough, which is within the manor of Eleham. There is only one borough in this parish, viz. that of Upper Hardres.

THE PARISH is a very lonely and unfrequented place, situated on high ground among the hills, having large tracts of woodland on each side of it. The Stonestreet way runs along the valley, near the western boundary of it; the soil of it is very poor, consisting mostly of either chalk, or a hungry red earth, covered with sharp slint stones. Hardres-court stands on high ground, a most retired and sorlorn situation, and for some years past an almost deserted habitation; near it is the church and parsonage. There is no village, but at some distance further, near Stelling and the Minnis, there is a hamlet of cottages called Bossingham.

THE MANOR OF UPPER HARDRES, written in Domesday as it is now pronounced, Hardes, was at the time of taking that survey, in 1080, part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, under the title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:

The bishop of Baieux himself holds in demesne Hardes. It was taxed at two sulings. The arable land is four carucates. In demesne there is one, and nine villeins with two carucates. There is a church and five servants. Wood for the pannage of twenty bogs. In the time of king Edward the Consessor it was worth seven pounds, and afterwards one hundred shillings, now seven pounds, and yet it pays ten pounds. Eduin held it of king Edward.

Four years after which, the bishop was disgraced, and all his estates consiscated. After which the seignory or see paramount of this manor was granted to Rich. Fitz-Gilbert, whose descendants took the name of Clare, and became earls of Gloucester and Hertford. Of them the manor of Hardres was again held by a family who assumed their surname from it; for in the record quoted by Somner as Domesday, Robert de Hardes is said to have then held land of the archbishop, as of his manor of Liminge, and probably, therefore, resided here as early as the year 1080, the 15th of the Conqueror's reign. His descendants bore for their arms, Gules, a lion rampant, ermine, debruised with a chevron, or, in token of their holding this manor by knight's service, of the castle of Tunbridge, which was the antient seignory of the Clares, earls of Gloucester; these being an allusion to their arms, which were Or, three chevrons, gules; (fn. 1) and they continued the possessors of this manor, and to reside here, down to Thomas Hardres, for so the name was then, and had been for a long time written. He was with king Henry VIII. at the siege of Bullein, in France, and for his service there was permitted to bring from thence the gates of that city, which still remain at Hardres-court, in the garden wall, opposite the church; and the king on his return lay here two nights, and as a further mark of his favour, left his dagger, which was very lately preserved in the house. He died in 1556, holding this manor in capite by knight's service, whose lands were disgavelled by the act of 31 Henry VIII. His two sons dying both s.p. this manor came to his brother Richard Hardres, who afterwards resided here, where he kept his shrievalty in the 30th year of Elizabeth, whose son Sir Thomas Hardres married Eleanor, daughter and heir of Henry Thoresby, esq. master in chancery, by whom he had Richard, his successor here; Thoresby, who left issue; Peter, D. D. prebendary of Canterbury, and Sir Thomas, king's sergeant-at-law, ancestor of John Hardres, of Canterbury, M. P. for that city in several parliaments of queen Anne's, and in George I.'s reigns, whose two daughters and coheirs, Martha and Pledwell, both lately died unmarried there, which branch bore the arms without the chevron. Richard Hardres, esq. the eldest son of Sir Thomas, was first knighted, and afterwards made a baronet in 1642, in whose descendants, baronets and residents at Hardrescourt, this manor continued down to Sir William Hardres, bart. who died possessed of it, s.p. in 1764, and by his will devised it to his widow Frances, one of the daughters and coheirs of John Corbet, esq. of Salop, on whose death intestate in 1783, it became vested in her heirs, who were her four sisters and their representatives, in like manner as has been already fully mentioned before, under Stelling, and they are in manner as is there mentioned, at this time jointly entitled, in undivided shares, to the possession of this manor and seat. A court baron is held for this manor.

THE MANOR OF LINSORE, alias LINCHESOER, lies in the south-east part of this parish, in a deep vale, called from it Linsey-bottom, enveloped with woods on the rising hills on each side of it. It was given by Æthelwulf, king of the West Saxons, by the name of the land called Licesora, to Winhere, abbot of St. Augustine's, for seventy marcs in money. (fn. 2) Before the taking the survey of Domesday, it was granted away by one of the abbots, in fee-ferme, by which it was held by R. Clifford, of the abbot. After which, in king Richard the IId.'s reign, it was held in like manner by the family of Garwinton, whence it was sold to Clarke, and at the beginning of Henry VIII. was alienated by Hugh Clark to Thomas Beal, gent. of Canterbury, and he, anno 7 of that reign, vested it in feoffees, who sold it to William Brent, of Wilsborough, whose son Robert Brent, esq. of that place, dying s.p. anno 12 Elizabeth, devised it by will to Thomas Brent, of Charing, and he dying s.p. likewise in 1612, gave this manor by his will to his nephew Richard Dering, esq. of Pluckley, son of Margaret his sister, by John Dering, esq. late of Surrenden, in whose descendants it continued till king Charles I.'s reign, when Sir Edward Dering, bart. became possessed of it, at which time he describes it as having no mansion belonging to it; that there were the foundations of an old chapel in the middle of Lynsore wood, called then Sir Thomas Garwinton's chapel; that it was reported to have been all plain ground, till the contests between the houses of York and Lancaster, when the country being drained of its inhabitants, no one was left to till the ground, and it became wood, and so remained at that time. He sold it to William Young, yeoman, of Goceston, in whose descendants it remained till Mr. Peter Young, gent. of Ashford, dying about the year 1787, his only daughter and heir entitled her husband the Rev. Edward Norwood, to the possession of it, and he is the present owner of it.

There are no parochial charities; but Mrs. Denward, of Hardres-court, has, at her own expence, within these few years, built and endowed a free school in this parish, for the teaching of the children of it to read and write. The poor constantly relieved are about ten, casually as many.

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

The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, consists of two isles and two chancels, having a low flat tower on the south side, in which are three bells. The church is small, and seems antient. In the high chancel, which is as long as the church, is the burial place of the family of Hardres, where are several monuments and gravestones, some with brasses for them. A monument for David Jones, A.M. another, with the figure of a man lying at full length, for Thomas Hamon, youngest son of William, of Acrise, obt. 1651. A stone, with figures, inscription, and ornaments in brass, for John Strete, once rector, ob. 1404. In the south chancel a monument and several gravestones, most of which have brasses, for the Hardres's. In several of the windows are remains of painted glass, but all much defaced. In the east window of the high chancel there were, within these few years, the arms of Clare, Or, three chevrons, gules. In the south part of the church-yard is a tomb for George Sherwin, gent. obt. 1675; arms, A pelican wounding its breast. The church is kept very neat and clean, and has been lately repaired and beautified, at the expence of Mrs. Denward, of Hardres-court. When the altar was raised and new-paved, the gravestones were removed, which had once figures and inscriptions in brass, which had been all long since gone, but were probably for some of the family of Hardres. The rest of the chancel is paved with small square tiles, coloured red and yellow.

The church of Upper Hardres, with the chapel of Stelling annexed, seems to have continued in the patronage of the lords of the seignory of the manor, long after the manor itself had been granted away by them; for it appears by the inquisition taken after the death of Hugh de Audley, earl of Gloucester, anno 21 Edward III. that he died possessed of sixpence annual rent in Hardres, together with the advowson of this church, by which rent it must be understood, that this rectory was then esteemed a manor; and a like inquisition was found after the death of Edmund, earl of Stafford, lord likewise of this seignory, anno 4 king Henry IV. Not long after which, the patronage of it became vested in the Hardres family, since which it has continued in the same owners as the manor of Upper Hardres, and is now, with it, the property of the heirs of lady Hardres, deceased, being her four sisters, or their representatives, as has been more fully mentioned before.

It is valued in the king's books, with the chapel of Stelling, at 19l. 13s. 1½d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 19s. 3¼d. (fn. 3) In 1588 it was valued at seventy-seven pounds, communicants one hundred. In 1640 at ninety pounds, and the like number of communicants.

William Durrant, rector of this church anno 1549, purchased fifteen acres of land in this parish, which were conveyed to trustees for his use, and his successors, rectors of this church.

Peter Hardres, D. D. by his will in 1678, devised to his nephew Thomas Hardres, clerk, his study of books, with a desire that he would leave the same to the person who should succeed him in the parsonage of Great Hardres, in case his said nephew should succeed him in it, and so successively to the rector of this church for the time being.

Church of Hardres, with the Chapel of Stelling.

Or by whom presented.
Peter Hardres, D.D. April 28, 1632, obt. 1678.
Thomas Hardres, A M. Aug. 2, 1678, obt. 1711. (fn. 4)
David Jones, A. M. August 30, 1711, obt. Aug. 20, 1750. (fn. 5)
Thomas Cobbe, A. B. Sept. 28, 1750, obt. 1795. (fn. 6)
John Charles Beckingham, the present rector.


  • 1. See an account of the custom of bearing the arms of the superior lord of whom they held, vol. v. p. 298.
  • 2. Mancusæ. See vol. v. of this history, p. 419, Cart. 286 in Regist. Abb. Sci Aug. dates this gift anno 845. Dec. Script. col. 1777, dates it anno 865.
  • 3. See Sententia pro pens. 40 solid. Contra Rect. de Hardres coram official Archid. Cant. anno 1312.
  • 4. Likewise rector of Little Hardres.
  • 5. And rector of Orgarswike, and second master of the king's school, in Canterbury. He lies buried in this Church.
  • 6. Likewise perpetual curate of Fairfield, and rector of Hope.