Parishes: Harbledowne

Pages 7-21

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

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ANTIENTLY spelt Herbaldowne, lies the next parish eastward from the last-described ville, in the hundred of Westgate, its name signifying the pasture down, or the down of herbage and tillage, in opposition to the neighbouring downs and hills, which yet continued wild and covered with wood.

THE PARISH of Harbledowne is noted for its pleasantness and the salubrity of its air. The great road from London to Canterbury runs through the midst of it eastward, along each side of which the straggling village of Harbledowne stands. In the north and south parts of it there is much coppice wood, which in the latter is very wild and forest-like, having a great deal of common and rough waste ground interspersed among it. The whole is very unequal ground of frequent hill and dale, affording continued picturesque and pleasing prospects over the neighbouring country. In the eastern part of it, on the summit of a hill on the north side of the road, stands the church and parsonage-house; and on the other side, nearly opposite, but somewhat lower down, the church and hospital of St. Nicholas, and the precinct called the Mint, adjoining to it. A little further, on the rise of a small hill, but on opposite sides of the road, is Hall-place, and a seat formerly belonging to the Roberts's, of Hall-place, afterwards to the Tiddemans, and then by marriage again to the Roberts's, and afterwards in like manner by ElizabethJohanna, only daughter and heir of John Roberts, esq. to George Gipps, esq. of Canterbury, M. P. the present owner of it, but it is occupied by the hon. Sir Shoulden Lawrence, one of his Majesty's justices of the court of king's bench. There are two rills of water, which rise in the woods in the northern part of this parish, and crossing it at about a mile distant from each other, join together near the house called Whitehall, in the southern part of it, and soon afterwards run in one stream into the Stour, a little above that place. The soil of this parish is in general very dry, the middle parts of it consisting mostly of sand or loam, mixed at some few places with gravel; but in the extremities of it, among the woods, it is a deep clay. Herbaldowne, as its name implies, is still much frequented by the botanists, for the rare plants and herbs which grow hereabouts in great plenty.

The archbishop had formerly a gallows in this parish, for the punishment of offenders within his hundred of Westgate. (fn. 1)

THE MANOR of the hundred of Westgate claims paremount over this parish, subordinate to which is the MANOR OF HALL and BEVERLEY, with the mansion of Hall-place, situated adjoining to the northside of the London road, and acquired the name of Beverley, from a family who resided at it for many generations, till they removed to Fordwich, though they afterwards continued owners of it, bearing for their arms, Ermine, a rose, gules, barbed and seeded, proper. At length William Beverley, esq. of Fordwich, leaving an only daughter and heir Beatrix, she carried it in marriage to Thomas Norton, esq. of that place likewise, whose grandson, of the same name, about the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, alienated it to Merseday, in whose family it continued till king Charles I.'s reign, when it was sold to Richardson, whose heirs, about the latter end of king Charles II.'s reign, conveyed it to George Cornish, merchant, of London, and he, not many years afterwards, alienated it to Mr. Joseph Roberts, who bore for his arms, Parted per pale, azure, and gules, three pheons, or. His grandson William Roberts, gent. of London, died in 1746, unmarried, and by his will devised it to his halfsister Mary, who first married Edward Wollet, esq. by whom she had a sole daughter Mary; secondly Thomas Fisher, esq. of Repton, in Derbyshire, by whom she had no issue. Each of whom she in succession entitled to this estate. She survived them both, and dying in 1774, by her will gave it to her only daughter Mary, (fn. 2) who carried it in marriage to Robert Mead Wilmot esq. afterwards on his father's death a baronet, and of Chaddesden, in Derbyshire.

The family of Wilmot has been resident in the county of Derby from the reign of king Henry VIII. as appears by Sir William Dugdale's Heraldic Visitation of that county, as well as from several antient deeds, and bore for their arms, Sable, on a fess, or, between three eagles heads couped, argent, as many escallops, gules. One of them, Robert Wilmot, was of Chaddesden, where he died in 1638; from the eldest of whose sons, descended the Wilmots, of Osmaston, and Sir John Eardley Wilmot, privy counsellor, and formerly chief justice of the king's bench, and one of the keepers of the great seal, and likewise the Wilmots, of Farnborough-place, in Surry.

From the next surviving son of Robert, of Chaddesden, descended of an elder son, those now of Chaddesden, and that branch which has since taken the name of Sitwell, and from a younger son the Wilmots, of Spoonden. Of those of Chaddesdenw as Edward Wilmot, esq. who became one of the most eminent physicians of his time, and for his valuable services to the royal family, was created a baronet on Feb. 25, 1759. He died in 1787, having had by Sarah Marsh, daughter of the celebrated Dr. Richard Mead, one son Robert Mead Wilmot, and two daughters; Anne, the first wife of Thomas Heron, esq. late of Chilham castle, and Jane married to Thos. Williams, esq. of Herringstow, in Dorsetshire. Sir Robert Mead Wilmot, bart. the son, resided at times at this leat, and died in 1793, having had by Mary Woollet, who is still living, two sons, Robert, the present baronet, and the Rev. Edward Sacheverell, and four daughters, Mary, married to Capt. George Barrette, but since deceased; Charlotte-Sarah, Louisa, and Eliza. (fn. 3) Sir Robert Wilmot, bart. now of Chaddesden, married the eldest daughter of Robert Grimstone, esq. of Neswick, in Yorkshire; but lady Wilmot his mother, widow of the late Sir R. M. Wilmot, is the present owner of this seat, which is now occupied by George Gipps, esq. M. P. for Canterbury. A court baron is held for this manor.

POLDHURST is a manor in the south-west part of this parish, the original name of which was Poldre, or Polre, as it was sometimes spelt. For in Henry III.'s reign, Robert de Polre appears to have been possessed of it. (fn. 4) At length, after this family had continued for some generations in the possession of this manor, it passed by sale into that of Martyn, of Graveney, and in king Henry VII.'s reign John Martyn, esq. at times resided here, whose daughter and heir Anne carried it in marriage to Roger Brent, who afterwards was of Poldres, and died s.p. anno 17 Henry VIII. and by his will gave this manor to Fowley. Soon after which it came into the possession of Matthew Martyn, descended from those above-mentioned, who was likewise of Polres-court, and left an only daughter and heir Margaret, who carried it in marriage to William Norton, esq. second son of Reginald Norton, esq. of Lees-court, in whose descendants it continued till it was sold to Sir Thomas Bind, in which name it continued till by a female heir it went in marriage to William Hancock, gent. who died s.p. She survived him, and by will gave it, about the end of George II.'s reign, to Mrs. Tabitha Newton, widow, and her late husband's sister Mrs. Mary Newton, spinster, both of Eton, near Windsor, from whom it descended to lieutenant-colonel Newton, of the 10th regiment of light dragoons, who sold it to Mr. William Baldock, of Canterbury, who is the present owner of it. A court baron is held for this manor.

Archbishop Hubert, in king Richard I.'s reign, confirmed to the priory of St. Gregory, in Canterbury, certain tithes in Herbaldown, from two hundred acres of land, as many sheaves. These tithes arose from the demesne lands of this manor, and after the dissolution of the priory in king Henry VIII.'s reign, were soon afterwards granted in exchange, a special act having passed for the purpose, to the archbishop, part of whose revenues they continue at this time. Before the suppression of the priory, there had been most probably some composition made with the owners of this manor relating to this portion of tithes, for at that tmie, and ever since, it has consisted of the tithes of only eighty acres of land, part of the demesne lands of this manor. George Gipps, esq. of Harbledowne, is the present lessee under the archbishop, of these tithes, now of the value of eight pounds per annum, as part of the possessions of St. Gregories priory.

THE HOSPITAL OF HARBLEDOWNE, called at first, in the earliest deeds relating to it, the hospital of the forest, or wood of Blean, from that wood's having then extended close up to it, but that being assarted and grubbed up for some distance, and turned into fields and pastures, it took the name of the saint to which the church belonging to it was dedicated, being called the hospital of St. Nicholas of Harbledowne, which name it retains at this time. (fn. 5)

This hospital with the adjoining church of St. Nicholas belonging to it, was founded by archbishop Lanfranc, about the year 1084, for those afflicted with the leprosy, and so contrived, as Eadmer, the monk of Canterbury, writes, that the men, as in other like hospitals, were kept separate from the women; and by the archbishop's appointment, whatever the sick wanted, according to the quality of their disease, was provided for them out of his own substance, and proper persons were appointed to take care of them. The founder's original endowment for the above purposes, was a revenue which he appropriated to the use of this hospital, jointly with that of St. John, in Canterbury, founded by him likewise, being sevenscore pounds per annum, to be paid out of the manors of Reculver and Bocton under Blean. Which allowance archbishop Richard augmented with twenty pounds per annum more, to be paid yearly out of the parsonage of Reculver, and it had several secular benefactors, and one royal one, king Henry II. who gave to the poor of it twenty marcs a year, out of his fee farm from the city of Canterbury, which grant was exemplified and confirmed by several of the succeeding kings. And this payment of it is received from the chamberlain of the city, at this time. King Henry II. likewise granted, and king Richard I. confirmed to this hospital, one load of wood every day, out of Shoart wood in the Blean, (unum sumarium in Bosco de Sorotta ad attrahenda ligna ad opera eorum) (fn. 6) and pope John XXII. anno 13 Edward II. excepted the prior and brethren of this hospital from all tithes personal, and of their gardens, orchards, and fodder of their cattle. The above endowment from the revenues of the see of Canterbury, archbishop Kilwardby altered and assigned to the hospital, in lieu of it, the parsonage of Reculver for the same purpose, but this was again annulled by archbishop Peckham, who restored the revenue of the hospital to its former state, which was confirmed by king Edward I. Seven years after which archbishop Winchelsea gave the brethren of it, a body of statutes, being the first they had ever had. At which time, having no written evidence of their endowment, they were necessitated, on the accession of every archbishop, to petition for the continuance of their customary allowance, which they continued to do till archbishop Islip, in 1355, confirmed to the brethren of these hospitals, the payment of their archiepiscopal endowments of 1601. per annum, and further decreed, that the whole of it should be paid yearly out of the rents and profits of the appropriated parsonage of Reculver. From which time the two hospitals have continued to enjoy this allowance jointly, and though at that time it was, no doubr, a liberal provision, yet by the gradual decay of the value of money, it is now become but a very slender allowance. The parsonage becoming inadequate in its value to the above payment, the annual rent of it to the archbishop being now only forty pounds, it has been for some time paid yearly as the archbishop's alms, out of the temporalities of the see, viz. fifty pounds by the registrar at Canterbury, and thirty pounds is reserved to pay the out-brothers and sisters at Lambeth.

It was valued anno 26 Henry VIII. at 112l. 15s. 7d. in the whole, and 109l. 7s. 2d. clear yearly revenue. The first fruits and tenths of which were granted by that king to the members of the hospital to hold in pure and perpetual alms, which, together with the grants of all their former possessions, was confirmed by inspeximus by king Edward VI. The present yearly revenue of it is 248l. 11s. 5¾d. which consists of pensions and rents in money, and of lands and houses in different parishes, the principal of which is called the Brotherhood farm, the house of which stands within the precinct of the hospital, adjoining to the London road.

There have been several benefactions made to it since the above time, archbishop Sheldon, Mr. John Somner, archbishop Sancrost, and Dr. Thorpe, prebendary of Canterbury, gave different sums, by which the ruinous lodgings of the hospital, and other buildings of it, were either new built or repaired, to increase its revenue. In 1694, Mrs. Elizabeth Lovejoy, gave by her will, among other donations, the sum of five pounds yearly, which is divided among the resident members of it. Ralph Snow, gent, of Lambeth, steward to the archbishop, by his will in 1707, gave 200l. vested in trustees, with which were purchased for it lands at Mitcham, in Surry; and archbishop Secker, by his will in 1769, gave 500l. in the three per cent. an nuities, of which the present bishop of London is the surviving trustee. There seems at present to be no remains of Lanfranc's building, except the church or chapel.

The present establishment is a master, (who is the Rev. Dr. Lynch, prebendary and archdeacon of Canterbury) fifteen in-brothers, and the like number of sisters, one of the former being called the prior, and one of the latter the prioress; the same number of out-brothers and sisters, and a reader, who is a clerk in orders. The yearly emoluments to the in-brothers and sisters are about six guineas each, and to the others 1l. 4s. yearly. The master, who is appointed by the archbishop, has the care of the hospital under him, their patron and visitor. He has no salary, but through him all petitions for corrodies are presented to the archbishop. The number maintained in this hospital appears at times to have varied much. Archbishop Parker gave to it, in 1560, a body of statutes, by which they are for the most part now governed; but he made several additions to them afterwards, and some additions have also been made since, especially by the archbishops Whitgift, Abbot, Sheldon, and Sancroft. (fn. 7)

In the orchard of the hospital, on the west side of it, is a well of excellent water, called the Prince's well, but how it gained that name is not known, though the in habitants of the hospital have nevertheless several traditional tales relating to it. Before the reformation, there was the upper part of the leather of a shoe, set in copper and chrystal, formerly belonging to archbishop Becket, which was usually brought out by one of the members of this hospital, and with much reverence offered to the better sort of passengers passing along the road, for them to kiss devoutly as a sacred relic. (fn. 8)

As to the church and parish of St. Nicholas, though the former is now only esteemed as the chapel of the hospital, and the latter has lost all reputation of having been a parish, yet in former times it appears that there was here such a parish, and this the church of it. The parish itself seems to have been but small, and to have extended no further than the precincts and orchard of the hospital, and about fifty acres of land, the greatest part of which belong to the Brotherhood farm, lying contiguous to the orchard above-mentioned. Whether the precinct adjoining to the hospital eastward, formerly belonging to the chantry priest, and now called the Mint, belonged to it, is very uncertain.

The church, which adjoins the hospital on the east side, is an antient structure, consisting of a body, two isles and a chancel, having at the north-west corner a low tower steeple, in which hang four bells. It has in it a very antient font, and adjoining to it a churchyard, which, as Somner says, are badges and characters of a parochial church. It seems the same which was built by Lanfranc, excepting the windows, most of which have been since new made. In the body is a memorial for Leonard Lovelace, reader, 1672. In the chancel a memorial for George Short, minister of the hospital, obt. 1641; and in the north wall a circular arched tomb. In the windows are some small remains of painted glass. In the south isle, in the upper window, is the figure of an old man, having in his left hand a circle, in which is an Agnus Dei and banner; on the pavement a coffin-stone, and on it a cross of four pomells at the top. Underneath this isle there is seemingly a vault, by the sinking of the pavement. The whole is shamefully neglected and out of repair. It is exempt from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon, and at this time is charged with procurations, as a rectory, and as such, in the year 1292, on the general value of all ecclesiastical livings, was valued at nine marcs per annum, and the yearly tenths consequently at twelve shillings. Archbishop Stratford, in the 17th year of king Edward III. appropriated this church to Eastbridge hospital, the patronage then belonging to it, in augmentation of its former income. And he ordained, that the master of Eastbridge hospital should from time to time nominate a fit priest (or chaplain) to serve in the said church, who should exercise the cure of souls there, and be allowed a fit portion from the profits of it. After which there is no further mention to be found of this parish, or the church belonging to it as a parish church, but it remained in this same state till archbishop Wittlesey, in the 46th year of the same reign, altered the above appointment, and in its room founded a perpetual chantry in this church, and ordained, that the priest of it should have a competent mansion mentioned therein, and a yearly income arising partly from this hospital, and partly from that of Eastbridge, and should be one of the poor of this hospital of St. Nicholas, and should celebrate divine service continually before them, still wearing, if he chose it, out of reverence to his order, the habit of a secular priest; that he should be nominated by the master of Eastbridge hospital, and presented to the archbishop. And further, that the said priest should repair the mantion and premises, and find bread, wine, and decent lights in this church, by reason of the above endowment, which was confirmed by archbishop Arundel in 1402. And thus this church continued till the chantry was dissolved anno 2 Edward VI. (fn. 9) and the church was then left, and has continued ever since, as a chapel to the hospital; divine service is now performed in it by a minister in orders, called the Reader, (who is a member of the house) and occasionally attends the sick of the hospital. He has the privilege of a house, valued at two pounds per annum, (for he does not reside in the hos pital) and a stipend of eight pounds a year. But notwithstanding the alteration above-mentioned, made by archbishop Wittlesey, on the foundation of a chantry here, the appropriation of this church belongs at this time to Eastbridge hospital. It consists of all the tithes of corn, grain, pulse, pasture, hay, and all other tithes whatsoever, growing on the lands belonging to the hospital of St. Nicholas, except the tithes of the common garden or orchard, belonging to the brothers and sisters of it. It is let on a beneficial lease to Mr. J. Bridges, of St. Nicholas, in Thanet, who repairs the chancel of the church.

ADJOINING TO the church-yard of St. Nicholas is A PRECINCT, called the MINT, alias CLAVERINGS, being part of the premises, with which archbishop Wittlesey, as above-mentioned, in 1731, endowed the chantry priest as part of his portion, by the description of a certain space of ground contiguous to the hospital called Claveringe. At the time of the dissolution of the chantry, it seems to have consisted of one messuage, garden, and tenement, called Clavering hospital, since which it has continued a lay fee, and from the above time appears to have been esteemed as an exparochial district, and from such exclusive jurisdiction and privilege, to have gained the name of THE MINT. It consists of about eight houses or cottages, divided into nearly as many more tenements, with their gardens and appurtenances, built upon near an acre of ground, contiguous to the side of the London road, on the ascent of the hill towards Canterbury.


THOMAS BULL, of Harbledowne, by will in 1625, gave to the poor of the parish of St. Michael, Harbledowne, 10l. to be at the disposition of the minister, churchwardens, and overseers.

The poor constantly relieved are about 20, casually 100.

THIS PARISH of St. Michael, Harbledowne, is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of the same.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Michael, is situated on the knoll of the hill. It is but a small building, consisting of one isle and a chaneel, having a neat low pointed turret, shingled, at the west end, in which hang four bells. The church by its appearance is antient, being built of rubble-stone and flints, plaistered over. In the chancel is a monument for Mary, daughter of Thomas Teddeman, esq. of this parish, wife of John Roberts, surgeon, of Canterbury, obt. 1736, and for her surviving child Elizabeth-Johanna, arms, Roberts impaling azure, three bars dancette, argent, a canton, ermine. Close to the south wall, on the pavement, is a stone, the figures of a man and woman, and the inscription in brass gone, but there remains at each corner a coat of arms, first, A wyvern, segreant, Brent; second, Brent, impaling quarterly, first and fourth, Martyn; second and third, Boteler, three covered cups; being over Roger Brent, owner of Poldhurst in this parish, who died anno 1525, and Anne Martyn his wife. An inscription for Charles White, late rector of this parish, obt. 1647, and for several of their children. A memorial for Thomas Tiddeman, esq. and Mary his wife, who died in 1775. A memorial for Jane, daughter of Thomas Gookin, esq. and Jane his wife, obt. 1659. Under the altar is buried the Rev. Henry Hall, rector of this parish, obt. 1763. Richard Monins, gent. of Canterbury, by his will, proved in 1701, directed to be buried in the chancel of this church, by his first wife Elizabeth Marshall.

This church, which is a rectory, was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, and remains so at this time, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it. It is valued in the king's books at 9l. 2s. 6d. and the yearly tenths at 18s. 3d. In 1588 it was valued at eighty pounds, communicants eighty, and the like in 1640. It is now of the yearly certified value of 63l. 14s. 3d. There are about eight acres of glebe land.

Church of St. Michael, Harbledowne.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishop. Robert Heminge, S. T. B. ind. May 1597, obt. 1601.
Humphry Aylworth, S. T. B. resigned 1601.
William Swift, A. M. Feb. 5, 1601, obt. Oct. 24, 1624. (fn. 10)
Robert Say, S. T. P. Feb. 23, 1624, obt. May 1628. (fn. 11)
Robert Austen, S. T. P. inducted June 28, 1628, resigned 1643. (fn. 12)
John Bargrave, S. T. P. inducted Sept. 19, 1661, resig, 1670. (fn. 13)
Simon Lowth, A. M. Dec. 20, 1670, deprived 1690, (fn. 14)
Simon Devereux, A. M. inducted Feb. 18, 1690, obt. July 6, 1733. (fn. 15)
John Francis, A. M. inducted August 7, 1733, obt. August 6, 1734. (fn. 16)
Charles Milles, A. B. Dec. 2, 1734, obt. 1749. (fn. 17)
Thomas Herring, A. M. July 4, 1749, resigned the same year. (fn. 18)
Henry Hall, A. M. inducted March 31, 1750, obt. Oct. 31, 1763. (fn. 19)
John Benson, A. M. March 20, 1764, resigned 1780. (fn. 20)
William Nance, LL. B Dec. 18, 1780, the present rector. (fn. 21)


  • 1. This appears by a grant of king John to Gilbert, bishop of Rochester, of a parcel of wood in Herbaldowne, prope furcas Archiepiscopi, i.e. near the gallows of the archbishop.
  • 2. Anno 31 George II. an act passed to enable her, notwithstanding her infancy, to make a settlement of her estates upon her marriage.
  • 3. See a full pedigree of this family, in Kimber's Baronetage, vol. iii. p. 151, 468.
  • 4. Deed of grant of land to Harbledowne hospital. See Battely's Somner, p.53.
  • 5. Twine de Rebus Albion, p. 101. Battely's Somner, p.46, appendix, p. 11. Duncombe's Hospitals, p. 204.
  • 6. See Duncombe's Hosp. p. 205. Dugd Mon. vol. ii. p. 418.
  • 7. See these statutes printed in Duncombe's Hosp. p. 214 et seq.
  • 8. See an account of it in Erasmus's Perigrinatio Religionis ergo, and in Lambard's Perambulation, p. 346.
  • 9. George Hyggis was the priest at the dissolution of the chantry, and had a pension of 61. See Willis's Mitred Abbeys, vol. ii. p. 104. Duncombe's Hospitals, p. 183.
  • 10. And rector of St. Andrew and St. Mary Bredman, in Canterbury. He was great-grandfather of Dr. Swift, dean of St. Patrick's.
  • 11. And in 1626, by dispensation, rector of Great Mongeham. Rym. Fæ vol. xviii. p. 873. Likewise master of Eastbridge hospital.
  • 12. on his death Ezekiel Clarke, B. D. was put into this rectory by the parliament. He married Margaret, daughter of the famous Rich. Hooker. Biog. Brit. vol. iv. p. 2669 [z].—Charles White succeeded him, and dying Oct. 1647, was burried in this chancel. After which that infamous fellow Richard Culmer became rector. See an account of him in Wood's Ath. Eati, p. 245, and under Chartham.
  • 13. Prebendary of Canterbury, and died in 1680.
  • 14. And vicar of Cosmus Bleane, both which benefices he was deprived of, for not taking the oaths of allegiance, &c. to king William and queen Mary.
  • 15. Vicar likewise of Brookland, and curate of Nackington, and minox exnon of Canterbury cathedral near fifty years.
  • 16. Before rector of Braborne, and afterwards master of the king's school in Canterbury.
  • 17. He held this with the donative of Little Walsingham, in Norfolk, and lies buried at Herne.
  • 18. He resigned this rectory for that of St. Anne's, Soho. He died in 1774, being then rector of Chevening, in Kent, and Cullesdon, in Surry, precentor of Chichester, prebendary of Southwell, and principal register of the prerogative court of Canterbury.
  • 19. Vicar likewise of East Peckham, and rector of the sinecure of Orpington. He lies buried in this church. See an account of him, and the worthy character which he well deserved, in Duncombe's Hospitals, p.187.
  • 20. Nephew to bishop Benson, of Gloucester. He exchanged this rectory, with that of Great Chart, with his successor, for the vicarage of Boxley, where see more of him.
  • 21. And rector of Great Chart by dispensation. See a list of the rectors of this church, from the archbishop's registers in Duncombe's hosp. p. 183.