The Old Parish of Nonington

A small place in East Kent history

Month: May 2013 Page 1 of 2

Boys Marriage settlement of 1626.

Whitfield archive ref. :EK/U 373/T61.

Boys Marriage settlement, 1626.

 The following information is from a 1667 copy of a marriage settlement of 3rd   day of April in the second year of Charles I. (1626) between:

Sir Edward Boys the Elder of ffredvile ( the first party).

Sir Edward Boys the Younger of ffredvile( the second party), son and heir apparent to the above.

Nicholas Miller of Wrotham (the third party).

John Boys, Esq., eldest son  and heir of Sir Ed. Boys the Younger of ffredvile (the fourth party).

The marriage was between John Boys and Margaret, daughter of John Miller and the following is regarding the settlement of property on John Boys.


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Oxenden, later Oxney-revised 24.5.2013

Oxney Wood is now in  Aylesham and  Womenswold parishes, but for centuries Oxenden, as Oxney was originally known,  formed part of old Nonington’s southern boundary with Womenswold parish. Oxenden, Oxney’s original name, probably comes from the Old English, Oxena denn,”oxena” meaning oxen or cattle, and “denn”, meaning a woodland pasture or clearing. The original Oxenden had evolved into the present Oxney by the  mid-17th century, possibly via the suffix “ley”, from O.E, leah, pasture or grazing, replacing the earlier “denn”.

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Kittington also Ketehampton alias Ketynton-revised 24.05.2013

The name Kittington is said to have evolved from the Old English ‘cyte hamtun’ meaning ‘home farm where there are cottages’ .
Kittington is on the east boundary of the old parish of Nonington between Easole and Elvington. It was for centuries a part of the Manor of  Wingham held by the Archbishops of Canterbury until Henry VIII’s reign when it was ceded to the Crown.

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An inventory of the goods of Richard Creake, yeoman, of (Kettingden or Kittington) Nonington, Kent. 1560.

The Kreke, Creke ect. family were what become known as yeoman. These were well-to-do farmers and small land-owners pften owning land in their own right and often renting additional land from larger land-owners as well as small plots from  neighbours in their home and nearby parishes.   The yeoman of Kent were thought to be especially well off, a popular rhyme of the early 16th century was:-

“A knight of Cales [Calais], and a gentleman of Wales,

And a laird of the north country –

A yeoman of Kent with his yearly rent

Could buy them out – all three.”

The following inventory made on the death of Richard Creake of Kettenton (Kittington) gives a good insight into the daily life of a yeoman’s family. They had a fairly varied diet which included meat, fish, eggs, and dairy produce and brewed their own beer and ale for daily consumption as the water was often not safe to drink. They were mixed farmers, rearing livestock and  poultry  and growing cereals. They also grew hemp and flax from which they produced yarn to weave into cloth, presumably for their own use.

The inclusion of armour and weapons in the inventory indicates that English men could still be called for military service when the situation demanded, as is the case of threatened invasion by the French during the 1540’s during Henry VIII’s wars with France. The English had only finally lost Calais  to the French in 1558. Orders compelling the practise of archery continued to be enacted until the reign of Charles I (1633).

The household was well equipped, for the time, with furniture, fittings and household and kitchen utensils. The family would have had live in servants and labourers who had to be fed, so the kitchen would have been busy.

The farm itself was well equipped with carts, ploughs and other agricultural tools and equipment.

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Acol, or Ackholt-revised 23.5.2013

Ackholt, Acholt or Acol, Nonington. Also:1283 Ackholt; 1469 Akholte; 1626 Acholt.

Ackholt is now in the Parish of Aylesham and lies just the other side of the railway-line where the Nonington to Womenswold bridle way crosses the Snowdown to Aylesham road on the southern boundary of the old parish of Nonington.

Pronouced Acol (Aye-kul) with a long a and the t dropped as is usual in the old East Kent dialect, the name derives from the Old English (O.E.): ac; oak & holt ; thicket, literally meaning an oak thicket or wood. To the east of Ackholt  is the hamlet of Holt Street, another “holt”, indicating this area was once heavily wooded.
The influx of “foreigners” from all over the U.K. in the 1920’s seeking work in the Kent Coalfields led to common usage of a hard C when saying the name, so that it is now generally pronounced as “Ak-olt” when referring to Ackholt Road, and “Aye-kul” when referring to the old hamlet and nearby Acol Bank.

The Acol, or Ackholt, area, 1870's OS map

The Acol, or Ackholt, area, 1870′s OS map

An early 14th century transfer document connected to Ackholt manor recently came to light (early 2013). Dated 1309, the Latin charter recorded the transfer from John, the son of Stephen de Akolte (Acholt) to John, the son of Thomas de Akholte, and Lucia, his mother, of a windmill (unum molendinum ventifluim) in the parish of Nonington near Holestrete (Holt Street) on Freydviles (Fredville’s) land and two shillings and two hens free rent (duos solidos et duas gallinas de libere redditu)  from Thomas le Kete of Holestrete, presumably the miller. To confirm the grant John, son of Stephen de Akolte, was to receive 20 marks sterling (£.12 13s 4d) gersuman (payment -it literally means treasure or riches in Old English, and often appears in documents of this period and earlier). The charter also noted that because he was under age and did not have his own seal, he had signed under the seal of John de Grenchelle, a local land-owner who appears to have held land in or near Bekesbourne, and may have been a relative or guardian of the young John.The windmill appears to have been located in the area of the small patch of woodland between the old pit head baths of the now closed Snowdown Colliery and the railway line (see map above). This site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green. It is not recorded in Archbishop Pecham’s  survey of Wingham manor between 1283-5  indicating it was built between the survey and 1309. In 1341 John de Acholte granted the mill along with other property and rents in Nonyngton, Rollynge (Rolling) and Wimelyngewelde (Womenswold) near Crodewode (Crudeswood or Curleswood) to Peter Heyward.

In 1425 the following transaction was recorded:“Akholte, June 21, 3 Hen. VI. (1425) John Helar, son of John Helar, late of Akholte in the par. of Nonynton, Kent, grants to Thomas Hunte parcarius* of Cruddyswood a croft** of 5 acres with appurtenances at Akholte between the common way  of the vill of Akholte on N. and land of Thomas Hopedey on E. and Court land of Lordship of Akholte on S. and W. Warranty against all men. Witnesses: John Orlyston, John Marchaunt, Thomas Hopedey, John Cook, John Veryar’, Gervase Dudeman, Richard Guodhyewe. Thomas Lewar’, John Bery, Richard Beniamyn and others”

*A parker or park-keeper; a pinder; a foldkeeper. A pinder was an employee of a landowner who would go around and collect the rental dues from the tennants on the land. If the tennants could not pay in money, the pinder would take livestock in lieu of payment and put them in the pinfold until they could pay. Also, the pinder would catch any livestock that had got loose and put them in the pinfold and would charge a price to the animals owner to get it back.
**A small enclosed field or pasture near a house. A small farm, especially a tenant farm.

Throughout the 1440’s there was a protracted and convoluted dispute over townership of Akholte and subsidiary property in Womenswold, Nonington [Cookys or Cooks Hill, which was part of the Manor Fredville], Chillenden (Chillenden Court, part of the Manor of Hame [Hamill]) and Rowling. It was resolved in 1448 when the disputed land and property was divided amongst several claimants.

The Boys family of Fredville owned large areas of land in and around the parish of Nonington from the late fifteenth to late seventeenth centuries, Ackholt was one of these holdings, held from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Manor of Wingham. Ackholt was described in great detail as part of the marriage settlement of John Boys, grandson of Sir Edward Boys the Elder of Fredville in 1626.
Financial difficulties after the English Civil War caused the Boys family to sell various parts of their extensive land holdings.
In 1666 John Boys of Fredville and his eldest son, Nicholas sold:
“Ackholt farm and 200 acres of land; arable and pasture, and Ackholt Wood, 20 acres of coppiced woodland.
Also: 2 messuages or tenements and appurtenances adjoining the farm.
Also:1 tenement/messuage & barne, & orchard & 8 acres of arable land adjoining Ackholt farm.
Also: 1 other tenement & a hemp plot”.

In March of 1753 the hiers of Charles Fielding sold Ackholt to Sir Brook Bridges, Bt., of Goodnestone and it is still owned by Sir Brooke’s descendant, Lord Fitzwalter of Goodnestone Park.
The last item on the 1666 may have been Ackholt Wood House and some three and a half acres of land which was at the southern end of Ackholt Wood and was listed in 1839 as belonging to Sir Brook William Bridges and occupied by William Gilham. It did not appear on the 1859 tithe map (see left), but the other buildings referred to can be seen on the 1859 map.
For more information please go to: Aylesham

The present Keeper’s Cottage was not part of the 1753 purchase and remained separate until the 1830’s. Keeper’s Cottage and the present Ackholt House, built in the late 19th century to replace the 1666 farm house and known locally as Misery Farm, are all that remain of Ackholt hamlet. A row of cottages was built between Keeper’s Cottage and the railway line sometime after 1859, this can be assumed as they are not shown on the 1859 tithe map above, but was demolished in the 1950’s.

The trees of Fredville Park-revised 23.5.2013

The Fredville Oaks.
Fredville Park has been renowned since the late 18th century for magnificent trees, especially its oaks and chestnuts. William Hasted wrote in his :‘History and topographical survey of the County of Kent’, in the late 1790’s: “At a small distance from the front of Fredvile-house, stands the remarkable large oak tree, usually known by the name of the Fredville oak. It measures twenty-seven feet round in the girth, and is about thirty feet in height; and though it must have existed for many centuries, yet it looks healthy and thriving, and has a most majestic and venerable appearance”.

The Hammonds of St. Alban’s Court-revised 20.5.2013

Two of Sir William Hammond’s younger brother’s,  knowing they had little chance of inheriting the family estates,  had by then made their own way and become adventurers, later becoming notable soldiers.

Francis, born in 1584 and Robert, born in 1587,  both joined Sir Walter Raleigh’s second South American expedition to search for the fabled city of Eldorado which Raleigh believed to be in Guyana. However, the quest failed and, whilst Raleigh was suffering from fever, men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost which outraged the Spanish authorities. Consequently Raleigh was arrested on his return to England and was beheaded in 1618 to appease the Spanish. The brother do not appear to have suffered any punishment for taking part in the expedition but at least one of them may have thought it wise to enter military service on the Continent.


Colonel Francis Hammond. The portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.

Francis served in the “German Wars”, the bloody Thirty Years War of 1618-48 fought in central Europe largely between the Catholic southern and Protestant northern states of the Holy Roman Empire which eventually encompassed most of the states of Europe and caused the deaths of millions of people and laid waste to entire regions.
During his service, presumably on the Protestant side and possibly with renowned cavalry commander Prince Rupert of the Rhine later to the cavalry of his uncle King Charles in the English Civil War. During his German service Francis Hammond reputedly fought fourteen single-handed combats.
During the English Civil War Francis fought for the King and commanded a regiment under the command of the Earl of Northumberland in the Scottish Expedition of 1640 and later led the Forlorn Hope, the first troops to attack an enemy position and subsequently having only a slight chance of surviving an action, at the Battle of Edgehill in Warwickshire on Sunday, 23rd October, 1642. Colonel Francis Hammond was obviously a man who enjoyed fighting. He was said to have ended his days quietly living the life of a country gentleman at Nonington.

Colonel Robert Hammond. The portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.

Colonel Robert Hammond. The portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.

Robert Hammond, Francis’s younger brother, was christened 23rd June, 1587, at St. Mary’s Church, Nonington.  What he did after his return from Raleigh’s failed expedition until 1648 is unknown, there is no evidence so far come to light of his having served in the Thirty Years War.

One of the brother’s, probably Robert, was in charge of the artillery that fired 500 cannon balls at Dover Castle in 1642 when 2,000 Royalists led by Sir Richard Hadres unsuccessfully besieged the Parliamentarians holding the castle, which remained in Parliamentary hands until the Restoration of 1660.  At the time of the siege Sir Edward Boys of Fredville, the next door neighbour of the Hammond’s at St. Alban’s Court, was Lieutenent of Dover Castle and Lord Warden. When Sir Edward died in 1646 he was succeeded by his son, Major John Boys of Fredville, who held these positions until 1648. A more perfect example of how the Civil War turned neighbour against neighbour is hard to find.

Robert took part of the 1648 Kentish revolt, which had its origins in part in the Canterbury riots of Christmas Day,1647, caused when the Puritan Mayor and officials of Canterbury tried to forbid traditional Christmas celebrations. The people of Kent had petitioned Parliament in May of 1648 and when their petition was rejected they rose up in revolt in support of the King and the Royalist Commissioners for Kent commissioned Robert to raise a Royalist force. The now Colonel Robert Hammond raised a body of foot soldiers and Colonel Hatton a body of horse, and they assembled on Barham Downs, Colonel Hammond with 300 well equipped and turned out foot soldiers and Colonel Hatton with 60 horse troopers.
After some initial success campaigning in the East Kent area against the Parliaments supporters Colonel Hammond’s forces increased to around 1,000 men and he further campaigned throughout Kent and beyond in the Royalist cause.

Robert took part in the defence of Colchester which was besieged by Parliamentarian forces from July, 1648, until the defeat of Royalist forces at the Battle of Preston (17th-19th August, 1648) meant there was no hope of relief for the besieged garrison and they accordingly laid down their arms on the morning of 28th August, 1648. The terms of surrender stated that “the Lords and Gentlemen (the officers) were all prisoners of mercy”, and that the common soldiers were to be disarmed and given passes to allow them to return home after first swearing an oath not to take up arms against Parliament again. The people of Colchester paid £.14,000 in cash to protect the town from being pillaged by the victorious Parliamentarian forces.
Within a year or so Robert broke any parole given to obtain his release as a “prisoner of mercy”  when he took up duties as the Royalist governor of the castle at Gowran in Co. Kilkenny in Ireland. Cromwell began a campaign in Ireland against Royalist forces in the autumn of 1649 and on 19th March, 1650, Gowran was surrounded by Cromwell’s troops. Robert Hammond refused Cromwell’s generous terms of surrender which forced Cromwell to deploy his artillery and begin a siege. When the castle walls were breached on 21st March, 1650, Colonel Hammond asked for a treaty, which Cromwell refused to give the Colonel. However, Cromwell did offer the ordinary soldiers quarter for their lives which they promptly accepted and the officers were subsequently handed over to the Parliamentary forces.
Cromwell ordered the summary execution by firing squad of all but one of the officers, this one exception was a priest captured in the castle and he was hanged!

Colonel Robert Hammond of St. Alban’s Court should not be confused with his name sake Colonel Robert Hammond (1621– 24 October 1654), best known for acting as Charles I gaoler at Carisbrooke Castle from 13 November 1647 to 29 November 1648, for which service Parliament voted him a pension. He served an officer in Cromwell’s New Model Army during the early part of the Civil War  and sat in the House of Commons in 1654.

Eswalt, later St. Alban’s Court-revised 18.5.2013

St Alban's Court from  Hasted's map circa 1800

St Alban’s Court from Hasted’s map circa 1800

Eswalt was once part of the ancient Manor of Oesewalum also Oesuualun, and Oesewalum, along with adjoining Essewelle (later Essesole, Esole & Easole,  and Fredville) and nearby Solys (Soles).

At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086 Eswalt was part of the holdings of Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux and recorded as: “In Eastry Hundred………….Aethelwold held ESWALT from the Bishop (Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux),  It answers for 3 sulungs. Land for… In lordship 1 plough. 6 villagers with 2 smallholders have 3 ploughs. 2 slaves; a little wood for fencing. Value before 1066 £9; now £15. Young Alnoth held it from King Edward”, (from “History from sources, Domesday Book of Kent”, by Phillimore, published in 1983).

Odo,Bishop of Bayeaux and William I, the Conquerer, were half-brothers, their mother was Herleva of Falaise. Willliam I created Odo Earl of Kent in 1067 as reward for his support during William’s invasion and subsequent conquest of of England. The earldom gave Odo an annual income of £.3,000 from 184 lordships in Kent and numerous manors in 12 other counties making him by far the richest tenant-in-chief in England. However, this was not enough for Odo and he set about increasing his wealth by taking whatever he wanted by force, which before long he was the most hated man in Kent and bought him into direct conflict with Lanfranc, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who also had extensive land-holdings in Kent. In 1076 this confrontation led to Odo’s trial on Pennenden Heath, Kent, for defrauding the Crown and Diocese of Canterbury after which he had to return some of the land holdings he had illegally obtained whilst other assets were re-apportioned. Odo’s greed and ambition led to his downfall in 1082 when William arrested and imprisoned him for seditiously planning a military expedition to Italy, supposedly in pursuit of the Papacy, without the Kings permission. His earldom and remaining estates were confiscated by the Crown and Odo was imprisoned until 1087 when William was persuaded on his deathbed to release him.


William II, called Rufus because of his ruddy countenance, King of England 1087-1100.

Bishop Odo, William I, and Robert de Mortain. From the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Bishop Odo, William I, and Robert de Mortain. From the Bayeaux Tapestry.

After William I died the newly crowned William II, called Rufus,  returned the Earldom of Kent to his uncle and Odo showed his gratitude in 1088 by organizing a rebellion to overthrow William II and replace him with Robert, Duke of Normandy, another son of the Conqueror. When the rebellion failed William II took back the Odo’s newly restored earldom and lands and distributed some of the confiscated estates to various barons.  Odo was allowed to go to Normandy where he took service with Duke Robert, his nephew, and died in 1097 at Palermo in Sicily whilst en route to Palestine with Duke Robert to take part in the First Crusade.

One of the barons favoured by William II was William d’Aubigny (also Albini, known as ‘Pincerna’), Master Butler of the Royal Household, who received Eswalt which remained in the possession of his family until the reign of Henry I  when Hugo d’Aubigny (de Albeneo),  the Earl of Albemarle, gave the Manor of Eswalt (Eswala) to his cousin the Abbot of St. Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire to help the Abbey’s finances. The Earl also held the neighbouring Cnoltune (Knolton) estate.

The original grant by charter of Henry I was later reconfirmed by charter of King Stephen. In the 1930’s Dr. Hardman, a well respected East Kent historian, translated  King Stephen’s charter from the original Latin and using various indicators in the charter he dated it to the early 1140′s.
The manor remained in the possession of St. Alban’s Abbey for over four hundred years, around 1270 the Abbey increased its holdings by acquiring part of the neighbouring manor of Essewelle.

Over the centuries the Abbey’s estate had various tenants paying rent and service to the Abbot. In the early 1500’s Thomas Quylter was the tenant and in 1519 he willed his lease to John Hamon, who also had land in the adjoining parishes of Goodnestone and Chillenden.

The Hamons, later Hammond, continued as tenants of the Abbey during the 1530′s when Henry VIII began the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1539 the Abbot of St. Alban’s sold “Seynte Albons Courte” to Sir Christopher Hales, Master of the Rolls of King Henry VIII., probably to avoid confiscation without payment, with the Hamons as sitting tenants. On Sir Christopher’s death in 1542 his three daughters sold the estate to Alexander Culpepper, who in turn sold it to his brother, Sir Thomas Culpepper, who sold it to Thomas Hammond, the sitting tenant, in 1555 (1556).

The Duke of Newcastle to the Plumptres of Fredville revised 17.5.2013

Thomas Pelham-Holles, Lord Holles, was born in 1693, the son of Thomas Pelham, 1st Lord Pelham, by his second wife, Lady Grace Holles, younger sister of John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  When Thomas’s uncle died in 1711, and his father in 1712, he inherited both their considerable estates. When he became of age in 1714 he was one of the largest land-owners in the country with huge influence and patronage in Sussex.

On the death of Queen Anne in 1714 Thomas, a Whig like his father and uncle, was an outspoken supporter of Hanoverian succession to the throne and was rewarded by George I who made him Earl of Clare in 1714 and Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1715, titles previously held by his uncle, John Holles. During the next five years or so the young Duke entered into the complicated politics of early 18th century England gravitating towards the Whig faction led by Thomas Walpole. He became a protégée of Horace Walpole and served in his administration for twenty years or so until its fall in 1742. The Duke and Henry Pelham, his brother, then continued to hold office as Secretary of State and Prime-Minister respectively until Henry’s death in 1754 after which the Duke was twice PM. He served as a Secretary of State for a total of thirty years, during which time he controlled British foreign policy.

The Duke’s massive land-holdings included seven or so ‘rotten’ and pocket boroughs with the right to elect members of Parliament who were nominated by the Duke and therefore beholden to him. This gave him considerable influence in Parliament but such influence was expensive to maintain and although he had a considerable annual income from his lands and offices  he was at times under financial pressure which forced the sale of many of the Dukes assets, one of which was Fredville.

When sold to Margaretta Bridges, the sister of Sir Brooke Bridges, 3rd Baronet, of Goodnestone, in 1741 Fredville consisted of “the manor of Fredville, Fredville Farm (now Park Farm, Frogham Farm and property in Fredville, Frogham, Barfreston, Nonington, Knowlton, Womenswould and Easole”.
After Denzil, Lord Holles, acquired the Fredville estate in the 1680’s the old Boys family mansion house appears to have fallen into decline and was eventually used as the farm house for the above mentioned Fredville Farm.

In 1742 Margaretta Bridges, spinster, leased nearby St. Alban’s Court House from William Hammond for three years or more, most likely as a suitable residence whilst the new Fredville House was re-built as a two storey Adam’s style house which was completed around 1745 or 1746. This was some years before her marriage in 1750 to John Plumptre, esquire, of Northampton, who is often credited with the rebuilding of the house. John Plumptre’s father and grand-father, also both called John, had both been M.P.’s for Nottingham in the early 18th century. There were no children from the marriage and on Margaret’s death Fredville passed to her husband, who subsequently remarried and had a son, also called John, with his second wife.

Mrs. Boys Behrens, a descendant of the Boys’ of Fredville, wrote about the rebuilding of the Fredville house in her book “Under Thirty-Seven Kings. A history of the Boys family of Bonnington, Fredville, other East Kent towns and villages and nationally” published in 1926. She recorded that the new Fredville manor house had been re-built on the old flint foundations of the previous house noting that the cellars and the covered-in well in the centre of the old kitchen were the only parts of the original house incorporated into the new mansion, and that a secret passage supposedly led from the well to an old ice-house.  The ice-house was sunk twenty feet into the ground and had a large old oak door, half of which was, in her opinion,  stolen for firewood when mining commenced nearby whilst the remaining half was removed at a later date. The ice house is still there and mainly intact but has been partially filled in.

The Boys family of Fredville-revised 15.4.2013

The Boys family, also, de Bois & de Bosco, claimed descent from R. de Boys, or de Bosco, a companion of William the Conqueror who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was rewarded with gifts of land by the grateful King William. In 1357 John Boys was known to have held Bonnington in Goodnestone parish, part of the Manor of Wingham. In the following decades members of the family acquired land in and around Nonington parish.

In 1484 William Boys bought “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’ ”, one of the messuages was at Beauchamps, the other may have been on the site of the later Fredville mansions, although there is at present no no documentary evidence to confirm this and so the site of the other messuage remains presently unconfirmed.

Hasted, in his history of Kent, states that William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence, but returned to Bonnington at some time before his death in 1507.  However, in June, 1496, William Boys signed a land transfer document as “William Boys of the parish of Goodnyston” possibly indicating he had not moved to Fredville, but had remained at Bonnington. Further confirmation of this may be the gift of he made in the year he died to the Church of Nonington of 40/- (£.2.00) towards buying a Antephonar (religious music book), which he signed  William Boys of Goodnestone.

It had been thought that Holt Street Farm house was possibly the other messuage, but a grant by Robert Suaneden to Thomas Nedysole (Nethersole) and others in 1486 indicates that the Holt Street estate was not part of the 1484 Fredeuyle and Beauchamps’ sale. Thomas is believed to have been the father or brother of the John Nethersole mentioned in the 1484 sale. Nethersoles, whose main residence was at Womenswold,  appear in the records of several land sales in and around Nonington in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s.

It was also previously believed that Beauchamps’ had been separated from Fredeuyle at the time of, or shortly after, the sale but the records of the Abbey of St. Alban’s for Essesole manor (previously Essewelle manor , now known simply as Easole), show William Boys as holding Bechams (Beauchamps) then consisting of a messuage and some fifty acres of land from the Abbey, for an annual payment of £2 2s 9d payable once a year at Michaelmas (29th September), but without suit of court (held in freehold). The Boys family retained 15 or so acres of the land, as part of Essesole Farm (now Whitehouse Farm), until at least 1698, when the Essesole manorial records show them as owing forty eight years manorial dues, £.54 8s 0d, for Essesole Farm.

The Boys’ must have sold Beauchamps at some time after 1501 as by 1558 it had passed into the possession of Edward Browne of Worde (Worth) juxta Sandwich, yeoman, who on 2nd March of that year conveyed it to Thomas Hamon of Nonnyngton, gentleman. By then it consisted of: “All that messuage or tenement called BEACHAM situated in Nonnyngton, with all barnes, houses and edifices, now in the occupation of Thomas Hamon and all…. rents, services, …ect…containing 50 acres”.  The fifteen acres retained by the Boys’ had obviously been replaced.

There is a possibility that the two messuages referred to in the 1484 sale document were in fact both at Beauchamps, as the record of the 1558 refers to houses, indicating at least two on the site. If correct, this would indicate that there was in fact no Fredeuyle manor house at the time of the sale.

Another possibility is that the other messuage was Essesole Farm, oldest parts of the farmhouse would be at least contemporary to, if not pre-existing, the 1484 sale. It would have been similar in appearance to the oldest part of the Bonnington manor remains some two miles or so to the north-west of Essesole Farm. The “newer” brick built part of Bonnington dates from the mid 1500’s and may be contemporary to house built on the known Fredville mansion site by the Boys.

Bonnington Farm, once the main residence of the Boys family. The early 15th century  timbered building i(probably built on the site of an earlier house) s connected to the newer brick built 16th house on the left by a courtyard

Bonnington Farm, once the main residence of the Boys family. The early 15th century timbered building (probably built on the site of an earlier house) is connected to the newer brick built 16th house on the left by a courtyard

William Boys died in 1507, having, according to Hasted, returned to Bonnington just before his demise and was buried in Goodnestone Church, perhaps another indication of his preference for the accommodation at Bonnington over Fredville or Beauchamps. He had obviously been very astute at seeing which way the wind blew as his apparent lack of opposition to Richard III had not caused him any problems with the succeeding Henry VII, the first Tudor, and he continued to prosper under the new regime.

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