Before the Domesday Survey of 1086.
The land in the old parish of Nonington, with the exception of the manors of Eswalt, Essewelle, and Soles, along with a small estate at Mounton, was held from the Manor of Wingham which Athelstan, King of Kent, gave to Christ Church in Canterbury in 836. Mounton, also Monkton, was a small estate of some twenty-five acres or so around the present Gooseberry Hall Farm which was part of the Manor of Adisham, another manor held by Christ Church.
The remaining land in the old parish of Nonington consisted of: Ackholt; Kittington; Oxenden, later Oxney; North and South Nonington (centred around the present hamlet of Nonington, Ratling Court, and Old Court); a small part of Soles manor; and the woodland at Crudeswood, later Curleswood Park.
The Manor of Wingham was also over-lord of most of the land in the present parishes of Ash, Goodnestone, Wingham, and Womenswold. Wingham was recorded as “Winganham” in 946 and “Wingehame” in the Domesday Book.
Christ Church lost possession of many of its holdings during the troubles of the Heptarchy in the ninth and tenth centuries. Some restitution was made in 941 when Edmund I, the Magnificent, the king of a then unified England, “restored to the Church of Christ, which is in Canterbury, those lands which his forefathers had unjustly taken away from the Church of God, and those that belonged to that church”, mainly Twiccanham (Twickenham, Middlesex, given in 793), Preostantun (Preston-next- Faversham, given in 822), Winganham, (presumably the extensive Manor of Wingham), Swyrdlingan, (Swarling-in-Petham, given in 805), Bosingtun, (Bossington near Adisham?) , Gravenea, (Graveney, given in 811), and Ulacumb, (Ulcomb).
Lanfranc had a survey of churches under his jurisdiction soon after his ordination as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and this survey recorded that “Nunningitun” was a subsidiary church, in actual fact a chapel, to the mother church “ad Wingeham”. Nunningitun is at present the earliest known use of the name, or of any of its variants, for the hamlet which grew up around the chapel dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin and became the centre of the later parish of Nonington.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 and after.
William I, the Conqueror, ordered a survey in late 1085 to record who then held the land in England and those parts of Wales under his rule, and also who had held it during the time of King Edward the Confessor. “Nunningitun” is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey as it was a part of the Manor of Wingham and therefore included in that manor’s entry.
The Manor of Wingeham as recorded in the Domesday Survey:
“In the lath of Estrei, in Wingeham hundred, the archbishop himself holds Wingeham in demesne. It was taxed at forty sulings in the time of king Edward the Consessor, and now for thirty-five. The arable land is . . . . . . In demesne there are eight carucates, and four times twenty and five villeins, with twenty borderers having fifty-seven carucates. There are eight servants, and two mills of thirty-four sulings. Wood for the pannage of five hogs, and two small woods for fencing. In its whole value, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth seventy-seven pounds, when he received it the like, and now one hundred pounds. Of this manor William de Arcis holds one suling in Fletes, and there be has in demesne one carucate, and four villeins, and one knight with one carucate, and one fisbery, with a saltpit of thirty pence. The whole value is forty shillings. Of this manor five of the archbishop’s men hold five sulings and an half and three yokes, and there they have in demesne eight carucates, and twenty-two borderers, and eight servants. In the whole they are worth twenty-one pounds”.
Domesday also recorded three manors which were independent of the Manor of Wingham in what was to become the parish of Nonington, namely the manors of Eswalt, Essewelle, and Soles. In the Confessor’s time these were held by three individual lords of the manor who held their manors directly from the king. At the time of the survey Eswalt, Essewelle, and Soles were under the lordship of Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux and were recorded in the survey as follows:-
“In Eastry Hundred…………Adelold (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”.
Adelold was chamberlain to Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux, and lost Eswalt and his other holdings when Odo was imprisoned in 1082. The Crown retained Eswalt until 1088 when William II, known as Rufus(1087-1100) and the recently crowned King of England, gave William de Albini (Albigni) Eswalt as part of a gift of various manors as a reward for his loyalty to the both old and new king. Eswalt remained in the possession of the Albini family until 1097 when Hugo de Albini (Albeneo), the Earl of Albemarle, gave the Manor of Eswalt (Eswala) to the Abbey and Convent of St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire. By 1511 century this manor had become known as “the lordship of Saint Albons Courte”.
“Ralph of Courbepine holds Essewelle from the Bishop. It answers for 3 sulungs. Land for… In lordship 3 ploughs. 1 villager with 7 smallholders have ½ plough. 1 slave. Value £6. Molleva held it from King Edward”.
Ralph de Curbespine/Courbepine/Curva Spine, also held the manors of Danitone (Denton), Ewelle (Ewell), and Colret (Coldred) from Odo, which had all previously been held from King Edward the Confessor by Molleve, also Malleue, a woman and most likely a widow. Although not a common occurrence, women in pre-Conquest England could hold property in their own right as well as inheriting it on the death of their husbands.
De Curbespine’s holding passed on to the Maminot, also Mamignot, family and by inheritance became part of the Barony of Maminot. This in turn passed in the late 1100′s to the Barony of Say, or Saye, on the marriage of Alice, or Lettice, the heiress to the Maminot estates, to Geoffrey de Say. As part of the Dover Castleward Barony of Say the knight’s fee of Essewelle was subsequently divided into what were to become known as the manors of Esole and Fredville.
“Ansfrid holds Soles from the Bishop. It answers for one sulung. Land for…in lordship 2 ploughs, 8 villagers with 1/2 plough. Value before 1066, 100 shillings(£.5.00) ; later 20 shillings(£.1.00) ; now £.6. Aelmer held it from King Edward.”
Soles was confiscated by the Crown when Odo fell from favour and then granted to the Crevequer family. It became a part of the Barony of Crevequer, which was one of the baronies responsible for Castleward at Dover. Soles, now known as Soles Court Farm, has been part of the Fredville estate since its purchase by John Plumptre of Fredville in 1800.
The Domesday Survey shows that Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux, was by far the richest tenant-in-chief in England. In Kent alone he held 184 lordships, which with the manors he held in twelve other counties gave him an income of £3,000 a year. However, Odo quickly became the most hated man in Kent because of his ruthless greed in taking whatever he wanted by force and soon came into direct conflict with Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1076 Odo was tried on Pennenden Heath in Kent for defrauding the Crown and Diocese of Canterbury and had to return some of the land holdings he had obtained by illegal means whilst other assets were re-apportioned.
In 1082 William I imprisoned Odo for seditiously planning a military expedition to Italy without the kings permission, the supposed purpose of this expedition was to obtain the Papacy for Odo. In addition to his imprisonment Odo also had his remaining estates confiscated by the Crown and the confiscated estates remained under the control of the Crown for some years. After five years of imprisonment William was persuaded on his deathbed to release Odo from prison and after William’s death at Rouen in September of 1087 Odo recovered his Earldom of Kent from William II, the newly crowned son of the Conquerer who was also known as Rufus. This nickname may have come about either because of the reddish colour of his hair when he was a child or his ruddy complexion. However, Odo soon returned to his duplicitous ways and once again lost his titles and estates in 1088 when he organized an unsuccessful rebellion to overthrow William II and replace him with Robert, Duke of Normandy, another son of the Conqueror. William II did not imprison Odo, instead he allowed him to go to the Duchy of Normandy where Odo remained in the service of Duke Robert. In 1097 Odo died in Palermo in Sicily whilst en route to Palestine with Duke Robert to take part in the First Crusade. After Odo’s exile to Normandy William II gave some of Odo’s confiscated manors to various barons and kept the remainder for himself. Eswalt, Essewelle and Soles all appear to have been manors that the king gave to favoured barons.