Soles Court-manorial court information updated

William Hasted in his ‘History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent’ vol. IX, published in 1800, has a brief history of Soles.
SOLES is a manor at the boundary of this parish, next to Barfreston, which at the taking the survey of Domesday, in 1080, was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in that record:
Ansfrid holds of the bishop Soles. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is . . . In demesne there are two carucates, and eight villeins with half a carucate. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth one hundred shillings, and afterwards twenty shillings, now six pounds. Elmer held it of king Edward.
Four years after which, on the bishop’s disgrace, the king seized on this estate among the rest of his possessions. After which it was granted to the family of Crevequer, and made a part of that barony, being held of it by the tenure of performing ward to Dover castle. Of Hamo de Crevequer it was held by knight’s service in king Edward I.’s reign, by Richard de Rokesle, and of him again by Hamo and John de Soles, who certainly took their name from it, but this name was extinct here in the beginning of king Henry IV.’s reign, for in the 4th year of it Thomas Newbregge, of Fordwich, was become possessed of it, whose descendant sold it to Rutter, from which name it passed; about the beginning of king Edward IV. to Litchfield, whose descendant Gregory Litchfield alienated it in king Henry VIII.’s reign to John Boys, esq. of Nonington, in whose descendants it continued down to John Boys, esq. of Hode-court, who in Charles I.’s reign alienated it to Sir Anthony Percival, of Dover, comptroller of the customs there; in whose descendants it remained till, not many years since, it was by one of them passed away to Major Richard Harvey, who sold it to Thompson, of Ramsgate, after whose death it came by marriage to Mr. Stephen Read, of Canterbury, who afterwards alienated it to John Plumptree, esq. of Fredville, the present owner of it. A court baron is held for this manor.

The manor of Soles held a Court Baron, hence Soles Court. The Court Baron was introduced into the post-Conquest feudal system in the 1090’s and was the principal type of manorial court of a manor’s chief tenants and had responsibility for the internal regulation of it’s local affairs. The Court was attended by those free tenants whose attendance at the court was a condition of their tenure, and by customary tenants who held land by an agreement made at the manor court which was entered on its roll with a copy of the entry regarded as proof of title. The court dealt with such matters as the transfer of land; the organisation of the common fields and meadows; the abatement of nuisances’ (defective hedges, blocking of paths, straying beasts, etc); and anything concerning the occupations a manor’s inhabitants, which in most manors were connected with agriculture. The Steward, who ran the court for the lord, kept a watchful eye over the lord’s rights, including rentals, heriots and boon work.

The Manor of Soles and, presumably, the 1760 holding of “one messuage, two barns, two stables, one orchard, one hundred and fifty acres of land, ten acres of meadow, ten acres of pasture and thirty acres of wood” were sold by Stephen Read to John Plumptre around 1790. The last entry in the manorial rolls recording Mr. Read as Lord of the Manor was made in 1788, and the first entry as Lord of the Manor for Mr. Plumptre was in 1792. Prior to the sale Mr. Plumptre and  the Duke of Newcastle, the last but one owner of Fredville, had paid manorial rents as tenants of the Manor of Soles for land they held there, although according to the manorial rolls the Duke did not actually pay rents owed from 1704 onwards.

The rents were assessed on an annual basis according to the custom of the manor and were payable on land and property and also on their transfer to the heirs of a deceased holder, or their sale. The rents were not always payable in cash, some tenants had to also make payment to the Lord of the Manor in poultry and eggs. The Soles manorial rolls record tenants having rent of two or more chickens, which were assessed at value of one shilling so presumably a cash alternative was acceptable.
There are copies of the records of the infrequent manorial courts held for Soles from 1770 until 1862 when it was decided by John Pembleton Plumptre, the lord of the manor, and William Miles, his steward, that the “the rents are so few and small we do not contemplate holding another court”.
Soles Court Farm is still owned by the Plumptre family of Fredville.

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  1. Soles Court continued as an independently tenanted farm until approximately 1970. My brother John would remember the name of the last tenant farmer, and when exactly he resigned the tenancy and the farm-house. I remember the farm-house being unoccupied, and going to rack and ruin as of c.1970. The site has not been occupied since, and the farm was included in the tenancy of Mr Ratcliffe of Frogham Farm.

    • Thanks for the comments, Paul. It’s nice to hear from you. I hope you and the family are keeping well. Mr. Trice was, I believe, the last tenant at Soles, but I think the farmhouse itself was unihabited from the late 50’s or early 60’s, I’m not sure which. I can remember being taken on a trip up to Soles Farm by Nurse Lester, the district nurse, in 1957 on the day my eldest sister was born, and Mrs. Trice gave me some eggs for the new baby and myself. I can also remember the farmhouse being empty and looking around the inside one Saturday afternoon around early Spring in 1970 or 1971 when a couple of us took shelter there when it rained hard while we were pigeon shooting in Lower Soles. There was a large brick built bee-hive bread oven in the cellar along with a smaller brick built oven, and the wall paper was many layers thick with some really nice early paper, possibly Georgian, as the base layer. It was quite a substantial building in its day.

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