By the late 1400’s some Nonington villagers had acquired considerable land-holdings and were very wealthy by contemporary standards and subsequently chose to donate some of their wealth to the church. They did this in part to show their wealth and also to ensure that they and members of their immediate family were remembered in masses or prayers in church by either the parish priest or Church Brotherhoods, by the work on the church fabric or the church vestments paid for by their bequests, or by the simple burning of various lights or devot candles.
In late medieval times the most important way of expressing lay piety was the religious brotherhood or parish guild. Many of the rituals and observances of medieval religion such as the ornamentation of churches with chapels and chantries and the popularizing of private masses, images, pilgrimages and processions can be attributed to these brotherhoods.
Church Brotherhoods often existed to maintain and look after the Lights, or votive candles, of a parish church. St. Mary’s at Nonington had the Brotherhood of Jesus. The Jesus Mass was a weekly devotion sung every Friday, becoming more frequent during the 15th. century after the adoption in 1457 of the Feast of the Holy Name (7th August).
Various bequests were recorded as having been made to the Brotherhood of Jesus in Nonington in the early 16th century:
Mass of Jesus.
1512 Stephen Ferrier-To the Mass of Jesus of Nonington, two seames of malt, and 2lbs of wax, for my soul, parents, ect.
The Brotherhood of Jesus.
1505 Richard Metforth-To the new Brotherhood of Jesus, a quarter of barley.
1507 Sir John Rogers, vicar [of Nonington]-To maintain the Lights belonging to the Fraternity of Jesus, 3 vats (hives) of bees as they stand.
1509 Robert Cokesall-To the Brotherhood of Jesus and Guild of Jesus that is in the parish, 5 acres of land.
1510 John Oxinden-Light of the Brotherhood of Jesus to be prayed for, a lb of wax and quarter of barley.
1511 William Sherland-To the Brotherhood of Jesus, 2 ewes.
1511 Thomas Borant-To priest singing in the church for the brothers and sisters of Jesus 20/-.
1512 Stephen Deill-To the Brotherhood of Jesus 20/- as soon as they will purchase any land.
1513 Simon Quylter-To the purchasing of lands for the Jesus Brotherhood 6/8d.
1514 William Pemberton, rector of Chillinden-To the Brotherhood of Jesus in the parish of Nonington, 5 acres of ground beside Oxinden in the said parish.
1518 Thomas Bert-To the Light of Jesus, a seame of malt.
1519 Thomas Quylter-To be buried in the church in the Chapel of Jesus there-That the churchwardens have a seame and half of barley to find my lamp in Jesus Chapel continually.
1525 John Hamon-To the Brotherhood of Jesus 26/8d, to be paid when there is an able priest set [provided], to pray for the brothers and sisters of the same, but if no priest be set within seven years, then the money be disposed by my ex’ors [executors] in the church as they think best.
St. Mary’s Church appears to have had several chapels and more than one alter in the late 15th and early 16th centuries which received bequests of varying values. Some of these bequests may now seem strange.
1498 John Townsende-Buried in the church near the Chapel of St. Mary, and to the church for my burial 6-8d.
1498 Thomas Apinton-To the Image of Our Lady in the chancel a bushel of barley
1500 Stephen Grene-Light of St. Mary in the chancil a hive of bees
1507 Sir John Rogers, vicar-Buried before my blessed patroness Our Lady in the Chancel.
1509 Robert Cokesall-To the Light of Our Lady within the high quire, one bushel of barley.
1510 John Crunden(?) Light of St. Mary 2 bushels of barley.
1512 Stephen Deill (?)-Buried in the church in the space before my seat.
1513 Simon Quylter-Light of Our Lady in the quire 2 bushels of barley; and To fund a lamp burning in Our Lady chancel for evermore, 2 bushells of barley.
1518 Thomas Best-Light of Our Lady 4/-
1529 Thomas Coutry-To the Light of Our Lady in the quire a bushel of barley.
1533 John Robinson Light of Our Lady in the high chancel 1lb of wax.
1545 William Countr(s)ey [Coutry] -Buried in the church before the quire door.
1549 William Boys-If I die where I dwell, then to be buried in the chapel where I use to sit.
Our Lady of Holestreet
1506 Robert Baker-To the Light of Our Lady of Holestreet, a bushel of barley.
St. Mary of Frogham.
1480 Peter Bengemin-Light of St. Mary of Frogham, 4 bushels of barley.
1491 Margaret Bengemin- Light of St. Mary of Frogham 8d
1498 Thomas Bengemin-Light of Holy Cross 6d
1498 Thomas Apinton-To the Cross in the Chancel 6d.
1510 John Oxinden-To the Rood light, two bushels of barley.
1511 William Sherland-To the Holy Cross of the High Rood a bushel of barley.
1519 Thomas Quylter-To the Rood Light a seame and half of barley and another half seame which my father gave in his Will.
1529 Thomas Webbe-A Lamp be found for ever in the church before the Rood, out of the place I dwell in.
1506 Robert Baker-To the Cross Light of Holstreet a bushel of barley.
1511 Thomas Borant-To the Rood Light of Frogham 12d
1512 Stephen Deill-To the Cross Light of Frogham, 2 bushels of barley.
1512 Stephen Deill-To the Cross Light of Ratling, 2 bushels of barley.
1513 Simon Quylter-To the Rood Light that belongeth to Essesole, two bushels of barley.
1514 Agnes Selbe- To the Rood Light of Frogham, 4d.
1498 Thomas Bengemin-To the picture of the Image of the Holy Trinity 6d
1498 John Townsend-To the Light of the Holy Trinity, a quarter of barley.
1498 Thomas Apinton-To the painting of the Trinity, a bushel of barley.
1502 John Bonar-Buried before the Alter of the Holy Trinity in the church.
1509 Robert Cokesall- To the Light of the Holy Trinity, a bushel of barley.
1511 William Sherland-Light of Alhalowes a bushel of barley.
1512 Stephen Deill-To the Light of Allhallows 2 bushels of barley.
1513 Simon Quylter-To the Light of Alhallow a bushel of barley.
1513 Simon Quylter-Buried before St. Anthony in the church.
1543 John Arrowe of Ackholt-Buried in the church, at the end of one alter called the Alter of St. Anthony, for the which stadle or place, to the reparation of the church 10/-.
1480 Peter Bengemin-To the Light of St. Christopher, a bushel of barley.
1506 John Dowle of Barfreston-Wife Joan as long as she shalt live, keep a wax taper to burn in the church of Nonington before Image of St. Eustace.
Light of St. John.
1508 Stephen Grene-To the painting (picture) of the Image of St. John Baptist 12d.
1531 John Lanning-Light of St. John 12d.
1512 Stephen Deill-To the Light of St. Nicholas, 2 bushels of barley.
St Rook (also St. Roch-Royke-Rock, Saint’s Day 16th August).
1519 Thomas Quylter-To the Light of St. Rook a half seame of barley.
Chapel of St. Thomas.
1519 Thomas Quylter-To the separation of St. Thomas’ Chapel. £.4
1525 John Hamon-Light of St. Thomas 4 bushels of malt. To the making of a new window on the north side of St. Thomas’ Chapel 5 marks (£.3-6-8d).
1531 Joan Austen-Buried in the Church in St. Thomas’ chapel, a stone price 13/4d to lay over me.
1529 Thomas Coutry-To the Light of St. Thomas one bushel of barley.
1529 Thomas Webbe-Light of St. Thomas 1lb of wax.
1492 Richard Taylor-To the reparation of the Nave of the church two sheep.
1506 Robert Baker- To the reparation of the Church 6/8d
1507 Sir John Rogers (vicar)-To the reparation of the church. 3/4d. To the paving of the quire 3/4d; and my surplice to the use of God’s service in the quire.
1511 Thomas Borant- To the reparation of the Church 3/4d.
1513 Simon Quylter-My ex’ors pay five nobles (33/4d: 1 noble=6/8d or half a mark), the which was the gift of one Roger Webbe, whensoever the parishioners doth build the north side of the aisle of the church, and to the building of the foreward(?) north aisle 6/8d
1529 Thomas Coutry- To the reparation of the Church 20d.
1531 Richard Coutry- To the reparation of the Church 20d.
1480 Peter Bengemin-To the Church a chalice of £.3.
1488 John Hopeday-Towards the buying of a chalice 10/-
1491 Margaret Bengemin-To the buying of a chalice 6/8d.
1506 Robert Baker-To the buying of an Antiphonar (religious music book) of parchment for the church 20/-.
1507 William Boys of Goonestone-To the Church of N[onington] towards buying a Antephonar 40/-.
1512 Stephen Deill-To buying an Antiphonar for the church 20/-
1513 Simon Quyltar-To the buying of an Antiphonar 6/8d.
1514 Agnes Selbe-to the church an alter cloth.
1518 Thomas Best-To the buying of a lyent (poss. From Latin laent/laena-cape/mantle?) for the church 20d.
1519 Thomas Quylter-To the Church £.7. to buy a cope of velvet.
1529 Thomas Coutry-To the buying of a new Cross-cloth in the church 3/4d. To the buying of a great bell 6/6d.
1531 Joan Austen-After the death of my son [Richard Mockett] a chest bound with iron bands to the church for evermore.
1531 Joan Austen-Towards buying a pair of candlesticks to stand upon the high alter 6/8d.
1531 Richard Coutry-To the buying a new Cross 16d.
1539 John Welche-To the Church to buy a new cross 13/4d.
After Edward VI’s Chantries Act of 1548 land previously given to the Church to say Masses, for lights, or other devotions, were marked for confiscation and then sold to raise revenue for the Crown. The revenues and profits of these Church properties were recorded to show the value of the properties to potential purchasers. William Boys, whose family had large land-holdings in Nonington and adjoining parishes, acted as a Crown agent in Nonington recording eligible properties there. He astutely purchased from the Crown some of these properties, knowing better than anyone their true value.
Chantry certificates-Kent no 28. records two bequests by unrecorded donors: ‘The donoure of lands within the parishe of Nonyngton ys not knowe but the yerely profytts therof have alweyes ben used and bestowed uppon divers lyghts to be kepe in the parishe for ever’, whilst the second records; ‘Light lands given to the churche of Nonyngton by whom it is not know for the mayntenaunce of towe tapers to burne yerely at Easter upon the Sepulcre there for ever. The yerelie value of the same land is iijs vjd (3s 6d, now 18 pence) werof in Rents resolute xvd (15d). And so remaneth clere ijs iijd (2s 3d, now 11 pence)’.
Two large donations of five acres of land were made to the Brotherhood of Jesus. The first by Robert Cokesall in 1509 who donated “to the Brotherhood of Jesus and Guild of Jesus that is in the parish, 5 acres of land” and the second in 1514 when William Pemberton, rector of Chillinden, gave “to the Brotherhood of Jesus in the parish of Nonington, 5 acres of ground beside Oxinden in the said parish”.
Another recorded bequest made by a man surnamed Bonor, possibly John Bonor who died in 1502 and was buried before the alter of the Holy Trinity, which yielded an almost similar sum from ‘Obit land given by (blank) Bonor by his last will to finde on Obyte yerely wythin the said parishe churche for ever. The yerely value of the same rents is ijs (2s)’.
The name ‘Light Lands’ appears to have lingered on for some three centuries after the land was lost to the Church. The bequests of Robert Cokesall and Bonor may possibly form part of the ‘Light Lands’ mentioned on the 1839 tithe records totalling 8 acres 2 rods and 20 poles which by then belonged to the St. Alban’s Court estate. William Pemberton’s five acres were at the southern end of the parish near the present Oxney Wood.