Before the Domesday Survey of 1086.
Most of the land in the old parish of Nonington, with the exception of the manors of Eswalt, Essewelle, and Soles, belonged to the Manor of Wingham which Athelstan, King of Kent, gave to Christ Church in Canterbury in 836. This manor also owned much of the land in the present parishes of Ash, Goodnestone, Wingham, and Womenswold. It 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, king of a 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).
A survey of churches under his jurisdiction was made for Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury soon after his ordination as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and this recorded that “Nunningitun” was a subsidiary church, in actual fact a chapel, to the mother church “ad Wingeham”. This 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 was to become the centre of the later parish of Nonington.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 and after.
In late 1085 William I, the Conquerer, ordered a survey to record who then held the land in England, and parts of Wales, and 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.
Domesday also recorded three individual manors in what was to become the parish of Nonington which were independent of the Manor of Wingham, namely Eswalt, Essewelle, and Soles. In the Confessor’s time these were held by three separate manor holders who held their manors directly from the king. At the time of the survey the three manors 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 de Say, or Saye, on the marriage of Alice, or Lettice, the heiress to the Maminot estates, to Geoffrey de Say. By 1484 Essewelle had become the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’.
“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 showed Odo to be by far the richest tenant-in-chief in the England, he held 184 lordships in Kent, and manors in twelve other counties which 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, 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.
William I imprisoned Odo in 1082 for seditiously planning a military expedition to Italy without the kings permission, supposedly in pursuit of the Papacy and Odo’s remaining estates were confiscated by the Crown which retained control of them for some years. Odo spent the next five years in prison until 1087 when William was persuaded on his deathbed to release him from prison. After William’s death Odo recovered his Earldom of Kent from William II, called Rufus, the son of the Conqueror and the newly crowned King of England, but soon lost it again when he organized a rebellion in 1088 to overthrow William II and replace him with Robert, Duke of Normandy, another son of the Conqueror. William II allowed Odo to go Normandy where he remained in the service of Duke Robert eventually dying in Palermo, Sicily, in 1097 whilst en route to Palestine with Duke Robert to take part in the First Crusade. The king gave some of Odo’s confiscated manors to various barons and kept the remainder for himself.
The Manor of Wingeham
“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”.
The remaining land in the old parish of Nonington, with the exception of Mounton, also Monkton, a small estate of some twenty-five acres or so around the present Gooseberry Hall Farm which was part of the Manor of Adisham, was subject to the Manor of Wingham and included in the above Domesday entry for that manor. This land 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.