The hamlet of Holt Street, sometimes called Old Street, lies some half of a mile or so to the south-east of Nonington church and derives its name from holt, the Old English (OE) name for a thicket or wood. The area was once heavily wooded, adjoining Holt Street to the south-west is Acol or Ackholt, meaning an oak thicket or wood; to the south is Oxenden, or Oxney, Wood; and to the east is Hangers, sometimes Hanging or Hangman’s, Hill which derives from the OE hangra: a wooded slope or hillside.
Old documents and censuses often refer to the lower part of Holt Street as The Drove, from the OE draf, a cattle road.
Holt Street appears to have been part of the Manor of Essewelle, later the Manor of Fredville, from early times. Archbishop Pecham’s survey of 1283-85 recorded Simon of Holestreete and Roger of Holestreete as holding 2 acres 1 virgate and 1 ½ acres respectively in adjoining Ackholt and there is also a reference to a Robert Hollestrete in a document of 1290. The 1309 grant by John, the son of Stephen de Akholte to John, the son of Thomas de Akholte of a windmill describes the mill as being next to Holestrete, almost certainly Cookys, and belonging to Freydevile.
When the parish of Nonington was founded in 1282 the foundation deed referred to the hamlet of Freydeville, this would appear to be Holt Street, the settlement for the Freydeville, later Fredville, part of Essewelle manor. Before the end of the 1400’s the site of the Fredville manor house is unclear, and the present Holt Street farm may well have been the site of the Fredville manor house until a new house was built in the present Fredville Park by the Boys family, which was replaced in the 1740’s. This “new” house was sadly badly damaged by a fire in 1940 and subsequently demolished in 1945.
Robert Baker left a legacy in his 1505 will to the Light of Our Lady of Holstreet and to the Cross Light of Holstreet a bushel of barley each, and the sum of 20/- (£. 1. 00) “to the buying of an antiphoner (liturgical book) for the church” .
Cookys or Cooks.
The Cookys farm house was the present Holt Street Cottage, which is just above the Holt Street cross-roads, and the accompanying land seems to have originally been some 14 or so acres to the rear of the house, and some 14 or more acres of the large field across the Snowdown Road, which is still called Cooks Hill. The Cooks Hill acreage was enclosed by a ditched bank and hedge, which was grubbed out in the 1950’s but the ditch is still visible, and the land to the rear of the house also had banks and hedges, some of which are still visible from Nightingale Lane, the remainder are buried underneath the old colliery tip. In the early 1600’s a brick house was built, which probably replaced an earlier medieval timber and lathe house, and as a farmhouse for a small-holding until the end of the 19th or early in the 20th. In 1940 the old thatched Holt Street Cottage along with three other houses in nearby Johnston’s Terrace (now Nightingale Terrace) and a cottage in the field opposite, were demolished after being severely damaged by a German parachute mine. A new house was built on the foundations of the old one and some of the original 17th century brickwork is still visible in the foundations.
There are references to the transfer of ownership of land in “Nonyngton” in the early 1400’s which may refer to Cookys, but earliest mention of Cookys by name so far found is in a grant of 1448, which refers to “a tenement called Cookysplace in Nonyngton”. At this time the owner of Cookys also held “Achholte” (Ackholt) manor and half of a manor in “Chelyndene” (Chillenden) and “Nonygtone”.
By 1516 Cookys, consisting of a messuage and 28 acres, had come into the possession of Robert Austen of Nonnington, one of the chief parishioners at the 1511 visitation of Archbishop William Warham, and he sold it for £.10.00 to Richard Mockett of Nonnington, his step-son, who owned and rented land scattered over Nonington and neighbouring parishes.
A messuage was a portion of land intended to be occupied or actually occupied as a site for a dwelling house and its appurtainences. In modern legal language, a dwelling house, its out-buildings, curtilages and assigned adjacent land.
Cookys was bought by the Boys family of Fredville from Richard Mockett’s heirs in the mid or late 1500’s and became part of the Holt Street estate which remained in their possession until the late 1600’s. When the Holt Street estate was sold by Edward Boys to Geremy Gay and Robert Kingsford in 1670 Cookys was part of the purchase. It stayed with Holt Street through several changes of ownership, but when Holt Street was bought by the Plumptre family of Fredville around 1800 Cookys house and a small portion of land remained with the Brydges of Goodnestone whilst the majority of the land went with Holt Street. The house was finally sold by the Goodnestone estate in the 1970’s.
Holt Street Farm.
The parish register records the baptism of Anna, daughter of Sir Edward Boys the Younger, gentleman, of Holtestreete on May 29th 1606, two earlier baptism records make no mention of his place of residence. Sir Edward’s father was also Sir Edward, who resided at Fredville, appears to have lived in the present Holt Street farmhouse, believed to have been built in the early 1600’s on the site of a previous farm or manor house. The Boys family of Fredville then had vast landholdings in Nonington and adjoining parishes.
Later in the 1600’s Holt Street was occupied by the Gay family, who also held land in the Tenderden area in West Kent. When Edmund Gay, gentleman of Nonington,Kent, died in 1651 he was followed as tenant by his son, Jeremy. During the English Civil War Jeremy took the King’s side and suffered accordingly, his landlord, Major John Boys, had been on the opposing side. In 1670 Jeremy Gay and Robert Kingsford jointly leased Holt Street from Major Boys at Fredville who was by then heavily in debt to various creditors.
The estate consisted of:
A capital messuage and appurtenences together with barnes stables pidgeon house and out-houses thereto belonging or thereto used to enjoy (Holt Street Farm). And all the arable lands meadows pastures down-lands and woodland thereto belonging containing 252 acres more or less at or near Holt Street in the parish of Nonington in Kent.
And all that messuage with the appurtenences and all the land meadows and pasture thereunto belonging containing 14 acres lying in or near Holt Street now or late in the occupation of ? late in occupation of George Cork/Cock or his assigns. (Holt Street Cottage, adjacent land, and part of the land across the road on Cook’s Hill).
* And all the messuage of 4 acres of land in Nonington and in the occupation of ? Rist, widow, or her assigns
And the messuage and 3 acres of land therein enjoyed near Holt Street late in the occupation of Edward Symonds and his assigns.
And the barn called Symons’s Barn and the appurtenences being in the place or yard of the messuage last before mentioned and then occupied by Edward Symonds but now of Richard Kingsford or his assigns. (Now Ingleside in Holt Street, the barn was demolished in 1970’s).
And the messuage or tenement and appurtenences and 3 acres of land more or less thereto butting or adjoining aforesaid at or near Holt Street in the occupation of Thomas Packton or his assigns.
*And the messuage and 4 acres of land more or less being in Nonington also in the occupation of Thomas Packton or his Assigns (believed to be the present Butter Street Cottage).
*And the messuage or tenement and 4 acres of land more or less thereto belonging or the same used occupied or enjoyed situated in Womenswold occupied by John Morris.
+And 2 pieces or parcells of arable land called Chapman’s Close and thereof 8 acres or by what other name the same are called containing 20 acres in Nonington and in the occupation of Richard Kingsford or his assigns.(Chapman’s Close: the embanked field at the top of Chapman’s Hill, south side).
And the cottage or tenement and appurtenences and 1 acre of land more or less ( -?- ) near Holt Street within the lands occupied of George Cork/Cock and then or late of Samuel Turvey and his assigns (On the Holt Street cross-roads, the house was demolished and the land became Johnston’s Terrace around 1910).
*And a cottage or tenement and 1 acre of land by estimation in Nonington in the tenure of Samuel Browning and his assigns.
*And a cottage or tenement and 2 acres in Nonington in the occupation of George Marsh.
*And a cottage or tenement and appurtenences and 1 acre of land by estimation thereto belonging in Nonington and in the occupation of Wm Fagg and his assigns.
~And that wood and woodland called -?- Wood containing 13 acres and one half in Nonington in the occupation of Jeremy Gay.
Jeremy Gay, junior, was the subject of two court orders in 1672. Presumably Jeremy senior, his father, had died and Jeremy junior appears to have had got into debt as in January 1671 (1672) an ” Order after reciting the outlawry of Jeremy Gay of Nonington, Kent, and the seizure, 29 Jan., 1671–2, of his lands therein described at Tenterden on a motion on behalf of Edward and Samuel Curteis that on their giving security to abide the order of the court all further proceedings against the said lands be stayed” was issued. Edward and Samuel were the sons of Edward Curteis, senior, and Dorothy, the sister of Jeremy Gay, junior. Edward Curteis, senior, had been Mayor of Tenterden in 1663.
Later in the year an Order of the Court at Dover of 6th June, 1672 concerned the seizure of the property of Jeremy Gay, junior, of Tenterden and Nonington, Kent, for debt and his being made an outlaw.
After the court order, the Kingsford’s took over as sole tenants.
In 1676 Holt Street farm was let out by Christopher Boys to Fulke Rose, a Jamaica merchant as: “A messuage or mansion house and all barns stables pigeon house and outhouses edifices and buildings gardens orchards and yards. 258 acres of land wood and pasture occupied by Rich. Kingsford”. Robert Kingsford , Richard Kingsford’s father, had been a joint signatory of the 1670 conveyance of Fredville.
At the time of the next record circa 1684 Fulke Rose, a Jamaica merchant occupied the Holt Street estate when it consisted of 12 messuages and gardens, 220 acres of land, 100 acres of pastures and 15 acres of woodland in Nonington & Womenswold parishes, the document also mentions a Court Leet.
A contemporary sale document records the sale of “about four acres and appurtenences lying in Nonnington aforesaid abutting to a wood called Coney Wood to the west, and the lands of Fulke Rose towards the north and south”.
By 1689 Christopher Boys was in debt to Fulke Rose, amongst others, as the Boys family of Fredville were by then encumbered with various debts incurred by Major John Boys. Rose appears to have bought the Holt Street estate, then known as , at around this time. A few years later, in 1693, Fulke Rose willed the estate “forever” to his daughter Mary .
However, nothing is forever, and in 1731 Thomas Sharpe owned the 252 acresHolt Streetfarm with John Cox, Robert Cussons, William Cork, Thomas Attwood, William Beane, Valentine Beane and Widow Pilcher as tenants. Nine years later Holt Street Farm was owned by Thomas Green, it was listed in his 1740 as one of his assets, but the beneficiaries appear to have sold it fairly quickly as Holt Street Farm was bought by trustees of the infant Sir Brook Bridges of Goodnestone in 1754. These trustees were active purchasers of land locally in the 1750’s and 1760’s, they also bought the adjacent Acol estate in 1763. Woolege Farm and Oxney Wood were also acquired at around this time.
As it had once been part of the ancient Essewelle Manor, Holt Street still had some residual feudal rights and duties attached to it, a 1710 document and the 1754 transfer deed mention amongst other things the right of frankenpledge and to court leet. The 1754 transfer states that frankenpledge concerned: ” all tenants residents and inhabitants also all other residents or commoners within the manor lordship vill and hamlet of Fredvill and St. Albans in the said manor of Kent and within the moyety or half hundred of Estray (Eastry)”. This is a further indication that part of the Essewelle estate was lost to the Abbey of St. Alban’s in the mid-13th century.
Frankenpledge dated back to pre-Conquest times. In Anglo-Saxon society a man’s “kindred” were responsible for any offences he committed and laws of Kings Athelstan (924-940), Edgar (959-975) and Canute (1016-35) systemize the notion of collective responsibility by requiring every man to have a borh or surety. Frankenpledge had fully evolved by the reign of King William I., the Conqueror, in the North of England it was called tenmannetalle. Every freeman had to enrol in a group of ten (tithing) whose members were then bound to produce any of their number wanted by the law, for example, to give evidence or pay penalty. Twice yearly the sheriff held a ‘view to frankenpledge’ in the hundred court to ensure men were enrolled. View rights were sometimes given to individual lords or boroughs.
Holt Street Farm and some of the cottages mentioned in the old documents now belong to the Fredville estate whilst others were improved, replaced or disappeared completely. Holt Street Farm house was used as a “gentleman’s” residence until the Second World War. The 1901 census records Henry W. Plumpre as living there, later the house was rented to officers from the Dover garrisons. The farmhouse for Holt Street Farm whilst the house was rented out was what is now Ingleside in Holt Street.
Some of the old property boundaries can be seen on the tithe maps and quite a few can still physically be found on the ground as some of the original plots of land are little unchanged since then. The hamlet still consists of single rows of buildings either side of the street and has had very little modern development although it has extended over the years down towards Easole Street.
The larger part of the Holt Street estate was sold to the Plumptre family of Fredville at some time after 1814 and is still owned by them. Cooky’s farm house, the ground the village school stands on, and Chapman’s Close were not part of the sale and remained as part of the Goodnestone estate holdings after the sale.