Acol, or Ackholt

Ackholt, Acholt or Acol, Nonington. Also:1283 Ackholt; 1469 Akholte; 1626 Acholt.

Ackholt is now in the Parish of Aylesham and lies just the other side of the railway-line where the Nonington to Womenswold bridle way crosses the Snowdown to Aylesham road on the southern boundary of the old parish of Nonington.

Pronouced Acol (Aye-kul) with a long a and the t dropped as is usual in the old East Kent dialect, the name derives from the Old English (O.E.): ac; oak & holt ; thicket, literally meaning an oak thicket or wood. To the east of Ackholt  is the hamlet of Holt Street, another “holt”, indicating this area was once heavily wooded.
The influx of “foreigners” from all over the U.K. in the 1920’s seeking work in the Kent Coalfields led to common usage of a hard C when saying the name, so that it is now generally pronounced as “Ak-olt” when referring to Ackholt Road, and “Aye-kul” when referring to the old hamlet and nearby Acol Bank.

The Acol, or Ackholt, area, 1870's OS map
The Acol, or Ackholt, area, 1870’s OS map

An early 14th century transfer document connected to Ackholt manor dated 1309, the Latin charter recorded the transfer from John, the son of Stephen de Akolte (Acholt) to John, the son of Thomas de Akholte, and Lucia, his mother, of a windmill (unum molendinum ventifluim) in the parish of Nonington near Holestrete (Holt Street) on Freydviles (Fredville’s) land and two shillings and two hens free rent (duos solidos et duas gallinas de libere redditu)  from Thomas le Kete of Holestrete, presumably the miller. To confirm the grant John, son of Stephen de Akolte, was to receive 20 marks sterling (£.12 13s 4d) gersuman (payment-it literally means treasure or riches in Old English, and often appears in documents of this period and earlier). The charter also noted that because he was under age and did not have his own seal, he had signed under the seal of John de Grenchelle, a local land-owner who appears to have held land in or near Bekesbourne, and may have been a relative or guardian of the young John.The windmill appears to have been located in the area of the small patch of woodland between the old pit head baths of the now closed Snowdown Colliery and the railway line (see map above). This site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green. It is not recorded in Archbishop Pecham’s  survey of Wingham manor between 1283-5  indicating it was built between the survey and 1309. In 1341 John de Acholte granted the mill along with other property and rents in Nonyngton, Rollynge (Rolling) and Wimelyngewelde (Womenswold) near Crodewode (Crudeswood or Curleswood) to Peter Heyward.

In 1425 the following transaction was recorded:“Akholte, June 21, 3 Hen. VI. (1425) John Helar, son of John Helar, late of Akholte in the par. of Nonynton, Kent, grants to Thomas Hunte parcarius* of Cruddyswood a croft** of 5 acres with appurtenances at Akholte between the common way  of the vill of Akholte on N. and land of Thomas Hopedey on E. and Court land of Lordship of Akholte on S. and W. Warranty against all men. Witnesses: John Orlyston, John Marchaunt, Thomas Hopedey, John Cook, John Veryar’, Gervase Dudeman, Richard Guodhyewe. Thomas Lewar’, John Bery, Richard Beniamyn and others”

*A parker or park-keeper; a pinder; a foldkeeper. A pinder was an employee of a landowner who would go around and collect the rental dues from the tennants on the land. If the tennants could not pay in money, the pinder would take livestock in lieu of payment and put them in the pinfold until they could pay. Also, the pinder would catch any livestock that had got loose and put them in the pinfold and would charge a price to the animals owner to get it back.
**A small enclosed field or pasture near a house. A small farm, especially a tenant farm.

Throughout the 1440’s there was a protracted and convoluted dispute over townership of Akholte and subsidiary property in Womenswold, Nonington [Cookys or Cooks Hill, which was part of the Manor Fredville], Chillenden (Chillenden Court, part of the Manor of Hame [Hamill]) and Rowling. It was resolved in 1448 when the disputed land and property was divided amongst several claimants.

The Boys family of Fredville owned large areas of land in and around the parish of Nonington from the late fifteenth to late seventeenth centuries, Ackholt was one of these holdings, held from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Manor of Wingham. Ackholt was described in great detail as part of the marriage settlement of John Boys, grandson of Sir Edward Boys the Elder of Fredville in 1626.
Financial difficulties after the English Civil War caused the Boys family to sell various parts of their extensive land holdings.
In 1666 John Boys of Fredville and his eldest son, Nicholas sold:
“Ackholt farm and 200 acres of land; arable and pasture, and Ackholt Wood, 20 acres of coppiced woodland.
Also: 2 messuages or tenements and appurtenances adjoining the farm.
Also:1 tenement/messuage & barne, & orchard & 8 acres of arable land adjoining Ackholt farm.
Also: 1 other tenement & a hemp plot”.

In March of 1753 the hiers of Charles Fielding sold Ackholt to Sir Brook Bridges, Bt., of Goodnestone and it is still owned by Sir Brooke’s descendant, Lord Fitzwalter of Goodnestone Park.
The last item on the 1666 may have been Ackholt Wood House and some three and a half acres of land which was at the southern end of Ackholt Wood and was listed in 1839 as belonging to Sir Brook William Bridges and occupied by William Gilham. It did not appear on the 1859 tithe map (see left), but the other buildings referred to can be seen on the 1859 map.
For more information please go to:Aylesham

The present Keeper’s Cottage was not part of the 1753 purchase and remained separate until the 1830’s. Keeper’s Cottage and the present Ackholt House, built in the late 19th century to replace the 1666 farm house and known locally as Misery Farm, are all that remain of Ackholt hamlet. A row of cottages was built between Keeper’s Cottage and the railway line sometime after 1859, this can be assumed as they are not shown on the 1859 tithe map, but the row was demolished in the 1950’s.

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