Froggenham or Frogham, a small hamlet in Nonington

Frogham most likely derives from the Old English: “Frocgena ham: the place of the frogs, meaning the place with a lot of frogs” . from Frocga, frog, and ham, which can mean variously enclosure, homestead, village, manor, estate. Some Medieval documents refer to Frogenham, not greatly different to “Frocgena ham”. Another possibility is that the name derives from “Frogga”, or similar Anglo-Saxon first name, and “ham”.
The place with a lot of frogs has much to recommend it as adjoining Frogham to the south-west is the ancient manor of Soles, originally Solys, which  derives its name from the O.E. sol: meaning mud or mire.  In this case most likely ponds or pools of muddy water or muddy and boggy areas holding water for much of the year which were a year round home to a population of frogs and attracted them in considerable numbers during the spring spawning season.
There are the remains of ponds in the valley bottom heading from Frogham down towards Easole, which does not derive its name from sol, although old Esole, also Esol and Easole,  manorial records from 1349 mention  “Battesole”, possible referring to a piece of land with a pond, of which there were once several, in the present Easole Street area.

Frogham is a small hamlet in the south-eastern corner of the old parish of Nonington. Until the early part of the 20th century the majority of its inhabitants were employed on local farms or on the Fredville estate. In earlier  times it was referred to as both Frogham and  Frogenham and was a vill’ in its own right. In Anglo-Saxon England the vill had been the smallest territorial and administrative unit, a geographical subdivision of the hundred and county with a hundred made up of ten tithings. The vill’  had a policing function through the tithing, a notional body of ten men but usually larger in number, which collectively maintained public order and was responsible for the conduct of its members and was bound to bring any wrongdoers within the tithing before the hundred court. Through the vill’ moot, or assembly, the tithing also organized common projects such as communal pastures.

After the Norman Conquest the vill’ continued as the basic administrative unit and the Domesday Survey of 1086 often refers to vills, which continued as the basic administrative until late into the Medieval period . Most vills did not make up a manor, or were even contained within a single manor and the vill’ of Frogham appears to have encompassed land in the manors of Fredville and Soles.
The majority of the houses in present day Frogham are within the bounds of the Manor of Fredville, with the Barfreston to Woolege Village road forming the dividing line between Fredville manorial land and that of the Manor of Soles as far as the bottom of Barfrestone Hill where the road divides. On part carries on up the hill to Barfreston, whilst the other turns north-east to form the eastern boundary of the present Fredville Park.  The old forge site  and adjacent cottage on the south side of the road at the foot of  the Barfreston Hill lays within Soles manor as does the old  brick built house, now two cottages, at the junction of the Woolege Road and Frogham Street.

At present the earliest known written use of Frogham was in a legal dispute of 1250 in which John, son of William de Frogham, and Richard Prit  pursued a financial  claim against Roger de Kynardinton’, who then held the manor of Freydevill’ from Hamo Colkyn. The  document was originally written in Latin recording proceedings which would have been in Norman-French, and this may be why Frogham was used instead of Frogenham.
Some one hundred and fifty years later what appears to be the older form of the name Frogham was used in a sale document in English dated 1402 in which William Mot of Nonynton sold all the property he held in the vill’ of Frogenham and in the tenure [manor] of Freydevyle to John Derby. Throughout the 1400’s contemporary used both Frogenham and Frogham when describing the location of property, it was not until the early 1500’s that Frogham became the common spelling.

The Mot family had held land in Nonington since at least the time of Archbishop Pecham’s survey of the manor of Wingham made between 1283 and 1285 where it’s  recorded that an earlier William Le Mot, or Mot, held 25 acres for which he provided the Archbishop two boon-workers and three harrowers and undertook one averagium and also made payment of one hen to the Archbishop for an enclosure.

 The Mot family must have held property at Frogenham for a long time and been prominent enough to have been remembered locally because it appears in a 1484 award by King Richard III to William Malyverer for his services against the Kent rebels. The award in “grant in tail male” was of property confiscated from Sir George Browne for his part in the Kent rebellion and included  “a windmill called Berston Mylle; lands in the lordship of Freydefeld; and certain landes called Mottes lying in the parisshe of Nonyngtone”. “Berston Mylle” was within Soles manor, whereas “certain lands called Mottes” was under Fredville’s jurisdiction.  

Stephen Brode was a well to do yeoman who owned several pieces of land on the manor of Esole in the 1340’s and by the 1370’s John Brode, probably Stephen’s son, occupied the house and land at Esol previously held by John de Beauchamp and appears to have moved from there to the present Frogham Farm  at Frogham.  After John Brode moved to Frogham  in the late 14th century the farm became known as Brode Sole, Brodesole, or Bradesole which later evolved into Broadsole and the present day Frogham Wood was known as Broadsole Wood. These nomenclatures continued to be used on estate and other maps well into the 19th century. The use of sole as part of the farm’s name appears to indicate that the area was then still very badly drained and probably only suitable for grazing and producing hay.

The present Frogham Farm house has its origins in the 15th century with additions and “modernizations” over the following centuries, and the earliest reference to this house appears to be  in a sale document of 1485 when William Wickham of the parish of Nonyngton sold William Stopyll of the same parish the house with the grange [granary or barn] and all its appurtenances and attached land situated at Brode Sole in the parish of Nonyngton.  It’s almost certain that the house referred to in the sale document is the building, then probably only a few years old,  which evolved into the present Frogham Farm house.

The Boys family of Fredville acquired Broadsole Farm in the early to mid-16th century arm and it continued to be part of their extensive holdings in and around Nonington until the overwhelming debts accumulated by Sir Edward Boys and Major John Boys necessitated the selling of what remained of the once extensive Fredville estate. In July of 1673 Major John Boys, Sir Edward’s heir and the last of his family to own and live at Fredville conveyed to Denzil, Lord Holles ‘the mansion house called Fredville, wherein the said John Boys then lived and lands ect. unto the said manor belonging and situated in the several parishes of Nonington, Barfrestone and Knowlton together with a farmhouse called Frogham farm and several closes thereunto belonging containing two hundred acres, which farm was already mortgaged to one William Gilbourne”.

The Holles of Ifield peerage became extinct on the death of Denzil’s grandson, Denzil Holles, 3rd Baron Holles, in the early 1690’s and Fredville was one of the estates which passed by inheritance through John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare and Duke of Newcastle to his nephew, Thomas Pelham Holles, Earl of Clare and Duke of Newcastle. During a long political career which included serving as prime-minister, Thomas Holles ran up large debts which resulted in his having to sell off large amounts of property in 1741.
In November of that year the Duke sold “the manor of Fredville, Fredville Farm, Frogham Farm and property in Fredville, Frogham, Barfreston, Nonington, Knowlton, Womenswould and Easole” to Margaretta, sometimes Margaret,  Bridges, the unmarried sister of Sir Brooke Bridges of Goodnestone. Sir Brooke was at that time a minor and Margaretta was one of his trustees. In the 1750’s several purchases of property and land in and around Nonington were made by trustees on behalf of the under-age baronet, these included the Holt Street and Acol, or Ackholt,  estates in Nonington and Woolege Farm in adjoining Womenswold parish.

The old Boys family mansion at Fredville appears by this time to have fallen into decline and become a farmhouse, almost certainly for the Fredville Farm referred to above, but would most likely have continued to serve as the venue for the Manor of Fredville court leet, which administered the manor and collected manorial dues owed. The Fredville Farm’s land was presumably later enclosed into Fredville Park after the building of a new mansion there in the early 1740’s.  

In 1741 Margaretta Bridges leased the nearby St. Alban’s Court House from William Hammond for three years or more, most likely as a suitable residence whilst the old Fredville mansion was re-built as a two storey Adam’s style house, completed around 1745 or 1746. This was some years before her marriage in 1750 to John Plumptre, esquire, of Nottingham, who is often credited with the rebuilding of the house. There were no children from the marriage and on Margaret’s death in January of 1756 Fredville passed to her husband, who subsequently remarried and had a son, also called John, with his second wife.  and Margaretta’s property still remains with the Plumptre family. There were two coach roads built to allow access onto the roads from the the new mansion. One led down to Holt Street to get onto the road to Sandwich, and one led to the top end of Frogham Street to allow carriages to go left or right at the southern end of Frogham Street to Dover and Canterbury respectively. The entrance to each coach road was guarded by a gate-keepers lodge, both of which are still lived in but have not been used as such for over a century.

In Frogham Street the Allen sisters ran a grocers shop  which was recorded in the census returns from 1841 or earlier until at least 1881 in premises situated next door to Park Farm. The 1881 census record Edward Allen, a 65 years old widower and carpenter as head of the house-hold, and Charlotte and Mary Ann, his unmarried sisters aged 71 and 62 respectively, are listed as grocers. The business would have been run from the house or an outbuilding, probably with a small stock of everyday necessities and then taking orders from local people for special item which would then be bought in by local carrier from Canterbury or Dover. Items were almost certainly supplied “on tick” to the majority of their customers.

The 1881 census also records that Vine Cottage in Frogham housed a private girls school. There is very little information available on the school other than what can be gleaned from the censuses. It is not recorded in the 1871 or the 1891 censuses, and so the school must according have opened after the 1871 and closed before the 1891 censuses were taken. The 1881 census records the head of household as Mrs. Mary Taylor, a widow born in Nonington. Mrs. Taylor appears to have run the school, which had a total of thirteen male and female pupils aged between three and twelve, with the help of her Nonington born unmarried sister Margaret Castle, who is recorded as “Governess” and Marianne Fuller, a young assistant teacher. The children all from Kent and from as far afield as Folkestone, Aldington, and Sittingbourne.

Frogham Street only had a dozen or so dwellings in the 18th and 19th centuries along with an alehouse, a blacksmith’s forge, a shop, and for a short time, a girls school.

The Redd Lyon, later The Phoenix, and the Frogham blacksmith’s forge have been covered in detail in previous articles on this website.

During the 19th century the small property owners and small holders in and around Frogham sold up to the Fredville estate, especially during the extended agricultural depression of the mid and late 19th century.

Frogham Cottage may have been a yeoman’s farmhouse at one time, it is certainly old enough as the building has its origins in the 1600’s and was probably built to replace an earlier house. Possibly it was originally connected with the “ certain landes called Mottes lying in the parisshe of Nonyngtone” referred to in 1484. There are various 16th and 17th century sale documents which refer to as yet unidentified houses and land, one or more of these could refer to the present Frogham Cottage.

The 1851 census records William Spanton, a Canterbury born builder employing four men as living there with his wife, two unmarried daughters, and a live in servant. William appears to have been the owner of the house, and the person who undertook the early 19th century extensions and alterations to the building referred to in the current listed building information. By the time of the next census in 1861 William, then aged 66, had retired but the household numbered the same as in 1851. The household numbered only two in 1881, Eliza Spanton, one of the unmarried daughters of William listed as living off of investments, and a live in servant, and the 1891 census recorded the same. Elia must either have died or moved, most likely the first, as in 1901 another William Spanton was living their with his wife and a young son and daughter and a live in servant, but this William is described as a corn-factor and farmer. This William must have been either a grandson or great-nephew of the previous William, most likely the second as if the first William had had a son he would have surely passed to his son and not his two unmarried daughters.

Park Farm House stands opposite the Frogham entrance to Fredville Park and was built around 1709, there is a stone over the door with this date and the initials TWA cut into it. It’s a substantial brick building of some status and must have been built by a well to do yeoman farmer. At present little is known of its history and origin. The farmhouse was built after the Boys family of Fredville sold the estate to Holles family, later Dukes of Newcastle, and is contemporary to their ownership of “the manor of Fredville, Fredville Farm, Frogham Farm and property in Fredville, Frogham, Barfreston, Nonington, Knowlton, Womenswould and Easole” but does not seem to have been a part of the Holles holdings. The bulk of the Park Farm land appears to have been made up of several parcels between Frogham Street and Ruberries Wood. By the 1840’s Park Farm had been acquired by the Fredville estate and the agricultural land assimilated into neighbouring farms. For the next century of so the farmhouse was occupied by a succession of estate workers and their families. Park Farm house and land is still a part of the Fredville estate.