Frogham, a small hamlet in the parish of Nonington

Frogham, sometimes Frogenham, is a small hamlet now consisting of of two old farm houses and a few smaller houses and cottages in the south-eastern corner of the old parish of Nonington. Frogham was once a  vill’ in its own right. Most of the houses in Frogham were within the Manor of Fredville, while  the farmland to the south and east of the hamlet beyond the Barfreston to Womenswold road was within the Manor of Soles.

In Anglo-Saxon England the vill had been the smallest territorial and administrative unit, a geographical subdivision of the hundred and county. The vill’  had a policing function through the tithing, which was a notional body of ten men, but was usually larger in number, which collectively maintained public order and was responsible for the conduct of its members, being bound to bring any wrongdoers within the tithing before the hundred court. In early Anglo-Saxon England a hundred had consisted of ten tithings. 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, the Domesday Survey of 1086 often refers to vills, and continued to be so until late into the medieval period. Most vills did not make up a manor, or were even contained within a single manor. The vill’ of Frogham had land mainly in the manors of Fredville and Soles, but also spread into the parish of  Barfestone and onto land within the manor of Wingham with manorial rent payable to the relevant lord of the manor.

Frogham’s name may derive from “frogga hamm”:-the frogs [water] meadow. This has some merit, as adjoining Frogham to the south-west is the ancient manor of Soles, originally Solys, with all that its name implies. Sole derives from the O.E. sol: meaning mud or mire, and which in this case could mean a pond or pool of muddy water or a muddy, boggy area holding water for much of the year which was inhabited by frogs or possibly frequented by 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.

Another possible origin of Frogham, is that it derives from Frogga: or a similar Anglo-Saxon personal name, and ham: meaning a homestead.

The earliest presently known use of the name Frogham was in a legal dispute in 1250 between John, son of William de Frogham, and Richard Prit who were pursuing a financial claim against Roger de Kynardinton’, who then held the manor of Freydevill’ from Hamo Caulkyn, who held the knight’s fee of Essewelle.

Some one hundred and fifty years after the first reference to Frogham, a 1402 conveyance refers to William Mot of Nonynton granting John Derby all the property he held in the vill’ of Frogenham and in the tenure [manor] of Freydevyle. Throughout the 1400’s there was contemporary usage of both Frogenham and Frogham when describing the location of property, and it was not until the early 1500’s that Frogham came to be used exclusively. 

The Mot family had held land in Nonington since at least the 1280’s.  Archbishop Pecham’s survey of the manor of Wingham made between 1283 and 1285 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.

Prior to the 1402 conveyance the Mot family must have held the property at Frogenham for a considerable period of time as it still retained  the family’s name in 1484 when “a windmill called Berston Mylle; lands in the lordship of Freydefeld; and certain landes called Mottes lying in the parisshe of Nonyngtone” were part of the property confiscated from Sir George Browne for his part in the rebellion in Kent against King Richard III. The aforementioned property was then awarded as a “grant in tail male” to William Malyverer for his services against the Kent rebels.  Mottes appears to have been, at least in part, the predecessor of what is now Park Farm in Frogham.

Park Farm House, Frogham, built in 1704. An early 20th century view.

The present Frogham Farm, which appears to be the only other large land holding in and around the vill’ of Frogenham mainly within the tenure [manor] of Freydevyle had been known as Brodsole since at least 1415, and is also referred to as such in a 1485 conveyance of property, which precludes it from being  the “Mottes” referred to in the 1484 award confiscation from Sir George Browne. Land belonging to the occupants of Frogham Farm, and other land-holders, which lay on the southern side of the Barfreston to Womenswold road was within the tenure of the Manor of Soles.
The present Frogham Farm was known as Brodesole Farm during the late 14th century, Brodsole then evolved into Broadsole, the name used for the area in the proximity of what became known in the 16th century as Frogham Farm.

Frogham Farm House-artist and date of painting unknown.

Broadsole was used at the time of the 1841 census to refer to  Frogham Farm, then occupied by John and Eliza Miles, and the adjacent houses. It was not used in subsequent censuses, or on the 1859 Poor Law Rates apportionment map of Nonington where the name Frogham Farm is used. However,  early large scale Ordnance Survey maps published in the 1870’s used the name Broadsole Farm.

A sketch map of Frogham Street copied from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners apportionment map.
A sketch map of Frogham Street copied from the 1859 Poor Law Rates apportionment map of the Parish of Nonington.

By the mid to late-1800’s Broadsole Wood was known as Frogham Wood, but the then cross-roads, now a T-junction, at the end of Frogham Street continued to be known as Broadsole Corner and appears as such on the 1859 Poor Law Rates apportionment map of Nonington.

Frogham Street viewed from near Broadsole Corner looking towards the Fredville Park gate keepers lodge. The view has changed little in a hundred years.

Brodesole appears to derive from a period of ownership by the Brode, or Broad, family in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Stephen Brode, a well to do yeoman, held several pieces of land on the manor of Esole in the 1340’s, and later in the 1370’s John Brode, probably Stephen’s son, held the house and land at Esol previously held by John de Beauchamp and appears to have moved from there to occupy the farm at Frogham which subsequently became known as Brodesole, and later as Broadsole.
There is reference to a Richard Chapman of Brodesole in a 1415 land sale documents and in 1485 William Wikham of Nonington sold “all the tenement with the grange [granary or barn] and all its appurtenances situated at Brode Sole in the parish of Nonyngton” to William Stopyll. The earlier parts of the present Frogham Farm house, which most likely was built on the site of an earlier house, may possibly date from the late 15th or early 16th  century and various additions were obviously made over the succeeding centuries. The tenement referred to is most likely to have been the predecessor of the present farmhouse, and the presence of a grange indicates that it was quite a well to do farmstead which produced a large quantity of grain which needed storing.
In the early to mid-16th century Broadsole Farm came into the possession of the Boys family of Fredville and during their ownership it became known as Frogham Farm. In July of 1673 Major John Boys, the last of his family to own and live at Fredville and by this time heavily in debt, 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 property sold included “the manor of Fredville, Fredville Farm, Frogham Farm and property in Fredville, Frogham, Barfreston, Nonington, Knowlton, Womenswould and Easole”. The Boys family mansion at Fredville appears by this time to have fallen into decline and become a farmhouse for the tenant of farm land presumably later in the main enclosed into Fredville Park, although it would most likely still served as the venue for the Manor of Fredville court leet, which administered the manor and collected manorial dues owed. The above mentioned property was purchased by Margaretta Bridges, the sister of Sir Brooke Bridges of Goodnestone.
In 1742 the spinster Margaretta Bridges leased 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 which was 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 Margaret’s property still remains with the Plumptre family.

Next to Frogham Farm is Frogham Cottage, an ornately decorated thatched cottage with its origins in the 17th century or earlier. The cottage was extended and had some alterations done during the 19th century, most likely by William Spanton who was the occupier at the time of the 1851 census and recorded therein as a master builder employing four men. William was aged 56 at the time of the 1851 census and lived in the house with his wife, two unmarried daughters and a female servant. The employment of a servant would indicate a certain degree of prosperity, unlike Richard Bailey, an agricultural labourer, and his family who were recorded as the occupiers in the previous census of 1841.
William Spanton was still living in the cottage at the time of the 1861 census and was recorded as being a retired master builder, also resident in the house were his wife, two unmarried daughters, and a female servant.

A few yards down the road from Frogham Farm and opposite Frogham Cottage was the Frogham blacksmith’s forge, which occupied the now roughly triangular piece of ground on the west side of the thatched cottage, where the blacksmith lived, at the bottom of the hill up towards Barfrestone.
At the top of the hill is a cross-roads, and the road off to the north forms the parish boundary between Nonington and Barfrestone. A few dozen yards along the road on the west side and just inside the Nonington boundary was the site of the old Barson, or Barfestone, windmills. The old mill buildings have long been replaced by a house which has in it’s garden The Wrong Turn, what is now the parish of Nonington’s only pub.

Frogham once had its own ale-house which began life as The Redd Lyon in 1723, becoming The Phoenix in 1833, and then closing its doors in 1883.

The 1881 census 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 but before the 1891 censuses were taken. The 1881 census records the head of household as Mrs. Mary Taylor, a widow. 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 Margaret Castle, her sister, and Marianne Fuller, a young teacher.

At the Frogham entrance to Fredville Park is a gate lodge built to house a gate keeper,  known as the Upper Lodge, some half a mile or so away on the other side of the park the Holt Street entrance has a similar lodge, known as the Lower Lodge.

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