Kittington or Kettington manor and farm in Nonington revised 28.11.19

Kittington, 1870's. The Easole Mills are just off to the left.
Kettington, 1877 OS map

Kittington is on the east boundary of the old parish of Nonington between Easole and Elvington. It was for centuries a part of the Manor of  Wingham held by the Archbishops of Canterbury until Henry VIII’s reign when it was ceded to the Crown.
The name Kittington is said to have evolved from the Old English ‘cyte hamtun’ meaning ‘home farm where there are cottages’  via: Kethampton, 1226; Kethamtone; 1304, Ketyntone, 1330; Ketehampton alias Ketynton, 1537; and then Kettingden into Kettington. It is now recorded on maps as Kittington, but pronounced by many  older local born people as  Kittenden. This is because of the old East Kent dialect pronunciation of a letter e as an i, making a kettle into a kittle and missing out the g in the old Kettingden spelling.

Kittington was a detatched part of the Hundred of Wingham, the manors of Essewelle and Eswalt, which were both in the Hundred of Eastry, separated Kittington from the rest of Wingham Hundred. This is due to its being a part of Wingham manor, which in effect made up the ancient hundred of Wingham.
Archbishop Pecham’s  survey of Wingham manor in 1284 records Kittington as being the largest manor and vill’ in Nonington, covering  nearly 800 acres. Several people were recorded as having what were then considered to be quite sizeable holdings. However, the survey appears to show that the hamlet appears to have been more sparsely populated than other manors in Nonington.

The Nonington Church visitation of 1294 records that “the nuns of St. Sepulchre, Canterbury, take tithes in the parish, by what right is unknown”, these tithes were for land at Kittington. The convent held these tithes until its dissolution by Henry VIII in the 1530’s, and the King subsequently gave much of the convent’s property, including the Kettington tithes, to Sir James Hales. In 1539 the Abbot of St. Alban’s sold “Seynte Albons Courte” , now St. Alban’s Court , to Sir Christopher Hales, the King’s Master of the Rolls.
The 1294 visitation also records that “ the abott and convent of St Alban’s take certain tythes, by what right is unknown, and they sold the same that year at one time and in gross (simul et in summa)”. These tithes were also for land at Kittington, part of  Archbishop of Canterbury’s Manor of Wingham and by 1449 these tithes appear to have given rise to a dispute between the Abbot of St. Alban’s and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The matter went to arbitration by senior churchmen who appear to have ruled in favour of St. Alban’s as the tithes still belonged to “Seynte Albons Courte”, when it was acquired by Sir Christopher Hales.

A 1469 survey of the Wingham holdings recorded Kethampton (Kittington) as being a part of the manor of Ratling and only having 237 acres of land. This appears to be because the manor had been subdivided amongst various tenants.
One of the tenants took their family name from the manor, the de Kittington (also various other spellings) family had held the manor for many years but around 1478, Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1454—1486, terminated a 99 year lease on 174 acres held by  John de Kettington senior, John de Kettington junior, and William Derby two years early due to non-payment of money owed. A new lease for one messuage or croft of 13 acres and 161 acres of land was given to Thomas Aldweyn (or Alwyn) at a rent of rent of “30s 7d (£1.53p) at Easter and Michaelmas by even portions to be paid and to doe suit from 3 weeks to 3 weeks to the said Archbishop’s court of Wingham”.

From the late fifteenth to late seventeenth centuries the Boys family of Fredville owned very large areas of land in and around the parish of Nonington.
On 6th December, 1537. Archbishop Thomas [Cranmer] granted “to ferme to William Boys of Nonyngton, gent.-one toft with 161 acres, 1 rod, 2 perches in Nonyngton in villata of Ketehampton alias Ketynton which among others Thomas [Bourchier] formerly Archbishop our predecessor lately recovered to the use of the Church of Canterbury  against John Ketinton, Joan Ketinton and William Derby by [breve de cesraut ?]
From next Feast of St. Michael (29th Sept) for 24 and 19 years {sic} paying yearly to the Arch. And his successors 30s 7d, at Easter and St. Michael by equal portions”.
The acreage and annual sum were the same as in 1478.

Richard Mokett was a prosperous yeoman  who held Cookys and other land in Nonington, and property and land several other parishes. In 1548 he added to his holdings in Nonington by acquiring a  moiety [half part] of “Manor of Ketehampton alias Ketynton”  along with one messuage, 360 acres of arable land, 20 acres of pasture land and 10 acres of woodland, presumably part of Tye Wood, from Nicholas and Anne Bremer of Canterbury. The moiety of the manor would have been a half part of the manorial rights and rents of the manor.
Unfortunately nothing is known of how the Bremers came into possession of the moiety of the manor and accompanying house and land. In his 1564 will Richard Mockett left, “To his sonne Christopher, all his estates, in the parishe of Nonington, Goodnestone, Woodnesborough and Barfrestone”. In his will Richard the elder also stated  his wish to be buried in Nonington Church  alongside other members of his family.
Christopher Mockett or  his heirs must have sold the moiety of the ” Manor of Ketehampton alias Ketynton” and the messuage and land to one of the successive Edward Boys’ of nearby Fredville as  in the 1626 marriage settlement of John Boys, 
the grandson of Sir Edward Boys the Elder of Fredville refers to “All that farm or messuage called Kettington, also Kethampton” and some 360 acres or so of land. At the time of the settlement the Boys’ of Fredville held in excess of 450 acres of land in Kittington. After  the 1537 purchase the Boys’ of Fredville had sold  parcels of land in Kittington to various buyers, especially the Kreke, also Kreake, Creke and Creake, family.  The Creakes were comparatively wealthy yeoman  with their main residence in nearby Easole. The family owned and rented land at Kittington and other parts of Nonington for over two hundred years. On the 1859 Nonington parish tithe map there are two Creek’s Closes commemorating their occupancy.

Kittington Farm, the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map.
Kittington Farm, the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map.
1859 tythe Kittington area
Kittington Farm, sketch map with field names included of the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map.

After the Boys family sold off their Fredville estate in the 1670′s the greater part of Kittington became into the possession of the Peyton family of nearby Knowlton Court  and Kittington is still a part of the Knowlton estates. However, Tye Wood and some adjacent land remained with the rump of the Fredville estate which eventually passed into the possession of Denzil Holles, 1st Baron Holles of Ifield to settle a debt of £3,000 owed to him by Major John Boys of Fredville. The land which was once covered by Tye Wood is still part of the Fredville estate, the wood having been finally cleared in the early 1960’s.
Tygh, Tigh, Tye: wood, hedge, bottom & close, from the .O.E. ‘tye’, meaning common pasture, ie. held in common for communal use.

Kittington & Tye Wood 1859.
Kettington Farm with Tye Wood forming part of Nonington’s southern boundary with Barfreston to the left. From the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map of Nonington.

The large Georgian farmhouse was badly damaged during its occupation by the Army during the Second World War and subsequently demolished, The present settlement of Kittington now only consists of some farm buildings and a nearby row of old farm-workers cottages which are now privately owned.


  • Hugh Craddock

    Thanks Clive — as you say, it’s not straightforward! I’ll look at the 2000 paper.

  • admin

    I’m recording information as I find it from various sources. The records are very confused. Within Wingham were some lands which were held as part of a knight’s fee, such as at Ratling and Ackholt. Possibly some land at Kettington was a detached part of the manor of Ratling. This was the situation at Mounton, the present Gooseberry Hall Farm. It was a detached part of the Christ Church of Canterbury manor of Adisham and the owners of the land owed service to Adisham. Other land held in gavelkind not part of a knight’s fee owed various service directly to Wingham. There was also another type of free hold land held by shiremen. The best thing is to read the book of the survey published by the KAS in 2000. The Survey of Arch. Pecham’s Kentish Manors 1283-85. Quia Emptores was to stop the subinfeudation of knight’s fees and manors held directly from an over-lord to the detriment of the over-lord. I believe new knight’s fees and manors could be created by the over-lord, but not by holders of existing knight’s fees and manors.

  • Hugh Craddock

    Hi Clive. Bit confused about these manors. Kittington was part of the great Wingham manor. But then that ‘Archbishop Pecham’s survey of Wingham manor in 1284 records Kittington as being the largest manor and vill in Nonington’. And that ‘the hamlet appears to have been more sparsely populated than other manors in Nonington.’ Later that ‘Kethampton (Kittington) [was recordd] as being a part of the manor of Ratling’. And there are various other references to the manor of (what is now known as) Kittington.

    How can Kittington be part of Wingham manor, yet also part of other manors (which are themselves within the manor of Wingham), and even a manor itself? If new manors could not be created after 1290 (the statute of Quia Emptores)?

    Genuinely puzzled. Hugh

  • admin

    Paul, that should have read less populated. Due to its size a lot of people had larger than average holdings there, but there are only three or four dwellings by the look of it. Thanks for reminding me that Fredville retained some of Kittington. I’ve revised the post accordingly. According to Google Earth image of 12/1960 [from aeriel photos] there was a small remnant of woodland and some scrubland remaining of Tye Wood just below the present fence. It also shows the small rectangle of land which I think belonged to, or was certainly used by, gypsies. Therefore the wood must have been finally cleared between 1960 & 65. I can just remember seeing it when going on the bus to Dover, but it had gone when I started beating in 1966.

  • Paul Plumptre

    You say ‘Kittington was a relatively populous part of Nonington, as of 1284’. It is notable now, for being the least populous, one farmhouse ad only a few farm cottages.

    Kittington was my first realisation how much the landscape can change. As of c.1965, I noticed that our Ordnance Survey map (dated 1961) showed a significant wood (Tye’s Wood ?) at the bottom of the valley, ½ mile East of Barfrestone, in the Plumptre part of the Kittington lands (yes, the main part is in the Knowlton estate). But I had walked that area that year, and there was no wood at all. My father said that wood had been cleared in the early 1950s – presumably to convert to arable land. Without satellite images, the Ordnance Survey then struggled to keep even 10 years within-date on changes in land usage.

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