In 1540 King Henry VIII surpressed The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), this Catholic military order had been founded in 1113 and was more commonly known as The Knights Hospitaller. Henry VIII seized the Hospitallers extensive English land holdings along with those of religious orders and institutions and had a written record made of these seizures. numerous other
There had been a Knights Hospitaller preceptory, a subordinate house or community, at Swingfield since the early 12th century and the king’s record listed rents payable to the Swingfield preceptory from property at “Holstrete in Nonyngton parish, Wymynges-wold in Kyngeston parish”.
King Henry sold the property seized from the Knights Hospitaller and other religious orders and institutions to raise money and this would appear to be how Thomas Bate of Charlock (Challock) appears to have gained possession of the Priory’s Nonington holdings.
An extract from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map for Nonington showing the Holt Street area. Butter Street Cottage and the adjoining field that made up the Hospitallers property referred to in the 16th century and earlier are in the top right. The “Harelestrete butts” referred to below are the boundaries where the manors of Wingham and Fredville “butted” against each other. These boundaries are marked in blue on the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map. At the time Nonington was surveyed for the 1859 map the blue lines then marked the boundaries between land owned by the Plumptres of Fredville and the Hammonds of St. Alban’s Court.
Thomas Bate held land in both Challock and Nonington and in his will drawn up in the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII he made bequests in both parishes. St. Mary’s Church in Nonington recieved “Landes given by Thomas Bate to thentent that one priest shulde celebrate masse within the said parishe iij (3) tymes yerelie for ever”.
These “landes” became known as “Clerk’s Acre”, although it was actually just over one half acre, and the revenue from it went to pay the salary of the parish clerk. “Clerk’s Acre” adjoined the southern boundary bank of Chapman’s Close, the banked field on the southern side at the top of the Chapman’s Hill. Thomas Bate’s bequests also included “Also: rent or ferme of v rods (5 rods or 1 ¼ acres) of land in the parish of Nonyngton next Harelestrete (Holt Street) butts now or late in the tenure of Richard Mockett there, yerely ijs (2s or 10 p). Rents resolute.
“To the King in right of late Priory of St. John of Jerusalem in England for suit of court issuing from v (five) rods in tenure of Richard Mockett yearly viij d (8d) (extinguished)”.
Rents resolute were Crown rents from lands formerly in possession of dissolved religious bodies. Rents are shown in pre-decimal “old money”; 2.4 old pennies (d) equals 1 new penny. 12d made 1 shilling (s), and 20 shillings made one pound.
Suit of court was the duty of attendance at the lord’s court, in this case the Manor of Wingham’s, at a specified time and place. Here it appears to have been extinguished, most likely in return for a cash payment to the King who had gained possession of the Manor of Wingham in 1538 from Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury, in exchange for other property the King held.
A few years later the Priory’s confiscated property in Nonington and Womenswold appeared in the Exchequer Minister’s accounts of 1547 (38 Henry VIII & 1 Edward VI) as:
“Holstrete (Holt Street) in pochia de Nonyngton ij s. iiij d.(2s 4d,), Wymswold (Womenswold) infra pochiam de Eyngeston (Kingston) xxx s. vj d (30s 6d)”.
The king’s holding at Womenswold was larger and more lucrative than that the Holt Street property and the 1558 Philip and Mary Roll (see below) identified it as being “Deanehill” (Denne Hill), which was recorded as being at Womenswold, but in the parish of Kingston.
On succeeding her staunchly Protestant half-brother Edward to the English throne the devoutly Catholic Queen Mary and her husband, King Phillip II of Spain, decided to re-establish the English Grand Priory of the Knights of St. John and ordered the compilation of what became known as the Philip and Mary Roll. This roll was begun in the fourth year of their reign (1558) and contained provision for the re-establishment of the English Grand Priory and was also a register of all the English Grand Priory’s confiscated pre-Dissolution property and assets that were to be returned to the English priory.
The roll listed the Priory’s lands in Nonington and Womenswold as:
‘One other rent of ours of twenty pence and service due to us yearly, arising from one tenement (dwelling and out-buildings) and lands in Holestrete in the parish of Nunyngton in the said County of Kent, now or lately of Richard Mockett.
“One other rent of ours of eight pence and service due and belonging to us yearly, arising from certain lands in Holestrete aforesaid called the Church Landes [Clerk’s Acre] now or lately of the Wardens Of the Parish Church of Nunyngton aforesaid.
“One other rent of ours of 15/3d. And service due to us yearly ect……certain lands called Deanehill (Denne Hill) in Wymyngeswold in the parish of Kingston held by (blank) Watson.
Also, 15/3d. rent from aforesaid Deanehill held by Thomas Deane and John Nethersole”.
The total Revenue from the above was 30s 6d or £1.521/2 p.
The above is the first mention of a tenement on the land and possibly indicates that the present Butter Street Cottage was built in the early 1550’s. The John Nethersole referred to was a member of a wealthy local land-owning family and a local favourite of Henry VIII.
Mary died in 1558 and was succeeded by her-half sister Elizabeth, a staunch Protestant like her half-brother Edward VI. The newly crowned Elizabeth confiscated the Knights restored properties in 1559, but, despite the seizure of the Order’s recently restored property, there was no suppression of the English Grand Priory. The remaining handful of English knights joined their brethren abroad and later fought with the Order against the Turks during their besieging of the Order’s headquarters on the island of Malta in 1565.
The Boys family acquired the Holt Street Butts tenement and absorbed it into their Holt Street estate during the late 1500’s, and Holt Street was eventually sold around 1684 by Christopher Boys to Fulke Rose, a Jamaica merchant. Holt Street eventually came into the possession of infant Sir Brooke Bridges of Goodnestone in the 1750’s.
In the second decade of the 19th century the majority of the Holt Street estate and Woolege Farm in the neighbouring Womenswold parish was bought back into the Fredville estate by the Plumptre family in whose possession Fredville still remains. However, the Holt Street Butts tenement, which eventually became known as Butter Street Cottage, was one of several small properties excluded from the sale and retained by the Goodnestone estate. These retained properties included the present Farthingales at the bottom of Old Court Hill, the land that Nonington school is built on, and Cookys Farm just above the Holt Street cross-roads.
After World War II Butter Street Cottage became known as “Posty Morgan’s Cottage” after the long serving village postman who lived there for many years and older villagers still use this name when referring to it. “Posty” Morgan lived there until his death the mid-1960’s. After “Posty” died the Goodnestone estate sold the cottage which by then had long since been detached from its “five rods of land”. The cottage was badly damaged by fire and extensively restored in the 1980′s.