• 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.

  • Curlswood Park, Nonington. Further revised plus new maps & illustrations 26.11.19

    The name Curlswood, or Curleswood, evolved over the centuries from its  Old English name: ‘Crudes wudu’, meaning Cruds Wood. Crud was the surname of a tenant family who lived there at the time of Archbishop Pecham’s survey in the 1280’s.

    Over the centuries several variations of the original name were used in documents and on maps with Crudeswod; Curlswood; Curleswood Park: Turleswood Park: Crowds Wood Park, Charles Wood Park and Curleswood Park  being  but a few.  On some maps dating from the early 19th century it is referred to as Nonington Park, but  later in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was generally referred to as Park Farm with the Park suffix as a reminder of its use as a deer, or hunting, park by late medieval Archbishops of Canterbury.
    The village of Aylesham now covers most of the old deer park, which was part of the six hundred acres of farmland acquired in 1924  from Henry FitzWalter Plumptre of Goodnestone by Pearson & Dorman Long for the building of houses for miners at nearby working Snowdown Colliery and a proposed new mine at Adisham which was never developed.

    Old Park Farm 1877 OS map.
    Curlswood Park, later Old Park Farm: from the 1877 OS map.

    Curlswood Park had a boundary with the hamlet or vill’ of Ratling and may have been included in the vill’ in pre-Norman times. Ratling is said to derive its name from the Old English (O.E.). ryt hlinc; literally a rubbish slope, an area of little use for agriculture. Further evidence of the poor nature of the land within the park can be found on an 1807 map made by Thomas Pettman  for the Charles Manners-Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury., see below, which records the field enclosure names at the southern end of the park as “Small Profit” and “Little Gains”. These same names are recorded on the 1839 Nonington tithe and the 1859 Nonington Poor Law Commissioners maps.  “Small Profit” and “Little Gains” are now covered for the large part by the Aylesham industrial estate between Spinney Lane and the B2046 Wingham Road.

    The Kilwardby Survey of 1273-74 contains the manorial accounts for most of the Archbishop Kilwardby of Canterbury’s demesne manors in South-East England;  a demesne was a holding directly under the control of the lord of the manor providing him with both food and income.  The following extracts refer in part to Crudeswood (Curlswood) as a demesne of the Manor of Wingham.
    Amercements, farms, and pannage*:-
    “And of 25s from John Dene, the reeve, for a false presentment upon the account and of 12s for the farm of a curtilage and of 9s for the farm of the same in the previous year and of 18s for pannage in the Weald, the tithe having been deducted and of 24s for pannage in Crudswood, the tithe having been deducted and of 18s for the pannage of Wlveche, the tithe having been deducted and of £11 13s 4d from wood at Sandhurst sold.
    Wood, item underwood sold.
    And of 59s 6d for 18 [acres -omitted] of underwood in Wlveche sold and of 10s for 3 acres of underwood at Crudswood and of 34s for 8 acres, half a perch of underwood sold there
    “.

    *Ammercement was a money fine levied in the manor or hundred court for a misdemeanour and  Pannage was a tax paid for the right to graze pigs in woodland.

    Swineherds beating down acorns for their pigs-Queen Mary Psalter, 1310-1320.
    Swineherds beating down acorns for their pigs:from the Queen Mary Psalter, written between 1310 and 1320.

    The cutting and sale of the underwood, such as hazel and ash, appears to have been quite lucrative. The woodland would have been harvested [coppiced] on a regular rotational basis and sold for use in fencing, wattling for building, and for fuel. Pigs would have been grazed in the woodland during the autumn when they would have fed on acorns and other autumnal fruits and fungae.

    medieval coppicing
    Medieval coppicing

    Oak trees would have been allowed to grow to maturity for use in the building of houses and possibly ships, and as they grew to maturity the oak trees would have had their larger lower branches harvested for use when smaller pieces of oak were needed. Elm and lime were other important species of trees with a variety of domestic and other uses that would have been allowed to grow to maturity. 

    In 1282 Nonington became one of the four separate parishes making up the College of Wingham. Shortly after this  Archbishop Pecham commissioned a survey of his possessions. Crudes Wood, as Curlswood Park was then known, was part of the Cotland of the College. Cotland was an inferior type of land tenure, usually in woodland, with some rights such as grazing attached. There appear to have been two large local woodland areas of the manor of Wingham, one of some 244 acres at Crudes, and another at Wolnuth (Woolege Woods near Woolege Green) extending to 296 ½ acres.
    Curlswood was bordered to the east by the Wingham manor’s North Nonington holdings and by its holdings at Ackholt to the south-east.

    A transfer of land in 1425 records:“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 tenants 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 croft:- a small enclosed field or pasture near a house.  A small farm, especially a tenant farm.

    Thomas Hunte’s profession of “parcarius”  indicates that Curleswood had become a  park for hunting deer at some time prior to 1425.
    To establish a deer park a Royal licence was required, known as a “licence to empark”. The purpose of a deer park was to keep deer, usually Fallow or Red deer, for the land-owner, usually the lord of the manor, to hunt for sport and to use as a source of fresh meat during the winter. The deer park was generally an area of mainly woodland that was usually totally enclosed by  banks with an inner ditch and with the bank having either a pale or thorn hedge, or sometimes sections of each, on top of it. The pale or hedge were to stop deer from escaping from the enclosed deer park or prevent two and four legged predators and foraging livestock from entering. A pale was a fence made by driving stakes close together into the ground to form a barrier.
    These banks were known as deer leaps and substantial lengths of the deer leap bank enclosing Curlswood survive and are, at least at present, still clearly visible along the old estate’s north-eastern boundary with Ratling Court’s land and along its boundary with the B2046 Wingham road.

    Curlswood or Old Park Farm, from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map of Nonington. Just to the north-west of the farm buildings is the remains of the deer leap which formed the boundary there with the land attached to the Canonry of Wingham, part of the College of Wingham founded  by Archbishop Pecham in 1287.
    Curlswood or Old Park Farm, from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map of Nonington. Just to the north-west of the farm buildings is the remains of the deer leap which formed the boundary there with the land attached to the Canonry of Wingham, part of the College of Wingham founded  by Archbishop Pecham in 1287.

    Edward Oxenden de Dene, the eldest son of Thomas Oxenden de Dene, of Dene near Wingham, was appointed Warden of Cruddeswood [Curlswood] in 1501. A warden was usually a favoured appointee chosen by the park’s owner from a local land-owning family to be  in overall charge of a deer park and to be in charge of the arrangements for deer hunts. Wardens usually had a deputy whom they paid to deal with the day to day administration and security of the park.  The Oxenden family originated from Oxenden, or Oxney, another of the vills on the Archbishop’s manor of Wingham about a mile and a half to the south-east of Cruddeswood.

    Pursing a stag on horseback with hounds. Fallow and red deer were the usual quarry, and hunting them was exclusively the preserve of  royalty and the rich and powerful aristocracy. Strict laws governed who was allowed to hunt. When the quarry was brought to bay the chosen hunter would despatch it with a hunting spear or  hunting sword.

    The College of Wingham was broken up during the reign of Henry VIII but the Curlswood deer park was retained by subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury and the land was leased out to a succession of lessees over the following centuries. The granting or leasing of land and property at favourable rates was frequently used by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a form of patronage. This appears to have happened with regard to Curlswood, which appears to have ceased to be a deer park in, or slightly before, 1586.

    In 1586 Archbishop John Whitgift granted what appears to be the first lease for Curlswood Park, which then comprised of 180 acres of woodland and 60 acres of arable land, at a nominal rent of 20 shillings a year for twenty-one years to Miles Sandes, possibly a member of the Archbishop’s retinue who was the Member of Parliament for Queensborough on the Isle of Sheppey in that year.

    Another recipient of this beneficial lease was Richard Massinger, who became lessee of Curleswood in 1595. He was a member of the Archbishop’s household and was elected Member of Parliament for Penryn in 1601. In 1604 “Charles Wood Parke House” was occupied by John Cox, presumably as  sub-tenant.

    A survey of the Archbishopric of Canterbury’s lands in 1617/18 recorded Curlswood as consisting of 60 acres of arable land and 180 acres of woodland with 1 acre of woodland grubbed up. Curlswood was noted to not be part of any manor and leased from Archbishop George Abbot by William Selby, with Pownall as under farmer or sub-tenant. The lessee was probably Sir William Selby, who had inherited Igtham Moat in 1611. The lease was on the same beneficial terms as contained in the previous two leases.

    However, it appears that Archbishop and his tenant fell out because there is a record for 1617 in the Exchequer Bill Book registering a legal dispute between the Archbishop and William Selby regarding Curlswood. The nature of the dispute is at present unknown, but the outcome seems to have been that William Selby lost his lease as another lessee is recorded in that same year.

    The second lessee during 1617 was Sir Robert Hatton, another member of the Archbishop Abbot’s entourage who was knighted in 1617. Possibly the lease was taken in connection with his newly acquired status. Sir Robert served as Member of Parliament for Sandwich in the early 1620’s.

    Subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury continued to lease out Curlswood, but at present there is a long interval of almost a century and a half during which time to whom and on what terms is was leased out is unknown.

    From around 1758 Edward ffinch, a trustee of the estate of a Mr.  C. Fielding, took the land on a twenty- one year lease at a rent of £ 954. 8/-. However, after only five years or so the lease was surrendered and re-assigned in a document dated March 15th, 1763 for the same rent to Sir Brooke Bridges, bart., of Goodnestone.

    The lease was for: “all that messuage or tenement called the lodge. And all that land and pasture enclosed by pale and hedge and sometimes therein is mentioned used as a park for deer commonly called Turlswood Park or otherwise Crowds Wood Park situated lying and being in the parish of Nunnington aforesaid in the county of Kent. Containing by estimation two hundred and eighty acres of arable and pastureland”.

    It’s interesting to note that some two centuries after it had been “deparked” that reference is still made in the lease to “the lodge”, presumably used as the farmhouse, and also to the pale, or fence, and hedges enclosing the old deer park. This reference to both pale and hedge indicates that both types of barrier were used to enclose Curlswood.
    To function as a deer park it would have been open woodland, to allow for the pursuit of the quarry  on horseback, with large trees grown for use in building [oak?] and under-wood [hazel, ash, and other useful species] for other purposes, such as fencing, wattle and daubing, or fuel for the Archbishop.In 1617 a survey recorded 60 acres of arable land and 180 acres of woodland, while this lease states that the estate contains “by estimation two hundred and eighty acres of arable and pastureland”. It is therefore apparent that the park was predominantly woodland well into the 17th century, if not later.

    The 1758 lease refers to it as arable and pasture. Pasture would be the first use after the woodland was cleared. A possible reason for clearance could have been the sale of timber to the navy followed by use as grazing land and then arable as agricultural practices became more advanced and agriculture more profitable. The difference in acreage from the 240 acres at the time of the 1280’s survey to 280 acres in 1763 would be accounted for in the variations in the size of an acre over the centuries until measurements were standardised in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. The actual total of acreage recorded on the 1807 map adds up to a fraction of an acre over 284 acres in total, including the house and gardens.

    The Bridges’ continued to lease Curlswood from the Archbishop until the later part of the nineteenth century when they purchased it outright. In later years Curlswood was known as Old Park Farm. Various members of the Pepper family, later tenants of the farm in the 19th century, are buried near the rear gate of Nonington church yard and have Park Farm on their headstones.

    The village of Aylesham now covers most of the old deer park, which was part of the six hundred acres of farmland acquired in 1924  from Henry FitzWalter Plumptre of Goodnestone by Pearson & Dorman Long for the building of houses for miners at nearby working Snowdown Colliery and a proposed new mine at Adisham which was never developed.
    Sir Patrick Abercrombie, the renowned architect and town planner, was commissioned in the 1920’s  to design the new mining village of Aylesham, and he derived inspiration from new towns such as Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. The building of houses to accommodate the expanding labour force at Snowdown Colliery began in 1926.

    Henry Fitzwalter Plumptre had inherited the Goodnestone estate in 1899 as heir to Sir George Talbot Bridges, the eighth and last Baronet. He was the grand-son of Henry Western Plumptre, a younger brother of John Pembleton Plumptre of Fredville, who had married Eleanor Bridges, the only daughter of Sir Brook William Bridges, fourth baronet, in 1828.

    Old Park 1920's
    Old Park Farm  after the the building of Aylesham had begun. Aylesham Holt railway station, just below Curlswood Park Farm, opened in 1928.

    The last occupants of the Old Park Farm house and remaining buildings were the Hillier family who ran a fruit and vegetable business from there until after the Second World War.  The house and farm buildings were eventually demolished in early 1950’s.

  • Curlswood or Curleswood Park: also Cruds Wood, Crudeswood, later Old Park Farm in Nonington-revised 24.11.19

    The name Curlswood, or Curleswood, evolved over the centuries from its  Old English name: ‘Crudes wudu’, meaning Cruds Wood. Crud was the surname of a tenant family who lived there at the time of Archbishop Pecham’s survey in the 1280’s.

    Over the centuries several variations of the original name were used in documents and on maps with Crudeswod; Curlswood; Curleswood Park: Turleswood Park: Crowds Wood Park, Charles Wood Park and Curleswood Park  being  but a few.  On some maps dating from the early 19th century it is referred to as Nonington Park, but  later in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was generally referred to as Park Farm with the Park suffix as a reminder of its use as a deer, or hunting, park by late medieval Archbishops of Canterbury.
    The village of Aylesham now covers most of the old deer park, which was part of the six hundred acres of farmland acquired in 1924  from Henry FitzWalter Plumptre of Goodnestone by Pearson & Dorman Long for the building of houses for miners at nearby working Snowdown Colliery and a proposed new mine at Adisham which was never developed.

    Old Park Farm 1877 OS map.
    Old Park Farm: from the 1877 OS map.

    The Kilwardby Survey of 1273-74 contains the manorial accounts for most of the Archbishop Kilwardby of Canterbury’s demesne manors in South-East England;  a demesne was a holding directly under the control of the lord of the manor providing him with both food and income.  The following extracts refer in part to Crudeswood (Curlswood) as a demesne of the Manor of Wingham.
    Amercements, farms, and pannage*:-
    “And of 25s from John Dene, the reeve, for a false presentment upon the account and of 12s for the farm of a curtilage and of 9s for the farm of the same in the previous year and of 18s for pannage in the Weald, the tithe having been deducted and of 24s for pannage in Crudswood, the tithe having been deducted and of 18s for the pannage of Wlveche, the tithe having been deducted and of £11 13s 4d from wood at Sandhurst sold.
    Wood, item underwood sold.
    And of 59s 6d for 18 [acres -omitted] of underwood in Wlveche sold and of 10s for 3 acres of underwood at Crudswood and of 34s for 8 acres, half a perch of underwood sold there
    “.
    *Ammercement was a money fine levied in the manor or hundred court for a misdemeanour and  Pannage was a tax paid for the right to graze pigs in woodland.

    In 1282 Nonington became one of the four separate parishes making up the College of Wingham. Shortly after this  Archbishop Pecham commissioned a survey of his possessions. Crudes Wood, as Curlswood Park was then known, was part of the Cotland of the College, cotland being an inferior type of land tenure, usually in wood land, and with some rights such as grazing attached. There appear to be two local woodland areas of the manor of Wingham, one was at Crudes, consisting of some  244 acres, and another at Wolnuth (Woolege Woods near Woolege Green) extending to 296 ½ acres.
    Curlswood was bordered to the east by the Wingham manor’s North Nonington holdings and by its holdings at Ackholt to the south-east.

    A transfer of land in 1425 records:“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 tenants 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 croft:- a small enclosed field or pasture near a house.  A small farm, especially a tenant farm.
    Thomas Hunte’s profession of “parcarius”  indicates that Curleswood had become a  park for hunting deer at some time prior to 1425.
    To establish a deer park a Royal licence was required, known as a “licence to empark”. The purpose of a deer park was to keep deer, usually Fallow or Red deer, for the land-owner, usually the lord of the manor, to hunt for sport and to use as a source of fresh meat during the winter. The deer park was generally an area of mainly woodland that was usually totally enclosed by  banks with an inner ditch and with the bank having either a pale or thorn hedge, or sometimes sections of each, on top of it. The pale or hedge were to stop deer from escaping from the enclosed deer park or prevent two and four legged predators and foraging livestock from entering. A pale was a fence made by driving stakes close together into the ground to form a barrier.
    These banks were known as deer leaps and substantial lengths of the “deer leap” bank enclosing Curlswood  still survive and are at present still clearly visible along the old estate’s north-eastern boundary with Ratling Court’s land and along its boundary with the B2046 Wingham road.

    Curlswood or Old Park Farm, from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map of Nonington. Just to the north-west of the farm buildings is the remains of the deer leap which formed the boundary there with the land attached to the Canonry of Wingham, part of the College of Wingham founded  by Archbishop Pecham in 1287.
    Curlswood or Old Park Farm, from the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners Map of Nonington. Just to the north-west of the farm buildings is the remains of the deer leap which formed the boundary there with the land attached to the Canonry of Wingham, part of the College of Wingham founded  by Archbishop Pecham in 1287.

    Edward Oxenden de Dene, the eldest son of Thomas Oxenden de Dene, of Dene near Wingham, was appointed Warden of Cruddeswood [Curlswood] in 1501. A warden was usually a favoured appointee chosen by the park’s owner from a local land-owning family to be  in overall charge of a deer park and to be in charge of the arrangements for deer hunts. Wardens usually had a deputy whom they paid to deal with the day to day administration and security of the park.  The Oxenden family originated from Oxenden, or Oxney, another of the vills on the Archbishop’s manor of Wingham about a mile and a half to the south-east of Cruddeswood.

    Pursing a stag on horseback with hounds. Fallow and red deer were the usual quarry, and hunting them was exclusively the preserve of  royalty and the rich and powerful aristocracy. Strict laws governed who was allowed to hunt. When the quarry was brought to bay the chosen hunter would despatch it with a hunting spear or  hunting sword.

    The College of Wingham was broken up during the reign of Henry VIII but the Curlswood deer park was retained by subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury and the land was leased out to a succession of lessees over the following centuries. The granting or leasing of land and property at favourable rates was frequently used by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a form of patronage. This appears to have happened with regard to Curlswood, which appears to have ceased to be a deer park in, or slightly before, 1586.

    In 1586 Archbishop John Whitgift granted what appears to be the first lease for Curlswood Park, which then comprised of 180 acres of woodland and 60 acres of arable land, at a nominal rent of 20 shillings a year for twenty-one years to Miles Sandes, possibly a member of the Archbishop’s retinue who was the Member of Parliament for Queensborough on the Isle of Sheppey in that year.

    Another recipient of this beneficial lease was Richard Massinger, who became lessee of Curleswood in 1595. He was a member of the Archbishop’s household and was elected Member of Parliament for Penryn in 1601. In 1604 “Charles Wood Parke House” was occupied by John Cox, presumably as  sub-tenant.

    A survey of the Archbishopric of Canterbury’s lands in 1617/18 recorded Curlswood as consisting of 60 acres of arable land and 180 acres of woodland with 1 acre of woodland grubbed up. Curlswood was noted to not be part of any manor and leased from Archbishop George Abbot by William Selby, with Pownall as under farmer or sub-tenant. The lessee was probably Sir William Selby, who had inherited Igtham Moat in 1611. The lease was on the same beneficial terms as contained in the previous two leases.

    However, it appears that Archbishop and his tenant fell out because there is a record for 1617 in the Exchequer Bill Book registering a legal dispute between the Archbishop and William Selby regarding Curlswood. The nature of the dispute is at present unknown, but the outcome seems to have been that William Selby lost his lease as another lessee is recorded in that same year.

    The second lessee during 1617 was Sir Robert Hatton, another member of the Archbishop Abbot’s entourage who was knighted in 1617. Possibly the lease was taken in connection with his newly acquired status. Sir Robert served as Member of Parliament for Sandwich in the early 1620’s.

    Subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury continued to lease out Curlswood, but at present there is a long interval of almost a century and a half during which time to whom and on what terms is was leased out is unknown.

    From around 1758 Edward ffinch, a trustee of the estate of a Mr.  C. Fielding, took the land on a twenty- one year lease at a rent of £ 954. 8/-. However, after only five years or so the lease was surrendered and re-assigned in a document dated March 15th, 1763 for the same rent to Sir Brooke Bridges, bart., of Goodnestone.

    The lease was for: “all that messuage or tenement called the lodge. And all that land and pasture enclosed by pale and hedge and sometimes therein is mentioned used as a park for deer commonly called Turlswood Park or otherwise Crowds Wood Park situated lying and being in the parish of Nunnington aforesaid in the county of Kent. Containing by estimation two hundred and eighty acres of arable and pastureland”.

    It’s interesting to note that some two centuries after it had been “deparked” that reference is still made in the lease to “the lodge”, presumably used as the farmhouse, and also to the pale, or fence, and hedges enclosing the old deer park. This reference to both pale and hedge indicates that both types of barrier were used to enclose Curlswood.
    This 1763 lease also makes it apparent that there had been some more obvious changes to the use of the land inside the enclosing pale and hedges in those two centuries. In 1617 survey recorded 60 acres of arable land and 180 acres of woodland, while this lease states that the estate contains “by estimation two hundred and eighty acres of arable and pastureland”.
    Over the preceding two centuries the 180 acres of woodland had been felled and turned into pasture and arable land. The difference in acreage could be accounted for in the variations in the size of an acre over the centuries until measurements were standardised in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.

    The Bridges’ continued to lease Curlswood from the Archbishop until the later part of the nineteenth century when they purchased it outright. In later years Curlswood was known as Old Park Farm. Various members of the Pepper family, later tenants of the farm in the 19th century, are buried near the rear gate of Nonington church yard and have Park Farm on their headstones.

    The village of Aylesham now covers most of the old deer park, which was part of the six hundred acres of farmland acquired in 1924  from Henry FitzWalter Plumptre of Goodnestone by Pearson & Dorman Long for the building of houses for miners at nearby working Snowdown Colliery and a proposed new mine at Adisham which was never developed.
    Sir Patrick Abercrombie, the renowned architect and town planner, was commissioned in the 1920’s  to design the new mining village of Aylesham, and he derived inspiration from new towns such as Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. The building of houses to accommodate the expanding labour force at Snowdown Colliery began in 1926.

    Henry Fitzwalter Plumptre had inherited the Goodnestone estate in 1899 as heir to Sir George Talbot Bridges, the eighth and last Baronet. He was the grand-son of Henry Western Plumptre, a younger brother of John Pembleton Plumptre of Fredville, who had married Eleanor Bridges, the only daughter of Sir Brook William Bridges, fourth baronet, in 1828.

    Old Park 1920's
    Old Park Farm  after the the building of Aylesham had begun. Aylesham Holt railway station, just below Curlswood Park Farm, opened in 1928.

    The last occupants of the Old Park Farm house and remaining buildings were the Hillier family who ran a fruit and vegetable business from there until after the Second World War.  The house and farm buildings were eventually demolished in early 1950’s.

  • Fredville and Oxney: what’s in a name?

    Sections on the origins of the names of Fredville and Oxney have been revised.
    Oxney Woods in the 1870's.

    Fredville:-
    Fredville, House and Park: originally a part of the Knight’s Fee of Essewelle. By 1249 Essewelle appears to have divided into Esol (also Esehole & Eshole) and Freydevill, the spelling used in a 1250 legal document. Over the centuries there were many variations in its spelling;  Frydewill, 1338; Fredeuyle, 1396; Fredevyle, 1407; Froydevyle, 1430; ffredvile, 1738.
    Edward Hasted in the section on Nonington in his “The History and Topographical Survey of Kent”, volume IX,  published in 1800, states that Fredville  derives from the Old French (OF):freide ville, meaning a cold place, because of its cold, wet, low position.
    A more likely derivation is from the Old English (OE)  frith or frythe, which in Kentish dialect would have been pronounced “frid”. “A Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect and Provincialisms”,published in 1888, defines a frith as:  “A hedge or coppice. A thin, scrubby wood, with little or no timber, and consisting mainly of inferior growths such as are found on poor soils, intermixed with heath, etc”.  
    John Colking’s Inquisition Post Mortem of 1338 refers to his holdings in “Frydewill, Esole, Nunyngton”.
    The original Freydevill manor appears to have been centred around the present Holt Street Farm with the first manor house being built on the old Fredville House site in the early 16th century by the Boys family.
    The names Holt Street; from OE. holt, a wood or thicket, and the adjacent Hangers Hill; from OE. hangra, a wooded slope or ‘hanging wood’, indicate a  wooded area. Holt Street is bordered to the south-west by Ackholt, oak wood, and to the south by the manor of Oxenden (Oxney), the cattle grazing clearing in the wood, which was heavily wooded in the 12th and 13th centuries. The present Oxney Wood is a densely wooded remnant of this medieval woodland vill’, much of which now lies beneath the old Snowdown Colliery spoil heaps.
    The “vill” suffix may derive from “villata”, shortened to “vill” in medieval documents. This was the basic rural administrative land unit which had judicial and policing functions as well as responsibility for taxation, roads and bridges within its boundaries. In this case Fredville would therefore  originally have been the vill in or next to the “scrubby” woodland.
    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 [see below] 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.

    Alternatively the suffix may derive from the Norman French “ville” ,from the Latin “villa rustica”, which originally indicated a farm, but later evolved into meaning a village, indicating a settlement larger than a hamlet, but smaller than a town which would therefore have made Fredville the settlement in or on the edge of the woodland.
    It’s most likely that original “villa rustica” settlement in or beside the “scrubby” woodland eventually evolved into an administrative “villata” as the population increased and then became the  manor of Freydevill first referred to in 1249 after the knight’s fee of Essewelle was divided between the two heiresses of Dionisia Wischard around 1218 or so.

     

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Oxney.
    Oxney Wood is now in  Aylesham and  Womenswold parishes, but for centuries the vill’ of Oxenden, as Oxney was originally known,  formed part of old Nonington’s southern boundary with Womenswold parish.
    Oxney Woods in the 1870's.
    Oxinden, 1278; Oxenden 1535; Oxenden, Oxney’s original name, most likely comes from the Old English: Oxena denn; woodland pasture for oxen [cattle].  As can be seen from its description in Archbishop Pecham’s 1280’s survey of the Manor of Wingham, Oxinden was heavily wooded in the 12th and 13th centuries. The present Oxney Wood is a densely wooded remnant of this medieval woodland vill’, much of which now lies beneath the old Snowdown Colliery spoil heaps.
    Woodland was a very valuable resource in medieval England, and one of the feudal duties owed by the owners of land in the vill’ of Oxenden to the lord of the manor, in this case the Archbishop of Canterbury,  was Pethamlode. This was the duty to deliver cart loads of wood to the over-lord at a specified place and could obviously only be carried out in heavily wooded areas.  Woodland then consisted largely of ash and oak which was coppiced at regular intervals on a rotating system to provide a regular supply of timber for building, fencing and a multitude of other purposes. Oak was often cut when a foot or so in diameter to be squared off to make the beams used in the frames of buildings with larger trees used for boards. Medieval Kent had few permanent hedges and fields were divided and crops protected by temporary fences made from stakes with lathes woven in between or “sharn wattles”, large cattle wattles (movable woven wooden panels, also called hurdles) some 9’ x 5 ½ feet in size which were removed after the harvest to allow animals to graze the stubble.  Lime and elm were also used in large quantities for domestic and other everyday items.

    The Oxendens, a prominent East Kent family, took their name from  the vill’ where they held land with manorial duties to the Archbishops of Canterbury’s Manor of Wingham. Thomas de Oxenden was recorded as holding Oxenden in  Archbishop Pecham’s survey his Kent holdings of 1283 and in the visitations of 1290-1300.
    Soloman Oxenden, ” de Oxenden in Nunnington”, the main land-owner in 1367, married Joyce, the daughter of Alexander de Dene, near Wingham, and they had two sons Allan and Richard. On his death Soloman was buried at Nonington church.
    In 1320 Richard de Oxenden, Soloman’s son, took Holy Orders as a Benedictine monk at Christ Church in Canterbury and four years later was ordained deacon by Hamo de Hythe, Bishop of Rochester. The incumbent Prior of Christchurch died, aged 92, on April 6th, 1331, and on April 25th the monks elected Brother Richard de Oxenden, then aged about 30, prior of Christchurch. He continued as such until his death on August 4th, 1338, and was buried in the chapel of St. Michael at Canterbury.
    In addition to their Nonington properties the Oxenden’s acquired land near Wingham and married into local families holding land at Ratling and Goodnestone.
    Edward Oxenden of Dene near Wingham 1501 was appointed Warden of Cruddeswood Park, later Curleswood Park, a deer park belonging to the Archbishop’s of Canterbury  a mile or so to the north-west of Oxenden. A large part of the deer park is now covered by the mining village of Aylesham..
    In 1510 John Oxenden of Nonington left bequests to Nonington church and requested to be buried in the church-yard there.

    Oxenden’s eastern boundary with Soles and Fredville manors was formed by Rubberie Downs, called Rowbergh in 1415, then open downland which stretched from the Roman Road (the North Downs Way) to the present Nightingale Lane,  part of which are now occupied by Rubberie and Little Rubberie Wood. Oxenden’s northern border with Fredville appears to have been Nightingale Lane.

    Various documents from the 16th and 17th centuries refer to a house and buildings on Ruberries and the 1626 Boy’s marriage document refers to a house, buildings and three acres of pasture land occupied by John Mundaie near Rowberries.

    People appear to have lived at the ancient manorial settlement until at least the 1660’s, the church register for nearby Sibertswold (Shepherdswell) parish records the wedding on October 4th, 1667, of Richard ffryer of Sibertswold and Elizabeth Sayers of Oxney, but this is the last known written evidence of habitation.
    The bank between Oxney Barn Forestall and the railway line was referred to on old parish maps from the early 19th century as Oxney Barn Bank, which later became known as Plane Tree Bank.  Until comparatively recent time the majority of this bank was unwooded, as can be seen on the 1839 tithe map.

    There are now no visible traces of any of the ancient buildings but the names Oxney  Barn Forstal, Oxney Barn Field, and Oxney Barn Wood on the 1839 Nonington parish tithe map [see below] provide some evidence to the probable site of the buildings.
    The reference to Oxney Barn Forestall on the 1839 Nonington tithe map indicates it was the location of ancient farm or possible manorial buildings as a forestall was the area in front of, or leading to, a farm or manor house. This would have been the administrative centre of the vill’. Oxney Barn most likely refers to agricultural buildings in use after people had ceased to live there.
    Reference to Oxney Barn in the forestall, field, and wood names on the 1839 map also indicates that a substantial building existed there perhaps only a generation or so before 1839 with possibly one or more of the buildings referred to in the 1626 Boys document possibly in use as a barn into the early 19th century.
    The 1839 map was drawn up using existing, and often factually obsolete, land-owners property maps and documents, whereas the later 1859 parish  map was drawn up from a full survey.


    1839-Nth-Ruberries-&-Oxeney

    South Ruberry Downs area, 1839 tithe map
    North and South Ruberry Downs areas, from the 1839 tithe map

    Oxney Wood became part of the Woolege Farm estate in Womenswold parish and came into the possession of the trustees of Sir Brooke Bridges of Goodnestone in the 1750’s and was later sold to the Plumptres of Fredville, possibly at the same time as the Holt Street estate. Oxney Wood is still part of the Fredville estate owned by the Plumptres.
    After the Second World War a plantation of fir trees was planted on the lower western edge of the bank which became known as Oxney Firs.

    In addition to Oxenden, Wingham Manor had another 244 acres of woodland a mile or so to the west of Oxenden at Curleswood, then in Nonington parish and a mile and a half or so to the south at Woolege in Womenswold parish where the Woolege Woods stood until well into the 20th century when they were gradually cut down from nearly 300 acres to the small area which remains to-day.

  • Eva Crofts and Dame Laura Knight: Clarice Cliff and the Newlyn School come to Nonington.

    Dame Laura Knight was never resident in Nonington but often visited Arthur Bates, her uncle, and Evangeline “Sissie” Crofts, her older sister, who both lived in Easole Street in Nonington.

    Laura Knight circa 1910.
    Laura Knight circa 1910.

    Dame Laura was an English artist who embraced English Impressionism and became one of the most successful and popular painters in Britain. Laura and her husband, Harold Knight, were both members of the Newlyn School of Artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She has an incredibly successful career spanning many decades and Laura paved the way for other women artists to achieve more recognition and higher status in the overwhelmingly male-dominated British art establishment.

    Laura Knight was created a Dame in 1929, and in 1936 she became the first woman to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy since its foundation in 1768. In 1965 a large retrospective exhibition of her work at the Royal Academy in 1965 was the first of its kind by a woman. Dame Laura was a celebrated painter of the theatre and ballet world in London, as well as being a war artist during the Second World War who was present to record the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in 1946.

    Laura Knight, née Johnson, was born on 4th August, 1877, and died on 7th July, 1970.  Laura was the youngest of the three daughters of Charles and Charlotte Johnson. Charles Johnson abandoned the family shortly after Laura was borne and Charlotte Johnson taught part time at Nottingham School of Art.  After Charlotte Johnson’s death Laura and her older sister Evangeline “Eva” Agnes, always referred to by Laura as “Sissie”, were left to live alone on very little money. Laura and Sissie also lost their sister Nellie and both their grandmothers within a short period of time of loosing their mother.
    Laura, although only aged fifteen and still a student herself, took over her mother’s teaching at the Nottingham School of Art. 

    In the mid-1890’s Laura and Sissie lived at the Castle Rooms in Nottingham, and 1898 they removed from there to the artist’s colony at Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast. Sissie stayed there until 1901 when she moved to St. Quentin in  the north of France to keep house for Arthur Bates, her maternal uncle, who had a lace making business there. Arthur Bates encouraged Sissie to develop her artistic talents and paid for her to attend the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris.

    During her time at the Nottingham School of Art  Laura met Harold Knight, then only aged seventeen but considered to be one of the school’s most promising talent’s, and married him in 1903. In 1907 the couple went to live in Newlyn in Cornwall, where they became members of the Newlyn School of Artists. They resided intermittently in Cornwall over the decades and  Harold Knight died there in 1961.

    Sissie, painted in 1896 by the then Laura Johnson
    Sissie, painted in 1896 by the then Laura Johnson.

    In 1908, sold Arthur Bates sold his lace making business in St. Quentin and retired to  “The Limes”, now “Four Limes”, in Easole Street in Nonington. Sissie was her uncle’s house-keeper companion, and with his support and encouragement she continued to design ceramics and textiles with ever increasing success.

    Arthur Bates, maternal uncle of Laura Knight and Eva Croft
    Arthur Bates, the maternal uncle of Laura Knight and Eva Croft. Circa 1915

    In May of 1910 Sissie married Robart [Ro] Crofts, a Canterbury pharmacist whose family lived at “The Firs”, now “Cerne House”, a few yards along Easole Street from “The Limes”. The 1901 census records Mr. William Crofts, then aged 79, as being a retired ship owner living with his wife and unmarried daughter, both named Charlotte.
    Robart Croft did not get on with Laura, especially after he refused to loan money to Laura to fund a trip to America in the early 1920’s. Despite this mutual antipathy Laura Knight frequently visited her uncle at “The Limes”.

     

    From soon after her arrival in Nonington Sissie, as Eva Johnson and then Eva Croft, showed that she was a talented ceramic and textile designer in her own right and designed ceramics for such companies as A.J. Wilkinson and E. Brain & Co. As Eva Croft she contributed designs to Clarice Cliff’s Bizarre Bon Jour and Krafton Bon Jour ranges in the 1930’s, both of which are still sought after and collected.

    Krafton bonjour tea set c 1934
    An Eva Crofts designed Clarice Cliff Krafton Bon Jour tea set c 1934

    Clarice Cliff also used designs by Laura Knight after the two women  became friends after meeting on a train in 1933. Sissie was at the time probably better known for her work as a textile designer for companies such as Donald Brothers, Turnbull & Stockdale, and Warners.

    Sissie looked after her uncle until his death in 1931, and after his death his estate was divided between Laura and herself. The two sisters remained close and frequently wrote to each other, although when Sissie visited Laura in Cornwall she did so on her own because of her husband’s dislike of Laura.  Sissie continued to live in Nonington until her death in 1946.

    Sissie by Laura Knight, 1945
    Sissie by Laura Knight, 1945. This portrait was painted a few months before the sitters death in 1946

    Eva Croft’s grand-son, R. John Croft, is at present compiling a Catalogue Raisonne for both Harold and Laura Knight and is seeking assistance in compiling both catalogues.

  • 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.

  • William Boys and the Fredville purchase. It has been held for several centuries  by Thomas Philpott,  Edward Hasted, and other historians, that a feet of fines dating from  July of 1484 recorded the purchase by John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerveis of : “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’” from Thomas and Anne Quadryng'. However, this feet of fines was actually a legal manoeuvre to settle a court case to recover possession of the aforementioned properties which had in fact been purchased by John Nethersole and associates from the Quadryngs at some time shortly before the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483. These recovered properties then came into the sole possession of William Boys in 1485. A manor was a fiscal and legal entity, not a physical one, so that the purchase of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’" did not actually involve the acquisition of land but the acquisition of the lordship of these two manors.  This acquisition entitled the holder of these lordships to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines. A messuage at this time was a high status dwelling-house, and the grant of a messuage with its appurtenances not only transferred the house, but also all the buildings attached or belonging to it, along with its curtilage, garden and orchard and the close [surrounding land] on which the house was built. One of the two messuages referred to in the purchase was the Esol [Esole] manor house at Beauchamps, and the other messuage referred to in the purchase is most likely to have been on the site of the present Holt Street Farm house.  Where was the Manor of Fredeuyle? Edward Hasted, in his “The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent” stated that after the purchase William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence but returning  to live at Bonnington at some time before his death in 1507.  In the year he died William Boys of Goodnestone, but not of Nonington or Fredville,  gifted to Nonington Church 40/- [£.2.00] towards buying a Antephonar [a religious music book]. William’s will divided the bulk of his estate between his two sons, John, his eldest son and heir who had been born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470's, and Thomas.  William bequeathed to John “all my lands, tenements, customs, rents, suits and services in Nonington, and to his heirs for ever”, and to Thomas “my lands and tenements etc. in Goodneston, and to his male issue, but if no issue to my son John and his male issue; if no issue to female heirs of Thomas for ever”.  It is worth noting that William Boys returned to his Bonnington property before his death. Was the Bonnington property then a more comfortable house than that at Fredville? Perhaps the more pertinent question is that, if as Hasted states, William Boys did in fact relocate to Fredeuyle [Fredville], where did he in fact “remove thither” too?  At present there is no known documentary or physical evidence of there being a house  pre-dating the Tudor and Georgian mansions in Fredville Park. So, if there was no Fredville manor house there, then where could it have been located? There is some compelling evidence to indicate that at the time of William Boys’ acquisition of the aforementioned properties the Manor of Fredville [Fredeuyle] was centred upon the settlement of Holestreete or Holestrete [Holt Street] with the manor house on or near the site of the present Holt Street farmhouse. When the parish of Nonington was founded by Archbishop Pecham in 1282 its constituent hamlets or settlements were listed. One of the hamlets mentioned was Fredevile, previously the name used to refer to one half of the Knight’s Fee of Essewelle, but there is no reference to Holestreete [Holt Street]. The earliest presently known reference to “Freydevill’” is in legal documents dating from 1249 and 1250 while Holestrete is mentioned in the 1283-85 survey of Archbishop Pecham’s manor of Wingham. The survey records Simon of Holestreete and Roger of Holestreete as holding land on the adjacent manor of Acholt, also a part of the Manor of Wingham, showing that Holestreet actually then existed as a hamlet or settlement. “Freydevill’” most likely derives from is from the Old English [O.E.]: " frith or frythe", meaning a wood or wooded country, or the edges or outskirts of a wooded area, and "vill", a Latin abreviation used to indicate a manor or farm in medieval documents. “Freydevill’”, could therefore be taken to mean the manor or farm on the edge of the woods or woodland. Holt Street is a hamlet a half a mile or so to the south-east of Nonington Church, and its name derives from the O.E. ‘holt’, meaning a thicket or wood. Bordering Holt Street to the south-west is Ackholt or Acol,  deriving from the O.E.: "ac"; oak & "holt" ; literally an oak thicket or wood, and bordering to the south is Oxney Wood, deriving from "oxena denn"; "oxena", meaning cattle and "denn", meaning woodland pasture. These names indicate that this area was once heavily wooded and therefore almost certainly cultivated after other parts of Nonington, such as Esole. A quarter of a century or so after the Archbishop's survey there is a reference in a 1309 indenture for the transfer of ownership of property in the adjacent manor of Acholt to a windmill “in paroch de Nonyngton juxta Holestrete in ter(re) de Freydvile”, [in the parish of Nonington, next to Holt Street on the land of Fredville]. This confirms that Holt Street  was under the jurisdiction of the manor of Fredville, and would therefore be the main settlement of the manor due to its size and the number of its inhabitants at that time. Another indication to the Holt Street farmhouse  site having been the location of an early Fredville manor house is that much of the land now occupied by Snowdown Colliery and its spoil heaps is recorded on the 1839 Nonington parish tithe map as “the Great Field”, which lay between Oxney Wood and Holt Street Farm, only a hundred yards or so from the farmhouse. The Great Field is the name often associated with manorial demesne land or land lying close to a manor house. Manorial demesne land was land personally held by the lord of the manor and either worked directly by him for his own benefit or rented out.  Archbishop Pecham’s survey was made some sixty years or more before the Black Death swept through England. This epidemic possibly killed between one third and one half of the population of the Nonington area resulting in wide-ranging and long-lasting changes in the structure of land-holding and ownership and the use of agricultural land. In 1670 the Holt Street estate consisted of a capital messuage [principal house], the present Holt Street farmhouse, and some eight or so other messuages and cottages. The earlier Holt Street may have had more dwellings than those recorded in the inventory made in 1670 as only those properties owned by the Boys family as part of the Holt Street estate are recorded. No record  was made of any other free-hold property owners in and around the Holt Street estate. After the building of the Tudor Fredville mansion in Fredville Park, almost certainly by John Boys in the late 1510’s or early 1520’s, it appears that the name Fredville became synonymous with the site of this and the later Georgian mansion, and not with the original manor house at Holt Street. By the time Sir Edward Boys the Younger came to reside at the Holt Street house in the early seventeenth century the original manorial centre of Fredville at Holt Street  had become known as the Holt Street estate. The present Holt Street farmhouse was built in the first decade or so of the seventeenth century, apparently as a new family residence for Sir Edward Boys the Younger. This new house would have been an ideal residence for the Boys’ oldest son and heir while their father lived at the Fredville Mansion on the hill some quarter of a mile or so to the east. It appears to have fulfilled this role during the Boys' tenure at Fredville. When the Holt Street estate was sold off in the 1670’s to pay the creditors of Major John Boys, the last Boys to live at Fredville, it consisted of the new house, the eight or so smaller messuages and cottages, 250 acres or more of agricultural land, and some woodland.  Beauchamp' or Bechams, an alternative residence for William Boys. There is another, and more likely, possibility as to where William Boys “removed thither”. History, and the historians, seem to have forgotten, or ignored, the fact that in addition to Fredville, William Boys also acquired the manor of "Beauchamp’", recorded as "Bechams" in the 1501 manorial roll for the "Manor of Essesole" [Esole] wherein it is recorded as consisting of a manor house and some fifty or more acres of land.   The Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring "Saint Albons Courte" and the lord of the "Manor of Essesole", received an annual manorial rent of £2 2s 9d [£2.14p] payable once a year at Michaelmas [29th September]. "Bechams" was free of suit of court as it was held in gavelkind [freehold]. The pasture land around the remains of the manor house are still known locally as “The Ruins”, and the wood and adjacent lane are still known as Beauchamps Wood and Lane respectively. The above shows Beauchamps appears to have been pronounced as "Bechams " since at least the end of the fifteenth century. "Fredeuyle"  was a manor in its own right and held by William Boys as one half of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, whereas "Beauchamp’" was actually at this time a sub-manor of the other half of the knight’s fee and was known as "Esol" or "Esole" with the Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring "Saint Albons Courte", in possession of the manorial rights. By the time of the 1501 manorial roll "the Manor of Esol" or "Esole" had become the "Manor of Essesole" The manors "Fredeuyle" and "Beauchamp’"  seem to have melded into one entity known generally as Fredville, possibly because "Fredeuyle" was the larger of the two manors purchased. Under the broad umbrella of the Fredville name there is therefore a strong likelihood that William Boys resided for some time in the Beauchamp’ messuage and only returned to Bonnington just before he died in 1507, perhaps when he felt he was coming to the end of his time and wanted to spend the last of his days in his ancestral home. The most compelling reason why William Boys would have resided at "Bechams" instead of Holt Street is that the Quadryng family were originally wealthy London mercers, although of varying fortune in the latter part of their occupancy, and recent archaeological excavation of the Beauchamps manor house site has revealed the remains of what was once a quite extensive and high status house and associated out-buildings which would  have made a very suitable ready made residence for the  William and, later, John Boys, William's eldest son and the heir to Fredville. After inheriting Fredville and its associated properties John Boys continued to add to his holdings during the following decades. In 1512 he acquired property in Sandwich, and in 1528 he bought a quarter of the Manor of Soles from Thomas Norton, a legal and administrative entity which entitled him to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines in and around the present Soles Court, Long Lane farm, and the hamlet of Frogham. In addition to the manorial rights he also purchased from the same vendor 200 acres of land, 200 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland in Nonington and Barfreston. As can be seen, John Boys had money to spend in the 1510’s and 1520’s, and this would have been the most logical time for him to begin the construction of a mansion at Fredville to replace a now ageing manor house at Beauchamps.  As his wealth and local importance increased John Boys would have aspired to establish himself as a presence in the locality, and what better way to do this than to build a new mansion on a spur overlooking both his inherited and his newly acquired land in and around Nonington. The new house would also have been visible for several miles in the general direction of Sandwich, where he had business interests and held public office. Another possibility is that Bechams was sold after John’s death in 1533 by William Boys, his son and heir, who around 1537 acquired other large estates from the Manor of Wingham in Nonington and adjacent parishes and would therefore have needed money to fund these extensive land acquisitions. The sale of Bechams would have provided a useful sum to help pay for these acquisitions. Whatever the reasoning, Bechams was sold before 1555 as by then the estate had passed into the possession of “Edward Browne of Worde (Worth) juxta Sandwich, a  yeoman”, who on 2nd March of that year conveyed it to “Thomas Hamon of Nonnyngton, gentleman”. The property conveyed was: “All that messuage or tenement called BEACHAM situated in Nonnyngton, with all barnes, houses and edifices, now in the occupation of Thomas Hamon and all…. rents, services, …ect…containing 50 acres”, and which was apparently unchanged since the 1501 "Essesole" manorial roll entry.  

    The Boys family at Fredville-revised 11.10.2019

    The Boys family, also de Bois & de Bosco, claimed descent from R. de Boys, or de Bosco, a companion of William the Conqueror who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 who had been rewarded with gifts of land by the grateful King William. In 1357 John Boys was known to have held Bonnington in Goodnestone parish, part of the Manor of Wingham. In the following decades members of the family acquired land in and around Goodnestone and Nonington parishes.

    For several centuries  it has been held by Thomas Philpott,  Edward Hasted, and other historians, that a foot of fines dating from  July of 1484 recorded the purchase by John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerveis of : “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’” from Thomas and Anne Quadryng’.
    However, this foot of fines  actually records a legal manoeuvre to settle a court case to recover possession of the aforementioned properties which had in fact been purchased by John Nethersole and associates from the Quadryngs at some time shortly before the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483. These recovered properties then came into the sole possession of William Boys in 1485.

    A foot of fine (plural, feet of fines; Latin: pes finis; plural, pedes finium) is the archival copy of the agreement between two parties in an English lawsuit over land, most commonly the fictitious suit (in reality a conveyance) known as a fine of lands or final concord.

    In the Trinity Term of the Law Courts [June and July] of 1484 John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerneys through William Rose, their attorney, began legal proceedings to regain possession of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ with appurtenances, and two messuages, 405 acres of land, three acres of wood and 76s 4d of rent, and the rent of eight cocks, 30 hens and one pair of gloves with appurtenances in Nonyngton and Godneston” as their right. They claimed that the property in question had been illegally seized by John Metford, a wealthy London grocer, who appears to have taken possession of the properties as payment for money owed to him by Thomas Quadryng.

    The four plaintiffs stated that they had been in possession of the property “as of fee and lawfully at the time of peace at the time of lord Edward IV, late king of England”, which meant they had held it since before April of 1483. As evidence of this they produced proof of suit of court to show that they had fulfilled their feudal duty to their overlord for Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ [previously Esol], so confirming their possession of the two manors. After further claims and counter-claims before the court possession of the property by the plaintiffs was confirmed.

    A contemporary record of the legal proceedings to regain possession of“the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’
    The 1484 record of the legal proceedings to regain possession of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ with appurtenances, and two messuages, 405 acres of land, three acres of wood and 76s 4d of rent, and the rent of eight cocks, 30 hens and one pair of gloves with appurtenances in Nonyngton and Godneston”

    On 8th July, 1484, after the end of the court proceedings, the aforementioned foot of fines recorded the outcome of a what was almost certainly a fictitious suit for the conveyance of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ ect.” with John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerveis as the querents [plaintiffs], and Thomas Quadryng’ and Anne, his wife, as the deforciants [one/those who keep out of possession the rightful owner of an estate] gave full legal title to John Nethersole and his associates of the property in question.

    In 1485 John Nethersole in turn conveyed the aforementioned properties to William Boys of Bonnington in Goodneston. Boys appears to have done well at this time as he also gained possession of other property locally,  including the Manor of Shebbertswell (Shepherdswell) which had also previously belonged to the rebellious Richard Guildford.
    William Boys had obviously been very astute at seeing which way the wind blew as his apparent lack of opposition to Richard III had not caused him any problems with the succeeding Henry VII, the first Tudor, and he continued to prosper under the new regime

    Bonnington Farm, once the main residence of the Boys family. The early 15th century timbered building i(probably built on the site of an earlier house) s connected to the newer brick built 16th house on the left by a courtyard
    Bonnington, now a farm house, was once the main residence of the Boys family. The early 15th century timbered building (probably built on the site of an earlier house) is connected to the newer brick built 16th house on the left by a courtyard. The “newer” brick built part of Bonnington dates from the mid 1500’s and may be of a similar design and contemporary  to  the Boys’ Fredville mansion .

    Edward Hasted, in his “The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent” stated that after the purchase William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence but returning  to live at Bonnington at some time before his death in July of 1507.  In the year he died William Boys gifted to Nonington Church 40/- [£.2.00] towards buying an Antephonar [a religious music book]. The gift was made in the name of William Boys of Goodnestone, not of Nonington or Fredville.
    William Boys died at Bonnington on 8th July, 1507, his death is commemorated on a brass plaque on the east wall of the North Chapel in in Goodnestone Church.

    William’s will divided the bulk of his estate between his two sons, John, his eldest son and heir who had been born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470’s, and Thomas.  William bequeathed to John “all my lands, tenements, customs, rents, suits and services in Nonington, and to his heirs for ever”, and to Thomas “my lands and tenements etc. in Goodneston, and to his male issue, but if no issue to my son John and his male issue; if no issue to female heirs of Thomas for ever”.

    John Boys’ inheritance included the Manors of Beauchamp’ and Fredville, along with other property in Nonington which unfortunately was not specified in the will. According to Thomas Philpott in his “Villare Cantianum: or, Kent surveyed and illustrated” published in 1659, “the eldest had the fairest, and the youngest the ancient seat”. Why Fredville was judged to be fairer was not made clear, possibly it provided a larger income and had better accommodation than the family seat at Bonnington.

    Please see Fredville-where was the original manor house located for more information

    John Boys was the founder of the Fredville branch of the family and the most likely builder of the first house on the Fredville mansion site.  Prior to the building of the Fredville mansion John appears almost certainly  to have  lived in the  manor house at Bechams, or, less likely, a manor house on the site of the present Holt Street Farm house.

    After inheriting Fredville and its associated properties he continued to add to his holdings during the following decades. In 1512 he acquired property in Sandwich, and in 1528 he bought a quarter of the Manor of Soles from Thomas Norton, a legal and administrative entity which entitled him to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines in and around the present Soles Court, Long Lane Farm, and the hamlet of Frogham. In addition to the manorial rights he also purchased from the same vendor 200 acres of arable land, 200 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland in Nonington and Barfreston.

    As can be seen, John Boys had money to spend in the 1510’s and 1520’s, and this would be the most logical time for him to begin the construction of a new mansion on what is believed to be an uninhabited spur in what was to become Fredville Park. This new house was referred to as “the mansion of Fredfields” in the 1648 will of William Boys, John’s heir.
    As his wealth and local importance increased John Boys would have wished to establish himself as a presence in the locality, and what better way to do this than to build a new mansion in a position that made it visible for several miles in the general direction of Sandwich, where he had business interests and held public office. He had entered municipal service in Sandwich in 1528, qualifying to stand for election to Parliament as a result of being a burgess of the borough. John Boys was one of the two members of Parliament for Sandwich at the time of his death in March of 1533, which occurred halfway through a Parliamentary session and it is not clear whether he died in London or Nonington as his death pre-dates the Nonington church register. A near neighbour of John’s, Vincent Engham of Goodnestone, served in Parliament as M.P. for Sandwich at the same time.

    http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/boys-john-1479-1533

    Mrs. Boys Behrens, a descendant of the Boys’ of Fredville, wrote about the replacement of the old Tudor Fredville house around 1750, in “Under Thirty-Seven Kings. Legends of Kent & Records of the family of Boys” published in 1926. By the early 1700’s the old manor house had become a farm house and Mrs. Boys Behrens recorded that the new Fredville mansion had been re-built on the old flint foundations of the previous house, noting that the cellars and the covered-in well in the centre of the old kitchen were the only parts of the original house incorporated into the new mansion. The bricks for the Tudor mansion were probably made from the same brick-earth deposits, located a couple of hundred yards to the south of the mansion site, as were used in the construction of the 18th century mansion.

    It appears that after the building of the Tudor mansion the presumed old Fredville manor house at Holt Street became the residence of the Boys’ of Fredville’s eldest son and heir. The Nonington parish register records the baptism on May 29th, 1606, of Anna, the daughter of Sir Edward Boys the Younger, gentleman, of Holtestreete.  This mention of Holtestreete indicates that Sir Edward Boys the Younger and his growing family was by then living in a recently re-built Holt Street house. However, the baptism records of two older children make no reference to Holt Street, so it is possible that Sir Edward the Younger was living somewhere else before 1606, the family by this time having acquired several suitable large houses.
    Edward Boys and his father, Edward the Elder, had both been knighted by King James I in 1603 or 1604 and it may be that in keeping with the younger Sir Edward’s new status and growing family the Holt Street house was either modernized and extended or a new house was built at the same location. No exact date for the building of the present Holt Street Farm house is definitely known but if the above information is correct then it would appear that the “new” house was probably built between 1603 and early 1606. The bricks used in its construction appear to have been made less than a hundred yards up the hill to the west of the house it what is still known as Brick Field.

    William Boys, born at Fredville around 1500, inherited Fredville on John’s death and continued to add to the Fredville estate.  In 1537 Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, as Lord of the Manor of Wingham,  granted William Boys a messuage and 161 acres at Kittington, part of the Manor of Wingham and he appears to have acquired other property  from the Manor of Wingham at around this time as a 1591 survey of the manor records Edward Boys, William’s grand-son, as holding South and North Nonington, the Three Barrows [Three Barrows Down, part of Oxney manor], Ackholt, and Kittington from the Manor of Wingham.

    These acquisitions from the Manor of Wingham appear to be due to family connections. William Boys’ wife Mary was the sister of the well-connected Sir Edward Ringsley [Ringley] of nearby Knowlton and during the 1530’s he was a friend of Thomas Cranmer, a leading figure in the English Reformation during the reign of Henry VIII, and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. When Sir Edward died in 1543 Archbishop Cranmer was the supervisor of his will.

    This friendship most likely explains how Boys was able to acquire the aforementioned land from the Manor of Wingham with such fortuitous timing as the Manor of Wingham only remained in the possession of the Archbishop until 1538 when he exchanged it with King Henry VIII for other property

    In addition to being a friend of Cranmer Sir Edward was also Knight Marshall and Comptroller of Calais just across the English Channel in Northern France. Calais and its environs was by then the only remaining part of the English Crown’s once extensive French possessions and vital to English trade with the Low Countries and the Continent in general. 

    In 1363 Calais had been designated the Staple Port for English wool and leather exported to the Continent, which meant that all exports of these products had to initially go to Calais before being sold on. In the same year the Merchants of the Staple were granted the exclusive right to trade raw wool in Calais.

    This system remained in place for almost two hundred years, although it became less important as exports of finished cloth became more important than exported raw wool. When Calais was lost in 1558 the staple moved to Bruges.

    William Boys was a large land-owner and accordingly a producer of quantities of wool who most likely had connections to the wool trade in Calais via the nearby port of Sandwich. Undoubtably the sale wool would have contributed annually to his apparently ever increasing fortune although the price of wool collapsed and grain increased in price at the end of the 1540’s.
    For much of his reign King Henry VIII was involved in an intermittent war with France and invaded that country three times. The local Kent militias were frequently raised to counter the threat of French invasion and William Boys, again as a gentleman and a land-owner, was involved with raising and administering the militia at various times. Between 1544 and 1546 William accompanied King Henry VIII to France and took part in the siege of Boulogne.
     In his will of 1543 Sir Edward Rinsgley had bequeathed “to my nephew, Edward Boys aforesaid, all my harness, bows and arrows, and also my axe, that is parcel gilt, garnished with crimson velvet, my long gilt sword, and the girdle”. Edward was the eldest son and heir to William Boys and this bequest may have been used by a very young Edward in campaigning with his father in France.

    After his death at Fredville in December of 1549 William was buried on 22nd December at Nonington Church.  Edward Boys, William’s eldest son, inherited his father’s estates.

    In his will, written in 1548, the second William Boys of Fredville bequeathed: “To the marriage of my three daughters, Elen, Mary and Elizabeth £40 each, also 100 livres each the which their uncle Sir Edward Ringley bequeathed them. My four sons Thomas, William, Vincent and John £20 each at their age of 21. That Edward Boyse (sic) be coadjutor to his mother in the administration of this my Will, but not to meddle as Exor (executor), and he to have £20. Edward, my eldest son….. …..to suffer his mother and Aunt Margaret to have their dwelling whilst they live in the mansion of Fredfields (Fredville) with free coming and going into a chamber commonly called the ‘Nursserye’ with the chambers over the buttery, also allow his mother to take half the profits of the Wind Mill”.[An early mill on the Easole corn mill site].

    Mary Tudor, who after her death became known as Bloody Mary
    Mary Tudor,  known after her death as Bloody Mary

    Edward Boys was born at Fredville in 1528 and grew up as a strict Protestant, possibly under the influence and tutelage of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, a founder of the Reformation and friend of his uncle, Sir Edward Rinsgley. These strict Protestant beliefs led to Edward Boys becoming one of the “Marian Exiles” in 1557 and 1558.
    Marian Exiles were strict Protestants who fled England to escape persecution by the staunchly Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor, who after her death became known as Bloody Mary because of her executions of Protestants. During her short five year reign between 1553 and 1558 Mary and her equally staunch Catholic husband, Philip of Spain, tried to lead England back into the arms of the Church of Rome.

    Clare, the wife of Edward Boys, was the daughter of Sir Nicholas Wentworth, a Knight Porter of Calais, and the brother of Peter and Paul Wentworth who both became Members of Parliament who  had strong Puritan sympathies and were critical of Queen Elizabeth I. During their time in exile Edward Boys and his family spent most of their exile with other Protestant refugees in Wesel, near Berne in Switzerland, and Frankfurt. While in exile Edward’s wife gave birth to a daughter called Gersona, who sadly did not survive for long and was buried in Frankfurt. The family remained in exile until Mary’s death in November of 1558.  The accession to the throne of her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth I  made it safe for them to end their exile and return home to Fredville and a once again Protestant England.

    Edward served as a High Sheriff of Kent and a Commissioner for Dover Harbour and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. A charitable man, he gave 40/- from fifteen acres of land in Nonington and Barfreston to be distributed yearly amongst the poor of Nonington parish (see Nonington Charities). Sir Edward was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Nonington, on 18th February, 1597 (1598).

    Another charitable legacy was made by William Boys of Tilmanstone, one of Edward’s younger brothers, who in his will of 1600 bequeathed one and a half acres at Frogham Hill (now Nightingale Lane) to provide two poor house keepers with two houses and an acre and a half of land with a sack of wheat each at Christmas (see Nonington Charities). The cottages were on the site of the present Nightingale Cottages and the one and a half acres now make up the field and a part of the wood (Humphry’s Wood) to the rear of the cottages. The original houses and land were bought with the consent of the Charity Commissioners by Mr. H. W. Plumptre in 1903 and the proceeds of the sale invested and administered by four Trustees of Nonington as the Nightingale Trust. The almost derelict cottages were replaced by the present ones soon after the sale.

    Sir Francis Walsingham was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of EnglandImage result for Sir Francis Walsingham,
    Sir Francis Walsingham was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England from 20th December 1573 until his death on 6th April 1590, and is popularly remembered as her “spymaster”.

    Sir Edward’s eldest son, also Edward (II), was baptized at Nonington in 1554. From 1597 he served as a magistrate for Kent, and was a friend of the Puritan divines Thomas Walkington and Richard Sedgwick. The Boys marriages at this time become a bit convoluted and almost incestuous. The younger Edward Boys (II) married Mary Wentworth, the daughter of Peter Wentworth by his second marriage to Elizabeth Walsingham, the sister of Sir Francis Walsingham, the principal secretary and spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I. Peter Wentworth was the brother of the younger Edward Boys’s mother, which made Mary, his wife, his first cousin. This in turn meant that Edward Boys senior was the brother-in-law of Peter Wentworth and the uncle and father-in-law of Sir Francis Walsingham’s niece.
    Mary Boys was the maternal aunt of Sir Philip Sidney, the renowned Elizabethan poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier. Her sister Frances had married Sir Philip in 1583 when she was sixteen, but the marriage was a short one. Sir Philip died at the age of 31 at Arnhem in The Netherlands in October of 1586 from a wound received in the preceding September while fighting for the Protestant cause against the Spanish in the Battle of Zutphen. In 1590 Frances married Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, with whom she had five children. Shortly after Essex’s execution in 1601, Frances married her lover, the 4th Earl of Clanricarde, and went to live in Ireland.

    Sir Philip Sidney,
    Sir Philip Sidney, the renowned Elizabethan poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier.

    Mary died on 17th October, 1616, and Edward (II) married Catharine Knatchbull, the daughter of Richard Knatchbull of Mersham Hatch, the widow of Alexander Hammon of Acrise, and the mother of Elizabeth Hammon , the wife of his eldest son, Edward Boys [III].  Alexander Hammond had also been a Marion exile in Frankfurt at the same time as Edward Boys [I] had resided there.

    Edward’s (II) heir, also Edward (III), was baptized at Nonington in 1579. The younger Edward (II) went on to serve at various times as a member of Parliament for Fowey, Christchurch, Sandwich, and Dover. He married Elizabeth Hammon in March of 1603 [1604], the daughter and co-heiress of Alexander Hammon of Acrise, Kent and Catharine Knatchbull, later his step-mother as well as his mother-in-law.

    http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/boys-sir-edward-1579-1646

    Both Edwards were knighted by the newly crowned James I in 1604 and Edward junior replaced his by then elderly father as a magistrate in 1632 and inherited the family estates on his father’s death in 1635.

    Sir Edward (III) represented Dover in both the Short and Long Parliaments (respectively 13th April to 5th May of 1640 and 3rd November of 1640 until 16th March of 1660), and also served as Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lieutenant of Dover Castle until his death at Fredville in 1646. John, his eldest son and heir, then fulfilled these offices until 1648.

    John Boys was born in February of 1604 (1605), the eldest son and heir of “Sir Edward Boys the Younger of ffredvile”, and  the last of the Boys family to own Fredville. In 1626 John married Margaret, the daughter of John Miller of Wrotham, and John’s grand-father, Edward (I) Boys the Elder of Fredville, gave him a very generous marriage settlement of land and property in Nonington, Ash, Eythorne, Shepherdwell and Womenswold parishes. 
    When the English Civil War broke out in 1642 both Sir Edward and John Boys joined the Parliamentarians. Sir Edward was Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lieutenant of Dover Castle and after Sir Edward’s  death in 1646 John  took over his father’s posts as Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lieutenant of Dover Castle. John held these posts until 1648 (see Nonington and the English Civil War for further details). During his service in the Civil War on the Parliamentary side John rose to the rank of Major.

    On his father’s death John Boys had inherited Fredville and other extensive estates and properties in several East Kent parishes and was to all intents and purposes a very wealthy man.

    During the English Civil War the various branches of the Boys family were involved in both the Parliamentarian and Royalist causes (see Nonington and the English Civil War for further details).. Authors of 18th and 19th century histories of Kent believed that loyalty to King Charles I had incurred Major John Boys severe financial penalties that eventually resulted in the loss of Fredville. William Hasted wrote in “The History and Topographical Survey of Kent, vol IX”, that “Major Boys, of Fredville, being a firm loyalist, suffered much by sequestration of his estates. He had seven sons and a daughter, who all died s.p. Two of his elder sons, John and Nicholas, finding that there was no further abode at Fredville, to which they had become entitled, departed each from thence, with a favourite hawk in hand, and became pensioners at the Charter-house, in London”.
    The truth, however, appears to be somewhat different. As previously stated Major John Boys was in actual fact a Parliamentarian and, according to William Boys in his 1802 biography and pedigree of the Boys family, the author of his own woes as, ‘by his own extravagance he much encumbered and wasted the estate of Fredville’.
    Hasted, along with other writers, appears to have confused Major John Boys of Fredville with Sir John Boys of Bonnington, the staunch Royalist defender of Donnington Castle.

    However, Major John Boys had severe financial difficulties well before the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.  In 1658 he and his son Nicholas, heir to the Major, had mortgaged “the manor of Elmington (Elvington) and the appurtenances of Nonington, Eythorne and Wymblingswold (Womenswold) and the avowedson of the Church at Eythorne” to Thomas Turner, the Major’s brother-in-law, for £1,550.00. This mortgage was renewed in 1668.

    The Major’s financial problems persisted and in July of 1673 “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” were conveyed to Denzil, Lord Holles of Ifield, as security for an advance of £ 3,000.

    Denzil, 1st Baron Holles of Ifield

     Denzil Holles had been a prominent politician during the Civil War, Commonwealth and Restoration periods who had been ennobled by Charles II in 1661.
    It would appear that the Major and Nicholas Boys did not repay the money as the Kings Bench at Southwark imprisoned them both for many years.  Nicholas Boys died in 1687 and the octogenarian Major John Boys in March 1688 and was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Nonington.  James Boys, one of the Major’s younger sons, tried without success in 1689 to retrieve the estates.

    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 to John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare and Duke of Newcastle.

  • William Boys and the Fredville purchase. It has been held for several centuries  by Thomas Philpott,  Edward Hasted, and other historians, that a feet of fines dating from  July of 1484 recorded the purchase by John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerveis of : “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’” from Thomas and Anne Quadryng'. However, this feet of fines was actually a legal manoeuvre to settle a court case to recover possession of the aforementioned properties which had in fact been purchased by John Nethersole and associates from the Quadryngs at some time shortly before the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483. These recovered properties then came into the sole possession of William Boys in 1485. A manor was a fiscal and legal entity, not a physical one, so that the purchase of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’" did not actually involve the acquisition of land but the acquisition of the lordship of these two manors.  This acquisition entitled the holder of these lordships to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines. A messuage at this time was a high status dwelling-house, and the grant of a messuage with its appurtenances not only transferred the house, but also all the buildings attached or belonging to it, along with its curtilage, garden and orchard and the close [surrounding land] on which the house was built. One of the two messuages referred to in the purchase was the Esol [Esole] manor house at Beauchamps, and the other messuage referred to in the purchase is most likely to have been on the site of the present Holt Street Farm house.  Where was the Manor of Fredeuyle? Edward Hasted, in his “The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent” stated that after the purchase William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence but returning  to live at Bonnington at some time before his death in 1507.  In the year he died William Boys of Goodnestone, but not of Nonington or Fredville,  gifted to Nonington Church 40/- [£.2.00] towards buying a Antephonar [a religious music book]. William’s will divided the bulk of his estate between his two sons, John, his eldest son and heir who had been born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470's, and Thomas.  William bequeathed to John “all my lands, tenements, customs, rents, suits and services in Nonington, and to his heirs for ever”, and to Thomas “my lands and tenements etc. in Goodneston, and to his male issue, but if no issue to my son John and his male issue; if no issue to female heirs of Thomas for ever”.  It is worth noting that William Boys returned to his Bonnington property before his death. Was the Bonnington property then a more comfortable house than that at Fredville? Perhaps the more pertinent question is that, if as Hasted states, William Boys did in fact relocate to Fredeuyle [Fredville], where did he in fact “remove thither” too?  At present there is no known documentary or physical evidence of there being a house  pre-dating the Tudor and Georgian mansions in Fredville Park. So, if there was no Fredville manor house there, then where could it have been located? There is some compelling evidence to indicate that at the time of William Boys’ acquisition of the aforementioned properties the Manor of Fredville [Fredeuyle] was centred upon the settlement of Holestreete or Holestrete [Holt Street] with the manor house on or near the site of the present Holt Street farmhouse. When the parish of Nonington was founded by Archbishop Pecham in 1282 its constituent hamlets or settlements were listed. One of the hamlets mentioned was Fredevile, previously the name used to refer to one half of the Knight’s Fee of Essewelle, but there is no reference to Holestreete [Holt Street]. The earliest presently known reference to “Freydevill’” is in legal documents dating from 1249 and 1250 while Holestrete is mentioned in the 1283-85 survey of Archbishop Pecham’s manor of Wingham. The survey records Simon of Holestreete and Roger of Holestreete as holding land on the adjacent manor of Acholt, also a part of the Manor of Wingham, showing that Holestreet actually then existed as a hamlet or settlement. “Freydevill’” most likely derives from is from the Old English [O.E.]: " frith or frythe", meaning a wood or wooded country, or the edges or outskirts of a wooded area, and "vill", a Latin abreviation used to indicate a manor or farm in medieval documents. “Freydevill’”, could therefore be taken to mean the manor or farm on the edge of the woods or woodland. Holt Street is a hamlet a half a mile or so to the south-east of Nonington Church, and its name derives from the O.E. ‘holt’, meaning a thicket or wood. Bordering Holt Street to the south-west is Ackholt or Acol,  deriving from the O.E.: "ac"; oak & "holt" ; literally an oak thicket or wood, and bordering to the south is Oxney Wood, deriving from "oxena denn"; "oxena", meaning cattle and "denn", meaning woodland pasture. These names indicate that this area was once heavily wooded and therefore almost certainly cultivated after other parts of Nonington, such as Esole. A quarter of a century or so after the Archbishop's survey there is a reference in a 1309 indenture for the transfer of ownership of property in the adjacent manor of Acholt to a windmill “in paroch de Nonyngton juxta Holestrete in ter(re) de Freydvile”, [in the parish of Nonington, next to Holt Street on the land of Fredville]. This confirms that Holt Street  was under the jurisdiction of the manor of Fredville, and would therefore be the main settlement of the manor due to its size and the number of its inhabitants at that time. Another indication to the Holt Street farmhouse  site having been the location of an early Fredville manor house is that much of the land now occupied by Snowdown Colliery and its spoil heaps is recorded on the 1839 Nonington parish tithe map as “the Great Field”, which lay between Oxney Wood and Holt Street Farm, only a hundred yards or so from the farmhouse. The Great Field is the name often associated with manorial demesne land or land lying close to a manor house. Manorial demesne land was land personally held by the lord of the manor and either worked directly by him for his own benefit or rented out.  Archbishop Pecham’s survey was made some sixty years or more before the Black Death swept through England. This epidemic possibly killed between one third and one half of the population of the Nonington area resulting in wide-ranging and long-lasting changes in the structure of land-holding and ownership and the use of agricultural land. In 1670 the Holt Street estate consisted of a capital messuage [principal house], the present Holt Street farmhouse, and some eight or so other messuages and cottages. The earlier Holt Street may have had more dwellings than those recorded in the inventory made in 1670 as only those properties owned by the Boys family as part of the Holt Street estate are recorded. No record  was made of any other free-hold property owners in and around the Holt Street estate. After the building of the Tudor Fredville mansion in Fredville Park, almost certainly by John Boys in the late 1510’s or early 1520’s, it appears that the name Fredville became synonymous with the site of this and the later Georgian mansion, and not with the original manor house at Holt Street. By the time Sir Edward Boys the Younger came to reside at the Holt Street house in the early seventeenth century the original manorial centre of Fredville at Holt Street  had become known as the Holt Street estate. The present Holt Street farmhouse was built in the first decade or so of the seventeenth century, apparently as a new family residence for Sir Edward Boys the Younger. This new house would have been an ideal residence for the Boys’ oldest son and heir while their father lived at the Fredville Mansion on the hill some quarter of a mile or so to the east. It appears to have fulfilled this role during the Boys' tenure at Fredville. When the Holt Street estate was sold off in the 1670’s to pay the creditors of Major John Boys, the last Boys to live at Fredville, it consisted of the new house, the eight or so smaller messuages and cottages, 250 acres or more of agricultural land, and some woodland.  Beauchamp' or Bechams, an alternative residence for William Boys. There is another, and more likely, possibility as to where William Boys “removed thither”. History, and the historians, seem to have forgotten, or ignored, the fact that in addition to Fredville, William Boys also acquired the manor of "Beauchamp’", recorded as "Bechams" in the 1501 manorial roll for the "Manor of Essesole" [Esole] wherein it is recorded as consisting of a manor house and some fifty or more acres of land.   The Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring "Saint Albons Courte" and the lord of the "Manor of Essesole", received an annual manorial rent of £2 2s 9d [£2.14p] payable once a year at Michaelmas [29th September]. "Bechams" was free of suit of court as it was held in gavelkind [freehold]. The pasture land around the remains of the manor house are still known locally as “The Ruins”, and the wood and adjacent lane are still known as Beauchamps Wood and Lane respectively. The above shows Beauchamps appears to have been pronounced as "Bechams " since at least the end of the fifteenth century. "Fredeuyle"  was a manor in its own right and held by William Boys as one half of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, whereas "Beauchamp’" was actually at this time a sub-manor of the other half of the knight’s fee and was known as "Esol" or "Esole" with the Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring "Saint Albons Courte", in possession of the manorial rights. By the time of the 1501 manorial roll "the Manor of Esol" or "Esole" had become the "Manor of Essesole" The manors "Fredeuyle" and "Beauchamp’"  seem to have melded into one entity known generally as Fredville, possibly because "Fredeuyle" was the larger of the two manors purchased. Under the broad umbrella of the Fredville name there is therefore a strong likelihood that William Boys resided for some time in the Beauchamp’ messuage and only returned to Bonnington just before he died in 1507, perhaps when he felt he was coming to the end of his time and wanted to spend the last of his days in his ancestral home. The most compelling reason why William Boys would have resided at "Bechams" instead of Holt Street is that the Quadryng family were originally wealthy London mercers, although of varying fortune in the latter part of their occupancy, and recent archaeological excavation of the Beauchamps manor house site has revealed the remains of what was once a quite extensive and high status house and associated out-buildings which would  have made a very suitable ready made residence for the  William and, later, John Boys, William's eldest son and the heir to Fredville. After inheriting Fredville and its associated properties John Boys continued to add to his holdings during the following decades. In 1512 he acquired property in Sandwich, and in 1528 he bought a quarter of the Manor of Soles from Thomas Norton, a legal and administrative entity which entitled him to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines in and around the present Soles Court, Long Lane farm, and the hamlet of Frogham. In addition to the manorial rights he also purchased from the same vendor 200 acres of land, 200 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland in Nonington and Barfreston. As can be seen, John Boys had money to spend in the 1510’s and 1520’s, and this would have been the most logical time for him to begin the construction of a mansion at Fredville to replace a now ageing manor house at Beauchamps.  As his wealth and local importance increased John Boys would have aspired to establish himself as a presence in the locality, and what better way to do this than to build a new mansion on a spur overlooking both his inherited and his newly acquired land in and around Nonington. The new house would also have been visible for several miles in the general direction of Sandwich, where he had business interests and held public office. Another possibility is that Bechams was sold after John’s death in 1533 by William Boys, his son and heir, who around 1537 acquired other large estates from the Manor of Wingham in Nonington and adjacent parishes and would therefore have needed money to fund these extensive land acquisitions. The sale of Bechams would have provided a useful sum to help pay for these acquisitions. Whatever the reasoning, Bechams was sold before 1555 as by then the estate had passed into the possession of “Edward Browne of Worde (Worth) juxta Sandwich, a  yeoman”, who on 2nd March of that year conveyed it to “Thomas Hamon of Nonnyngton, gentleman”. The property conveyed was: “All that messuage or tenement called BEACHAM situated in Nonnyngton, with all barnes, houses and edifices, now in the occupation of Thomas Hamon and all…. rents, services, …ect…containing 50 acres”, and which was apparently unchanged since the 1501 "Essesole" manorial roll entry.  

    Fredville-where was the original manor house located? The Boys family move in!

    William Boys and the Fredville purchase.

    It has been held for several centuries  by Thomas Philpott,  Edward Hasted, and other historians, that a feet of fines dating from  July of 1484 recorded the purchase by John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerveis of : “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’” from Thomas and Anne Quadryng’.
    However, this feet of fines was actually a legal manoeuvre to settle a court case to recover possession of the aforementioned properties which had in fact been purchased by John Nethersole and associates from the Quadryngs at some time shortly before the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483. These recovered properties then came into the sole possession of William Boys in 1485.

    A manor was a fiscal and legal entity, not a physical one, so that the purchase of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’” did not actually involve the acquisition of land but the acquisition of the lordship of these two manors.  This acquisition entitled the holder of these lordships to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines.
    A messuage at this time was a high status dwelling-house, and the grant of a messuage with its appurtenances not only transferred the house, but also all the buildings attached or belonging to it, along with its curtilage, garden and orchard and the close [surrounding land] on which the house was built.
    One of the two messuages referred to in the purchase was the Esol [Esole] manor house at Beauchamps, and the other messuage referred to in the purchase is most likely to have been on the site of the present Holt Street Farm house. 

    Where was the Manor of Fredeuyle?

    Edward Hasted, in his “The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent” stated that after the purchase William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence but returning  to live at Bonnington at some time before his death in 1507.  In the year he died William Boys of Goodnestone, but not of Nonington or Fredville,  gifted to Nonington Church 40/- [£.2.00] towards buying a Antephonar [a religious music book].
    William’s will divided the bulk of his estate between his two sons, John, his eldest son and heir who had been born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470’s, and Thomas.  William bequeathed to John “all my lands, tenements, customs, rents, suits and services in Nonington, and to his heirs for ever”, and to Thomas “my lands and tenements etc. in Goodneston, and to his male issue, but if no issue to my son John and his male issue; if no issue to female heirs of Thomas for ever”

    It is worth noting that William Boys returned to his Bonnington property before his death. Was the Bonnington property then a more comfortable house than that at Fredville?
    Perhaps the more pertinent question is that, if as Hasted states, William Boys did in fact relocate to Fredeuyle [Fredville], where did he in fact “remove thither” too? 

    At present there is no known documentary or physical evidence of there being a house  pre-dating the Tudor and Georgian mansions in Fredville Park. So, if there was no Fredville manor house there, then where could it have been located?
    There is some compelling evidence to indicate that at the time of William Boys’ acquisition of the aforementioned properties the Manor of Fredville [Fredeuyle] was centred upon the settlement of 
    Holestreete or Holestrete [Holt Street] with the manor house on or near the site of the present Holt Street farmhouse.

    When the parish of Nonington was founded by Archbishop Pecham in 1282 its constituent hamlets or settlements were listed. One of the hamlets mentioned was Fredevile, previously the name used to refer to one half of the Knight’s Fee of Essewelle, but there is no reference to Holestreete [Holt Street].

    The earliest presently known reference to “Freydevill’” is in legal documents dating from 1249 and 1250 while Holestrete is mentioned in the 1283-85 survey of Archbishop Pecham’s manor of Wingham. The survey records Simon of Holestreete and Roger of Holestreete as holding land on the adjacent manor of Acholt, also a part of the Manor of Wingham, showing that Holestreet actually then existed as a hamlet or settlement.

    “Freydevill’” most likely derives from is from the Old English [O.E.]: “ frith or frythe”, meaning a wood or wooded country, or the edges or outskirts of a wooded area, and “vill”, a Latin abreviation used to indicate a manor or farm in medieval documents. “Freydevill’”, could therefore be taken to mean the manor or farm on the edge of the woods or woodland.
    Holt Street is a hamlet a half a mile or so to the south-east of Nonington Church, and its name derives from the O.E. ‘holt’, meaning a thicket or wood. Bordering Holt Street to the south-west is Ackholt or Acol,  deriving from the O.E.: “ac”; oak & “holt” ; literally an oak thicket or wood, and bordering to the south is Oxney Wood, deriving from “oxena denn”; “oxena”, meaning cattle and “denn”, meaning woodland pasture. These names indicate that this area was once heavily wooded and therefore almost certainly cultivated after other parts of Nonington, such as Esole.

    A quarter of a century or so after the Archbishop’s survey there is a reference in a 1309 indenture for the transfer of ownership of property in the adjacent manor of Acholt to a windmill “in paroch de Nonyngton juxta Holestrete in ter(re) de Freydvile”, [in the parish of Nonington, next to Holt Street on the land of Fredville]. This confirms that Holt Street  was under the jurisdiction of the manor of Fredville, and would therefore be the main settlement of the manor due to its size and the number of its inhabitants at that time.

    Another indication to the Holt Street farmhouse  site having been the location of an early Fredville manor house is that much of the land now occupied by Snowdown Colliery and its spoil heaps is recorded on the 1839 Nonington parish tithe map as “the Great Field”, which lay between Oxney Wood and Holt Street Farm, only a hundred yards or so from the farmhouse. The Great Field is the name often associated with manorial demesne land or land lying close to a manor house. Manorial demesne land was land personally held by the lord of the manor and either worked directly by him for his own benefit or rented out. 

    Archbishop Pecham’s survey was made some sixty years or more before the Black Death swept through England. This epidemic possibly killed between one third and one half of the population of the Nonington area resulting in wide-ranging and long-lasting changes in the structure of land-holding and ownership and the use of agricultural land.
    In 1670 the Holt Street estate consisted of a capital messuage [principal house], the present Holt Street farmhouse, and some eight or so other messuages and cottages. The earlier Holt Street may have had more dwellings than those recorded in the inventory made in 1670 as only those properties owned by the Boys family as part of the Holt Street estate are recorded. No record  was made of any other free-hold property owners in and around the Holt Street estate.

    After the building of the Tudor Fredville mansion in Fredville Park, almost certainly by John Boys in the late 1510’s or early 1520’s, it appears that the name Fredville became synonymous with the site of this and the later Georgian mansion, and not with the original manor house at Holt Street.

    By the time Sir Edward Boys the Younger came to reside at the Holt Street house in the early seventeenth century the original manorial centre of Fredville at Holt Street  had become known as the Holt Street estate. The present Holt Street farmhouse was built in the first decade or so of the seventeenth century, apparently as a new family residence for Sir Edward Boys the Younger. This new house would have been an ideal residence for the Boys’ oldest son and heir while their father lived at the Fredville Mansion on the hill some quarter of a mile or so to the east. It appears to have fulfilled this role during the Boys’ tenure at Fredville.

    When the Holt Street estate was sold off in the 1670’s to pay the creditors of Major John Boys, the last Boys to live at Fredville, it consisted of the new house, the eight or so smaller messuages and cottages, 250 acres or more of agricultural land, and some woodland. 

    Beauchamp’ or Bechams, an alternative residence for William Boys.

    There is another, and more likely, possibility as to where William Boys “removed thither”.

    History, and the historians, seem to have forgotten, or ignored, the fact that in addition to Fredville, William Boys also acquired the manor of “Beauchamp’”, recorded as “Bechams” in the 1501 manorial roll for the “Manor of Essesole” [Esole] wherein it is recorded as consisting of a manor house and some fifty or more acres of land.   The Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring “Saint Albons Courte” and the lord of the “Manor of Essesole”, received an annual manorial rent of £2 2s 9d [£2.14p] payable once a year at Michaelmas [29th September]. “Bechams” was free of suit of court as it was held in gavelkind [freehold].
    The pasture land around the remains of the manor house are still known locally as “The Ruins”, and the wood and adjacent lane are still known as Beauchamps Wood and Lane respectively. The above shows Beauchamps appears to have been pronounced as “Bechams ” since at least the end of the fifteenth century.
    Fredeuyle”  was a manor in its own right and held by William Boys as one half of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, whereas “Beauchamp’” was actually at this time a sub-manor of the other half of the knight’s fee and was known as “Esol” or “Esole” with the Abbot of St. Alban’s, of neighbouring “Saint Albons Courte”, in possession of the manorial rights. By the time of the 1501 manorial roll “the Manor of Esol” or “Esole” had become the “Manor of Essesole”
    The manors
    Fredeuyle” and “Beauchamp’”  seem to have melded into one entity known generally as Fredville, possibly because “Fredeuyle” was the larger of the two manors purchased.

    Under the broad umbrella of the Fredville name there is therefore a strong likelihood that William Boys resided for some time in the Beauchamp’ messuage and only returned to Bonnington just before he died in 1507, perhaps when he felt he was coming to the end of his time and wanted to spend the last of his days in his ancestral home.

    The most compelling reason why William Boys would have resided at “Bechams” instead of Holt Street is that the Quadryng family were originally wealthy London mercers, although of varying fortune in the latter part of their occupancy, and recent archaeological excavation of the Beauchamps manor house site has revealed the remains of what was once a quite extensive and high status house and associated out-buildings which would  have made a very suitable ready made residence for the  William and, later, John Boys, William’s eldest son and the heir to Fredville.

    After inheriting Fredville and its associated properties John Boys continued to add to his holdings during the following decades. In 1512 he acquired property in Sandwich, and in 1528 he bought a quarter of the Manor of Soles from Thomas Norton, a legal and administrative entity which entitled him to certain manorial rights, revenues, rents and fines in and around the present Soles Court, Long Lane farm, and the hamlet of Frogham. In addition to the manorial rights he also purchased from the same vendor 200 acres of land, 200 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland in Nonington and Barfreston.

    As can be seen, John Boys had money to spend in the 1510’s and 1520’s, and this would have been the most logical time for him to begin the construction of a mansion at Fredville to replace a now ageing manor house at Beauchamps.

     As his wealth and local importance increased John Boys would have aspired to establish himself as a presence in the locality, and what better way to do this than to build a new mansion on a spur overlooking both his inherited and his newly acquired land in and around Nonington. The new house would also have been visible for several miles in the general direction of Sandwich, where he had business interests and held public office.

    Another possibility is that Bechams was sold after John’s death in 1533 by William Boys, his son and heir, who around 1537 acquired other large estates from the Manor of Wingham in Nonington and adjacent parishes and would therefore have needed money to fund these extensive land acquisitions. The sale of Bechams would have provided a useful sum to help pay for these acquisitions.

    Whatever the reasoning, Bechams was sold before 1555 as by then the estate had passed into the possession of “Edward Browne of Worde (Worth) juxta Sandwich, a  yeoman”, who on 2nd March of that year conveyed it to “Thomas Hamon of Nonnyngton, gentleman”. The property conveyed was: “All that messuage or tenement called BEACHAM situated in Nonnyngton, with all barnes, houses and edifices, now in the occupation of Thomas Hamon and all…. rents, services, …ect…containing 50 acres”, and which was apparently unchanged since the 1501 “Essesole” manorial roll entry.

     

  • The Colkyns of Esol in Nonington-the final years.

    The following is the last section of a larger article “The Knight’s Fee of Essewelle: Wischards, Hotots, and Colkyns at the Manors of Esol and Freydevill’-revised 14.08.19”, which recently reviewed information and further thought has made it necessary to revise. I have posted these revisions as a self contained post for the benefit of readers.

    The Colkyns at Essewelle-the final years.

    John Colkyn (2), held property at Freydvill’, Esol and Nonyngton during the early 1300’s until his death, the exact date which is not known, but it is believed to have been between 1316 and 1326. The Nonyngton property would have been in the North and South Nonington manors of the Manor of Wingham.
    The heir to John Colkyn (2) was his son, another John Colkyn (3), who was in his minority when he inherited his father’s property. As a minor inheriting property held from an over-lord John (3) became a ward of his over-lord. However, at the time John’s over-lord, Geoffrey de Say was also a minor and accordingly a ward of the Crown.

    Edward II, a weak king defeated by the Scots at Bannockburn in 1314

    In 1315 Sir Henry Beaufuiz [Beaufitz, Beaufiz], a King’s Justice, purchased by enrolment of grant a messuage and 25 acres in Esewele from Walter atte Bergh [Walter Abarowe] who had inherited the  property from family members. The exact location of this messuage is at present not certain, but it would have made Sir Henry a near neighbour of the Colkyns at their Esol manor house.
    After the death of John Colkyn (2) Sir Henry appears to have acquired the wardship of the minor John Colkyn, which meant that Sir Henry had control of John’s property until he came of age. At this time Sir Henry was owed a considerable amount of money by King Edward II in connection with Sir Henry’s military service in the King’s ill fated Scottish campaigns, and so most likely received the young John Colkyn’s wardship as part payment of these debts.

    Sir Henry died in 1325 but John Colkyn (3) did not have his property returned to him until Sir Henry’s executors were ordered to do so by King Edward III in February of 1337 [1338] when John  proved he had reached his majority, indicating that he had been born around 1316. The property returned was a messuage and a carucate of land  held in his demesne [the land retained on a manor by the lord of the manor for his own use] in Freydevill, Esole and Nunynton and held as of fee  from Geoffrey de Say by the service of a moiety of a knight’s fee, possibly the same moiety [three parts of the whole] referred to in the sale of moiety of Essewell to Roger de Kennardington in the early 1240’s.
    If the messuage and land held in desmesne by John Colkyn were the same as that later held by Sir John de Beauchamp at Esol, then this would have amounted to around 136 or so acres. Sir John presumably held the messuage and land previously held by the Colkyns, but not the knight’s fee of Essewelle or manorial rights at Esol. After the Colkyns tenure ended the knight’s fee of Essewelle had reverted back to the Barony of Say and the manorial rights were held by the Abbot of St. Alban’s.

    The year after Sir Henry’s death Alice, his daughter and sole heiress, and her husband Sir William de Plumpton, a Yorkshire knight, sold “2 messuages, 90 acres of land, 70s. rent, and rent of 2 cocks, 20 hens, and 200 eggs, with appurtenences in Nonynton” to Richard de Retlyng (1), these were presumably her father’s Esewele property with another messuage, an additional 65 acres of land, and what appears to be a part of the knight’s fee of Essewelle yielding manorial rents and dues. Sir Henry appears to have acquired a part of the Manor of Esol’s moiety of Essewelle, but unfortunately there is at present no known record of any such transaction.
    Some twenty years later Richard (2), son of Richard de Retlyng, (1) was recorded as being one of several people responsible for payments owed for the Essewelle fee in the Eastry Hundred Rolls of 1346. This responsibility appears to accrue from the 1326 purchase made by the elder Richard de Retlyng.

    Richard de Retlyng (1) [who should not to be confused with Sir Richard de Retlyn(g) of Retlyng/Ratling Manor, a kinsman but not directly connected to the following events] was a trusted servant of the Crown and served Edward II and Edward III from the 1320’s until his death around 1349. Royal service was well rewarded and Richard’s Post Mortem Inquiry records holdings in “Staple; Nonyngton; Kyngeston [Kingston]; Berfraiston [Barfreston], and Godwyneston juxta Wyngeham [Goodnestone-next-Wingham]”.

    Edward III, first English king to claim the throne of France

    John Colkyn (3) died shortly after regaining possession of his inheritance, his Post Mortem Inquiry was held in September of 1338 and recorded holdings in “Frydewill, Esole, Nunyngton”. He appears to have been only 22 or so when he died and left as his heir John Colkyn (4), who must therefore have been an infant or very young child when he inherited the holdings at Freydevill, Esole and Nunynton from his father.
    The 1346 Eastry Hundred Rolls record  that John (4), son of John Colkyn (3); the Abbot of St. Alban’s;  Edmund de Acholt; Richard (2), son of Richard de Retlyng(1);  and their co-owners [parceners] as being responsible for the fee that John Colkyn (3) had held at Esoll and Freydevill from Geoffrey de Say for 40s (£2) annually.
    [De Johanne filio Johannis Colkyn, abbate de Sancto Albano, Edmundo de Acholt, Ricardo filio Ricardi de Retlyng, et parcenariis suis, pro j. f. quod Johannes Colkyn tenuit apud Esol et Freydevill de Galfrido de Say    –    xl. s.].

    Richard de Retlyng’s (2) father’s 1326 purchase from Alice de Plumpton of: “70s.[£3.50] rent, and rent of 2 cocks, 20 hens, and 200 eggs, with appurtenences in Nonynton”  appears to be what made Richard de Retlyng (2) one of the four joint holders of the Knight’s Fee of Essewelle previously in the sole possession of  the Colkyn family. The Abbot of St. Alban’s, Edmund de Acholt  and the other  unknown “parceners”  also seem to have acquired a part of the fee either before or after the death of John Colkyn [3] in late 1338.

    The property returned to John Colkyn [3] in 1338 was recorded as being a messuage and a carucate of land held in his demesne [the land retained on a manor by the lord of the manor for his own use] in Freydevill, Esole and Nunynton. However, there is no mention of the knight’s fee of Essewelle or the manors of Esol and Fredvill’, so there is no indication as to how much of the knight’s fee or what manorial rights and revenues he still retained.

    John Colkyn [4] was the last Colkyn male to hold the knight’s fee of Essewelle. Why the family actually gave up the knight’s fee is, at present, a matter for speculation. Possibly the infant inheritor died from one of the many diseases then fatal to an infant, or perhaps the young Colkyn heir may have been one of the tens of thousands of victims of the Black Death which swept through England between 1348 and 1450 with sporadic outbreaks continuing into the 1360’s, and his heirs decided that in the aftermath of the Black Death that the knight’s fee, manors of Fredvill’ and Esol, and the Esol messuage and land were no longer of any financial or other benefit? Another possibility is that the infant heir lived on and that his guardians had come to the same decision and sold up to give the young John some financial security.

    The Black Death killed up to a half of the population of England in the late 1340's.
    The Black Death killed up to a half of the population of England in the late 1340’s.

    The Black Death killed between one third and a half of the population of England and as a result of this high mortality land was readily available, but the returns from agriculture were greatly diminished as the cost of employing a now scarce labour force rapidly increased and the market for agricultural produce correspondingly shrank. To counteract this state of affairs the Statute of Labourers was passed in 1351 in an effort to stop labourers taking advantage of the shortage of workers and demanding more money. The statute forced them to work for the same wages as before the Black Death and allowed landowners to insist on labour services being performed instead of accepting money (commutation) in lieu of service. Landowners accordingly profited from the food shortages, whilst the labourers standard of living declined due to substantial increases in the price of basic food stuffs such as bread and ale. A consequence of the shortage of labour was that much of the land previously used in food production was used to rear sheep as wool became more profitable, especially when shipped to Continental markets.

    There were potential heirs to the infant John Colkyn’s property living close by. Thomas Colkyn, the infant John’s paternal uncle, lived nearby at Ratling until at least 1345, when he sold land in Nonington to Thomas de Retlyngge, although it is possible Thomas predeceased the infant John.
    However, there are indications that Thomas Colkyn and his wife, Alma, themselves had heirs. There there are records of “Isabella filia de Retling de Nonington”, the daughter of Richard de Retling “by the daughter and heir of Colkin” marrying “Johannes Oxenden de Wingham” later in the century.

    Geoffrey de Say, over-lord of Essewelle, at the Battle of Crecy, 1346

    When the Colkyns gave up possession of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, apparently after 1346 but before the early to mid-1350’s, it reverted back to the Barony of Say, as did the manor of Freydevill. These facts are known as at some time prior to 1356 Sir Geoffrey de Say, Lord Say, awarded a lifetime interest in the manor of Freydvill’ to Sir John Harleston, with the interest to revert to the de Says or their heirs when Sir John died. This award of a lifetime interest could not have been made unless the manor of Fredvill’ had been in exclusive possession of Sir Geoffrey de Say, so it must have therefore reverted to him by the time of the award. After the death of Sir Geoffrey de Say in 1360 the knight’s fee of Essewelle and the manor of Fredville remained in the possession of his heirs until five-sixths of the manor of Fredville was sold by various inheritors to John Quadryng, a London mercer, in the early 1400’s.

    It is therefore possible that the Colkyns retained possession of the Manor of Freydvill’, perhaps until just before 1356, but that possession of the Manor of Esol had at sometime previously, been transferred to other people, possibly commencing in the early 1320’s when Sir Henry de Beaufuiz had the wardship of John Colkyn [III] and appears to have obtained manorial rights and rents of “70s. rent, and rent of 2 cocks, 20 hens, and 200 eggs, with appurtenences in Nonynton” which were sold after his death in 1326 by Alice de Plumpton, his daughter and heiress, to Richard de Retlyng the Elder.
    If this were so, then it would explain the divided ownership referred to above in the Eastry Hundred Rolls of 1346. The most likely scenario is that the Colkyns retained ownership of the entirety of the manor of Freydevill and its rights and revenues, and that at some time after the death of John Colkyn [3] the ownership of the manor of Esol and its rights and revenues was further divided by sale or other means between the Abbot of St. Alban’s; who held the majority share; Edmund de Acholt; and other lesser holders, with Richard de Retlyng the Younger already holding a portion obtained in 1326.

    The Colkyns of Essewelle and Esol, or their heirs, must also have sold or in other ways transferred ownership of the messuage and lands pertaining to Esol at some time between 1338 and 1349 as the the Abbey of St. Alban’s manorial rent roll for Esol for 1349 confirms that the Abbot then held the manorial rights and rents for the manor of Esol, and that messuage and land that John Colkyn [4] had inherited from his father in 1338 was in the possession of Sir John de Beauchamp, who accordingly paid the manorial rents due to the Abbot as Lord of the Manor of Esol.

    Whatever ended of the Colkyns tenure of Essewelle and its constituent manors of Esol and Fredvill’, the Abbot of St. Alban’s Abbey obviously thought that the Manor of Esol, along with its revenues and rights, was worth acquiring. This may well have been because it was contiguous with the Abbey’s own Manor of Eswalt and also had the added financial benefit that its manorial rents and dues had to be paid whether agriculture for the manorial tenants was profitable or not and therefore guaranteed a known annual revenue stream.

    Sir John de Beauchamp must also have thought that the messuage and land at Esol was a good prospect, most likely due to its location near to the ports of Sandwich and Dover than for its revenues. The manorial rent rolls showed Sir John de Beauchamp’s holding at Esol [Esole] as:-‘one messuage with dovecot, 60a arable, 12a pasture at a total annual manorial rental of 52 s.6d payable to the Abbot of St. Alban’s’. This messuage and land became known as Bechams, which in  recent times has reverted to Beauchamps. Despite a tenure  of probably less than thirty years at Esol  the ruins of the manor house and the surrounding land still retain his family name nearly 700 years after he bought them.

    Over the succeeding years the Abbey’s old manor of Eswalt and the new manor of Esole gradually merged into a single entity which by the early part of the 1500’s was generally known as the “Manor of Esole otherwise Seynt Albons Court”. The assimilation of the two names into Esole has caused a lot of confusion over the centuries with Eswalt being confused with Esole, and vice versa.

    As the Lord of the Manor of Esol the Abbot of St. Alban’s owed payment on a half of the knight’s fee for Essewelle,  a liability transferred to subsequent owners of the manor. In 1540 the fees became Crown revenue and as such were eventually sold to private individual as fee farm rents.
    The fees for the “Manner of Eastwell alias Essoles alias St. Albans Court [in Nonington] were “extinguished by purchase” by William Hammond in 1738. A
    t the same time the fees for the “Manner of Eastwell alias ffredvile [Fredville in Nonington] were also “extinguished by purchase”  by the Duke of Newcastle, the then owner of the manor.

  • Beauchamps dovecote

    The Esole manor dovecote, Nonington-new discoveries with picture gallery-revised 5.8.19

    For centuries domestic pigeons were kept in dovecotes, also dovecots, which were often referred to as a columbaria, pigeonnaire, or pigeon house. Domestic pigeons were easy to breed and provided a meat considered to be a delicacy by the wealthy and their manure was considered to be the best fertilizer available. Pigeon dung has a very high nitrogen content and has to be allowed to compost before it can be used otherwise it “burns” plants.
    The increasing use of gunpowder in warfare after the mid-1300’s also made pigeon dung very valuable due to its high nitrate content as it was then one of the few sources of the saltpeter [potassium nitrate] needed to manufacture gunpowder. Saltpeter became so valuable in the 16th and 17th centuries that dovecotes were often guarded to prevent the theft of the dung. Pigeon dung continued to be an important source of saltpeter until well into the 1700’s.
    Dove feathers were also a valued resource and used for stuffing mattresses and pillows.

    Lullingstone Castle in Kent, the dovecote is shown as being next to the entrance gate for all to see [17th century engraving].

    After the Norman invasion and occupation of England after 1066 the keeping of domestic pigeons, which were descended from rock doves, gradually became common among the aristocracy and gentry. The building of a dovecote was a feudal right [Droit de Colombier – the privilege of possessing a dovecoterestricted to the upper classes, including lords of the manor and the heads of religious institutions. The pigeons were allowed to fly freely over the surrounding countryside and feed where ever food was to be found. This was often to the detriment of the local inhabitants crops, but they just had to accept it as a lord’s feudal right although they were allowed to scare the birds away, but not to kill them.

    There is no known record of the Colkyns of Esole having a dovecote, but records regarding their property during their tenure at Esole and Freydevill are few and far between, but as lords of the manor they would have been entitled to have one. The 1349 St. Alban’s Abbey manorial rent roll for Esole records Sir John de Beauchamp as having “a messuage with dovecote”, as does Sir John’s Post Mortem Inquisition of 1360.

    The right to build a dovecote was a visible sign of the high status of its owner, and they were usually built in front of the owner’s house to be seen by visitors and passers-by.  In my previous article on the Esole dovecote I speculated that the  Esole dovecote was therefore probably under what is now Beauchamps Wood, which was then the forstall, or open space, in front of the Esole manor house, and a recent discovery at the Beauchamps excavation appears to confirm the location of the dovecote recorded during Sir John de Beauchamp’s tenure at Esole from the mid-1340’s to his death at Calais in December of 1360.

    The following is taken from a longer article regarding recent discoveries at Beauchamps written by Peter Hobbs of Old St. Alban’s Court, the present owner of Beauchamps, and the driving force behind the ongoing archaeological excavations there.

    “We put in another trench to confirm the continuation to the North East of what we now believed to be  a 1798 ditch and bank around Beauchamps Wood – which it did –but in so doing to our astonishment exposed another rectangular building just below ground level. Finely built with stone corners and knapped flint, the breadth of the walls suggested it was more than one storey high. Unlike our other buildings, there was no floor other than earth but the mix of flint with some tile and fragments of yellow brick was similar to the construction of one of the earlier buildings we had excavated on site. Too small to be domestic accommodation, we concluded that we had probably found the dovecot that was recorded on site in 1349 and again in 1360.

       Dovecots then (and until the time of Charles 1) required royal permission to erect and were a significant statement of both the importance as well as the wealth of their owners. Ours certainly does that and of course at the time they were not just a source of eggs and meat but also were the principal source of the saltpetre for gunpowder for the fleet and royal artillery.

        If our assessment is correct, this would be the earliest recorded domestic example of its kind as far as we can research in East Kent. But who built it? Clive Webb has researched who was sufficiently rich and important at the time to be allowed to erect it. (We suspect it was later dismantled but further excavation will be required to throw more light on that.)  One clue is that the Abbot of St Albans had managed to secure possession of that piece of the Manor of Easole  ( whilst the de Say family still retained lordship) in  or just after 1346  whilst it seems Sir John purchased the land and buildings from the Colkyn family who had held them for 50 years or so at  about the same time. He then paid the Abbot a manorial rent of £2 12shillings and 6pence pa (an indexed £2000 or more realistically in labour terms £38000 and in comparitive income terms £75000. Given what a mess the Abbey was making of it’s main finances at the time, they had a pretty astute estate manager – the Cellarer – then. ). The land holding arrangements involved in all this are complex in our terms and not worth describing here even if I understood them fully. Sir John was a famous name: bearer of the Royal Standard at the Battle of Crecy, member of the Garter together with the Black Prince, highly successful general against the French, Governor of Calais and Admiral of the fleet and extremely wealthy.  We believe he probably demolished most of the existing buildings and erected a new two storey house and other buildings like the dovecot as well as digging the ditch which separated his land from the rest of the estate lying to the South. Given his likely sources of intelligence, he may well have been aware of the plague which we know as the Black  Death which was sweeping through European cities and made preparations to base himself close to Dover (fast route to Calais) and Sandwich (harbour for all his troops and supplies for France) but clear of those urban centres and their potential risks. Our site was ideal being equidistant from both but still close to the main roads. Certainly he was an highly able and intelligent and successful man and if anybody could see trouble, he would have been the man and was making the best provision he could. (Brexit anyone?) We have a manorial roll for 1349 and whilst Canterbury had already lost more than a third of its inhabitants to the plague, including the Lord Mayor, Nonington appears untouched so his foresight was borne out – although the plague still got him in 1360 in Calais where he had been dispatched by the King to rescue John of Gaunt who had been trapped by the French when he was on a plundering raid.

    Of course, this discovery persuaded us to test whether the 1798 ditch, driven straight through the foundations of our probable dovecot, had also cut through the roadway into the site from the West that we had previously tentatively identified. Indeed it did but the excavations are revealing further walling again on a different axis to everything else we had as well as shallow piles of flint which are being investigated to see what, if anything, lies underneath. There are some weeks at least of work to try to bottom what may have been on this part of the site.

        So having over a year ago assumed that we had most if not all the information available to us in the ground outside Beauchamps Wood, events have shown how wrong we are!

         One further observation: the supreme disinterest in what is going on by the vast majority of those passing by. May be they feel sufficiently informed by these articles? (Um. Ask the Editor) But there is one interest – virtually all the metal rods we use to mark out the site and tape off areas have disappeared which is a pity. The Dover Archaeological Group is professionally led but the members are all volunteers and the Group receive no funding whilst they uncover so much of which was completely unknown in our local history so these sorts of mean actions are a disappointment”.

    The following gallery contains photographs of the newly discovered and excavated Esole dovecote taken by Clive Webb in May of 2019.

    Fourteenth century dovecotes were often built from stone and flint, with the nesting holes, which had to be dark, private and dry, built into the flint walls from the bottom to the top.
    After the arrival of the omnivorous brown rat into England in the early 1700’s, which replaced the mainly vegetarian black rat, the  first row of nest holes were built a couple of feet or more above ground level to prevent the  predatory brown rats from getting into the holes and destroying the eggs and squabs. Existing dovecotes had the nest holes in the lower couple of feet of the wall blocked up.

    The inside walls of dovecotes were often plastered and painted white as the birds are attracted by white surfaces, and this helped to encourage them to stay. Some dovecotes had L shaped nesting holes, they are thought to have been made in that shape to accommodate the birds’ tails and in imitation of the nesting hole shape most favoured by wild birds. There was usually a ledge just below the entrance to the nesting hole which provided a perch for the birds.
    A ladder was obviously needed to reach the nesting boxes to harvest the eggs and squabs, and for centuries a traditional ladder was used in dovecotes of all shapes and sizes.  One innovation came into common use in England in the early 18th century onwards when larger circular dovecotes were fitted with a revolving ladder, often referred to as a potence. This was a revolving wooden pole mounted on a plinth which had arms onto which ladders could be attached and suspended a few feet off the ground. Instead of having to continually move a conventional ladder around the wall the harvester could simply rotate the potence through 360 degrees to move round to fresh nesting boxes.

    Pigeon meat was considered a delicacy with usually only the young birds, known as squabs, being eaten. In the 14th century humorist medical books stated that squab was “hot and moist” food, but the meat of older pigeons was hot, dry, and “barely edible”.
    Pigeons feed their young on regurgitated “pigeon milk” which means they can begin to hatch their young as early as March and continue on into October or even early November. The squabs were harvested when they were around 28-30 days old, as they were by then large enough to eat but unable to fly and therefore easy to catch. A number of birds were allowed to mature to provide future breeding stock. Various fourteenth and fifteenth century, and later, household accounts indicate that peak harvest times were April and May, and then from August to early December. There would almost certainly be no squabs from December to late March so the de Beauchamps and their successors at Esole would have enjoyed a ready supply of squabs for nine or so months of the year.
    Restrictions of the ownership of dovecotes were enforced until the early 1600’s, after which time they began to be built by all classes from aristocrats to country cottagers and many examples of sixteenth to nineteenth century dovecotes are still to be found. The keeping of pigeons for food declined in the nineteenth century as much cheaper meat became more readily available all year round.

     

     

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