The Manor of Solys, now Soles Court Farm

General information
About four hundred yards to the west of Soles is  Three Barrow Downs, historically called Rowbergh and Rowberry Butts,  taking its name from the three barrows  in the shave adjacent to the ancient track way that is now part of the North Downs Way and known locally as “The Roman Road”. In the adjoining field to the north of the barrows is evidence of a pre-Roman settlement on Ruberry Downs,  an alternative name for Three Barrow Downs to the north of “The Roman Road”, now in Womenswold parish. On older maps (see 1870’s OS map below)  Three Barrow Down runs from “The Roman Road”  to Nightingale Lane,  Nonington.

Rowbergh, Rowbery, Ruberry ect.  possibly derives from the OE, “rough bury” meaning rough or scrub covered hill or mound(s), although Bryan Faussett in his book “Inventorium Sepulchrale” published in 1856 thought that the name derived from “” Romes berig Butts”, meaning “the butts at the Roman burial place”. This would give an explanation of the origin of  “The Roman Road’s” name.

Above:-Three Barrow Downs and Soles in the 1870’s. The London, Chatham and Dover railway line cuts Soles Butts of from Upper Soles Wood and divides Three Barrow Downs into two parts, the northern part became known as Ruberries Wood.


Burial mounds were often referred to as butts, and made ideal target butts for practising archery. The present Soles Butts, the shave running north from the barrows to the railway line which now separates it from Soles Wood, would also appear to have a similar origin, although the butts may originally have referred to a plough ridge separating Soles land from adjacent Oxenden land. These ridges are also referred to as butts, as they occur where individual lands ” butt” together and were formed by the ancient method of clockwise ploughing which resulted in ridges, or butts, forming along the boundary between two fields or cultivated strips from the soil thrown up from the furrows, which went in opposite directions, and over the years a sizeable butt could be thrown up. Some are still visible locally where they have evolved into ‘listways’ (raised foot-ways and horse-ways) along the boundaries of ancient fields. However, the width of the Soles Butts shave would appear to preclude ploughing as having formed Soles Butts.

Man made ditched banks with hedges or fences on the top were often marked where manorial holdings bordered or “butted” against each other, and could be several feet high as with the still visible Holt Street butts.  Soles Butts may have originally been a ditch, forming a boundary with the adjoining Oxenden and Woollege manors although there are no to be expected obvious remains of a bank or ditch in the shave, which actually originates in the small wood containing the burial mounds so it seems most likely that the Soles Butts shave derives name its from the butts or burial mounds.

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  • admin

    Thanks for the positive comments, Paul.
    There was a farm settlement on Ruberry Downs over towards the Roman Road, which is to the left of the bridge. This appears to have been inhabited from Iron through to perhaps the early 17th century. The 1870’s OS maps show a water cistern there. Butts Lane I think derives from its proximity to Soles Butts, the shave that runs from the railway line to the Three Barrows on the Roman Road which is where the manor of Soles lands meet up with the manor of Wingham’s lands on Ruberry Downs close by to the east of the aforementioned settlement.I think the farm you are referring to is Oxenden or Oxney, which is located through Dead Woman’s Gap, the older name for which appears to be Oxney Forestall and Oxney Barn Field & Wood. I remember asking Peter and some of the older beaters back in the 1960’s how the name arose, but nobody knew . I’ve never heard of or found an explanation for the name anywhere else.It may have possibly been a female itinerant who perished there in the late 19th or early 20th centuries or maybe a death connected to the building of the railway in the early 1860’s. It’s a similar situation to Bloody Bones Lodge at the foot of Old Court Hill. It was the local name for the lodge and the small field behind it, but I’ve never found a written reference to it. My thinking here  is that an old burial mound was disturbed when steam ploughing began in the 1860’s and, as in the case of the AS graveyard at St. Alban’s, the disinterred bones were fancifully or romantically presumed to have originated from the casualties from some long past battle.
    I’ll look into Dead Womans Gap, there may be something in a free online newspaper archive or a reference somewhere else.I’ll let you know if I find anything,Regards,Clive Webb.

  • Paul Plumptre

    While we are discussing Frogham and Oxney, can I raise what could be a very long wild goose chase. As one drives the charming lane / road West out of Frogham, one first goes up Phoenix lane, and then past the entrance to Soles; then over the railway bridge (where there are still 4ft concrete pyramids erected 1940 to block German tanks). One the right hand over the bridge, it is now Little Ruberry wood (I think) – where you tell me there used to be a farm 1300-1800.
    400 yards further on, one gets to the corner where one briefly joins the North Downs Way (to my family, the ‘Roman Road’ or ‘Butts Lane’). Just before this, there is a straggling spinney, through which a farm track descends towards the main Oxney Wood. My father, and hence his family, have always referred to this spinney as ‘Dead Woman’s Gap’. Q1. Do you know of anyone else referring to it as such? (I never asked old Mr Eric Ratcliffe, who farmed thereabouts in my youth.) Q2. One must assume there was a dead woman sometime. My father told us no story. It would be a long wild goose chase, to search through local newspapers, for a report of a dead woman found there. I would start c.1900, and I would guess she must have been found between 1830 and 1930. (She would not have been a local woman; else why would a name ‘Dead Woman’s Gap’ have grown up.) Have you ever come across such a record?
    Best wishes. I really enjoy all your articles.
    Paul Plumptre (01788 521712, Rugby)

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