Some Nonington Place Names

Ackholt is now in the Parish of Aylesham and lies just the other side of the railway-line where the Nonington to Womenswold bridle way crosses the Snowdown to Aylesham road on the southern boundary of the old parish of Nonington.
Pronounced Acol (Aye-kul) with a long a and the t dropped as is usual in the old East Kent dialect, the name derives from the Old English (O.E.): ac; oak & holt ; thicket, literally meaning an oak thicket or wood. To the east of Ackholt  is the hamlet of Holt Street, another “holt”, indicating this area was once heavily wooded.
The influx of “foreigners” from all over the U.K. in the 1920’s seeking work in the Kent Coalfields led to common usage of a hard C when saying the name, so that it is now generally pronounced as “Ak-olt” when referring to Ackholt Road, and “Aye-kul” when referring to the old hamlet and nearby Acol Bank.

Aylesham: possibly from O.E. Aegeles ham; Aegel’s homestead. Now refers to the actual mining village, but before the village was built, it referred to the corner, wood and farm of that name. The earliest reference to Aylesham I have so far found is from 1604 when “John Swanton of Aylesham [in Nonington], yeoman”, was elected  as parish constable. The Aylesham referred to here may have been an earlier house or small holding on the site of the later house that stood until the early 1800’s at the southern end of Ackholt Wood, recorded on the 1838 parish tithe map.

Barfrestone: also Bason, Barson, Barston: diminutive names in common use until late 19th century for Barfrestone. O.E. Beornfride’s tun; Beornfrid’s farmstead. Used in old documents to refer to Barfrestone i.e. in connection with the Barson mills just within Nonington Parish on its extreme S.W. boundary with Barson.

Beauchamps, Beachams, Bechams. 1484 Beauchamps, 1558 Beachams, 1615 Bechams: Wood, Lane and field. Originally part of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, which divided into the sub-fiefs of Esole and Fredville. In the mid-fourteenth century  The house and some land at Esole became a part of the holdings of the de Beauchamp family,  then Earls of Warwick. This appears to have given the area its name which was first documented in 1484 when “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ “ were sold. It was later recorded as “Le Becham”  in the 1501 Essesole manorial rolls; Beachams when the house and land was bought by Thomas Hamon of St. Alban’s in 1558, and Bechams in a list of  lands owned by the late Edward Hammod in 1615.  The land remained a part of the St. Alban’s estate until the estate was sold in various lots by auction in 1938.

Butcher’s Alley, also Butcher’s Lane: the bridle way running from Esole Street towards Elvington and Eythorne alongside the old butchers premises and up the hill along the western side of Easole Fields. In the 1901 cencus it was referred to as Chalk Hill, probably because there are at least two old chalk quarries or lime pits on its northern side.

Brick Field. An old brick making site, probably in the early 17th century to the west of Holt Street Farm and bordering on the north side of Butter Street from the brow of the hill to approximately two thirds of the way to Church Street. Bricks made here were probably used to build Holt Street Farm house and other nearby houses built from the early 1600’s onwards. Its western and northern boundaries are a banked hedge or carvet ,a Kentish dialect word for a shave or shaw.
(Shaw: from O.E. scaga; copse. A Kent dialect word to describe a small area of woodland, or large hedge. also Shave, derived from shaw, although it is usually used to describe a long, narrow piece of wood land).
Beachams Field and Brickfield Piece in Fredville Park are other sites in the parish that were used for brick-making.

Butter Street: Documents from the 1550’s mention ‘5 roods of land in the Parish of Nonington next Harelesstrete / Holestrete (Holt Street) butts’. Butts were where individual holdings adjoined or ‘butted’ together and were often formed by ditched and hedges banks. Several  fields in the Holt Street area still have clearly visible boundary banks and ditches, some still dividing modern land holdings. Butter Street runs from Holt Street to Church Street through these ‘butts’ and so was probably originally known as ‘Butts Strete’. As Kentish T’s were, and often still are, pronounced as D’s, ‘Budds Strete’ eventually evolved over the years into ‘Butter Street’.

Chalk Hill: see Butcher’s Alley.

Chapman’s: Hill and Close, named after a tenant farmer family of that name who farmed in this part of the old parish area in the late 16th and early 17th century, the name was being used on documents by the 1640’s. now partly in Aylesham Parish.

Church Street: the name now given to the road going from the Church towards Acholt and Womenswold, It originally included what is now called Pinners Lane.

Curlswood Park Farm: Crudes Wod 1283; Croddeswode 1342; Cruddyswood 1425; also Curleswood Park Farm & park Farm: From the O. E. Crudes wudu; Crudes (a personal name) wood . A woodland area of the manor of Wingham, in 1283 Crudes was where Richard Hokemok held two parts and Rikemund the widow of Alexander Crud (from whence the name came) held the third part, Crudes wood then consisted of 244 acres. The later Curleswood Park belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury being in the 18th century an enclosed deer park. Until the 1920’s the farm house and buildings stood just to the west of the junction of Cornwallis Avenue and Ratling Road, Aylesham.

Drove, The: used until the early 1900’s to refer to the lower part of  Holt Street from just below the garage to the beginning of Easole Street. The original meaning derives from O.E. draf; a roadway along which cattle were driven.

Easole, also Essesole & Esol a hamlet in Nonington parish which now joins up with Holt Street. It was originally a part of the knight’s fee of Essewelle, which divided into the manors of Esole and  Fredville, and the name appears to have evolved over the centuries from Essewelle in the Domesday Survey of 1086 to; Eswall’, 1154; Esol, 1303; Esole, 1337; Essole, 1501. Some old maps give derivative spellings but these appear to be due to the way the name was pronounced locally at the time ie., Yewsole 1768 also East Old St., Hazle St, Issel St, Yselle St.

Fredville, House and Park: originally a part of Essewelle Manor. 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 once 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 manor, 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 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 woodland eventually evolved into an administrative “villata” as the population increased and then became the  manor of Freydevill first referred to in 1249 afterthe knight’s fee of Essewelle was divided between the two heiresses of Dionisia Wischard around 1218 or so.

Frogham or Frogham Street; Frogham, 1250; Frogenham, 1402; Frogham is a small settlement in the south-eastern corner of the old parish of Nonington. In earlier  times it was referred to as Frogenham and was a vill’ in its own right.
Frogham most likely derives from the Old English: “Frocgena ham: the home of the frogs. [Frocga, frog and ham, which means variously “homestead, village, manor, estate”].   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.

Hangman’s Hill/Hanging Hill is  the slope next to the shave in the field at the southern end of the Nonington  cricket ground. From the Old English hangra, a hanging wood meaning a wood on a slope. In the wooded area above the southern end of the Cricket ground is an old chalk hole known as Harry’s Hole.

Holt or Old Street, Holestret, 1284;  Harelestrete, Holestrete & Holstrete, 1558: a hamlet a half a mile or so to the south-east of the Church, deriving from the O.E. ‘holt’, meaning a thicket. Holt Street was originally clustered around Holt Street Farm. The lower part of Holt, or Old, Streetwas referred to as the Drove. Old Street, often referred to in documents and maps, is simply Holt with the H dropped and the T pronounced as D.

Kittington. Kethampton 1226, Kethamtone 1304, Ketyntone 1330: farm and cottages. From the O.E. ‘cyte hamtun’, meaning ‘home farm where there are cottages’. A large holding which is part of the Manor and, later, College of Wingham at the extreme eastern edge of the parish on the border with Eythorne and Tilmanstone parishes. The large Georgian farmhouse was mistakenly blown up by the British Army during the Second World War, so that now only farm buildings and an adjacent  row of cottages remain.

Johnson’s Terrace, the row of houses bordering Nightingale Lane at the Holt Street cross roads. Named after the tenant of the land now occupied by the houses in the late 19th. and early 20th. centuries.

Longlands: from the O.E. ‘Lang’’ or long, and land. Now the name of the field opposite Nightingale Cottages much of which now lays under the colliery tip.

Mounton (also Monkton) and Mount Ephraim. At the northern extreme of the Nonington parish where it borders Goodnestone. The name, Mount Ephraim, possibly derives from Monkton, via Monnoctons, Moncks, 1615, to Mounkton, the name used on a 1750’s St. Alban’s estate map. Monkton is now the old Gooseberry Hall Farm, which was once part of the Manor of Adisham which was owned by the monks of Christ Church in Canterbury. Monkton literally means ‘the monks farm or manor’. The farm is situated on a cross-roads made by  ancient track, now a bye-way called Cherry Garden Lane, crossing the ancient Womenswold to Nonington to Chillenden and beyond highway which is now a combination of metalled road (Church Street and  Pinner’s Lane in Nonington), bridleway and footpath.

Nonington or Nonnington: Nunningitun, 1070’s; Nunynton, 1337; Nonyngton,1460; Nonyngton’ , 1484;  Nunnington, 1615.
The ownership of Oesewalum by the Benedictine Abbeys of Minster on the Isle of Thanet and Southminster at Lyminge from the late eighth century onwards is almost certainly the origin of Nonington or Nonnington which evolved over the centuries from Nunningitun, recorded circa 1070, which itself evolved from Nunn-ingtūn. This name for the settlement at Oesewalum would have come from the Old English “nunne”; which itself derived from the Ecclesiastical Latin “nonne”, and “ingtūn”; the nuns farm, village or estate. The prevailing widespread current opinion amongst place name scholars is that “ing” is a singular suffix which, when paired with “tūn”, meaning a farm, village or estate, had an associative function, i.e. “called after”, which in this case is the nuns of the two abbeys.

This use of “ingtūn” as a suffix also appears to date the naming of the settlement at Oesewalum to the late eighth or early ninth centuries as early credible examples of “ingtūn” seem only to begin to appear in Mercia or its West Midlands territories in the second half of the eighth century and do not appear in charter descriptions of estates in Kent until in the late 780’s, around the time that Mercia consolidated its control over the previously independent Kingdom of Kent. This is also the period in which Oesewalum belonged to the abbesses Selethryth and Cwoenthryth.

Some three quarters of a mile to the north-east of Nonington hamlet along the Chillenden road is the small estate of Monkton, the Monk’s farm, part of the Manor of Adisham which had been given to ChristChurch in 616. Monkton also stands on a cross-roads formed by the Nonington to Chillenden road and an ancient track-way or “pilgrim’s road” running from Canterbury through Bekesbourne, Bossingham, near Adisham, through the present Goodnestone Park and then along the present Cherry Garden Lane on the north-eastern boundary of Nonington parish and on towards Eythorne and beyond. Therefore it may have been called the Nunn’s estate to differentiate it from the Monk’s farm, as the two were located in similar situations and were close together.

Originally Nonington was the name given to the area around the church, which was mentioned in a list made for Archbishop Lanfranc in the 1070’s or 80’s as “Nunningitun”.

Oxney Wood. Oxinden, 1278; Oxenden 1535; Oxena denn; oxen, meaning cattle, denn, meaning woodland pasture, the cattle grazing clearing in the wood. As can be seen from its desscription 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 manor, much of which now lies beneath the old Snowdown Colliery spoil heaps.
The Oxenden family, for many years prominent in East Kent affairs, took their name from  Oxinden, a vill  which was a  part of the Manor of Wingham and once centred on the present Oxney Wood area.
To the south of the present Oxney Wood is Oxney Forestall, indicating it was the location of farm or possible manorial buildings as a forestall was the area in front of, or leading to, a farm or manor house.
The bank between Oxney Forestall and the railway line was referred to on old parish maps as Oxney Barn Bank, which later became known as Palm Tree Bank. Yew trees were referred to as palm trees, and there is still a very large, and undoubtedly ancient, yew tree on the eastern edge of the bank in the woodland which now covers much of the bank. Until comparatively recently, historically speaking, the majority of this bank was unwooded.
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.
Oxinden seems to have evolved into Oxney at sometime during the 17th century, possibly via oxen ley (O.E., ‘leah’, meaning a meadow or grazing land) as ox meadow or grazing, is very similar in meaning to Oxinden’s original meaning.

Pinner’s, Pyner’s: Hill, Wood and Lane. ‘Pynnars Helle’ is mentioned in an 1487 document. The name appears to derive from the Pyner family who farmed in the parish prior to and after that date. Long Pinners Wood, of which a small remnant still stands to the rear of “Highleas” at the top of Old Court Hill, is referred to in the 1626 Boys marriage settlement.

Ratling: also Rytlinge c.1100; Ratlyng, 1453. Evolving from the Old English (O.E.). ryt hlinc. Ryt: meaning underwood, as in post-coppicing and other young trees or scrub suitable for fuel and other purposes. Hlinc: a ridge, bank, rising ground or hill.
The name indicates an area consisting of underwood and scrub land of little use for agriculture. Ratling is now part of Aylesham parish.

Ruberry or Ruberries: 1415 Rowbergh, 1415; Rowbarrows,1626;  Redberry, 1839: Downs and Woods. From the O.E. ‘ruh’, meaning rough and ‘beorg’, meaning hill or barrow, three of which are still visible on Three Barrows Down. Ruberry Downs extends from ‘The Roman Road’, the local name for an ancient track way now forming part of the North Downs Way, and the adjacent Three Barrows, to Nightingale Lane, which runs from Holt Street cross roads to Frogham. Ruberry Wood was divided by the construction of the London to Dover railway in the 1860’s into Big and Little Ruberrys Woods. Part of Big Ruberrys Wood and the nearby Broomhill Wood are now covered by spoil from Snowdown Colliery.

Slay Lane, also Sleigh Lane: From the O. E. ‘slay’, a track running through gorse. This bridle way runs from the car park opposite the ‘Royal Oak’ in Holt Street into Fredville Park and then divides with one path going through Iron Fence Wood to Mill Lane and the other onto Sheerway Gate at the southern end of Fredville Park.

Sheerway Gate. A sheer way, shereway, or shire way  is Kent dialect for a track or road going through private land i.e. a park. In Kent dialect “e” or “ee” is pronounced as an “i”, thus making it a sheer or shere way.  A 1750’s map of Church farm shows the footpath running from church farm to Goodnestone as a shereway, Shepherds Gate is an alternative name for the Fredville Park Sheer Way Gate on the 1839 parish map.

Stafflands: Woods and fields.There are fifteenth century references to Stanner Lands, stony lands, which by the early  nineteenth century had become Stavver Lands and in the 1856 Soles Court manorial roll is referred to as Steverland.   Later in the 19th century  this appears to have evolved into the still used Stafflands.

Soles Court, now Soles Court Farm, Soles 1086. The name derives from the O.E. sol; mud or mire, as in Kentish dialect it means a pond or pool of muddy water. Soles Court was mentioned in the Doomesday Book, now consists of farm buildings only. The surrounding woodland has extensive wood banks, probably pre-Norman.

Tygh, Tigh, Tye: wood, hedge, bottom & close, from the .O.E. ‘tye’, meaning common pasture, ie. held in common for communal use. The wood was situated to the south of the Nonington to Elvington road but was grubbed out in the 1960’s. A small part of the wood had for many years been a regular seasonal camp site for Romany travellers until the early 1970’s when it fell into disuse. Tye Wood hedge has a foot path running through it which, until the late 19th century, was part of an ancient road from Eastry through Kittington to Frogham and beyond.