• Church Street in Nonington


    Church Street was once made up of the present Church Street and what is now known as  Pinner’s Lane.

  • The Fredville “Step Tree” and other chestnuts. Updated 24.4.20

    In the 1930’s Dr. Hardman, a noted East Kent historian recorded the memories of  Richard Jarvis Arnold of of life in Nonington in the 1880’s & 90’s. Mr. Arnold, a blacksmith born in Nonington but who later lived and worked in Walmer, recollected: “The trees of Fredville Park were well known. In addition to the old oak there were some large chestnuts. One was called the ‘Step Tree’ and had some steps affixed to it. In the upper part of the trunk and branches 12 or 20 people could sit”.
    It was said that members of the Plumptre family often had tea on the platform in the “Step Tree” in the years before the Great War. The  chestnut tree is still there but is now unfortunately showing its age, it is one of the few surviving sweet chestnut trees that once made up two avenues leading from Fredville House into the park.
    After the new Fredville House was built by Margaretta Bridges, the sister of Sir Brooke Bridges of Goodnestone, in the 1740’s the farmland in front of the eastward facing house was landscaped after the fashion of the times. Two double rows of Spanish chestnut trees, also known as sweet chestnuts, were planted to form avenues leading from the new mansion into the landscaped parkland. The avenues ran eastward down into the parkland from the south [Frogham] and north [Nonington]  ends of the mansion. Anyone then standing in the front door or looking through one of the front windows would have had an uninterrupted view down the avenue towards the top of the park.

    John Evans in “The Juvenil Tourist: Or Excussion Through Various Parts of the Island of Great Britain“, published in 1805, said of the house ““Fredville is neat and spacious—it has, together with the house, within these few years been not only enlarged but improved with taste and judgment. The Mansion, standing on a rising ground, has a handsome brick front, supported by six columns of the Corinthian order—the drawing-room- is truly elegant, and the library contains several thousand volumes, selected from the most approved ancient and modern authors. From the front of the house to the south, Barson [Barfreston] mills wave their swifts above the plantations, and on the north-west Nunnington mills [the Easole corn mill & feed mills] form a correspondent prospect. The swing suspended from the high branch of a towering oak—the rabbits skipping from hole to hole, formed among the fibres of the trees, and a rising family of hearty children seen amidst their innocent gambols constitute at once a piece of rural and delightful scenery. At the south-west end of the Mansion the Green-house has a pretty effect, displaying the skill of the Botanist whilst the industrious bees are observed conveying their plundered stores into glasses fixed within the windows of their abode, which in its turn is plundered to enrich the owner’s table! The gardens behind the house are encircled with a shrubbery, along which a green walk, defended by a light post and rail, presents us with a view of the surrounding country. The woods on the south [Broom Hill and Oxney Woods, the first is under the colliery tip, the view of the second is now obscured by the same tip],—the distant telegraph on the west [the Admiralty telegraph at Womenswold] , and the Isle of Thanet with Ramsgate harbour, &c. on the north-east, tend to enrich and diversify the prospect. The Bowling Green also hid among the trees—the laurelled-covered Ice-house, the sweet briar hedge and the weeping ash trees enhance the sensations of delight arising from the contemplation of this spot. In a word, should any thing be thought wanting, a stream of water would complete the situation”.


    The programme for an excursion by Kent Archaeological Society to Nonington in September, 1936, noted that: The well known ‘Majesty

  • Nonington Parish Charities


    Thomas Bate of Challock held land in Challock and Nonington with which he made charitable  bequests during the reign of Henry VIII.

    In Nonington his bequest consisted of:-

    “Landes given by Thomas Bate to thentent that one priest shulde celebrate masse within the said parishe iij (3) tymes yerelie for ever.

    Also: rent or  ferme of v rods (5 rods or 1 ¼ acres) of land in the parish of Nonyngton next Harelestrete (Holt Street Buttes, now Butter Street) butts now or late in the tenure of Richard Mockett there, yerely  ijs (2s) (previously owned by the Knights of St. John and confiscated by the Crown).

    Also: rent or ferme of i (one) and half acres at Frogham Hill there now in tenere of William Stuppell yerely xviijd.(18.d)”.

    The above mentioned land came into the possession of William Boys of Fredville who acted as a Crown Agent during the Reformation with the responsibility of recording the possessions and assets of religious bodies and institutions  and was therefore well situated to purchase confiscated land and other property.  In 1600 William Boys of Tilmanstone, a descendant of the above mentioned William Boys of Fredville,  is said to have made a bequest of the one and a half acres at Frogham Hill which specified  that there were to be two houses for two poor house keepers on the land, and the paupers were also each to receive a  sack of wheat  at Christmas. However, some other ancient sources state that the donor of this property was unknown.

    At the end of the 18th century Edward Hasted recorded in the Nonington chapter of his history of Kent that the annual revenue from the land was £5 10/- [£5 50p] which was at the disposal of  the Reverend  James Morrice, the owner Bettshanger manor.

    Some forty years later the Report of the Commissioners for Charities of the County of Kent of 1839 recorded:

    “Nonington-unknown donor.

    It is stated in Hasted’s History of Kent that a donor unknown gave to five poor housekeepers of this parish two houses and one acre and a half of land, at Frogsham (sic), with a sack of wheat to each housekeeper every Christmas, then vested in the Rev. James Morrice, owner of  Betshanger (sic) manor, and of the annual produce of 5l. 10s (£.5 10 s).

     It is stated by J. P. Plumptre, esq., of Fredville Park, in this parish, that the property consists of two old tenements under one roof, with two small outbuildings east, and about a quarter of an acre of land adjoining, used by the inmates of the houses as garden-ground; that there also belongs to the charity a quarter of an acre of land, which has been for many years taken into Fredville Park, and for which the proprietors of the estate have always paid a yearly rent of 3l (£.3). Also two small fields contiguous to each other, containing each about 1a 1r (1 acre & 1 rood or 1 ¼ acres), and bounded on every side by land belonging to Mr. Plumptre, who pays the yearly rent of 2l 2s (£2 2s) for each field.

     The patronage of these almshouses has for upwards of a century been considered as vested in the owners of the Betshanger estate, and it is stated by Mr. Morrice, the present proprietor, that in consequence of the charity-houses and land being situated in the midst of the Fredville property, an agreement was entered into with the late Mr. Plumptre, that he should fill up the vacancies, taking upon himself the annual payment of a sack of wheat to the tenants of the houses, a bounty to which they were entitled, as is supposed, out of the Betshanger estate.

     Two old labourers have been appointed to these almshouses from time to time by Mr. Plumptre and his predecessor, and they have received a sack of wheat or its value in money, and the rents of the three pieces of land before mentioned equally between them.

     The buildings are very old and dilapidated, and there appears to be no fund for the repairs, except by detaining part of the rents above mentioned for that purpose”.

    Bagshaw’s directory of 1847 reports that: ‘two old labourers have been appointed from time to time by Mr. Plumptre and £7 4/- is divided equally between the inmates as the yearly value of the lands’. The 1839  tithe map apportionment recorded William Young and others as living there, and the apportionment for the 1859 Poor Law Commissioners map listed Mary Burville and one other as resident in the Nightingale cottages.

    1859 Poor Law Commissioners map-showing the Charity Land between the present Nightingale Lane, once known as Frogham Hill, and Fredville House. The woodland along the eastern edge of the Charity Land was Western Wood. Over the years the much of the Charity Land became overgrown and eventually became the woodland now known as Humphrey’s Wood with Western Wood forming the eastern edge of Humphrey’s which took it’s name from the game-keeper who used to live in the present Longlands House in the early part of the 1900’s. The banks which formed the eastern and western boundaries to the Charity Lands are still clearly visible in the wood, and the northern boundary bank is still prominent in the field bounding the wood.

    In 1903 the Charity Land was sold by consent of the Charity Commissioners to H. W. Plumtre.  Four trustees were appointed to administer the investment of the proceeds of the sale for such purposes as sanctioned by the committee, this became known as the Nightingale Trust. At the time of the sale the land was occupied in part by two newly built cottages, the present Nightingale Cottages. 

    Other Nonington charities were mentioned by Edward Hasted in his history of Kent, but Bagshaw’s Directory of 1847 stated that these charities were not recorded in the Charity Commissioners reports.
    The charities recorded by Hasted were:
    The 1596 will of Edward Boys, gentleman, of Nonington and Challock, a son of William Boys, esq., of Nonington, which gave a 40/- (£.2.00) per annum annuity from 15 acres in Nonington and Barfreston to be paid annually to the poorest of the parish.

    Robert Barger, yeoman, of Bridge, gave to the parson and churchwardens of Nonington in his will of 1600 the rents and profits of his house in the parish for the relief of the poor of Nonington.

    The 1634 will of Sir Edward Boys of Nonington gave the poor of the parish the sum of £6 to be ‘employed for a stock to set the poor at work, and not otherwise to be employed, so as the overseers or any sufficient man of the parish be bound yearly to the heirs of Fredville, whereby the stock be not lost’.

  • Holt Street in Nonington: a photographic guided tour-updated 22.03.2020




  • Holt Street Farm in Nonington: the Slave Trade, Caribbean Pirates, and the founding of the British Museum.

    It is now difficult to believe that the pleasant hamlet of Holt Street, more especially the present Holt Street Farm, had connections to the Atlantic Slave Trade between West Africa and the Caribbean. This was one of the darkest periods in British history which, whilst bringing incredible riches to a few European plantation owners, brought unimaginable misery to thousands of male and female convicts sentenced to transportation by English and Irish courts and millions of forcibly enslaved Africans who laboured and died on these wealth creating Caribbean plantations.

    The connection is as follows.

    By the 1660’s the fortunes of Major John Boys of Fredville were in terminal decline. Years of living beyond his means had burdened him with large debts which he was unable to repay. 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.

    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. However, the Holt Street estate was not acquired by Denzil, Lord Holles of Ifield, but remained in the possession of Christopher Boys, another of the Major’s sons who in 1676 let the estate to Fulke Rose, a physician and Jamaica merchant and plantation owner.

    Fulke Rose was born at Mickleton in Gloucestershire on the 10th April, 1644, to the Reverend Thomas Rose and his wife Frances, and had several brothers. In later years brothers Thomas and Francis were resident in Jamaica, John was a London merchant, and William was an apothecary.

    1671 The Island of Jamaica by John Ogilby

    Fulke qualified as a physician and moved to the Caribbean island of Jamaica which had come under English control in 1660. At this time the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 Europeans and 1,500 African slaves. On his arrival in Jamaica in the late 1660’s  Fulke practised as a physician but soon expanded his horizons and began to acquire land which was readily available as the  Jamaican economy  at the time of his arrival was in transition from one being based mainly on piracy to one based on the production of sugar. Records show that he was in Jamaica by 1670 and by then already owned 380 acres of land in Saint Catherine Parish. 

    Within a short time Fulke was on the way to becoming a very wealthy man from his medical practise and from his plantations. As the owner of several sugar plantations Fulke was one of the principal buyers of West African slaves transported to Jamaica by the Royal African Company from whom he purchased 131 slaves.

    The prospering Fulke married Elizabeth Langley, daughter of Alderman John Langley of Cornhill in London, at Port Royal in Jamaica on 11th July, 1678, and  the couple had four daughters, three of whom were called Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary.

    Like other prominent colonists and landowners in Jamaica Fulke took an active part in Jamaican politics and administration.  He was returned as member for Saint Thomas in the Vale Parish for the House of Assembly of Jamaica in 1677 and was also a member of the Legislative Council of Jamaica as well as serving in the militia.

    Fulke continued to prosper and around the time he purchased the Holt Street estate in Nonington he was referred to in State Papers of 1684 as “a surgeon bred, and a very discreet and virtuous man. His plantations render him over 4ooo£ per annum and his practice about 600£.”

    Henry Morgan as imagined in Alexandre Exquemelin’s “Piratas de la America” of 1681

    Fulke continued to practise as a physician and in early 1688, in company with another physician called Hans Sloane, he attended Sir Henry Morgan, the infamous Welsh former pirate and privateer who had made a considerable fortune raiding  Spanish cities on the Caribbean coast of Central and northern South America as well as capturing Spanish and other shipping on the Caribbean. The wealthy and well connected reformed pirate owned plantations in Jamaica and had served as Lieutenant Governor of the colony after having been knighted in 1674.

    Now in his mid-fifties, Sir Henry was receiving treated for a swollen belly along with other ailments attributed by his physicians to excessive alcohol consumption and lack of exercise. Sloane recorded that Sir Henry was prescribed “Electuary of Cassia, Oil of Juniper, and Cremor. Tart.” but that not being completely satisfactory they, gave him all manner of Diuretics, and easie Purgers we could find in Jamaica, Linseed and Juniper-Berries infus’d in Rhenish-Wine, Milleped. ppd. in Powder, Juniper-water, advis’d him to eat Juniper-Berries, us’d Oil of Scorpion, with Ung. Dialth. outwardly, by which means he recovered again”. However, the two physicians efforts were in vain as Sir Henry failed to heed their advice and reverted to his old dissolute ways which led to his death on 25th August,1688.

    Fulke Rose returned to London in 1692 shortly after Jamaica was hit by an earthquake which killed hundreds of people and almost completely destroyed the capital town of Port Royal. He remained in England until his death in March of 1694 and may possibly have visited and stayed at the Holt Street estate. Fulke was buried at St Peter’s Church, Cornhill, on 29 March 1694. In his will the Holt Street estate, therein referred to as “Nonnington Farm near Canterbury”, was left to his daughter Mary.

    Elizabeth Rose, Fulk’s widow, remarried in 1695. Her second husband was Hans Sloane, an Irish physician, naturalist and collector who had been Fulke’s physician colleague when treating Sir Henry Morgan in Jamaica. Elizabeth received a one third share of the annual income from her late husband’s estate which accordingly became available to her new husband and allowed him to fulfil his love of travel and collecting. Sir Hans Sloane, as he later became, collected in his lifetime over 71,000 objects: books, manuscripts, drawings, coins and medals, and plant specimens which he bequeathed to the British nation so laying the foundations of the British Museum, the British Library, and the Natural History Museum in London. His purchase of the manor of Chelsea near London in 1712 also provided the grounds for the Chelsea Physic Garden.

    Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)

    Sir Hans Sloane died on 11th January,1753, at his Chelsea manor house and was buried in the south-east corner of the churchyard at Chelsea Old Church with the following memorial:

    “To the memory of SIR HANS SLOANE BART President of the Royal Society, and of the College of Physicians; who in the year of our Lord 1753, the 92d of his age, without the least pain of body and with a conscious serenity of mind, ended a virtuous and beneficent life. This monument was erected by his two daughters ELIZA CADOGAN and SARAH STANLEY”.

    It can therefore be said that in its own minuscule way the Holt Street estate contributed financially to the founding of those world-renowned establishments, namely the British Museum, the British Library, the Natural History Museum and the Chelsea Physic Garden.

  • Nonnington via Sandwich to London by sea, a weekly service!

    fortune-hoy 1
    An original handbill advertising the weekly service by sea aboard “The Fortune” from Chester’s Quay near the Tower of London to Sandwich. The service carried “goods and passengers for Sandwich, Walmer, Wingham, Eastry, Mongham, Goodnestone, Deal, Ash, Littlebourn, Tilmanstone, Nonnington, Eythorn”.

    In the 1830′s Nonington was served by a weekly service to London via the port of Sandwich allowing residents, especially the shop keepers, to have goods brought in from outside of East Kent.  I only became aware of this service when I was fortunate enough to find an original hand-bill for “The first hoy for Sandwich”  at a local boot-fair in 2012.
    The service departed every Saturday from Chester’s Quay, near the Tower of London and took in “goods and passengers for Sandwich, Walmer, Wingham, Eastry, Mongham, Goodnestone, Deal, Ash, Littlebourn, Tilmanstone, Nonnington, Eythorn”.  Nonington was therefore in much closer contact with the capital than was previously thought and those residents who wished, and could afford too, could keep up with the latest news and fashions. This may explain in part why so many minor gentry and wealthy merchants lived in East Kent.

    A hoy was a small sloop-rigged coasting ship or heavy barge which carried goods and occasional passengers. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, English hoys plied a trade between London and the north Kent coast that enabled middle class Londoners to escape the city for the more rural air of Margate.

    William Stokes appears to have been the master of “The Fortune” circa 1835, and earlier, as the ship appears on the Ramsgate register for that year registered as coal/coasting vessel. Barber and Smith, warfingers, are in Kent’s registry of 1823 at the London address shown.

    A scene aboard the Margate hoy
    A deck-scene on board a Margate hoy, an 1804 cartoon by Charles Dibdin the Elder (1745-1814) caricaturing the antics of some of the middle-class passengers who used the service between Margate and London. Comparable scenes would undoubtedly have been witnessed aboard the Sandwich to London hoys.

    The coast of Kent was busy with hoys which often loaded and unloaded on the beach if there was no quay, and sometimes small boats ran out to meet the ships at anchor. Many hoys served the markets in London and merchants with access to the service these vessels provided grew rich as the demand for goods increased.

    “The beauties of England and Wales: or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county”, Volume 8, Part 2, published in 1808,  refers to hoys carrying produce from the market gardens surrounding Sandwich to the markets of London. Many of these  market gardeners where the descendants of Flemish immigrants who had begun market gardening in the reign of Elizabeth I. They also produced flax, teazle, and canary seed which had a ready market in London and beyond.

  • The Quadryng family at Fredeuyle and Esol-revised and updated 03.01.2020

    John Quadryng, a City of London mercer, acquired one half of the Manor of Fredeuyle, as Freydvill’ was by then known, in the opening years of the 15th century and the manor remained with the Quadryng, also Quadring, family for much of that century. It’s not clear when the Quadryngs acquired the Esol house and lands as there are at present no known records of any such property purchases by the Quardryngs. It’s highly likely that they purchased Esol house and lands from Sir John Harleston at the same time, or possibly before, they acquired the Manor of Fredeuyle.

    A mercer by trade, John Quadryng may have bought Esol partly as a country residence and partly for use as a warehouse for storing the wool he exported and the silk, linen, fustian, and other textiles he imported through the nearby ports of Dover and Sandwich. Esol was especially well situated for trading through Sandwich which was only some six miles or so away by, for the time, a good direct road. After 1363 Calais was made the wool staple [market] through which all wool exports from England to the Continent had to pass.

    During their tenure at Esol the Quadryngs acquired other land in and around Nonington. In addition to their holdings at Esol and Fredville they also held land in North and South Nonington.The 1469 survey of the manor of Wingham records the heirs of Richard Quadryng holding an unspecified amount of land in South Nonington and about 135 acres in North Nonington. During their tenure at Esol the Quadryngs built up a holding of over 400 acres of arable, pasture and woodland as well as receiving annual manorial and other rents in the parishes of Nonington and Goodnestone. John Quadryng added to the Nonington acquisitions in 1403 with the purchase of  “1 messuage, 1 toft, 80 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 3 acres of marsh, 6 acres of pasture, 3 acres of wood, 24 shillings of rent and a rent of 4 bushels of barley in Sholdon’, Staple, Northborne, Eastry, Hamme, Wodenesbergh’, Lymmyng and Elham”.
    As merchants the Quadryngs needed a ready supply of cash and credit to trade, and were susceptible to the ups and downs of fortune where losses can be more easily made than profits. The loss of a cargo or a bad debt would have put the family in the financial mire. Richard Quadryng, draper and citizen of London and probably John’s grand-son, traded through various English ports including Bristol and in 1436 he took Robert Frere of Bristol, esquire, before Richard Estfeld, Mayor of the Staple at Westminster for a debt of £20.00. This indicates that Richard was a member of “Mayor and Company of Merchants of the Staple of England”.

    [“The Company of Merchants of the Staple is one of the oldest mercantile corporations in England. It is rare, possibly unique, in being ‘of England‘ and not bounded by any city or municipality. It may trace its ancestry back as far as 1282 or even further. A group of 26 wool merchants apparently first started the Company. The Dukes of Burgundy and Counts of Flanders granted it charters. The Merchants were in Bruges in 1282, Dordrecht in 1285, Antwerp in 1296 and St Omer in 1313. The Company controlled the export of wool to the continent from 1314.  The Duke of Flanders awarded a grant to the English Merchants in 1341. Its first charter from an English monarch was in 1347 giving it control of the export trade in staple commodities. Commercial significance was in Calais – under English rule from 1347 and the main port for wool.    Exports were restricted to the Freemen of the Company who, in return for their monopoly, paid a levy back to the Crown.  With some two hundred merchants, in 1363 it was known as the “New Company of English Merchants dwelling nowe at Calais” and in 1369 as “The Mayor and Company of the Staple at Calais“. The Company later paid for and eventually managed the garrison in the city” –information from the website of The Company of the Staple of England].

    Medieval merchants trading cloth and other goods.

    In the mid-1440′s Richard Quadryng raised a mortgage of £200 against land and property held in Nonyngton which was the subject of various legal proceedings and transfers in 1447. A few years later in 1456 Richard Quadrynge, Robert Euyngham and Robert Sandeforde demised land & tenements in Chislet and Lympe to John de St. Nicholas of Ash, possibly to ease persisting financial problems.

    The Mercers Company register for 1476 records that Thomas Quadryng, presumably the son of Richard Quadryng, was made a Freeman [member] of the Mercers Company of London and  the same year another Thomas Quadryng , the son of the new Freeman, was apprenticed to John Godyng, a Master Mercer of London.

    In 1476 Thomas Quadryng the Elder became a Freeman [member] of the Mercers Company of London Freeman by patrimony, meaning his father or a close relative was also a Freeman of the Mercers Company.  In that same year Thomas Quadryng  the Elder’s son, Thomas the Younger, was apprenticed to John Godyng, a Master Mercer of London, and the Mercers Company record that Thomas the Younger was in his turn made a Freeman of the Company in 1490.

    The coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Mercers.

    After the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483, the heir to the throne was the late king’s twelve year old eldest son, Prince  Edward, who was set to become King Edward V. The deceased king’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was made Lord Protector of the presumed successor to the throne.

    In May, 1483, Thomas Quadryng the Elder was one of the representatives of the City of London who greeted Edward V at Harnsey Park, now Hornsey Park in present Harringay.

    However, Prince Edward was never crowned as Edward V as shortly after he succeeded his father the late King Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of Prince Edward and the younger Prince Richard, was declared illegal. This made the two boys illegitimate, and therefore the young Prince Edward was not the legal heir to the throne.   When this illegitimacy was declared Richard, Duke of Gloucester, seized the throne and had himself crowned as King Richard III in July of 1483.

    By 1483 Thomas Quadryng the Elder appears to have had serious financial problems, both having money owed to him and owing money in his turn. At some presently unknown time in 1483 he was a co-defendant in a legal action for the recovery of debt by Alan Horde, treasurer of Middle Temple in London. What the debt was for and for what amount  is unfortunately not recorded.
    During the short reign of Edward V between the  9th April and 26th June in 1483  Law Court records show Thomas Quadryng, mercer,  as the plaintiff in at least eight legal proceedings in London for the recovery of debts owed to him by other mercers and merchants, as well as cloth-makers, dyers and other assorted tradesmen from London, Bristol, Bedfordshire, East Anglia, and by William Roos, gentleman, of Canterbury.
    These actions for the recovery on debts owed to him are undoubtedly linked to a pressing need for money which resulted in the sale 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” before the death of Edward IV in April of 1483.

    In the Trinity Term of the Law Courts [June and July] of 1484 John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerneys began legal proceedings through William Rose, their attorney,  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 record of this legal dispute is the first known use of Beauchamp’ when referring to a part of what had previously been  Esol, or Esole, manor that had previously been under the ownership of Sir John de Beauchamp, and then his brother, Sir Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, some one hundred and twenty years previously.The area  referred to corresponds with the wood and pasture land in present day Nonington known as  “Beauchamps Wood” and “The Ruins”. Over the last ten years or so ongoing archaeological excavations there have brought to light the remains of a series of manor houses and associated out-buildings probably dating from between the mid-13th to the late 15th to early 16th centuries. Most of the last parts of the final manor house on the site were most likely built by the Quadryng family with attached outbuildings probably used as  warehousing for trade goods and raw materials  imported and exported through the nearby port of Sandwich. In 1501 manorial roll for Essesole manor the manor house with its adjacent gardens and orchards, now probably Beauchamps or Beachams Wood,  were referred to as “Bechams”.

    1483 Court of Common Pleas record:Trinity Term of the Law Courts [June and July].  John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerneys  legal proceedings  to regain possession of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp' ect".
    1483 Court of Common Pleas record:Trinity Term of the Law Courts [June and July].  John Nethersole, William Boys, Thomas Butte and Robert Gerneys  legal proceedings  to regain possession of “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ ect”.

    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 the plaintiffs possession of the property was confirmed.

    During the court proceedings a Denis Guyer, recorded as being the tenant at of the properties in dispute, initially stated that John Metford had not disseise [deprived of seisin; wrongfully dispossess of a freehold interest in land] John Nethersole et al, but failed to return to court when summoned. This reference to a tenant at “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp with appurtenances, and two messuages ect.” is further evidence of the state of Thomas Quadryng’s finances. It would appear that he could not afford to live there and that he had found it necessary to rent out the manors and associated properties,  and had been doing so for some time before their sale to John Nethersole et al prior to the death of King Edward IV.

    On 8th July, 1484, after the end of the court proceedings, a feet of fines [a form of conveyance of property] 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] confirmed the ownership of the property in question by the plaintiffs.

    In 1485 John Nethersole in turn conveyed the properties to William Boys of Bonnington in Goodneston. Boys appears to have done well at this time as he also gained possession of other local property including the Manor of Shebbertswell (Shepherdswell), which had also previously belonged to the rebellious Richard Guildford.

    There has over the centuries been some erroneous recording of the ownership and inheritance of Fredville in the years prior to its coming into the possession of William Boys of Bonnington.  
    Thomas Philpott in his 1659 “Villare Cantianum: or, Kent surveyed and illustrated”; and William Hasted  in his “The History and Topographical Survey of Kent, volume IX” published in 1800, both recorded that Thomas Quadryng and his late wife Anne, herself a wealthy heiress in her own right, had a daughter called Joane who was their sole heiress and inherited their joint property. Joane was then said to have conveyed her inherited property to her husband, Richard Dryland, who in 1484 conveyed the Manor of Fredville and other property to John Nethersole, who in turn shortly afterwards conveyed it to William Boys of Bonnington.
    However, the Thomas Quadryng and wife Anne which Philpott and Hasted both write of were actually from a separate but distantly related branch of the Quadryng family who held several estates in the vicinity of Faversham. The confusion probably initially arose from the fact that both Thomas’ had wives called Anne.
    Close examination of the legal proceedings regarding the possession “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ ect” clearly proves that Thomas Quadryng the Elder of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp did not die around 1482 and leave his property to an only daughter and sole heiress, but that he  sold the manors and other properties to John Nethersole et al at some time prior to the death of King Edward IV in April of 1483. The appearance of his wife’s name with his own on the feet of fines is also clear evidence of Anne Quadrynge of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp still being alive in 1483, and if Anne had been a wealthy heiress in her own right there would have been no need for selling up.

    Following his coronation the new king faced problems with bringing the country under his control, and Kent was one of the counties where he faced opposition. Sir William Malyverer was one of six knights from King Richard III’s estates in the North of England brought down to Kent to restore order after a minor rebellion there against Richard III in October of 1483. These knights were well rewarded by the King with land and property confiscated from the rebels. The Kent rebellion was one of several insurrections in England and Wales known collectively as the Buckingham Rebellion which were intended to assist Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, to overthrow Richard III and become king in his place. The rebellion failed when Henry Tudor and five hundred armed men in seven ships were unable to cross the sea from Brittany because of a storm.

    Malyverer was rewarded for services against the rebels by King Richard in August of 1484 with a grant in tail male [meaning only a direct male descendant  who could trace his descent through male descendants of Malyverer could inherit the property] which included “Hertang (Hartanger), and Paratt’s landis, (both) in the parish of Berston (Barfreston);  also a windmill called Berston Mylle; (Barfreston mill), lands in the lordship of Freydefeld (Fredville) ; the manor of Eythorne, and a rent therein; lands called Mottes in the parish of Nonyngton (in Frogham)“. The entailed land and property had belonged to Sir George Brown of Betchworth Castle in Surrey who had been another of the leaders of the  Kent rebellion.
    Malyverer was also made Escheator for Kent, a potentially lucrative Royal appointment. An escheator was responsible for escheats,  the reversion of lands in English feudal law to the lord of the fee when there are no heirs capable of inheriting under the original grant.

    Sir George had been tried in Westminster Hall and taken to Tower Hill and beheaded on 3rd or 4th December of 1483 and his estates were subsequently declared forfeit to the Crown by an Act of Attainder in January of 1484. Land and property belonging to Sir Richard Guildford, Sir George Brown, Sir John Fogge, and other rebels forfeit to the Crown had then been given by King Richard III  loyal supporters such as William Malyverer.

    Soon after the end of the legal dispute regarding “the manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ ect” Thomas Quadryng the Elder came up against Sir William Malyverer. William Langley of Knolton died in February of 1483,   leaving his son John, a minor,  as his heir. Joan, William’s newly widowed wife, appears to have married William Malyverer shortly after William Langley’s death, possibly for  political reasons, but most likely  under duress. The manor of Knolton is only a mile or so to the north-east of the manor of Esol [Beauchamp] and William Langley, or at least his widow, appears to have been a close friend of Thomas Quadryng.

    In November of 1483 Malyverer seized the Kent lands of his newly acquired wife’s late husband which had previously been granted along with the wardship of the young John Langley to Richard Guildford (Guldeford) of Rolvenden, Kent. As one of the leaders of the recently failed Kent rebellion Guildford had subsequently had his estates confiscated by the Crown. Such was Malyverer’s  power in this time of ineffectual central authority that despite a Royal grant awarding “the warde & marriage of John Langley son & heire of the said William; with the keeping of alle Lordshipds ect” to Joan Langley and Thomas Quadring  he managed to retain possession of  of his step-son’s property, probably by use of his office as an escheator, until August of 1485 when Malyverer’s power and authority in Kent came to an abrupt end when his patron Richard III was defeated and slain at the Battle of Bosworth and Henry Tudor became King Henry VII. 

    Thomas Quadryng the Elder lived at least until 1490, when he was involved in a court case to recover a debt of £80.00 from Richard Seintnicholas, citizen and tailor of London, who had property in and around nearby Ash. Whether this dispute had any link to the 1456 demise of land & tenements in Chislet and Lympe to John de St. Nicholas of Ash by Richard Quadrynge, Robert Euyngham, and Robert Sandeforde is not known, but at the time legal disputes could be protracted.


  • The lost Holestrete or Holt Street windmill in Nonington

    A line drawing of an early post windmill

    In 1309 John (1), the son of Stephen de Akolte (Acholt) transferred **[see below] to John (2), the son of Thomas de Akholte, and Lucia, his mother, the ownership a windmill [unum molendinum ventifluim] in the parish of Nonington. The mill was recorded as being situated “in the parish of Nonyngton, near Holestrete [Holt Street] on Freydviles land [the manor of Fredville]”, and with it came two shillings [10 pence] and two hens annual free rent [duos solidos et duas gallinas de libere redditu] from Thomas le Kete of Holestrete, who was presumably the miller. The Fredvile land in question was almost certainly a part of Cookys, now known as Cooks Hill.
    In the 1440’s there was a protracted and convoluted dispute over ownership of land in and around Akholte along with subsidiary property in Womenswold, Nonington [Cookys or Cooks Hill, Chillenden [Chillenden Court, part of the Manor of Hame (Hamill)] and Rowling. It was resolved in 1448 when the disputed land and property was divided amongst several claimants.

    ** “Carta qua Johannes Filius Stephani de Akholte, concedit Johanni filio Thomae de Akholte et Lucie matri ejusdem, unum molendinum ventifluim (venti fluim) in paroch de Nonyngton juxta Holestrete in ter(re) de Freydvile,et duos solidos et duas gallinas de libere redditu, a Thoma le Kete de Holestrete annuatin debite tenend praedictus Johanni et Lucine et herdibus Johannis de corpore procreates; quimbus deficientibus Thomas fratri dicti Johannis filii Thomas de Akolte, et heribus suis, quibus deficient praedicto Johanni fili Stephani de Akolte et heredibus suis per servitia inde annuatum debita. Et pro hac confirmatione Johannes Fil Thomae et Lucia dederunt Johhani fil Stephani xx marc sterling in gersuman. Test Thomas de Godwynstone, Thomas de Akholte, Johanne de Akholte et aliis. Et quia Johannes de Akholte infra aetatem est, et proprium sigillum non habet, sigillum Johannis de Grenehelle apposuit huic scripte Dat. 3 Edw II

    “Charter of John, son of Stephen de Akolte, granting to John, son of Thomas de Akholte and Lucy, the mother of the same, one wind mill in the parish of Nonyngton, near Holestrete [Holt Street] on Freydviles land [the manor of Fredville], and two shillings and two hens free rent, annually from Thomas le Kete of Holestrete, held of the aforesaid John and Lucy and the heirs of John ect ., by the services due annually. In confirmation of this John, son of Stephen received 20 marks (£.12.13s 4d) sterling in gersuman from John and Lucy.
    Witnessed by  Thomas de Godwynstone, Thomas de Akholte, John de Akholte and others. And because John de Akholte was under age  and does not have his own seal, he signed under the seal of John de Grenehelle”.
    Dated 3 Edward II (1309-10)
    Gersuman was a fee paid to the lord of the manor when the ownership of property on his manor was transferred. At this time John Colkyn held the Manor of Fredville).

    The windmill  would have almost certainly been located just to the north-west of the old Snowdown Collier  pit-head baths, canteen, and car park  on the brow of the hill on the west side of the road up from Holt Street. The site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green. As can be seen on the annotated 1859 Poor Law Commisioners map below, the road up from Ackholt which now joins the main road from Holt Street on the south side of Snowdown railway bridge then joined the Holt Street road some two hundred yards or so closer to Holt Street approximately where the gate now goes into the field at the north-east end of the old colliery car park. The road was re-routed when the railway line through the parish of Nonington was actually built in 1860-61, over a year  after the survey for the map was made. The map shows the land then owned by the L.C.D.R. company in order that Poor Law rates could be charged to them.

    Holt Street mill site map
    The most likely location of the 14th century Holestreet or Holt Street windmill [1859 Poor Law Commissioners map].

    In 1341 John de Acholte granted the mill along with other property and rents in Nonyngton, Rollynge (Rolling) and Wimelyngewelde (Womenswold) near Crodewode (Crudeswood or Curleswood) to Peter Heyward. After this transfer there is no presently known reference to this mill, so it would appear to have gone out of service and was not replaced.

    These early post mills were usually constructed with two crossed beams resting on the ground and four angled beams coming up to support a central post, usually wooden, around which the superstructure of the mill was built. These cross beams were often buried stop the mill blowing away in a storm. This style of construction allowed the mill to be turned to face the wind by using a long beam attached horizontally to the body of the mill. Often the windmills were built on a specially constructed mound, although sometimes an existing barrow (burial mound) was used, to increase exposure to the wind. The sails on the early mills were sometimes only six or seven feet long, much smaller than those on later mills.

  • 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.

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