NORTH-EASTWARD from East or Great
Peckham lies Watringbury, called in Domesday,
OTRINGEBERGE, and in the Textus Roffensis, WOTRINGABERIA. It is supposed to have taken its name
from its low and watry situation.
THE PARISH of Watringbury is almost square, about
a mile and a quarter each way, and contains about
So much of it as lies southward of the quarry hills,
which cross the northern part of it, is within the district of the Weald. beyond which there are some coppice woods adjoining to East-Malling heath. The soil
is exceedingly fruitful for corn, fruit and hops, being a
loam thinly covering the rock stone. The village,
which stands on the high road from Maidstone towards
Mereworth and Tunbridge, is both healthy and pleasant; in it is the vicarage, a neat genteel house, almost
rebuilt by Mr. Charlton, a late vicar, since much improved, and the ground round it laid out in the modern
taste by the Rev. Mr. Style, the present vicar, who
for some time resided in it; and at the west end of it
is Watringbury-place, a handsome brick mansion; at
the east end of the village is Watringbury-cross, whence
the road leads down to the river Medway, at the south
east boundary of this parish. It is well watered by several springs of sweet clear water, which rise near the
place house, and run into the stream which comes from
Mereworth, and turning a mill, goes on south-eastward
towards the Medway, which it joins near Bow-bridge.
There is a vill or boroughin this parish, containing
the west division of it, the hamlet of which is situated
on the Maidstone road, adjoining to Mereworth parish,
being called Pizein-well, from one Pizein, who owned
the well here.
Lilly is another hamletbelonging to this parish,
which lies about five miles to the south of it, and is
surrounded by the parishes of Yalding, East Peckham,
and Tudeley. It is a low wet place, containing but
one house, which, with the greatest part of the land
here, was in the possession of Mr. Henry Simmonds,
who in 1764 alienated his interest in it to Alexander
Courthorpe, esq. of Horsemonden, who died a few
years ago, and by will gave this among his other estates
to his nephew John Cole, esq. of Horsemonden, the
present owner of it.
There was till of late years, a singular, though a very
antient custom, kept up, of electing a deputy to the
dumb borsholder of Chart, as it was called, claiming liberty over fifteen houses in the precinct of Pizein-well;
every housholder of which was formerly obliged to pay
the keeper of this borsholder one penny yearly. This
dumb borsholder was always first called at the court
leet holden for the hundred of Twyford; when its
keeper, who was yearly appointed by that court, held
it up to his call, with a neckcloth or handkerchief put
through the iron ring fixed at the top, and answered
for it. This borsholder of Chart, and the court leet,
has been discontinued about sixty years; and the borsholder, who is put in by the quarter sessions for Watringbury, claims over the whole parish.
This dumb borsholder was made of wood, about three
feet and half an inch long, with an iron ring at the
top, and four more by the sides, near the bottom,
where it had a square iron spike fixed, four inches and
an half long, to fix it in the ground, or on occasion to
break open doors, &c. which was used to be done,
without a warrant of any justice, on suspicion of goods
having been unlawfully come by, and concealed in any
of these fifteen houses.
It is not easy at this distance of time to ascertain the
origin of this dumb officer. Perhaps it might have been
made use of as a badge or ensign, by the officer of the
market here. The last person who acted as deputy to
it, was one Thomas Clampard, a blacksmith, whose
heirs have it now in their possession.
The market granted in king Edward IId.'s time as
above-mentioned, is reported by tradition to have
continued to be held here in a place called Chart-garden, now a wood near Pizein well, in the south-west
part of this parish, in which wood there are to be seen
foundations of walls and houses, and in it and the
neighbouring lands are several draw wells.
Watringbury, with other places in this neighbourhood, was bound antiently to contribute to the repair
of the fifth pier of Rochester bridge. (fn. 1)
THIS PLACE, at the time of taking the survey of
Domesday, in the reign of William the Conqueror,
was part of the possessions of Odo, the great bishop of
Baieux and earl of Kent, half-brother to that king;
and it is accordingly entered, under the general title
of his lands, in that survey as follows:
Ralph Fitz Turald bolds of the bishop (of Baieux)
Otringeberge. It was taxed at two sulings. The arable
land is five carucates. In demesne there are two, and
six villeins, with eight borderers, having three carucates.
There is a church, and two mills of three shillings, and
two acres of meadow, and a fishery of thirty eels; wood
for the pannage of two bogs. In the time of king Ed
ward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth forty
shillings, now six pounds. Leveva held it of king
To this manor belong four houses in the city, paying
Hugo de Braiboue holds of the bishop Otringberge.
It was taxed at two sulings. The arable land is four
carucates. In demesne there is one, and nine villeins,
with four borderers, having two carucates. There are
three servants, and one mill of sixteen pence, and three
acres of meadow; wood for the pannage of two bogs. In
the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards,
it was worth four pounds, now one hundred shillings.
Godil held it of king Edward.
Leuric de Otringeberge, at the time above-mentioned, is recorded in the same survey, to have had the
liberties of sacand soc for his lands within the lath of
In the reign of king Henry II. Richard de Otringeberge appears to have held two knights's fees in Watringbury of Walter de Meduana, who held the same
of the king in capite; which were held in like manner
of king Henry I. by Jeffry Talbot. (fn. 2)
In the reign of king Henry III. this place continued
in the possession of the same family, Gilbert de Watringberi, who bore for his arms, Argent, six lioncels
rampant, sable, held this estate as one knight's see and
an half, of Warine de Montchensie. (fn. 3)
Soon after which it came into the family of Leyborne, of Leyborne-castle, in this neighbourhood.
Henry de Leyborne held it in the reign of king Edward II. in the 4th year of which he obtained for his
manor of Wateringbury a market there on a Wednesday, and one fair on the feast of St. John the Baptist,
and free warren in the lands of it. He died without
issue, leaving his niece Juliana his heir, who was likewife heir to her father Thomas de Leyborne, and likewife to her grandfather William; and from the greatness of her possessions in this county was called the Infanta of Kent.
On her death in the 41st year of king Edward III.
without issue by either of her husbands, this manor,
with the appendant ones of Chart, in this parish, and
of Fowkes, in Mereworth, escheated to the crown for
want of heirs; for it appears by the inquisition taken
in the 43d year of the above reign, that there was then
no one who could make claim to her estates, either by
direct, or even collateral alliance. (fn. 4)
After which the king, by his charter, in the 50th
year of his reign, granted these manors, among other
premises, to seoffees, for the endowment of his newlyfounded Cistertian abbey, called St. Mary Graces, near
the Tower of London, and king Richard II. by his letters patent, in his 22d year, granted them to that abbey, in pure and perpetual alms, for the performance
of certain religious purposes therein mentioned; and
he gave licence to the surviving feoffees to release these
premises to the abbot and his successors for ever.
This manor, with its appendages above mentioned,
remained part of the possessions of the above monastery till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king
Henry VIII. when they were surrendered into the
king's hands, who in the 36th year of his reign granted
them to Giles Bridges, citizen and baker of London,
and Robert Harris, to hold in capite by knight's service. Notwithstanding which, Giles Bridges appears
to have had the sole interest in them, and he that year
passed these manors, with woods called Baldinge, Selwood, and Abbots-thorpe, to Sir Robert Southwell, of
Mereworth, who two years afterwards had a confirmation of these manors. He quickly after alienated them
to Sir Edward North, chancellor of the court of augmentation, and of the privy council, who in the 6th
year of king Edward VI. passed them away by sale to
Sir Martin Bowes, and he alienated them quickly afterwards to Sir John Baker, of Sifinghurst, who died
in the 5th and 6th year of Philip and Mary, and was
succeeded in them by his eldest son, Sir Richard Baker, who in the 1st year of queen Elizabeth had possession granted of them, but his grandson John Baker,
esq. in the 17th year of that reign, alienated them to
Nevill de la Hay, son of Hugh de la Hay, by Anne,
daughter and coheir of Thomas Roydon, of East
Peckham, whose son, George de la Hay, in the latter
end of that reign, conveyed the manor of Chart to
Roger Twysden, esq. of East Peckham, whose descendant, Sir William Jarvis Twysden, bart. of Roydon-hall, is the present possessor of it.
BUT THE MANOR of Watringbury, with that of
Foulkes, was conveyed by George de la Hay to Mr.
Wilkinson, of Lenham, who bore for his arms, Gules,
a fess vaire between three unicorns passant or; which
coat was confirmed to Richard Wilkinson, of this
place, one of the clerks in chancery, by William Camden, clarencieux, in 1605. He alienated them to
Oliver Style, esq. second son of Sir Humphry Style,
of Langley, in Beckenham. (fn. 5)
He served the office of sheriff of London, and on
purchasing this manor retired to the mansion of it,
called Watringbury-place, where he died in 1622,
bearing for his arms, as did his several descendants,
sable, a fess or, fretted of the field, between three fleurs
de lis, and within a bordure of the second.
He was succeeded in this estate by Thomas, his
only surviving child, who resided here, and was created
a baronet on April 21, 1627, being the third year of
king Charles I.
His grandson, Sir Thomas Style, bart. of Watringbury-place, married first Elizabeth, daughter
of Sir William Armine, bart. of Osgodby, in Lincolnshire, by whom he had Oliver, his only surviving
son, and four daughters, of whom Mary was married
to Sir Felix Wild, bart. of Malling, and Susan to
Thomas Dalyson, esq. of Hamptons. By his second
wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Twisden,
bart. of Bradborne, he had a son Thomas, who survived him; and Margaret, married to Robert Viner, esq.
Sir Thomas Style died in 1702, in his 78th year,
and was buried in this church. He was succeeded by
his only surviving son, by his first marriage, Sir Oliver Style, bart. who died without issue the same year,
and lies buried under a handsome monument, in the
south part of this church-yard. (fn. 6) On which the title
and estate descended to his half brother Thomas,
above mentioned, who in 1707 pulled down the mansion of Watringbury-place, a very antient building,
moated round, and erected the present seat more to
the westward of the other, in which he kept his
shrievalty in the 8th year of queen Anne, anno 1710,
and resided to the time of his death in 1768. He lies
buried in this church, as does Elizabeth his wife, eldest daughter of Sir Charles Hotham, bart. by whom
he had four sons, Thomas who died in 1741, and
lies buried at Ormskirk, in Lancashire; Charles, who
succeeded him in title and estate: Robert, now vicar
of this parish, and rector of Mereworth, who married
Priscilla, daughter of the Rev. John Davis, late rector of Mereworth; and William, late a major-general, who married Catherine, sister and coheir of John
Long Bateman, esq. of Ireland; and also two daughters, Elizabeth and Charlotte, who both died un
married, the latter at Canons, in this parish in 1795.
Sir Charles Style, bart. of Watringbury-place, married
Miss Isabella Wingfield, sister to the lord viscount
Powerscourt, and dying in London in 1774, was buried in this church, leaving one son and one daughter,
the former is the present Sir Charles Style, bart. of
Watringbury place, who married in 1795 the eldest
daughter of James Whatman. esq. of Vinters, in
Boxley, and he is the present possessor of the manors
of Watringbury and Fowkes.
WESTBERY is a manor in this parish, which in the
reign of king Henry III. was held by Peter Fitz. Robert, of Simon Fitz Adam, as the twentieth part of
one knight's fee; after which it came into the possession of a family, who took their surname from it. (fn. 7)
Robert de Westbery was owner of it in the reign of
king Edward II. and his descendant, Thomas de
Westbery, paid aid for it in the 20th year of king
The last of this name, who owned this place, was
John de Westbery, who in the beginning of the reign
of king Henry VI. dying without issue, gave it by
will to Agnes Ellis, his niece, and she in the 23d year
of that reign, alienated it to Richard Fishborne, who
in the 33d year of it conveyed it by sale to Sir Thomas Browne, of Beechworth-castle, treasurer of the
houshold, and privy counsellor to king Henry VI.
whose descendant Sir Thomas Browne, of the
same place, in the 25th year of queen Elizabeth,
passed it away by sale to Roger Twysden, esq. of East
Peckham, (fn. 8) whose descendant Sir Wm. Jarvis Twysden,
bart. of Roydon-hall, is the present possessor of it.
CANONS-COURT is a manor here, which acquired
that name from its being part of the possessions of the
prior and canons of Leeds.
This place, in the reign of king Henry III. was in
the tenure of Gilbert de Watringbury, who then held
it as one 4th part of a knight's see, of Simon Fitz
Adam, and gave it in pure and perpetual alms to that
priory; which gift was confirmed by Bartholomew,
It continued part of the possessions of the priory of
Leeds till the dissolution of it, in the reign of king
Henry VIII. when it was, together with all its revenues, surrendered into the king's hands, who by his
dotation charter, under his great seal, in his 33d year,
settled it on his new-erected dean and chapter of Rochester, where the inheritance of it still remains.
Mr. Robert Scoles was lessee of this manor, as
well as the parsonage, in 1649, and resided here, and
his son, Jaiper Scoles, esq. died lessee of both. Since
which the family of Style have been for many years
tenants to the dean and chapter for both. Sir Charles
Style, bart. is the present lessee.
There is a court baron held for this manor.
THE CODDS were an antient family in this parish,
and had their seat in it, called PELICANS, to which
belonged a large tract of land. William Codd, esq.
died possessed of it in the reign of king William and
queen Mary, and was buried in this church, leaving
by Deborah his wife an only son and heir, James
Codd, esq. who resided at Pelicans, and died whilst
sheriff in 1708, and was buried here, bearing for his
arms, Argent a fess embattled sable, between six pellets. He died without issue and intestate; so that
his estate became divided among several claimants;
one of whom, Thomas Kirby, gent. enjoyed the family seat, as part of the share which fell to his lot,
and his heirs conveyed it to Sir Thomas Style, bart.
in whose great grandson, Sir Charles Style, bart. of
this parish, the present inheritance is now vested.
WARDENS is an estate in this parish, which was the
antient seat of the Woods, who bore for their arms,
Argent, on a fess ragule azure, three fleurs de lis or;
which coat was confirmed, or assigned by patent, by
Segar to Henry Wood, of London and Watringbury,
and to Robert Wood, his brother, the last of this
name who resided in it, alienated it, about 1674, to
Sir Thomas Style, bart. whose son of the same name,
conveyed it to William Burleston, clerk, rector of
Warehorne, in whose family it remained till about
thirty years ago, when it was sold to Mr. John Whitaker, gent. of Barming, whose nephew, Thomas
Whitaker, esq. of Trottesclive, is the present owner
HENRY WOOD, citizen and haberdasher of London, a native
of this parish, gave, in the year 1630, 40s. per annum to the
poor of it for ever; and 8s. per annum for a sermon to be
preached yearly on the Sunday next after Candlemas-day in
the afternoon; when the distribution of the money is to be
OLIVER STYLE, ESQ. in 1632, gave the weekly sum of 1s.
to be distributed in bread in the church, every Sunday, to six
poor persons for ever.
THE LADY of Sir Thomas Style, bart. in 1737, gave the
silver slaggon and plate, for the altar.
MRS. CHARLTOS, relict of the late Mr. George Charlton,
the vicar, was a benefactor to this church, by giving the pul
pit cloth and cushion, and other things to it, at different
There has been A SCHOOL in this parish at times for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, for near 100 years; but
as there is neither house nor salary for the master, the number
of scholars is very uncertain.
WATRINGBURY is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of
The church, which is dedicated to St. John Baptist, stands at the west end of the village, It is an
antient gothic building, with a high spire steeple, in
which hang three bells, it was repaired at a great expence in 1745; the church is handsomely pewed and
wainscotted. There are some remains of good painted
glass in the windows, particularly of king Edward III.
and his queen, and before the late great hail storm,
there was in the south window the history of the decollation of St. John Baptist, pretty entire; but it
was then part of it broke to pieces.
This church, which was antiently appendant to the
manor of Canons-court, was given in the reign of
king Henry II. by Hamo, son of Richard de Watringbury, lord of this parish, to the prior and canons
of Leeds, and it was confirmed to it by Walter, then
bishop of Rochester, who, on the resignation of Walter, then parson of it, admitted the prior, in the name
of his convent, into the actual possession of it. (fn. 9)
It was some time after this appropriated to that
priory; in which situation it continued till the dissolution of it in the reign of king Henry VIII. when it
was, among the other possessions of the priory, surrendered up to the king, who by his dotation charter,
in his 33d year, settled both the parsonage, and advowson of the vicarage, on his new-erected dean and
chapter of Rochester, with whom they now remain.
The lessee of the parsonage has always been the same
as of Canon-court, the present lessee being Sir Charles
Style, bart. but the dean and chapter retain the advowson in their own hands.
On the intended dissolution of deans and chapters,
after the death of king Charles I. the possessions of
the dean and chapter of Rochester, in this parish,
were surveyed in 1649, by order of the state; when
it appeared, that they consisted of the manor of Canon-court, together with the rectory or parsonage of
Watringbury appendant to that manor, and certain
woodlands there. That the parsonage consisted of
all the tithes, and tithe-corn, annually coming, aris
ing, and growing out of all the lands and fields within
the precincts and extreme bounds of this parish, with
all commodities and appurtenances belonging to them,
which premises were valued at the annual sum of
sixty pounds, and were let by the late dean and chapter, in the 15th year of the late king Charles, to Robert Scoles, for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent
of 13l. 6s. 8d. and six capons, valued at twelve shillings, which rent was apportioned, 5l. 6s. 8d. to the
manor of Canon-court, the same being worth
36l. 2s. 7d. yearly, over and above the said rent; and
the remainder of the rent, being 8l. 12s. was apportioned to the parsonage, which was worth yearly, over
and above the same, 51l. 8s. That the lessee was
bound to repair the premises, and the chancel of the
church, and that he was immediate tenant of these
premises. That the advowson, or right of patronage
to the vicarage, belonged to the lord of the abovementioned manor, which vicarage was then worth 30l.
per annum. (fn. 10)
The vicarage of Watringbury is a discharged living
in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value
of forty-eight pounds, the yearly tenths of which are
Mr. George Charlton, vicar of this place, rebuilt
the vicarage-house in 1731, at the expence of 400l.
and having obtained 100l. of Sir William Langhorne's
legacy, and 15l. 15s. from the dean and chapter of
Rochester, he added the residue to make it the sum
of 200l. and thereby entitled this vicarage to queen
Anne's bounty of the further sum of 200l. with which
it was augmented about the year 1732.
Church of Wateringbury
|Or by whom presented.|
|Family of Watringbury.||Walter, temp. Henry II. resigned. (fn. 11) |
|Prior and convent of Leeds.||Averell, in 1486. (fn. 12) |
|Dean and Chapter of Rochester.||Ralph Calverly, obt. 1587.|
|Thomas Brand, obt. 1620.|
|Thomas Warrel, obt. 1652.|
|Benjamin Cutler, obt. 1693.|
|James Hunter, obt. Sept. 1729. (fn. 13) |
|George Charlton, A. M. instit.
Dec. 22, 1729. obt. 1734.|
|Hodges, obt. 1736.|
|John Butler, A. M. 1737, obt.
1747. (fn. 14) |
|John Upton, A. M. resigned
1752. (fn. 15) |
|Richard Husband, A. M. 1752,
resigned 1770. (fn. 16) |
|Robert Style, 1770, the present
vicar. (fn. 17) |