THE next parish northward is West Langdon,
which takes its name from the long down or ridge of
hills on which it is situated; and to distinguish it from
the adjoining parish of East Langdon, in the hundred
of Corniloe, and it is sometimes written in old records
Monken Langdon, from the monastery formerly situated
within it. The manors of Norborne and East Langdon claim over some parts of this parish.
THIS PARISH is situated among the high hills and
wide capacious valleys of this part of Kent, and like
the rest of the neighbouring parishes is mostly open
and uninclosed, having no wood, and but little shelter
within it; the soil is like that of the adjoining parish
of Whitfield, chalky and poor. It is but small, containing about six hundred acres; the church which is
in ruins, with about tweleve houses, forming the village,
stands round a green of about an acre in compass, in the
middle of the parish. About a quarter of a mile eastward from which are the ruins of the abbey, and the
house called the Abbey farm, which latter was modernized and new fronted with brick by the Thornhills;
but it appears now to be again falling to decay.
THE MANOR OF WEST LANGDON was antiently
part of those lands which made up the barony of Averenches, alias Folkestone, of which it was antiently
held by knight's service and ward to the castle of Dover, by the family of Auberville, or De Albrincis, as
they were written in Latin deeds, whose capital seat was
at Westenhanger; one of them, Sir William de Auberville, senior, resided there in king Richard I.'s reign,
and held this manor as above-mentioned; and having
in the fourth year of it, anno 1192, founded within
this manor AN ABBEY of white canons of the Premonstratensian order, brought hither from Leyston, in Suffolk,
in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary and St. Thomas the Martyr, of Canterbury, he gave this manor,
among other lands, as an endowment to it in pure and
perpetual alms, free from all secular service and payment, (fn. 1) which foundation and gift was afterwards confirmed by Simon de Auberville, or Albrincis; and in
the 30th year of king Edward I. by Sir Nicholas de
Criol, great grandson by a female heir of the founder
before-mentioned, by which means this abbey from
that time came under the patronage and protection of
the family of Criol, after which, in the 19th year of
king Edward II. Edward, earl of Chester, the king's
eldest son, guardian of the kingdom of England, and
the king's locum tenens in it, was here at Langedon, on
the 3d of August.
But whether the endowment of this abbey was not
sufficient for its maintenance as such, so that being unable to support the expence and dignity of an abbot, it
seems at times to have discontinued the election of one,
and to have remained contented under the government
of a prior, as the head of it, and frequently to have
been under the estimation of a priory, (as appears by
many deeds and instruments at different times relating
to it) in like manner as Combwell and many other religious houses elsewhere, in which estate it continued till
the final dissolution of it in the 27th gear of king
Henry VIII. when the abbot, (for so he is stiled in the
instrument of surrender) and religious of this monastery, foreseeing the impending storm to crush them,
and knowing themselves culpable of many irregularities, and being besides so artfully managed by the king's
commissioners, that they desired to leave their prosession and habit, and to give up their house and possessions to the king, as their founder and patron, on No
vember 13, that year, voluntarily surrendered both
into his hands, which surrendry was confirmed by the
act which passed afterwards that year, by which all religious houses, which were under the clear yearly value
of 200l. were suppressed, and this act not only gave
those to the king, but all such as within one year next
before had been given up to him or otherwise dissolved, this house being at that time of the clear yearly
value of 47l. 6s. 10d. and of the gross revenue of
56l. 6s. 9d.
WILLIAM SAYER was the last abbot, who with ten
monks, surrendered this abbey into the king's hands. (fn. 2)
The arms of the abbey were, Azure, two crosiers in saltier, argent, the dexter crook, or, the sinister, sable.
The manor of West Langdon, with the scite of the
abbey, and other lands and possessions belonging to it,
remained afterwards in the crown, till the king, in his
29th year, granted the whole of them, excepting the
advowsons of churches, and subject to a payment, to
the curate of West Langdon, and other payments, to
archbishop Cranmer, who not long afterwards exchanged this manor, the scite of the monastery, and all
the lands in this parish belonging to it, again with the
crown, where they remained, till queen Elizabeth in
her 33d year granted this estate to Samuel Thornhill,
esq. of London, (fn. 3) in whose descendants it continued, till
it was at length alienated to Master, of the adjoining
parish of East Langdon, and from that name again
about the beginning of queen Anne's reign to Henry
Furnese, esq. of London, the son of George, brother
of Sir H. Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, who passed it
away by sale to Coke, descended from a younger branch
of the family seated at Holkham, in Norfolk, and he
devised it by will to his brother Edward Coke, esq. afafterwards of Canterbury. He married Catherine,
daughter of Sir Thomas Hales, bart. of Bekesborne,
by whom he had two daughters his coheirs, Mary married to Sir William Lynch, K. B. of Groves, in this
county; and Annette married to Lewis Cage, esq. of
Milgate, in Bersted. He died in 1773, and by will
gave this estate to his grandson Lewis Cage, esq. jun.
since of Combe, in Berstled, the eldest son of Lewis
Cage, esq. by Annetta his youngest daughter; Mr.
Cage married Fanny, the eldest daughter of the late
Sir Brook Bridges, bart. of Goodnestone, by whom he
has one daughter; (fn. 4) he is at this time the possessor of
this estate. A court baron is held for this manor.
There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly
maintained are about five, casually seldom any.
WEST LANGDON is within the ECCLESIASTICAL
JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry
The church, which was dedicated to St. Mary, has
been long in a ruinated state. In 1660, Sir Thomas
Peyton, bart. of Knolton, had a design to repair it, for
which purpose he provided a quantity of timber, but
in the night the country people stole the whole of it
away, and besides took away the pulpit, pews, &c.
which had been left standing, out of the church; in
which dilapidated situation it still continues. The ruins
of it consist of a nave and chancel tolerably entire, excepting the roof. In the chancel is a gravestone, now
covered with rubbish, for Sir Timothy Thornhill, once
owner of this abbey.
The church of West Langdon was antiently appendant to the manor, and as a such was of the patronage of
the abbot and convent of West Langdon, to which it
was appropriated, and continued so till the dissolution
of it in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when this
church, with the manor, among the rest of the possessions of the abbey, was granted to the archbishop, who,
though he not long afterwards exchanged the manor
again with the crown, retained this church, among
others, in his possession, and it has continued ever since
in the patronage of his successors, his grace the archbishop being the present patron of it.
It is valued in the king's books at 6l. 13s. 4d. but
since the dissolution of the abbey it has been esteemed
only as a curacy, to which the archbishop nominates,
and is now of the clear yearly value of sixteen pounds.
The demesnes of the abbey are exempt from the
payment of great tithes, but they are charged with the
payment of six pounds yearly to the curate.
This curacy has been augmented by the governors
of queen Anne's bounty, with the money from which,
a small farm of about thirty pounds per annum, lying
in this parish, Guston, and Little Mongeham, was purchased for the augmentation of the vicarages of the parishes of West Langdon and Guston. There are three
acres of glebe, but no vicarage house.
The rectors of the adjoining parish of East Langdon
have been for a long time past successively nominated to
the several archbishops to this curacy, whose names
may be seen under the description of that parish, ThoDelanoy, rector of East Langdon, being the present
curate of West Langdon, nominated to it by the archbishop, in 1788.