I spotted the sign for the church from a nearby crossroads, I don’t seem to recall the name, so we take the turning and drive across the fields.
The road came to a 90 degree bend, and from out of the corner of my eye, I spot a gravestone and a glimpse of a tower.
I park dangerously near to the corner, there was no where else really, but then the road wasn’t busy, so should be alright.
The exterior of the church looked modern and not at all promising, it seemed to have been coated, skimmed, in something like concrete, giving the feeling of a village hall.
Inside it was a delight, clearly an ancient building, recesses in the east wall showing where the original windows had sat, now replaced, and above, sturdy roof kept up by large kingposts.
The land between the North Downs and the north Kent marshes was once wealthy through agriculture and country estates grew as hubs of thriving communities. One such was Badlesmere which gave its name to a family whose peak of power occurred in the early fourteenth century. Their fall was almost as quick as their rise, the family falling foul of political intrigues in the reign of Edward II. They would have known the tiny church of St Leonard, although its character is now an unusual hybrid of medieval woodwork, box pews from the time of Jane Austen and stained glass of the present time. There is fine Royal Arms of George I and a hatchment to the First Earl Sondes. By far the most important furnishings are the medieval bench ends to be found in the chancel. One shows the frequently illustrated carving of the Trinity, represented by a triangle. The two west windows by Frederick W. Cole represent St Francis of Assisi and The Sower. Apart from that the church is very simple – just nave and chancel, and so beautifully cared for that it is obviously a building which excites great passion. Indeed it should do, for as the north Kent corridor gets ever covered with concrete, it is little pockets like this bring us closer to our ancestors.
THE next adjoining parish to Leveland, still further eastward, is Badlesmere, usually called Basmere.
It is a parish but little frequented, and with hardly any thoroughfare, lying on the opposite side of the high road from Faversham to Ashford, which runs along its western boundaries; it is situated about six miles from the former, mostly on high ground, the soil of it in this part of it is tolerable good and level, much like the part of Leveland adjoining to it, but the eastern side of the parish is very hilly and chalky, a poor soil covered with flints, a very forlorn rough country, with much woodland in it. At a field’s distance from the above road stands the court-lodge, called Basmerecourt, a mean farm-house, with the church almost adjoining to it northward.
In the next field south-eastward of the church, the foundations of the antient seat of the Badlesmeres are easily traced out, by the different colours of the corn, and from the number of apartments in it appears to have been a very large and noble mansion; among them is a large pond, called the Cellar pond, which, as its name implies, was no doubt the place where the cellars of this seat were formerly. At the south-west extremity of the parish is Basmere-lees, over which the Ashford road passes. There are several houses round it, those on the north-east side only, one of which is the parsonage, are in this parish, the rest being in those of Leveland and Sheldwich.
A fair is held here on St. Leonard’s day, now by the alteration of the stile on Nov. 17, yearly.
Sir Thomas Randolph, an eminent statesman in queen Elizabeth’s reign, son of Avery Randolph, of Badlesmere, was born in this parish in 1523, and was much favored and distinguished by the queen, being employed in no less than eighteen different embassies. He died in 1590, and was buried in St. Peter’s church, Paul’s wharf, in London, leaving a numerous issue by one of his wives, a sister of Sir Francis Walsingham. (fn. 1)
BARTHOLOMEW DE BADLESMERE was by writ summoned to parliament, in the 3d year of king Edward II. among the barons of this realm, by the title of Bartholomew de Badlesmere, of Badlesmere, chevalier. This barony, by the death of Giles, lord Badlesmere, his son, s. p. devolved by the marriage of Maud, the eldest of his four sisters and coheirs, to John de Vere, earl of Oxford, and it continued in his descendants down to John de Vere, the fourteenth earl of Oxford, and baron of Badlesmere in king Henry the VIIIth.’s reign, who dying s. p. the earldom descended to the heir male of the Vere’s, but the barony of Badlesmere descended to the three sisters of the earl John last-mentioned, viz. Ursula, married to George Windsor, and afterwards to Edward Knightly, of Northamptonshire; Dorothy to John Nevil, lord Latimer, and Elizabeth to Sir Anthony Wingfield, but this dignity being entire, and not divisable, they became incapable of it, otherwise than by gift from the crown, and it in strictness of law reverted to, and was in the king’s disposition, but the crown seemingly dispensed with this, for the four several earls of Oxford successively after this, assumed and used among their titles, that of baron of Badlesmere. At length, after the death of Henry, earl of Oxford, and baron of Badlesmere, in 1625, there arose a dispute concerning these titles, which was in 1626, by solemn adjudication of parliament, determined, that the earldom belonged to the heir male of the Vere’s, and that the barony of Badlesmere was wholly vested in the king to dispose of at his pleasure, which judgment the king approved of, at which time the office of great chamberlain of England, which had for so many descents been vested in the Vere’s, earls of Oxford, was claimed by Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, as heir male, and by Robert, lord Willoughby, of Eresby, as heir-general, and by the adjudication of the house of lords, though the earldom was adjudged to the heir male, yet the office of chamberlain was adjudged to the lord Willoughby. (fn. 2)
THIS PLACE, in the 15th year of the reign of William the Conqueror, was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king’s half-brother, accordingly it is thus entered, under the general title of that prelate’s lands, in the survey of Domesday, taken about that time:
The same Anfrid holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Badelesmere. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is two carucates and an half. In demesne there is one, and ten villeins, having one carucate and an half. There is a church, and two servants, and a fishery of twelve-pence. Wood for the pannage of four hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth sixty shillings, and afterwards sixty shillings, now four pounds. The abbot of St. Augustine’s claimed this manor, because he had it in the time of king Edward the Confessor, and the hundred witnessed for him, but the son of the tenant said, his father could turn himself over wherever he would, and this the monks did not deny.
Four years after this, the bishop of Baieux fell into disgrace, and the king seized on this estate among the rest of his possessions.
After which the manor of Badlesmere was granted by the king to Hamo de Crevequer, and together with other lands made up the barony of Crevequer, as it was called, being held of the king in capite by barony, as of his castle of Dover, for the desence of which he was bound by his tenure. (fn. 3)
Of his heirs this manor was held by the eminent family of Badlesmere, who took their surname from their possessing it. Guncelin de Badlesmere, with his brother Ralph, accompanied king Richard I. to the siege of Acon, in Palestine. Guncelin de Badlesmere held this manor, 2s before-mentioned, in the reign of king John, and was a justice itinerant, as was his brother Giles de Badlesmere, who was slain in a conflict with the Welsh in the 43d year of Henry III. anno 1248. The former left one son Bartholomew, and two daughters, Joane, married to John de Northwood, and another to John de Coningsby.
Bartholomew de Badlesmere afterwards possessed this manor, and on his death was succeeded in it by his son Guncelin, who was chief justice of Chester in the 2d year of Edward I. He died in the 29th year of that reign, and was buried in Badlesmere church, where his effigies lying cross-legged, cut in wood, was remaining in Philipott’s time, then holding this manor of the king in capite, as of the barony of Crevequer, by knight’s service, and paying to the ward of Dover castle, and making suit to the king’s court of Ledes. He left by Margaret his wife, heir of Ralph Fitzbernard, one son Bartholomew de Badlesmere, who from the greatness of his wealth and possessions, afterwards acquired the title of the rich lord Badlesmere of Ledes, of which castle, in the 5th year of Edward II. he was appointed constable, and obtained a grant in see of the castle and manor of Chilham, among other lands; after which, in the 9th year of that reign, he obtained several more grants of lands, and a special charter of liberties within his manors, and free-warren in all his demesne lands in this manor of Badlesmere among others; in the 11th year of Edward II. he was once more made governor of Ledes-castle, two years after which he obtained the king’s licence to found a priory within his manor here, which was held in capite, for canons regular; and that he might, of the demesnes of the manor, grant to them twenty-four acres, to be possessed by them in pure and perpetual alms, for their inhabiting and building there a church, and other buildings, with a non-obstante to the statute of mortmain. But by the troubles which immediately after this ensued to the lord Badlesmere, nothing further was done towards it till the 4th year of Edward III. when the king confirmed this endowment, together with the advowsons of this church of Badlesmere, with those of Whitstaple, Redlingweld, Old Romney, Northfield, and Charleton, in this county; Northmyms, in Hertfordshire, and Luddington, in Huntingdonshire; notwithstanding which, it appears by their afterwards continuing in the possession of lay proprietors, and by no further mention being to be found of this priory, that the design of erecting it fell to the ground, and that nothing further was afterwards done towards it. The year after king Edward the IId.’s granting this licence to Bartholomew de Badlesmere, he was constituted governor of Tunbridge castle, and having been for several years steward of the king’s houshold, he had, in reward for his services, the grant of the castle of Ledes in fee, in exchange for other lands which he had purchased.
But this great and powerful baron, after having had such continual favors heaped on him, and having been summoned to parliament till the 14th year of that reign, then withdrew his allegiance, and joined with the earl of Lancaster and the other discontented barons; for which he had a full pardon granted next year, but within a small time afterwards, queen Isabel being denied entrance into his castle of Ledes, the king became highly incensed against him, and immediately besieged and took it, with Margaret his wife, Giles his infant son, and all his children in it, who were sent prisoners to the Tower, and all his lands were seized into the king’s hands. (fn. 4) After which, flying into the north, and being overtaken at Burrowbridge, he received a total defeat, and being sent to Canterbury, was hanged at the gallows of Blean, near that city, and his head being cut off, was set on a pole at Burgate, and his body buried in the White Friars church, in that city. The Badlesmeres bore for their arms, Azure, a sess between two gemelles, gules; which coat was afterwards quartered by the Veres, earls of Oxford, Manners’s, dukes of Rutland, the lord Scroope, Nevill lord Latimer, the lord Wentworth of Nettlested, and other noble families.
The inquisition of his lands was not taken till the 2d year of Edward III. when the king directed his writs to the several sheriffs of Kent, and many other counties, (by which the wide extent of his possessions in different parts of the kingdom may be seen) (fn. 5) to restore to Margaret his widow, all manors, lands, &c. forfeited in those counties, &c. By this it appears that he died possessed, among others, of this manor of Badlesmere, leaving by Margaret his wife, sister and coheir of Richard de Clare, who survived him, and died anno 5 Edward III. a son Giles, and four daughters, Maud, married first to Roger Fitzpain, and secondly to John de Vere, earl of Oxford; Margery to William, lord Roos, and afterwards to Sir Thomas Arundel; Elizabeth first to Edmund Mortimer, and secondly to William Bohun, earl of Northampton; and Margaret to Sir John Tibetot.
Giles de Badlesmere, the son, the process and judgment against his father having been reversed, had his manors and lands restored to him, and having been much trusted and employed by the king in his wars, and having received summons to parliament, he died s. p. in the latter of them, and was buried near his father in the same church, being then possessed of this manor, and leaving his four sisters his coheirs; upon the division of their inheritance, this manor among others was assigned to Maud, the eldest sister, wife of John de Vere, earl of Oxford, who in her right became possessed of it, and he accordingly paid aid for it, in the 20th year of Edward III. He was descended of a family which took its name from the town of Vere, in Zealand, where they had flourished as earls of Guisne for several generations, of whom Alberic, or Aubrey de Vere, came over into England with William the Conqueror, as appears by the roll of Battle-abbey, and was rewarded by him with divers lordships, which are recorded in Domesday. After which he married Beatrix, the Conqueror’s sister. (fn. 6) They bore for their arms, Gules, and or, in the first quarter, a mullet, argent; which arms are in several places on the roof of the cloysters, and in the windows of the cathedral of Canterbury.
He was a nobleman of high courage, and performed great and exemplary services in the wars in France, during which he died in the English army encamped before Rheims, anno 34 Edward III.
In his descendants, earls of Oxford, and barons of Badlesmere likewise, by their descent from Maud, the sister and coheir of Giles, lord Badlesmere, beforementioned, men illustrious not only from their high birth and alliances, but from the noble actions they performed, and the highest offices of state which they held from time to time, among which was the hereditary office of lord chamberlain, this manor continued down to John, earl of Oxford and baron of Badlesmere, who in king Henry the VIth.’s reign, being firmly attached to the house of Lancaster, was, on Edward IV. attaining the crown, attainted in parliament, being then far advanced in years, and with Aubrey his eldest son, afterwards beheaded on Tower-hill. (fn. 7) By this act of attainder the manor of Badlesmere became vested in the crown, and it appears to have been granted by the king next year, being the second of his reign, to Richard, duke of Gloucester, his uncle, on whose obtaining the crown by the title of king Richard III. it became part of the royal possessions. After which the king having in his first year, constituted John Howard, duke of Norfolk, lord high admiral, granted to him, among many others, in special tail, the manor of Badlesmere; but the duke did not long enjoy those great possessions, for next year he was slain, with the king, at the battle of Bosworth, on August 22, 1485, from whence he was conveyed to Thetford, and there buried, after which he was attainted in parliament, in the 1st year of the next reign of Henry VII. (fn. 8)
After which the manor of Badlesmere having been granted in special tail as before-mentioned, came into the possession of the duke’s only son and heir Thomas Howard, earl of Surry, who after having been confined in the tower for near four years, was in the 4th year of that reign restored in parliament to the title of earl of Surry, and wholly to the king’s favor, and having served him with great honor and fidelity, he had, in the 22d of that reign, a special grant of all the manors and lands of which the duke of Norfolk his father died possessed. In the next reign of Henry VIII. he continued highly in the king’s favor, and in the 4th year of that reign, having by his prudence and valour, gained the memorable victory over the Scots at Floden-field, he had for that eminent service an augmentation added to his arms, to him and his heirs male, and was advanced to the title of duke of Norfolk, with a grant of divers lands in special tail. He died in the 16th year of that reign, and was succeeded in titles and estates by his eldest son Thomas, who had been in his life-time created earl of Surry, and was intrusted by the king in great and high offices of state, but notwithstanding his performing signal services both as a soldier and a statesman, he was through the king’s jealousy of his greatness, which was not a little somented by several of the new raised nobility, in the 38th year of that reign, committed to the Tower, and both he and his son the earl of Surry were attainted by special bills in parliament; the earl was soon afterwards beheaded, and a warrant was signed for the execution of the duke, but the king dying the same day, his executors did not venture to enforce the sentence at so critical a juncture.
This manor, thus coming to the crown, among the rest of the duke’s possessions, seems to have been granted to Sir Robert Southwell, master of the rolls, whose brother Sir Richard had been the chief accuser of the late earl of Surry. This family of Southwell, according to Mr. Camden, takes its name from the town of Southwell, in Nottinghamshire, where they were first seated; the descendants of which in king Henry the VIth.’s reign had spread themselves into Norfolk, Suffolk, and other counties, at which time John Southwell, M. P. for Lewes, in Sussex, had two sons, John, of Norwich, who was ancestor of the lords Southwell, of the kingdom of Ireland, and of those seated at Kings-Weston, in Gloucestershire; and Robert, who was ancestor of Sir Robert Southwell, master of the rolls above-mentioned, who bore for his arms, Argent, three cinquefoils, gules, charged with six annulets, or. He immediately afterwards, anno 2 king Edward VI. alienated this manor of Badlesmere, with 2000 acres of land in Badlesmere, and the adjoining parishes, to Sir Anthony Aucher, of Otterden, who died anno 4 and 5 king Philip and queen Mary, possessed of this manor, held in capite by knight’s service. His eldest son John Aucher, of Otterden-place, by his first wife, daughter of Sir William Kellawny, left an only daughter and heir Anne, who in queen Elizabeth’s reign marrying with Sir Humphry Gilbert, entitled him to the possession of this manor. Sir Humphry Gilbert was equally distinguished in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by his eminent abilities and great courage, being usually stiled in the Latin writers of that time egregius Miles. He was descended of an antient family in Devonshire, and was second son of Otho Gilbert, esq. of Greenway, by his wife Katherine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernon, of Modbury, in that county, who afterwards married Walter Raleigh, esq. of Fardel, and by him was mother of the famous Sir Walter Raleigh. They bore for their arms, Argent, on a chevron, sable, three roses of the first, seeded, or. Sir Humphry’s genius led him to the studies of cosmography, navigation, and the art of war. He by his merit acquired the honorable post of commander in chief, and governor of the province of Munster, in Ireland; but what rendered him most famous was his great skill in mathematics, which induced him to undertake a voyage for the discovery of the northwest passage to the East-Indies, and to plant unknown countries, to facilitate which he published more than one discourse; for these adventurous designs he procured a patent from the queen in 1578, wherein he had full powers to undertake such discoveries, and to inhabit and possess any lands which were at that time unsettled by Christian princes, or their subjects. With this view he made two voyages to Newfoundland, and made several discoveries; but whilst in those seas, the vessel in which he was being too small to resist the swell of them, about midnight on Sept. 9, 1583, she was swallowed up and never seen more, Sir Humphry and all the crew perishing in her. (fn. 9) Before his death however, he sold this manor in the 23d year of that reign to Sir Michael Sondes; (fn. 10) afterwards of Throwley, whose grandson Sir George Sondes, of Lees-court, in Sheldwich, K. B. was in the reign of king Charles II. created earl of Faversham. He left two daughters his coheirs, of whom Mary was married to Lewis, lord Duras, afterwards earl of Faversham, and Katherine to Lewis Watson, earl of Rockingham, each of whom successively, in right of their respective wives, inherited this manor, which has since descended in like manner as Lees-court, in Sheldwich, (to the account of which the reader is referred) down to the right hon. Lewis-Thomas, lord Sondes, who is the present possessor of it. A court baron is held for this manor.
WOODS-COURT is a manor in the north-east part of this parish, which was antiently, from the possessors of it, called Godislands. William de Godisland held it in the reign of Edward I. by knight’s service, as did his descendant Richard de Godisland at his death in the 19th year of Edward III. then holding it of the king in capite, by the service of one sparrow-hawk, or two shillings at the king’s exchequer yearly. He was succeeded in it by his son and heir William de Godisland, but before the end of that reign, this family seems to have been extinct here, for Robert at Wood died possessed of it in the 6th year of Richard II. anno 1382, as was then found by inquisition, at which time it had acquired from him the name of the manor of Atwoods, and was held of the king in capite, as of his castle of Dover, by rent to the ward of that castle yearly, and that William Attwood, his uncle, was his next heir.
Guido atte Wode, of the parish of Bocton, was possessed of it in the reign of Edward IV. in the 6th year of which he died, and was buried in Bocton church, before the high cross. By his will he gave this manor, called Woodys court, to his wife Joane for life, and afterwards to his brother Thomas atte Wode, except one piece of land called Geroldysdane, which he ordered to be sold. Thomas atte Wode above-mentioned was of Ickham, and died possessed of this manor three years afterwards, as appears by his will that year.
¶After this name was gone from hence, this manor was become the property of Sayer, one of whom, John, son of Henry Sayer, of Faversham, in 1517, conveyed it to John Cheney, gent. of Eastchurch, in Shepey, who in the 14th year of that reign, sold it to Reynold Snode, gent. of Sheldwich, descended of a family of good account in these parts of Kent so early as king Henry III.’s reign. Isabella de Snode is mentioned, among the gentry of this neighbourhood, as living at that time, in the leiger-book of Davington priory, and there is yet, not far from hence, a hamlet of houses, called from them, Snode-street. His son Samuel Snode became possessed of it on his father’s death in the 11th year of queen Elizabeth; he sold it to Gabriel Giles, of Sheldwich, who in the 25th year of it alienated it to Thomas and Henry Unkle, the former of whom, in 1591, conveyed it to Mildred, widow of the latter, and sister of Nicholas Pemble, and she, in the 41st year of queen Elizabeth, marrying with Arthur Franklyn, gent. of Badlesmere, he, in her right, became possessed of it, and by fine levied in 1599, settled it upon their issue, which was Arthur Franklyn, from whom it descended to Mr. John Franklyn, who dying intestate it came to his kinsman Mr. James Franklin, who in 1743 devised it by his will to his eldest son Mr. Arthur Franklyn, gent. who resided in it, and in the year 1764 passed it away by sale to Lewis, lord Sondes, whose son the right hon Lewis-Thomas, lord Sondes, is the present owner of it.
BADLESMERE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of O’pringe.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Leonard, is but a very small mean building, consisting of one isle and one chancel, with a small turret at the west end, in which is one bell; there were formerly three bells here, but two were taken down and sold many years ago, towards the repair of the church.
In the chancel is a memorial, in old English letters, for Barbara, late wife of John Writhe, alias Dict, garter king at arms, daughter and heir of John Castlecombe, of Cricklade, in Wiltshire, who died in 1483.
There was formerly a small chapel adjoining to the south side of it, the foundations of which still remain, but it was fallen to ruin before the middle of the last century; in this chapel or chancel, which had a door opening into the middle of the isle of the church, were the tombs of several of the family of Badlesmere.
This church has ever been an appendage to the manor of Badlesmere, for though Bartholomew de Badlesmere, and his son Giles, assigned it as part of the endowment of the priory they intended to erect in this parish, yet as that design never took place, this church has continued in the possession of the several proprietors of the manor from that time to the present, and as such is now become vested in the right hon. Lewis-Thomas, lord Sondes.
It is a rectory, and a discharged living, of the clear yearly certified value of forty-six pounds, the yearly tenths being 10s. 2¼d.
In 1578 there were communicants here thirty-four; in 1640 it was valued at eighty pounds per annum, communicants forty.
Tagged: , St Leonard , Badlesmere , Kent , Church , Jelltex , Jelltecks