The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7
Author Edward Hasted Year published 1798 Pages 130-141
BIDDENDEN is the next parish eastward from Frittenden. That part of it which is in the boroughs of Ibornden, Wosenden, Hevenden, Omenden, Stepherst, and Wachenden, is in the hundred of Barkley ; and the residue of it, being in the borough of the Outbounds of Smithsditch, is in the hundred of Cranbrooke. The borsholder of the above-mentioned borough of Wosenden, is chosen at the court-leet held at Burham, in this county ; and the borough of Wachenden has a court-leet of itself, holden in this parish, at which the borsholder of that borough is chosen ; so that neither of these two borsholders last-mentioned are chosen at the court-leet held for this hundred, nor do the inhabitants of them attend at that court ; but at it there may be chosen a constable for the hundred out of either of these boroughs.
The denns of Biddenden and Spelhurst, in this parish, are held of the manor of Shurland, in Pluckley in the liberty of the manor of Wye claims over the borough of Wachenden; and the manor of Godmersham extends into this parish, which is in the division of West Kent.
The Parish is much the same, as to the appearance of the country, as those in this neighbourhood last-described, having some gentle rises in it; the soil too is much the same, having plenty of marle throughout it, the southern and western parts are covered with coppice woods, the large oak trees are numerous throughout it, as well there, as in the hedge rows. It is populous, containing about 2000 inhabitants, of which about a fifth part are dissenters, there are no clothiers remaining in it, though the trade formerly flourished in this equally with the adjoining parishes. The village, usually called in like manner as most others in the Weald, the town of Biddenden, having the church and parsonage on the western side of it, stands rather towards the southern part of the parish, on the high road from Tenterden to Ashford, which is here joined by that from Cranbrooke. There are three principal hamlets, which are dispersed at different parts of the parish, called Wosenden-green, Stroud-quarter, and Standen.
There is a fair, formerly held on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude, now on Nov. 8, for Welsh cattle chiefly, and another on Old Lady day.
Biddenden Place, or, as it was afterwards usually called, The Place-house, stands at the south end of the town, and was antiently the residence of an old family, who took their surname from it; after which the Mayneys were the next who succeeded to the possession of it, and refitted here likewise, being, as well as that great man Sir Walter de Mayney, so noted in history both for his valour and piety, descended from Walter de Meduana, or Mayney, who came into England with the Conqueror, and, as appears by the red book in the exchequer, held twenty knights fees in this county, and appears by his arms, Or, three chevronels, sable, to have been the elder branch of this family ; those of Biddenden and Linton bearing, Per pale, argent and sable, three chevronels between as many cinquefoils, all counter changed Sir John de Mayney resided here in the beginning of king Edward lll.'s reign, as did his son, of the same name, who died possessed of this seat, with other lands contiguous to it, in the 50th year of that reign ; and from him it descended down to John Mayney, esq. of Biddenden, who left two sons, John, who succeeded him here, and Walter, who was of Staplehurst, and sherrif anno ; 3 Elizabeth, the lands of both whom were disgavelled by the act of 2 and 3 king Edward VI. John Mayney, the eldest son, resided here, and was sheriff anno 7 Elizabeth, 1566, in. which year he died, leaving two sons, Anthony and Walter; the former of whom was father of Sir Anthony Mayney, who, in that reign, having purchased a seat at Linton, removed thither, and alienated this seat to Sir Edward Henden, one of the barons of the exchequer in the reign of Charles I. whole arms are in the semicircular window of Grays Inn hall, of which he was a member, being Azure, a lion passant, between three escallop shells, or; who dying s. p. in 1662, was buried in the chancel of this church, having given it by will to his nephew Sir John Henden, Sheriff in the 22nd year of that reign, who reside here, as did his descendants down to William Henden ; but he having, in the reign of king George I. dissipated his patrimony, pulled down the greatest part of this seat, and left the poor remains of it, consisting of only three or four rooms, and a very few acres of the old garden and park, to his son William,
Almost opposite the Place-house is a Mansion, formerly the seat of the Taylors, from whom it passed to Mr. Jenkin Hague, who's nephew, of the same name, now owns it. And at the north end of the town is another, called Biddenden-house, formerly the estate of the Pattensons, who bore for their arms, Argent, on a fess, sable, three fleurs de lis, or ; in which name it continued down to Mr. Josias Pattenson, who devised it to his eldest son of the same name. He married Elizabeth, the eldest of the two daughters and coheirs of Felix Kadwell, efq. of Rolvenden, by whom he had Kadwell Pattenson, of the Gate-house, in Rolvenden, who died s. p. Margaret, Ellen, Josias Pattenson, esq. now of Brooke-place, in Ashford, and Mary, who married Samuel Munn, of Hastings, by whom she had Samuel, late of Ashford, gent, and Ellen, married to William Jemmett, gent, of Ashford. The Pattensons bear for their arms, Argent, on a fess sable, three fleurs de lis, or. After his death his heirs alienated it to Mr. Peter Berry, who afterwards sold it to Mr. Stephen Elmstone, the present owner of it.
The Family Of Pomfret was for several generations possessed of a good estate in this parish. The mansion in which they resided is a huge old house, near the town. It formerly belonged to Edmund Steed, gent, who died in 1664, and afterwards to Vincent Quilter, by whose daughter and heir it came by marriage to Pomfret, in one of whose desendants it continues at this time. Many of them he buried in the south part of the church-yard, where their tombs are yet remaining, with their arms on them, being Quarterly, argent, and gules, a bend, sable; a branch of the family of Seyliard, who intermarried with the Boddenhams, likewise resided here during the last century, bearing for their arms, Gules, a chief, ermine.
Allards is an estate in this parish, which had on it an ancient seat, which for many generations was the mansion of a family of the same name, one of whom was Gervas Allard, who was admiral of the western seas in the 34th year of Edward I. and in his descendants it continued till the reign of Charles I. when Francis Allard, gent, of this place, leaving an only daughter Elizabeth, (he carried it in marriage to Terry Aldersey, gent, of Swanton-court, in Bredgar, who died possessed of it in 1678, and bequeathed this estate to his second son Mr, Henry Aldersey, of Maidstone, whose descendant sold it to Thomas Tong, surgeon, of Milton, from whom it passed by sale to Mr. John Hooker, gent, of Brenchley, and his descendant John, Hooker, esq. now of Broadoak, in that parish, is the present owner of it.
Castwisell is an estate here, situated at the boundary of this parish, next to Cranbrooke, which was once accounted a manor, and had in very early times owners of the same name, as appears by some antient deeds without date, relating to it, in which John de Castwisell is a witness at the teste of them. But before the reign of Edward IV. the Moiles were become possessed of it; in the 6th year of which Sir Walter Moile, of Eastwell, granted to Reginald and William Sands, all those lands, tenements, rents, and services, which Simon Gidenden lately held of him, as of his manor of Castwisell. His grandson Mr, Thomas Moyle (afterwards knighted in the 29th year of Henry VIII.) conveyed it to Stephen Rogers, gent, whose descendant Mr. Jonathan Rogers owned it at the restoration of Charles II. At length, after it had continued for some time in his descendants, it became the property of Sir Henry Fermor, bart, who died possessed of it in 1734, without lawful issue. Since which it has remained vested in the trustees of his will, for the uses mentioned in it,
Lessenden is an estate here, about a mile and a half northward from the church, which was formerly the residence of a family of the name of Boddendent or Boddenham, one of whom, William Boddenden, died possessed of it in 1579, leaving by his first wife a, son William, who was afterwards knighted. He bore for his arms, Azure, a fess, between three chess rooks, or, and lies buried in the chancel of this church. His sister Jane having married Bernard Randolph, of this parish, clothier, he by that alliance became afterwards possessed of this estate, of which he died possessed in 1628, and was buried by his wife in the chancel of this church. His eldest son William was of Burton, in Kennington, where his posterity afterwards remained John, the third son, went to Virginia, where his desendants still continue ; and Edmund, the fifth son, travelled into Italy, and took the degree of M. D. at Padua, and on his return was incorporated into the university of Oxford in 1628; afterwards he practised physic at Canterbury, and dying in 1649, was buried in St. George's church there, leaving a numerous issue, one of whom was Bernard, author of the account of the Archipelago. Herbert, the fourth son, succeeded him in this estate, whofe grandson Herbert Randolph, esq. was recorder of the city of Canterbury, and died possessed of Lessenden in 1724, leaving a numerous issue by his two wives. By the first he left only two surviving children, Herbert; and Mary, who married Christopher Packe, M. D. By his second wife he had eight children, Thomas, D. D. late president of Corpus Chrifti college, Oxford ; George, M. D. of Bristol ; Francis, D. D. principal of Alban hall, Oxford; and Charles, bred to the law; and four daughters, of whom a further account may be seen under Aldington. They bear for their arms, Gules, on a cross, argent, five mullets pierced, sable,
Herbert Randolph, clerk, the only son by his first wife, succeeded him here. He died in 1755, leaving issue only by Catherine his first wife, daughter of Edward Wake, D. D. prebendary of Canterbury, one son Herbert, and a daughter Mary. Herbert Randolph, the son, is of Wiltshire, and is in holy orders, and married Elizabeth Adcock, of Ashford ; he is the present possessor of this estate.
On The North Side of the parish is a seat, called IBORNDEN-House,which, with the greatest part of the denne in which it is situated, has been, from the very beginning of the last century, the estate and residence of the family of Pattenson. Roger Pattenson, clothier, came out of Yorkshire, and purchased this estate, with several others in this and the adjoining parishes, and built three several houses in Biddenden. He died about 1638. His descendant Josias Pattenson, left two sons, Josias, late or Biddenden house, and William, the latter of whom inherited Ibornden, in which he was succeeded by his only son Mr. William Pattenson, the present proprietor of it.
The denne of Ibornden, or Iberden, as it is sometimes spelt, is held of the manor of Ashford. It lies in the western part of this parish, a little more than a mile north-west from the church.
At About Half A Mile north ward from the village, is The Borough Of STANDEN, in which is a hamlet of bouses,on the high road ; this has formerly been a place of some note, and now belongs to Mrs. Knight, the widow of Thomas Knight, esq. of Godmersham, for her life; remainder to Edward Austen, esq. now of Godmersham park.
River-hall is a seat in the south-east part of this parish, near Stroud Quarter, which has been for more than a century in the possession of the Beales, formerly clothiers here. Richard Beale, clothier, of Biddenden, resided here in the beginning of Charles II.'s reign, and his grandson Mr. Richard Beale is the present owner of it, and resides in it. They bear for their arms, Sable, on a chevron, or, between three griffin's heads erased, argent, as many estoiles, gules.
Whitfield-house is near the above, taking its name from the owners of it. Thomas, second son of Clement Whitfield, the second son of John Whitfield, of Tenterden, possessed it in king James I.'s reign, and was succeeded in it by his son John, who was of Biddenden, gent, and died in 1695, and in his descendants it continued till it was sold, not many years since, to Mr. Jenkin Hague, whose nephew, of the same name, now possesses it.
At The corner of this parish, among the woods, lies THE MANOR OF WACHENDEN, in the borough of its own name, which belonged to the abbot and convene of Battel, most probably at its first foundation in the reign of the Conqueror, at least they were owners of it in the reign of Edward II. as appears by the patent rolls of the 7th year of that reign; and in the church chest here, there is an antient deed, dated anno 8 king Henry IV. wherein the abbot and convent acknowledge to have received four pounds of Thomas Brickenden, for his ferme of their manor of Wachendenne, which continued part of their revenues at the time of their distribution, in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it came, among the rest of their possessions, into the hands of the crown ; whence it was granted to Sir John Baker, of Sissinghurst, one of whose descendants sold it to Henden ; from which name it passed to Sir John Norris, of Hemsted, at whose death in 1767, it came to his son John Norris, esq. whole trustees alienated it to Thomas Hallet Hodges, esq. of Hemsted, in Benenden, who is the present possessor of it.
A court leet is held for this manor.
Twenty Acres Of Land, called the Bread and Cheese Lands, lying in five pieces, were given by persons unknown, the yearly rents to be distributed among the poor of this parish. This is yearly done on Easter Sunday in the afternoon, in 600 cakes, each of which have the figures of two women impressed on them, and are given to all such as attend the church; and 270 loaves, weighing three pounds and an half a-piece; to which latter is added one pound and an half of cheese, are given to the parishioners only, at the same time.
There is a vulgar tradition in these parts, that the figures on the cakes represent the donors of this gift, being two women, twins, who were joined together in their bodies, and lived together so till they were between twenty and thirty years of age. But this seems without foundation. The truth seems to be, that it was the gift of two maidens, of the name of Preston ; and that the print of the women on the cakes has taken place only within these fifty years, and was made to represent two poor widows, as the general objects of a charitable benefaction. William Horner, rector of this parish in 1656, brought a suit in the Exchequer, for the recovery of these lands, as having been given for an augmentation of his glebe land ; but he was nonsuited. They are altogether of the yearly value of about 31l. 10s.
Thomas Taylor, of Cranbrooke, by his will in 1569, gave a parcel of woodland in this parish, upon the denne of Etilte, containing by estimation seven acres, which he purchased of John Pattynden, and ordered, that the profit that should come of it, whether it be wood or otherwise, should always be employed to the use of the poor people of this parish; to be distributed to them by the churchwardens, at their discretion, from time to time for ever.
A sum of money, arising from the sale of the timber on the above-mentioned land in 1733, was laid out in the purchase of a house and farm in Bredgar, of the yearly rent of 81. per annum, by deed of feoffment.
Mrs. Hooper, of Cranbrooke, widow, in 1682, gave 20l. with which was purchased Tripe-lane house, and one field adjoining, of the yearly rent of one guinea, to be distributed among twenty-one widows. The house is now made into two dwellings for poor people.
James Stone, of Cranbrooke, in 1722 gave by will 2l. per annum, payable out of Highpoles-farm, in this parish, to be distributed among sixteen poor widows, or decayed housekeepers, on the 1st of November forever, by the overseers of the poor.
DĽ. John Bancroft, rector of this parish, and in 1732 bishop of Oxford, gave a set of communion-plate to this church.
A new workhouse has been built for the use of the poor within these few years.
The poor constantly relieved are about ninety ; casually 36.
William, or John Mayne, esq. of this parish, by a deed of feoffment in 1522, founded A Free Latin Grammar School in it, and endowed it with a school-house, garden, and certain payments out of lands in this parish, Tenterden and Bethersden, of the yearly value of 20l. 3s. 4d. The management of it, and the appointment of the master, is under the direction of Mr. Richard Beale, of this parish, with other feoffees. The Rev. Mr. Pitman is master of it. The archbishop of Canterbury is visitor of this school; which jurisdiction has not been exercised for many years. For want of this interposition, this endowment has been much abused, and the whole of it is now made a sinecure. There is a deputy, who is a decayed tradesman, put in by the master, who lives in the school house, and with whom he shares half the salary. There have been no children taught in it for some time past.
Biddenden is within the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Charing.
The-church, which is dedicated to All Saints, stands on an eminence, close at the west end of the village, with the parsonage-house on the north side of it. It is large and well-built, consisting of three isles and three chancels, having a handsome square tower at the west end, with a beacon turret at one corner. In it are six bells, and a set of chimes. There is a small vestry room on the north side of the great chancel, in which lies buried Sir Edward Henden, baron of the exchequer, anno 1662, and several of the family of Randolph and Everden ; in it is a memorial for Richard Allard, alderman of Rochester, 1593. In the north chancel there is a brass plate, fixed to the wall, for Sir William Boddenden and his wife, having the figures of them and their children, and an inscription to their memories. This chancel belonged to the Mayneys, of whom there are monuments in it, and does now to Sir Horace Mann. The south chancel is ceiled with wainscot, in pannels, at the corners of each of which are carved and painted different devices and arms ; among others are the arms of the fee of Canterbury, impaling Warham, Argent, three birds volant, sable, and portcullis, &c. Alice Bedlyngston, by her will in 1463, ordered her feoffees, out of the money arising from the sale of a piece of land in this parish, to make a new window on the south side of this church ; and it appears that in the beginning of king Henry VIII.'s reign, there was a new isle building to this church, by the several legacies left towards it.
On the outside of the steeple are three shields of arms, carved in the stone-work, viz. first, A saltier; second, A bend, sinister; and third, A fret. In the church-yard are buried several of the family of Beale.
This church is a rectory, and was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, where it still continues, the archbishop being the present patron of it.
It is valued in the king's books at thirty-five pounds, and the yearly tenths at 3l. 10s.
In 1578 there were five hundred and forty-five communicants here, in 1640 there were four hundred, and it was then valued at one hundred and twenty pounds per annum. It is now of the annual value of about two hundred and forty pounds.
While Hasted thought that the story of the Biddenden Maids was merely "a vulgar tradition .. without foundation" other researchers are not so sure:-