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Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus."

The next family to become occupants of Gore Court
were the Fludds ; and of one of them, too, the church
has its memorial in a massive marble monument on the


south wall of the chancel, with the following inscrip-
tion : —

"Near this place resteth in hope the body of Thomas Fludd, Esq.,
of Gore Court in this parish. He was the son of Alabaster Fludd, and
grandson of Thomas Fludd, Esq., who were both interred here. He
married Paulina, ye daughter of John Miinn, Esq., of Otteridge in ye
Parish of Bersted, and had issue by her two sons and one daughter.
He was buried the 10th clay of July Anno Dorn. 1688, aged 38 years.
Thomas, his eldest son, and Paulina his daughter (who were twins),
were both buried here, December ye 20th, Anno Dom. 1683, aged 5
days. Thomas, his youngest, was buried here, June ye 4th, 1689, aged
one year & 7 months.

" Paulina, wife of the late Thomas Fludd, Esq., for the kind affection
she had for her beloved relatives, caused this Monument to be erected.
" Memento Mori."

" Here also lieth the Body of Pious Paulina Fludd, who departed
this life the 8th of May, Anno Dom. 1722, aged 69 years."

On a marble slab on the lower part of the south wall
of the chancel is an epitaph to the memory of Bishop
Home of Norwich, being, with the exception of the third
line, which refers to his connection with Otham, a copy
of that in the choir of Norwich Cathedral, and of that in
Eltham Church (where he was buried), that having been
the residence of his father-in-law, Mr. Burton :

" Sacred to the Memory of

The Right Reverend George Horne, D.D.

(Son of the Rev. Samuel Horne, Rector of this Parish),

Many years President of Magdalen College in Oxford,

Dean of Canterbury,

And late Bishop of Norwich ;

In whose character

Depth of learning, brightness of imagination,

Sanctity of manners, and sweetness of temper,

Were united beyond the usual lot of mortality.

With his discourses from the pulpit his hearers,

Whether of the University, the City, or the country parish,

Were edified and delighted.

His Commentary on the Psalms will continue to be

A companion to the closet

Till the devotion of earth shall end in the Hallelujahs of Heaven.

His soul having patiently suffered under such infirmities

As seemed not due to his years,

Took its flight from this vale of misery,

To the unspeakable loss of the Church of England.

And his surviving friends and admirers,

January 17, 1792, in the 62nd year of his age."


By the side of the tablet to the memory of Bishop Home
is one to a friend who was scarcely less widely known
and honoured among the lay members of the Church of
that day than was Bishop Home among its Prelates.
William Stevens was the son of a sister of Samuel Home,
and therefore cousin of Bishop Home and of William, the
Kector of Otham. Kindred tastes as well as kinship
brought and held together the two men. As Treasurer
of Queen Anne's Bounty, Mr. Stevens was ever in daily
contact with the leading dignitaries of the Church, and
his office made him painfully familiar with the wants of
the poorer clergy, who found in him so sympathising and
liberal a friend. William Jones of Nayland dedicates to
him his Life of Bishop Home, and describes him as "a
man of singular excellence of character, and of sound
learning, particularly in divinity." Several treatises on
the theological questions which were then disturbing the
religious mind proceeded from his pen. These,, at the
solicitation of his friends, he collected into a volume
which, with characteristic humility, he entitled " Of Set-o?
Epya, or the Works of Nobody"; in allusion to which his
friends, after his death, formed themselves into a society
which they called " Nobody's Club." The epitaph on the
tablet in Otham Church thus records his worth :

" Sacred to the Memory of

William Stevens, Esq.,

Late of Broad Street in the City of London, Merchant,

And many years Treasurer of Queen Anne's Bounty,

Whose remains by his own desire were deposited near this Church.

Which he delighted to frequent as the place of his Devotion,

And which he had repaired and adorned by his Munificence.

Educated, and during his whole life engaged in trade,

He yet found time to enrich his Mind

With English, French, Latin, Greek, and especially Hebrew Literature,

And connected by consanguinity and affection with many

Of the most distinguished Divines of his age,

He was inferior to none in profound Knowledge and steady Practice

Of the Doctrines and Discipline of the Church of England.

Austere to himself alone, charitable and indulgent towards others,

He attracted the Young by the Cheerfulness of his Temper,

The Old by the Sanctity of his Life :

And tempering instructive Admonition with inoffensive Wit,

I Uniting fervent Piety towards God

With unbounded Goodwill and well-regulated Beneficence towards Men,

178 OtHam CHtrncfl

Illustrating his Christian Profession by his own consistent Example,
He became the blessed means, through Divine Grace,

Of winning many to the ways of Righteousness.

He finished his Probation, and entered into his Rest,

On the 7th day of February 1807,

In the 75th year of his Age."

He was buried in what, before the enlargement of the
churchyard in 1864-5, was the north-east corner, and the
spot is still known, though no tombstone marks it. Is
there no surviving member of " Nobody's Friends" who
would be glad to do honour to his memory by placing a
stone on " Nobody's" grave 1


Before we attempt to trace the history of the manor
itself, it may be well to endeavour to identify, if possible,
the site of the original manor-house, of which even
tradition has failed to preserve for it its rightful dis-

Among the many old houses still standing in the parish,
the one which probably has the best claim to the title is
that now only known as " Madam Taylor's". It is an old
building, once clearly of larger proportions and more
pretension, as is indicated by its goodly staircase and spa-
cious panelled upper room ; but in its reduced form
serving only as tenements for labourers' families. It has,
too, a large walled garden attached, retaining every sign
of decayed gentility. But its very name is lost, or, rather,
has given place to that of a much more recent occupant,
Madam Taylor, to whom rumour, in its vagueness, has
imparted a touch of romance. Of whom more pre-

Assuming then, as we may, that " Madam Taylor's"
was the original Manor-house (and no other in the village
seems to be so entitled to the name), what is its history ?
In the days of the Conqueror, Domesday 1 tells us that it

1 In Domesday the record stands thus : "Goisfridus de Ros tenet de
episcopo Oteham . Pro uno solin & uno jugo se defendit . Terra est II
carucarum k dimidiae . In dominio est una . Et IX villani cum III
hordariis habent I carucam . Ibi Ecclesia . Et II servi . & I molinus de


was held by Goisfrid de Ros (Godfrey de Roos), under
Odo, Bishop of Baieux. The next mention of it is in
Testa tie Nevill, a compilation of records taken from Inqui-
sitions in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I, where
it appears as being held by " Petrus de Otteham" jointly
with the heir of William de Ros. 1 This Peter, to
whom the manor seems to have given the name, had a
daughter named Loretta, who married William Valoynes,
and thus swelled the estates and increased the influ-
ence of that family, which was at the time one of the
wealthiest and most powerful in the county, — the name
still preserved in that of the neighbouring parish of
Sutton Valence. Surviving her husband, she divided
her estates between her two sons, Walter and Robert
Yaloynes. 2 To the elder of these Otham must have
passed, as his widow, Isabel, was seized of it in the year
1346, when she appears, conjointly with two co-trustees,
Richard Colyn and Nicholas Sandwich, as contributing
to the aid which Edward J II demanded for the knight-
ing of the Black Prince. 3

From the Valoynes family the manor, with the ad vow -
son attached to it, passed, in the reign of Richard IT, by
purchase, to Sir Ralph de Frenyngham (or Farningham)

v solidis &■ III acne prati . Silva VIII porcorum . T. R. E. valebat
IIII libras . Quando recepit III libras . Modo IIII libras . Aluuinus
tenuit de Rege E." Which may be thus rendered : " Goisfrid de Ros
holds Oteham of the Bishop [of Baieux]. It is rated at one suling and
one yoke. There is arable land of two teams and a half. In the de-
mesne there is one. And nine villani with three bordarii have one
team. There is a church and two servi. One mill of five shillings and
three acres of meadow. Wood of eight hogs. In the time of King
Edward (the Confessor) it was worth four pounds. When he received
it, three pounds. Now four pounds. Alcuuin held it of King Edward."

1 The entry is, " De Margeria de Ripariis et ipsa de Domino Rege.
Petrus de Otteham unum feodum in eadem de herede Willielmi de Ros
& ipse"' (f. 28, p. 214, Kancie Com., f. 28); and again (f. 49, p. 219),
" Will's de Ros feoda ij milit' in Lullingeston, Och'm & Lehe."

2 Harris, Hist., p. 231.

3 The connection of these two men is not without its interest, for
Richard Colyn held a small estate in the parish, then known as Owl's
Hole, afterwards Colyn's, and now Otham Court ; while the name of
Sandwich had a still earlier connection with Otham, from Robert
Valoynes having presented Nicholas de Sandwich to the rectory in the
year 1313, who, Weever says, was buried in the church.


de Lose, whose son John left it to a kinsman, John Pympe,
of Pympe Court, in Loose (? Nettlested), on the condition
that he endowed two chaplains {capellanos), one to Box-
ley, the other to East Farleigh, to pray for the souls of
himself and his relatives ; with remainder, however, on
failure of male issue, to another relative, Sir John Isle, or
isley, of Sundridge. 1 It continued with the Pympe family
for two generations, when John Pympe, the grandson,
dviiig without a son, in 1411, it was conveyed, according
to the terms of John de Frenyngham's hequest, to the

The manor remained with the Isley family nearly one
hundred and forty years, i.e., from 1411 to 1543, when it
passed by purchase to Thomas Hendle or Hendley. This
brings upon the scene a family that became eventually
the owners of nearly all the parish. Thomas Hendle
was the younger son of Gervase (or Jervis) Hendle, Esq.,
whose family held Corsehorne Manor, in Cranbrook, since
the days of Edward II. His elder brother, Sir Walter,

1 The full particulars of this bequest are given in a MS. in the Sur-
renden Collection, preserved in the College of Arms, and alluded to in
the Historical Commissions' Report, viii, p. 329. The transfer is thus :
" Maneria, &c. Johannis de Frenvnghani de Lose, Concessa Johanni
Pympe Cum secundum extremam intencionem et voluntatem Johannis

Frenyngham de Lose, dare et concedere intendimus, ut tenemur,

Johanni de Pympe, filio Reginaldi de Pympe, Maneria nostra de Lose,
Otteham cum advocacione ecclesie, <fcc, <fec, prefato Johanni de Pympe
&, heredibus suis masculis de corpore suo legitime procreatis, inveni-
endo & sustendando duos Capellanos idoneos soil, unum in Monasterio

de Boxle, et alterum eorum in Estfarlegh Et si contingat

predictum Johannem Pympe sine herede masculo de corpore suo legi-
time procreato obire, extunc omnia predicta Maneria, Avocaciones,
&c, Rogero Isle consanguineo et proximo de sanguine predicti Johan-
nis Frenyngham de Lose, scil. Idem Rogerus Isle, filius Johannis Isle,
filii Johanne, sororois Johannis Frenyngham, patris Radulphi Frenyng-
ham, patris predicti Johannis de Lose, etc., &c."

Johannes de Frenyngham = Agnes Johanna= Isle

Sir Ralph de Frenyngham=Katharina John Isle =

John Frenyngham = Alice Roger Isle =


Serjeant-at-law, was appointed Solicitor to the Board of
Augmentation by Henry VI1L on the resignation of
Robert Southwell, a name so frequently occurring in the
Suppression of the Monasteries.

Sir Walter's position gave him great facilities for obtain-
ing from the Crown extensive estates out of the confis-
cated property of the suppressed houses. Leaving no son
(only three daughters), a large portion of these estates
fell to his younger brother Thomas, who also held the
office of seneschal, or steward, over several royal manors,
to wit, Maidstone, Leeds, etc., as well as private ones,
like Boxley, and thus amassed considerable wealth.

Thomas Hendley first married Eliza, widow of Thomas
Ellys of Kennington, who died in 1557 ; in 1559 he mar-
ried Johanna, daughter of John Tebold of Deal, widow of
John Pawley, an influential citizen of London, who died
in 1565 ; and thirdly, Lady Catherine Moyle, the widow
of Sir Thomas Moyle, Knt., of Westwell, who had been
Speaker of the House of Commons in 1541, and died in
1560. His will is at Somerset House (Mellershe, 55).
He chose Otham as his residence, and in 1543 bought of
William Isley the manor and advowson, which remained
in the family for three hundred years. In 1550 he also
bought the adjacent estate of Gore Court of Mr. Thomas
Ascrey (or Astrey, or Ashway, as the name is variously
spelt), who was lord of the adjoining manor of Langley.
Mr. Hendle, retaining a portion of the land, sold the
Gore Court House to Levyn BufFkyn, Esq. He had, in
1547, also purchased Stone House (in Maidstone, or Bear-
sted), and appears to have removed there in 1567, when
he leased his Manor-house to Robert Baker, a farmer, of
Hadlow, and never resumed it as a residence. Its his-
tory from that time would seem to have been a blank,
occupied probably by a succession of tenants until in the
middle of the last century it became the home of " Madam
Taylor", with whose name it has been ever since associ-
ated, and that to such an extent that on a map printed
by Andrews, Drury, and Herbert, in 1779, the house,
with its garden weil defined, was called " Mrs. Taylor's".

Thomas Hendley 's eldest son, Walter Hendley the
second (as he was called to distinguish him from his

1895 13


uncle. Sir Walter), married Frances, daughter of Sir
.lames Hales, the unfortunate victim of Bishop Gardner's
hate who had been a fellow-Commissioner with the elder
Sir Walter, his great-uncle, in the investigation of the
religious houses in Kent. He predeceased his father, and
left, among others, a son Thomas, who, like his father,
preferred Coreshorne to Otham, as did his descendants
for two generations, till his great-grandson, John Hendle,
by marrying Priscilla Fludd, the heiress of Gore Court,
brought back the old family name to Otham, and re-
united the two estates till the one became merged into
the other.

To return to the old Manor-House and " Madam Tay-
lor", whose history is so full of romance, and over which
local rumour has thrown a veil of mystery. She was the
daughter of Bowyer Hendley of Gore Court, where she
was born in 161)3, and was buried in Otham churchyard,
as the entry in the Register shows, under date "1780,
October 18, Elizabeth Taylor, Widow, Daughter of Bow-
yer Henley, Esq., setat. 96." But of her intermediate life
all seems a blank, beyond the village gossip of a now fast
disappearing generation. Their tale is that she married
(but where is not clear, no entry of it being in the
Otham Register, or among the Licences at Canterbury) a
Mr. Taylor, who parted from her at the church door, and
whom she never saw again. It is rumoured, however,
that not long before her death a young man called upon
her, giving the name of Taylor, and saying he was the
son of the man to whom she had gone through the
ceremony of marriage. Her name appears in the parish
books as having been rated for a house and land of some
importance for several } T ears in the middle of the last
century. Thus mystery enveloped the house and its
lonely occupant, Madam Taylor, who was chiefly known
by repute among the last generation as being the "Lady
Bountiful" of the village.

The history of the Gore Court house may be more
briefly told, blended as it is more than once with that
of the Manor-house. As a distinct estate it is first
mentioned as being owned by Richard Colyn, the friend
and relative of Elizabeth, widow of Waruntius de


Valoignes, in the collection of the "Aid", in the reign of
Edward III. Of the building which then formed the
dwelling of the Colyns, from whom probably came the
name of Colyn's Hole, some traces may still be detected
in the thick walls and blocked-up windows in the cellars
of the present house. The next name that occurs in
connection with it is that of the Isles or (Isleys) of
Sundridge, from whom it soon passed to the Ascreys (or
Astreys or Ashways). For Lady Margery Ascrey, in
her will dated 1524, 1 speaks of her late husband Sir Ralph
Ascrey as being " of Gore Court". It was from her son
William Ascrey that, as already mentioned, Thomas
Hendley bought it in 1550. At that time it would have
comprised little more than the spacious central hall,
with a sleeping apartment on the south side, and a
"Guest chamber". To this Hall Thomas Hendley seems
to have added on the north what is now the drawing-
room, for the barge-boarding of the gable outside has
what was probably meant as the initials (£♦ 1|)., and very
distinctly the date 1577. Hendley sold the house to
Levyn Buffkyn, a member of a Sussex family, who had
recently received from the Crown the adjacent manor of
Langley. He, a few years after, sold it to Nathanael
Powell of Ewhurst, and he to Thomas Fludd, originally
of a Shropshire family, and already owner of Milgate in
the neighbouring parish of Bearsted, who had married
Catherine the daughter of Levyn Buffkyn. Thomas
Fludd rose to some eminence ; he was knighted, and,
conjointly with his father-in-law, represented Maidstone
in Parliament, in 1592, and again, in conjunction with
Sir John Leveson, in the years 1597 and 1601. His son
Thomas was sheriff for the county in 1652. Half a
century later, his great grandson, Peter Fludd, was
obliged to sell the property, and found a purchaser in
Bowyer Hendley, whose mother Priscilla was a daughter
of Thomas Fludd. Thus the two estates again became
united, and with them went the Advowson of the Rec-

William, the eldest son of Bowyer Hendley, succeeded
to the joint estates, but being pronounced by a Com-

1 Somerset House, Bodfelde, f. 25].



mission of Lunacy incapable of managing his affairs, and
leaving no son, the property passed to his sister Anne,
who had married Samuel Home, the then Hector of the
parish. On the death of her grandson, William Home,
also Hector of Otham, without family, the estates passed
to the descendants of a younger daughter of William
Hendlev, Priscilla, who had married the Rev. Richard
Hammett, Rector of Clovelly in Devon ; their grand-
daughter, Elizabeth Morrison Hammett, married (in 1838)
John Townsend-Kirkwood, Esq., and to her, as sole sur-
viving descendant of William Hendley of Gore Court, the
estate passed, while the Advowson had been willed by
Mrs. Maria Home, the widow of Rev. W. Home (as will
appear in the account of the Rectors), to Magdalen
College, Oxford.

Another dwelling-house of considerable importance
and evident antiquity stands on a spur of the hill
running to the north boundary of the parish, known by
the name of " Stoneacre". In early charters of the
fourteenth century it appears as Stonekere, and in an old
map of 1779 it is called " Stonyker", of which the present
form may be a corruption. Tradition assigns to the
building a monastic origin, and identifies it with a
Premonstratentian Priory founded by ttadulphus de
Dene, in a place called Otham or Otteham ; and says
his daughter Ela, who married a Sackville, had it trans-
ferred to the larger Abbey of Beigham (now Bayham) in'
Sussex, on the complaint of the monks that the original
site was very unsuitecl and unhealthy (propter mag-
nas et intolerabiles inedias loci). The tradition may
find some support in the circumstance that just below
the brow of the hill on which the house stands the little
river Len widens into a small pond, which is supposed
to have been the "Monks' Bath", and also that the
Lord of the neighbouring Manor of Thornham (Johannes
de Thornham), who founded Cumbwell Priory, took
part in the foundation of that at Bayham. But while
the building, long since converted into a comfortable
picturesque farmhouse, retains traces ol having once
known rather better days, it suggests a domestic rather
than an ecclesiastical origin ; and a careful examination


of the original Charters shows that any such claim is
unfounded. 1 h\ them mention is made of other lands
granted for the same purpose, which distinctly point to
the claim of the other Otham in Hailsham, Sussex, —
Seford (Seaford), Alvrecheston (Alfreiston), Dedington
(Denton), and other manors included in the grants, all
adjoin Hailsham. Moreover, there are seveal portions of
"marsh-land", conducing doubtless to its unheal thiness,
spoken of as belonging to the manors, from which the
Kentish Otham, rich in its hop gardens, is quite free.
Then, again, a chapel is mentioned as part of the founda-
tion ; and to this day the ruins of such a building are
to be found in Hailsham. Dugdale, in his account of
Bavham Abbey, makes no allusion to Otham in Kent;
and Borsfield, in his History of Sussex, places the
Otham of the old priory unhesitatingly in Hailsham.
So it seems clear that " Stoneacre" must forego all claim
to the old monastery, and the name of Ela de Sackville
in ust give place to that of Elys, whose family we know
lor many generations made a home here.

The most casual visitor can hardly fail to be struck
by the number of houses which clearly have some pre-
tension to byegone respectability, in what is called
" Otham Street" ; one turned into a blacksmith's forge,
others used as tenements for farm -labourers. Besides
the old Manor-house and Gore Court and Stoneacre
there are several buildings which retain evidence of
having at some time been the residences of gentry ; an
inference which is amply confirmed by entries in the
Church Registers, where occur the names of Morice, who
married a Hendley, of Lambe, no doubt connected with
the Sutton -Valence family to whom belonged the
founder of the Grammar School there, and the historic
Conduit in London which still retains his name, and of
Goldwells too, a family of good repute at Chart, who gave
a distinguished bishop to Norwich. Now every member
of these and other families is designated " generosus".

One family there is, as the Church Registers tell us,
which deserves more than passing notice. Here it

1 Dugrl ale's Monasticon, vi.


seems Dame Jam' Wyat, 1 the widow of the zealous but
rash Sir Thomas Wyat the younger, who was beheaded
by Queen Mary, found a home, in which, with her son
George, she spent the last years of her life. What, it
mav be asked, brought her to Otham % The answer may
be found in the fact that her son George had married a
grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Moyle of Eastwell, a step-
daughter of the Lady Mode who had become the third
wife of Thomas Hendley, who then owned the manor of
Otham, and lived at Gore Court. Now each of them
must have had a local habitation as well as a name ; and
though it is scarcely possible now to assign to each, even
by conjecture, his own homestall, yet it is not without
interest to connect each with the little Kentish village.
One celebrity the parish may claim, though even that
is a somewhat doubtful one ; in a double sense doubtful,
both as to his connection with the parish, though the
name certainly suggests that, and also as to his repute.
Nicholas de Occam was a Franciscan friar, living in the
reigns of the First and Second Edwards. Anthony
a, Wood 2 describes him, on the authority of Bale, as a
man of no mean order, "learned and beloved above his
contemporaries", a distinguished Reader of Divinity at
Oxford; while Shirley, in his preface to Fasciculi Zizani-
orum (p. xlviii), calls him "the glory and reproach of his

1 The following entries in the Church Registers show that Dame
Wyat and her son George lived in the parish, though tradition fails to
point out any particular house they occupied. Among the baptisms :
"1591, Feb. 27, Anne, d. of George Wyat, Esq. ; 1594, June 4, Hawte,

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