P. H. (Peter Hampson) Ditchfield.

Memorials of old Kent; online

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the monarch on his arrival fresh from his Austrian
captivity. Edward III. frequently used the port as a point
^A of departure for his foreign expeditions, and the first
mention of the castle occurs in his reign. The foreign
pilgrims to the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury
generally landed here.

Being apparently a royal castle, the Castellan was

Some Kentish Castles 209

appointed by the governor of Dover Castle. The French
plundered and burned the town in 16 Henry VI., 1438,
and in 1471 the castle was held by the bastard Falcon-
bridge against Edward IV., but was surrendered on the
approach of the King. The town was protected by a
wall with a broad ditch and five gates, of which the
Fishers Gate and a portion of the Barbican Gate on the
Margate road still remain. The castle stood immediately
without the town on its south-west side, commanding the
entrance to the old harbour and the approach by the
Deal road. The site is low and level, the ground being
not more than 12 feet above sea level. The Grammar
School in Manwood Road occupies a portion of it. Like
the town, the castle probably relied for protection on wide
ditches filled by the tide and the river Stour. The
adjacent town ditch (here 50 feet wide) may also have
served for that of the castle bailey, which would have
communicated with the town by the now destroyed
Sandown Gate. The dates alike of the foundation of the
castle, and when it was allowed to go to ruin, are unknown,
but we may presume the latter to have been coeval with
the decay of the town, which dated from the sinking of
a " grete caryke " in the haven in 1464; and Sir Thomas
More, in his dialogues, relates how funds were diverted
by the Archbishop of Canterbury (to whom the town
belonged^) which should have been employed in keeping
the haven free from " wose mudde and sande," and
employed in the building of Tenterden church tower, of
which living His Grace was patron. The shipwreck in
the harbour mouth of a great Spanish ship belonging to
Pope Paul IV., ^ which could not be removed, accelerated
the shoaling up of the port, and would appear to have
administered the final coup de grace to the naval pros-
perity of the town.

1 Kent Domesday Book extension, p. lo. The Archbishop of
Canterbury holds the Borough of Sandwich, which lies in its own

- In 1557. Cinque Ports, Burrows, p. 200.


210 Memorials of Old Kent


The family of Shurland had a fortified quadrangular
manor house near the village of Eastchurch, in Sheppey,
that occupied the site of an earlier castle, of which
nothing now remains. Sir Geoffrey de Shurland was
Constable of Dover Castle in 9 Henry III., 1225. His
son. Sir Robert, with other levies from Kent, fought in
the Scotch wars of Edward I., and for his services at
the siege of Caerlaverock Castle had a grant of all the
wreckage on the sea coast of his manors. He lies buried
in the Church of Minster, in Sheppey. The horse's head
carved upon his tomb commemorates the curious story
of the cause of his death, which may be read at length
in the Ingoldsby Legends, under that of " Grey Dolphin."
The estate passed by the marriage of his daughter to the
Cheyneys, and her descendant. Sir Thomas Cheyney,
again rebuilt the house in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
It was sold by his spendthrift son, and after many vicissi-
tudes has been converted into a farmhouse. Nothing now
remains of the second mansion of the de Shurlands save
the old gatehouse.


The so-called " castles " erected by Henry VIII. for
the defence of the coast in 1539, after the suppression of
the monasteries, having been constructed for use with
modern fire artillery, can scarcely claim to be regarded as
such in the feudal acceptance of the term. A leading
principle is apparent in their plans, which only differ in
detail. The forts of Sandown, Deal, Walmer, Sandgate
in Kent, and Camber in Sussex, all have a low, central
tower, surrounded by an outer enclosure of semi-circular
bastions, which, varying in number from three to six,
caused the plan to assume a trefoil, quatrefoil, or sexfoil
figure. They appear to have carried batteries of 12 or

Some Kentish Castles 211

14 guns, which were probably armed with culverins of
about 5^ inch bore, carrying 17 lb. shot.^ Those who
desire to know more of their history should consult the
interesting papers by Mr. W. L. Rutton, F.S.A., in Arch-
cBologia C antiana^ in which they are exhaustively de-
scribed in detail. It is interesting to observe in them
how the earlier mediaeval influence continues to prevail
so long after the introduction of modern fire artillery, and
how, as in the feudal castles, elaborate precautions are
taken to mask their entrances and render them difficult
of access, and how the idea of the ancient keep is replaced
by the low tower, forming the central battery. Hasted^
supposed there had formerly been a castle at Sandgate, and
quotes in support of that opinion a writ of 22 Richard II.,
1398, directing the captain of his castle of Sandgate to admit
his cousin Henry of Lancaster (afterwards Henry IV.)
with his family and train (he being then banished the
realm), and allow him to tarry there for six weeks in
order to refresh himself. This writ is, however, followed
by a similar one of like tenor and date (3 October, 1398),
directed to the Captain of Calais Castle. There being
then a castle at the French Sandgate (now Sangatte), then
within the English pale, about nine miles from Calais,
it is clear that the French, and not the Kentish Sandgate
is the one alluded to in the writ, especially as there is no
mention in any record of even as much as a watch tower
at the latter place before the building of Henry VIII.'s
"castle" there.

The " castle " at Upnor is on the north bank of the
Medway, nearly opposite to Chatham dockyard, and was
built in 1 56 1, by the order of Queen Ehzabeth, for the
defence of this reach of the river. It consisted of a long,
castellated, oblong building, three storeys in height,

\ Archaologia, vol. vi., p. 129, " Sir William Monson's Naval Tracts."
'^ Arch. Cant., vol. xx., pp. 228, 257, "Sandgate Castle"; vol. xxi.,

^p. 244, 259, " Sandgate Castle " ; vol. xxiii. pp. 24, 30, " Castles of

Henry VHI."

3 Hasted History of Kent, 2nd edn., vol. viii., p. 182.

212 Memorials of Old Kent

having a high, round tower at either end, to which has
been added a casemated ravehn in front, where was a
platform for guns at the river's edge, defended by a
stockade. The entrance was by a square tower at the rear
of the west side, the governor having quarters in the south

Gilhngham, as already mentioned, had not even as
much resemblance to a castle as Upnor ; it was a
regular modern fort for guns, built in the reign of
Charles I. for the defence of the dockyard at Chatham,
which lies about one and a half miles to the south-west
of it.


A twofold interest attaches to this curious old map,
from its being the earliest known plan of the city, while
the name of its designer is a matter of some uncertainty.
The original from which it has been reproduced forms
one of the illustrations to a work called Civitates Orbis
Terrarnm, published at Cologne by Braun in 1572.
Possibly the work of Remigius Hogenberg or Cornelius
Hogius, two Flemish artists employed by Braun, it has
been usually attributed to George Hoefnagel, who is
known to have executed large maps of Bristol and
Oxford for the work in question (both of which are the
earliest known maps of these cities),^ but, unlike his
other drawings, it does not bear his signature, and it
remains open to question whether it is by him. From
internal evidence, the map is considerably earlier in date
than 1572, and may possibly have formed one of a series
of drawings of Kentish scenery executed for Philip IL
of Spain in 1558 by Antony Van den Wyngaerde,
several of which, after many and strange vicissitudes,
are now preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

1 ArchiEologia Cantiana, voL xxv., pp. 250-254.

~ I*














































































Some Kentish Castles 213

As regards accuracy, these early attempts to combine
plans with bird's-eye views must be taken cum grano
salis, yet the artists were careful to render what they
saw with attention to detail, albeit in faulty perspective.
The point of view is from the rising ground to the
south of Canterbury, which is shown surrounded by
the wall with its six gates, two posterns, and various
towers. The monasteries of Christ Church, St. Augus-
tine's, and the Grey Friars are readily distinguished.
No less than twenty-four other churches appear, several of
which (among them those of St. Mary de Castra and
St. John le Poor) are no longer in existence. The Stour
is seen dividing into two arms, enclosing the great
island called " Binnewith," upon which, m 1273, the
Franciscan Friars founded their church. A branch is
shown extending further eastwards from the eastern
arm of the Stour, possibly all that then remained of
that ancient watercourse which (according to Somner)^
once flowed through the centre of the city, passing what
is now known as the Butter Market, and which perhaps
formed the outer ditch of the Roman city, at which time
the site of the present Cathedral was an impassable
morass.- The manner in which the city wall was carried
across the Stour upon arches is clearly shown. The
northern ones were not removed until 1769, the southern
ones having been previously demolished. Next to the
last is the postern gate ; some distance in the rear of
it is seen St. Mildred's Church with its early tower on
the north side ; then comes the castle with the great
keep surrounded by a wall with towers, and having a
ditch with a bridge facing the city, remains of which
were found in 1868 during the excavations for the
drainage works.^ The so-called " Roman " arch of

1 Somner, Antiquities of Canterbury, First Edition, pp. 38"4S-

2 Archrcologia Cantiana, vol. iv., pp. 27-42.

3 Archixologia, vol. xliii., p. 151 et seq.

214 Memorials of Old Kent

Worth gate, having been long stopped up, is of course
not shown, but Wincheap gate is seen much as it remained
until its removal, about 1786. Beyond it is the low
hummock subsequently converted into the sham mound
now known as the Dane John. The city ditch, filled
with water from the Stour, is shown encircling the
southern side of the wall as far as St. George's gate,
beyond which the curve of the wall conceals the rest of
its course. By the closing years of Elizabeth's reign
much of the northern portion had been filled in and
built upon.


By Philip Sidney

IHE Crown Manor of Penshurst was granted, as
an inscription over the gateway tells us, by
" the most religious and renowned Prince
Edward the Sixt " to Sir William Sidney^
Knight-Banneret, in the year 1552. At the Norman
Conquest, it had been given to a family of the name of
Penchester, or Pencestre, whose most distinguished
member was Sir Stephen de Pencestre, Lord Warden of
the Cinque Ports under Edward I. Dying in the year
1299, he was buried in the Church of St. John the Baptist,
Penshurst. Twice married, he left no son to succeed him,
and his lands were divided between his two daughters, the
younger of whom, Alicia, married John de Columbers, and
inherited Penshurst. From her heirs the estate was
bought by the wealthy Sir John de Poulteney, four times
Lord Mayor of London, and at his death passed from the
Louvaine family into that of the Saint Cleres, from whom
it was purchased by the Duke of Bedford, then Regent
of the Kingdom, at whose decease it went to his brother,
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and thence to the luckless
line of the Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham.

After the execution, in 1521, of Edward Stafford, Duke
of Buckingham, Penshurst reverted to the Crown, but soon
passed, for a short time, into the hands of Sir Ralph Fane,
at whose attainder Edward VI. presented it to Sir William
Sidney, chamberlain and steward of his household, and
eldest son of Nicholas Sidney by Anne, daughter of
Sir William Brandon, and aunt of Charles Brandon, Duke


2i6 Memorials of Old Kent

of Suffolk, husband of Mary Tudor, sister to King
Henry VIII. This Sir William Sidney was lineally
descended from Sir William de Sidenie, who came over
to England with Henry II. in 1154, and from whom the
present owner of Penshurst, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley
is also descended, although in the female line.

Penshurst Park adjoins Penshurst village, and is
situated about five and a half miles west-to-south-west of
the Norman town of Tonbridge, and about six miles
north-west of the more modern Tunbridge Wells. It lies
low down, surrounded by an undulating park, now not half
its original size, but still containing some magnificent
timber. The church stands within a stone's-throw of the
Place. It is situated in the prettiest part of Kent, within
an easy distance of other fine historic houses, such as
Knole Park, Hever Castle, Ightham Mote, Bayham Abbey,
Eridge Castle, and Groombridge Place. Of these country
seats, Hever, Ightham, and Groombridge are surrounded
by moats. Penshurst was never moated ; yet of all the
" Stately Homes of England," hardly one presents a more
impressive and picturesque appearance than this old
mansion, the birthplace of the accomplished Sir Philip
Sidney, " The great glory of his family, the great hope
of mankind, the most lively pattern of virtue, the glory of
the world." Its old walls possess a majestic charm
which no pen can faithfully describe on paper. The very
air seems to inspire the curious visitor with stirring
memories of the bygone days of chivalry, and the pilgrim
approaching this Kentish shrine appears to have wandered
into the glorious realm of that veritable Arcadia portrayed
by Penshurst's worthiest son.

Here " Sacharissa's Walk " calls to mind the love-songs
of her rejected admirer, Edmund Waller, who soon,
however, consoled himself by marrying a wealthy heiress.
Here stayed Henry VIII. on at least one pleasant visit.
Here often stayed Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex,
foundress of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Here






Pensiiurst Place 217

Edmund Spenser composed a part of his Shefheardes'
Calendar ; here Lancup Well recalls Ben Jonson's
oft-quoted lines, included in his poem called The Forest^
commencing : —

Thou arti not Penshurst, built to envious show
Of touch or marble, nor can boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold ;
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told.
Or stair, or courts ; but stan'st an ancient pile,
And these, grudged at, are reverenced the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks of soil, of air.
Of wood, of water, therein thou art fair.

Here came Queen Elizabeth and danced with her
favourite, Robert Dudley, in the ball-room. Here
suddenly arrived, whilst out hunting one day, King
James I., with his son Henry, Prince of Wales. Here
came John Evelyn, a day too late, as he noted in his
diary, to attend the second marriage of the peerless
" Sacharissa " with his old schoolfellow, Robert Smythe.
Here was born Sir Robert Sidney, Governor of Flushing,
and the first Earl of Leicester of the Sidney line. Here
Algernon Sidney walked and mused beneath the oaks and
beeches. Here for a time, by order of the Parliament, the
Duke of Gloucester and his sister, the Princess Elizabeth,
were confided to the tender care of the Countess of Leicester,
sister of the famous Lucy, Countess of Carlisle, after the
execution of King Charles I. had deprived these royal
children of their father. Here Sir William Temple, the
statesman, the husband of Dorothy Osborne and patron
of Swift, was educated by his relative, the pious Dr. Henry
Hammond, who was Rector of Penshurst in the reign of
Charles I. before the Civil War, at the outbreak of which
the Loyalist Hammond fled from his rectory at night and
joined the King at Oxford.

The architecture of Penshurst Place goes back, as
regards its older portions, to the time of King Edward III. ;
as regards its later, to that of Robert Sidney, Earl of
Leicester, whose father. Sir Henry, the Lord President

2i8 Memorials of Old Kent

of Wales and Viceroy of Ireland, built the gatehouse, and
added largely to the original edifice, in the reign of
Elizabeth. A portion of the pile is still called, in his
honour, the " President's Court." But the masterpiece of
all is the old and unrestored feudal hall, probably the finest
and best-preserved example of its kind extant in Great
Britain. It forms a perfect specimen of the hall of a
nobleman or country gentleman's residence during the
era of the later Plantagenets, and its central chimney and
hearth, oak tables, dais, and minstrels' gallery have luckily
suffered lightly at the hands of Time. Tradition relates
that the Black Prince and his young wife, Joan, the " Fair
Maid of Kent," once ate their Christmas dinner in this

From the baronial hall a stone staircase leads upwards
to the state apartments, the first of which is the ball-room,
whence one passes into the tapestry-room. Queen
Elizabeth's drawing-room, the picture-gallery, and the
china-closet. On the walls of these rooms hang paintings
by Holbein, Zucchero, Marc Gheeraedts, Guido, Lely,
Van Dyck, Rubens, Poussin, Titian, Gainsborough,
Dobson, and Lawrence. Family pictures are very
numerous, and many generations of sad-faced and
auburn-haired Sidneys look down from their frames
upon the visitor. They include portraits of Sir Philip
Sidney ; Sir Henry Sidney, " the brave soldier, the
consummate general, the able counsellor, the wise
legislator " ; Sir William Sidney ; John Dudley, Duke
of Northumberland ; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester ;
Dorothy Sidney, Countess of Sunderland, the " Sacharissa "
of Waller's verse ; Henry Sidney, Earl of Romney ;
the stem and solemn patriot, Algernon Sidney ; Lady
Mary Sidney, Sir Philip's mother, of whom he wrote,
" For my own part, I have had only light from her " ;
Mary, Countess of Pembroke, the subject of William
Browne's immortal epitaph (so often ascribed in error to
Ben Jonson) : —




Penshurst Place 219

Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse :
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother.
Death ! ere thou hast slain another
Learn'd, and fair, and good as she.
Time shall throw his dart at thee ;

and Barbara Gamage, the Welsh heiress, whose secret
marriage with Sir Robert Sidney proved to be a happy
and fitting ending to a most sensational courtship.

There stands no more romantic manor-house in all
England than the classic home of " Astrophel," the lover
of " Stella," of " Sacharissa," and of Algernon Sidney, " the
noblest Roman of them all " ; it has figured vividly in the
pages of our history, and kings, queens, princesses,
soldiers, statesmen, and poets have lodged within these
walls. Well might Southey ask : —

Are days of old familiar to thy mind,
O reader? Hast thou let the midnight hour
Pass unperceived, whilst thou in fancy lived
With high-born beauties, and enamoured chiefs.
Sharing their hopes, and with a breathless joy.
Whose expectation touched the verge of pain.
Following their dangerous fortunes? If such love
Hath ever thrilled thy bosom, thou wilt tread,
As with a pilgrim's reverential thoughts.
The groves of Penshurst.


The church at Penshurst, dedicated in honour of
St. John the Baptist, is well worthy of its surroundings,
and from the summit of its tower a very fine view of the
Place can be obtained. Although restored, it has been
renovated in good taste. Its Sidney Chapel contains many
interesting monuments and tombs ; in it are buried the
valiant Sir William Sidney, who did yeoman service fighting
against the French at sea, and on land against the Scots
at Flodden ; Sir Henry Sidney, K.G. ; and Sir Stephen
de Pencestre : whilst beneath its floor has long ago
crumbled into dust the headless corpse of Algernon Sidney,
executed on Tower Hill, Friday, December 7th, 1683, after
having been condemned to death by Judge Jeffreys for his

220 Memorials of Old Kent

alleged share in the Rye House Plot, of whose untimely-
end Lord John Russell truly testified, " There is no murder
which history has recorded of Cassar Borgia exceeds in
violence, or in fraud, that by which Charles II. took away
the life of the gallant and patriotic Sidney."

It has often been conjectured that Sir Philip Sidney
may have written his great pastoral romance, Arcadia, at
Penshurst Place. But this was not so, for a part of it was
written when he was staying with his sister, Lady
Pembroke, " the greatest patroness of wit and learning
of any lady of her time " (to whom it was dedicated), at
Wilton, and a part of it at Ivybridge House, close to
Salisbury ; whilst John Aubrey tells us that he would
even compose some of its passages whilst out hunting on
Salisbury Plain. That he had, however, Penshurst and
" the hills and humble valleys " of its neighbourhood in his
mind when writing cannot be doubted ; and the following
extract would aptly describe his birthplace as it appeared
in Tudor times : —

The house itself was built of fair and strong stone, not affecting so
much any extraordinary kind of fineness as an honourable repre-
senting of a firm stateliness ; the lights, doors, and stairs rather directed
to the use of the guests than to the eye of the artificer, and yet, as
the one chiefly heeded, so the other not neglected ; each place hand-
some without curiosity, and homely without loathsomeness ; not so
dainty as not to be trod on, nor yet slubbered up with good fellowship ;
all more lasting than beautiful, but that the consideration of the exceeding
lastiness made the eye believe that it was exceeding beautiful ; the
servants not so many in number as cleanly in apparel and serviceable
in behaviour, testifying even in their countenances that their master
took as well care of served, as of them who did serve."

Sir Philip Sidney, " Lumen famili^ suae," as his father
called him, was born at Penshurst " at a quarter before
five of the clock." on the morning of Friday, November
30th, 1554. His sister, the Countess of Pembroke, was
not born at Penshurst, in 1555, as her biographers
erroneously state, but at Ticknell House, Bewdley, in
Worcestershire, on October 27th, 1561. She died at

Penshurst Place 221

Crosby Hall, London, in 1621, and was buried in a plain
grave in Salisbury Cathedral. Algernon Sidney was,
perhaps, born at Penshurst, although Baynard's Castle,
London, has also been named as his birthplace. That gay
and careless cavalier. Colonel " Robin " Sidney, reputed
by King James II., John Evelyn, and others of his
contemporaries, to have been the father of the ill-fated
Duke of Monmouth, was buried, but not born, at Penshurst.
He and his brother, Henry, Earl of Romney, were both
born at Paris. The Countess of Sunderland, " Sacharissa,"
was born at Syon House, Isleworth, the property of her
grandfather, the Earl of Northumberland. The historic
tree, immortalised in the verse of Ben Jonson, Edmund
Waller, and Robert Southey, planted, on the day of
Sir Philip's birth, in Penshurst Park, has long ago withered
away, although too-credulous visitors still have an oak tree
frequently pointed out to them as " Sidney's Tree." As
a matter of fact, it is rather doubtful whether the original
tree was an oak at all, and Southey may be somewhat in
error when he says : —

Upon his natal day an acorn here
Was planted : it grew up a stately oak,
And in the beauty of its strength it stood
And flourish'd, when his perishable part
Had moulder'd, dust to dust.

The aged and gigantic " Bear Oak " is still standing in
the park, and is probably the one mistaken so often for
" Sidney's Tree." It was standing long before 1554.

Lovers of Penshurst Place in particular, and students
of English history in general, must ever be grateful to the
researches of the indefatigable Arthur Collins, the
genealogist, who visited Penshurst during the middle of

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