The following history of the Parish is based largely on ‘The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent’ by Arthur Edward Hasted published in 1800. It makes no claim to be a definitive history of the Parish and any additional material or corrections would be most welcome; these can be submitted to the Parish Clerk.
In the year 807 Cuthred, the King of Kent, sold to Aethelnoth, his minister, three plough lands in the place which was called aet Heyghe Thorne. The price of the land was 3,000 pence. Later the estate came into the possession of archbishop Wulfred who, in 824, gave the estate (including the borough of South Langdon) to the monks of Christchurch Priory in exchange for the estate of Barham. Some time before the Norman conquest of 1066 the lands were in the possession of the Badlesmere family.
The countryside of England was historically divided into administrative units called Lathes. These were further subdivided into Hundreds and beneath that into Parishes. The name ‘Hundred’ was derived from the fact that these were groupings of approximately 100 families. By 1274 there was some dispute over which ‘Hundred’ had jurisdiction over the parish of Eythorne. In that year Edward I had returned from crusade to a kingdom where the crown had been weakened by civil war and where there was extensive local government corruption. He set up an enquiry to determine the extent of this corruption. In Kent the results of the enquiry was known as ‘The Kent Hundred Rolls’. In the Kent Hundred Rolls entry for Eastry it was recorded that ‘Henry of Wingham has taken over the tenants of Hegethorne, who used to do suit [at] the said hundred, they have been withdrawn for 20 years with severe loss to the king, they do not know by what warrant’.
Despite the dispute over feudal allegiance, the Badlesmere family continued to own the lands until 1322 when Bartholomew de Badlesmere , who held Leeds and Chilham castles, was convicted of treason against King Edward II and hung, drawn and quartered at Canterbury on April 14th. Consequently the lands came into the hands of the Crown.
King Edward III granted the lands to Sir John Bowden who, in 1345, conveyed them to John de Goldsborough. After his death they came into the possession of Thomas Holben who transferred them to Robert Dane in 1389. After several more transfers they came into the possession of Sir Thomas Browne. In 1448 he was granted a licence to crenellate his manor of Egethorne (Eythorne Court). The wording of this licence is;
“Grant, of special grace, to Thomas Browne, king’s squire, that he may make a ditch (fossare) and enclose with walls of stone and mortar, crenellate and provide with battlements his manors of Tonge, Egethorne, Tonford, Kyngesnoth, and Bettisworth cos. Kent and Surrey, and make of them towers and fortresses, and so hold them to them to him and his heirs; grant also that he may inclose 1,000 acres or less of his demense lands in each of the said manors, and hold the same as parks to him and his heirs; and that he and his heirs may have free warren in all their demense lands and lands thereto belonging:
grant also to the said Thomas that he and his heirs, shall have in each of the said manors, view of frank-pledge of all their men, tenants and residents, with all that belongs thereto; notwithstanding that there is here no express mention etc.”
(Demesne land was all the land that was retained by the lord for his own use, as distinguished from that “alienated” or granted to others as tenants. Initially the demesne lands were worked on the lord’s behalf by villeins or by serfs, in fulfilment of their feudal obligations).
In 1449 Thomas Browne was granted the right to hold a yearly fair in the parish of Eythorne on St.Peter’s day (June 29th). The family was still in possession during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I but were disgavelled by acts in 1558 and 1566. (Gavelkind was a system of land tenure found only in Kent. The tenant paid rent to the lord instead of carrying out services for him, as elsewhere. It came into force in AngloSaxon times and was only formally abolished 1926. The term comes from Old English gafol, ‘tribute’ and gecynd, ‘kind’).
After yet more transfers, the ownership was subject of a dispute and in 1600 an assize court ruled in favour of Sir William Rither. The lands were inherited by his daughter Susan and eventually to her son, Villiers Phillipot. In about 1649 the land passed to a Mr. John Brett of London. It was later inherited, through marriage (in those times the husband attained ownership of his wife’s possessions on marriage) by Mr. John Wilkes. By 1800, his only daughter, Mrs. Mary Wilkes was the owner of the manor, which had by then become known as Eythorne Court.
At that time Lower Eythorne consisted of Eythorne Court and its lands, Brimsdale Farm, the Church, Elmton Farm and the small hamlets of Wigmore and Street End. Elmton (also known as Elmington or Elvington) and Street End had only recently been included in the Parish. The road between ‘Pitfield and Brincele’ was the boundary between Lower and Upper Eythorne (was this the track that is now Brimsdale bridleway?).
Upper Eythorne consisted of the hamlets of The Green and Upper Eythorne Street. Upper Eythorne Street was the ‘forstal’ (literally land in front of the farm) of Park End Farm. The farm was owned by Lord Guildford as part of the Waldershare Estate. Eythorne House had been built in 1762 for Peter Fector a banker and merchant who owned considerable property around Dover. Peter Fector was a penniless 16-year-old when he arrived in Dover from Rotterdam to become apprentice-companion to his aged, ailing distant relative, Isaac Minet. By the time that Isaac Minet died in 1745, Peter Fector, aged 20, owned one third of the family business. He married Mary Minet, daughter of the Rev. John Minet, rector of Eythorne, and grand-daughter of Isaac. The company finally became Minet and Fector in 1764 with Peter presiding over Dover’s first merchant bank. Peter Fector lived to the age of 91 and was buried beside his wife in Eythorne Parish church in 1814.
Prior to its incorporation into the parish of Eythorne, Elvington was in the possession of Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, at the time of the Domesday survey (1086). The bishop was disgraced in 1090 and the lands confiscated by the Crown. Later the lands were in the possession of the Malmains family and by the time of Edward II’s reign (1307–1327) had passed to Guido de Shillingheld. By the mid 16th century the lands were owned by William Boys of Nonington. It remained in the possession of the Boys family until 1660 when it was purchased by William Turner. The Turner family held the estate until 1753 when Bridget Turner married David Papillon of Acrise, whereupon the manor became Papillon’s possession. In 1800 the manor was still held by the Papillon family.
In 1800 Barfrestone, or Barson as it was then more commonly known, was still a separate parish.
At the time of the Domesday survey Barfrestone was also in the possession of Odo the bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror. On the confiscation of his lands they were given to Hugh de Port in recognition of his service in the defence of Dover Castle. At one time the lands were held by Sir Thomas Browne, who also owned Eythorne Court (see above). After 1566 they passed to Thomas Boys who, on his death in 1599, was buried in Barfrestone Church. In 1792 the parish passed to John Plumtre of Fredville who was still in possession by 1800.
Within Barfreston, the manor of Hartanger (now Barfrestone Court Farm?) was also mentioned in the Domesday Book. In the 18th century it was sold to Mr.William Pot, a London apothecary. On his death in 1691 the manor, together with other lands he owned in the area, was passed in trust to Bethlem hospital (see article ‘Bedlam in the Parish’).
At one time Barfrestone was famed for the longevity of its inhabitants. In 1700 the resident minister died at the age of 96. At his funeral the sermon was preached by a minister aged 82, the reader of the service was 87, the sexton was 86 and his wife about 80. In 1722 there were only 58 residents in the parish; of these there were 9 people who had a combined age of 636 years!