Described by Edward Hasted circa 1800
NORTH-EASTWARD from Higham lies Cliff, called in antient records, Clive, and sometimes Bishop's Clive. It is likewise called Cliff at Hoo, from its nearness to that hundred, and Cliff near Rochester and Gravesend, to distinguish it from the parish of Cliff near Dover.
This parish, as well as that near Dover, are both frequently styled West Cliff; the former as being situated westward of the latter; and the latter, as being situated westward of St.Margaret at Cliff, the adjoining parish eastward from it. This place takes it name from the cliff or rock on which it stands. It is by many supposed to have been the place called, in the time of the Saxons, Cloveshoe, where several councils were held by the British bishops, of which a further account will be given.
THIS PARISH is very extensive, being from north to south about five miles, of which near three is marsh land, reaching to the Thames, which is its northern boundary, and incircles the whole level, winding round it in the form of a crescent. The situation of it is a pleasant, but exceedingly unhealthy, owing to its nearness and exposure to so great a quantity of marsh land. The upland lies high, though mostly a level surface; the soil dry and fertile, being a loamy mould, especially in the common uninclosed field, which comprehends the middle part of the parish, and contains upwards of two thousand acres of arable land, though adjoining to it, near Cowling, the soil becomes very wet, clayey, and poor, and much covered with bushes and thick hedge rows; southward of the common field, on the road to Rochester, the land rises to the hilly country, a poor clayey soil likewise, where is the manor of Mortimers, at the southern boundary of this parish.
The village of Cliffe, called Church-street, is situated at the northern edge of the upland, on the chalk cliff hanging over the adjoining level of marshes, having the church within it (a conspicuous object to the river and neighbouring county). Adjoining to the church yard is a capital messuage and estate, called Courtsole, for many generations the property of the Ropers, some of whom appear occasionally to have resided here; and it continued in that name till Christopher Roper, lord Teynham, in 1645, alienated it to Sir Edward Monins, bart. of Waldershere, whose brother, Sir Thomas, by his will, in 1676, gave it to dame Elizabeth his wife, as she did in like manner, in 1705, to Mr. Thomas Short, who had married Elizabeth, her niece; and he, in 1721, conveyed it by sale to Mr.Joseph Hasted, of Chatham, whose grandson, Edward Hasted, of Canterbury, afterwards inherited it, but it is now in the possession of Mr. Tho. Williams, gent, of Horton, in this county. This village is said to have been formerly much larger than it is at present, great part of it was burnt down by a casual fire, which happened here in 1520, about the time that the emperor Charles came into this realm, to visit king Henry VIII. which disaster it never recovered; but seems daily growing into further ruin and poverty, the number of the inhabitants lessening yearly, and several of the houses, for want of them, lying in ruins. A fair is held in it, on St. Pelagius's day, October 19. There is another village, not far distant, called from its situation, West-street, about half a mile from which is the parsonage house, a mansion fit for the incumbents of so rich a benefice, though seldom occupied by them. In the marshes, which are called Cliff level, and are under the direction of the commission of sewers held at Rochester, there is a common mead, which is jointly stocked by the owners of estates here, according to the property they are intitled to in it. This is in general supposed to be the place mentioned under the name of Clovesho, i.e. Cliff at Hoo, where several councils of the British bishops have been formerly held; though some, among which are Camden, Baxter, &c. and indeed Mr. Somner inclines this way, have thought this Clovesho to mean Abingdon, in Berkshire, antiently written Sheovesham, corruptly for Cleovesham, and urge, besides the similitude of the name, the conveniency of its situation for the members who attended these councils, that place being in the middle of the island, and in the kingdom of Mercia; whereas Cliff was situated in a bye corner of Kent, and inconvenient on that account to most who had business at it; but, as Dr. Plot well observes, it is no wonder the kings of Mercia called councils in Kent, which at that time they had wholly conquered; Cuthred, king of Kent, in 796, not being able to give a small piece of land to Christ church, without the leave of Cenulf, king of Mercia.
In a national synod, assembled at Hertford, in the year 673, at which Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury presided, it was determined that a council should be held yearly at Clovesho. Whether they were held there so often is not known; however, the following are the only ones that have been transmitted to us—In 742, a great council was held there, at which Aithelbald, king of Mercia, presided, Cuthbert, archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the bishops sitting likewise in it. In 747, a famous council was held there under archbishop of Cuthbert, there being present, besides the bishops, priests, and many other ecclesiastics, Aithelbald, king of Mercia, with his princes and great men. In 798, there was a council held there under archbishop Athelard. In 800, a provincial council was held there by Cenulf, king of Mercia, and Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury, all the bishops of the province, the great men, abbots, and other persons of dignity, being assembled there. In 803, a council was held there by Atherlard, archbishop of Canterbury, with twelve other bishops, wherein the see of Canterbury, according to the precept of pope Leo III. was restored to its pristine right. In 822, a synodal council was held in that noted place, called Clovesho, Bernulf, king of Mercia, and Wlfred, archbishop of Canterbury, presiding in it, all the bishops, abbots, and nobles, of whatever dignity they were, being present at it, in which, among other things, the injuries done to the church of Canterbury, by Ceolnulf, king of Mercia, were treated of, and several lands restored to it. In 824 or 825, a synodal council was held in that famous place, which was called at Clofeshoum, Beornulf, king of Mercia, and archbishop Wilfred, presiding at it, with the bishops, abbots, and all the princes of the Mercians sitting in it. King Richard II. in his 1st year, directed his writs to the sheriffs of Kent and Essex, commanding them to erect beacons on each side of the river Thames, opposite to each other, that by the firing of them, notice might be given of any sudden attempt of the enemy; in consequence of which one beacon was erected here at Cliff, an another at Tilbury, in Essex, among other places along the banks of the river. This parish was antiently bound to contribute, among other places in this neighbourhood, to the repair of the ninth pier of Rochester Bridge.
THE MANOR of Cliff , with its appurtenances, was given to the priory of Christ church, in Canterbury, in the time of the Saxon heptarchy, and its possessions were afterwards increased here by king Offa, who, in the year 791, gave Dunmalingdene, and by queen Ediva, who in the year 860, gave Oisterland, and by other benefactors to it. All which remained, as parcel of the possessions of the priory, at the consecration of archbishop Lanfranc, in the 4th year of the Conqueror's reign, who, in the division which he made of the revenues of his church, allotted the manors of Cliff, Mallingden, and Bury-court, with their appendages, in this parish, for their subsistence, cloathing, and other necessary uses, to the monks of Christ church; but the premises, called Priors-hall, Hersing, East marsh, Bishop's-marsh, and others, he retained, as part of the revenues of the see of Canterbury, for the use of himself and his successors. These possessions above mentioned, belonging to the priory, are thus entered in the general survey of Domesday, under the title of Terra Monachorum Archiepi, in which the archbishop himself is said to hold them, but this is the usual style of all the possessions of the priory described in this record. The archbishop himself holds Clive. It was taxed for three sulings and a half. The arable land is six carucates. In demesne there is one carucate and a half, and 20 villeins, with 18 borderers, having five carucates and an half There is a church and two servants; 36 acres of meadow; wood of 12 pence value. In the time of king Edward the Confessors, the whole manor was worth six pounds, and afterward seven pounds, and now 16 pounds. In the 15th year of king Henry III. the possessions of the priory of Christ church in Cliff and Grean were valued at nine pounds. King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted to the priory of Christ church free warren in all their demesne lands that they possessed in the time of his grandfather, and that they had purchased in this parish, among others therein mentioned. In an antient valuation, the temporalities of the priory in in this parish were estimated at one hundred and thirty pounds per annum. It appears by the Textus Roffensis, there was once a chapel at this manor of Westcliff. These manors and premises continued part of the possessions of the priory of Christ church till the dissolution of it in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, together with the lands and revenues belonging to it; all which were confirmed to the king and his heirs by the general words of the act, passed that year for this purpose. King Henry VIII. in his 32d year, granted to Sir George Brooke, lord Cobham, the manors of West Cliff and Bury-court, with the lands and appurtenances belonging to them; the marsh grounds, called Great Hersing marsh, Shepherd's hope, South marsh, and Tuckney's, in this parish, together with other premises in Stroke, to hold in capite by knights service, at the yearly rent of £7. 13s. 81/2d. which was granted by the king in his 37th year, to the lord Cobham; to whom king Edward VI. in his 2d year, granted the marshes called Burye marsh, alias Patriche marsh, Crawledge marsh, and Haverwick marsh, and others in the parishes of West Cliffe and Stoke, to hold in capite by knights service; and among the Harleian manuscripts there is part of an old roll, containing a survey of the marsh in Kent, with pictures of the manor houses of Cliff, Couling, Halstow, St. Mary's, and Allhallows, belonging to the lord Cobham or Sir Thomas Wyatt. His grandson, Henry lord Cobham, being attainted of treason in the 1st year of king James I. his estates became forfeited to the crown, and were confirmed to it by an act passed in the 3d year of that reign; notwithstanding which the manor of West Cliff, and premises above mentioned, excepting Buryecourt, of which an account will be given hereafter, whether by a family entail or otherwise, I have not found, went into the possession of Sir John Brooke, (second son of Sir Henry Brooke, alias Cobham) fifth son of the above mentioned lord Cobham, who was, anno 20 king Charles I. in consideration of his loyalty and sufferings, created baron of Cobham, to him and his heirs male. He alienated all his estates in this parish, containing,with the salts, upwards of fourteen hundred acres of land, with others in this neighbourhood, to James duke of Richmond, who died possessed of them in 1655; since which they have descended, in like manner as Cobham-hall, in the same line of ownership, down to the Right Hon. John earl of Darnley, the present owner of them. A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.
The MANOR OF BURYE-COURT, now called BERRY COURT , on the attainder of Henry lord Cobham, came to the crown as before mentioned; soon after which the reversion of it, after the death of the lady Frances, his widow, was granted to Sir Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury (son of that eminent statesman, William lord Burleigh) who was afterwards lord treasurer of England, knight of the Garter, and chancellor of the university of Cambridge, and had married Elizabeth, sister of Henry lord Cobham above mentioned. He passed away this manor, with its appurtenances, to Bernard Hyde, esq. of London, in whose descendants it continued many generations, and till it was sold to Harvey, whose son, Samuel Clay Harvey, esq. died possessed of it in 1791; whose heirs and assigns are at this time entitled to the possession of this estate.
The MANOR OF MALLINGDEN, now called MOL-LAND and DEAN-FEE, on the dissolution of the priory of Christ church, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. came into the hands of that king, as has been mentioned before, where it continued till queen Elizabeth granted it to William Ewens, who quickly afterwards alienated it to Brown, from whom it passed in like manner to Sompner, who sold it to Hills, whence after some intermission it was conveyed by sale to Blackford, of Holnicote, in Somersetshire. Henrietta Blackford, of that place, spinster, died an infant, in 1733, possessed, among other premises in other counties, of one fourth part of this manor, and other lands in Cliff and Higham, which then came to her coheirs, Elizabeth Dyke, of Dulverton, in Somersetshire, widow, and Elizabeth her daughter, an infant, as coparceners in fee simple; after which Elizabeth Dyke, the mother, conveyed those premises in Somerset and Devonshire, to her son Edward Dyke, and in 1735, procured an act of parliament for an exchange of lands in Somerset and Devonshire, for others in Oxfordshire and Kent, among the latter of which was this manor, and to settle them to the same uses; by which means he became possessed of the entire fee of this manor, in which he himself had some share before. He died without issue, and Elizabeth his niece, daughter and heir of Thomas Dyke, esq. of Tetton became his heir, then married to Sir Thomas Ackland, bart. who in her right became possessed of it. This family was originally of Lankey, near Barnstaple, in Devonshire, and took its name from their seat in it, called Accalan, or Aclan, in allusion to which they bore, in early times, on their seals, Three oak leaves on a bend, between two lions rampant. They antiently wrote their name, De Accalan, and afterwards Akelane, and Acland. John Ackland, esq was of Columb John, in the parish of Broad Clist, near Exeter, and was, by king Charles I. for his eminent services in the royal cause, made a baronet; but the letters patent were destroyed in the confusion of those times, and there being a long minority in the family after the Restoration, new letters of exemplification of the former ones were not granted till 1677; but there was a special clause in them of precedency from the date of the first. His direct descendant was Sir Thomas Ackland, bart. of Columb John above mentioned. They bear for their arms, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent, on a bend sable, three lions heads erased argent, crowned or. He died in 1753, leaving two sons, John Dyke Acland, esq. of Pixton, in Somersetshire; and Thomas, the latter of whom at length afterwards succeeded to the title and to this estate, of which he died possessed in 1794; since which it has been sold to the present owner of it. This is a small manor; the court baron for it is held under a tree, there being no manor house remaining.