The Manor of Berrycourt
The Manor of Berrycourt, once known as Burye- Court, together with Mallingden and Prior’s Hall, is one of the oldest known manors in the parish of Cliffe, dating back to the era of Anglo-Saxon rule.
I was then, in 1069, that Archbishop Lanfranc decided to divide the manors in Cliffe with Berrycourt, along with Mallingden, be in the ownership of the Canterbury Cathedral Priory for their subsistence, clothing, and other necessary uses, to the monks of Christ church and its manor and lands leased out by the Priory.
The site of the manor still exists today along the eastern edge of the parish neighbouring the parish of Cooling.
Medway Archives hold a number of original documents relating to the manor showing: stock inventory, Serjeant’s/reeve’s account and farmer’s bill of expenses.
A selection of these, many written in Latin and of various states of preservation, are noted below.
15 Sep 1459Berrycourt manor [in Cliffe-at-Hoo, Kent], with stock. Gives stock account of livestock, crops and equipment, including values. Reserving certain rights and dues. For a term of 7 years, for an annual payment at the priory treasury of £9. Conditions on hospitality, repairs, husbandry and other conditions. Deletion, reading that they must hold the manor stewardship. Rights of distraint and re-entry if payment in arrears. They are bound to the priory in £33 6s 8d. Priory's part of indenture.Given at the chapter house of Canterbury Cathedral Priory.Endorsed in contemporary hands with Berrycourt and with 'inter' Thomas Southlond, Richard Godfrey, William Hawet and Thomas Chesse, all of Cliffe-at-Hoo.6 Oct 1486From: William Sellyng, I, prior of Canterbury Cathedral PrioryTo: John Rolf of Halstow parishThe manor of Berrycourt [in Cliffe at Hoo, Kent]. For a term of 5 years. For annual payments of £7 for the first three years, £7 10s for the 4th year and £9 for the 5th year, all payable as specified. John and the prior agree to keep the covenants stipulated in the leaseof Walter lokynton', the former lessee. Conditions on hedging. John has made a bond in £40 to observe the terms of the lease. Priory's part of indenture?Given at Canterbury.9 Sep 1499From: Thomas Goldstone, IV, prior of Canterbury Cathedral PrioryTo: John Smyth' the younger of Cliffe at Hoo parish, Kent, husbandman; John Stevenson' of Cliffe at Hoo parish, Kent, yeoman; Thomas Pyrott; Robert Woer of Cliffe at Hoo parish, Kent, husbandman; John Somner of Cliffe at Hoo parish, Kent, tailorThe manor of Berrycourt [in Cliffe at Hoo], with live and dead stock as specified. Reserving certain rights and dues. For a term of 7 years. For an annual payment of £9, payable as specified. Conditions on husbandry, repairs, hospitality and other conditions. Right of distraint and re-entry if payment in arrears. The lessees have made a bond in £40 to observe the terms of the lease. Sealed with the seal of the priory's manor warden [traces only present.] Lessees' part of indenture.Endorsed with note relating to stock which John Smyth' has not received from John Rolf because Walter lokynton' had not delivered it to John Rolf and John Smyth's signature in late 15th cent hands.
In 1541 Henry VIII granted the manors of West Cliffe and Berrycourt, with its lands together with the marsh grounds known as: Hersing Marsh, Shepherd’s Hope, South Marsh and Tuckney’s to Sir George Brooke (9th Baron of Cobham 1497 - 1558).
These lands, together with the further lands of Burye marsh, alias Patriche marsh, Crawledge marsh, and Haverwick marsh, and others in the parishes of West Cliffe and Stoke, continued in the Brooke family line until Sir George Brooke’s grandson, Henry Brooke (11th Baron of Cobham 1527 - 1597).
In the first year of the reign of James I a plot was uncovered against the king, to remove him and replace him on the throne with Lady Arabella Stewart. The plot which was known as the ‘Bye’ plot, was uncovered and the Bye plot conspirators were executed in 1603 (this included George Brooks the brother of Henry, and the main plot conspirators, which included Henry Brooke, were left in the Tower with all their honours and lands dormant. However, this not include the estates of Cliffe nor of Berry Court.
Berrycourt was left in the hands of Henry Brookes wife, Frances, until her death and then it was granted to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury who married Elizabeth Brooke (the daughter of William Brooke, 10th Baron of Cobham) then onto their son, William Cecil. The Earl’s of Salisbury, although owning the estate, never lived here and the estate lands were leased out.
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
The Manor of Berrycourt was then sold to Bernard Hide and his subsequent family.