Rolvenden, Kent
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Rolvenden, Kent, England

Great Maytham, March 2000Great Maytham Hall

Helen Hendley, daughter and co-heir of Walter Hendley of Great Maytham, carried the estate by marriage to Sir Thomas Culpeper of Bedgebury, the elder10b. It is mentioned in a settlement made by his grandson, Sir Anthony Culpeper12b in 1613. It was sold by one of Sir Anthony's descendants in 1714 to James Moneypenny.

Source: Hasted, History of Kent, Vol. VII, pages 192-193.

Great Matham Gate, March 2000Location: Just south of Rolvenden off the A28.
National Grid Coordinates: TQ 847 308

Photographs by Warren Culpepper, March 2000. Lower photo is of the entrance gate; the mansion can be seen through it in the background.

St. Mary's Church, Rolvenden, Kent, March 2000St. Mary the Virgin Church, Rolvenden

The church stands on a low mound at the southern end of Rolvenden village. Many parish churches were built on such a mound and there is a tradition that the first churches were erected on pagan sites in order to ensure continuity of a place of Worship.

The earliest Anglo-Saxon names of Rolvenden give no clue to the origin of the church (it means the Denn or pasture of Hropwulf's people). What is certain is that a church, probably a wooden building, was here at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Although there is no mention of Rolvenden church in Domesday Book (the great survey of England ordered by William the Conqueror in 1086) there is in Domesday Monachorum. This is a record compiled by order of Archbishop Lanfranc in 1070/71 of the dues of each church which they paid at Easter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. From internal evidence it is apparent that these churches were of Saxon foundation. The entry in the book appears as "De Ruluindaenne 28d", and amongst other things would have been payment for the Consecrated oil (Chrism oil) used at Baptisms and for Extreme Unction for the dying.

What happened to the Saxon church is not known and if a Norman church of stone replaced it there is no visible evidence of it in the present building. The earliest surviving part of the church is to be seen in the chancel and dates from circa 1210. The present structure is mainly 14th and 15th century and is structurally as it was in 1470.

Source: Tom Page, Kent County Churches
Photograph: Warren Culpepper, March 2000.

St. Mary's Location: At the intersection of the A28 and B2086, 16 miles SE of Maidstone and 9 miles SE of Goudhurst.
National Grid Coordinates: TQ 845 312

The Culpeper/Guildford Baptismal Font

At the western end of the south aisle of St. Mary the Virgin's Church in Rolvenden is a hexagonal baptismal font (pictured below) which dates from the 14th century and is in the "Decorated Windowed" style. Fonts are uncommon in this shape. It has rather curious fins at the base. Emblazoned on the bowl are the arms of Culpeper and Guildford. The wooden cover is 18th century. On two sides of the bowl may be seen part of the hasps for securing the font cover with a lock. This was to prevent the water from being stolen by witches or other people believing it had magic powers.

Source: G. J. Davey, Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Rolvenden: A Short Guide, 1997, p 11.

The Culpeper/Guildford Connection. Elizabeth Guildford (born circa 1453, probably the daughter of Sir John Guildford, Knight), married Henry Aucher of Lossenham. Their daughter, Anne Aucher, married Walter Culpeper9w of Calais and Wigsell. Anne's 1532 will says:

All my manors and lands in Newenden, Rowynden (Rolvenden) and Biddenden to certain trustees to hold them to the use of my sone Wyllm and his heirs.

Given Anne's connection to the Guildford family (through her mother, Elizabeth), the Culpeper family (through her husband, Walter) and Rolvenden (as mentioned in her will), it would seem likely that the Rolvenden baptismal font is connected to this branch of the Culpeper family. All modern-day Culpeppers are believed to be descended from Walter and Anne Aucher Culpeper and their son William Culpeper10w of Hunton and Wigsell.

Photographs: By Warren Culpepper, March 2000.

Culpeper Arms at Rolvenden Church, March 2000
Culpepper Arms on one side of the
Baptismal Font at Rolvenden Church

Guildeford Arms at Rolvenden Church, March 2000
Guildford Arms on other side of the
Baptismal Font at Rolvenden Church

Rolvenden

1831 Topographical Dictionary
Rolvenden, a parish in the hundred of Rolvenden, lathe of Scray, county of Kent, 2 miles WSW from Tenterden, containing 1403 inhabitants. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is principally in the later style of English architecture.

Location: On the A28 in middle of town.
National Grid Coordinates: TQ 844 315

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015

 
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