Pembury, Kent
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Bayhall Manor at Pembury, Kent

Bayhall Manor Drawing
Bayhall: Home of the earliest known Culpepers
Destroyed in 1960

History of Bayhall Manor

Bayhall has been the residence of many well known families, the earliest being the Culpepers and the Duke of Buckingham. Later it belonged to the Amherst family.

The manor of Bayhall lay in the valley on the south side of the village of Pembury. Ruins of the house were still to be seen until about 1960. At this time one of the national newspapers told a rather exaggerated story of its being haunted. People coming to see it made themselves such a nuisance and rendered it so unsafe, that the owner got permission to clear it away. The ghost was supposed to be that of Anne West, the last person to reside in the mansion.

A picture of the mansion at Bayhall may be seen in the Tunbridge Wells Museum.

Source: Mary E. Standen, History of Pembury, 1984.

Bayhall Manor
Dates, Ownership, Generation No., (Monarch)


? - 1247: Sir Thomas Culpeper1
(Henry III)


1247-1286: Sir John Culpeper2
(Henry III, Edward I)


1286-1312: Sir Thomas Culpeper3 of Brenchley and Bayhall
(Edward I, Edward II)


1312-1321: Sir Thomas Culpeper4 of Bayhall
(Edward II)


1321-1323: Walter Culpeper5
(Edward II)


1323-1327: Due to an act of rebellion by the Culpepers, Edward II seized Bayhall and other Culpeper properties and held them for several years.


1327-1372: Sir John Culpeper5 of Bayhall and Hardreshull
(Edward III)


1372-1428: Sir Thomas Culpeper6 of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Exton
(Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV-VI)


1428-1430: Sir John Culpeper7 of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Exton
(Henry VI)


1430-1462: Walter Culpeper Esq7 of Goudhurst, Bayhall and Hardreshull
(Henry VI, Edward IV)


1462-1480: Sir John Culpeper of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Bedgebury
(Edward IV)


1480: Manor sold to Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.

N.B. The names in bold above are direct ancestors of the modern-day Culpeppers. They owned Bayhall from the mid 1200s to 1480. The ownership of Bayhall for the first two generations is assumed by Culpepper Connections but not directly stated by Hasted.

Source: Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Canterbury: W. Bristow, Originally published 1797-1801, Reprinted 1972, Vol. 5, pp 264-271 (complete text regarding Bayhall from p 271)

Great Bayhall Farm, Chalket Lane, Pembury, Kent
© Copyright Oast House Archive and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

On Chalket Lane, 0.7 miles South of High Street in Pembury
6 miles WNW of Goudhurst

National Grid Coordinates: TQ6239 (Click for interactive map)


Dencrouch, Highlands and Prigles Manors

Dencrouch, Highlands and Prigles are three small manors in Pembury which formerly belonged to the Christian abbey of Robertsbridge in Sussex, until the dissolution, when the abbey went into King Henry VIII's hands. Granted to George Guldeford, Esq., he sold them to Sir Alexander Culpeper9 (1479-1541) of Bedgebury, who had a confirmation of them from the Crown in about 1543.. His great-grandson Sir Anthony Culpeper12 (1560-1618) sold these manor's to Nicholas Miller of Wrotham, circa 1605.

Source: Hasted, History of Kent, Vol. V, page 268

There is no evidence of these manors in 2000, not even in similar names used in the area.

History of Pembury

Pembury is situated on the southern border of the county of Kent. It was formerly in the rural district of Tonbridge, but is now in the Tunbridge Wells district. It is in the diocese of Rochester, within the Hundred of Washlingstone and the lay of Aylesford. It has been a place on the map for very many years under various names. The first one was Pepingeberia, and then Pepenbury. Pepingeberia was a village of some importance years before the existence of Tunbridge Wells. Indeed, in recent years evidence of prehistoric man (a flint arrowhead and a flint for skinning wild animals) has been found in the village.

Originally Pepingeberia was a clearing in the vast forest of Anderida, which covered practically the whole of Kent and Sussex and a part of Hampshire. The area of the parish is approximately 6 1/4 square miles. For hundreds of years it must have been a very picturesque place in which to live. It has been described as being "as pleasant a spot as poet or artist could wish to repose in; for crystal rills and shady groves, with smiling corn-fields, here combine to form a joyous and luxuriant picture." Unfortunately, the Pembury of today presents a far different picture, although there are still some pleasant places to be found on the outskirts of the parish.

The first known record of Pembury is contained in "Textus Roffensis" (c. 1120). It tells of the manors of Pepenbury Magna and Pepenbury Parva, alias Bowridge (Bopeep). The next mention is of these manors with the advowson being granted by Simon de Wahull to the abbey of Bayham (c. 1239). So it is evident that there must have been a church here which was early twelfth or even late eleventh century. Its ' plan and the remains of Norman architecture also point to this. The little document concerning this gift to the Abbot of Bayham is in the County Archives at Maidstone, and is in a wonderful state of preservation.

Source: History of Pembury, 1984, Mary E. Standen

The name of Culpepper probably has its roots in Pembury. See article.

Topographical Dictionary of England
Pembury, a parish in the hundred of Washlingstone, lathe of Aylesford, county of Kent, 3½ miles (S.E.) from Tunbridge, containing 891 inhabitants. The church is dedicated to St. Peter.  Several small streams, tributary to the Medway, run through the parish.

Pembury Church, March 2000St. Peter's Old Church, Pembury

The first certain date is 1337, when most of the present church was built by John Culpeper5 of Bayhall. He also built the chantry chapel of St. Mary in the churchyard in 1355. This chapel was 30 feet long and 18 feet wide, and was entirely covered with lead. Exactly where this chapel stood nobody seems to know and, so far, no references have thrown any light upon it, though foundations of some kind have been discovered at the east end of the church. It was pulled down apparently at the Dissolution of the smaller Monasteries in 1547, and the three windows in the body of the Church were inserted with the money gained from the sale of the lead. (Photograph taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000)

At about the same time as he was restored to royal favor, John Culpeper5 married a wealthy lady of the Hardreshull family, and it was her money which helped to build the church and chantry chapel.

The Parish Church stands on the slope of a picturesque ridge, surrounded by woodland, and is dedicated to St. Peter. The stone used in its construction is local sandstone, and as you look at it you see three distinct dates. The bottom part of the Nave is of irregular-sized and shaped stone, which contains quite a lot of iron ore. The tower and chancel are still all shapes and sizes, but of rather better workmanship. The three top courses of the Nave are square-cut, and of a later date, when the roof was raised to allow a gallery to be installed.

To the right side of the porch is a small round-headed window, the lower part of which is cut off by the roof-line of the porch. The window is very small externally, but is deeply splayed on the interior. This arrangement was a very common one in Romanesque churches, as it gave security as well as light, which was a very necessary consideration in those days…

Culpeper Arms on the buttress at Pembury Church, March 2000Another interesting feature of the chancel is the presence of armorial bearings which are cut in relief on the stones of the buttresses. The three on the south side are original, as they were placed there when the buttresses were built. The first to be seen, on the western buttress of the chancel, are the arms of the Culpeper family, which is a bend engrailed.
(Pictured at the left in a photograph taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000)

Hardreshull Arms on the buttress of Pembury Church, March 2000The second armorial bearing, on the central buttress, is that of the Hardreshull family into which John Culpeper5 married. These arms consist of a chevron between 8 martlets, viz, 5 and 3, (martins or swallows - without feet). (Pictured on the right in a photograph taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000)

The third is a shield bearing a cross, like the cross of St. George (or, a cross gules), probably the arms of William, Earl of Ulster… (Not pictured)

Pembury Church Interior, March 2000In 1860, the floor of the chancel, which had been on the same level as the nave, was raised two steps, thus concealing an interesting old tombstone of one of the Culpepers set in the original floor. Round the edge are the words "Pritz pur lame Margarete5 la file Sire Thomas Culpeper4" written in Lombardic capitals… A drawing of Margaret Culpeper’s tomb can be seen in the British museum… (Photograph of interior taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000)

Source: History of Pembury, 1984, Mary E. Standen, and Hasted, History of Kent, Vol. V, pages 269-270

Location: 6 miles WNW of Goudhurst, at end of Old Church Road, 0.4 miles N of the A228.
National Grid Coordinates: TQ626429 (Click for interactive map)

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Bayhall Manor

Complete text from Hasted's History of Kent

THE MANOR OF BAYHALL, which lies in the southern part of this parish, was part of the antient possessions of the eminent family of Colepeper, whose demesnes spread over the whole face of this county, but more especially the western parts of it.

The two principal branches of it were seated at this manor of Bayhall, and at Aylessord, from the latter descended those of Oxenhoath, and of Preston, in Aylesford, barts. both now extinct; and from the former, those of Bedgbury, which terminated in the lords Colepeper, of Leeds castle; those of Losenham, in Newenden, afterwards of Hollingborne, the heir male of which branch is John Spencer Colepeper, esq. late of the Charter-house, and those of Wakehurst, in Sussex, barts. now extinct.

The first of the family of Colepeper, eminent on record, is Thomas de Colepeper, who, as appears by the bundles in the pipe-office, was one of the recognitores magnæ assise, or justices of the great assise, in the reign of king John, an office of no small trust and consequence, before the establishment of conservators of the peace.

His descendant, Sir Thomas Colepeper, was possessed of the manor of Bayhall, where he resided, and seems to have left two sons; Thomas, of whom hereafter; and Walter, who was ancestor of the Colepepers, of Oxenhoath, and of Preston, in Aylesford, baronets.

Sir Thomas Colepeper, the eldest son, inherited Bayhall, and was castellan of Leeds castle under the lord Badlesmere, in the reign of king Edward II. in the 15th year of which he was executed, for resusing queen Isabel entrance into his castle, upon which this manor became forfeited to the crown, whence it was soon afterwards restored to his son, but whether by that prince's indulgence, or by any family entail, I do not find.

John Colepeper, esq. the son, kept his shrievalty at Bayhall in the 39th, 40th, and 43d years of king Edward III. and married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir John Hardreshull, of Hardreshull, in Warwickshire, by whom he had a son, Sir Thomas Colepeper, who succeeded him in this manor, and resided at Bayhall. He was sheriff in the 17th and 18th years of king Richard II. from whom he procured licence to inclose fifty acres of land into a park at Pembury.

He left by Alianor his wife, daughter and coheir of Nicholas Green, esq. of Exton, in Rutlandshire, three sons; Sir Thomas Colepeper, Walter Colepeper, of Goudhurst, ancestor of the branches of this family settled afterwards at Bedgbury, Losenham, Leeds, Hollingborne, and Wakehurst, and Nicholas, who ended in a daughter, married to Walter Lewknor, esq. and also a daughter Alianore, married to Sir Reginald Cobham, of Sterborough. Sir Thomas Colepeper, the eldest son, who was of Exton, in Rutlandshire, (fn. 5) seems to have alienated this manor in the reign of king Henry VI. to Humphry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, whose grandson Henry, duke of Buckingham, became one of the chief considents of Richard, duke of Gloucester, afterwards king Richard III. and the principal agent in advancing him to the throne, but being attainted in the 1st year of that reign, his possessions became forseited to the crown, and the king made a grant of this manor, to the value of one hundred shillings, to John Water, alias Yorke Heraulde; but on the accession of the earl of Richmond to the crown soon afterwards, by the title of king Henry VII. an act passing for the restitution of Edward, son and heir of Henry, duke of Buckingham, he became entitled to the inheritance of all the estates of the late duke, his father, and he had accordingly possession granted him of this manor among the rest of them, but this duke being likewise accused and found guilty of high treason in the 13th year of king Henry the VIIIth's reign, an act passed for his attainder, and though another passed likewise for the restitution in blood of Henry, his eldest son, yet it did not extend to his honors and lands, which remained forseited to the crown, where the see of this manor remained till Edward VI. in his 1st year, granted it to William Parr, marquis of Northampton, who that year conveyed it to Sir Anthony Browne, knight of the garter, who had been master of the horse to king Henry VIII. and of his privy council; and he, in the very beginning of the next year, alienated it to William Wybarne, one of whose descendants sold it, in the 7th year of James I. to Robert Sackville, earl of Dorset, who died possessed of it within a few months after his purchase. His eldest surviving son Richard, earl of Dorset, alienated this manor, with the seat belonging to it, to Richard Amherst, esq. serjeant-at law, who afterwards resided at Bayhall. He was the son of Richard Amherst, esq. who left three sons; Richard, serjeant atlaw, as above-mentioned; Jessry, rector of Horsmonden, ancestor of that branch of the family settled at Riverhead, in Sevenoke, and William, who left an only daughter. This family of Amherst bear for their arms, Gules, three tilting-spears, two and one, erected in pale, or, headed argent; which coat was confirmed to Richard Amberst, esq. by William Camden, clarencieux, in 1607. (fn. 6) Sergeant Amherst died possessed of this estate in 1632.

His grandson, Charles Amherst, esq. was of Bayhall likewise, and died s.p. in 1709, and by his will devised this manor and seat, together with all his other lands and possessions, to his nephew and heir at-law, Charles Selby, esq. son of Sir Henry Selby, sergeantat-law, and recorder of London, (the second son of George Selby, esq. of Ightham) by Elizabeth his eldest sister, at the same time enjoining him to take on him the surname and arms of Amherst.

Charles Selby Amherst, esq. accordingly inhabited Bayhall, where he resided, but dying s.p. he by his will gave this manor and seat of Bayhall, with the rest of his estates, to his nephew Charles Browne, esq. counsellor-at-law, son of Dorothy his sister, by John Browne, esq. of Salop. He resided at Bayhall, where he died in 1753, and was buried in this church, leaving no issue by Elizabeth Mittel his wife, who survived him, and afterwards resided here, where she died in 1790, soon after which this estate was sold to Thomas Streatfield, esq. the present possessor of it. A court leet and court baron is holden for this manor.

DENCROUCH, HIGHLANDS, and PRIGLES, are three small manors in this parish, which formerly belonged to the Cistertian abbey of Robertsbridge, in Sussex, with which they remained till the final dissolution of it, when that abbey was surrendered into the king's hands, with all its lands and possessions; all which were confirmed to the king and his heirs by the general words of the act, passed in the 31st year of his reign, for that purpose.

Soon after which, the king granted them to George Guldeford, esq. (son of Sir Richard, knight banneret, and of the garter) who quickly after conveyed them by sale to Sir Alexander Colepeper, of Bedgbury, who had a confirmation of them from the crown, about the 35th year of that reign. His great-grandson, Sir Anthony Colepeper, of Bedgbury, alienated these manors in the beginning of king James I.'s reign, to Nicholas Miller, esq. of Horsnells-crouch, in Wrotham, when they passed from his descendants I have not found, only that they afterwards went into the possession of Pollard, and in 1766 they were the property of Elizabeth Pollard, widow, since which they have come into the possession of James Lewin, esq. who now owns them.

From: 'Parishes: Pembury', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5 (1798), pp. 260-272. URL: Date accessed: 28 February 2008.

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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