Hunton, Kent, England
Fairfax Harrison: “It is significant that in all these testimonies William Culpeper10 appears only in relation to Kent. In his grant of the priory of Lossenham he is, indeed, described as ‘of Hunton,‘ while his second son was listed at Winchester College in 1553 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars, 1888, p. 132) by the same qualification. Thus it appears that on his marriage, which took place in 1530 as appears from the record of the family settlement of that year, William10 established himself, not at Wigsell, but in the midst of the Kentish weald, on the river Beult near its junction with the Medway. This was an eminently agreeable place of residence, but Hunton was not a Culpeper lordship. It was vested in the Wyatts of Allington (Hasted, ii, 229), a family which, like the Culpepers, later produced a Governor of Virginia.”.
Hunton Manor History
After the Conquest, the Lords of the Manor of Hunton were the monks of Christ Church Priory, Canterbury. Possession subsequently passed to mediaeval barons. The de Lenhams held Hunton, and in Henry III’s reign took over the adjacent manor from John de Bensted. Later the family lacked a male heir; ownership passed to another prosperous family – de Clinton.
After the Reformation Hunton Court was given to Sir Thomas Wyatt, knighted and made High Sheriff of Kent by Henry VIII. (Sir Thomas apparently leased the manor to William Culpeper as mentioned by Fairfax Harrison, above.).
Sir Thomas Wyatt, junior, led a rebellion of Kentish men against Queen Mary. Mary had succeeded her half-brother, Edward Vl, when he died at the age of 16. She was a Roman Catholic, sought to re-establish the Pope’s authority in England, and chose to marry Philip, the Roman Catholic King of Spain. While many Englishmen were as willing to accept changes in religion as later they accepted changes in government, others were not. Danger of subservience to a foreign power, along with fear for their property (given to them on the dissolution of the monasteries), was too much for some squires, young Thomas among them. His rebellion failed. He was executed, and his estates forfeited to the crown. Elizabeth granted Hunton Court to Sir John Baker, of Sissinghurst. (See the Wyatt family web site for more details on Wyatt’s Rebellion).
Land-owners often held a number of estates, and may have neglected some, or put in irresponsible tenants. Details of what happened are lacking, but the historian Hasted, writing towards the end of the 18th century, records that “the whole seat called Court-Lodge, near the church, has long been ruinated; but the site of it, as well as the moat which surrounded it, are still visible”.
Evidently the present house was built soon after Hasted wrote. Ownership lay with a yeoman farmer named Turner. The house we see today, known as Hunton Court, is a ragstone building of the late 18th century, with alterations and additions, (e.g. bow windows and balustrades) of about 1850. Built on the site of earlier houses, it includes a 13th century stone undercroft, and vestiges of Tudor work.
There are some 150 acres of garden and park, which include Forge Field, between Hunton Hill and East Street. The lakes cover over two acres; they may follow the lines of a mediaeval mote. They are fed by a stream from the hills which passes near Gennings.
At the close of the 19th century, Hunton Court was the country home of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Liberal Prime Minister from 1905-08. Sir Henry inherited the property not from his father, Sir James Campbell, who lived at Strachathro in Scotland; but from his mother’s brother, Henry Bannerman, who also owned Gennings. The hyphenated surname arose because in his will Henry Bannerman made it a condition of his nephew’s inheriting his property that he adopted too the name of Bannerman. Sir Henry and Lady Campbell-Bannerman left no issue. The present owner is a great nephew of the Prime Minister.
Writing in 1938, Mr. J. Bartholomew reminisced: “As a choirboy 1 can remember the filing into church of Mr. Henry Campbell-Bannerman and his fellow members of Gladstone’s cabinet, Hughie Childres, Robert Lowe etc.” This would have been about 1873.
Source: Desmond Morey, Hunton: A Kentish Village, a pamphlet of uncertain date, but after 1987 and before 2000, published by St. Mary’s Church, Hunton, pages 10-11.
Hunton Court Location: A few hundred yards south of the church
William Culpeper of Hunton’s first cousin was Thomas Culpeper of Bedgebury. Two of his son’s resided at Buston Manor, although there is no evidence that either actually owned it. The sons were Walter Culpeper of Buston in Hunton (c1544-1575) and George Culpeper of Buston in Hunton (c1543-1578+).
Buston Manor History
The L-shaped mansion dates from the late 17th century, and commands a fine view to the south. The north wing is of mediaeval origin; It has a four-centered stone doorway, with perpendicular molding.
Buston, formerly Burston. was one of three ancient manors of Hunton. A large part of the farm estate became parkland about the time of Elizabeth I; but reverted to farmland in the first half of the 19th century.
The present owner is Viscount Falmouth. whose seat is at Tregothman, near Truro. How does it come about that a Cornish nobleman owns land in Hunton? Here is a simplified summary of the story.
In 1086, (Domesday Book). the Archbishop of Canterbury was lord of the manor. Later it was transferred to the family De Burston. About 1500 came the rise of the merchant class. Buston was acquired by Alderman Head of London.
He “added much both of building and magnificence to this fabrick”. In Elizabeth’s reign it was bought by Sir Thomas Fane.
In 1574, Baroness Ie Despencer married Sir Thomas’ son, also Thomas. It was a descendant, the 23rd Baroness. who became the wife of the sixth Viscount Falmouth, and thus brought her title, and also Buston, into the Falmouth family.
The first Viscount Falmouth was made such in 1720. The family name is Boscawen, from the lordship of Boscawen Rose, Cornwall, whose manor has been their ‘s since the time of King John. the present Viscount is the 9th. His elder brother was killed in action in 1940.
Except for the Crown, Despencer is the oldest surviving English title. The first lord became so in 1264.
Source: Desmond Morey, Hunton: A Kentish Village, a pamphlet of uncertain date, but after 1987 and before 2000, published by St. Mary’s Church, Hunton, page 12.
Buston Manor Location: A few hundred yards south of the church
No Culpeper monuments have been discovered, and William Culpeper’s presence in the area predated the earliest extant parish registers.
Location: On West Street
1831 Topographical Dictionary:
Location: 5 miles SW of Maidstone and 8 miles N of Goudhurst.