Anecdotes of Ightham Court
Manorial Rolls of Ightham
Excerpt below are from the Manorial Courts or Ightham Court Rolls. The records date back from late 1500s to 1707. They are records of the proceedings that took place at the Local Courts and were rolled-up sheets of parchment (or paper) on which these records were composed and then later recorded in books. It is recorded that there was an earlier building of Ightham Manor (Court Lodge/Ightham Court) around the same site and it is in this hall that these court proceedings would have been held . When the manor house was pulled down prior to the Court Lodge of 1575, it is in the present George and Dragon Inn which the court proceedings were held up to 1697, it is believed.
Ightham itself cannot be found to be mentioned in the Domesday survey, however, there is a record that there was an owner of the manor during the reign of King John. Unfortunately there are no Court Rolls for the first 200 years of its existence.
From, Archaeologia CantiannaVol. 49 1937 (by Sir Edward Harrison)
8th May 1598. William Willmott, yoman, on 7 May, 1598, broke the
head of Richard Austin with his dagger and drew blood. Fined
5s.—remitted because he is in the service of the lord.
At first sight the remission of Willmott's fine for the reason given looks indefensible, but the entry which follows puts a different complexion on the matter.
8th May 1598. Richard Austin, labourer, attached to himself five other armed persons in the night of Saturday, 6 May, 1598, and they assaulted William Willmott in the mansion house called "Ightam Courtlodg", and with an iron-shod stick which he held in his hands he broke the head of William Willmot, and drew blood, against the peace of our Lady the Queen and to the alarm of her people. Fined 5s.
WILLIAM JAMES, ESQ. gave by will in 1627, to be distributed in bread to the poor every Sunday, the annual sum of 2l. (pounds) 12 shillings to be paid out of lands now vested in Rich. James, esq.
ELIZABETH JAMES, gave by will in 1720, for the education of poor children, the annual sum of 5l. (pounds) to be paid out of land vested in Elizabeth Solley.
Private papers of the Dutch James family have disappeared apart from a small calf-bound diary which Elizabeth James, in 1750 entered a vivid account of life in a country manor house (Ightham Court). It includes information about her children, the household chores, servants, horses and carriages, farming activities, visits to nearby manor homes and trips to London. It even includes the local cricket match between Ightham and Wrotham. Other accounts include going to church, entertaining the rector and whist games in the evening. There are accounts of the illnesses of the family and in particular her son, William, on his sixth birthday who contracted an illness, probably menangitis. It is a sad episode and the treatment quite horrendous, compared to today; for the blisters to the head and arms, warm carcasses of pigeons were bound to his feet in order to draw out the "peccant humours" of the brain. However, these remedies were unsuccessful and he sadly died after a few days.
"The mill on Gallows Hill (in Kent) was burnt down in 1905, and on digging about the foundations the iron cage in which the body was hung was found and is now in the possession of Col. Bailey of Ightham Court Lodge" (excerpt from The Story of a Kentish Village - Ightham, F J Bennett, 1907)
"We now pass the old, sombre and, repute says, ghost-haunted mansion of Ightham Court, which has Tudor details, and some most curious moated mounds in the thick wood in the grounds." (excerpt from The Story of a Kentish Village - Ightham, F J Bennett, 1907)