Goodwins Cottage & Whiffens Cottage - Hartley-Kent

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Goodwins Cottage & Whiffens Cottage


Goodwins Cottage

These two cottages, which lie on the western side of the top end of Church Road, are both named after their 19th century occupants.  Although to confuse matters for 20 years after the war the Goodwins lived at Whiffins Cottage!  Whiffins Cottage was renamed "Orchard House" some years ago.  As well as the two cottages, there was a small 8 acre estate, which comprised the fields to the west and north of Orchard House and a field opposite, which lies on the sites of Bonsalls, Blue Firs and San Michele (part), Church Road.

Goodwins Cottage is dated by English Heritage to the 17th century or earlier, with one storey and 3 dormer windows in the attic. Originally thatched, it now has a tiled roof.  The original Whiffins Cottage is no longer with us (see below), but those who can remember think it was similar in construction, but hidden from the road by a large tree.  Our only description is from Bancks who says: "Some of the beams in this cottage, as in several other houses in the parish, are old ship's timbers, curved, and showing the wooden bolts or tree nails with which they were originally fastened together."

The earliest definite reference to the holding comes from the will of George Pase in 1608.  He left the house and land to his wife Elizabeth and after her death to his brother William and his son William.  We can be sure that George owned Whiffins Cottage because William Pase is named as the owner of land adjoining in a conveyance of Dawsland in 1633.  Being a smallholding it perhaps not surprising that George Pase did not make his living solely by farming, as he describes himself as a tailor in his will.  

The holding shrank after George’s death, for he instructed Elizabeth to sell a 2½ acre field called the Uppermost Croft to pay his debts and legacies. The buyer was their neighbour Katherine Ellis of Hartley Hill Cottage, who probably bought it some time after 1615.  Henceforth this was a holding in its own right, coming to be known as Hartley Field.

After 1633 there is a gap in our knowledge until a deed in 1669.  In that year there seems to have been a family settlement between various members of the Wouldham and Whiffin families, including George and Elizabeth Whiffin.  Elizabeth was a Wouldham widow, who married George at Ash Church in 1646.  Both families are much more associated with Ash than Hartley.  The land then consisted of 2 orchards, 5 acres of arable land and 4 acres of pasture.

But it is to Hartley's neighbour to the North that we must look for the next owner of the two houses.  For in 1706 they were purchased from John and Sarah Whiffin by Robert Batt of Longfield (d 1734).  He later took a lease of Hartley Manor Farm in 1726. Later they were bought by Francis Glover, and then by Edward Thorpe.  Edward had married Sarah Clements (d 1747) at Ash in 1721.  Sarah is buried under the altar in All Saints' Church, Hartley.  It appears that Edward remarried an Ann Crowhurst of Stone in 1751.  He was a fairly substantial farmer, being also the tenant of Blue House Farm (Mintmakers) and Goldsmiths.  He died childless in 1779, and the estate passed to his nephews Henry and Richard Thorpe.  The entry in the parish register of Henry's baptism in 1743 states: "Henry son of Hannah Bail, singlewoman, afterwards married to William Thorpe ye supposed father".  It is unlikely that the nephews lived in Hartley.  Eventually the cottages were inherited by Henry's son, Richard.

In 1804 Goodwins Cottage was purchased by Thomas Goodwin, a rare example of a freehold cottage owner at this time when most were owned by bigger landlords.  The Goodwins did not part with the cottage named after them until 1951.  Generations of father and son of this family lived here and all were thatchers - up to the Thomas Goodwin listed in Kellys Directory in 1918.  Goodwins Cottage was subdivided into two in about 1860 so two generations of the family could live there, although by 1910 the two halves had been reunited.  Its value then was just £162!  The last Goodwins to live here were Barbara and Thomas, who left in 1951.

Meanwhile the history of Whiffins Cottage took a different path.  The Thorp family sold it in 1845 to the Bensteds of Hartley Court.  Its inhabitants were a series of farm labourers - the Woodins, Outrams, Outreds, and, from about 1890 Thomas Whiffin and his family.  His son Thomas drove a carrier's cart to Gravesend, an important early form of public transport.  We know that in 1910 the family were paying a weekly rent of 3s 6d to live there.  Not long after Whiffins Cottage was purchased by John C W Kershaw.

John Kershaw was born in 1871 to Rev E W Kershaw of Nottinghamshire.  Both he and his younger brother Sidney had a lifetime interest in lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).  He spent much time out in the far east.  In 1910 he and Frederick Muir successfully introduced a fly parasite to control the sugar cane boring beetle in Hawaii.  It was while they were looking for this parasite that they made an internationally important discovery of the Peripatus anthropod in the Moluccas (Indonesia), which is considered to be the missing link in the evolution from segmented worms to anthropods.  He later spent 1913 in Trinidad on a froghopper pest ravaging sugar cane there.  At Hartley he is remembered for being reclusive and somewhat eccentric.  However his skill as a craftsman is well remembered, and he kept a furnace at the end of his garden. (Much of this biographical information comes from Professor Easton of USA, who is compiling a biography of Mr Kershaw, and would be grateful for any information).

Whiffins Cottage was destroyed on 15 September 1940 when a plane crashed into the cottage and destroyed it.  There was concern that Mr Kershaw might have been in the building, but fortunately he was found in the Goodwin's bomb shelter.  Mr Kershaw had Whiffins Cottage rebuilt in the same style after the war, but subsequent changes have altered its appearance.

Source Documents

Will of George Pase 1608

Based on the 1633 conveyance of Hartley Manor, this must be Whiffen’s Cottage.  The 2½ acre field to be sold looks very likely to be Hartley Field (in 1844 a 2½ acre holding on its own)

In the name of God.  Amen.   The 16th day of November in the years of Our Lord 1606.  I George Pase of Hartley, taylor, in the county of Kent, being of good and perfect remembrance, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following.

First: I bequeath my soul unto Almighty God, my maker, unto Jesus Christ, my saviour and redeemer, and unto the Holy Ghost, my sanctifier.  And my body to be buried within the churchyard of Hartley.

Item: I give unto Elizabeth, my wife, whom I do make and ordain my sole executrix of this my last will and testament, two acres and a half of land, by estimation more or less, called by the name of the Uppermost Crofte, to be sold for the most advantage for the paying of debts and legacies, which I do owe and for this cause I do ????? the said 2 acres and a half to her and her heirs forever.

Item: I give my house and the rest of my land unto my wife and my mother, during their lives, and if it chance that either of [them] do die, that then the other to have it all during her life.  And after they be deceased, I do give the house and that land unto my brother William, during his life, and after his decease unto his son William, to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I make William […….] elder [……………………………………………………]

These being witnesses: (S) Thomas Smith scriptor?, (S) Nicholas Ellis, (S) William Elynson.
Proved 18th January 1607 (1608).
Feet of Fines 1669 and 1706

These are ficticious court cases, used mainly to put the existence of a conveyance on public record in the days before land registration.  Essentially the plaintiff is the buyer, who is “suing” the seller, who is the defendant.  Before the case comes to court they make a “final concord” or settlement; this was written in triplicate on one piece of vellum, which was then cut in wavy lines into three - the buyer and seller kept a copy each, while the third piece at the foot of the membrance was filed in the court of Common Pleas at Westminster,hence the name feet of fines.  The consideration paid is usually ficticious, and is certainly so for the one case in Hartley where we have both the conveyance and fine.  These are now kept at the Public Records Office.

PRO CP25/2 672 (Michaelmas 21 Charles II, 1669)

Between William Skudder, plaintiff, and Thomas Wouldham and Elizabeth his wife, James Wouldham and Helen his wife, James Wouldham junior and Elizabeth his wife, and George Whiffin and Elizabeth his wife, deforciants, of 1 messuage, 1 cottage, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 5 acres of land and 4 acres of pasture with the appurtenances in Hartley.  Consideration £60.

PRO CP25/2 933 (Hillary 4 Anne, 1706)

Between Robert Batt, plaintiff, and John Whiffin and Sarah Whiffin widow, deforciants, of 1 messuage, 1 cottage, 1 barn, 1 stable, 2 gardens, 2 orchards and 8 acres of land with the appurtenances in the parish of Hartley.  Consideration £60.
1910 Valuation Office Survey

In 1910 the Valuation Office was set up to assess properties for an undeveloped land tax.  They quickly surveyed the whole country in considerable detail.  Not surprisingly the records are called “Domesday Books”!  This is an extract of the returns for Goodwins Cottage and Whiffins Cottage in the Public Records Office.

124 Hartley Hill, Cottage
Owner: T Goodwin (freehold)
Occupier: As owner
Gross Value: £162
Net Value: £25
Description: Old timber built and thatch and tile cottage (formerly 2) in fair repair, containing about 6 rooms.

139 Packmans Cottage, extent 1r 8p
Owner: Sir William Chance bt (freehold)
Occupier: Thomas Whiffen (weekly, £9.2.0)
Gross Value: £90
Net Value: £20
Description: Old timber built and thatch cottage.  3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and scullery.  Sold 1897 - see 98

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