16th century document detailing the sale of Hever Castle

October 17 2023 | Castle

Currently in the Hever Castle archives is a 16th century letters patent for the sale of the Hever Castle Estate from Queen Mary I and King Philip to the Waldegrave family.

The document does not give us any clues about why the castle was sold but we do know that it was tenanted for most of the ownership of the Waldegrave family.

The Waldegraves were Catholics and do not appear in the Recusancy lists for Kent so it is believed they rarely lived in the castle for extended periods of time. The first of their tenants in 1560 was a successful lawyer, John Lennard of Chevening. The castle was subsequently sold by James Waldegrave to Sir William Humfreys in 1718.

Hever Castle purchased the letters patent, dated 1558, from a descendant of Edmund Gustavus Bloomfield Meade Waldo, who sold the castle to William Waldorf Astor in 1903.

It shows that Edward Waldegrave appears to have paid £1,035 7s 1d for “lordship and manor of Hever otherwise called Hever Cobham alias Hever Brokas, and our park of Hever, and all our lands, meadows, pastures and hereditaments called or known by the name of Hever Parke. And all lands, meadows, pastures, pastures, land, ponds, ‘lez lodges’, ground and soil, being enclosed within pales of the same park, and the advowson, gift, free disposition and right of patronage of the rectory and parish church of Hever…. late parcel of lands and possessions assigned to very noble lady Anne of Cleves, deceased, for the term of her life.”

The document also mentions that the sale includes deer and “wild beasts” in the park, Hever Cobham, two gardens, one orchard and two ponds, “le courte lodge”, one stable, three barns and two houses called “lez owt houses of office”….. mills, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, pasturages, moors, marshes, woods, and woodlands.

As part of the sale any buildings called Churchefeld, Tyntershell, Lyme Crofte, the Olde Parke, Riders Crofte, Wysdome Hyll, Tresshers Feld, Annysfyld, Horebrokes, Hever Myll, le Olde Courte House, Markebeche Felde alias Longe Felde, Bower Howse, Warbrasefelde, Coundyte Feldes, Redbrokes, Warbrasefelde, Lymekilhowse Lande, Riddens, Riddens Felde, Wrightes Landes, Dyers, Brokehowse, Crosse Croftes, Lynkehelle Meade, Parkehill, Stockettes, Huckefelde, Wilkins, Churchfelde, Whetefelde, Blacklande, Bigghowse, Marle, Linkelhowse, Scarrelande, Markebeche, Jackettes, Chawdons, le Busshie Grounde, le Greate Meadowe, le Vernecrofte, Westmeade, Ladiefielde, le Lyttlehellyfelde and Downelandes in Hever, Kent were also included.

After Hever Castle purchased the letters patent it underwent conservation by Ariane Langreder, the Book and Paper Conservation Manager at Canterbury Cathedral in 2022 and is currently in the Hever archives.

The letters patent features a rare but still intact Great Seal of Queen Mary I and her husband King Philip, complete with white and green Tudor rope. There is also a brilliantly detailed decorative image of the queen and king at the top of the document.

It is hoped that it will go on display to visitors in the next couple of years.