Robert Rees

Described by the SDC Listed Buildings schedule as follows

“C16 timber frame building with later recasing. 2 storeys, 4 windows. High pitched tile roof with ridge stack. Tile hung first floor, brick ground floor. C19 and modern windows. Lean to front left extension (poss formerly back of house). Mid 19C back extension. Much exposed timber inside.”

The “Penshurst church and Village “ guide says

“This property with its old oast house is a the end of the road facing the Penshurst Place lodge on the Leigh Road and has a very ancient history. It was one of the parish boundary [and Tonbridge Lowy] marks demarcated in 1239AD and in the earliest times was the home of Dubbels and Dorkyngholes (became Durtnalls – this fact disputed by Col CS Durtnall, family historian).


Much has been written in the past concerning the Durtnall family of Kent, which has deep roots indeed in the Garden of England. The first references to the ancient family name are to be found in taxation records from the thirteenth century, at which time the name was spelt, amongst many other variants, DURKINGHOLE. At this time surnames as we know them today were only just beginning to come into use, thus the early references refer to the men of Durkinghole collectively, or to an individual such as Hamon de Durkinghole (Hamon of Durkinghole). It is suggested, therefore, that the name itself is derived from a place, although the question of whether the place was named after the people or vice versa is still open to debate. It has sometimes been suggested that the family has its origins in Normandy, and that a nobleman called de Darkenhale was granted lands in Kent by William the Conqueror, but to my knowledge no evidence exists to support this.


So what and where was the place that gave it’s name to the Durtnalls? In “The Place-Names of Kent”, J.K. Wallenberg states that the second element of the ancient name, “hol”, is Old English and means “hole”. This is fairly straightforward. The first element is thought to be “an -ing-derivative of a base Old English Durc-” or Deorc-, and “may be a topographical word or a designation for human beings”. Wallenberg concludes that the name is indeed based on the name of the people who lived there, who were the Deorcingas (Durcingas), which translates as “the dark men”.


And the location of Durkinghole? There are no places of this name to be found on any map of Kent today, but we are fortunate in that two documents have survived from the earliest period that make reference to what was clearly a hamlet known as Durkynghale, which lay somewhere in the parishes of Leigh or Penshurst. The two documents in question were the perambulations of the Lowy of Tonbridge, carried out in 1259 and 1279.


It is worth spending a little time considering the Lowy and why it was necessary to carry out the perambulations. The Lowy was an administrative unit based at Tonbridge Castle, which was then in the occupation of the de Clare family, more particularly Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester. In earlier times, Durkinghole had been clearly part of the Borough of Cransted in the Hundred of Somerden.[1] The problem arose as the boundary of the Lowy ran through the Borough. Dr Gordon Ward states that:


“The stewards of the Lowy frequently, and by force, obliged those who should have brought their troubles (with the accompanying emoluments to the Lord) to the Hundred court of Somerden, to attend instead the Courts of the Lowy. These illicit actions were questioned and the proceedings of the Hundred Courts in connection therewith are recorded in the Plea Rolls, etc.”.


In a Plea Roll of 25 Henry III (1241) we find:


“They say also that the bailiffs of the aforesaid Earl have withdrawn the suit of the borough of the men of Derkingehole to the Lowy of Tonbridge…….”


Extracts from the Hundred Roll of 1273/4 show that the representations of 1241 had little, or at least no prolonged, effect:


“The tenants of Durkinghol formerly attended the King with the Borough of Gransted (sic), and they have now withdrawn through the bailiffs of Earl of Gloucester”.


It is clear that there were many complaints about the encroachment of the Earl and that, as a result, it was necessary to define the boundary of the Lowy by way of perambulation. Presumably the first one in 1259 did not resolve the issue and a second perambulation was necessary in 1279.

This is extremely fortuitous for us, as the boundary passed straight through Durkinghole on both occasions. Although, as stated above, the place itself is no longer on the map, the boundary also passed through many of the surrounding farms and their names have not changed. It is therefore possible to say that Durkinghole lay somewhere between Redleaf and Wickhurst in Leigh.


Wallenberg connects the name Durkinghole with Dubel, and thus with Doubletons Farm. However, this seems an unlikely location for Durkinghole, as it is south of Redleaf and too far west.


Others have suggested Leigh Park Farm, an ancient moated site, as the location.


To put us on the right track, however, Dr Ward draws attention to several points of interest:


“In a Streatfield deed of 1262, which is a grant of lands to Reginald atte Synderhelle from Sir Stephen de Penesherst (a man of great note in his time) we find mention of


“a certain assart (or clearing) which lies between lands of William de Derkynghole and the said heath towards the east and west”. This heath is further described as “the heath of la Synderhelle” (Cinder Hill).


“In a further deed which is not dated but probably soon after the last, to which it refers, we have more detail. This is a grant by Sir Stephen to Hamon de Durkynghole of a licence to pasture his beasts in a certain common pasture

“which commen pasture lieth betweene ye king’s high waie which cometh from la Lynderhell and leadeth to Sevenock and the lands which I gave to my gift unto Reginald of la Lynderhell and the lands of Robert de Legha” ” (Leigh).


These deeds tell us that the Derkynghole land must have been close to Cinder Hill and to Chiddingstone Causeway. Dr Ward rightly points out that the distance between the common pasture and Durkighole itself cannot have been great.


The final part of the jigsaw comes from another bundle of 26 deeds held by the Centre for Kentish Studies, and refers to land that formed part of the Redleaf Estate.[2] From the catalogue entry we have:


“Little Moorden in Leigh next Tonbridge. A messuage & 12 pieces of land (34a.) [1660-1722, 30a; 1723-1784, 32a] and a piece of woodland (9a) [1660-1722, 8a] all known as Durkinholes otherwise Little Moorden [from 1723], purchased by William Wells from Francis William Hards of Sevenoaks and others. 1809.”


Little Moorden is still to be found on the map today and fits perfectly with the facts about the Durkinghole land taken from the ancient deeds, being close to both Cinder Hill and Chiddingstone Causeway. It is also in the right location to fit with the perambulation of the Lowy, being between, indeed almost on a line between, Redleaf and Wickhurst.


It is therefore my contention that Little Moorden is the correct location for Durkinghole and therefore the place from which all the Durtnalls and other variants sprung. Presumably the hamlet was absorbed, possibly firstly into Moorden Farm, and then into the Redleaf Estate. By this time no Durkingholes lived there and over the years the name fell into disuse and was lost. The above deeds still refer to “Durkinhole alias Little Moorden” as late as 1809, but I believe this was simply as a result of copying the desciption word for word through successive deeds starting with the one in 1660. It is highly likely that, in everyday conversation, the farm was already being called Little Moorden from the late 17th or early 18th century.


The current occupiers of Little Moorden have confirmed that, whilst the academics have not been able to locate Durkinghole, the local residents have always known Little Moorden has an alternative name!


Cdr FN Stagg wrote in 1946

“Dubleton surely comes from the family of Dubel of Dorkinghole – found in references in 1240. The name of Dorkynghole has lived through the centuries in these parts and still exists in the quite common name of Durtnall. A parson named Dartnall built the Picture House at Poundsbridge [in the early 1600’s]. As to the family of Dubel, we have a Robert le Double in 1292, and Dubbyl in various spellings through the 12th Century. The name of a place called Dubbylton occurs in 1405.”

Edward and Alice Woodgate (see Chafford house) had a son Walter resident at Penshurst  in 1564 and died 1619 leaving an only child, Fortunatus Woodgate of Doubleton’s. This branch of the Penshurst Woodgates appear to have died out around 1735, but the Woodgate family became an important part of the area in the later 18th and 19 th century, owning at various points, Woodgate’s next to Stonehill Park,  Somerhill (early to mid 18th century),  and a house attached to Tonbridge Castle (c . 1793)

Hasted (history and top. Survey of Kent states

“ In 1382, one hundred years after the marriage of Henry de Woodgate, a John

Wodegate was living. He settled in Penshurst, and founded a family which estab-

lished itself in the south west corner of Kent in a neighbourhood of which Chiding-

stone may be termed the centre, consisting of that parish, Hever, Edenbridge, Pens-

hurst, and Cowden. These were the immediate ancestors of the Woodgates of

Stonewall and Summerhill, which may be termed the senior branch.


No traces of Woodgates in the Chidingstone area can be discovered prior to the

before mentioned John Woodgate, of Penshurst ; he must have migrated there from

some other locality, possibly from Throwley.


John Woodgate of Penshurst, in 1435 hired lands called Hawden Mead and

60 acres of pasture, for which he seems to have paid £20 19 8. He is mentioned

again as being feoffee, otherwise trustee, with Robert Darkynholl and John Dark-

ynholl of Otford and John Reme of Tonbridge, of lands in Leigh, Tonbridge, Pens-

hurst, and Chidingstone, under a deed dated 20th January, 1433.


He left two sons, John of Chidingstone and William of Edenbridge. Both,

with their sons, took part in the great Kentish rising under Jack Cade in 1450.

” This was not a rabble,” says Furley, ” but an organised rising of the middle

classes, as well as those of more humble calling. One knight, eighteen esquires.



The History of the Woodgates of Kent has the following


Walter Woodgate settled in Penshurst ; he was there in 15 13, and is one of the

fourteen inhabitants included in the subsidy of that year. It is difficult to see why

only fourteen are assessed, but such is the case. They are all assessed in respect of

£20, except Jasper Culpepper, Gent., and Lucas Johnson, £40. Their names are

Walter Fuller, John Moyse, Walter Woodgate, Richard Stretfeld, James Beecher,

Robert Combridge, John Combridge, and a few others mostly illegible.

He died soon afterwards, leaving a widow Julian and several sons namely

Edward; Walter, m. Joan Bassett ; John Woodgate of Penshurst,

apparently left no issue ; Reginald or Reynold Woodgate of Penshurst, ancestor

of the Woodgates of Sundridge ; and probably, Peter Woodgate, ancestor

of the Woodgates of Hawkhurst.


In 1699 Gilbert Spencer of Redleaf bought 97 acres of Doubleton land from the Woodgates for £1,700. In 1717 Abraham Spencer bought the house and eight parcels of land which were “part of the late dissolved chantry of Penshurst”.

Doubleton’s was at some point after this owned by the Sidney’s, who onsold it to Thomas Harvey of Redleaf and Tonbridge in 1770. There had been considerable legal tussling between various branches of the Sydney family in this period

Hasted tells us of the division of some of the Penshurst Estate that “the other moiety allotted to Mr. Perry and Elizabeth his wife, consisted of the advowson of the church of Penshurst, Parsonage-farm at Lyghe, messuages and lands called Nashes, Doubletons, Redleafe, and other lands and woods belonging to the same.”


Records of Doubleton

DLMSS (p34) 1376

John clerk of Dubleton writes to the churchwardens about a footway from Penshurst church to Chistede over land called Osmeresfeld

DL MSS (p33) 1397-1439

Reference under Title Deeds to lands at Dubleton in Penshurst [and Scottysholte]

DL MSS (p31) 1539-1745

Reference to a farm at Dubleton (22 acres), with meadow (1a) in Doubleton mead, a corner of Barn Croft,and land (6a) Dishfield (6a) Gawdrons, including Long Croft (5a) Barnefield (6a) and land (7a)Little Croft (1.5a). this package, initially the Beecher Estate, was conveyed to Sidney from Michelbourne in 1597


DL MSS (p239) 1609

Correspondence of 1st Earl of Leicester and his wife. Request for £80 to help in acquiring lands in Dubleton.


Gilbert Spencer           1699

Bought 97 acres of Doubleton land from the Woodgates for £1,700.

Abraham Spencer (son of Gilbert) 1717

Bought the house and eight parcels of land

Wiliam Hilder and John Boakes were listed by John Dawson as of Doubleton in 1724

DL MSS (p 521)         1748

William Perry lets Doubleton Farm to John Cawardine of Hartfield(yeoman) for 21 years (13 April 1748)

William Stanes, per Bridgewardens listed as “of Little Doubleton” in 1791

John Carden and William Stanes were assessed by the Bridgewardens  at 13 guineas and 4 guineas respectively in 1800

1838 listed William Wells as owner

The 1841 census shows William Foster (50, farmer) with wife, 45 and threre children (15,15,13) as occupier. continuing in census for 1845, 47, 52 and 54. This estate amounted with Redleaf to around 253 acres. William Duddy Forster died 26 October 1853 aged 66 and is buried at Penshurst. His wife Sarah died 20th February 1868 aged 73 and is buried at Poundsbridge.

1866, 1870,1874 Frank Whitehead

1878, 1882  Miss(es)  Tucker

1887, 1891 Reverend Ernest John Wild BA, assistant curate born Newington London.

in 1891, the census show Wild, 32, , and wife 28 with cook, housemaid, and one other.

1889 Daniel Vans and Ellen his wife (Died august 30 1889 buried at Poundsbridge)

1895 The Reverend Louis Bredin Delap BA, curate and his wife.

1899-1915 The house was occupied by The Hon Lavinia Hardinge, eldest daughter of 2nd Viscount Hardinge, born 29 April 1860 died  17 May 1943, buried at Fordcombe

1918-1924 Captain Kenneth George Haig

1940 Mrs Swan

1954 Mr and Mrs Ian Hooper

1962 M W Thompson

On 8th april 1964 the property was purchased by Dr HPR Headley for £13,700

During the 1960s the property was occupied by John Anstee

In the mid 1960’s the property was purchased by Guy and Heda Borton

This page was added on 03/10/2016.

Comments about this page

  • Major Dick Hoblyn attended Viscount Hardinge’s funeral in 1943. I believe they were good friends.

    At some juncture an uncle of mine, Donald Hoblyn lived at Doubleton but I don’t have the details – presumably after the war before moving to Bidborough.

    By Richard Hoblyn (26/03/2017)

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