Doddington Historic Buildings

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No.1. Sharsted Court

This building is mentioned by Miss Norrington (Miss Norrington died at the age of 92 in February 1970) in her memories of Newnham

Sharsted Court May 2000The origins of the ancient Manor of Sharsted date back too far to be accurately ascertained; there has undoubtedly been a house on the site since 1080, but it is unlikely that there exist any remains of the original.

The present-day Sharsted Court is a romantic and rambling house, set within woods. One arrives at the gates - which are topped by winged, stone bulls - via an avenue of trees leading from Doddington Church (in which the Sharsted Chapel houses the graves of squires dating back to the 13th century).

Sharsted WoodsThrough the wrought iron gates, designed in 1882, can be seen the Queen Anne front which faces north-west. The gazebo before it, dating back to the same period, is positioned on the angle of a long, walled terrace, running south-eastward and connected to the house by a wall of yew trees. Flint and brick walls surround the main gardens and the topiary section; they form a special backdrop for old-fashioned roses and border flowers. The yews present many interesting shapes which have evolved over the years, such as a little house with two chimney pots in the corner of the topiary garden and a locomotive running along one end of the sunken garden.

Sharsted CourtThe brick front, dating back to 1711, consists of two wooden-corniced wings with steep, tiled roofs and a bold dormer on either side of the loftier centre. This centre section is furnished with imitation battlements and its roof is crowned with a belfry - which housed the bell to call the estate workers. In the middle is a porch (the pediment of which contains the crest of a demi-bull rampant) which leads into the hall. This is two storeys tall and the width of the central portion of the building. As one penetrates into the courtyard behind - which lies behind the more southerly wing of the front - it becomes clear that the much older building (dating back to the 14th century at least) was substantially remodelled in the 1700's.
Sharsted Court (1950's)
View thru the wrought Iron Gates
Sharsted Court in the 1950's

Reprinted by kind permission of
Country Life Magasine

Towards the end of the 1800's a fourth side was built, making the house almost square in shape with an inner courtyard. This high, three-storey and rather ugly, Victorian side - which had tall, cold rooms and little charm - was demolished in 1967.

Now the light reaches into the lovely courtyard, illuminating the two beautiful old wings. The newer, Victorian East Wing had a conservatory added to it in 1987.

Sharsted has a 'drunken' staircase (built at an angle), reputedly the 13th stairway to be constructed in the house, leading to the 79th room. There is a secret passage to one of the bedrooms from the Tapestry Sitting Room, about which many stories exist. The same can be said for the haunted Blue Room.

Ownership of Sharsted Court

When William the Conqueror ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book at the end of the 11th Century, Sharsted was apparently part of the estate of Bishop Odo of Bayeux - but whether it was a woodland lodge or a manor is not certain. However, during the 14th Century, Sharsted was typical of the medieval 'hall house', consisting of a large, rectangular hall heated by an open, wood fire, with arched roof rafters. The oak ceiling beams within the present roof are blackened by smoke from these early days.

Sharsted CourtSharsted, which in Saxon times may have been woodland of the Teynham folk, first appears as a subsidiary manor held directly from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1174 - but no separate rolls for it have been found. In 1254, however, its possessor was John de Sharsted, entered in Teynham records as holding a very small area ('one fortieth of a Knight's fee'). An early tomb in the Sharsted Chapel was observed by Hasted, the 18th-century Kentish historian, to have had a brass filet inscribed 'Richard de Sharsted' and dating his death to 1287.

Miscellaneous Info (contributed by Peter Stuart)

The Kent Hundred Rolls of 1274-5 makes mention of Robert de Sharsted, a serjeant of the same lathe (Faversham), in the following year took 2s. from Ralph de Pire. October 1271-1272

1498 Lewis CLIFFORD, Sheriff of Kent 13 Hen. VII., by Mildred, daughter of Bartholomew BOURNE, of Sharsted, son of Alexander CLIFFORD, of Bobbing, by Margaret, daughter of Walter COLEPEPPER

In 1314 Robert, a son or grandson, bought lands in Doddington, Lynsted, Teynham, Newnham, Ospringe and other adjoining parishes; clearly he was a rich man, although this must be seen in relation to the general poverty of the neighbourhood.

In 1333, his son bequeathed Sharsted to his daughter and heiress, wife of John de Bourne of Down Court, Doddington - whose father was Sheriff under Edward III. At that time, Sharsted was apparently occupied by Robert de Nottingham, who also possessed Bayford Castle (in Sittingbourne), Tong Castle and Box Court.

An explanation suggested is that John de Bourne is known to have been one of the knights who held Leeds Castle against Edward II in 1314; due to this his lands were forfeited to the Crown, until Edward III restored them - with the exception of Sharsted - in 1327.

Robert de Nottingham is presumed to have been a follower of Edward II and appears to have been allowed to keep Sharsted until his death in 1374. His widow was left a specifically-defined section of the house; if the interpretation of the records is correct, it renders the age of the timber-framed South West range to at least the mid-14th Century, and suggests that its use at the time was as a 'dowager wing' of the 'great chamber' or main hall. It also suggests that the present house-keeper's room was once the 'new chamber' of a 14th Century squire's widow.

Click for more info on Gideon De LauneBartholomew de Bourne's inheritance of Sharsted at the beginning of the 15th Century heralded the start of a long ownership. It was not until two hundred years later - in about 1625 - that Francis Bourne sold the estate. The new owner was Abraham Delaune, son of Dr Gideon Delaune (Info On Gideon De Laune) an eminent Huguenot physician and theologian, one of the founders of the Apothecaries Hall and inventor of a pill of which James I thought highly. It would seem to have been Abraham's grandson, Col. William Delaune, MP, who transformed Sharsted in 1711 and added the gazebo at the end of the raised terrace.

The Colonel had no children of his own; it was his wife's stepson, George Swift, on whom Sharsted was settled. A tablet in Doddington Church relates that Swift 'died by an unfortunate fall from a chariot, April 21, 1732, aged 25'. Therefore, in 1739, Col. Delaune left Sharsted to his nephew, Gideon Thornicroft. In 1742, the latter died, leaving Sharsted to his mother - who survived him by only two years.

She bequeathed the estate to her two unmarried daughters, Dorcas and Elizabeth. Dorcas subsequently left Sharsted to the great-grandson of Sir William Delaune, Alured Pinke. Mrs Mary Pinke, who died in 1839 at the age of 100, passed the property to her great-nephew, Captain Edmund Faunce. In 1864, his son Chapman Faunce added 'Delaune' to his surname and changed the spelling to Faunce-De-Laune. In 1892, he was succeeded by Captain A. Faunce-De-Laune, who died in 1949.

The 1849 Will of Maj.-Gen. Sir  ALURED  DODSWORTH  FAUNCE,  C.B is available to view in the historical research resources pages for Doddington

There followed a difficult period for Sharsted during the 1950's, when there was a possibility that the house would be pulled down. However, in 1966 the Court came into the possession of the Wade family. It remains in the hands of the Wade/Shepley families and much work has been undertaken, over the last thirty years, to preserve the house and gardens of Sharsted.

The Information below has been added by kind permission of the : De Laune Cycling Club :-
De Laune Cycling Club

"Mr. De Laune (Chapman) was a man of some substance - a High Sheriff of Kent, a magistrate and a considerable landowner. Much of his property was in South London (De Laune Street and Faunce Street are still there) so it was only natural that the parish priest of St. Mary's, Newington, should turn to him for help when he wanted to set up a social club for young men. Mr. De Laune did more than just help - he gave No.22 New Street, Kennington, for the young men's exclusive use. He also paid for the building of a gymnasium, dressing room and other improvements. Thus the De Laune Institute was started.

De Laune CCHe became the President of the Institute and actively encouraged the wide-ranging sporting interests of Victorian England. These included cricket, billiards, boxing, football, gymnastics, dramatics, athletics, debating, singing and dancing.

In the summer of 1888 a few of the members organised a number of cycle rides. Such was their enjoyment that they used the winter to canvas further support and in the spring of 1889 the De Laune Institute Cycling Club was founded. The forerunner of the De Laune Cycling Club; which these days are based in Peckham, south London. Our connections with the family lasted for many years. Mr. Alured Faunce De Laune was President from 1909 to 1949; his wife Margaret then held the Presidency from 1949 until 1956.

Plaque on Newnham ChurchDuring the Great War of 1914-18 Mrs Margaret Faunce De Laune sent many personal gifts to our members serving in the Forces. After the war, at a reunion dinner and concert, the Club presented her with a gold badge of honour as a "thank you".

At the same time the question of how best to remember those who were killed in action was resolved when a member suggested a memorial plaque. Another member carved the five names into a stone tablet; this is positioned on the outside wall of the church.
Captain De Laune duly unveiled the plaque on Easter Day 1920. The nine members who were killed in the Second World War were later added.

Although there are no club records of services having been held between 1921 and 1928, we feel certain there must have been since the horrors of the war would have been very prominent in people's minds. We are, however, certain that from 1929 to the present time our club has made an annual pilgrimage to Newnham to honour the memory of those fourteen young men."
For a deeper understanding and an insight into the De Laune CC see their website and a book is available about the club "A Century Awheel” which covers the first one hundred years of one of the oldest cycling clubs, the south London based De Laune Cycling Club