A little about
Sundridge is mentioned as a settlement in the Doomsday Book, in the hundred of Codsheath in the county of Kent. It had, in 1086, a recorded population of 44 households, in the largest 20% of all settlements recorded in the Doomsday book. In the Census of 2011 the Parish of Sundridge and Ide Hill shows a population of 1,877 persons and in 2018 the population was estimated as 1,908, 921 male and 987 female.
The Doomsday Book records the settlement as having: Households, 27 Villagers, 9 Smallholders and 8 Slaves and the land and resources were: Ploughland: 3 Lord’s plough teams. 8 men’s plough teams. Meadow 8 acres, Woodland 60 swine render, 3.5 mills, value 13 shillings and 65 pence. 1 Church, and the valuation is shown as: Annual value to Lord: 18 pounds in 1086; 16 pounds when acquired by the owners in 1086; 12 pounds in 1066 when the owner was Earl Godwin.
Standing on the north facing slope of the Vale of Holmesdale, St Mary’s Church, Sundridge is Grade I listed and mentioned in 862. The current building dates from the 12th century and was extended to add the aisle in the 13th century. The Church was renovated and expanded in the 15th century and the chancel remodelled in the early 19th century but badly damaged by fire in 1882. The western tower is probably 13th century, the door, window and buttresses added in 15th century. The chancel has two bay arcades to side chapels and the east window probably consisted of lancets, the remains of which can still be seen together with a carved reredos from 1882. There are six bells in the shingled spire. The original manor house, Sundridge Place can be found near to the church.
A brass of Sir Thomas Isley in full armour can be found in the church, he was the father of Sir Henry Isly who, in 1554, was executed at Sevenoaks for his part in Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion against the marriage of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain. Mainly because of the rebellion the family fell from favour and sold the land to pay of their debts to the crown. To visit the Friends of St Mary’s website please click here.
Lt-Col John Campbell (1693-1770), later fourth Duke of Argyll, bought Combe Bank from William Ash in 1720 and the following year commissioned Roger Morris to build a new mansion, It is thought that work on the gardens stems from this time although most of the design date from the 1740s. The fourth Duke’s eldest son, also John, became Baron Sundridge of Combe Bank in 1766, succeeding as Duke of Argyll on his father’s death in 1770. The new Earl took up residence at the family home, Inverary Castle, and Combe Bank was given to Frederick, the fourth Duke’s third son,
When Lord Frederick Campbell asked the Flemish artist, Hendrik Frans de Cort, to paint his estate in Kent in 1793 he could have had little idea of the tragedy that was to unfold there over the coming years.
An inscription on the pencil and grey wash artwork reads, “Coombank. Ordered to be peint [sic] by the Lord Frederick Campbell, the 14th June 93”, but it is the later inscription in another hand that tells the rest of the story – “Burnt down in the Fire in July 1807 in which Lady Campbell lost her life”. Lady Frederick Campbell had seen more than her fair share of difficulty and tragedy before she married the Scottish nobleman and politician in 1769. Born Mary Meredith, she married Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl of Ferrers in 1752 but the couple legally separated just six years later with Mary citing her husband’s cruelty as the cause. Two years later, in 1760, he was found guilty of the murder of one of his servants and hanged at Tyburn, the last peer of England to be hanged for murder. He chose to wear his wedding suit for the execution blaming his conduct on his unhappy marriage to Mary and it is said that he cursed his former wife to a death even more painful than his own death.
Mary’s marriage to Lord Frederick Campbell was a much happier affair, and the couple had two daughters. However, an element of mystery surrounds her death in the fire at Combe Bank in 1807. Despite the inscription on the back of the painting, the Palladian mansion was far from destroyed in the fire, with only one room being badly affected by the blaze. A visitor to the house just three months after the fire described how only “three or four feet of the floor near the sitting room door” were actually burnt and opined that Lady Campbell, “having been thus actually burnt to ashes… can only be accounted for by her having fallen into a fit with her head in the candle”.
It was said that all that remained of Lady Campbell after the fire was a single thumb, which was buried on the estate. The fire was centred around the unfortunate lady’s dressing room and theories at the time included the unlikely scenario of spontaneous combustion, to the likelihood that she had fallen asleep while reading beside a candle. Kentish folklore claims that the ghost of Lady Campbell still haunts Combe Bank, now an independent girls’ school,
The painting of the Campbell’s tragic family home has come from the collection of Lord Astor of Hever, was by Woolley and Wallis on 4th September.
Lord Frederick did however make some alterations to the house, John Adam was commissioned between 1775 and 1777 to prepare plans for altering the house, but these were not executed until the 19th century, He died in 1816 without a male heir and his daughter sold the estate to William Manning who, in 1830, became bankrupt and was forced to sell Combe Bank. It was purchased by Arthur Chichester who became first Lord Templemore in 1831. Chichester died in 1837 and his son only four years later, which led to the estate being put back on the market. It was purchased in 1845 by the Rev Augustus Clayton who lived at Combe Bank until 1864 when he sold it to William Spottiswode, President of the Royal Society. During his ownership some of John Adam’s designs for internal decorations to the house were carried out. Although Spottiswode undertook some minor plantings, the structure of the grounds remained little changed from the mid 18th Century. In 1883 William Spottiswode died and for a while his son Hugh tenanted Combe Bank before selling it in 1906 to Ludwig Mond, a German-Jewish chemist and industrialist who settled in London in 1862, where he became a prominent businessman, philanthropist and art collector. Mond, and his son Robert who inherited in 1909, carried out extensive alterations to the gardens, building a rockery and a formal rose garden. Following the First World War Robert Mond put Combe Bank up for auction in 1921, divided into lots. The house and gardens did not find a buyer in the auction but in 1924 were purchased by the Society of the Holy Jesus Christ who founded Combe Bank School for Girls.
Sundridge Public Houses
Sundridge had 2 Public Houses, The White Horse, which is now the only pub in the village, The Lamb which has been closed since 2002. The Lamb had an interesting past as the reports from the newspapers of 1800 illustrate:
Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 13th June 1860.
Sevenoaks. Attack on the police.
On Wednesday, Henry Fuller, Peter Whitehead, James Bartholomew, and Henry Greenway, labourers, residing at Sundridge, were charge before W. Lombard and C. R. C. Petley, Esqs., at the clerk’s office, with assaulting Superintendent Coleman in the execution of his duty at Sundridge, on the night of the 18th of June.
The Superintendent said that on Monday evening, at about 7 o’clock, he was driving towards the “Lamb Inn,” Sundridge, where there was a club held, when he saw the prisoner Fuller and another person fighting. He ordered them to desist, but as they did not, he alighted and stopped them, and Fuller’s friends came and took him away.
Sometime afterwards the publican came to him and wished him to go and speak to Fuller, as he had come back and was going to fight. He sent P.C. Martin, but hearing afterwards that Fuller was fighting he went to the place and found the Constable reasoning with him. He (Mr. Coleman) told Fuller that if he continued his disturbance he would be locked up. Fuller then struck the officer a backhanded blow on the breast, and with an oath asked him what he had to do with it. He then, with the assistance of Martin, who was the only Constable present, took him into custody.
As they were conveying him to the cage in the village he was so exceedingly violent, kicking and fighting, that the Superintendent sent for the Constable who had charge of his horse and cart, but previous to his arrival Fuller had kicked the officer in the mouth, and in several parts of the body. On the road to the cage Greenaway attempted to rescue the defendant, and struck Coleman over his arm to make him lose his hold; Bartholomew who was also guilty of the like conduct.
There was a crowd of persons, and when in the village near the cage Whitehead come up and, and squaring up to the Superintendent said with an obscene expression, that he had waited for some time to have a turn at him, and struck him several times. There were between 200 and 300 people following, and it was with great difficulty that Fuller was got into the cage.
The other defendants were apprehended the same night. The Superintendent’s statement was corroborated by the constables, and it appears also that they had been kicked.
The defendant offered no defence, but expressed a hope that they might be let off lightly.
Fuller was fined £5 5s., and 8s. costs, or 2 months’ hard labour; the other defendants were fined £2 10s. each, with 8s. costs, or 2 months’ hard labour.
All the defendant’s paid the money.
From the Kent and Sussex Courier, Friday 24 September 1886.
Three men and a woman was sentenced to 14 days’ hard labour for stealing a bottle of Ginger Beer, value 8d., from the “Lamb Inn,” Sundridge.
From Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 25 May 1888.
A LANDLORD DRUNK.
Edwin Cronk, landlord of the “Lamb Inn,” Sundridge, was charged with being drunk and disorderly at Sundridge on 23rd May, and was fined £2 and costs, or a month.
The Chairman said he did not think a publican who got drunk was a fit person to keep a public house.
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 31 August 1888.
The “Lamb Inn,” Sundridge.
Mr. Warner, Solicitor said he appeared on behalf of the owners of the “Lamb Inn,” Sundridge, to say that Mr. Cronk was leaving the house and a new tenant for the name of Pattenden, who was a very respectable man, had taking it. Under the circumstances he would ask the Bench to adjourn the consideration of the licence until the next meeting. The Bench considered there was no objection and they adjourned the consideration of the licence.