Some Olde Henden Family Homes


Barrow House (Old Court)- Once a William Henden Residence

Artist's drawing and accompanying article courtesy of John Henden, Somerset, England

From: Supplement To Barrow Gurney History by J.A.W.Wadmore, Vicar
(Somerset Archaological & Natural History Society)

At the South East extremity of the parish, divided by the Bridgewater road, are the three reservoirs of the Bristol Water Works Co., in the construction of which an old mansion known as Barrow House, with adjoining farm buildings was demolished in the year 1852. Here was the site of the old Manor House, for in a settlement dated June 15th, 1654, William Hasell and Johanne his wife are mentioned as owners of the "Old Court of Barrow Gurney", with 140 acres. Four sons were named, Cornelius, William, Richard, and Thomas, with Benjamin Tibbott and Richard Brooke alias Thomas, as Trustees. William Hasell, also spelt Hazle, died in 1680, and in the following year, Cornelius Hazle sold the property to William Henden, grandfather of Richard and Josias. In 1778 it was purchased by William Prosser, gent, who a few years later conveyed it to Thomas Andrews, in whose family it remained till the death of his daughter, Mrs. E.M. Hogue in 1831, when it was purchased by Anthony Blagrave, Esq., who sold it to the Bristol Water Works Co. From an unfinished pencil sketch by Edward Bigg, Esq., of Clifton, it would seem that the house must have been of two stories, with square center tower, two wings, and verandahs running along the south or garden front. It was surrounded by tall trees, well kept pleasure grounds, and faced the high road. Its lodge, converted into a cottage, still remains.

Henden Place, The Green, Woodchurch, Kent
Built circa 1435 during the time of King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster. Once the home of the Henden Family.

Biddenden Place House, Biddenden, Kent
Once owned by Sir Edward Henden and upon his death in 1643, Willed to his nephew Sir John Henden


              Initials 'EH' and '1624' above the main door indicates the
                   completion of the Sir Edward Henden's renovations

By Graham P. Steer

By all accounts, Biddenden Place House, sometimes known as The Place House, was quite a mansion. It had started out as the early medieval residence of Sir John de Mayneyís family during the reign of Edward III (King 1327-1377) and descended in the Mayney family until the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). The last Mayney to occupy it was Sir Anthony Mayney, the son of the former Sheriff of Kent, who removed to Linton in Kent and sold Biddenden Place House and its lands to Edward Henden. It is thought that this occurred sometime between 1616 when Henden, an established lawyer, became Member of Parliament for Rye, and 1619 when Kent Deeds show him to have purchased other lands at Biddenden.

Built in the typical Wealden style, it was probably a large timber-framed house with four ranges around a central courtyard, possibly enlarged by the Mayneys in keeping with their status as knights and sheriffs in the 16th century. It may have consisted of at least thirty rooms. When Edward Henden took possession he may have refaced the half-timbered frontage, added the brick gatehouses and boundary walls, increased the stabling, kitchens and household accommodation, and added ten extra rooms. The initials ďEHĒ and the date ď1624Ē above the main entrance may indicate the completion of Hendenís renovations. The house and lands were assessed at the begging of the Civil War (1642) as being worth 40,000 pounds - a huge sum of money, which would have made Henden a multi-millionaire by todayís standards Ė and in the Hearth Tax Records (1672), the house was recorded as having 24 chimneys. Papers researched by Margaret Lewis, the Henden historian, in the Kent Archives, show an impressive inventory of the portraits of ancestors, kings, princes, popes and archbishops which once hung in the house. There is also a Jacobean Room which is where King James I supposedly slept sometime during his reign (1603-1625).

As Henden was frequently absent from his Kentish estate (for 22 years he had an extensive legal practice in the Court of Common Pleas in London and also was a Member of Parliament), he appointed his nephew, Sir John Henden (1603-1654), a London merchant, to look after his affairs at Biddenden. Sir John eventually moved into the house with his three sons; Edward, John and Simon, and his wife Elizabeth (Crich) and her children by a former marriage (to Richard Pereson). Elizabeth was actually Sir Johnís first cousin through her mother, Thomasine Henden, and the widow of another London merchant (Edmund Crich).

Sir John must have been worried about the growing antagonism between the King and Parliament. Kent was a Parliamentary stronghold but the Hendens were royalists. In 1639, King Charles I created Edward Henden, Baron of the Exchequer, and Knighted him. Sir Edward withdrew to his estate at Biddenden and when called upon by Parliament, did as little as possible to assist them, claiming ill-health. In December 1642, the House of Commons ordered Sir Edward to pay 1/20th of the value of his estate- 2000 pounds- towards the defense of Poole and Lyme against the King. Sir Edward did not respond and so on December 23rd the Commons directed proceedings against him for non-payment. The money had to be extracted from his heirs, however, as he died in February, 1643.

It seems that during the Civil War (1642-49), the Hendens maintained their Royalist allegiance. The eldest of Sir Johnís sons, Edward (b 1628), is known to have accompanied the Prince of Wales into exile in Holland after the execution of his father, King Charles I, in 1649. Sir Johnís other sons, John (b 1630) and Simon (b 1632), may have also been active supporters, and certainly John was at Court at the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. During the period of peace after the Civil War, known in English history as the Commonwealth Period, Sir John Henden had died (1654), but the succession to the family estate at Biddenden was prevented. It was not until 1662 that the Will of Sir Edward Henden was finally probated and his wishes were carried out.

It must have been a glorious moment in April, 1660 when the King was crowned at Westminster Abbey with Edward and John Henden amongst the courtiers. John was already Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the new King and was looking for a wife. His fellow courtier, Sir William Hayward of Tandridge Hall in Surrey, had a beautiful daughter aged fifteen, fancifully named Northamptonia, and was anxious to make a good marriage for her. The young Edward Henden succumbed to illness, possibly typhoid which swept through the Court and killed even the newly-crowned Kingís mother, Queen Henrietta Maria. John Henden succeeded to his brotherís estate, was knighted and took possession of Biddenden Place House. In August, 1660, he rode out of Whitehall Palace to Streatham (St. Leonardís Church), where he married Sir William Haywardís daughter, who had been staying at the Earl of Bedfordís house near there. Northamptonia thus became the mistress of Biddenden Place House, bringing with her a good dowry.

Sir John and Dame Northamtonia, as she was known, had a large number of children who were born and baptized at Biddenden. The Place House echoed with the laughter of children and the cries of parental sorrow when an infant or child died. Sir John continued at Court, and a steward managed his affairs at Kent. The Hendens were on good terms with all the local gentry, and when their son, William (b 1665), became of marriageable age, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Toke of Godinton House near Ashford was chosen. It was a great match, the Marriage Settlement bringing land and possessions and more than a 1000 pounds to the Hendens. Catherine Toke, whose lineage linked her with medieval Bishops, landowners, Knights, and one of King Henry VIIIís Queens, went to live at Biddenden in 1687 as future mistress of the house.

By the time William Hendenís father, Sir John, had died in 1694, the young Hendens had only daughters. Finally, in 1703, a son and heir was born, named William after his father. However, all was not well. Much to the anxiety of Catherine Tokeís family at Godinton, William Henden was heavily involved in gambling. Finally, in about 1709, he gambled away all his assets and lost the family fortune. It was necessary for a special Act of Parliament to be passed to enable him to sell properties which were entailed, and he had to sell all other valuable land and property. An inventory was drawn up to show what was the property of his mother, Dame Northamptonia Henden, which could not be removed or sold. A few months after this, Dame Henden died, possibly as a result of humiliation and stress. The angry Tokes stepped in next, buying back Henden lands in order to save William from total ruin. One can only imagine the terms on which they were with their Henden relatives, bearing in mind that William had reduced his wifeís situation to almost penury.

Most of the original house was pulled down after 1711, except for half a dozen rooms on one wing of the courtyard. Today, the timber-framed walls of the courtyard are visible from the entrance hall together with an original door and staircase. The few remaining rooms were rebuilt with materials from the demolished wings, and the front external walls are refaced in plain Georgian brick to a regular pattern. William Henden built another house (today called Henden Hall) opposite Biddenden Place House with recycled bricks and stone. In 1728, William died, leaving very little to his young son, William, aged twenty-five. The elder Williamís widow, Catherine, survived until 1749, and by 1760 their son left the village altogether. The neglected house and garden was finally sold for five shillings in October, 1764 to the Trustees of Sir Horace Mann, and William Henden-the last of the Hendens of Biddenden- lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1784 at Kingsbury in Warwickshire.