Standing facing the green in the dewy calm of the early morn (before all the traffic!), it is not too difficult to imagine yourself back in the Hartley of 1900. Then there would have been Hartley Cottage and Yew Cottage on either side of the green, with the cottages of Castle Hill stretching off into the distance. Behind you would have been the old Church of England school, built in 1841. A little further afield, Old Downs house and lodge would be barely ten years old.
Hartley Cottage is by some way the oldest house at Hartley Green. It did not get its name until the 1920s, but to confuse matters Hartley House near the Black Lion was originally called Hartley Cottage! It has had a varied history - being at times a Blacksmith's, a grocer's shop and a boot maker's, as well as the centre of a 9 acre smallholding.
Its construction can be dated with some degree of confidence to between 1604 and 1646 and Dr Gerald Cramp confirms that the architecture is consonant with such a date. For it was not mentioned in 1604, when the Overy brothers John and Richard of Fairby divided their Hartley estates between them (it would appear to be the holding called Ballocks Land which is otherwise unaccounted for). However the cottage was very much in existence when elder brother John Overy sold it in 1646 to Thomas Edwards of East Malling for £103. The property was described as a house, smith's forge, barn and 9 acres of land in the occupation of Edward Gislinge. A month later John sold Forge Cottage to Mr Edwards. Other members of the Edwards family lived at Stocks Farm.
Map showing extent of Hartley Cottage holding 1646 onwards (shaded pink) superimposed on modern map
Contains OS Data, Crown Copyright (c) 2016.
Hartley Cottage was not parted from the Fairby estate for long, for Mr Edwards sold it (now no longer a blacksmith's) to Thomas Young of Southfleet in 1658, who had bought Fairby in 1648. At this time the tenant was William Oliver, possibly the ancestor of the later tenants of New House Farm. As he is not recorded in the Hearth Tax returns of four years later, we must assume that he had already left by then. It appears that the French family took over the tenancy. A Richard French paid tax for one hearth in 1662, and Matthew French paid at the same rate in 1673.
Meanwhile the freehold was inherited by Thomas Young's son John in 1688. He died in 1713, and by his will of 1704 he left Hartley Cottage, consisting of a house, barn, gardens, orchard and 9 acres of land in the occupation of Matthew French, to his younger son John Young. John also inherited Stocks Farm and Forge Cottage.
Hartley Cottage was owned by the Youngs for another two generations. John's grandson William was the owner between 1796 and 1822. The tenancy was held by his first cousin Richard Treadwell of Fairby, and then by his brother in law William Wharton, who moved here from Longfield. After 160 years of being in the family, William Young sold the cottage to William Bensted of Hartley Court in 1822. It was probably about this time that Hartley Cottage was shorn of its 9 acres and reduced to its current size. Of the house's 19th century tenants one name stands out - the Longhursts. In the 1841 census William and Harriet Longhurst and their family shared the cottage with William's mother Susan (recently I received a letter from a lady in Australia who is descended from Susan by another of her children). In 1851 the now widowed Harriet was the head of the household, and made a living by running a grocer's and baker's shop, presumably attached to Hartley Cottage. Ten years' later, her eldest daughter Eliza had taken over the business.
Eventually the freehold passed to Smallowner's Ltd in 1913, at this time the tenants held the house on a weekly tenancy of 5 shillings a week. In 1920 Smallowners sold the house and a block of land in Stack Lane to Sarah Green for £205. Her husband William was a boot maker with a shop here, who numbered Woolwich Arsenal amongst his customers, and the present owners continue to dig up boot nails in their garden. He was one of those who dug for victory in the first world war, cultivating a 5 acre holding in Hartley with wheat and other crops.
Hartley Green was sold by Mrs Green to Francis Comont for £450 in 1926. Mr Comont was a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture, and also owned land in Castle Hill. For a while he appears to have rented the place to the Townley family, as the Gravesend Reporter of 11 August 1945 records the marriage of their daughter Junior Commander Mollie Townley to a Captain Basil Northen.
Mr Comont put the house up for auction in 1950, it was described as "this charming cottage is in an excellent state of preservation and has been most carefully improved and maintained, retaining all its original character yet offering an easily run and economical home, and should prove of particular interest to the town worker". The buyer was Keith Jennings, an accountant from Sidcup. He only stayed a year before selling it to David Owen. He was succeeded by Mr and Mrs Lavender in 1959, who lived there until 1982.
Subdivision of lands at Hartley between John and Richard Overy, 1604
John and Richard had inherited lands at Hartley from their father Abraham, by virtue of the settlement in the will of their grandfather John. They divided to partition the lands between them. It is not clear whether the Hartley Cottage holding was mentioned here, it could well be the Ballocks Land holding assigned to John Overy.
This indenture made the six and twentieth day of September in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord James by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith etc. viz. of England, France and Ireland the second, and of Scotland the eight and thirtieth. Between John Overy of Hartly in the county of Kent, yeoman, one of the sons of Abraham Overy late of Hartly aforesaid, deceased, of the one part. And Richard Overy of Hartly aforesaid, yeoman, one other of the sons of the said Abraham Overy, of the other part. Witnesseth that whereas John Overy, late of Hartly deceased, the great-grandfather of the said John and Richard Overy, being seized in his demesne as of fee of and in four messuages or tenements, four gardens, four orchards and 186 acres of arable lands, pasture and wood more or less with the appurtenances in Hartly aforesaid, by his will and testament in writing bearing date the 16th day of July in the year of our Lord 1555 (amongst other things) did devise the said messuages, lands and tenements with the appurtenances unto Richard Overy his son for life and the reversion or remainder thereof after his death to the said Abraham his son, and to the heirs males of his body lawfully begotten. Which Abraham being seized of the premises by force of the said gift and having issue male of his body lawfully begotten, the said John Overy and Richard Overy, parties to these presents, thereof afterwards died seized. After whose death the same John and Richard Overy his sons entered into the premises and occupied the same together in common and undivided until now of late time, when by their mutual consent and agreement with the advice and assistance of their friends, a perfect partition and division, according to the laws of this realm was had and made betwixt them of the said messuages, lands and tenements with the appurtenances. And that in manner and form following: that is to say.
That the said John Overy, one of the parties to these presents, should have hold and enjoy to him and his heirs forever in severality of and in full satisfaction of his part, purpart or moiety. All and singular the messuages or tenements, houses, buildings, yards, gardens, orchards, lands, tenements and parcels of ground, with the appurtenances (parcel of the premises) hereafter immediately expressed, that is to say. All that messuage or tenement called Farbyes with the appurtenances in Hartly aforesaid, and all houses, buildings, barns, stables, yards, gardens, orchards, thereunto belonging and those parcels of ground ensuing, namely Greate Nutfeild, Little Nutfeild, Plotfeild and Plotfield Spring, lying on the west side of the highway leading from Ashe to Dartford, and containing in them by estimation 34 acres more or less, Harries Hawe containing 7 acres more or less, the two Parrys Crofts and Ballocks Land containing together by estimation 14 acres more or less. And also one other messuage, tenement or cottage with the appurtenances called St Peter and 2½ acres of ground more or less thereunto belonging, now or late in the occupation of John Comfort, with these parcels also of ground following, viz. Yewfeild, containing 6 acres more or less, Care Hill containing 13 acres more or less, Basedeane containing 4 acres more or less, and Greate Huttocks and Little Huttock with the springs thereunto adjoining containing together by estimation 10 acres more or less. Into which premises last rented, assigned and allotted to the said John Overy for his part purpart or moiety, he the same John hath entered and is now seized thereof in severality according to the said partition.
And that the said Richard Overy the other party to these presents should have, hold and enjoy to him and his heirs forever in seveality for and in full satisfaction of his part, purpart or moiety. All and singular the messuages or tenements, houses, buildings, yards, gardens, orchards, lands, tenements and parcels of ground with the appurtenances (residue of the premises first before recited) hereafter immediately expressed, that is to say. All that messuage or tenement called Hayes House (Woodins) with the appurtenances in Hartly aforesaid, and all houses, buildings, barns, stables, yards, gardens and orchards thereto belonging. And those parcels of ground ensuing, namely Welfeild containing 10 acres more or less, a little croft adjoining to the east side of the said messuage called Hayes containing 3 acres more or less. Poores Croft containing 5 acres more or less, Morrells Croft containing also 5 acres more or less. And also one other messuage, tenement or cottage called The Smyth's Forge (Forge Cottage) with the houses, buildings, yards and garden together with 12 acres of ground more or less thereunto belonging, now in the occupation of John Warren or his assignees. And threescore acres of ground more or less, lying together in several parcels to a green against the said messuage called the Smyth's Forge towards the east, to the highway leading from Ash to Dartford towards the west, to the lands of William Sedley esquire towards the north, and to the lands of Thomas Launce and of John Walter gent. towards the south. Into which premises last recited, assigned and allotted to the said Richard Overy for his part, purpart or moiety, he the same Richard hath entered and is thereof now seized in severality according to the said partition.
Now for the better corroboration and confirmation of the said partition and division made, assented unto and agreed in manner and form aforesaid. It is covenanted, granted and agreed by and betwixt the said parties to these presents and either of them severally doth covenant, grant and agree of himself and his heirs to and whichever of them and his heirs severally by these presents to stand to and agree to the said partition and division. And that either of them the said parties to these presents and his heirs and assigns shall or may without the loss, trouble or interruption after by the other of them the said parties (his heirs or assigns) have hold and quietly enjoy the said messuages, lands, tenements and parcels of ground to him assigned and allotted for his part, purpart or moiety as is aforesaid. And that also acquired and discharged or sufficiently saved harmless of and from all incumbrances whatsoever had or committed by the other of them the said parties. And further the said Richard Overy, party to these presents, doth of him an his heirs remise, release, and quitclaim by these presents unto the said John Overy the other party to these presents, being now in full and peaceable possession and seizin of the premises to him assigned and allotted as is aforesaid, and to his heirs and assigns forever. All the right, title and interest and demand which he the said Richard now hath or late had or hereafter may have or claim of, in or to the said messuages, lands, tenements and parcels of ground with the appurtenances to him the said John Overy assigned and allotted for his part, purpart or moiety, by force of the said partition or of these presents or by any other ways or means whatsoever. And in like manner the same John Overy, party to these presents doth further for him and his heirs remise, release and quitclaim by these presents unto the said Richard Overy his brother being now also in full and peaceable possession and seizin of the premises to him the said Richard assigned and allotted as is aforesaid and to his heirs and assigns forever. All the right, title, estate, interest and demand which he the said John Overy may have or late had or hereafter may have or claim of, in or to the said messuages,
lands, tenements and parcels of ground with the appurtenances to him the said Richard Overy assigned and allotted for his part, purpart or moiety by force of the said partition or of these presents or by any other ways or means whatsoever. And lastly it is covenanted and agreed by and betwixt the said parties to these presents and either of them severally for him and his heirs doth covenant, grant and agree to and with the other of them, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that either of them the said parties and his heirs shall yearly during the life of Dorothy Comfort, his mother, pay or cause to be paid to her the same Dorothy or her assigns, the son of 40s of lawful money of England for and in lieu and discharge of one annuity or rentcharge of £4 granted out of the premises or some part thereof to the said Dorothy during her life by the said Abraham Overy her late husband and that at such days and times and in such manner and form as the same annuity is payable by force of the said grant. In witness whereof the parties aforesaid have to these presents interchangeably put their hands and seals the day and year first above written.
(S) Richard Overy
Conveyance 3 October 1646 (CKS U713/T45)
Indenture dated 3 October 1646
(1) John Overy of Hartley, yeoman
(2) Thomas Edwards of East Malling, yeoman
John sells to Thomas for £103: the messuage or tenement with the smith's forge and one barn, one garden, one orchard and 2 pieces of land of 9 acres in the occupation of Edward Gislinge.
Bounded by lands of John Walter (W); King's Highway from Ash to Dartford (E); other lands of the said John Overy (S); King's Highway from Fawkham to Hartley (N).
Conveyance 24 December 1658 (CKS U713/T45)
(1) John Edwards the elder of Hartley, yeoman, and Denise his wife.
(2) Thomas Edwards of East Malling, yeoman, and Ann his wife; and Richard Edwards of Southfleet, yeoman, son of the said Thomas
(3) Thomas Young of Southfleet, yeoman
John sells to Thomas Young for £225: all that messuage or tenement with a smith's forge, barns and 3 pieces of land adjoining, in whole 10 acres in Hartley, bounded by the highway from Ash to Longfield, in the occupation of John Best (Forge Cottage).
And a messuage or tenement and barn and 5 pieces containing 11 acres together in Hartley. Bounded by the highway from Ash to Longfield towards the east, in the occupation of one William Oliver (Hartley Cottage).
Feet of Fine relating to deed:
Between Thomas Young, plaintiff, and John Edwards and Denise his wife, Thomas Edwards and Anne his wife, Richard Edwards, defandants, of 2 messuages, 2 barns, 1 stable, 2 gardens, 2 orchards and 18 acres of land, and 3 acres of pasture with the appurtenances in Hartley. Consideration £41.
(note: while description tallies with the deed, the consideration is fictional.)
Will of John Young of Hartley, yeoman (Proved 1713) (CKS DRb/PW5)
27 January 1704
He leaves his soul to Almighty God and his body to be committed to the earth.
To his sons, Thomas and John Young: his household goods, implements, utensils etc.
"Item: I give, bequeath and devise all that my messuage or tenement called Feerby House and the barns, stables, stalls, outhouses, edifices, buildings, gardens, orchards and small pieces or parcels of land, arable, meadow and pasture thereunto belonging and now therewith used or enjoyed, containing in the whole by estimation 180 acres.... with all and singular their appurtenances, situate and being in the several parishes of Hartley aforesaid, and of Fawkham and Ash.... now in my own occupation - unto my said son Thomas Young and the heirs of his body" with remainder to John and his heirs.
"Item: I give, devise all that my messuage... with the appurtenances containing by estimation 10½ acres.... in Hartley... and now in the occupation of William Mugg or his assignees, which I formerly purchased of my mother in law Mary Boycott, and all my term for years, right, title and interest therein and thereto. And also all that my messuage or tenement, smith's forge, gardens, orchards and small pieces or parcels of land, containing 9 acres ... situate ... in Hartley... now in the occupation of Francis Treadwell. And also all that my messuage or tenement, barn, gardens, orchard and several small pieces or parcels of land, containing.... by estimation 9 acres, situate... in Hartley, and now or late in the occupation of Matthew French or his assignees". Also: 1 messuage and 1 acre at Southfleet, 1 messuage 6 acres at Swanscombe in occupation of Simon Baker; also 1 messuage 3 acres in Swanscombe in occupation of John Inman - to son John and his heirs, with reversion to Thomas Young and his heirs.
Residue of corn, grain, hay, clover, cattle etc, loans, plate, chattels etc to son Thomas Young, who is appointed executor.
(S) John Young
Witnessed: (S) James Burrow
(S) Joseph Oliver
(S) John Hooper
Proved on 3 July 1713.