11th May 2000
This paper is not strictly related to Sheppey. However I found it a fascinating insight into the life, times and political importance of Sir Thomas Cheyne.
It's on its own page which you can select by choosing 'Frames' or 'No Frames'. The 'Frames' version is available with adjustable panels to help with cross referencing the notes it contains.
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Sir Thomas also acquired Faversham Abbey, Davington and several other religious houses. In that year, the tithe for the whole parish was £120 per year. The King (Henry VIII) intending to benefit the village and future vicars, required that Sir Thomas Cheyney should pay £40 per annum to the vicar, this was then one third of the total.
The last Prioress of Minster Abbey was Dame Alice Crane who received £14 per annum as a pension. The palace of the Abbess stood where the present vicarage now stands.
There lies the great man who, during his lifetime, acquired vast possessions and much wealth and in his great house of Shurland entertained.
King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, under whose patronage Minster prospered and grew yet, with all his fame and high offices, desired to be laid to rest in the small chapel at Minster.
A staunch Lancastrian, he was made a Knight-Banneret by Henry VII for his gallant conduct at the Battle of Bosworth Field and two years after had the further honour of being made Knight of the Garter and created Baron Cheyney of Shurland.
As he left no son, the title became extinct for a time and the estates passed on his death in 1496 to his nephew Thomas, the son of his younger brother William. Under him the star of the House of Cheyney rose to its zenith and culminated in a visit of Royalty to Shurland House.
It was this Sir Thomas Cheyney whose costly monument lies in the Abbey Church.
Along its edge may still be traced the record of his posts of honour. Beginning his public life as a favourite of the then all-powerful Wolsey, he was, in 1520, admitted as one of the six gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, then a Privy Councillor, Treasurer of the Royal Household and a Knight of the Garter. He was also Warden of the Cinque Ports, Constable of Queenborough Castle and Lord Lieutenant for Kent.
It seemed not to matter who was on the throne, whether Henry or Edward, Mary or Elizabeth, he adapted himself to each and retained his offices in the Council and the Household under all.
He was, meantime, adding manor to manor, chiefly as gifts from his Royal Patron, such as the suppressed Priories of Faversham, Davington and Fordwich, the historical Castle and lands at Chilham, besides many other Kentish manors, holding withal the ancestral estate of Patricksboume Cheyney.
In addition to these he owned the wealthy manor of Tuddington in Bedfordshire which came to him through his wife, the daughter of Sir William Broughton. These all helped to swell the Shurland rent roll and enabled him to entertain with fitting magnificence Henry VIII and the fair but frail Anne Boleyn in 1532.
Before this royal visit and possibly in anticipation of the honour, Shurland House was expanded out of materials of which he had despoiled the noble old castle of Chilham, until it became a worthy place for the reception of and resting place for the greatest of the Tudor monarchs in one of his progresses.
Then, apparently, a wing on either side spread out from the central gateway which, with its flanking towers and their new stairs, claims a somewhat earlier date.
Then came the banqueting hall on the east of the main court, the dormitories on either side, one court after another, till the whole range spread over several acres, comprising no less than nine quadrangles, enclosed within high stone walls with a Chapel in the far south east corner, the whole forming a worthy mansion for a man who was styled Strenus Miles.
This visit of Henry was probably prompted by the whim and the vanity of that beautiful siren Anne Boleyn, then in the heyday of her beauty and power, in her desire to see the one time abode of an ancestress of her own, for an aunt of hers had married a Cheyney.
It was a whim which her then infatuated adorer could not but gratify, and a loyal subject, the recipient of so many favours, could not but accept at whatever cost.
A Royal progress, however, in those days involved an expenditure - which could hardly fail to draw deeply on the resources of even a wealthy noble and if Sir Thomas, if all the more proud, was all the poorer for the distinguished presence of Royalty, even for two days. It was doubtless a gorgeous spectacle which the Lord of Shurland Castle provided for the King in that truly baronial abode; but it was a shortlived glory that then floated over Shurland House.
Letter written by Sir Thomas Cheyne. It is a letter written in 1548 or 1549 regarding raising "mariners" at the Cinque Ports as ordered by the Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector. Anyway, it is a very good letter on vellum. "