The Larkfield Historical Society

Where memories are recalled

Leybourne Church

Church of Ss. Peter & Paul, Leybourne is a small church with a big history. The church was built in Saxon times but the church building was changed greatly in 1874. The Leybourne history started when the ancestor of the Leybourne family came over with William the Conqueror from France. He was granted land by William I in Yorkshire and lived there with his family for a long time. His descendent, Sir Philip Libourne, decided to live in a village in Kent called Lillieburn. The names mixed to call the place Leybourne. He built Leybourne Castle and was the first baron of Leybourne, his new name was Sir Philip Baron de Leybourne. Two people who were quite important were barons of Leybourne. The first, the baron of Leybourne, Sir Roger de Leybourne great grandson of Philip, was good friends with Prince Edward (later to become Edward I). In 1270 he set off with Edward on a crusade to the Holy Land. DSC_0381

On the way he was ill so was sent back, in France on the way to Leybourne he died. His heart was sent back to Leybourne and put in the left hand side box of the niche, the one on the right is empty.

The second is Sir William Baron de Leybourne, son of Sir Roger, who was the first Englishman to have the title admiral. On 25 October 1286 King Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castille visited William at Leybourne Castle. They left two crowns as gifts, which hangs above the wooden plaque about Sir William, which was unveiled in 1956 by Richard Talbot.

In the church tower there used to be three bells, now there’s only one. It is because the tower collapsed in 1580, they then only restored two bells. Then in Friday 10 June 1966 a bolt of lightning hit the tower and it caught fire, then they decided only to have one bell. The tower was Norman but in 1874, architect Sir Arthur Blomfeld, Encased it in an extra layer of wall.

The Domesday Book says about Leybourne: “Adam holds Leybourne of the bishop. It is assessed at 2 sulungs. There is land blank. In demesne are 3 ploughs; and 16 villains with 2 bordars have 7 ploughs. There is a church, and 10 slaves, and 1 mill rendering 7s, and 12 acres of meadow, woodland for 50 pigs. In the time of King Edward it was worth £8; when received , £7; now £8. Richard of Tonbridge holds in his lowy what is worth 24s. The king holds as a recent gift from the bishop what is worth 24s2d. Thorgisl holds held this manor of Earl Godwine.”

The blank above is as shown in the Domesday Book, either it was left blank for future addition, or the original entry was erased.

© The Larkfield Historical Society 2015-2017