A 16th Century Wealden Timber Framed House
I first saw Fullers House in October 1992 after
spending a year house hunting. The house has a striking appearance with
it’s black and white exterior and it’s unusual shaped windows. But most
appealing to me was the sense of character the house has and the good
size of the rooms. It gives a sense not so much of comfort but of
utility, a place to live. At this time I knew nothing of the history of
the house or of Staplehurst. I was told the house was built around
I soon began to try and find out more about the
house but there did not seem to be much concrete information and I
promised myself that when I had time I would investigate the history of
the house. I had no idea how difficult this would be and how much time
and energy it would take. But once started, it became like a good book,
impossible to put down.
The property is now registered with the land
registry as ‘Fullers House’, comprising the front of the building and
‘Fullers Cottage’ being the back portion of the building. It is situated
in the southern end of the village of Staplehurst in Kent, on the west
side of the Cranbrook Road, in what is called The Quarter. In older
documents, the road is known as the Turnpike Road, and even earlier it
is referred to as the King’s Highway.
It is thought that the house was originally
erected in 1580. To date, I have found no record to support or disprove
this date. The house has been added to several times over the years but
the basic structure of the house is a timber framed Wealden house. This
structure itself may, in the end, be the only means of dating the house.
The house is comparatively large by today’s
standards and between the two halves there are 10 bedrooms, including
attic rooms, and 4 large reception rooms as well as kitchens and utility
rooms. But it is not, and has never been; a manor house and neither can
it be described as a labourer’s cottage. A more appropriate title would
be Yeoman’s House or farmhouse.
The house has stood here through times of wealth,
famine and recession, civil war, religious upheaval, and two World Wars.
During the times of plenty, the house was extended, improved and
modernised but it also saw several severe economical depressions and at
it’s worst it was split into 4 workman’s cottages and left to
deteriorate for half a century.
The parish of Staplehurst is
within the Lathe of Scray. Part of Staplehurst resides within the
Cranbrook Hundred and part resides within the Marden Hundred. The
hundreds are further divided into boroughs. Fullers House resides within
North Borough which lies within the Cranbrook Hundred.
Historically, the parish is an ecclesiastical
division and Staplehurst is within the Diocese of Canterbury and
considered part of East Kent. The Lathe, hundreds and boroughs are
Many of the historical records are based on the
parish and the parish records are retained in the Centre for Kentish
Studies in Maidstone. This includes the parish church records of
baptisms, marriages and burials from 1538. There are also Poor Rate
Assessments from 1641. These are invaluable for researching the history.
In addition, there are some records such as Land
Tax, which are based on the administrative districts of Boroughs and
Hundreds within Lathe. These include Hearth Tax, Land Tax, etc. This
does seem to complicate matters or at least add to the challenge.
The parish of Staplehurst consist of 5,897 acres
lying about 8 miles south of Maidstone.
The arrow points to Fuller’s House.
Fullers House is situated on the A229 or Cranbrook Road, which was once
the Roman road cutting a pathway through the Andredsweald Forest.
Centuries later, in the Jutish period, the road was the main drove from
the Hollingbourne lathe to the ancient denes in the vicinity of
Staplehurst where pigs were pastured. It was not until after the Norman
Conquest that Staplehurst became a parish and a village although there
is evidence that there were settlements earlier.
In terms of wealth and population, some remarkable
changes took place in the Weald between the 14th and 16th
century. This region had one of the lowest assessments of wealth in
England in 1334: yet by the time of the lay subsidy of 1524, it was
placed among the highest yielding parts of the country.
Similarly, population growth in this period was
In some sources, this growth is said to be entirely
due to the booming cloth industry in the Weald. Other sources argue that
the importance of farming as the backbone of Wealden prosperity was the
main contributor. It is probably fair to assume that both the cloth
industry and farming contributed to the wealth and that both also
attracted an influx of people.
Fullers House can be directly linked to the
do not know who actually erected Fullers House. The first solid evidence
of the house is a will by John Buckland in 1664. We know from the Poor
Rate Assessments that he had lived in the house at least from 1641 when
the records begin.
The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century
Family of Staplehurst
John Buckland was a clothier. The manufacturer of
raw wool into good broadcloth called for many different trades, which
created employment and was largely responsible for the rapid increase in
population in the Weald during this period.
new class of wealthy freeman evolved. The clothier bought the
wool and distributed it for carding and spinning in the cottages. The
output would then be collected and passed to weavers, shearers, fullers
and dyers in turn. The finished product was dispatched to London or a
port for export. The clothier is credited with the rapid growth of the
broadcloth trade and the families involved became wealthy and prominent
Staplehurst experienced a period of great wealth during the 14th
and 15th century directly related to the cloth industry,
which reached it’s peak in the early years of the 16th
century. By the mid 1700’s, the trade was extinct in the Weald.
John Buckland was baptised in the Staplehurst
parish church 15 January 1603/04, the son of Richard Buckland and Mary
Newman. The Bucklands had been resident in Staplehurst since the records
began and a brief family tree shows John as descendent of Stephen
Buckland. The earliest record found for the family is a will of John
Bukland dated 1505.The will mentions a son John and a daughter Alice.
The attached tree shows the family in the 16th century.
On the 17 February 1638/39, John married Sarah Gull. They went on to have 3 children. Sarah, who later
married Francis Cornwell or Cornhill, was born in 1641. Susan born in
1643 died in 1653. Son John was born during the civil war and there are
no parish records during this period. His mother, Sarah, died in 1655
and I would estimate that John was born around 1645.
John senior was obviously a respected man in the
village, in 1638, at only 34 years of age, he was chosen as a
churchwarden. By the time of his death in 1664, he was a wealthy man
leaving an inventory covering the contents of his home of £1114, which
in today’s money would be about £105,000. Several references to John
refer to him as an example of the wealthier clothiers.
John was buried 06 September 1664. The parish
register simply states ‘Buried John Buckland clothier’. His will is
dated the 2nd of September 1664. It is signed by John (and
sealed) with what looks like a shaky hand. Witnesses were John Love and
Edward Usbourne both leading citizens of Staplehurst.
The will is comparatively short. He asks for a
Christian burial at the discretion of his executor. He is obviously
concerned about his debts and ask that his woodlands in Staplehurst and
all of his moveable goods and chattels (excepting his black colt) to be
sold to pay his debts. He appoints his son-in-law Francis Cornhill as
his executor and request he organise the sale as quickly as possible.
Any residue money from the sale is to be shared
equally between Francis Cornhill and John’s son John Buckland with the
exception of his black colt which is to go to John.
The will then states that John gives to his son
John ‘ my messuage & tenement barne & buildings orchard garden & close
with the cornor field next the pinnock & the field next to the cornor
field’. The other parcels of land belonging to the messuage, including
‘the harp field the little pit field and the long strake’ he gives to
his daughter Sarah Cornwill. From this reference, we can identify the
property to be what is now known as Fullers House although the name was
not then applicable and the house was probably know simply as John
Buckland’s. From references in the Poor Rate Assessments, when compared
to other assessments, we know that the property was of considerable
value; certainly within the 10% highest valued properties in the parish.
How much land was included is not certain but a guess would estimate it
at around 50 acres. This estimate is based on the land associated with
the house at the time of the Tithe Map as well as it was a common size
early farmsteads in the Weald according to Robert Furley (A History of
the Weald of Kent by Robert Furley).
When did John Buckland acquire Fullers House?
In truth, we do not know. We do know that he
extended the property extensively. We also know that John’s father,
Richard Buckland owned property when he died and also John’s
grandfather, John Buckland, is also noted as a householder when he died
in 1595. In Richard Buckland’s will dated 1614, it is noted that his
mother Margaret Buckland is living in the family home and allowance is
made for her to continue doing so. It would not be unreasonable to
theorise that the house Richard Buckland lived in was the same family
home as which his father before him had owned.
Richard Buckland left his sons £35 a piece. All his
children are minors and he leaves his estate to his wife with the
condition that if she remarries that the money is put in trust and that
she quits the house. It is, therefore, clear the house is to go to his
children. We are also told (but cannot confirm) that Richard’s only 2
sons worked together as clothiers, although we do not know what became
of his eldest son Richard, the latest note of him we have is in the
accounts of Solomon Ware 1662.
In conclusion, without further proof, we do not
know when Fuller House was acquired by the Buckland family, but it does
seem a strong possibility that the house was in the ownership of the
Buckland family since before the death of John Buckland in 1595. If it
should ever be possible to prove this, then we might be able to assume
that the house was built for the Buckland family. There is also some
evidence that there was a building on the site earlier. This comes
purely from evidence of old foundations in the garden and I hope to one
day perform an excavation to prove or disprove this theory.
How did John Buckland Die?
John Buckland was buried 06 September 1664 in the
Staplehurst parish churchyard. John would have been 60 years old which
is a fair age for that period. As an elderly resident, he would have
been susceptible to any contagious disease that was epidemic. While we
have no real evidence to give a cause of death there are some
First the population of Staplehurst in 1565 is
estimated at 750 based on a census of communicants. By 1664, Kent was
just beginning to recover from the Civil War and the cloth industry,
which had sustained Staplehurst, was collapsing. There is a rule of
thumb method of calculating populations, which says to take the
total of ten 10 years baptisms, then average it and multiply by thirty.
This gives us a total of 588 around 1670. Another method is to take the
number of households and multiply by 5. With this method and using Poor
Rate Assessments to establish number of households in 1664, we get a
figure of 600. This is at least a 20% decrease in population since 1565.
From 1620 to 1637, there was an average death rate
of 27 people a year in Staplehurst. 1638 to 1642 shows a period of
unusually high death with an average of 45 people a year. Then we have
the civil war and records are non-existent. The period between 1654 and
1659 shows the deaths drop back to the normal level of 26 per year. 1663
shows 9 deaths (there are no records for 1660 to 1662) and 1664 jumps to
50 deaths. This represents 8.5% of the total population and is more than
double the normal average for Staplehurst. We can safely assume there
was an epidemic that year. We also know that 1664 was a year that the
plague swept through Kent and it is likely that at least some of these
deaths are caused by the plague, and this may include John Buckland. It
may also explain why the house stood empty for several years after his
death, as he would have died in the house.
The Buckland family has been document
in more detail
Staplehurst Baptisms & Burials 1630 to 1680
Note that I have excluded years when the data was
missing or suspect, particularly during the civil war period. But what
is obvious from the graph is there was a period before and after the
civil war, where the burials far exceeded the baptisms. There is a
falling rate of baptism, which is almost certainly the result of a
population which is falling due to a high death rate and failing cloth
A subject for another day is the impact this had on the property
ownership in the parish.
The Poor Rate Assessments for Staplehurst begin in 1646.
1647, John Buckland was assessed as having land with a yearly value of
£38/6/4 for which he paid a half yearly poor rate of 16 shillings 4
pence. In 1651, they added a further tax on goods. Now on his main
property he was paying £1/8/6 plus 18/6 for goods. In this year, he also
was assessed for ‘pasture field’ valued at £16 with poor rate of 12
shillings. It also shows a separate listing for his woodland valued at
£3 with a rate of 2/3. By 1661, John was paying additional rates for
‘his son’s land’ and Robert Usborne’s land with a total rateable value
of £64. John continues to pay for all these separate parcels of
land until his death, but in no other assessment is it referred to as
‘his son’s land’. His son could have been no more than 16 in 1661 and
the property may have been a gift to him while John continued to pay the
When John dies in 1664, the rates never show
his family as having taken over the property. In 1665, the Poor Rate
Assessments show Richard Turner Esquire as owner of the property: ‘the
occupiers of Mr. Turners land late of John Buckland’. No tenant is shown
and it is probable that the property has not yet been leased. Richard
Turner was never a resident of Staplehurst although he owned property
there; he is classed within the Poor Rates as a foreigner or
out dweller. It is not until 1668 that a tenant is shown and this is
Samuel Fuller Esquire. It is worth noting that the valuation now puts
the land value at £26. This probably reflects deterioration in the value
of the property, as it has lain vacant for several years.
Samuel Fuller has been occupying property for some years on the opposite
side of the road, which is now part of the Iden Manor estate. Both
Buckland’s property and Samuel’s original property seem to have then
become identified as Fullers. John Buckland’s property became
known as Fullers House and the other property was Fullers
or Fullers Farm.
Property - 1664
The diagram shows the position of Fullers Farm in
relationship to John Buckland’s house in 1664. Fullers Farm was owned by
Samuel Fuller and was situated where Iden Manor now stands. John
Buckland’s house became known as Fuller House only later when the Fuller
family took over the property. There were no other houses in the western
side of The Quarter in 1664.
Traditional housing of the non-gentry class had for
centuries been wattle and thatch huts. But new wealth associated with
the yeomen farmers and the clothiers, saw an expansion in building of
substantial houses. In the Weald, the houses are primarily wooden box
framed houses. Stone in the Weald was restricted to the construction of
churches and manor houses of the gentry as the forest of the Weald
provided ample wood. Many of these wood framed houses can still be seen
in the Weald today while very few of the poorer houses have survived.
The earliest surviving houses of this class are
hall houses dating from the 14th century. The layout was
fairly standardised with a hall open to the roof with service rooms at
one or both ends, which probably were two storey. A central open
hearth heated the hall with a roof opening for the smoke to escape. The
hall was the primary living area where almost all activity took place.
At the lower end of the hall, the service rooms on the ground floor
probably were used as work areas such as the dairy or pantry while the
top storey rooms would be for storage. The upper end of the hall, the
service room were chambers, which would be used as sleeping areas or
private rooms. Sometimes the kitchen was in a detached building to
reduce the risk from fire, as the buildings would have been thatched,
other times cooking was done within the hall. The wooden frames were
generally of oak and the main frame would be made of sizeable beams.
Between the beams was filled with wattle and daub. While the surviving
houses have undergone extensive alternations over the years, the basic
structure has proved durable. There are fine examples of Hall Houses to
be seen at the Open Air Museum in West Sussex.
The hall house evolved over the centuries with the
service areas becoming of more importance as private chambers. By the
early 16th century, the open hall began to give way to two-storey
houses. In addition, many of the earlier hall houses were converted to
two storeys. Essential to this development was the introduction of the
chimneystack and the enclosed hearth.
Fullers House Structure
The probable date for the original building of
Fullers House is circa. 1580. We know the house belonged to the Buckland
family from at least 1641 but we do not know if they were the first
inhabitants who built the house or any earlier concrete information.
The house, like almost all the houses from this
period, has undergone extensive alterations over the years but the basic
structure still remains and from this we can make educated guesses at
its original appearance.
The first thing of note about Fullers House is that
the original structure was not built parallel to the road as was normal
practice. The length and frontage of the original structure appears to
have run at a right angle to the road. Making a guess as to why, I would
suggest that this was purposely done. The house is positioned south of
the village. The church and the village are at the top of a hill looking
down towards Fullers House. When the house was built there were no other
buildings in The Quarter and the house would have stood out well. There
is little doubt that even then the house was meant to impress with it’s
decorative jetty which went completely around the house.
Fullers House was not a hall house but built with a
full-length upper storey, which jetted out over the lower story. It
probably included the garret right from the beginning. It would have
been a single gable (the second gable was a 17th century
The initial dimensions of the building would have
been approximately 50 feet by 25 feet. On the ground floor, it was
probably partitioned into 3 areas with the upper end (road side) being
the chamber (and probably even then referred to as the parlour). Being a
two storey design, there would have been chimneystack right from the
beginning and it is likely that the main chimney is the original. The
hearth is situated on the inside wall such that it is back to back with
the hearth in the second main room utilising the same chimney. This
second room had evolved from the hall but probably served primarily as
the kitchen and dining area.
The third section would be the service area and it
has a depth of about 10 feet. This was definitely partitioned off and
probably served as pantry and buttery or other work area including
There is some evidence that an aisle ran the length
of the house on the south side.
The upper story was partitioned in a like manner to
the downstairs rooms. Between the upper end and middle room there is now
a staircase leading to the garret. The chimney divides these rooms but
there are no fireplaces in the garret; the rooms would have been
unheated. Between the middle chamber and the lower chamber the wall
incorporates brace beams indicating it is an original feature. These
rooms probably led off each other.
In Anthony Quiney’s book on Kent Houses he says
‘The rooms of these houses were used much as they had been in the later
Middle Ages even though the hall slowly declined as an all-purpose room.
The chamber beyond was now increasingly called the parlour, but was
still often the principal bedroom and also served as a store as well as
a private room. The upper chambers were used as bedrooms for junior
members of the family, for servants and guests, but for a long time were
not the preferred place to sleep. They continued as stores for produce
and for light items of farm and domestic equipment, at least until the
eighteenth century and often for longer.’
It is not known where the original staircase
leading to the 2nd storey was but if it was consistent with
other houses of this period, the staircase probably was between the
parlour and the hall on the far side of the hearth with the aisle area.
The main entry is likely to have been on the opposite (north side) of
The windows in the original building were unglazed
and had 3 wooden bars set at an angle to reduce drafts. Some of these
can be clearly identified today. There were internal shutters that would
have slid close. One original door still exist which is made of wide
wooden planks running lengthwise with each panel slightly overlapping
the other. On the back are wooden battens the panels are attached to.
The exposed wooden beams show signs of where they
were hand sawn and one main beam clearly shows roman numerals where the
length had been marked off.
The floor in the hall and service rooms is made of
brick and may well be original. The floor in the parlour is wood but was
probably replaced early in the 20th century.
Some of the floor in the second story retains the
original wide oak planks as does the floor in the garret.
The house was, almost certainly, originally
We know major changes took place in the middle of
the 17th century. The house was extended with an additional
parlour on the south side of the original parlour adding the second
gable that is seen today. Again this was a two storey addition with a
garret. This addition changed the frontage of the house from the north
to east such that it now faced towards the road. The main entry would
have been between the 2 gables. The probable purpose of this extension
was to accommodate the working space required for carrying out the
business of clothier. From John Buckland's inventory dated 1664, we can
identify some of the other changes that have taken place over the 85
years since the house was erected. First thing of note is of course the
extension and the inventory clearly defines the ‘new parlour’ and the
‘new parlour chamber’. Also of note is that the house is now fully
glazed and there are curtains as opposed to shutters. It is probable
that the windows were lead framed and in the barn at the back of the
house today there are 2 sets of leaded windows which may have come from
the house at some stage.
The hall is now definitely the kitchen and the
sleeping quarters are now all on the second floor (and may always have
been). The old parlour and the old parlour chamber are now workrooms.
The garret is used for storing wool. The lower service room now seems to
be divided into 3 sections being the larder, milkhouse and drink
buttery. There also are now several other small utility rooms including
a small drinks buttery, cheesehouse, back kitchen, brewhouse, stone
close. Exactly where these are situated is not known but the cat roofed
lean to at the back of the house has a lead window frame which is dated
1628 and these rooms may well be within this area particularly as it is
close to the well. There is also evidence that there may have been an
early extension on the north side of the building which is evident from
the following picture.
Fuller House 1877
The above drawing by Howard Gaye was based on a photograph dated 20
The drawing, done from the north east, shows a
lean-to which is no longer in existence. The mock Tudor windows have not
yet been installed.
Charles II introduced the Hearth tax at a time of
serious budget deficient. It consisted of a twice-yearly payment of one
shilling for each hearth within a home. In 1664, we have a full list of
those who paid the tax as well as those who were exempted by reason of
poverty. The tax was collected by the administrative unit of Borough
within Hundred. Unfortunately, the parish of Staplehurst falls within
both the Cranbrook and the Marden Hundred and sub divides into further
boroughs. North Borough, within the Cranbrook Hundred, covers the
southern area of Staplehurst parish, as well as parts of Cranbrook and
Frittenden. North Borough extended as far as the rectory and therefore
includes John Buckland's home and he is found listed as paying for 8
This can be used to illustrate his comparative wealth or at least the
comparative size of his home. Within North Borough there were recorded
116 households. 43 were exempt from paying the tax while 73 households
paid tax on at least one hearth. The following graph illustrates the
number of hearths within the households.
Inventory & Valuation - John
Neither John’s will or the inventory actually name the house but the
description of the associated land enables us to identify it as what is
known today as Fullers House. The inventory is useful from the
perspective it allows us to imagine the house in 1664 and the lifestyle
of John Buckland. In addition, it also enables us to roughly date the
southern front wing of the house, as there are references to the
‘new parlour chamber’ and the ‘old parlour’.
John Buckland was
buried at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on the 06 September 1664. An
inventory and valuation of the contents of the house is dated the 26
ground floor there is the parlour, the kitchen with 3 associated small
rooms (Larder, Milkhouse and Drink Buttery), the old parlour, an entry,
and 5 other workrooms which may not have been part of the main house. We
know from pictures of the house in 1877, that there use to be a cat
roofed lean-to on the north side of the house. Whether that existed in
1664, we do not know. But it may have housed some of the small rooms
like the Small Drinks Buttery. However, we also know that the attached
outbuilding on the west end of the house use to extend almost to the
back boundary of the homestead and this seems more likely to be where
the rooms such as the Brewhouse and back kitchen would have been
particularly as there are some remains of old ovens and it has a
chimney. In addition, the remains of an old well exists on the north
west side of the house which you would anticipate would be near the
kitchens, buttery, brew house etc.
The cat-roofed lean-to on the back of the house
today, did not exist on the original building, as there is a window on
the current inside wall. However, it probably existed by the time of
this inventory as there is an old iron framed window which was taken out
for repairs when the lean-to roof was maintained and on the frame of the
window was stamped a date of 1628.
The second floor details 5 chambers or bedrooms as
well as a closet. The top floor or ‘garret’ seems to be the store room
for wool which was of considerable value of over £200. What is missing
is any weaving or cloth making equipment although there is one line
saying ‘a halfe cloathe at the mill forgotten’ as well as a reference
to £318 worth of finished cloth. This is consistent with the role of
a clothier who managed the outworkers who did the weaving in their own
The outbuildings included a stables, a workhouse, a ‘saiminge’ shop, a
cheese loft with 446 pounds of cheeses, and a ‘lodge’. A Store House is
stocked with items used for dyeing wool such as galls (oak apples used
for making dye), alum (a mineral salt used for dyeing), oil, and so on.
The livestock listed were 2 oxen and 4 steers, 2 oxen and 2 calves, 5
‘milch’ cows, a nag and 2 old mares, 4 grow hogs and 4 ‘shets’ (maybe
young hogs), 58 12 month sheep, 87 two year weathers (older sheep),
poultry, and a 12 month colt.
Stored, there was a large quantity of wheat, oats, ‘pease’ and hay ‘in
stakes & in the houses’. There is still unpicked fruit upon the trees
plus large quantities of firewood.
There is one wagon and 3 carts, a harrow, a plough plus other farm
There is no reference in the chambers to any washing facilities such as
jugs or any reference to any outhouse or toileting features beyond is a
‘chamber pot’ in the closet.
The furniture of the kitchen can be visualised from the inventory taken
after the death of John Buckland in 1664.
The basic furniture consisted of a cupboard, a settle, four chairs and
cushions and ‘2 fonlding bords’. These bords are thick oak planks
supported by trestles and a central stretcher which were secured by a
removal peg which became a table. When not in use the table can taken to
pieces and stored against the wall.
There were probably pegs and racks as well as the cupboard to hold the
various kitchen dishes and cooking utensils which are quite
considerable. For instance there were 5 dozen trenchers which were
probably the thin wooden boards (or plates) with hollowed area in the
middle meant to contain meat and its’ juice. In addition, there was 179
pounds of pewter, which probably would have consisted of plates,
tankards, jugs, wine cups and other dishes. As pewter is a soft metal
which is easily marred by knife cuts, it was the practice to place a
wooden trencher beside the pewter dishes for cutting meat on. Or maybe
the trenchers were used for everyday use and the pewter plates brought
out when required to impress? Specially mentioned were 12 dishes and
ladles, which were probably serving dishes.
Cooking implements included 3 iron pots, an iron kettle, 5 brass
kettles, 1 skillet, a ladle, 4 pot lids, a tin plate, and 2 fish plates.
The hearth was equipped with ‘3 brandirons’ or fire dogs, and pots over
the fire, 1 pair of tongs and slice (a thin iron shovel), an iron pot
and an iron pan, a smoothing iron, a warming pan, 2 chaffing dishes (a
dish for keeping food dishes warm), 3 spits, 2 chopping knifes 2
‘gridginds’ (probably gridirons used for broiling meat, 1 iron dripping
pan, and 3 tin plates. There is no mention of knifes or spoons for
eating which you might have expected by this date and possibly these are
included in the 79 pounds of pewter.
We can also surmise from the contents that it was a well-used room,
which was not kept for cooking only. Here they kept their guns and
armour which included a musket, a birding piece, a head piece back and
breast (the armour), and a pair of pistols and holsters. There was also
a bible and other books. It also mentions 2 cupboards of clothes and ‘2
knockers’ or butcher axes.
The Larder, Milkhouse, and
These were probably 3 separate partitions or rooms at the back of the
house. From the beams you can see the remains of an internal wall which
would have separated these workrooms from the kitchen.
In the Larder there was a ‘cage’ cupboard, 2 brine tubs, a frying pan, a
wooden ‘peele’ and 2 stools. The milkhouse contained 2 leaden pans, a
still, 16 ‘milkibonles’ (milk pails), and butter plate plus 100 pounds
of butter valued at £5/14/0. Butter was used extensively in the 17th
century for frying, basting, in cereal pottages and buttered ale. Fresh
butter was for immediate use while salted butter was pressed into
earthenware pots or wooden tubs for keeping.
In the drink buttery there was 18 barrels and 4 runlets (cask used for
liquor), but unfortunately it does not say what was in them.
The ParlourThis room would be easily recognised
today by the contents.
One round table and carpet, 6 leather chairs, 1 stool, 6 cushions, 1
pair of brass Andirons with a brass shovel (Andirons were used to
support the burning wood in the hearth) a pair of dogs (fire dogs), a
pair of bellows, a clock, a carpet, and a window curtain, a curtain rod,
and a joined chest.
When the house was built it had unglazed windows with 3 bars set at an
angle to allow light in but reduce the draft. There were internal
shutters that would have slid close. It is probable that glass windows
had been installed not too long before the inventory was taken in 1664.
This is supported by the inventory which notes curtains at the window
and ‘glasse standing about the house’.
The room was obviously heated by a wood fire.
Other Small Rooms
It is suspected that these small rooms are not part of the house
proper but are likely to be attached outhouses or within the lean to.
The Small Drinks Buttery seems to have been used for storage of
everything but drinks. It includes 1 ‘torit’ (maybe a torch), 3
candlesticks, a hay cutter, 4 sickles and ‘poder hocks’ (which I think
are a type of pitch fork), and 8 ‘ox bowes’ (part of a harness used for
The Cheesehouse contained a cheese press and stone, ‘basyles and
followne’, a runnet tin, 3 old sieves, 9 ‘keller’, 4 leather sacks, a
brass mortar and pestle, a pair of wooden scales, feathers, and
some lumber. The cheese, of which there was a large quantity, is stored
separately in the ‘cheese loft’, which seems to be part of the
The Back Kitchen notes 2 ‘bucking tubs’ (washing tubs), a trivet, 4
pails, 3 bowls, a gallon, handiron, a tunnel (wooden trough for draining
water away), and lumber.
In the Brewhouse is the apparatus for making the ale which reads as a
furnice and lid, a brewing tun, a working tun, ( tun being a vessel with
a tube at the bottom used for brewing), tainier, bards, a trough, a tub,
a kettle, a handish, a wort sive and stalders’.
The Entry has ‘3 brine tubs, a bill, a mattock, a spade, a seedcod, a
dungefork and other husbandry tooles’.
The Old Parlour
This appears to be now used as a working area and not as a parlor.
A wooden horse, 2 linen wheels, 16 pounds of ‘hempe’, a pair of fetters
(locks), old iron and lumber.
The Chambers (First Floor)
The Great Chamber or master bedroom was also being used in the
preparation of wool before spinning. It included 3 bushels of peas, a
leather sack, stock cards (used for separating or combing our fibres of
wool) and other cards, 4 rakes (which I assume are weaver rakes),
remnants of raw cloth and other tools of the trade.
The Old Parlour Chamber has a flock bed with bolster probably standing
high such that the ‘trinde bedstead’ (which probably is a trundle bed
which would have been a low bed on wheels) would be pushed under. The
flock bed would have a mattress stuffed with wool. It was equipped with
curtains, valence, curtain rods, 3 coverlets, and 4 blankets.
In the ‘Lynnen’, which is a room with a window with curtains and rods,
there is a 'borded' chest which is an early chest made from planks of
wood and wooden pegs, a chest and trunk, a shelf, 2 chairs and 2
baskets. This appears to be where the linen is stored as it contains 18
pair of coarse sheets, 7 coarse tablecloths, 17 ‘tyletts’, 4 dozen pair
of small linen, 10 pair of pillow cases, etc.
In the New Parlour Chamber there is a flock bed and a trindle bed, a mat
and cord (basically a wooden bed frame with a cord threaded to form a
base for a mattress), 4 leather chairs, a wooden chair, a basket chair,
a round table, bedding and curtains, plus fire tools. Thus the bedroom
could be heated. This is presumably now the master bedroom. The Painted
Chamber is another bedroom with 2 flock beds, a feather bolster, a
table, a carpet, a chair, curtains and blankets, and a ‘seeinge’ glass.
There is nothing to indicate this bedroom was heated. It is worth noting
that traces of the ‘painting’ can still be found in Fuller House. One
further bedroom is referred to as the Servants Chamber. Here there are a
total of 5 beds, a borded chest, 3 candlesticks (the only ones
mentioned), bolsters, blankets and a shelf. No mention of curtains or
any means of heating. The Closet appears to contain ‘bits and bobs’
most of which are difficult to recognise beyond the chair, boots,
scales, 2 shillings in silver, and a chamber pot.
The Garret is used as a storeroom mainly for raw
It is difficult to tell exactly what outbuildings
there are. There is definitely a stable, a lodge is mentioned which
seems to house farming equipment, and it also mentions items in the
barn, and a workhouse. The workhouse may be a general heading covering
several outbuildings as under that heading comes all the livestock which
are likely to be in pasture, a large quantity of finished cloth, plus
items such as ‘wheat in the barn’ and large quantities of fire wood.
There is a ‘Koming loft’ with the equipment for combing the wool before
The farm would have consisted of fifty acres or more. In 1841, it
was still 49 acres and we know from John Buckland’s will that the
woodland was sold to pay his debts. In addition, John owned a separate
parcel of land he used for pasture plus land he leased from Robert
Usborne. From the inventory, we see a lot of farming implements both in
and out of the house. There seems to have been a small orchard. From the
inventory, we can surmise that they grew oats and wheat as well as crops
of hay for the animals. No doubt a large portion of the land was used
for grazing the stock.
Because of the heavy clay in the Weald, the oxen
would have been used with the plough and harrow. Farming was a labour
intensive activity in the 17th century and John must have
employed several men to work the fields and tend the farm animals.
The farm obviously made it’s own butter, cheese and
ale and the preparation of food and tending the ‘diary’ would imply
The inventory states there was a servant chamber
with a total of 5 beds. This is not necessarily the total of servants as
there probably would have been farm labourers who lived in their own
quarters likely to be in the village. Until the early 17th
century, servants would have been expected to bed down in the kitchen or
hall but this practice was dying out. It would seem likely he had more
than 5 servants.
But John Buckland was a ‘clothier’ by trade.
Generally, a clothier bought the wool and distributed it for carding and
spinning in the local cottages. There is evidence that at least some of
the carding was done on site but there is no mention of spinning wheels
or weaving equipment. The spun wool would be collected and passed to
the weavers, shearers, fullers, and dyers. Some of this may also have
been done on site as there are stocks of dye products. Fulling would
have taken place at the mill, either in Cranbrook or maybe Maidstone
area. The inventory mentions a piece of cloth at the mill.
John had on hand large stocks of wool in various colours and qualities.
Probably some of the stock of wool came from his flock of sheep. He also
has a large stock of finished cloth. The stock of wool and finished
cloth was valued at approximately £520 which was a considerable sum,
implying John managed an enterprise of some account.
While the present name of the house, Fullers, may lead one to think that
the house was used for fulling the cloth, this is not the case. The name
comes from Samuel Fuller who was an occupier of the properly after the
death of John Buckland.
The inventory can give us hints of the lifestyle of the Buckland
and similar families in Staplehurst but we will also have to use more
general records and some imagination.
The Buckland family had prospered due to the cloth
trade. They were well off by the standards of the day but they are not
‘gentry’ or upper class. They probably lived well and tried to copy the
gentry in small ways but basically it was a simple and self sufficient
It is a comparatively large farm house which has been ‘modernised’ by
adding glazed windows. We know the house has been extended comparatively
recently because of the reference to the ‘Old Parlour’ and the ‘New
Parlour Chamber’. The cloth industry has brought wealth to the family
and the extensions appear to have been necessary to carry out the
business within the home.
The house appears to be comfortably furnished. There is heating in the
main rooms: the kitchen, the parlour, and the new parlour chamber but
the servants chamber and the rooms now used as work rooms do not appear
to have the equipment associated with tending a fire and were probably
unheated, although, being taxed on 8 hearths implies that heating was
possible in most the rooms.
The farm provided them with most their daily needs and some excess may
have been traded or sold locally. Their farm was comparatively small and
probably only large enough to maintain the household, including the
servants, and the animals.
Families who could afford to, and the Buckland family could, would have eaten
3 meals a day. Breakfast would have consisted of bread, cold meat or
fish, cheese and ale. Dinner was the main meal around midday and would
have consisted of pottage (a thick soup made of broth, vegetables and
probably oats) and roasted or boiled meat or fish on ‘fasting’ days, or
pies and ale. Supper would be a lighter meal of bread and meat or cheese
and more ale.
There was probably a kitchen garden although one is not mentioned in the
inventory which would have provided the basic vegetables of onions,
carrots, cabbages, peas, and beans. Potatoes did not come to England
until the late 16th century and are unlikely to have been
part of their diet. Fruit would have been eaten : apples, pears,
cherries, and plums but usually boiled as the people were suspicious of
raw fruit. While sugar had become popular in Elizabethan times, the
average consumption was no more than one pound a head per year with the
great majority eaten by a few people. It is unlikely to have featured in
their diet except possibly at feast times.
Meat would have consisted of mostly beef and mutton. They would have
also eaten poultry: chicken, ducks and geese and supplemented the diet
with rabbit, hedgehogs, pigeon, partridge and pheasant using the
‘birding piece’ kept in the kitchen. The meat would have been boiled in
cauldrons or kettles or roasted on spits supported by cob irons over a
dripping pan in front of the wood fire in the kitchen. The preferred
bread of the period was a white bread made with fine quality white flour
and usually small flat loaves of about 6 to 8 ounces. This was probably
baked on the premises but there is no reference to bread ovens, although
they were there at a later period and bread was nearly always baked at
home. Probably safe to assume the bread ovens existed. Alternatively,
there was probably a bakery in the village.
The ale was home brewed probably using barley and maybe hops, which came
to England early in the 17th century. Milk was rarely drunk
except by the children but was used heavily in cooking, as was butter.
They may have had wine but ale would have been the usual drink. Coffee,
tea and chocolate did not arrive in England until the mid 17th
century and are not likely to have been used by this family.
During Elizabeth and later James’s reign, meat was forbidden throughout
Lent and on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which were known as
‘fish’ days. Under the Commonwealth fish days were abolished but re
introduced again with the Restoration.
Fish may have been brought from the coast in the summer months but the
roads were so bad in winter that this is unlikely. They may have stocked
fish in the ponds or eaten salted fish.
In the inventory there is no sign of a spice cupboard and spices may not
have been a major feature of the household. The general picture is
plenty of plain, wholesome food.\
Richard Turner Esquire
After the death of
John Buckland, the property was willed to his son and his daughter.
There is no evidence that they ever took possession of the property and
it appears almost certain that it was put on the market immediately. His
daughter Sarah and her husband Francis Cornwell were already established
on a farm in Staplehurst. Son John would have been 18 to 20 years of age
and we do not know if he was living with his father at the time of his
John Buckland was buried in September 1664. The Poor Rate Assessment
dated the 2nd of November 1664 show an entry ‘The house that
John Buckland lived in’. There are further 2 entries for the additional
land and the woodland. By November 1665, the assessment shows ‘ The
occupier of Mr. Turners land late John Buckland’ plus an entry for the
‘occupier of land late John Buckland owned’. The woodland is no longer
From this I surmise that the property had now been bought by Mr. Richard
Turner. Mr. Turner was already a land owner in Staplehurst but he was
not a resident and generally any entry for him is shown under the
heading of ‘Forriners’. The assessment was still rated at £30 but if
there was an occupier, he would have been shown on the entry so the
assumption is that at this stage the farm had been bought by Mr Turner
but no tenant had been found as yet.
By April 1666, there is still no tenant shown but the additional parcel
of land is no longer found and must have been separately sold or leased.
1667 and the situation is unchanged but the assessment has dropped to
£28 probably reflecting a deterioration due to no occupant of the land.
Then in April 1668, we find Samuel Fuller is the occupant of Mr.
Turner’s land with an entry which reads ‘for the lands of Mr. Turner
late John Buckland’ with an assessment of £26. Richard Turner died in
1680. It appears that Fullers House was then bought by Christopher
Fuller and that Samuel Fuller (both sons of Samuel Fuller) continued to
farm Fullers Farm.
Samuel is noted as a
‘gentleman’. This implies that he was a notch above the yeoman farmers
in the local society of Staplehurst. One definition of gentleman is that
it is a farmer who does not work the land himself but is managed on his
behalf. Whether this applies is not known, but he certainly was
considered a gentleman by the local community as he is so noted in the
parish register and the Poor Rate assessments as such.
was not born in Staplehurst. There is an earlier family called Fuller,
William who was a broadweaver and his son’s family, Stephen who was a
yeoman. No connection with Samuel has been identified.
The first record of Samuel is the baptism of his son Samuel in 1646 by
his wife Elizabeth. In the same year, he is seen to be paying Poor Rates
on an assessment of £29/3/4. Then for some reason he is not shown as
paying Poor Rates for some years but reappears in 1661 with an
assessment of £39. This is probably because he had a tenant on the
property but we do not know for sure.
We know Samuel was still resident in Staplehurst as he has several other
children baptised including son Christopher who was baptised 21
September 1656. Elizabeth and Samuel had at least 6 children before
Elizabeth’s death in 1672.
After the death of John Buckland, Fullers House was bought by Richard
Turner and the property was leased to Samuel Fuller. It is likely that
his son Samuel was the actual tenant but we are not certain which of the
two men as they are described only as Samuel Fuller. The other property,
Fullers Farm on the opposite side of the road was still in the hands of
the Fuller family.
Samuel Fuller senior died in 1675. I have not found a will for Samuel
but we have to assume his two surviving sons, Christopher and Samuel,
would have been the main beneficiaries. The eldest son, Samuel continues
to be shown as running both properties until 1677 when Christopher would
have come of age 21. Christopher is then the tenant of Fullers House.
Christopher was baptised in Staplehurst 21 September 1656 and was the
son of Samuel and Elizabeth Fuller. He went on to marry Mary Love in
1680. Mary was the daughter of John Love, a prominent land owner in
Richard Turner died in 1680 and it was at this stage that Christopher
bought the Fuller House property. His brother Samuel went on managing
the Fuller Farm estate opposite. Mary Fuller died in 1681 and was buried
two days after the baptism of her baby son Christopher. Another victim
of childbirth in the 17th century.
Christopher remarried in 1682 or 1683, but not in Staplehurst. Together
with his new wife Sarah, they went on to have a further 5 children of
which 3 died as infants.
The family continued in Fullers House until Christopher’s early death at
the age of 37 in 1693.
Christopher left a will dated 17 August 1693, probably made when he
became very ill.
In his will, he leaves to his wife Sarah all the rents from his lands ‘I
had with her’ for the duration of her life on the condition that she
shall use the income to maintain and keep ‘her three children that is to
say Stephen Fuller, Sarah Fuller, and Elizabeth Fuller’ until they are
nineteen years old or the day they marry ‘with all necessary meat drink
clothing and all other things fitting for such children’.
He goes on to bequeath to Stephen his woodlands called Marland Wood in
Staplehurst when he is 21 years of age and instructs that the underwood
in the woodlands is not to be felled before he reaches 21.
He leaves his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth £200 each to be paid when 19
and a further £100 when 21.
He then goes on to bequest to Christopher Fuller, his son by his first
wife, who would be 12 years of age, £5 and a silver cup ‘to be paid and
delivered to him’ when 21.
He instructs that all his goods and chattels should be sold to pay his
debts (excepting household goods which he gives to his wife during her
lifetime). He must have been concerned about the debt as he goes on to
instruct his executors if the sale of goods does not cover his debts,
they are to sell the house he dwells in along with the houses that
Thomas Blackborne, William Russel, and Harbot Burden dwell. He
specifically states that these are to be sold for the sum of £1100 and
After payment of his debts, the remainder to be invested towards
meeting the provision in his will for his daughters. In the event that
it does not satisfy the full £600, then further land he owns must be
His daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah (or their heirs), are to have all his
lands and tenements after the decease of his wife. Only in the event
that the two daughters do not produce heirs, then the estate goes to his
This does seem rather unusual that his eldest son receives next to
nothing unless all else fails. It is possible that he has a major grudge
against the boy, maybe due to the death in childbirth of his first wife,
but the lad is not yet quite 12 years old. Likewise, the other son
Stephen has a rather small inheritance in comparison to the two girls.
I, therefore, suspect that the boys are in line to inherit a portion of
the large estate left by their grandfather Samuel Fuller. No will from
Samuel has been found.
In the event his wife is pregnant when he dies Christopher makes an
allowance of 5 shillings for the child when it attains 21 years of age.
This may mean he did not realise when he made his will that his wife was
pregnant with his daughter Mary who was born 5 months later. In any
event the 5 shillings seems a miserly amount compared to his other
Of some significance in this will, there is the mention of the ‘houses
that Thomas Blackborne, William Russel, and Harbot Burden dwell’ which I
surmise are the houses in The Quarter now referred to as 17 – 19 The
Quarter which were built on Fullers House property probably for farm
labourers working for Christopher. This gives us a probable date of
their erection between 1680 and 1693.
After the death of Christopher, we know that Sarah, his widow, remained
in Staplehurst until after the birth of her daughter Mary who was
baptised 18 February 1693/4. But soon after the house was sold,
presumably to pay debts, and the family left Staplehurst.
By 1695, William Caffinch is the new owner of Fullers House.
I have yet to look in significant detail at this family. But we do know
that William Caffinch was descendent from Henry Cafinch and his wife
Alice Hony. The first appearance of Henry is in 1641 when he marries
Alice. He was a landowner in Staplehurst. I believe that the William
who bought Fullers House was the grandson of Henry, but he may have been
his son. Further work is required here.
In 1695, William Caffinch was married to Mary and living in Fullers
House. They went on to have at least 7 children between 1695 and 1707
and it would have been a busy household full of young children.
The 1695 Poor Rate Assessment show an entry of ‘Christopher Fuller now
William Caffinch’. By 1700, William Caffinch is not only running Fullers
House but has separately 4 other properties he is being assessed on and
was acquiring a considerable estate. These other parcels of land are not
identified at this time, but from subsequent developments, I know that
these are Iden and Waller, which for the next 100 years are linked with
Fullers House. What I have yet to do is identify exactly where Iden and
Waller were situated but at this stage I believe that they lay south of
Fullers House towards Knoxbridge.
By 1710, William has expanded greatly. Now he is not only paying for
Fullers House, Iden, and Waller, but also appears to include what is now
called Chittenden Farm. There are a total of 10 properties that William
is paying rates on. Most of these properties would have been leased but
he certainly owned outright Fullers House, Iden, and Wallers.
By 1715, Chittenden Farm is now being managed by Thomas Chittenden which
is owned by the Hoare family. William is still rated on 9 properties.
Then in 1718, the property changes hands suddenly. I presume that
William Caffinch died, but I do not have a will or burial record for him
and it is possible that he sold up and left Staplehurst.