Fuller House - 1867
Drawn by E.G.D. from a photograph dated
1718 - 1751
In 1718 and 1719, Madam Ecklyn, from London, is shown as paying rates for
Fullers House and it is believed that she had bought the property although
she did not live in the house. The first tenant shown is Edward Castreate,
who in 1720, is assessed on 3 properties: Fullers House, Iden and Wallers.
He retains them for only 2 years and Samuel Filmer Esquire is the tenant in
Little is yet know about Samuel Filmer. He was married to Margaret and they
had 2 children baptised in Staplehurst, Samuel and Robert, both of whom
would have been born at Fullers House. Samuel died in 1732 and the property
was taken over by Robert Wooden and again included Iden and Wallers. Robert
Wooden retains a lease on the 3 properties until 1748.
Bryant Fossett, the son of Madam Ecklyn, is shown as the owner of the house
Like his mother, he did not live at Fuller House and was classed as a
Foreigner. Based on the Poor Rates, the house may have laid vacant for 3
years as no tenant is shown until 1751 when Gomery and Simmons take on the
lease of the property. Thomas Simmons and his family go on to be major
players in the history of Fullers House and the village of Staplehurst.
Edward Hasted wrote the History and Topographical Survey of Kent,
which was published in 1793 (2nd edition). Under Staplehurst,
there is a paragraph, which I quote. ‘At a small distance from the south end
of the village of Staplehurst is Iden green, on which stood, till within
these few years, the mansion of the Manor of Iden. This manor was formerly
the property of Chiffinch, from one of which name it passed to Brian
Faussett, esq. of Heppington, whose son the Rev. Mr. Bryan Faussett sold it,
about twenty years ago, to Mr. Thomas Simmons, gent. the present owner of
There was a court held for this manor about seventy years ago, on Iden
Green, under an oak, and some years afterwards in the mansion; but the oak
being felled, and the house taken down, none has been held since, nor
probably will be again.’
This broadly supports the information we have identified.
The Simmons Family
There has been Simmons in Staplehurst since the Parish Records began in 1538
and probably long before. (The name is sometimes spelt as Symons, Simmonds
or other variations but for simplicity, I retain the later variation of
Simmons.) They are related to families found in Cranbrook, Marden,
Frittenden and Benenden.
But the family branch we are looking at begin with Edward Simmons and his
wife Ann Bridgland who arrived in Staplehurst in 1716 from Frittenden.
Edward and Ann were married in Frittenden, Kent in 1714. Their first son,
Thomas, was baptised in Frittenden in 1715, but by 1716 when their second
son, Edward, was born they were living in Staplehurst. They had two further
children, John who was baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst in 1722
and Mary who was baptised 1 Jan 1719/20. There is a monumental inscription
at the All Saints Parish Church in Staplehurst that tells us that Edward
died on the 5 November 1735 at 52 years of age. Ann died 29 July 1768 aged
75 years and they left issue of 3 sons : Thomas, Edward and John.
I believe, that after the Samuel Fuller the younger left Staplehurst that
the Hoare family bought the property then called Fullers Farm (opposite to
Fuller House) and that Edward Simmons was the tenant. After his death in
1735, his wife Ann carried on managing the farm with the help of her sons
and in particular Thomas. The Simmons family managed this farm until the
middle of the 19th century.
The first Land Tax records found for Staplehurst are for 1756 and 1759 and
then a large gap until 1780. In both 1756 and 1759, Ann, who was by then a
widow, is recorded as a tenant of Mr. Hoare. Annual rent is £60 per year,
which implies it was a large farm.
The Poor Rate Assessments show Edward in 1720 as assessed with a land value
of £40 which is then shown as £30 in 1725 and two parcels of land in 1730
are assessed as £30 and £5. By 1755, the assessment was £42.
As no will has been found for Edward, it can only be assumed his estate and
leases were left to his wife in her lifetime and then are likely to have
been passed to his sons. This is supported when we find Thomas as the tenant
in the same property in 1780.
Edward Simmons male line continued in Staplehurst from 1716 to sometime
between 1891 and 1901.
Thomas Simmons, the son of Edward and Ann Simmons, was born in Frittenden,
Kent and baptised 11 April 1715.
We first see Thomas when he, in partnership with Thomas Gomery, becomes a
tenant of Bryant Fossett and together they manage Fullers House Farm along
with Iden and Waller. In 1776, Thomas purchases the 3 properties from Mr.
Fossett and Fullers House becomes his main dwelling house.
Shortly afterwards, in 1778, Thomas Simmons marries Elizabeth Usborne in
1778. This was a late marriage, he was 63 years old and Elizabeth was 34.
From the marriage license, we know it was the first marriage for both of
them. There is no record of any children being born to the couple and
Thomas’s will confirms this. Elizabeth was the daughter of William Usborne.
The Usborne family were ‘well to do’ and leading members of the village at
that time. While it is easy to consider that Thomas, a mere yeoman, married
above himself, I think that is underestimating the man. By the time of his
marriage, he had purchased the Fullers House Farm, Iden and Waller as well
as leasing Chittenden Farm and Fullers Farm (later Iden Manor) from the
Hoare Family. He was in fact managing one of the largest estates in
The Kent Poll Book for 1754 shows a list of freeholders in Staplehurst
which does not include any Simmons but by 1790 is shown Thomas as a
freeholder in Staplehurst with a house and land.
In the Land Tax Records of 1756 and 1759, Thomas’s widowed mother is the
tenant of a large farm where the freeholder was Mr. Hoare. As previously
mentioned, it is thought that this property is Fullers Farm, later called
Iden Manor Farm. It is assumed that Thomas lived with his widowed mother and
ran the farm on her behalf. Thomas is also shown as the joint tenant of
another property owned by Mr. Bryant Fausett which we know is Fullers House,
Iden and Waller.
The next tax records in 1780, show Thomas is also now the tenant of Fullers
Farm, owned by Mr. Hoare, his mother having died in 1768. Also Thomas is now
shown as the owner and occupier of Fullers House Farm (including Iden and
Waller). On top of this, Thomas is also the tenant farmer of Chittenden Farm
which lies just south of Fullers House Farm. He is now farming a huge tract
of land in the village of Staplehurst and we could be forgiven for assuming
he is a wealthy farmer.
In 1789, Thomas adds to his holdings with a smaller farm leased from Mr.
John Beard which he buys the freehold of in 1793. In 1790 he acquires the
freehold of another property (which his will states to be 30 acres) which he
rents to George Waters. One further addition is shown in the tax records of
1793 which looks like a further small farm leased from Mr. Philcox which
appears to be next to Mr. Beard’s property. I’m not sure where these are.
As was expected of the ‘gentlemen’ of the parish, Thomas and his brother
Edward, performer duties as overseers of the poor in 1754.
Thomas died on the 2nd August 1793 and we do know that by this
time he was well established and left an extensive estate. His monumental
inscription describes him as a ‘Gent of the Parish, universally esteemed and
From his will, we can establish further information about Thomas. We know
Thomas had two brothers, one sister and many nephews and nieces although no
children of his own. He was a farmer and a gentleman and his wife was from a
well to do family.
Thomas's will dated 16 July 1791, clearly defines his request and is very
good for verifying the family tree. He left several major bequests, most
with charges against them to ensure all his nieces and nephews benefited.
To Elizabeth, his wife he left all his goods and chattels etc in his
dwelling house Fullers House in Staplehurst. She was to have the chaise and
horse, the best cow and £500 in stocks, which had been left to her by her
late uncle Edward Usborne.
She was also to benefit from the interest and profit from a £1000 investment
Thomas had made around 1791 in Tolls on the Turnpike Road from Maidstone to
Tubstake. Tubstake is not on the modern road map but found on an old map to
be on what is the A229 today just south of Cranbrook but north of Hawkhurst.
During her lifetime, she was to have Fullers House Farm and the three
associated cottages is what is now known as ‘The Quarter’.
When Elizabeth died, the £1000 investment on the Tolls was to go to his
nephew John Simmons, son of his brother John. However, there were charges
against this equating to £500 which was left to his other nieces and
Fullers House Farm in Staplehurst was also left to his nephew John Simmons,
son of his brother John with the provision that Elizabeth should have use of
the property until her death. The property was left to Edward Simmons (son
of his brother Edward) and his heirs in the event that John did not survive
Elizabeth, which is what happened. Elizabeth survived until November 1822
while John was buried in June 1819 and Edward died a few months before
Elizabeth in February 1822.
To his nephew Edward Simmons, son of his brother Edward, Thomas left a house
and land of 32 acres referred to as the ‘Cott’ in Shirley Moor, Woodchurch,
Kent. There were also charges against this bequest equating to roughly
Two estates were left as tenants in common to his nephews John Simmons and
William Spong (husband of Ann Simmons, daughter of his brother John). The
one estate was Iden and Waller in Staplehurst. It is now noted as 64 acres.
The other was known as the ‘Isle of Dogs’ in Beddenden and Benenden. Charges
against the two estates equated to £400 plus an annuity of £10 per year for
his brother John.
To his nephews Peter Tuff and Thomas Tuff, sons of his sister Mary, he left
an estate of 30 acres (unnamed) in Staplehurst as tenants in common. George
Waters occupied the estate. No charges were made against this.
Also noted was a request that his great nephew, Thomas Simmons, son of his
nephew Edward Simmons, should have the lease of the farm belonging to Henry
Hoare called Chittenden.
There were numerous other small requests to various nieces and nephews but
the residue of his estate was passed to his nephews John Simmons and William
Spong to be shared equally.
Thomas provided well for his relatives, made provision for the poor of
Staplehurst, and ensured his tenants and his servants were well rewarded.
Thomas’s wife, Elizabeth Usborne, outlived Thomas by 29 years. She was
buried along side Thomas in All Saints Church Staplehurst on the 02 December
1822. She also left a detailed will benefiting many of her relatives but
also many named poor of Staplehurst. For instance, she left 12 pounds and 12
shillings per year to May Waller daughter of Thomas Waller, a labourer in
Staplehurst to 'keep her out of the Parish Workhouse'. After the many small
bequests to friends, relatives, servants and the poor, the bulk of her
estate went to her nephew Thomas Simmons.
From the complex will of Thomas Simmons, the Fullers House remained in the
ownership of his wife Elizabeth until her death in 1822 when it would have
passed to his nephew John. But John died in 1819 before he could inherit the
property and the house then was legally passed to Thomas’s nephew Edward,
son of his brother Edward and his heirs.
Edward, was in fact a wealthy yeoman in his own right. He had married Mary
Beslee in 1771 and they had 8 children, the oldest being Thomas Simmons born
in 1771. Edward lived to be 81 years of age and was buried in Staplehurst in
February 1822, several months before he would have inherited Fullers House.
But as the property was specified to go to his heirs, it fell within the
terms of Edwards will.
Edward left all his property, including Fullers House, to his wife in her
lifetime with instructions that after her death the entire estate would be
divided between his four sons.
His wife Mary survived him by 19 years and lived to reach 91 years of age.
She was buried in Staplehurst in 1841.
After the death of Mary, Fullers House was sold to Henry Hoare.
Therefore, after the death of Thomas Simmons in 1793, Fullers House was
actually owned first by his widow Elizabeth until 1822 and then by the widow
of his nephew Edward Simmons, the former Mary Beeslee until 1841. However,
the widows did not live in the house. In 1794 and 1795, Thomas’s nephew John
lived in Fullers House but in 1796, William Spong was the tenant of Fullers
House Farm plus a great deal of other property in the south of the village.
William was the husband of Ann Simmons, niece of Thomas Simmons, daughter of
his brother John. After William Spong’s death in 1808, his wife, the former
Ann Simmons, remained as tenant until the death of Elizabeth Simmons in
1822. The property then passed to the widow of Edward Simmons, the former
Mary Beslee. Again she never lived in the house and her eldest son Thomas
Simmons was the tenant of the property until her death in 1841.
During this period, the widow Mary first lived in a house owned by the
Simmons family that was on the opposite side of the road of Fullers House
but later moved into The Quarter in what is now 17 The Quarter.
There is a much more detailed account of the
Simmons family available for anyone interested.
The Staplehurst Tithe
Three copies of Staplehurst Tithe map exist today: one is help in Maidstone
at the Centre for Kentish Studies. It can be viewed on microfilm but the
film quality is poor.
The Tithe records (published in July 1842) record Mary Simmons as the owner
of Fullers House and associated land. The occupier is given as Thomas
Simmons senior, Mary’s son. The 1841 census confirms Thomas and his wife
Sarah (known as Sally) were living in Fullers House. The widow, Mary
Simmons, is living in one of the houses in The Quarter, which today is 15 –
17 The Quarter. These houses were the only other property existing in The
Quarter, west side, at that date. Mary died aged 91 on 30 July 1841 and the
tithe map must be referring to the estate of Mary Simmons but does not state
The land associated with Fuller House and listed in the Tithe records and
shown on the map is as follows:
To Plan Name and Description of Cultivation
Acres Roods Perches
Arable 5 0 20
1669 Hog Pound
Field Arable 3
1670 Hog Pound
Field Arable 1
field Arable 4
944 Shaw, (Meaning a strip of
Wood 0 1 16
woodland wider than a hedge).
Garden Hops 3
meadow Meadow 3
947 Gooseberry Wood
Field Arable 7 3 14
meadow Meadow 3
949 Fuller House
Homestead 0 3
Platt Meadow 0
953 Near Little
Meadow Meadow 2 0 13
0 0 21
955 Further Little
Meadow Meadow 2 0 21
956 Long Four
Acres Arable 4
Field Meadow 2
0 2 10
Total Land 48 1 27
Rent Charge Payable
to £10 10s
- 1842 Tithe Map
The above diagram shows the land associated with Fuller
House in 1842.
The Hoare Family
The Hoare Family deserve a book for themselves and this is not the place to
try and complete it. Our interest is in their relationship to Fullers House.
The Hoare family had owned property in Staplehurst since 1714 when they
acquire the Fuller Farm on the opposite side of the road to Fullers House.
The Hoare family bought the property from Samuel Fuller or his heirs. Also
purchased in 1714 was Chittenden Farm, which had been owned by William
Caffinch, along with Fullers House, Iden and Waller which would have been a
continuous stretch of land. Thomas Chittenden was the tenant farmer of
Chittenden Farm from 1715 to 1750. Thomas Simmons then took on the lease of
Chittenden Farm and the Simmons family continued to run this property until
From 1714, the Hoare family continued to acquire property in Staplehurst and
by 1850 they owned large sections of the village and surrounding country
side. It was after the death of Mary Simmons in 1841, the Henry Hoare bought
Fullers House including all the land in the Quarter on the west side of the
road. Until then, the house had been a family home. Henry divided the house
into 4 homes and these were let to local families, probably most of whom
worked directly for Henry Hoare’s estate.
There is little doubt that during the next 60 years the house degenerated.
The census details from 1841 to 1901 show a steady stream of changes.
In 1851, the widow Sally Simmons and her servant Jane Simmons lived in one
of the 4 cottages within Fuller House. Jane is from Tenterden and probably a
relative. Visiting the Simmons was 22-year-old Annie Hope from Frittenden.
Annie was Sally’s granddaughter and is related to the Hope family who live
at Cherry Tree Farm in Frittenden today.
There is a picture of Fullers House dating from 1867 which shows the house
with what looks like sash windows which probably replaced the earlier lead
windows in the period when the Simmons family owned the house.
In 1879, the Hoare family were having financial difficulties and much of the
property held in Staplehurst was put on the market including Fullers house.
There is a copy of the map, dated 1880, showing the different properties
that were to be sold by auction. The sale was not successful.
In 1881, the Brooker family were running a laundry business at Fuller House.
Whether this was done in the old wash house, which is attached to the back
of the house and at one time extended to the boundary, or whether it was
carried out in the barn is not known. What is interesting is that the
existing barn is undated and, unlike what you would expect to find in a
barn, it is fully lined with timber planks and there is evidence that it
once had a stove inside. It does not appear to have ever been used as a
stables or for animals and must have been built for another purpose. This
may well have been for the laundry business although there are wide doors
which may come from a later period when it would have been used as a garage.
Also in 1881, George Hope and his family are living in part of the house.
George is related to the Hope family living in Frittenden today and related
to Simmons family by marriage.
In 1891, there appear to only be 3 families living in the house, The Hope
family has grown to include 7 children and the Brooker family is still
running the laundry.
By 1901, the Hope family had moved to Frittenden but the Brooker’s still
have the laundry business and there are now 4 households.
In 1904, the Hoare family again put the estate, including Iden Manor, up for
auction. A copy of the map is included. Fuller House was this time sold. Who
bought the house is not known and there is a gap in the history until 1920.
There was a large amount of renovation work done, probably before the sale.
We know the now distinct windows with the Gothic flavour were installed
around this time. Most of the interior doors and woodwork in the house today
date from this period and it is thought that a major renovation was
completed either prior to or after the sale in 1904. What is certain is the
house would have deteriorated since 1841 and would have required major work
to restore it to good health.