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Simpsons Moat, Bromley

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Simpsons Place; Bromle

In the civil parish of Bromley.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of London Borough of Bromley.
1974 county of Greater London.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ40186881
Latitude 51.40101° Longitude 0.01381°

Simpsons Moat, Bromley has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

Description

Simpson's Place, or Simpson's Manor, Bromley, was a moated house, probably early 15th century, demolished about 1870 to make way for modern buildings. John Simpson, who purchased the house temp. Henry VI, gave his name to it (Clinch). The site of Simpson's Place is now occupied by a Friends Meeting HOUSE. There is no trace of a moat and the position on a hillside just above the valley bottom is unusual. However, the Tithe Map shows a building with a pond rather like the arm of a moat on its E. side, described as "house, mead and pond." (PastScape ref. Field Investigation by CF Wardale 26.5.64)

Simpson is the second seat of account, though in ages of a latter inscription it contracted that name, yet anciently it was the demean of Bankewell, a family of signal repute in this track. John de Bankewell had a charter of free warren to his lands in Bromley, in which this was involved in the thirty first year of Edward the first, and Thomas de Bankewell died seized of it in the thirty fifth year of Edward the third; and when this family was shrunk at this place into a final extinction, the next who were eminent in the possession of it were the Clarks, and one William Clark, that flourished here in the reign of Henry the fifth, that he might not be obnoxious to the statute of kernellatian, obtained license to erect a strong little pile of lime and stone, with an embattled wall encircled with a deep moat, which is supplied and nourished with a living spring; but this man's posterity did not long enjoy it, for about the latter end of Henry the sixth, John Simpson dwelt here by right of purchase, and he having much improved the fabric, settled his name upon it, and indeed that is all that is left to evidence they were once owners of it, for in an age or two after this it was conveyed to John Stiles, Esquire, of Bekenham, from whom descends Sir Humphrey Stiles, knight and baronet, cup-bearer to the late king Charles, and him does Simpson confess for its instant owner. (Philipott)

BROMLEY SIMPSON'S MOAT (Nonexistent) Strictly speaking this was not a castle but a fortified house. It was rectangular in shape, 102 feet long by 45 feet broad, and was surrounded by a deep moat 30 feet wide. The walls were of flint and rubble masonry, with large buttresses at the angles, having facings of dressed stone. Originally it was probably a defensible house of the courtyard type, but about the time of Henry VIII. this was partly pulled down and a timber and brick house erected on the old foundations. The moat was filled up by the last tenant before1815. The house stood in the valley of the Ravensbourne (then a considerable stream), the moat being fed by a small brook, which ran through it on its way to the Ravensbourne. The site was to the south-west of the main road to Sevenoaks, about a quarter of a mile west of the present L. C. & D. Railway Station. Soon after 1815 it ceased to be occupied, and falling gradually to decay, was finally pulled down and the site built over about 1869. In 862 Ethelbert IV., King of Wessex, gave ten carucates of land 3 at Bromley to one of his thegns, and subsequently King Edgar granted about the same amount of land there to the church of Rochester. In 1076 there was a dispute as to the ownership of the manor, and the holding of the Bishop of Rochester was reduced to three sulings (a measure of land only found in Kent, which varied in different manors from 2 to 6 carucates), for which he was duly taxed at the time of Domesday Survey. About 1180 the Bishops of Rochester had converted portions of their land in Bromley into knights' fees held by the usual military service, but in the absence of any evidence to connect this manor (afterwards known as Simpson's) with their estates, it would rather seem that it was not a portion thereof. It appears that a family named de Banquel, who held the manor in 1296, also held a great part of the land comprised in the Saxon Charter of 862, which was not subsequently bestowed upon the church. The de Banquels were great landholders in Lee, Bromley, Beckenham, Hayes, and West Wickham. The family was of considerable importance. William Bonquer, or Banquel, in 1256 was employed by Henry III. to negotiate with the Pope the purchase of the Crown of Sicily for Prince Edmund Crouchback. At a later date, between 1262 and 1265, we find him acting as Sheriff of Norfolk, and a Justice in Eyre for Kent. In 1307-8 John de Banquel is one of the Barons of the Exchequer. In 1305 there is a protection for John de Banquel and William de Bliburgh, who were going beyond the seas on account of the affairs of Edward, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. In the Patent Rolls of the next reign there is a licence to this William de Bliburgh, the King's Clerk, to crenellate his dwelling house at Bromle, Kent. From the connection between de Baquel and de Bliburgh (who was Rector of Bromley about 1310), it is not improbable that this licence may have related to the house afterwards known as Simpson's Moat. In 1302 there is a grant of free warren to Sir John de Banquel and his wife Cecilia, of their demesne lands in Bromley and elsewhere. According to Philipott, their estate passed temp. Henry V. "to one William Clarke, who received a licence to crenellate his house there," but I may say that a careful search among the Rolls has failed to reveal the existence of any reference either to Bromley, or a licence to crenellate there during that reign, nor could Lysons, writing in 1792, find any reference to such a grant among the Records (then kept at the Tower of London), and the licence cannot be assigned to that reign with due certainty.

From the Banquels the estate passed to Sir Richard Stury, the friend of Froissart. There would appear to have been some confusion between the William de Bliburgh, clerk of the earlier reign, and a hypothetical William Clarke of the later one; but in II Edward IV., 1472, Robert Sympson died possessed of this manor, and his descendant Nicholas Sympson (said to have been barber to Henry VIII.) re-built the house, and sold it to the Styles of Langley; yet the name of Simpson's Moat has, despite other changes of the ownership to the Raymonds and Burrells, clung to the place since that date until its extinction in recent times under the advancing tide of suburban brick and mortar. (Sands)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1310 Aug 26 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Philipott and later accounts of the site often refer to a licence to crenellate of Henry V being granted to William Clark for this site. No such licence is enrolled. Quite where this reference comes from is unclear but it is most probably a confusion with the actual enrolled licence granted by Edward II to Willielmus de Bliburgh, clericus (William Blibugh, clerk) in 1310. It should be remembered when Philipott was working the rolls may have been in some state of disorder and that he would have seen these rolls in the confines of the Tower of London, possibly not in good light. It is unlikely to be a lost record.
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This record last updated 16/07/2016 10:40:26

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