Old Wilsley

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Cranbrook, Kent, Englandmap
Surname/tag: Weston
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13:49: Chris Weston edited the Text on Old Wilsley. (Formatting.) [Thank Chris for this]
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Co-ordination of references to Old Wilsley near Cranbrook in Kent. Please feel free to add historical information, pictures, etc.

The following timeline has been created in the hope of clarifying Weston ownership and descent of Old Wilsley, but any events connected with the property should be added to it.


1569: Anne, probably the owner of or heir to Old Wilsley, widow of Richard Courthope married Rev Thomas Lawes.[1]

1594: Thomas Lawes left Wilsley in Cranbrook to his daughter Katherine and her husband clothier William Sheafe.[1]

In 1616, Edmund Sheafe received the house he was dwelling in at Upper Wylsley (Cranbrook) in the will of his uncle, William Sheaf (1564-1616). [2]

9 Nov 1669: It is presumed that John Weston purchased Old Wilsley from Edmund's son Harman Sheafe[1] about the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Hovenden.[3]

Late 1600s: According to Christopher Hussey, Wilsley was originally a 15th-century hall house, owned by a succession of Cranbrook clothiers between the late 1400s and the late 1600s. The house consists of two parallel timber framed ranges, separated by a small inner court. The division of the hall and the insertion of the chimneys is thought to have taken place in about 1530, with the oriel window and the panelling of the main rooms added about 1600. In the late 1600s, John Weston, the last of the Cranbrook clothiers to live at Wilsley, added the casement windows in the gable wings and remodelled the ground and first floors of the north wing. A series of delightful painted panels in the former chapel, now known as the Painted Room, dates from this period.[4]

18 Aug 1693: Thomas Weston inherited Old Wilsley on his father John Weston's death.[5]

After 1721: The George Inn had belonged to "Thomas Tipping, whose Widow Mary disposed of it to John Weston of Wilsley, one of the last of the clothiers in the town."[6]

1737: Captain John Weston inherited Old Wilsley on his father Thomas Weston's death.[7]

9 Sep 1754: Captain John Weston left Old Wilsley to his widow Elizabeth during her lifetime and thereafter to his son Lieut. John Weston and his heirs.[8]

23 Jun 1765: Lieut. John Weston made provision for his father's youngest children, Elizabeth, Jane, George and William, all born after the date of their father's will, by leaving them the Cranbrook property, including Old Wilsley in his own will.[8]

29 Jul 1770: Death of Lieut. John Weston.[9]

1786: On the death of Elizabeth Weston, widow of Captain John Weston, Old Wilsley passed to their younger children including William Weston.[10]

1798: At Upper Wilsley, which is a small hamlet almost adjoining to the north-east end of the town, is a seat, for several generations inhabited by the Westons, several of whom lie buried in Cranbrooke church yard, though some of their inscriptions are obliterated through length of time. They bore for their arms, Three lions heads, erased and crowned. John Weston, clotheir, resided here, and died possessed of it in 1694. John Weston, gent. his grandson, died possessed of it a few years ago, whose widow, is become entitled to the possession of it, for her life, and now resides in it.[11]

13 Mar 1815: On the death of William Weston, Old Wilsley passed to his son Frederick Bowles Weston.[12][13]

2 Mar 1816: On the death of Frederick Bowles Weston, Old Wilsley passed to his elder brother William Weston.[14]

9 Mar 1838: On the death of William Weston, a life interest in Old Wilsley passed to his wife Louisa Beale.[15]

17 Jan 1856: On the death of Louisa Weston Old Wilsley passed to her husband's four sons and their male heirs thereafter.[15][16]

1857: Julia (Dearn) Weston (later the wife of George Dann), the widow of William Beale Weston sold Old Wilsley to brewer Robert Tooth esq. of Great Swifts.[1]

1863: The house was let to the Cranbrook Colony artist George Bernard O'Neill, who featured the house in many of his works. The hall, with its distinctive panelling and bay window, for example, is the setting of "The Squire's Party".[1]

1871: Old Wilsley was purchased by retired Col. Boyd Alexander and in 1906 his son Herbert exhibited a painting of the house entitle 'My home'. The house remained in the family until 2006.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Planning Services. "Old Wilsley, Cranbrook" Pp 6-7. Kent Gardens Trust. Accessed 27 Jun 2020.
  2. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013), Ancestry.com, The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 129. Record for William Sheaffe. Ancestry Record CanturburyPrerogativeCourt #901791
  3. "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NNZ7-S4W : 10 December 2014), John Weston and Elizab. Hovenden, 09 Nov 1669; citing Marden, Kent, England, reference item 3, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,751,979.
  4. Country Life, 13-Apr-2006, The Perfect Setting for a Summer’s Dream
  5. Tomb in Cranbrook churchyard
  6. The Inns of Cranbrook, C. C. R. Pile, Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Local History Society, Dec 1953,
  7. "England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JC67-TY6 : 24 December 2014), Thomas Weston, burial 06 Dec 1737; citing Cranbrook Parish, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 2,228,372.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The National Archives, Kew: PROB 11/911/169
  9. The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 40
  10. England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991
  11. Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Cranbrooke', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (Canterbury, 1798), pp. 90-113
  12. The National Archives, Kew: PROB 11/1569/82
  13. Kentish Weekly Pos of Canterbury Journal, 24 March 1815, p. 4
  14. Cranbrook churchyard inscriptions
  15. 15.0 15.1 The National Archives, Kew: PROB 11/1893/76
  16. The Friends of St Dunstan’s (FOSTD). The Churchyard at St Dunstan’s, Cranbrook, Kent: Inscriptions 1608-1935, (Owlett/Awford, version 1, March 2013). www.fostd.org, accessed 30 Jan 2018]

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