Marchants have long been spread over Kent and Sussex, those at Matfield said to have come from Peasmarsh near Rye. As far back as Edward II’s reign Marchants figure in the list of Rye’s mayors. On the family coat are three scallops, which may indicate that an ancestor undertook the pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.
Robert Marchant, father of Thomas (the builder), was farming at Burrs Hill, Horsmonden, on the other side of Brenchley during the early years of the eighteenth century and Thomas was probably the Steward (equivalent of Land Agent) to the Bolds who owned a great deal of land around Marden, Linton and near Maidstone. It is said Thomas married Mary within the Fleet Prison, as it was a cheaper way to marry in those days. Mary being an orphan daughter of a neighbour John Bold of Pattenden, who died in 1719.
Thomas was 26 years old and Mary 18, and it was probably Mary who defrayed the greater part of the expense of building Matfield House, for on a table tomb by the yews in Brenchley churchyard, it is recorded of her that, “instead of Pride she was endowed with Riches, Beauty, Industry and Good Nature”.
Mary Bold’s coat of arms shield is displayed above a door in the landing. It is in fact, the wrong way around by convention. The Fleur de lis ought to be on the right dexter, as this is the coat of arms of Mary Bold's mother - Mary Dennis.
The otherside sinister is the Bold (Bold or Bowld) coat of arms, that is, the one of Mary Bold's father. As it is presented, it would be the coat of arms of Mary's parents. It is thought that Thomas Marchant & Mary decided that it was appropriate in this form, to reflect that Matfield House was built largely with Mary's money.
Mary bore her husband no children, so on Thomas’s death in 1768 it was Bold Marchant (son of his second wife Eleanor Taylor) who succeeded and lived until 1814. Both Thomas’s successors, Thomas Bold Marchant and his grandson Stephen Walter Marchant resided at Matfield, but it was tenanted by Mr Eric Hubbard during the first half of the C20th when in the ownership of Frank Marchant - the well-known Kent cricketer - and his younger brother Walter (who bought Matfield House from him), the great-great-grandson of Thomas the builder.
Mr & Mrs Lionel Moore acquired the house in 1952 from the Marchant family and Sir William Garthwaite Bt DSC and Bar (of the well known ship owning family) purchased the house in 1960. His son John and wife Sarah, who bought Matfield House in 2011, have carried out substantial repairs and renovations to the house and the gardens, which are still continuing.
Matfield has the largest village green in Kent. The name is derived from the Anglo Saxon feld meaning large clearing and from the farm run by Matta hence Mattafeld. More of the history can be seen on Kent Village Net.
The Brenchley and Matfield Local History Society website aims to provide information about what you can find in and around the two villages of Brenchley and Matfield. It is a useful repository of background information if you are thinking of visiting us.
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 30 August 1940, air ace Fl/Lt C R Davis was killed on 6 September when his Hurricane P3363 UF-W was shot down by a Bf109, crashing into the garden of Canterbury Cottage, adjacent Matfield House. Further detail may be seen in the Intelligence Report.