GOODNESTON, GENERALLY called, and known by the name of GUNSTON, lies the next parish south-eastward from Wingham. It is usually written in antient records, Godwineston, which name it took from earl Godwine, once owner of it.

GUNSTON is situated exceedingly healthy and pleasant, in a fine dry and open champaign country, of upland hill and dale. The soil is fertile, though in general inclined to chalk; the lands are mostly arable, open and uninclosed, having a few small inclosures scattered among them, especially about Gunston house, and the village, where it is well cloathed with elms. The village, which contains about thirty houses, stands, with the church, in the southern part of it, having Gunston-house and park adjoining to it, which, though small in extent, and commanding but little, if any prospect beyond the bounds of it, is a beautiful and elegant situation. At the northern boundary of the parish is the hamlet of Twitham, part only of which is in it; beyond which, at Brook, (the parish of Wingham intervening) is a small district of land within this parish. At the eastern boundary of it is the hamlet and street of Rolling, in which is a small seat, belonging to Sir Brook William Bridges, which a few years ago was in the occupation of Thomas Knight, esq. of Godmersham, and afterwards of Edward Austen, esq. It is now the residence of George Dering, esq. At some distance still further eastward from which there is another small district of land in it, entirely surrounded by the parish of Norborne.

A fair is held here for cattle and pedlary, on the 25th of September, yearly.

The MANOR OF GOODNESTON, which before the Norman conquest, was part of the possessions of Godwine, earl of Kent, at whose death it probably came to his son king Harold, and after the battle of Hastings, to the Conqueror; after which it appears to have been held by a family who took their surname from it, one of whom, Thomas de Goodwyneston, held it of the archbishop in king Henry III.’s reign, and in this family, (who bore for their arms, Sable, three martlets, between seven cross-croslets, argent; as they were formerly painted in the windows of this church) it continued down to William de Goodneston, who did homage for it to archbishop Warham at the beginning of king Henry VIII.’s reign. After which it seems to have been divided, and the manor itself, with part of the demesne lands, to have passed into the name of Henecre; and the mansion, with the rest of the demesne lands, by Edith, daughter and heir of William Goodneston, in marriage to Vincent Engeham, who afterwards resided here. The antient residence of this family of Edingham, called Engeham by contraction, was at Engeham, in Woodchurch. They divided into three branches, settled at Woodchurch, Great Chart, and Goodneston. They bore for their arms, Argent, a chevron, sable, between three pellets, on a chief, gules, a lion passant-guardant, or John Henecre, of Good neston, as appears by his will, died possessed of this manor in 1559, and gave it to William, son of his brother Nicholas, who sold it to Sir Thomas Engeham, grandson of Vincent before-mentioned, and possessor of the mansion, and other part of the lands of it, so that he then became possessed of the whole of it, held in capite, and it continued in his descendants down to Sir Thomas Engeham, of Goodneston, who about the reign of queen Anne, alienated it, with the appropriation, to Brook Bridges, esq. descended from John Bridges, who was of Worcestershire, at the latter end of queen Elizabeth’s reign, whose great-grandson Col. John Bridges, of Warwickshire, left two sons, John, and Brook, the former of whom was of Barton Seagrave, in Northamptonshire, esq. the eldest of whose sons, John Bridges, esq. of that place, wrote the history of that county; Brook Bridges, esq. the second son of Col. John Bridges, was of Grove, in Middlesex, auditor of the imprest in king Charles II.’s reign, and purchaser of Goodnestone, which seat he rebuilt, and dying in 1717, was buried in the chancel of this church, bearing for his arms, Azure, three water bougets, or, within a bordure, ermine. Brook Bridges, esq. his eldest son, succeeded him at Goodneston, and was created a baronet on April 19, 1718, anno 4 George I. and was for many years one of the auditors of the imprest of the treasury, and was twice married, first to Margaret, daughter of Robert, lord Romney, by whom he had no issue; but by his second wife Mary, second daughter of Sir Thomas Hales, bart. of Bekesborne, he left a son Brook, and a daughter Margaret, married to John Plumptree, esq. He died in 1728, and was succeeded by his only son Sir Brook Bridges, bart of Goodneston, sheriff in 1733, in which year he died, having married Elizabeth, eldest surviving daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas Palmer, bart. of Wingham, (who afterwards remarried Charles Fielding, esq. brother to the earl of Denbigh, by whom she had a son Charles). At the death of Sir Brook she was pregnant, and was some months afterwards delivered of a son, the late Sir Brook Bridges, bart. who represented this county in two successive parliaments. He rebuilt this seat, and new laid out the park in the improved modern taste, having married Fanny, only daughter and heir of Edmund Fowler, esq. of Danbury, in Essex, by whom he had five sons and six daughters, of whom, Brook the eldest son, died at Eton school in 1781; William, the second son, after his brother’s death, by the archbishop’s licence, took the Christian name of Brook likewise, and Brook Henry, the third son, is rector of Danbury, in Essex; of the daughters, Fanny, the eldest, married Lewis Cage, esq. Sophia, the second, married William Deedes, esq. and Elizabeth, the third, married Edward Austen, esq. of Godmersham. Sir Brook Bridges died in 1791, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son the present Sir Brook Wm. Bridges, bart. who is the possessor of this manor, with the seat, park, and appropriation of the church of Goodneston. A court baron is held for this manor.

Text: The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent (Volume 9) ( 1800) by Edward Hasted

Map: Section from Kent from A New and Correct Atlas by John Cary.

Jane Austen References

Jane Austen’s sister in law,Elizabeth the wife of Edward Austen Knight, and daughter of Sir Brook Bridges, 3rd Baronet and Fanny daughter of Edmund Fowler of Essex  was born at Goodnestone Park, where she lived till her marriage.

Link to external website: Goodnestone Park Gardens

The Letters

Letter to Cassandra Austen 5th September 1796

Letter to Cassandra Austen 15th September 1796

Letter to Cassandra Austen 25th January 1801

Letter to Cassandra Austen 24th August 1805

Letter to Cassandra Austen 27th August 1805

Letter to Cassandra Austen 30th August 1805

Letter to Cassandra Austen 20th June 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen 26th June 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen 15th October 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen 20th November 1808

Letter to Cassandra 30th April 1811

Letter to Cassandra Austen 23rd April 1813

Letter to Francis Austen 25th September 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen 14th October 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen 3rd November 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen 6th November 1813

Letter to Fanny Knight 18th November 1814

Letter to Cassandra Austen 24th November 1815

Letter to Fanny Knight 20th February 1817

Letter to Fanny Knight 1817