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"PENSHURST, a parish in the hundred of Somerden, lathe of Sutton-at-Hone, county Kent, 6½ miles W. of Tunbridge Wells, its post town. It is a station on the South-Eastern railway. The village is situated at the confluence of the rivers Medway and Eden. It is chiefly agricultural; but a considerable number of the inhabitants are employed in the making of cricket bats and balls, and in the paper manufacture. The land, which is in a high state of cultivation, is partly in hop grounds. At a short distance from the village is Penshurst Place, an embattled mansion, erected at various periods,  ... The mansion, after having belonged to various illustrious personages, including the Lord Mayor Poultney, the good Duke Humphrey, the Earl of Stafford, and others, was given by Edward VI. to Sir William Sidney, whose descendants, Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Philip Sidney, the patriotic Algernon Sidney, and the charming Dorothea, celebrated by Waller under the name of "Sacharissa," were all born here. The present proprietor is Lord de L'Isle and Dudley, a lineal descendant of the Sidneys. The other seats in the parish are. South Park, of Viscount Hardinge, Red Leaf, and Ford Place. At White Port in this parish the line of the South-Eastern railway passes through a short tunnel of 25 feet in diameter. Penshurst gives the inferior title of baron to the family of Smythe, Viscounts Strangford. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £1,020, and the glebe comprises 36 acres. The living is a rectory with the curacy of St. Peter annexed, in the diocese of Canterbury, value £766. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a structure of the 13th century, with three chancels, and a pinnacled tower containing a clock and six bells. The interior of the church contains a private chapel, under which are the remains of Algernon Sidney, who was beheaded in 1683. There are several brasses and tombs to the same family, also effigies of a Penchester. The church has recently been restored at the expense of G. Gilbert, Esq., and several painted windows have been inserted at the expense of the Misses Sidney, to the late Lord de L'Isle; also the E. end window to the late rector, by George Gilbert, Esq. The register dates from 1600. The parochial charities produce about £3 per annum, besides five almshouses, erected by the late Sir Shelley Sidney. There is a National school for both sexes. The Baptists have a place of worship. In the neighbourhood are remains of a Roman fortification."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 by Colin Hinson ©2010]

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