Badsell Manor under the ownership of the de Clares

We know from the Doomsday book that Richard of Tonbridge held Tudeley from Bishop Odo but one should not think of him as a humble tenant; he was a very important man, the son of Count Gilbert of Brion and as a result the grandson of Richard 1, Duke of Normandy. As a relative of William the Bastard he fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In those times people did not have a surname in the way that we have them today. The second part of their name would simply be a way of identifying them from someone with an identical first name and would typically be a description of their occupation or the place where they lived. As an important landed man Richard was known by a number of different names including Richard de Bienfaite, Richard de Clare and Richard FitzGilbert.

At the time of Doomsday, Richard possessed one hundred and eighty eight manors and burgages, most of which he acquired as a result of his kinship and support for William the Conqueror. Interestingly though, this was not the case with Tonbridge. Richard’s father, Count Gilbert, had been murdered by assassins when he was riding in Eshafour, apparently in an act of vengence for wrongs inflicted on the family of the murderers. Afraid that they would meet their father’s fate, Richard and his brother sought the protection of the Count of Flanders. In the meantime Duke William appropriated their properties, including those of Bienfaite and Orbec, owned by Richard. When in 1053 William married Matilda of Flanders he, at her behest, restored the brothers’ lands to them. After the Norman Conquest, Richard came to an agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury, to exchange his properties at Bienfaite for those in Tonbridge. To ensure that the exchLike father, like son, Gilbert was present and possibly involved in the death of William the Second, ten years later. Whilst the official version of the King’s demise was that it was a simple hunting accident, this is a controversial story. On the second of August in 1100 William went out hunting from Brokenhurst in the New Forest. In the party were the King’s younger brother Henry, Gilbert de Clare, his brother Roger de Clare and their brother in law Walter Tirel. During the hunt the King and Walter became separated from the rest of the group. The story goes that Walter fired an arrow at a stag, but missed and hit the King in the chest. King William died and Walter escaped to France, never to return to England. William’s brother, Henry, abandoning the late monarch’s body, rushed to Winchester and seized the treasury. Supported by Gilbert and Roger de Clare, Henry was crowned King of England three days later, on 5 August. The new Henry I generously rewarded the Clare family. Whilst Walter Tyrol never returned to England he was never pursued and his son was allowed to keep the family estates – all very suspicious!

Gilbert, believed to have been born in 1065, married Alice de Clermont. Together they had various children and it was another Richard that was to inherit Tonbridge and therefore the land that encompasses Badsell. Richard de Clare (not to be confused with his nephew ‘Strongbow’) was created the 1st Earl of Hertford, by King Stephen. Born in 1094, he married Alice the daughter of the First Earl of Chester. They had five children.
ange was fair, the land around the Castle of Brionne was measured using a rope. The rope was then transported to England and used to measure an equivalent area around Tonbridge so that exactly the same number of miles was allocated to the new estate. Quite how the system of measurement worked we do not know, but one wonders if anyone pointed out that this system would only work if both estates were the same shape.

When Bishop Odo’s possessions were confiscated by the Crown in 1083, Richard of Tonbridge retained control of his estates even though it is believed that he was involved in Odo’s conspiracy. In the higher echelons of society only the strong survived and plotting and betrayal were common. Richard was no better than most and was a leading participant in the Bishop’s subsequent uprising against the Conqueror’s successor his unpopular third son William Rufus, William the Second, in 1088. He was probably exiled to Normandy with the other rebellion
leaders. As a result of this second insurrection the timber and mud built Tonbridge Castle, constructed by Richard of Tonbridge after the conquest, was raised to the ground. Somehow the family managed to retain the ownership of their lands. Richard is believed to have died around 1090 and was succeeded in England by his son Gilbert.

Tonbridge Castle mound

The mound that was the original mote for Tunbridge Castle

Like father, like son, Gilbert was present and possibly involved in the death of William the Second, ten years later. Whilst the official version of the King’s demise was that it was a simple hunting accident, this is a controversial story. On the second of August in 1100 William went out hunting from Brokenhurst in the New Forest. In the party were the King’s younger brother Henry, Gilbert de Clare, his brother Roger de Clare and their brother in law Walter Tirel. During the hunt the King and Walter became separated from the rest of the group. The story goes that Walter fired an arrow at a stag, but missed and hit the King in the chest. King William died and Walter escaped to France, never to return to England. William’s brother, Henry, abandoning the late monarch’s body, rushed to Winchester and seized the treasury. Supported by Gilbert and Roger de Clare, Henry was crowned King of England three days later, on 5 August. The new Henry I generously rewarded the Clare family. Whilst Walter Tyrol never returned to England he was never pursued and his son was allowed to keep the family estates – all very suspicious!

Gilbert, believed to have been born in 1065, married Alice de Clermont. Together they had various children and it was another Richard that was to inherit Tonbridge and therefore the land that encompasses Badsell. Richard de Clare (not to be confused with his nephew ‘Strongbow’) was created the 1st Earl of Hertford, by King Stephen. Born in 1094, he married Alice the daughter of the First Earl of Chester. They had five children.

de clare crest

Richard was killed by the Welsh Chieftain Howorth and his brother in Abergavenny, on 15 April 1136. Ambushed in a woody tract called the ‘ill-way of Coed Grano’ near the Abbey of Lanthony, the attack precipitated military action in Wales. On his death Richard was succeeded by his eldest son Gilbert, who became the 2nd Earl of Hertford.

Little is known about Gilbert. Born in 1115 by the time of his death in 1153, at the age of 38, he had no surviving male issue and as a result he was succeeded by his younger brother Roger, who became the 3rd Earl of Hertford. Roger was just a year younger than Gilbert and was born in Tonbridge. Very active both militarily and politically he spent much time in Wales defending his estates there. Additionally he is known to have travelled to Le Mans and Rouen. His importance is evidenced by the fact that he was one of the ‘Recognisers’ of the Constitutions of Clarendon and was also was one of the Commissioners for Kent and other parts of the south of England. In July 1163 he was summoned by Thomas a Becket, the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury to do homage in his capacity of steward to the Archbishops of Canterbury for the castle of Tunbridge. There is a colourful story that says that Roger made the unfortunate courier eat Becket’s words – literally, seals and all! This proposed homage would have included the estates of Badsell Manor. Roger refused, as we now know quite correctly, based on the grounds that he held his lands of the King, not the Archbishop. Not surprisingly Henry II supported his Earl. However this was a dispute which was to continue long after Roger de Clare’s lifetime and directly involved Badsell Manor.

Roger married Matilda a daughter of James de St. Hilary. They had seven children, the second of which was Richard, born in Tonbridge in 1162. On Roger’s death in 1173 Richard succeeded his father as 6th Earl of Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford when he was just twenty. Like his ancestors he was to become an influential man. Ten years after becoming the Earl in 1183, he obtained control of Glamorgan, the largest and the most important of the Welsh Marcher Lordships.

In 1215 the barons rebelled against the unpopular King John. One of the leaders of the rebellion was Richard. The King, having little support was soon defeated and the Magna Carta was signed at Runnymead on 12 June of that year. A small group of Barons were charged with ensuring that the Magna Carta was abided with and both Richard de Clare and his thirty three year old son, Gilbert, were part of this group. King John was not a man to accept defeat lightly. Appealing to Pope Innocent III for help, the leaders of the insurrection were excommunicated and in November 1215 the Kings troops seized Tonbridge Castle.
Richard died in 1217, a year after King John. He was succeeded by his son Gilbert, who soon recovered Tonbridge from Henry III. Perhaps suddenly conscious of the need to perpetuate the family line, Gilbert married Isabell Marshall six months later. They had two children, the older of which, yet another Richard, was born in 1222. A couple of years later Gilbert, now fully reconciled to the Crown, inherited his Grandmother’s estates and became the most powerful magnate in England. He helped Henry III win back land lost in France by King John and was killed fighting in Brittany in 1230. His eight year old son, Richard, inherited his lands and titles.