Scot's Hall (or Scott's Hall) was a country house in Smeeth, between Ashford and Folkestone in southeast England. It was the property of a gentry family, the Scotts. The first known resident was Sir John Scott (born 1436), who married Caroline Carter.
From the beginning of the fourteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, the Scotts, who were the descendants of the Baliols, were influential in Kent, also owning Chilham Castle. Scott's Hall was the centre of the dynasty and there was a time when one could ride from Scot's Hall to London without leaving Scott Property,a journey of over fifty miles. During the reign of Elizabeth I, it was described as one of the most splendid houses in Kent. Samuel Pepys was a regular visitor in the seventeenth century: the contemporary owner, Sir Thomas Scott, married Caroline Carteret, daughter of Pepys' friend and colleague, Sir George Carteret. With his keen nose for gossip, Pepys noted that Thomas' right to inherit the estate was debatable: his parents were separated, and his father for a time refused to acknowledge any of his wife's children, although he ultimately did acknowledge Thomas as his son.
Scott's Hall at its current location is one of the oldest houses in Smeeth and has a long and fascinating history. It is not possible to say exactly when the first Scott's Hall at this location was built but there is certainly evidence to suggest that it replaced an old medieval house and was here in 1429 when the Scot family moved into it from the nearby village of Braborne (sic). At some point it must have been destroyed by fire because a second Scot's Hall was re-built in 1491. James Renat Scott, in his book "Memorials of the family of Scott, of Scot's-hall, In the county of Kent"published in 1876, surmises that this must have been one of the most magnificent manorial residences in the county. A map dated 1590, currently on show in the Tower of London, demonstrates the position of Scott's Hall and its gardens over a large area centred on the current location. There is also a map in Ashford Museum which shows the hall, with the legend "Scots Hall, Mrs Scot". However, a third fire resulted in its destruction once more which necessitated yet another Scot's Hall being re-built in 1634. A drawing of the house shown in Renat's book illustrates a huge dwelling with many rooms and large grounds. Records from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I describe Scots Hall as one of the most splendid houses in Kent and Samuel Pepys was apparently a regular visitor to Scots Hall during the C17th. It was claimed that it was possible to ride a horse all the way to London from Scots Hall (over 50 miles) without once leaving grounds which were owned by the wealthy Scot family.
Towards the end of the C18th the financial fortunes of the Scot family began to decline and it had to be sold to Sir John Honeywell in 1784. The new owner also struggled with the upkeep and the enormous house fell into disrepair. In 1808 the once magnificent building was finally taken down due to decay and now little remains of the original building except the site, the name and a few other hidden secrets. There is evidence of the old stone walls in at least three places around the gardens of the current Scott's Hall, which indicate the sheer size of the former building. The current Scott's Hall, which was rebuilt in the early C19th, is very much smaller than the original but one wall on the east of the house appears to be from an earlier building as the Jacobean bricks have been left in situ and align perfectly with another ancient wall further up the garden. There is also an old well in the garden with pipes leading up to the house which still holds water. At some point the lath and plaster in the entrance hall of the house was removed, uncovered beams which have been dated to the C14th, though it is possible that they were originally ships' beams that have been repurposed. There is also Jacobean panelling in the main hall of the house.
The ancient Scot family themselves claimed to be the descendants of the Norman family of Balliol and through them the kings of Scotland from Malcolm were descended. William Scot was the brother of the King of Scotland and for a time the family wrote their surname as de Balliol de Scot. Diplomatically, William later dropped the de Balliol part of his name in order to avoid the anger of King Edward of England, retaining only that of Scot. It is recorded that John de Balliol was born at Durham in 1208 but, following a land dispute with the Bishop of Durham which he lost, he agreed to pay penance by providing funds for schools in Oxford. After his death, his wife established Balliol college in Oxford. One of his grandsons, John le Scot, married Caroline Carter and thereafter moved to Kent and eventually Scott's Hall. For nearly four hundred years the Scot family held considerable influence over Kent and had positions at court according to their rank. John le Scot was a committed supporter of the House of York and, along with many of his descendants, is buried at St Mary's Church in Brabourne where they had originally briefly settled when they first came to Kent.
Little evidence remains of how well the Scot family got on together, except amongst the Deeds four letters were found dated 26 February, 13 March, 16 April, and July 1779. These are all from a Cecilia Scot who was married to Francis Scot, who were the last Scots to reside at Scott's Hall. The letters are addressed to her uncle William (1713-1803) who was said to be quite a wealthy man, begging his help to leave an unhappy marriage and escape from a man she clearly didn't love; sadly no help seems to have come from him so Cecilia had to remain with her husband.
William Scott (d.1434) married Isabel Finch (died c.1457), youngest daughter of Vincent Finch (alias Herbert), of Netherfield, Sussex. His son and heir was John Scott (c.1423-1485) of Scot's Hall. His daughter Joan Scott married Thomas Yerde of Denton Court and the manor of Tappington in Kent and East Cheam in Surrey. Thomas Yerde’s mother was Anne Courtenay daughter of Hugh Courtenay, 4th Earl of Devonshire.
John Scott (c.1423-1485) of Scot's Hall was a committed supporter of the House of York. Among other offices, he served as Comptroller of the Household to Edward IV, and lieutenant to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He was the son of William Scott (d.1434) and Isabel Finch (died c.1457), youngest daughter of Vincent Finch, or Herbert, of Netherfield, Sussex. He married Agnes Beaufitz (d.1486/7), daughter and co-heiress of William Beaufitz (alias Bewfice) of The Grange, Gillingham, Kent, and likely also a fishmonger of London, by whom he had a son and two daughters including:
Sir William Scott (1459-1524) of Scot's Hall in Smeeth, Kent was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He was the son of Sir John Scott and Agnes Beaufitz, daughter and co-heiress of William Beaufitz. He married Sibyl Lewknor, the daughter of Sir Thomas Lewknor (d.1484) of Trotton, Sussex, and Katherine Pelham (d.1481), widow of John Bramshott (d.1468), and daughter of Sir John Pelham, Chamberlain to Queen Catherine of Valois. His son and heir was Sir John Scott (d.1533), who married Anne Pympe. He was buried at Brabourne, where there is a memorial brass to him in the Scott chapel in St Mary's church.
Sir John Scott (c. 1484 – 7 October 1533) was the eldest son of Sir William Scott of Scot's Hall. He served in King Henry VIII's campaigns in France, and was active in local government in Kent and Burgess of New Romney. He was the grandfather of both Reginald Scot, author of The Discoverie of Witchcraft , a source for Shakespeare's Macbeth , and Thomas Keyes, who married Lady Mary Grey. He married, before 22 November 1506, Anne Pympe, daughter and heiress of Reynold Pympe, esquire, of Nettlestead, Kent, by Elizabeth Pashley, the daughter of John Pashley, esquire.Sir John Scott and Anne Pympe had five sons and seven daughters:
Sir Reginald (or Reynold) Scott (1512–15 December 1554), Sheriff of Kent in 1541–42 and Captain of Calais and Sangatte, who married firstly Emeline Kempe, the daughter of Sir William Kempe of Olantigh, Kent, by Eleanor Browne, the daughter of Sir Robert Browne, by whom he was the father of Sir Thomas Scott (1535–30 December 1594) and two daughters, Katherine Scott, who married John Baker (c.1531–1604×6), by whom she was the mother of Richard Baker, and Anne Scott, who married Walter Mayney. Sir Reginald Scott married secondly Mary Tuke, the daughter of Sir Brian Tuke.
Sir Thomas Scott (1535–1594) (son of Sir Reginald Scott (1512–1554)) of Scot's Hall in Kent, was an English Member of Parliament (MP). He married three times:
Sir John Scott (1570-1616), of Scot's Hall and of Nettlestead Place in Kent, was an English soldier, Member of Parliament (MP) and an early investor in the Colony of Virginia. He married twice, but had no issue:
Sir Thomas Wyatt was a 16th-century English politician, ambassador, and lyric poet credited with introducing the sonnet to English literature. He was born at Allington Castle near Maidstone in Kent, though the family was originally from Yorkshire. His family adopted the Lancastrian side in the Wars of Roses. His mother was Anne Skinner, and his father Henry, who had earlier been imprisoned and tortured by Richard III, had been a Privy Councillor of Henry VII and remained a trusted adviser when Henry VIII ascended the throne in 1509. Thomas followed his father to court after his education at St John's College, Cambridge. Entering the King's service, he was entrusted with many important diplomatic missions. In public life his principal patron was Thomas Cromwell, after whose death he was recalled from abroad and imprisoned (1541). Though subsequently acquitted and released, shortly thereafter he died. His poems were circulated at court and may have been published anonymously in the anthology The Court of Venus during his lifetime, but were not published under his name until after his death; the first major book to feature and attribute his verse was Tottel's Miscellany (1557), printed 15 years after his death.
Sir William Brandon of Soham, Cambridgeshire was Henry Tudor's standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, where he was killed by King Richard III. He was the father of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.
Sir William Scott of Scot's Hall in Smeeth, Kent was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
Sir John Scott of Scot's Hall in Smeeth was a Kent landowner, and committed supporter of the House of York. Among other offices, he served as Comptroller of the Household to Edward IV, and lieutenant to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
John de Balliol was an English nobleman, belonging to the House of Balliol. Balliol College, in Oxford, is named after him.
Eleanor Maltravers, or Mautravers, was an English noblewoman. The granddaughter and eventual heiress of the first Baron Maltravers, she married two barons in succession and passed her grandfather's title to her grandson.
Leonard Digges was a well-known English mathematician and surveyor, credited with the invention of the theodolite, and a great populariser of science through his writings in English on surveying, cartography, and military engineering. His birth date is variously suggested as c.1515 or c.1520.
Reginald Scot was an Englishman and Member of Parliament, the author of The Discoverie of Witchcraft, which was published in 1584. It was written against the belief in witches, to show that witchcraft did not exist. Part of its content exposes how feats of magic were done, and the book is often deemed the first textbook on conjuring.
Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, P.C. was the youngest son of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond. He was attainted, but restored by Henry VII's first Parliament in November 1485, and the statutes made at Westminster, by Edward IV, which declared him and his brothers traitors, were abrogated.
Sir Christopher Willoughby, de jure10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, was heir to his second cousin, Joan Welles, 9th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, in her own right Lady Willoughby, as well as great-grandson and heir male to William Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby de Eresby. Christopher Willoughby was also heir to his elder brother, Robert Willoughby, who died unmarried and underage on 24 March 1467. He was unable to enjoy his inherited title as a result of the attainders of his cousin Joan Welles' father, Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles, and brother, Robert Welles, 8th Baron Willoughby de Eresby.
John (III) de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray was an English peer. He was slain near Constantinople while en route to the Holy Land.
Sir Thomas Knyvett, of Buckenham, Norfolk was a young English nobleman who was a close associate of King Henry VIII shortly after that monarch came to the throne. According to Hall's Chronicle, Knyvett was a frequent participant in the jousts and pageants of the new king's glittering court and was made Henry's Master of the Horse in 1510.
Sir William Boleyn of Blickling Hall in Norfolk and Hever Castle in Kent, was a wealthy and powerful landowner who served as Sheriff of Kent in 1489 and as Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1500. He was the father of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, whose daughter was Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.
Thomas Smythe or Smith of London, Ashford and Westenhanger, Kent was the collector of customs duties in London during the Tudor period, and a member of parliament for five English constituencies. His son and namesake, Sir Thomas Smythe, was the first governor of the East India Company, treasurer of the Virginia Company, and an active supporter of the Virginia colony.
Sir Thomas Grey or Gray of Heaton Castle in the parish of Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, was the son of Sir Thomas Grey, an eminent soldier in the Anglo-Scottish wars in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, and his wife, Agnes de Bayles. He was the author of the English chronicle, the Scalacronica.
Sir Thomas Scott, of Scot's Hall in Kent, was an English Member of Parliament (MP).
Sir Richard Guildford, KG was an explorer, naval commander, and English courtier who held important positions at the court of Henry VII, including the office of Master of the Ordnance.
Sir Christopher Danby MP JP, of Farnley, Masham, and Thorp Perrow, Yorkshire, of St. Paul's Cray, Kent, and of Kettleby, Lincolnshire, and of Nayland, Suffolk, was an English politician.
Sir John Scott was the eldest son of Sir William Scott of Scot's Hall. He served in King Henry VIII's campaigns in France, and was active in local government in Kent and a Member of Parliament for New Romney. He was the grandfather of both Reginald Scott, author of The Discoverie of Witchcraft, a source for Shakespeare's Macbeth, and Thomas Keyes, who married Lady Mary Grey.
Sir John Scott, of Scot's Hall and of Nettlestead Place in Kent, was an English soldier, Member of Parliament (MP) and an early investor in the Colony of Virginia. The second son of Sir Thomas Scott, he served as captain of a band of lancers in the English army in the Netherlands, and in 1588 was knighted for his services. In 1597 he commanded a ship in the expedition to the Azores. In 1601, Scott was implicated in Essex's Rebellion but succeeded in clearing himself, and in the same year was a parliamentary candidate for Kent in 1601. He was unsuccessful on this first attempt, but was elected its MP in the Parliament of 1604 and for Maidstone in the Addled Parliament of 1614. He became a member of the Council for Virginia in 1607, the year when that colony was re-established, subscribing £75, and was a councillor of the Virginia Company of London in 1609. He died in 1616 and was buried at Brabourne in Kent.
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