Arms of Henry Heydon and his wife Ann, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Bulleyne
(Kadwell Portfolio, Bromley Historic Collections)
Lawyer, landowner, Justice of Peace, knighted
The Heydon family was based in Norfolk and accumulated their wealth and prestige during the 15th century.
Henry Heydon bought the manors of West Wickham and Baston the year after the birth of his son John in 1468. He had married Ann, the daughter of Geoffrey Bulleyne (Boleyn), a rich London mercer and it seems that she preferred to be nearer to her family in Kent. It has been said that Henry would regularly ride around his estate and discuss with his steward its various assets or problems.
For most of the early years he resided at Wickham Court although that became more difficult after his father John died in about 1479 and he needed to spend more time in Norfolk.
Baston was usually let on seven year leases and dues were paid to him. His widow Anne continued to hold manorial courts until her death in 1510.
John inherited Baston on his father’s death in 1504 but left its administration to others as he was trying to make his way at the court of Henry VIII.
It was his son Richard who trained as a lawyer, and resided in London who was entrusted with the management of his Kentish estates. Richard resided at Wickham Court for some of the time and also kept an eye on the administration of Baston Manor.
Landowner, deputy lieutenant Norfolk, knighted
Christopher, the grandson of John Heydon, inherited the properties as his father Christopher had died in 1541 He added to his lands in Kent In 1561 by purchasing from Sir Percival Harte some 210 acres of heath at Baston. A few years later, however, there were claims that his lands were not being well looked after. A survey of his woods showed that valuable timber was being spoiled by unwise felling.
It seems that he was not an able administrator and was living beyond his means. He became famed for his lavish hospitality.
He was well known in the neighbourhood and some thirty years after his death was still remembered for his drilling of the local militia during one of the scares caused by the threat of Spanish invasion. Camden wrote in 1610: ‘As for the other small intrenchment not farre off W. Wickham, it was cast in fresh memory when old Sir Christopher Heydon, a man then of great command in these parts trained the country people.’
In his will he instructed his heir Sir William to sell the Kentish estates to settle his debts and legacies. This ended the involvement of the Heydon family in Baston although legal wrangles about the Kentish lands continued in the next century.
Wickham Court and the Heydons, Mother Mary Gregory, Archaeologia Cantiana 1963