Lady Catherine Moyle 1529-1585
Sir Knight Thomas Finch 1512-1563
Lady Catherine Moyle was the second daughter of Sir Thomas Moyle of Eastwell Court. She and her husband, Sir Thomas Finch inherited Eastwell because her older sister, Amy had died three years before her father.
Lady Catherine Moyle was born in 1529 at Eastwell Manor, Eastwell Parish, Kent, England. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Moyle and Lady Catherine Jordan Moyle of Eastwell. Sir Thomas Moyle was a commissioner for Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries, and speaker of the House of Commons in the Parliament of England from 1542 to 1544. He owned and built the first Manor at Eastwell. It was only one of his extensive land holdings throughout Kent, Surrey, Middlesex, Devon, and Somerset.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Eastwell like this:
EASTWELL, a parish in East Ashford district, Kent; 2½ miles W by N of Wye r. station, and 3 N by E of Ashford. Post town, Westwell, under Ashford. Acres, 894. Real property, £1, 079. Pop., 126. Houses, 17. The property is not much divided. The manor belonged anciently to a family of its own name, but passed to successively the families of Hales, Moyle, Finch, Heneage, and Hatton. Eastwell Park is the seat of the Earl of Winchelsea; has a modern mansion, by Bononi, on the site of one built by Sir Thomas Moyle in the time of Henry VIII.; extends beyond the parish so far as to include about 2, 500 acres; and both presents fine scenery within itself, and commands very brilliant exterior views.
Eastwell Manor, Eastwell Parish near Ashford, Kent, England… today
Lady Catherine married Sir Knight Thomas Finch on March 1, 1553 at Eastwell Manor, Kent, England. He was 41 years old at the time of the marriage; Lady Catherine was 24.
Sir Knight Thomas Finch was born in the year 1512 at Eastwell Manor, Eastwell, Kent, England.* He was the son of Sir Knight William Finch (1475-1553) and Lady Elizabeth Crowmer (1475- ), originally from Netherfield, Sussex and Tunstal, Kent, but who died as residents with their son at Eastwell Manor, Kent, England.
*Note: Sir Thomas Finche gained ownership of Eastwell Manor through his marriage to Lady Catherine Moyle, whose father, Sir Thomas Moyle had first built the Manor and owned the property. You would think he would not have been born there. But virtually all sites list Eastwell Manor as his birthplace.
THE UNION OF TWO FAMILIES
"In the fifteenth century a Cornwall family called Moyle came to Kent. They began to acquire wealth through land when in 1537 one Sir Thomas Moyle became a member and later Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, which administered the monastic property seized by Henry VIII. He hunted down heretics zealously, and with his rewards was able to buy the estate of Eastwell from the daughters of Sir Christopher Hales, Henry VIII's Attorney-General. Sir Thomas Moyle married Catherine Jordan or Jourdain, dau. of Sir Edward Jourdain. Their daughter Catherine married Sir Thomas Finch, a member of the then middling minor gentry of Kent. This man had distinguished himself on the battlefield and fighting at sea. Sir Thomas was knighted for his share in suppressing Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion in Kent against Queen Mary in 1553, was a soldier of note, and was the son and heir of Sir William Finch, who was knighted in 1513."
Lake Ashford, on the Eastwell Eastate
Sir Thomas and Lady Catherine were the parents of five children; three sons and two daughters, all "titled." The children were:
- Sir Knight Thomas Finch 1544-1606
- *Lady Jane Finch 1555-1644
- Sir Baronet Moyle Finch 1556-1614
- Lady Catherine Finch 1574-1635
- Sir Knight Henry Finch 1575-1625
SIR THOMAS' LIFE and DEATH
Sir Thomas Finch was a military commander who was knighted for assisting in the suppression of "Wyatt's Rebellion" in 1553.
He drowned at sea off Havre when about to act as knight-marshal to the English force engaged there.
His body is buried at Eastwell, Kent, at the property he had acquired from the Moyle family by his marriage.
LADY CATHERINE'S DEATH
Lady Catherine Moyle Finch lived over twenty years after the death of her husband. She passed away on February 9, 1585 at her home at Eastwell Manor, Kent. She was 56 years old.
SIR THOMAS and LADY CATHERINE'S SON MOYLE (1556-1614)
"… But the Finches, as the repeated name of Heneage testifies to, saw as their founder a wealthy Elizabethan heiress, Elizabeth Heneage. Her contribution was twofold: vast monies and two titles. On November 4, 1672, in Heneage House, London, the home of her father, Sir Thomas Heneage, Elizabeth I's Vice-Chamberlain, Chancelor to the Duchy of Lancaster, the elder son of Sir Thomas and Catherine Moyle Finch, Sir Moyle Finch garnered the sole child to a man of enormous means with all the right connections. The rest is not quite history, but it falls into place naturally enough. In 1689 Sir Moyle Finch gained permission to enclose 1000 acres around the house and embattle it; Eastwell began to change from a relatively modest Elizabethan manor to a great house, a center around which the district could form itself. Sir Moyle and his Elizabeth Heneage Finch also produced eight children before in 1614 he died."
Eastwell Park was an English stately home in the civil parish of Eastwell, adjoining Ashford in Kent, that for a time served as a royal residence. The house was demolished in the 1920s and replaced with a large house called Eastwell Manor, which is now a country house hotel.
The original Eastwell Manor House
The original house was built for Sir Thomas Moyle between 1540 and 1550 by Richard Plantagenet (Richard of Eastwell), who claimed to be a son of Richard III of England.
The present house was built between 1793–1799 for George Finch Hatton, 9th Earl of Winchilsea. A Victorian Tudor-style wing was later added; the house had seven bays and wings of three bays each.
Eastwell Manor and the 14th century church ruins, Ashford, Kent, England… the ruins of the 14th century church can be seen on the right.
Eastwell Tower and Gate
In the mid-1860s one of Finch Hatton's successors, George James Finch-Hatton, 11th Earl of Winchilsea was experiencing financial difficulties of a very serious kind. On 4 December 1868 trustees appointed under the Winchilsea Estate Act (1865) entered into a contract to let Eastwell Park, together with its furnishings and effects, to the Duke of Abercorn for a period of five years. Lord Winchilsea had been obliged to vacate the property some time prior to December 1868, and he was formally adjudged bankrupt on 5 October 1870.
Eastwell Park was next rented by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh from 1874 to 1893. The Duke was the second son of Queen Victoria; the Duchess was originally a Grand Duchess of Russia. Their daughter Princess Marie (who later became queen of Romania) was born at the house in 1875. In her memoirs, Queen Marie writes of "beautiful Eastwell with its great gray house, its magnificent park, with its herds of deer and picturesque Highland cattle, its lake, its woods, its garden with the old cedar tree which was our fairy mansion."
Rear of the Manor
The family left the house upon the Duke's inheritance of the dukedom of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1893.
Eastwell Park was demolished in 1926. A large new house in the neo-Elizabethan style called Eastwell Manor was built on the site, and is now a country house hotel. The original main gatehouse, now known as Eastwell Towers, which was built in 1848, stands a mile south-south west of the manor. Other survivals include a ruined church dating to the 14th century.
DESCENDANTS OF EASTWELL COURT
When Sir Thomas himself died ownership passed through his daughters to Sir Thomas Finch and to his son Sir Moyle Finch and on his death to his wife Elizabeth. She in turn was in high favour and created Countess of Maidstone in 1623 and Countess of Winchilsea in 1629. She died in 1633 and is buried at Eastwell as the other Finches and Moyles in large family vaults. It is noted that in 1771 there were 38 lead coffins in the vault.
Her son Thomas became the second Earl and his brother Heneage Finch was Speaker of The House of Commons. Thomas's death allowed his son also called Heneage to accede the title and he became the first Earl of Nottingham and was also Solicitor General, Lord Keeper and Lord Chancellor. He remained loyal to the royal family during the civil war and on restoration of the monarchy was created Baron Fitzherbert of Eastwell. During this time Nicholas Toke was rector of the St Mary's and his family vaults can be seen in the chancel today.
The fifth Earl of Winchilsea was another Heneage and his wife was Anne Finch a famous poet who was troubled by severe depression and died in 1720 and was buried in the family vault in the South Chancel at the church.
Between 1739 and 1799 George of Eastwell had the manor rebuilt by the eminent Italian architect Joseph Bonomi. The eleventh Earl - George James was the last and sold the house in 1893 for £220,000 encompassing an area of 6,000 acres. The Winchilsea graves can be seen in the churchyard today.
In 1874 the second son of Queen Victoria and Duke of Edinburgh, Alfred Earnest Albert moved to Eastwell with his family and consequently there were innumerable influential and royal visitors. Their second child Marie Alexandra Victoria was born in 1875 and was christened at St Mary's. She and the rest of the family would leave when she was 12 but she later married to be Queen of Rumania at 17. She would forever write of her fondness of Eastwell.
The estate then passed to Lord Gerrard who also knew a few people and entertained at the estate notably Edward VII among others.