History of the village of Nettlestead
Built mainly on one side of the B2015, the village is the furthest west in the borough of Maidstone. More than 800 people live here, and the parish includes Nettlestead Green and part of Seven Mile Lane.
The parish church of St Mary the Virgin has links with William the Conqueror's half brother, Odo. It is said that Nettlestead church owes its enormous stained glass windows to a 15th century Agincourt veteran who came back from France very impressed with what had already been done with stained glass decoration for churches there. The man was Reginald de Pympe, and his son, John, added more stained glass later in the same century. The de Pympes made quite an impression upon Nettlestead in their day. Reginald moved into Nettlestead Place, which he rebuilt at about the same time as he had the church rebuilt and embellished with the new glass.
By that time, the family had already earned a certain amount of notoriety as a result of one of its sons. Philip, having been committed to Canterbury prison for harbouring an outlaw in 1318. The same Philip was pardoned for homicide in 1337.
Another member of the family fought with Edward IV in France and then afterwards sided with the Duke of Buckingham in his rebellion against Richard III's claim to the throne. That was a mistake, because the rebellion was crushed and the de Pympes had their estates confiscated, although they were restored to them later, after Henry VIII became king in 1485.
After the de Pympes, Nettlestead Place was owned by a family called Scott whose men seem to have had a weakness for strong-willed wives. Sir John Scott once locked his wife in a room in the house during a quarrel, but she escaped by digging away the mortar round some of the stones with a bodkin.
The a 17th century Scott, Edward, who backed Cromwell in the Civil War, found himself at variance with his wife, Catherine, who was so whole-heartedly Royalist, that she reputedly bore the illegitimate son of Prince Rupert, the dashing Cavalier cavalry leader and, later, naval commander.
Edward might well have found that a bit too partisan for his liking even if he had shared her loyalty to the Crown. As it was he took a particularly dim view of the affair and during a family row that went on for some days, Catherine waited until Edward lest the house and then slammed the door in his face when he tried to come back in again.
Her husband promptly laid siege to the house, resolved to starve her out and, presumably carry on the row to a rather more satisfactory conclusion, But Catherine escaped and the domestic fracas ended with Edward deciding that all he could do was to acknowledge the little bastard, who was called Thomas, as his own heir.
Yet another Nettlestead Scott, Sir Thomas, was one of the leaders of some ten thousand men who formed a 16th century Home Guard and stood ready to repel invaders should the Spanish Armada force a way past the English ships and make a landing on Kentish soil.
Later, Nettlestead Place fell into less caring hands and might well have crumbled into total disrepair as a neglected farm store during the 19th century. But in 1920, enough of it remained intact to encourage a Mr R Vinson to buy it, and restore it to the family home it is today, still with its old stone gatehouse and a remarkable 13th century undercroft.