The Streatfeild Ledger Stone in the Nave of Leigh Church
In the centre of the nave of Leigh Church is the marble Ledger Stone on the grave of Richard Streatfeild who died in 1794 and of his wife Sarah, who died in 1809. Richard Streatfeild became the tenant of Great Barnetts in about 1767 and lived there until he died and was succeeded by his son, Nicholas, who farmed Great Barnetts until he died in 1820.
The 1750 Churchwardens’ list which recorded the liability of the occupant of each farm for the repair of the Churchyard Wall shows that the tenant of Great Barnetts was responsible for a longer section of wall than the occupant of any other property in the Parish. In Richard Streatfeild’s time Great Barnetts farmed not only the land around it but also the land, later built on, south of the village round to Green Lane and, of course, it had the marshland down to the river with access not then interrupted by the railway embankment. Great Barnetts was assessed by the Churchwardens as the most valuable property in the village and maybe that was why Richard was granted the right of burial in such a prominent position in the nave.
The Streatfeild family, through 14 generations, have lived in Chiddingstone, originally in High Street House in the main street in Chiddingstone village. In the early 19th century Chiddingstone High Street was diverted in a northerly direction immediately west of the Church to enable High Street House to be converted into a mock Castle standing in its own grounds. Now the family live at the Hoath House at Chiddingstone Hoath and I have always wondered what was the connection between the Streatfeild family who were buried in Leigh Church and the much better known Streatfeild family at Chiddingstone.
Recently a Mr Perry of Bembridge, Isle of Wight, has been in touch with me as he had discovered that he was a direct descendant of Richard and Nicholas Streatfeild of Great Barnetts. With the help of Mervyn Streatfeild of the Hoath it has been possible to establish that Richard Streatfeild who lived in Chiddingstone 1514-1549 left two sons, the elder Henry is the ancestor of the line of 14 generations of Streatfeilds at Chiddingstone. The younger son, Richard, was the ancestor of a line of Streatfeilds who lived first at Chested in Chiddingstone, then at Ford Place in Penshurst, and then at Otford, and it was at Otford that Richard was baptized and lived until he took over the Great Barnetts farm in Leigh. So Richard Streatfeild buried in the nave aisle in Leigh Church was related to the Chiddingstone Streatfeilds but you have to go back to the 16th century to find the connection.
Lawrence Biddle (Parish Magazine April 1998)