Richard Dengate was born 9 October 1819 to James (1788-1964) and Charlotte Den- gate (1782-1867), who had married in Wit- tersham but moved around 1815 to Tenter- den then Newenden. Richard was baptised 13 October 1818 in St Mildred’s Church, Tenterden. Richard is shown on the 1841 census living at New Barn with his brother, James, and their parents. Ten years later and the family are still at New Barn, where James (snr) is recorded as a farmer of 107 acres. It is not known when Frogs Hill (or Frogs Farm) came into the family, but Rich- ard certainly worked with his father on the land for a good many years. James’ will of 1853 gave all his stock, goods, chattels and property to Richard ‘...for his own use and benefit subject however to the suitable maintenance and support of my wife (his mother) Charlotte Dengate during her life..’ James, perhaps not wishing history to judge him badly also made clear why his other son, James did not inherit anything upon his death: ‘...the reason why I do not leave my said son James Dengate any part of prop- erty is that he has already received his full share thereof...[he received lands in Northiam].’ Ayearafterhisfather’sdeath,and at the age of 46, Richard Dengate married Mary Barnes on 13 January 1865 in Sand- hurst Parish Church. The witnesses to the ceremony were William and Jane Barnes. The couple had one child, Mary Charlotte Dengate, baptised 17 December 1865 in St Peter’s Church, Newenden.
In the mid 1800s many farm owners paid their workers in pewter hop tokens and Richard Dengate was one such farmer who issued them from Frogs Farm. The tokens could then
be spent in the
company store or used as an interim payment and ex- changed for cash at the end of the hop- picking season. Many of the hop-pickers were Londoners who came to Kent for a working holiday.
It was likely that soon after Mary Charlotte’s Dengate birth the family moved to Hill House. Theyarerecordedhere on the 1881 census. Richard was noted as a ‘farmer of 187 acres employing 4 men.’ In R.S. Spelling’s book ‘Newenden’, he mentions Hill House and its occupants: ‘It was owned by the Dengate family, and the small building on the left of the house was used in the late 1800s as a gambling den by Mr. Dengate, who would sit and drink and play cards with his friends. There are niches in the walls where they would stand bottles as they gambled for such prizes as a cow, a sheep or even small pieces of
The family continue to reside at Hill House in the 1891 census, with the addition of a ser- vant, Agnes Masters.
Mary Dengate died 4th March 1892, aged 68 years, in Newenden and she was buried five days later in St Peter’s Church. Richard Den- gate died 29th September 1893 and was buried with his wife on 3rd October. His will directed that his estate of £244 be given to his daugh- ter, Mary Charlotte Dengate, who continued to live at Hill House for the rest of her life.
After her parents’ death Mary Charlotte’s cousin, Miss Emily Skinner moved into Hill House.
Approximately two years later the family moved from Baldslow to Salehurst, followed by Lamberhurst, where Charles and Celia's daughter Harriet died on the 2 April 1845 of pneumonia aged 18 months. She was buried in St Mary's Church, Lamberhurst on the 6 April 1845. The family continued to live in Lamberhurst, the 1851 census showing Charles working as a miller and grinder.
Within two years the family had moved to Wittersham where their daughter Mary was born in 1853. The family then had a brief, but tragic period in Bodiam. On the 25 April 1855, just over ten years after Harriet's death, Charles and Celia's 9 year-old son Charles drowned in the mill stream where Charles worked as a journeyman miller. He was buried in Bodiam Churchyard.
It was perhaps this tragedy which sent the family away from Bodiam back to Wittersham as their daughter Ellen Maria was born there in 1856. It would appear that Charles moved from being a miller to being a master baker, taking residence of Dengate Cottage. The front of the cottage was used as his baker's shop, the back as the bakery and family home. In 1881 Charles' occupation was listed as a 'Baker and Farmer of 23 acres.' His son Henry's occupation is listed as 'Farmer's son'.
Celia Sophia Dengate died 11 December 1889, in Wittersham aged 72 years of cardiac disease, which she had suffered from for 10 years. Her daughter Ellen Maria Weaver was present at the death. Her place of burial is unknown at this time, although it was not in the Parish church, possibly due to Charles and Celia being nonconformists.
The following account was written by Roger Simmons, Charles' great great great grandson: 'One day in the 1890’s, young Celia Simmons got on a train in Dover (alone or not?) and travelled to Romney Marsh, to Appledore, and was met by her great grandfather Charles Dengate with a pony and trap. He greeted her, and took her to his house in Wittersham, on the Isle of Oxley; slightly higher than the rest of the marsh. Behind his cottage was his bakery where he worked daily. In his cottage he had a grandfather clock made by Ballard of Lamberhurst, which he bought in 1834 when he was only 18. His photo sits inside his clock, a serious-looking man, but then with their photographic exposure times you did tend to look solemn.' To read the account in full, click here.
Charles Dengate died aged 78 on the 28 August 1894 in the High Street, Wittersham. He died of old age and syncope - this term means loss of consciousness. On death certificates it indicates a sudden death. His daughter Mary Weston was present at the death. His place of burial is also unknown at this time.
Grateful thanks to Roger Simmons for the photo of Charles Dengate and for his account of a Charles' life. Also thanks to John Dines for the photograph of Bodiam Watermill and the late David Padgham for the photo of Baldslow mill.
Dengate Cottage, Wittersham (immediate right)
Baldslow Windmill, c.1909
Charles' grandfather clock, 2006
St Peter's Church, Bexhill-on-Sea, 2004
Lost, a Wether Sheep, between Burwash and Newenden, on the 1st or 2nd April; pitch marked R.D., tivered across the back, and fork in each ear; supposed to be gone away with a drove into Romney Marsh— whoever will give information shall be re- warded accordingly by applying to Richard Dengate, Newenden.
Kentish Express & Ashford News, 22 April 1882