LORDS OF THE MANOR.
Following the Norman Conquest, the Feudal System was established and each part of the invaded land changed ownership and tenancy in favour of the invaders. Much of Kent was granted to the possession of Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux (France), who was half-brother to William 1.
Yalding unlike most of the surrounding parishes, was given in knight’s service to Richard Fitz Gilbert, who was to be later known as Richard de Tonbridge. His descendants took the name of Clare, from their ownership of such lands in Suffolk. As Yalding was a freehold manor, parts of the parish were allowed to be sold or developed as separate smaller manors, so there were no large estates, nor are there elaborate memorials in the church.
Richard de Clare, formerly Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, died in 1263, leaving Yalding in the possession of his son Gilbert, who in 1291 made a claim before the justices itinerant, and was allowed all the privileges of a manor. Gilbert de Clare was killed at the battle of Bannockburn (1314), and his son by Joane of Acres, daughter of Edward 1, died that same year, leaving his three sisters to be co-heirs.
On partition of their inheritance, the Manor of Yalding was allotted to Margaret the second sister, who at that time was the wife of Hugh de Audley. In the 12th year of the reign of Edward III (1339), Hugh obtained for the Manor of Ealding the grant for a weekly market, and a fair to continue for three days yearly; this being on the vigil, the day of the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul and the day subsequent.
Hugh de Audley died after possessing Yalding for 21 years, and left an only daughter Margaret, wife of Ralph Stafford, who was made one of the Knights of the Garter at the first institution of the Order of the Garter, and soon afterwards at the age of 24 was created Earl of Stafford. He died in Tonbridge in 1373, after which the manor was held by his descendants and handed down to his great grandson Humphrey Stafford, who was created Duke of Buckingham in 1445.
Humphrey Stafford was later killed at the battle of Northampton fighting valiantly on the King’s part on the 10th July 1460. The manor then passed to his grandson, Henry Duke of Buckingham, who fought against King Richard III in favour of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. After concealing himself in the house of one of his servants, Ralph Bannister, he was betrayed by his supposed friend following the King's proclamation of a, reward of £1,000 or £100 per annum upon information leading to his capture. Henry was taken to Salisbury where without full judgement he was beheaded on a scaffold in the market place. Ralph Bannister for his part was granted the manor of Yalding for knight' s service until King Richard's death in 1485 at the battle of Bosworth. The manor returned to Edward, Duke of Buckingham, eldest son of Henry, but in the 13th year of the reign of Henry VIII, Edward was accused of conspiracy and beheaded on Tower-Hill, on 17th May 1322.
That same year Yalding was granted in knight's service to Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester, who favoured by both Henry VII and Henry VIII, was made knight baronet, knight of the garter, captain of the king's guard, privy counsellor and lord chamberlain. He was the son of Henry, Duke of Somerset, who because of his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Herbert, Earl of Huntington, also bore the title of lord Herbert of Cherbury.