The Vallance Family

Aymer Vallance - Son of Lynsted (Dr Robert Baxter) Anchor House - Aymer Vallance
Obituary for Aymer Vallance - Archaeologia Cantiana Lynsted Church Roper Memorials - Aymer Vallance
The Vallance Family - John Clancy Aymers - country house

Aymer Vallance - Son of Lynsted

Researches of Dr Robert Baxter

Aymer Vallance in 1900There has been a flurry of interest, of late, in the man who gave his name to at least two place-names in the Parish. So I thought it might be of interest to draw together something of his life and deeds.

William Howard Aymer Vallance was born in 1862, of a family of Sittingbourne brewers and bankers. His father, Thomas William Vallance, did not himself continue in the family tradition: he was a career soldier, serving in the 5th Lancers and rising to the rank of Captain1. Captain Vallance served on Lynsted Parish Council from its inception in 1894 to1896. The family lived in Lynsted, at 'Aymers', a building named after Thomas' eldest son, and which, despite severe fire damage, was carefully restored, and survives to this day. Aymer had two younger brothers, who continued the family brewery business.

Aymer was educated at Harrow and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read classics2. He was a typical aesthete of his time, with a passion for mediaeval architecture and a strong interest in contemporary design and craftsmanship. He was also an excellent cricketer. He was a devotee of the Arts and Crafts Movement and was closely associated with of William Morris. It was Vallance who 'discovered' the artist Aubrey Beardsley.

Vallance was ordained into the Anglican Church in 1885 and served as curate at the Church of the Annunciation in Brighton, which contains stained glass designed by Morris and Burne-Jones. Whilst at Oriel, however, he had been strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement, which advocated a return to Roman Catholic practice and ideals. In 1889 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

He moved to London, where he spent his time writing and lecturing on Gothic architecture, and producing articles for arts and archaeological journals. Several of his accounts related to the history and buildings of Lynsted. He also wrote the first appreciation of the work of William Morris, and became a respected antiquarian. He was present, for example, at the official opening of a grave in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral in 1888, that was suspected of containing the bones of Thomas Becket3.

In 1920, aged 58, he acquired Stoneacre, a mediaeval Wealden hall-house in Otham near Maidstone. He proceeded to 'restore' and extend the dilapidated building, using materials from other buildings, and sculpture and woodwork from his own collection. A wooden mantelpiece incorporated into Stoneacre originated in an (unspecified) mediaeval cottage in Lynsted. He also incorporated his own stained glass designs in some of the windows. He married Lucy Ada Hennell in 1922. The property was given by the couple to the National Trust in 1928. He died in 1943, aged 81.


A recent communication received by the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society, perhaps sheds a different light on the great man: Paul Wood informs us that his great grandfather, William John Read, claimed to have been the illegitimate son of Aymer Vallance. Aymer had met the mother whilst at Oxford, the youngster had been adopted by the Read family and the mother had left for the USA shortly after. Apparently Aymer would not have William acknowledged as a member of the family, although his father, Thomas, was in favour of accepting him.


This article is merely a summary of the life of Aymer Vallance, and I or the Society would be most pleased to receive any comments, views and information that may further illuminate the life of this remarkable 'local boy'.

I am indebted to the Country Life Picture Library for permission to reproduce the portrait.


1. Clancy, J. The Vallance Family - Bankers and Brewers. The Archive, Issue 52, Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne. 2008.
2. The National Trust. Stoneacre. 2001.
3. Butler, J. The Quest for Becket's Bones. Yale University Press, 1995.

Bob Baxter,
December, 2009.

1943 Obituary for William Howard Aymer Vallance

(Archaeologia Cantiana: Volume 56 for 1943 – Printed 1944)

IN our old friend's death on July 16th, 1943, at the age of 51, the Society has suffered a great loss. From Vallance's youth at Aymers, Lynsted—his Father's home—he was devoted to Early Art and this predilection started him collecting old oak furniture at the age of 19. Educated at Harrow he went on to Oriel College, Oxford, where he took his MA. degree. Some three years later he settled in London and seriously engaged in the study more especially of ecclesiastical art. For some years he was a lecturer on Gothic Architecture to the Architectural Association, at the same time working for The Art Journal and The Studio, excellent draughtsman and designer as he was. He did much in these latter lines for Church embroidery: with all this he was a skilled photographer with a strong leaning towards work of the Middle Ages.
He had travelled widely on the Continent, always making notes, sketching and photographing. Thus he amassed a large collection of negatives and slides. This valuable material was given ten years ago to the Courtauld Institute of Art, and numbered many hundreds. Valiance's interest extended to ancient bridges and timbered houses. His know ledge of the construction of the latter went into the smallest detail. This was seen in 1920 when he purchased a derelict hall-house at Otham. Stoneacre, dated 1480, well repaid his enthusiastic care. In its reconstructed state it evoked great interest among the members of the Society who visited it and were entertained there by Mr. and Mrs. Valiance in 1927. It was handed over to the National Trust in 1929.
Vallance wrote three standard books—-Old Crosses and Lychgates, 1920; Old Colleges of Oxford, and English Church Screens. The last, published in 1939, was reviewed in Archaeologia Cantiana. He had finished a fourth volume on Cathedral Screens. This, held up from publication through the War, is in the hands of Mr. E. T. Long, F.S.A.. his literary executor. He had been a member of this Society since 1883, and had acted as Hon. Editor for Volumes XXXIII to XLI (1918-29); 24 papers and important notes from his pen have been published in our pages. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1895 and was a particularly active and useful member of the Royal Archaeological Institute. At the latter's summer meetings he frequently lectured and spoke.
These notes owe much to material kindly supplied by Mrs. Vallance to the writer.

The Vallance Family

Researches of John Clancy

Acknowledgement: We are grateful to John Clancy for allowing us to reproduce his research into this important local family.

H&O Vallance, brewers and bankers
Entries in the Brewery History Society's database
Sittingbourne Steam Brewery prices - 1867
History of the London and Westminster Bank
London and County Bank
The connection with breweries in Brighton and Hove
Earl of Pembroke Connections (1247 - 1324)

Other Links on this site:

Aymer Vallance donation of land to the School, 1878
H. & O. Vallance, brewers and bankers.

According to the Brewery History Society database, the Napier Brewery off Sittingbourne High Street was set up sometime before 1828 by William Vallance but traded as Payne's Steam Brewery from c.1860-1880; it was acquired by Style and Winch Ltd in 1905 and subsequently closed down.

Various sources describe how Mr Vallance joined forces with Henry Payne, a landowner and the new owner of his brewery, and together they decided to sell their interests to one or other joint stock banks which were anxious to expand. Mr Vallance sold his share to the London County and Westminster Bank (which later became the Westminster Bank at 40 High Street), whilst Mr Payne sold his share to Martin and Co. (later Martin's Bank at 60 High Street), on condition that he remained as manager until he wished to retire. This was fairly common practice in the late-Georgian and early-Victorian period. Many banks were off-shoots of the chief local breweries as these were thriving and had the corporate strength and financial reserves to act as such important local institutions.

Entries in the Brewery History Society's database:

William Vallance, High Street, Sittingbourne. Listed in Directories of 1828 and 1840. Like the Rigdens in Faversham, the Vallances were both Brewers and Bankers being partners, with members of the Payne family, in Messrs Vallance & Payne's Bank. William Vallance died in 1849.

John Vallance, High Street, Sittingbourne. Listed in a Directory of 1853. Presumably this generation of the Vallances had no interest in brewing for control of the Brewery now passed to the Paynes.

George Payne, Steam Brewery, High Street, Sittingbourne. Listed in Directories of 1859, 1873 and 1883. George Payne, born in Sittingbourne in 1813 was a Clerk in 1841 living in the household of William Vallance. He was listed in the census of 1851 as a Brewery Clerk but ten years later was a Brewer, employing five men. By 1871 Payne was listed as a Brewer and Banker and his son George Jnr, born in 1848, as a Brewer only.

George Payne, FSA, the celebrated local antiquarian was born in 1848 and was the second son of George Payne; he died in 1920. It appears that George Snr left his son to run the Brewery as by 1881 he was a Banker & Brewer whilst George Jnr was a Brewer, employing ten men. George Payne Snr died in 1890, George Jnr then retired to live on his own means at College Green in the Precincts of Rochester Cathedral, whilst the Brewery reverted to the control of the Vallances. The Guildhall Museum, Rochester confirms that George Payne was the Museum's first curator from its opening in 1897, until his death in 1920.

Thomas William Vallance, High Street, Sittingbourne. Listed in Directories of 1891 and 1895. Thomas William Vallance was not a Brewer; he was a career soldier holding the rank of Captain in the 5th Lancers. The Brewery was run by two of his sons; James Henry Aymer Vallance, born in Dover in 1863, and Henry Osborne Aymer Vallance, born in Dover in 1864. The Vallance family had lived at Aymers, in the village of Lynsted just outside Sittingbourne for generations and Thomas William's father had the middle name Tonge which might indicate a family connection with the Brewers James and Thomas Tongue.

H. O. Vallance, Napier Brewery, High Street, Sittingbourne. James left the partnership during the 1890s and their father died in 1902. The firm was acquired by Messrs Style & Winch (qv) of Maidstone in 1905 and the Brewery closed. Henry Osborne Vallance died in 1927.

Paynes Fine Ales and Bitter Beers (1867)
London Porter and Stout

Sittingbourne Steam Brewery Advert
  Barrel Kilderkin Firkin Pin
Bitter Ale 54/- 27/- 13/6 6/9
Mild Ale XX 50/- 25/- 12/6 6/3
Best Bitter 36/- 18/- 9/- 4/6
MXA 36/- 18/- 9/- 4/6
Table Ale 24/- 12/- 6/- 3/-
Table Beer 18/- 9/- 4/6 2/3
London Double Stout 60/- 30/- 15/-  
London Porter 38/- 19/- 9/6  

According to the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society there have been suggestions that there is a surviving neice and great nephew but they don't have precise details available. The Society was unaware of Captain Vallance being a brewer and banker and always assumed that Aymer Vallance himself was the builder of Aymers. It was obvious that he owned more of the land in the parish for it was he who donated the land to build the school. The possible connection with Aymer de Valance is often queried in articles about Aymer Vallance; nobody to the society's knowledge has proved any connection. The Society's own theory is that Aymer's father knew of Aymer de Valance and it gave him a good idea for naming his son. Regarding Hugh Aymer Vallance, the Society has no idea how he fits into things although having the same unusual Christian name would indicate a connection unless his parents also knew of Aymer de Valance!

When Mr David Bage first came to Kent in 1954 he had a work colleague (now deceased) who lived in Newington who used to talk about a rather eccentric lady who lived in the parish, called Mrs Vallance. One story he told was of her wanting to breed black rabbits and release them on her land; her failing eyesight made it difficult see the normal ones that she liked to shoot! He has never come across any other Vallances; if there are any they may be somewhere else as he thinks he later lived elsewhere in Kent, other than Lynsted.

In a subsequent submission from the Society, Bob Baxter recalled, ‘my understanding is that Aymers, the building, was built in the late 19th century by someone called Vallance. He called it after his son Aymer. This is probably/possibly Aymer Vallance (1862- 1943) the Oxford aesthete and associate of William Morris. He 'discovered' the artist Aubrey Beardsley, and was a famous, London-based, architect, antiquarian and artist. He arrived in Stoneacre, Otham, near Maidstone, a derelict Wealden hall-house, in 1920. He proceeded to 'restore' it in his Arts and Crafts way. It is currently open to the public as a National Trust property. There is a picture of this Aymer Vallance in their booklet. One of the mantelpieces is from a 'mediaeval cottage in Lynsted.

There are some graves of Vallances, not including Aymer, in the churchyard at Lynsted - just west of (behind) 'David Bage's Seat'. See attached. The grave inscription study, being carried out by the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society, only covers the yard around the church. There could be more Vallances within the church, or in the graveyard extension along the lane.'

History of the London and Westminster Bank

The Westminster Bank was organised in 1834 as the London and Westminster Bank, the first joint-stock bank in London. This firm was the first bank established under the auspices of the Bank Charter Act 1833, which allowed joint-stock banks to be founded in London. For various reasons the press, private banking concerns, and the Bank of England were so hostile to the Bank Charter Act that London and Westminster's management was primarily concerned with defending the company's right to exist rather than setting up an extensive branch network. As a result, the bank opened only six London branches in its first three years and no additional offices were established until nearly 20 years later.

London and Westminster made its first acquisition in 1847, when it bought Young & Son. In about 1870 it acquired Unity Joint-Stock Bank, and mergers with Commercial Bank of London and Middlesex Bank had been arranged in 1861 and 1863 respectively. By 1909 London and Westminster had opened or acquired 37 branches in and around London. Yet, despite this expansion effort, the bank felt the effects of competition from provincial banks like Lloyds and Midland. These two banks had already established large regional branch networks and were quickly encroaching upon the London market. In order to meet this challenge, in 1909, London and Westminster merged with the influential and prestigious London and County Bank, which had 70 offices citywide and almost 200 in rural counties.

London and County Bank

The Surrey, Kent and Sussex Banking Company had been established at Southwark in 1836 and soon had branches in places like Croydon, Brighton, Maidstone and Woolwich. It was renamed the London and County Banking Co. in 1839. By 1875 it had over 150 branches and was the largest British bank. The resulting entity was named the London County and Westminster Bank. Prior to the merger Vallance and Payne had become a part of the London and County Bank in 1888.

[Banking history information from]

The connection with breweries in Brighton and Hove.

According to the Brewery History Society database, the West Street Brewery (Brighton) Ltd was founded in 1769. It was registered in September 1895 to acquire Vallance, Catt & Co., and acquired by Smithers & Sons Ltd in 1913 with 32 public houses and brewing ceased. There was also a Vallance's Brewery Ltd in Temple Street, Sidmouth, Devon which was founded in 1832 by Richard Searle. There appears to be no connection between the Sittingbourne Vallances and those of Brighton and Sidmouth although there is a connection between the latter two. The Vallance family of Kent were gentleman farmers at Aymers, Lynsted, near Sittingbourne for generations before becoming bankers and brewers.

Charles Vallance, born in Brighton in 1802 was a brewer in West Street, Brighton in the censuses of 1861 and 1871. His son, also Charles, born in Bath in 1831, joined him and their firm eventually became Vallance, Catt & Company. Charles Vallance Snr's brother George, born in Brighton in 1801, was a solicitor but his son George Vallance Jnr, born in Brighton on April 30, 1829, became a brewer. He was a Brewery Manager in 1871 in Basingstoke and therefore probably working at either May's or Barrett's Brewery. His son, also George, was born in Basingstoke in 1869, and he eventually became a brewer in partnership with his father in Sidmouth, Devon.

Was the family really descended from Aymer de Vallance, the first Earl of Pembroke in the reign of Henry III as has been claimed?

A genealogical question that would require some deep research, but ponder this, extracted from From the following it would seem there are several positive indications over names, etc which could cause such a rumour to start.

Earls of Pembroke, third Creation (1247)
William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke (c. 1225–1296)
Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1270–1324) (extinct)

But would such a title ‘clash' with the Baron of Teynham, a title in the Peerage of England that was created in 1616 for Sir John Roper, a family still living in the village?

Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (c. 1275 – June 23, 1324) was a French-English nobleman, with strong connections both to the English and French royal houses. One of the wealthiest and most powerful men of his age, he was a central player in the conflicts between Edward II and his nobility, particularly earl Thomas of Lancaster. He suffered a great insult when Piers Gaveston, a prisoner in his custody, was removed and beheaded on the instigation of Lancaster. This led Pembroke into close and lifelong co-operation with the king. Later in life, however, political circumstances combined with financial difficulties would cause him problems, driving him away from the centre of power. He left no legitimate issue, but is today remembered through his wife's foundation of Pembroke College in Cambridge, and for his splendid tomb that can still be seen in Westminster Abbey.

Aymer was the son of William de Valence, son of Hugh, Count of La Marche and Isabella of Angoulême. William was Henry III's half-brother through his mother's prior marriage to King John, and as such gained a central position in the kingdom of England. He had come to the earldom of Pembroke through his marriage to Joan de Munchensy, granddaughter of William Marshal. Aymer was the third son of his family, so little is known of his birth and early years. He is believed to have been born some time between 1270 and 1275. As his father was on crusade with the Lord Edward until January 1273, a date towards the end of this period is more likely. With the death in battle in Wales of his remaining brother William in 1282 (John, the elder brother, was dead in 1277), Aymer found himself heir to the earldom of Pembroke. William de Valence died in 1296, and Aymer inherited his father's French lands, but had to wait until his mother died in 1307 to succeed to the earldom. Through inheritance and marriages his lands consisted of – apart from the county palatine in Pembrokeshire – property spread out across England primarily in a strip from Gloucestershire to East Anglia, in south-east Ireland ( Wexford), and French lands in the Poitou- and Calais areas.

In 1297 he accompanied Edward I on a campaign to Flanders, and seems to have been knighted by this time. With his French connections he was in the following years a valuable diplomat in France for the English king. He also served as military commander in Scotland, and won an important victory over Robert Bruce in 1306 at the Battle of Methven, only to be routed himself by Bruce at Loudon Hill the next year.

Writing in 1914, T.F. Tout, one of the first historians to make a thorough academic study of the period, considered Pembroke the one favourable exception in an age of small-minded and incompetent leaders. Tout wrote of a 'middle party', led by Pembroke, representing a moderate position between the extremes of Edward and Lancaster. This 'middle party' supposedly took control of royal government through the Treaty of Leake in 1318. In his authoritative study of 1972, J.R.S. Philips refutes this view. In spite of misgivings with the king's favourites, Pembroke was consistently loyal to Edward. What was accomplished in 1318 was not the takeover by a 'middle party', but simply a restoration of royal power.

Aymer married twice; his first marriage, before 1295, was to Beatrice, daughter of Raoul de Clermont, lord of Nesle in Picardy and constable of France. Beatrice died in 1320, and in 1321 he married Marie de St Pol, daughter of Gui de Châtillon, count of St Pol and butler of France. He never had any legitimate children, but he had an illegitimate son, Henry de Valence, whose mother is unknown. Pembroke's most lasting legacy is probably through his second wife, who in 1347 founded Pembroke College in Cambridge. The family arms are still represented on the dexter side of the college arms. Aymer de Valence was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his tomb can still be seen as a splendid example of contemporary architecture.

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