Remains at Shurland House. Not open to the public.
In the parish of Eastchurch, in the Isle of Sheppey, lying E. of Minster on high ground, is the mansion of Shurland, once apparently a grand and spacious building, reared on the site of a former castle, the manor of Shurland having anciently owners of this surname.
Sir Jeffrey de Shurland was the first known possessor, in the time of Henry III., in the ninth year of whose reign he was constable of Dover Castle. His son, Robert de Shurland, was a warrior of some importance during the reign of Edward I., and attended that monarch at the siege of Caerlaverock together with other Kentish gentlemen, receiving in consequence of his services the honour of knighthood. He had a grant of wreckage for his estates, a privilege which gave a man whatever he could reach, riding into the water, and touch with the point of his lance.
Sir Robert is buried at Minster under a tomb within an arch on the S. wall of the church, where he is represented lying cross-legged at full length, and there is also a horse’s head sculptured in the marble at the right hand. The signification of this is given in a story current still in the country, which tells how this lord of Sheppey having caused a friar to be buried in a grave in which he had refused to inter a corpse until his fee should be paid, and thereby having incurred great odium and also prosecution, executed the apocryphal feat of riding on horseback out to sea for two miles in order to intercept the Queen, on her passage that way, and thus obtained pardon for his act. His good horse bore him back to land, when it is said he met an old woman who told him that, some day, this horse would be the death of him ; whereon de Shurland at once stabbed the horse. Years after he is said, in crossing the beach, to have come on the bleached bones of his horse, and in defiance to have given a violent kick to the skull, when a piece of bone pierced his foot and by mortification caused his death, as predicted. (See the “Ingoldsby Legends,” “Grey Dolphin.”) His daughter and heiress, Margaret, married William Cheyney, whose descendant, Sir Thomas Cheyney (temp. Elizabeth), was Warden of the Cinque Ports ; her tomb also is in Minster church. Sir Thomas rebuilt the mansion of his clay with materials from his former residence at Chilham, and lived here in much honour, being succeeded by his son Henry, who was a spendthrift. The present house is built on the site of the old castle, of which the gatehouse remains. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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