Intro Picture

The Ancient "Ladd" Manor in England

Gathered by:
Donald M. Ladd, Jr. of Los Altos, Calif.,

"The name Ladd or Lade, both spellings belong distinctly to the same family, is essentially Kentish. The Estate of Bowick in the Hundred of Loningsborough was in very ancient times, the residence of the Ladds. The name traveled over the border into Sussex but all documents point to the existence of but one family of Ladds previous to the seventeenth century." So wrote Mr. E. de Vermont in 1886 in America Heraldic, the first major endeavor to regularize armorial bearings of American citizens. He included only those arms brought to the New World prior to 1800.

The Estate mentioned, called Bowick, Bowyck or, at present Boyke Manor, is located at Ottinge in Elham Parish, Kent, the village of Elham lying close by. Of interest is the fact that the first mention of the name occurs in documents of the years 1122 to 1136 "Boiwiche" being the spelling given. The meaning: "boy" or "young man" plus "wic, " a dwelling place, which would seem to mean the surname of its owners. Family charts generally begin with John Ladd, ob. 1475, though of course, family occupancy antedated him considerably. In the Visitations of Kent he is listed as John Lade of Otting in Elham.

"Bowick, says Hasted's History of Kent, 18th century, is a manor in the southwest part of Elham Parish, situated in the borough of its own name, which was 'in very ancient times' the residence of the Lads' who in several of their old evidences were written de Lad. The manor reputedly passed from the family in 1601 through the marriage of Sylvester Ladd, daughter of one Vincent, into the Nethersole Family. Their wills, preserved in Canterbury, exist from time of Henry VI. (15th century) They constantly styled themselves 'of Elam'."

The manor house which stands today is an example of the "Kentish Hall" house and was begun about 1470, however, there are no longer manorial lands connected with it. Originally, a central hall was constructed, open from floor to roof, without chimney, the fire burning in a central brazier and the smoke escaping or, expected to do so, through slatted openings high up on the walls. On one side of the hall was a double story wing, one containing the parlor and apartment of the owner and wife, the other the buttery and accommodation for maids and children. In the hall on the plastered tile floor strewn with rush, the men servants slept. Fireplaces were for the parlor or the bed chambers. Construction was of wattle, rock and plaster, secured by great timbers of oak.

Many of these timbers came from decommissioned ships and may be seen in the interior ceiling. Later a great chimney was added and a second story was built inside the hall. One large beam near the entrance had its original location in the old monastery of Elam, destroyed at the time of the dissolution of ecclesiastical properties by Henry VIII. Perhaps dating from the same era is the secret room or "priest's hole" which can be entered by pressing a section of Tudor paneling in the drawing room. This room, on the ground floor of one of the original "wings," boasts a large fireplace with dark carved woodwork. Interestingly enough, until the latter part of the nineteenth century a ladder arrangement was used to climb upstairs. Now there is a pleasant staircase.

The appearance of Boyke Manor is striking. Its facade, a National Monument, is storybook Tudor: white with great dark beams, a few, by design, hewn from curving branches; hip roof of tile; mullion windows, and a minimum of brick at the foundation. Boyke today also comprises a thatched barn, dovecote and flower gardens. Its ghost, a restless faceless monk, was exorcized in the 1950s.

"Ladwood, states Hasted, was another manor in Elham Parish, lying at its eastern boundary next to the Parish of Acrise, to which it now belongs. The name was sometimes written Ladswood to signify that it was the property of the Ladds of Boyke Manor."

The present house displays a brick exterior over the original Tudor construction, with tile roof and is possessed of an 18th century addition set at right angles to the house. At an early date the Rolph family became the owners. The fireplace is the oldest part of the structure and may date from an earlier era than the remainder of the habitation. The house lies at the bottom of a small valley of the same name - Ladwood. On a ridge to the west stands the ancient Lad Wood which gave its name to the old manor which was first recorded as Ladwude in 1240. The first individual owner known is one William Ladd, 1304, who was doubtless lord of Boyke.

The Ladd Family has been quite prominent in England ever since William I, surnamed "the Conqueror," King of England and Duke of Normandy, invaded England in about 1060. They were evidently loyal supporters and followers of his, very likely officers in his army as they were granted land in Kent County, not far from Hastings where the decisive battle - "Battle of Hastings," was fought, in which he won the right and title to the Crown of England.  Ever since that time, the family, spelling their names variously according to the changes of time and circumstances, de Lad, le Lad, Lade and Ladd, have lived in that and adjoining counties. Edward Wales Ladd, of London, states that his ancestors, the first Lads came to England with William the Conqueror from France and settled at Deal, Kent County, where a portion of land was granted them. His remote ancestors, he says, were seafaring people - Government pilots at Margate. (Most of the above paragraph was gathered from the "Ladd Family," but not verbatim, published by Warren Ladd, 1890.)

The Ladd coat of arms bears further proof that the Ladds were followers of the Royal Family; for on the shield are three scallop shells which proof designates that their ancestors had visited the Holy Land. Now in 1096, Robert, the eldest son of William, (the " Conqueror,") who, by succession should have been King - but wasn't; mortgaged his right and title to Normandy to his brother for a sufficient sum for him to join the Crusade to the Holy Land. We deduced that the younger generation of Ladds joined Robert - hence the scallop shells on the Ladd coat of arms. It is said, too, that during the middle ages, the Pilgrims who visited the shrine of St. James at Campo Stella, ornamented their clothing with scallop shells. The latter is in Spain. (From encyclopedia and "query column" of Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

There have been quite a few titled Ladds through the centuries as well as representatives in Parliament. Hasted, in his History of Kent, says the family is one of good antiquity in this country, in several parts of which they were possessed of land which still bears their name.  In the history of Hampshire, one William Ladd is mentioned as a juryman 1294 in the reign of Edward I. In the History of Surry it is said that in 1325, King Edward II, bought the Henley Manor which he granted to the Bishop of Exeter; the next year he revoked the grant and transferred it to Walter Lad. This manor contained 1,344 acres. From 1713 to 1722, John Ladd represented Southwark in Surry in Parliament; and was created a Baronet in 1740." (From the Ladd Family.)" February 20, 1955 [should be 15??], Thomas Ladde was a witness to the will of James Diggs of the Parish of Barham, Kent County, England. The will was proved November 20, 1540. (Va. State Library.)

From the Almanac of Liberty by William 0. Douglas, he mentions one Thomas Ladd, a merchant, who, in 1607 had attended a secret meeting of an outlawed religious group and was imprisoned by the high commission. Nicholas Fuller, as counsel sought his release by habeas corpus in the civil courts on the ground that it was unlawful and that the Commission had no authority to impose fines or to imprison men. Fuller was fined 200 pounds and imprisoned for his efforts.


On your next holiday in England, why not stay where your Ladd ancestors lived 500 years ago!

Visit Boyke Manor Cottages at:

"We would always give a special welcome to the Ladd families and a tour of the Manor House...." Paul Wilkin