The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1796.
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This place is so called to distinguish it from Wickham near Hayes. It lies in the hundred of Little and Lesnes, at the distance of eleven miles from London, and about a mile to the south of the high road to Dover. The parish, which is bounded by Bexley, Plumstead, and a very small part of Eltham, contains about 700 acres, principally arable and woodland, there being a very small quantity of pasture. The soil is chiefly gravel; in some parts, clay. This parish pays the sum of 77l. to the land-tax, which is at the rate of about 2s. in the pound.
Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, had a charter of freewarren in this parish, anno 1284 (fn. 1); he died seised of three parts of the manor in 1292 (fn. 2). From him they descended, with the estates described in Eastham and Westham, to the families of Handlo and Lovell (fn. 3). William Lord Lovell died seised of the manor in 1455 (fn. 4) : on the death of his son, Francis Viscount Lovell, who was stain in battle, anno 1488, it was inherited by Henry Lovell, Lord Morley; and on his decease, in 1490, it escheated to the Crown (fn. 5). Henry VIII. granted it, in 1512, to Sir John Petche for 60 years (fn. 6); and, in 1514, gave the reversion to Thomas Duke of Norfolk (fn. 7), whose great-grandson, in 1562, conveyed it to Richard Carell and John Hutchinson; who, by his direction, aliened it to John Olyffe, Esq. Alderman of London (fn. 8). Mr. Olyffe's daughter and sole heir married John Leigh, Esq. of Addington in the county of Surrey, in whose family this manor continued till the death of Sir John Leigh, in 1737; when a suit in Chancery commenced relative to the inheritance of his estates, which, in 1742, was determined in favour of Mary, wife of John Bennett, Esq. and Anne, wife of Henry Spencer, Esq. daughters of Wooley Leigh, Esq. younger brother of the deceased (fn. 9). The decree was confirmed by an Act of Parliament. In 1767, a division of the estates took place; when this manor was allotted to the Bennett family (fn. 10), and is now the property of the Rev. John Bennett. The old manor-house, which was for some time the residence of the Leighs, has been pulled down.
At Welling, a hamlet on the road to Dover, (partly in this parish (fn. 11),) is a house, which was formerly the seat of the Denhams. The Rev. Thomas Cookes, who married Anne, only daughter and heir of John Denham, Esq. sold it to Mr. Benjamin Winkworth (fn. 12). In the village of Wickham is the seat of the late Richard Jones, Esq. now in the occupation of his widow.
The parish church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a small ancient structure, of slint and stone, consisting of a chancel and nave. At the west end is a small turret and a wooden spire. The font is octagonal, ornamented with quatrefoils. On the floor of the chancel is a brass plate (with small half-length figures) in memory of John de Bradigdone and Maud his wife. Some brass plates in memory of William Payne, yeoman of the guard, 1568, and his three wives, Elizabeth, Joan, and Joan (fn. 13), have lately been covered with a pew. On the south wall of the nave is a monument in memory of Catherine, daughter of John Barton, serjeant at law, wife, first of John Leigh, Esq. of Addington; secondly, of William Walsham, Esq. of the Inner Temple (fn. 13). She died in 1715, and her second husband, William Walsham, in 1728.
East-Wickham is a chapel of ease to Plumstead, being always held by the vicar of that place; who is instituted to his vicarage, with the chapel of East-Wickham annexed. The great tithes of this parish passed with those of Plumstead till the year 1575, when they were conveyed by Sir Edward Boughton to John (afterwards Sir John) Hawkins, who settled them on his hospital for decayed mariners at Chatham (fn. 15). They are now in the tenure of Mr. Christopher Chapman.
Mr. William Foster of Croydon, in the year 1728, founded a school at this place, for the education of twenty poor children of East-Wickham and Welling; endowing it with some lands at Croydon, now worth about 20l. per annum, as a salary for the master.