LIES the next parish eastward from Upchurch,
it is written in antient deeds Halegestow, and is usually
called Lower Halstow, from its low situation, and to
distinguish it from the parish of High Halstow, in the
hundred of Hoo.
It is a very obscure and unfrequented parish,
though the road from Chatham to the King's Ferry
leads through the lower part of it, across a branch of
the creek, here called the Stray, which is at high water
hardly passable with safety. The little streamlet which
rises southward near Newington church, runs on hither to the corn mill, belonging to All Souls college, situated on another branch of this creek, up to
which the tide flows likewise, the mill being turned
by it; below these the two branches acquire the name
of Halstow creek, and soon afterwards joining, about
three miles below, that of Standgate creek, a little
further from which it flows into the river Medway, at
some distance above Sheerness. At the lower end of
Standgate creek, all vessels arriving from foreign countries, where the plague, or any other infections distemper is known to rage, are obliged by order of the
privy council and the king's proclamation to perform
quarantine for a limited time, and for the purpose of
airing the cargoes of them, there are two large hospital
ships, commonly called lazarettos, being the hulks of
forty-four gun ships stationed here constantly, on board
which the goods and merchandize are removed, for
the purpose of airing them, and a government cutter
attends to see this properly observed, and to prevent
the crews getting on shore before the time is expired,
Halstow creek above this becomes so shallow, as
to be used only by the small vessels belonging to the
dredger men, who live here, and make up the principal part of the inhabitants of this parish, it is navigable in both branches as high up as the stray on the
one, and the bridge built over the other, just above
the church, where there is a wharf belonging to All
Souls college, which, if in a proper condition, might
be made of great use to the neighbouring country,
which, as appears by the survey made in the 8th year
of queen Elizabeth, by her order, was then called
Halstow key, and that there were then in this parish
houses inhabited twenty-four, ships and boats fourteen, from one ton to seven; and persons occupied in
carrying from port to port and fishing fourteen.
There are two small hamlets in the lower part of it,
near the creek, the one built round a green, and called
from thence Halstow-green, and the other at a small
distance from it called Lower street. This part of the
parish lies on a level, and open to the adjoining
marshes, which render it most unpleasant, and at the
same time unhealthy to an extreme, the look of which
the inhabitants carry in their countenances; indeed,
it seems so enveloped among creeks, marshes and salts,
the look over which extends as far as the eye can see,
that it seems a boundary, beyond which the traveller
dreads to hazard his future safety.
The whole of this parish, excepting towards the
marshes, has a woody appearance, the shaves and
hedge-rows being very broad round the fields, it contains about twelve hundred acres of land, the soil of
it is in general a very stiff and wet clay, a heavy tillage land, some few parts of it are gravel, and others,
a black unfertile sand, with much broom and brakes,
or fern on it. The clayey lands have of late years
been much improved, by spreading them over with
lime, brought at a heavy expence from the upper
part of Hartlip, a distance of between three and four
miles, by which means they produce a good crop of
wheat. Near the stray there are some fertile meadows and orchards, the lands in general let at a high
rent of fifteen and twenty shillings an acre, much of
it throughout the parish belongs to All Souls college,
as part of their manor farm of Horsham, in Upchurch. Towards the eastern part of the parish the
hills rise pretty high, over much of which the adjoining manor of Norwood in Milton claims. In the
north-east part is Basser farm, almost the whole of
which is pasture, and some of it so fertile as to be good
fatting land for beasts.
The paramount manor of Milton claims over this parish, subordinate to which is
THE MANOR OF BERKESORE, commonly called
BASSER, which is situated in the north-east part of
this parish. It was given to the monks of the priory
of Christ-church, in Canterbury, to the finding of a
light before the shrine of St. Anselm there, which
gift was confirmed by Henry II. who added to it
fifteen pounds of rent in this place likewise, as did
Reginald de Clere, certain land bounding to that of
Roger de Wardun and William de Northwode.
King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted and
confirmed to the prior and convent of Christ-church,
free-warren in all their demesne land in Berkesore,
held in the time of his grandfather king Henry III.
In which state this manor continued till the dissolution of the above-mentioned priory, in the 31st
year of Henry VIII. when it was, with all the lands
and possessions belonging to it, surrendered up into
the king's hands, who settled this manor, by his dotation-charter, in his 33d year, on his new erected
dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains.
The family of Darell, of Calehill, have for many
generations been lessees of this manor under the dean
and chapter. Sir Robert Darell held it as such in the
17th year of king James I. and in his descendants it
has continued down to Henry Darell, esq. of Calehill, the present lessee of it. A court baron is regularly
held for it.
A HOUSE, with a garden, and two acres of land, in this parish, occupied in 1775 by William Judson, at the yearly rent
of 5l. were given by a person unknown, to the poor of this parish.
ONE ACRE of land in Southfield, in Halstow, belonging to
West Hide, esq. in 1775 occupied by Samuel Buckland, at 10s.
per annum, was given by a like person to the same purpose.
WILLIAM ROBINSON, of this parish, by will in 1632, gave
20s, in money, and two bushels of wheat, out of land now used
with the Stray farm in this parish, to be distributed yearly on
St. Thomas's Day for ever.
CATH. WOOTTON, of this parish, gave by will in 1678, a field
called Budington, in Newington, of the annual produce of
20s. to be distributed yearly on Easter Monday to the poor of
this parish for ever.
A PERSON UNKNOWN gave a cottage and two tenements,
with a garden, in the lower street, worth 4l. per annum, to the
poor of it; all which gifts are vested in the minister and
The poor constantly relieved here are about eighteen; casually sixteen.
HALSTOW is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of
The church, which stands close to the creek, is dedicated to St. Margaret; it consists of three small
isles and one chancel, with a low pointed steeple, in
which hang five bells, and has nothing remarkable in
it. The church of Halstow was part of the antient
possessions of the priory of Christ-church in Canterbury, as appears by the instrument of archbishop Baldwin, who came to the see of Canterbury in 1184,
who, at the presentation of the prior and convent,
granted to his beloved son John de London, nephew
of the then blessed martyr Thomas, the church of St.
Margaret of Halegestowa, in perpetual alms; saving
the pension of one marc, which the said John should
be bound to pay to the monks above-mentioned,
twice in each year. (fn. 1)
King Henry III. in his 19th year, granted to the
prior and convent of Christ-church, the privilege of a
fair at the church of Halowesto.
In which situation this church continued till the
dissolution of the priory in the 31st year of king
Henry VIII. when it was, with all the lands and possessions of it, surrendered up into the king's hands.
The church of Halstow, with the vicarage of it,
did not remain long in the hands of the crown, for
the king settled it by his dotation-charter, in his 33d
year, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains, the
parsonage being leased out by them for twenty-one
years, but the advowson of the vicarage they retain in
their own hands.
The yearly rent to the dean and chapter is 3l. 6s. 8d.
who pay yearly to the archdeacon five shillings for
procurations for it.
The vicarage is a discharged living in the king's
books of the yearly certified value of forty pounds,
the yearly tenths being 16s. 2¼d. In 1642 it was valued at sixty pounds per annum, first receipt. Communicants eighty-two.
Dr. Francis Walwin, prebendary of Canterbury,
in 1770, but a short time before his death, paid into
the hands of the Rev. John Tucker, of Canterbury,
and rector of Ringwold, since deceased, ten pounds
to be laid out for the benefit of this vicarage.
John White, vicar of this parish in 1696, presented
a petition to archbishop Tension, setting forth, that
he had two vicarage-houses, one an old uninhabited
house adjoining to the sea side, which every spring
tide overflowed with salt water, and which the seamen and others had in a manner demolished; that
the other is a house given by two maids, who died
there, and bequeathed it to the vicar for ever; that it
had been recovered by his predecessor by course of
law, and that he himself had inhabited it for twenty
years. He therefore prayed the archbishop to grant
him licence to demolish the former, in regard that the
vicarage was small, not being worth thirty pounds
per annum. To which the archbishop assented, and
granted his licence for that purpose in 1696.
The scite of the old house and garden was afterwards taken possession of by a dredgerman; a house
has been since rebuilt on it, by a person who now
claims it as his freehold, and the vicar has not as yet
made any attempt to disposses him of it.
Church of Halstow
|Or by whom presented.|
|Dean and chapter of Canterbury.||George Atton, A. B. Feb. 13,
1595, obt. 1609.|
|John Warde, Jan. 30, 1609,
|William Tonstall, A. M. Nov,
27, 1617, resig. 1619.|
|Thomas Parker, A. M. Nov.
1619, obt. 1632.|
|Henry Dering, A. M. July 13,
1632, obt. 1666. (fn. 2) |
|John White, A. B. Nov. 1,
1666, obt. 1706. (fn. 3) |
|Ralph Milway, March 11, 1707,
|Thomas Lamprey, jun. Jan. 1,
1760, the present vicar.|