IS the next parish from Smeeth northward, being
usually called Birchall. In Domesday it is written
Belice. It lies between Braborne lees and Hatchpark, and is a very small parish, having in it no more
than the court-ledge, and four or five other houses.
The soil of it mostly a deep stiff clay. It is a very obscure out of the way place, not having any traffic
through it, and is but very little known.
BIRCHOLT, at the time of the taking of Domesday,
was held by Hugo de Montiort, under the general
title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:
The same Hugo holds Belice. Turgis held it of king
Edward, and it was taxed for one suling. The arable
land is. . . . . In demesne there is one carucate, and
two villeins, with one borderer having one carucate.
There are three acres of meadow.
These two estates, in the time of king Edward the
Confessor, were worth sixty shillings, and afterwards
twenty shillings, now sixty shillings.
Robert de Montfort, grandson of Hugh beforementioned, submitting to a voluntary exile, the king
took possession of this among the rest of his estates;
after which it was held by the Criols, and under them
again, in the reign of king Edward I. by Philip de
Columbers, in which name it does not seem to have
continued long; for in the reign of Edward III. it
was held jointly by a family who took their name of
Bircholt from it. How long the portion above-mentioned, in which the manor of Bircholt, and two parts
of the advowson of the church of Bircholt, I do not
cluded, continued in the name of Bircholt, I do not
find; but in king Henry IV.'s reign, as appears by
several antient court-rolls, Richard Halke, or Hawke
as they were usually called, of West Halks, in Kingsnoth, was the proprietor of it; in whose descendants
it continued down to William Halke, who resided here
in the reign of queen Elizabeth. He left an only
daughter and heir Joane, who married Hamon Handville, of Ulcombe, and thereby entitled him to the possession of this manor. This family was originally of
Handville, or Hanville-green, in Waltham. They
removed to Ulcombe in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, and bore for their arms, Argent, a lion
rampant, sable, the field semee of crosses, patee of the second. (fn. 1) One of his descendants, Stephen Anvill, or
Handfield, having purchased of Sir Thomas Scott in
the reign of king Charles II. the manors of Stretchland,
alias Foreland, and of Stephens, alias Pounds, (which
had formerly owners of the name of Punde, and afterwards became the property of the Whiting's) in this
parish of Bircholt and in Braborne, together with the
other third part of the advowson of the church of Bircholt, which had been vested in the same proprietors,
became possessed of the whole property of these manors, as well as of the advowson of this church, and
there is yet a farm in this parish called by the name of
Handfield, from their possessing it; all which he conveyed, about the year 1727, to Cale, in which name it
continued down to John Cale, esq. of Barming, barrister-at-law, who died possessed of it in 1777, and by
his will devised this, among the rest of his estates in
this county, to the heirs of Thomas Prowse, esq. of
Somersetshire, in consequence of which his two daughters and coheirs became entitled to it; the youngest of
whom married Sir John Mordaunt, bart. of Warwickshire, (fn. 2) and they continue the present possessors of this
manor, with the advowson of the church of Bircholt as
above mentioned, in undivided moieties. There is a
large antient house still remaining on this estate.
There are no charities belonging to this parish. The
poor constantly relieved are two, casually the same.
THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of
The church, which was dedicated to St. Margaret,
has been many years in ruins, though some small part
of the walls are yet remaining. It was standing in the
year 1518, as appears by a legacy then left towards the
repair of it; but in 1578, the return made at the visitation was, that there was no church standing.
It is a rectory, valued in the king's books at
2l. 10s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 5s. Id. In 1578
here were communicants fourteen, and it was valued at
ten pounds. It is now worth about twenty pounds per
annum, and has three acres of glebe land belonging
The patronage of this rectory was always annexed to
the manor of Bircholt, as has been already mentioned
before, according to the shares the respective owners
had in it, that is to say, two turns in three in the family
of Halk, or Hawke, as they were usually called, and
afterwards of that of Handfield, or Hanville, one of
whom having purchased a remaining part of that manor, to which a third turn of presentation to this rectory
was annexed, became possessed of the entire advowson
of it. From the Handfields it went by sale to Cale,
and afterwards, in like way with the manor, as has been
already mentioned, to the coheirs of Prowse, who are
the present possessors of it, with the advowson of the
rectory of Bircholt.
Church of Bircholt.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Queen, hac vice.||John Cadham, April 8, 1596,
obt. 1616. (fn. 3) |
|William Halke, gent. of Bircholt.||Thomas Johnson, May 20, 1617,
|Lanceiot Harrison, A. M. May
20, 1623, obt. 1641. (fn. 4) |
|Sir Edward Scott.||Hugh Harrison, A. B. August 5,
|William Belcher, ejected 1662. (fn. 5) |
|Thomas Handfield, of Ulcombe.||John Kosse, Nov. 4, 1662. (fn. 6) |
|Simon How, obt. 1673.|
|Christopher Harris, A. B. Oct17, 1673. (fn. 7) |
|The King, by lapse.||William Howdell, A. M. Oct. 2.
1731, resigned 1743. (fn. 8) |
|Charles Hayes, esq.||Curteis Wightwick, A. M. inducted Oct. 15, 1743, resig.
1750. (fn. 9) |
|The King, by lapse.||John Howdell, Sept. 28. 1750,
|John Cale, esq.||William Polhill, A. B. Nov. 19,
1762, resigned 1773. (fn. 10) |
|Thomas Jordan, A. B. 1774, the