The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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IS the next parish northward. It is written in antient deeds Bekesley, and derives its name from the words Becc, or Beke, which signify a stream, and ley, a pasture. In Domesday-book it is written Bix; in the Textus Roffensis, Bixle, and now, in general, Bexley.
The parish of Bexley is very extensive, being about three miles across each way. There is great variety of country in it, with frequent hill and dale, the whole of it interspersed with much coppice wood, especially towards the west, the soils of it are various, but the most predominant ones are gravel and a stiff clay; great part of it is very poor and barren, (excepting in the vale near the river) and much covered with heath and furze; eastward of the village it is very hilly, and near the road there leading to Dartford heath, which is at the bounds of it, there is much sand; westward of it are the several seats of Lamienby, Blendon, and Danson, and the several small hamlets of Hurst, Halfway-street, Bridgen, Blendon, Upton, and Welling, or indeed, more properly, Wellend, (which name was given to it from the safe arrival of the traveller at it, after having escaped the danger of robbers through the hazardous road of Shooter's hill hither) and among the woods, at the western extremity, that of Blacksen, the manor of which belongs to Mr. Richard Day. At the southern bounds of the parish, are the seats of Mount and Dale Mascal; and at the northern, that of Hallplace, beyond which it extends to the hither side of the London high road to Dover, which crosses Bexley heath for a mile in length, along the bounds of it. The several high roads from the Crays, Dartford-heath, Eltham, and the London road at Bexley heath and Crayford lead through the village of Bexley, which is situated in the eastern part of the parish in the valley, on the banks of the river Cray. From its size, and number of inhabitants, it may well be stiled the town of Bexley; in it, as well as in the several hamlets abovementioned, there are many handsome modern-built houses, inhabited by genteel families of fortune. The church stands at the east end of it, and adjoining to the church-yard. Still further eastward is the manor place, which has for many years been made use of only as a farm-house. Opposite the church southward, stood the parsonage, a large and curious old timbered building, lately pulled down, but the yard, barns, and other buildings belonging to it are still remaining.
The river Cray flows through the middle of this village, where it turns a corn-mill belonging to the lord of the manor, and then passing under a brick bridge, erected a few years since by the subscription of the neighbouring gentry, it flows on by the late Mr. Thorpe's gardens to those of Hall-place, a little above which it receives into it on the west side a small brook, which rises above Lamienby, and having passed through Blendon paddock, crosses the Eltham road on its way hither, where it joins the river Cray, just below Bourne place. Hence the river flows on by Hall-place, and then by the farm of Wantsum, belonging to Shovel Blackwood, esq. unto Crayford; and here it may not be improper to observe, that the manor of Bexley claims over this river, at the entrance of it, into this parish from North Cray, till within one field of Crayford bridge.
Along the edge of the sandy bank for about a rod, on the summit of Park-hill, in this parish, and opposite the white gate, Mr. Thorpe observed growing in patches, that elegant little plant, the smallest of the fern kind, Trichomanes of Parkinson, 1051, mas, Gerarde, 985, English black maiden-bair. Gerarde, in his Herbal says, he found it growing in a sandly lane in Betsum, in the parish of Southfleet, which he thinks must be the lane leading to Shell-hill there, from Greenstreet-green, but by mistake has given the figure wrong. The above plants in Bexley were totally destroyed in 1785, in paring down the bank to widen the road, except a few which he transplanted on the walls of his garden. Up the lane, by Marle-house, he found some years since the Moschetellina foliis fumarid bulbosa, Radix cava Minima Viridi flore, Gerarde 933, Tuberous Moscatell, some of which he transplanted to his garden, where they afterwards flourished. (fn. 1)
CENULPH, king of Mercia, having made the kingdom of Kent tributary to him, gave to Wilfred, archbishop of Canterbury, for the use of Christ church, in Canterbury, ten plow lands, viz. Bixley, L. S. A. (fn. 2) which three letters mean Libere sicut Adisham; that is, that the lands given by this charter to the church should be granted with the same franchises, and liberties as Adisham originally was. In most of the Saxon grants to Christ church the archbishops procured the addition of this franchise, if the lands were in this county.
In Helmestrei hundred the archbishop himself holds Bix. It was taxed at 3 sulings in the time of king Edward the Confessor, and now for 2. The arable land is . . . . In demesne there are 2 carucates, and 41 villeins, with 15 borderers having 10 carucates. There is a church, and 3 mills of 48 shillings, and 8 acres of meadow, wood for the pannage of 100 hogs. In the whole it was worth, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, as well as afterwards, 12 pounds, and now 20 pounds, and yet it pays 30 pounds and 8 shillings.
Archbishop Walter Reynolds, in the 9th year of king Edward II. procured a market weekly at Bixle, upon a Tuesday, and a fair upon Holyrood-day. (fn. 3)
This manor remained part of the possessions of the see of Canterbury till archbishop Cranmer, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. granted it, with all his estates in this parish, parcel of the archbishopric, of the yearly value of 503l. 14s. 5d. over and above all reprises, excepting some annual payments, amounting to 29l. 17s. 2d. per annum, to that king. (fn. 4)
The manor of Bexley continued in the crown, till it was granted by king James I. in fee to Sir John Spilman, his jeweller, originally descended out of Germany, who quickly afterwards conveyed it by sale to that great antiquary William Camden, esq. clarencieux, king at arms; (fn. 5) who, not content with devoting his pen to the service of the learned world, endowed it also with the greatest part of his fortune, by founding an bistorical lecture in the university of Oxford.
For this purpose, he by his deed, in the 19th year of the same reign, acknowledged in chancery made over his right in this manor, with all profits, emoluments, &c. to the chancellor, masters, and scholars of the university of Oxford and their successors, with this proviso, that the profits of it, which were computed to be of the yearly value of four hundred pounds, should be enjoyed by Mr. William Heather, his heirs and executors, for ninety-nine years, from the death of the donor. During which time the possessor of it, should pay to the professor of history in Oxford one hundred and forty pounds per annum, and after the expiration of the above term, that the whole estate should be vested in the university. (fn. 6)
Mr.Camden died in 1623, on which the fee of this manor became vested in the university of Oxford, subject to Mr. William Heather's term of ninety-nine years; who parted with his interest in it to Sir Francis Leigh, of Addington, in Surry. His great grandson, Francis Leigh, esq. of Hawley, was in possession of this manor when the above term expired, and had then a lease of it granted to him by the chancellor, masters, and scholars of the university, under their common seal, for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent of one hundred and forty pounds; which has since been renewed from time to time, in the usual method of collegiate leases.
Francis Leigh, esq. above-mentioned, died in 1734, possessed of this lease; as did his son, Francis Leigh, esq. of Hawley, in 1774, without issue, and by his will, bequeathed his interest in it to his nephew, Richard, only son of his brother Richard Leigh, esq. serjeantat-law, deceased, who is the present lessee of it.
Some few copyholds are held of this manor; the rest are free tenants, and are many in number, almost all the lands in the parish of Bexley, which is very large, being held of it. At the court-leet two constables are elected, one for the town, and the other for the upland liberty of the parish, and one aleconner.
HIGHSTREET-HOUSE is a feat, which stands in the village of Bexley, adjoining to the church-yard. It seems to have been a mansion of note for some ages past, and was formerly in the possession of the family of Goldwell, whose arms were carved in stone, on several chimney pieces in it. After which it passed into the family of Austen, of Hall-place. Sir Robert Austen, bart. of Hall-place, died possessed of it in 1666, upon which his widow, Lady Ann Austen retired to this seat with her younger children, she built a handsome front to it, and died here in 1687, being succeeded in the possession of it by her third son Edward Austen, esq. whose son John Austen, esq. died possessed of it in 1750, s.p. on which his two sisters, Elizabeth and Anne, became his coheirs, and they soon afterwards joined in the sale of it to John Thorpe, esq. who was descended of a family which had been of good repute in this county for several generations, one of whom, Edward Thorpe, was of Rolvenden, in king Henry VIIth's reign, whose descendants were afterwards of Westerham, one of whom, Dr. John Thorpe, M.D. was of Rochester, and was F.R.S. a most learned and indesatigable antiquary, as the several works he published, and the numerous manuscripts he left behind him, sufficiently prove. He died in 1750, and was buried at Stockbury, leaving, by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of John Woodhouse, esq. an only son and heir, John Thorpe, esq. above-mentioned, the purchaser of this seat. He was F.S.A. and as well as his father a most curious searcher into the antiquities of this county, and well versed in antient and natural history. He rebuilt this seat in 1761, and resided in it till a few years before his death, when, having lost his wife, he removed to Chippenham, in Wiltshire, where he died in 1792, æt. 78, and was buried by his own desire in the church yard of Harden Huish, not far distant in the same county. He bore for his arms, quarterly, 1st and 4th, Azure a fess dancette ermine; second and third, Azure, three crescents argent. By his first wife Catherine, only daughter of Dr. Laurence Holker, of Gravesend, (who died before him in 1789, and he remarried the widow of the Rev. Mr. Holland, of Stifford, in Essex, who survived him, but by whom he had no issue) he left two daughters, his coheirs, the eldest of whom Catherina Elizabetha married John Meggison, esq. of Morpeth, in Northumberland, by whom she has living six sons; the youngest married Cuthbert Potts, esq. of Pall-Mall, surgeon, by whom she has surviving two sons and one daughter, after their father's death they became jointly intitled to this seat among his other estates, and afterwards on a partition, by a decree of chancery, Highstreet-house was allotted to Mrs. Potts, whose husband, in her right, is now enentitled to it, but it is occupied by the hon. Mrs. Powis.
LAMIENBY, now corruptly called Lamaby, is a seat in this parish, situated about two miles westward from Bexley church, between the hamlets of Hurst and Halfway-street. It once belonged to an antient family, called in deeds Lamienby, alias Sparrow, who bore, as appears by their seals, three chevrons for their coat of arms. The last of this name was Thomas Sparrow, who died in 1513, and lies buried in this church. He left Agnes, his daughter and sole heir, who carried this seat in marriage to James Goldwell, descended from the family of that name in Great Chart.
A good house was erected here by him and his heir; which, in memory of them, was called Lamienby Goldwell, which at length became the property of his grandson John Goldwell, in the reign of king Charles I. and he resided here in 1657. (fn. 7) One of his descendants sold this seat to James, and John James passed it away to Nicholas Warren, esq. who owned it in 1715, and he conveyed it to Thomas Foster, who, about the year 1744, passed it away by sale to William Steele, esq. who rebuilt this seat in its present from, and laid the ground round it into a park. His son dying without issue, this estate descended to his four sisters and coheirs, one of whom, some years ago, parted with her interest in it to Robert Dingley, esq. and the other three sisters joined in the sale of their respective shares to Mr. Michael Lejay, of London, who bequeathed them, by his will, to Anthony Chamier, esq. who died in 1780, and by his will directed his interest in it to be sold, accordingly his executors alienated it in 1783 to David Orme, esq. of Great St. Helen's, Bishopsgatestreet, London, M. D. Robert Dingley, esq. the possessor of the other fourth part, afterwards resided here. He was descended from Sir John Dingley, of Wolverton, in the Isle of Wight, who lived in king James the Ist's reign, whose ancestor held lands at Eatonbridge in this country, in king Edward the IIId's reign. He bore for his arms, Argent, a fess azure in chief, a mullet of the second between two hurts, a coat which this branch changed as to its colours, from that borne by the Dingleys of Wolverton, which were sable, instead of azure. (fn. 8) He married first, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Thompson, esq. of Boreham-hall, in Yorkshire, by whom he had Susanna Cecilia, married to the late Richard Hoare, esq. of Boreham-hall, in Essex, and Robert Henry, in holy orders, who married Miss Hills, of Colchester, in Essex, and died in 1793.—He married secondly, Esther, sister and heir of Thomas Spencer, esq. of London, who died s.p. in 1784. He died in 1781, and lies buried with his two wives, at Charlton, in this county, leaving his interest in this estate to his son, the Rev. Robert Henry Dingley, who, in 1783, alienated his fourth part of it to David Orme, esq. M.D. the purchaser of the other three fourths of it as before-mentioned, became possessed of the whole of it. He married Miss Thomas, of Highgate, in Middlesex, and now occasionally resides here, having made several additions and improvements to this seat.
BLENDON-HALL, written in old deeds Bladindoncourt, is a seat which stands in the hamlet of Bridgen, in this parish, and was antiently in the possession of Jordan de Bladindon, a name in process of time contracted into Blendon; who, about the 1st of king Richard II. passed it away to Walsingham, in which family it continued till the latter end of the next reign of king Henry IV. when it was passed by sale to Ferbie, of Paul's Cray-hill, one of whose descendants, in the beginning of king Henry VI. conveyed it to William Marshall, who alienated it not long afterwards to Rawlins; in which name it continued for some generations, and then, by purchase, became the inheritance of May, who, in the reign of king Charles I. conveyed it to Wroth, descended from the antient family of that name at Durants, in Middlesex. (fn. 9) John Wroth, esq. was seized in fee of Blendon-hall, and the lands belonging to it in 1657, and was created a baronet in 1660, he bearing for his arms, Argent, on a bend sable, three lions heads erased of the field, crowned or. (fn. 10) He died in 1671, and this estate descended to his son and heir, Sir John Wroth, bart. subject to a mortgage term of one thousand years granted by his father.
In the year 1672, Edward Brewster became owner of the residue of this term; and as such took possession of Blendon-hall, and in 1673, conveyed his interest in them to Sir Edward Brett, who was descended from the antient family of the Bretts, of Whitstanton, in Somersetshire, and having served in Germany, under Gustavus Adolphus, was called upon by king Charles I. to assist him, and received from that king's hand the honour of knighthood, in the open field, on horseback. He afterwards commanded in the Netherlands, through favor of the Prince of Orange, and continued his command in the army for several years after the restoration. He resided here, and dying in 1684, without issue, he lies buried in this church. He bore for his arms, Or, a lion rampant between seven crosscroslets fitchee gules. By his will he devised his interest in this estate (the fee of which still remained in Sir John Wroth's heirs) to John, the first son of Henry Fisher, and Elizabeth his wife, daughter and heir of Elizabeth, his own sister. In pursuance of which, John Fisher, took the name of Brett, and became possessed of the residue of the mortgage term, and resided at Blendon hall. In 1731 he purchased, of Thomas Troyte and Cicelie his wife, and Thomas Palmer and Elizabeth his wife, the sisters and heirs at law of Sir Thomas, son of Sir John Wroth, who died s p. the see and inheritance of this estate, and dying without issue in 1732, devised Blendon-hall, and the lands belonging to it, by his will, to Jacob Sawbridge, late one of the South Sea Directors. He died in 1748, and was succeeded in this estate by his second son, Jacob Sawbridge, esq. of Canterbury, who, about 1763, conveyed it by sale to the right hon. lady Mary Scott, one of the four daughters of Charles Compton, fourth son of George, fourth earl of Northampton. She married first, Richard Haddock, esq. son of admiral Haddock, by whom she had one daughter; and secondly, in 1751, Arthur Scott, esq. commissioner of Chatham-yard, and a younger son of the Scotts, of Scott's-hall. He died in 1756, and left no issue by her.
Her two brothers succeeding in turn on the death of their uncle, George, earl of Northampton, to that title, she had given her, by special favor, the rank and precedence of an earl's daughter. She resided here, and erected on the old scite a neat mansion, and much improved the park and grounds about it, and dying in 1782, was buried at Bexley. She left the possession of this feat, by her will, to William Scott, esq. the eldest son of George Scott, esq. of Scott's-hall, by his second wife Cecilia, daughter of Sir Edward Dering, bart. and brother of Arthur Scott, esq. before-mentioned. He resided for some time at Blendon, till he removed, on his sister Mrs. Cecilia Scott's death to her house in Canterbury, where he now resides, and continues the owner of this estate, which is occupied by lieut. gen. Pattison, who resides at it.
DANSON-HILL is a manor and seat adjoining to the high Dover road, in the northern part of this parish, near Welling. It was formerly called the manor of Daunson, alias Daunsington, and in the reign of queen Elizabeth belonged to Matthew Parker, second son of Matthew, archbishop of Canterbury; who, dying without issue surviving, by his will devised it to the archbishop, his father, to be disposed of as he thought proper, who gave it to his son John by deed in 1574, (fn. 11) and he, together with Joan his wife, levied a fine of it in the 20th year of that reign; after which this manor came into the possession of John Styleman, of London, merchant, who died possessed of it in 1734, and lies buried in this church with his five wives. He bequeathed, by his will, the moiety of this estate (then let to John Selwyn, esq. who resided at Danson) for ever, in trust for the charities mentioned in it.
This moiety, in which Danson and the lands round it were included, was afterwards let to Mr. John Boyd, of London, merchant; who, in the 2d year of king George III. in pursuance of an agreement made by him with the trustees of this estate, procured an act for vesting a rent charge of one hundred pounds per annum in see simple in them, for the benefit of certain poor families described in the will, in lieu of the moiety of the lands devised in it for that purpose, and for vesting the moiety in see simple in him and his heirs.
Soon after this, Mr. Boyd erected on an eminence, a quarter of a mile from the old seat, a most elegant mansion of Portland stone, the inside of which is decorated in a superb and magnificent taste, and gave it the name of Danson-bill. The original design for this structure was given by the late ingenious Mr. Taylor, architect of the Bank, but several alterations were found necessary to be made to it, for the accommodation of a family, whilst the house was building, and two wings were added to it for that purpose. Behind the house, at a proper distance, is a most magnificient sheet of water, so contrived as to seem a beautiful serpentine river, flowing through the grounds. It was designed, and with much difficulty formed and secured by the noted Capability Brown, who likewise laid out the adjoining grounds, which are well cloathed with many thriving plantations of different kinds of trees.
On May 20, 1775, he was advanced to the dignity of a baronet. He is the present proprietor of this seat, and resides in it. He bears for his arms, Azure, a fess chequy or, and gules, three mullets in chief, and a crescent in base, or.
BRAMPTON-HALL is a seat at the northern boundary of this parish, being situated on the opposite, or northern side of the high London road, which was formerly the property of Austin Parke Goddard, esq. who alienated it to Mr. Peter Warren, of London, wine-merchant. He resided here, and died possessed of it in 1772, leaving his son, Mr. Alport Peter Warren his heir, who sold it to Mr. Francis Vanhagen, of London, and he resides in it.
HALL-PLACE is an antient and stately mansion, which stands in the northern part of this parish, next Crayford. It was antiently the inheritance of a family who assumed their name from it, being called At-ball; the last of whom was Thomas At-hall, who in the 41st year of king Edward III. conveyed it to Thomas Shelle, of Gaysum, in Westerham; in whose name and family it continued down to John Shelley, who resided here, and died possessed of it in the 20th year of king Henry VI. (fn. 12)
His son, William Shelley, passed away this seat in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. to Sir John Champneis, the son of Robert Champneis, of Chew, in Somersetshire, and being of the Skinners Company, was lord-mayor of London in the 26th year of the above reign. He bore for his arms, Parted per pale or and sable, a lion rampant, charged on the shoulder with a mullet within a bordure ingrailed, counterchanged. (fn. 13) He had, among others his possessions in this county, disgavelled by the act of the 31st of that reign, and resided at Hall-place, and dying in the 4th year of queen Mary, lies buried in this church, leaving by Meriell, his wife, daughter of John Barret, esq. of Belshouse, in Essex, several sons and daughters.
Of the sons, Justinian, the youngest, became the only survivor, and possessed this estate in the 25th year of queen Elizabeth, being then sheriff of this county, On his death Richard Champneis, esq. his son, succeeded to Hall-place, and remained possessed of it during the reign of king Charles I. soon after which he conveyed it to Robert Austen, esq. who was made a baronet on July 10, in the 12th year of king Charles II. and was sheriff of this county that and the next year, bearing for his arms, or, a chevron gules between three bears paws erased sable. (fn. 14) He left four sons, of whom John, the eldest, succeeded him in title and estate; Robert, the second son, was of Heronden, in Tenterden, the antient seat of the family, which branch afterwards succeeded to the title of baronet, on failure of the elder line, and Edward, the third son, was of Highstreet-house, in Bexley, as has been mentioned before.
Sir Robert Austen died in 1666, and was succeeded in this seat by his eldest son, Sir John Austen, bart. who resided here, as did his eldest son Sir Robert Austen, bart. who married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of George Stawel, esq. of Somersetshire, by whom he left three sons, Robert, Sheffield, and John, and several daughters, and died in 1706.
Sir Robert Austen, bart. the eldest son, succeeded his father and resided at Hall-place. He was sheriff in 1724, and married Rachel, daughter of Sir Francis Dashwood, bart. of West Wicomb, by whom he had no issue. He died at Bath in 1743, and was buried at Church Dane, in Gloucestershire, where there is a memorial for him. He was succeeded by his next brother, Sir Sheffield Austen, bart. who resided in Ireland; and, on his death without issue, (his younger brother John being deceased some time before, likewise without issue) the title, together with the fee of this seat, came to Edward Austen, esq. of Boxley Abbey, the grandson of Robert, second son of Sir Robert Austen, the first baronet, as before-mentioned; and on his death likewise without issue in 1760, they descended together to his younger brother, Sir Robert Austen, bart of Tenterden, who dying in 1772 without issue, the title of baronet became extinct, and he being only tenant for life, the fee of this seat and estate, by the will of Sir Robert Austen, bart. who died in 1743, became vested in Francis lord Le Despencer. After the death of Sir Robert Austen last-mentioned, this estate had been put under the direction of the court of chancery, on account of the great debts and legacies which he had left charged on it by his will, and there being large jointures on it besides, which amounted together to the full annual receipts, it is hard to say, whether the succeeding baronets, after his death, ever had possession of it, the see of it they were certainly entitled to, but none of them resided here.
Francis, lord Le Despencer becoming thus proprietor of the fee of this estate, died possessed of it in 1781, and by his will devised it to Francis Dashwood, esq. who resided at it for a few years afterwards, and he still remains the owner of it, but the mansion has been for some time occupied as a school for young gentlemen.
At a small distance from Hall-place, in the road leading from thence to Crayford, is a small seat-called Mount Pleasant, built by Richard Simms, esq. of Blackheath, on a part of the Hall-place estate, on his marriage with one of the sisters of Sir Robert Austen, who died in 1743. By her he left an only daughter, who carried her interest in it in marriage to Granado Piggot, esq. on whose death the term in it again became vested in her. It was afterwards sold to Thomas Edsall, esq. who resided here, and laid out much money on the house and premises, but becoming a bankrupt in 1778, the remainder of his term was sold to William Selwyn, esq. one of the king's council, who now resides here; but the inheritance belongs to Francis Dashwood, esq. before-mentioned.
BOURNE PLACE is a small, yet elegant house, standing at no great distance from Hall-place, on the other side of it, near the spot where the bourne or rivulet which comes from Lamienby joins the river Cray. It was erected not many years ago, by Laurence Holker, esq. of London, who, from its situation, named it Bourne Place, and afterwards resided in it. He bore for his arms, per chevron or, and azure, three lions rampant counterchanged, being descended from an antient family seated at Holker, near Furness Abbey, in Lancashire, whence his ancestor Laurence Holker removed in king Charles IId's time to Gravesend, whose grandson of the same name practised there as a physician, and died in 1738, leaving one son, Laurence, the builder of this seat as before-mentioned, and a daughter, Catherine, married to the late John Thorpe, esq. of this parish. Mr. Holker was an eminent practitioner of the law, and dying unmarried in 1793, was buried in St. Mary Aldermary church, in Bow-lane. He had devised this, among the rest of his estates, to his sister Mrs. Thorpe, but she having died four years before him, her two daughters, his nieces, became, as coheirs, entitled to them, after which, on a writ of partition issuing from the court of chancery, this seat was allotted to the youngest daughter, married to Cuthbert Potts, esq. of London, surgeon, who in her right be came intitled to it, but it is at present occupied by Alexander Bournside, esq.
Mr. Potts bears for his arms, Azure, two bars surmounted by a bend, or. His first wife was Mary Dorothy, daughter, and at length heir of Mosyer Rich, esq. of Cecil-street, London, by whom he had no issue; by his present wife he has surviving two sons and one daughter.
JOHN STYLEMAN, esq. bequeathed by his will, in 1732, the moiety of his estate in this parish, Plumsted and elsewhere, in Kent, then let to John Selwyn, esq. at 200l. per annum, free of all taxes, to certain trustees, for erecting twelve alms houses for twelve poor families of this parish, to be nominated by the trustees, minister, and churchwardens; and he ordered, that two guineas should be paid to the minister of Bexley yearly, for preaching an annual sermon on Midsummer-day; and three guineas for a dinner yearly on that day. Since Mr. Styleman's decease, these almshouses have been completed by his trustees, on a spot of ground lying in the village of Bexley. In the centre, under the pediment, is a white marble, with an inscription, according to the will of the founder.
BEXLEY is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester. It is a peculiar of the archbishop of Canterbury, and as such is in the deanry of Shoreham. The church is dedicated to St. Mary, and has two isles, and a large chancel.
The handsome altar piece in it was given by Mr. Benjamin Huntington, vicar, about 1705. On the south side of the chancel is a consessionary, consisting of three divisions of pointed arches and a recess for holy water. On the north side are seven antient stalls of oak, ornamented with Gothic mouldings and carved heads, with other figures; on the opposite side were a like number of stalls, which were a few years ago removed, to make room for some pews; on the uppermost stall was carved an antique shield, being three pikes or pisces lucii, naiant, the arms of Lucy. These stalls seem to have been formerly made, as well for the accommodation of the members of the priory of the Trinity of London, appropriators of this church, as such other of the clergy and chantry priests as might at any time officiate or be present in the church at divine service. At the west end is a spire steeple, covered with shingles, with a clock and dial, and a peal of bells formerly but five; but in 1763, when the church was repaired, new cast into a small peal of six; besides which there is a sancta bell. The church is much too small for the parishioners, notwithstanding there is a gallery at the west end of each isle, owing to the large pews in it for the use of the family seats in it. (fn. 15)
In this church, among others, are the following monuments and inscriptions: In the south isle, a mural monument for John Styleman, esq. of London, merchant, obt. 1734, æt. 82; and for his four wives. He left by his will, an endowment for twelve alms houses, for twelve poor people in this parish, as has been more fully mentione before. Arms above Styleman, Sable, an unicorn tripping, or, on a chief of the 2d, three billets of the field, in separate shields, impaling his four wives. In the north isle, a memorial for John Hater, esq. secretary to the lieut. gen. of the ordnance, obt. 1763. A mural monument for Edward Austen, esq. of this parish, obt. 1712; third son of Sir Robert Austen, bart. of Hall-place; he left three children by his second wife, John, Elizabeth, and Anne, who survived him; likewise for John Austen, esq. his son above mentioned, obt. 1750; and for Elizabeth, obt. 1755; above, the arms of Austen. A monument for Sir Edward Brett, who married Barbara, only daughter and heir of Sir John Fleming, descended from those of Glamorgan, who died, s. p. at the Hague, in 1674, and was buried at Flushing, in the vault of her ancestors; he died in 1683. Arms, Or, a lion rampant, gules, between seven cross croslets of the 2d. In the north chancel, on the north side, a mural monument, with the effigies of a man and woman, in the dress of the time, kneeling at the desk, with books open, for Sir John Champneis, sometime lord mayor of London, obt. 1556; he married Meriell, eldest daughter of John Barrett, esq. of Belhouse, in Essex, by whom he had surviving only Justinian, the youngest son; underneath, another inscription for Helen Hall, first wife of Justinian Champneis, esq. obt. 1565; also for Theodore, his second wife, one of the daughters and heirs of John Blundell, esq. of Steeple Barton, in Oxfordshire, obt. 1582, by whom he had several children; above, the arms of Champneis, Parted per pale, or, and sable, a lion rampant, gules, charged on the shoulder with a mullet, sable, within a bordure, inverted, counterchanged, of the field, with its quarterings. On the east side, inclosed with iron rails, a handsome monument and inscription, shewing, that in a vault under it, lies buried Sir Robert Austen, bart. who died 1666, æt. 79, who left by a former wife, one daughter, Elizabeth, and four sons; and two daughters by his second wife. Anne, daughter of Thomas Muns, esq. merchant, who died, 1687; on a grave stone, near the above, were two shields and a brass plate torn off, but there yet remains a shield of brass with these arms, A cross ingrailed within a bordure, charged with fix crowns, embattled; to the above coat is appendant a bugle horn, stringed and granished, which denotes that the person held under the service, called Cornage tenure. In the south chancel, a grave stone, with a brass plate, and inscription in black letter, for Matilda, wife of Thomas Heneworth, and afterwards of John Shelley; another like for Margaret, wife of John Bunton, pastor of this church; she died 1585; another like, near the stalls, or north side, for John Shelley, and Joan his wife; he died 1441; separate grave stones adjoining, for John Styleman, esq. and his five wives, with his arms and impalements; a grave stone for Edward Bishoppe, esq. of Evesham, in Worcestershire, obt. 1633; above, on a bend, voided, three besants. On the south side, a mural monument for lady Mary Gerard Cosein, late wife of Sir Gilbert Gerard Cosein, bart. of Yorkshire, sole issue of Charles lord Berkeley, of Rathdown, earl of Falmouth, &c. above these arms, in lozenge, quarterly, 1st and 4th Berkeley, 2d, ermine, 2d and 3d, chevronels, azure. A mural monument for Mr. Benjamin Huntington, vicar of Bexley, with his wife, son, and daughters; having finished this altar piece at his own cost, he left 50l. for the use of the poor; obt. Jan. 1, 1706, æt. 66; above, a fret of eight pieces, in chief three mullets. On the north side, a mural monument for Anne, surviving daughter of Edward Bishope, esq. of Evesham, in Worcestershire, and of the Middle Temple, London, and wife of Henry Travels, gent. of London, obt. 1679; arms above, a saltier between four gad-bees, impaling on a bend, voided, three besants. A grave stone, before the altar rails, for Sir Richard Ford, lord mayor of London in 1671, whose mural monument is on the south side; he died in 1678, æt, 65; these arms above, two bends vaire, on a canton, an anchor impaling three saltiers. On the north side of the altar, a stone, on which is the figure of a man in brass, and a label from his mouth, and beneath an inscription, for Thomas Sparrow, late of Bexley, who died Oct. 21, 1513. (fn. 16)
In the church-yard, among others, lie buried the Rev. Nicholas Frankwell, vicar of this parish forty-eight years, obt. 1658, æt. 80; a man of rare knowledge in the oriental tongues. An altar tomb for Elizabeth Cooke, spinster, sole heir of Geo. Cooke, esq. of Mount Mascall, by Rebecca, fourth daughter of Sir Henry St. George, garter, &c. and Mary his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Dayrell, of Lullingstone Dayrell, obt. 1736. There are several tombs in the church yard, which have been long crumbled into pieces, and whom they are in memory of unknown. In a vault in this church yard, lie buried Mrs. Thorpe, first wife of John Thorpe, esq. who died in 1789, and Mrs. Harris, her mother, in memory of both whom there is a memorial on marble, against the church wall.
The church of Bexley was very antiently appropriated to the priory of the Holy Trinity, London, between which and the archbishop the right to it was litigated, and afterwards, on an appeal to the pope, in the 29th year of king Henry III. a definitive sentence was given in favour of the priory, which was confirmed by the bull of Alexander IV. (fn. 17)
Archbishop Stephen Langton decreed an endowment of this vicarage anew, for there had been before one made by his predecessor, archbishop Corboil, of the third part of the portion of this church to the vicar, but it being without the consent of the patrons of it, as such it had not taken effect. By this second endowment, the vicar, who should in future be presented by the prior, and instituted by the archbishop, should have all the profits of the church, together with the third of the rents and houses belonging to it, excepting the barns and yard, which should specially belong to the religious, and the tithes of sheaves, and of mills, and hay, which should wholly belong to them, so that they should not exact nor have any thing farther from it, and that the vicar besides should, in future, receive yearly two marks from the chamberlain of the priory, which, is not paid, the vicarage should return to the same state it was in before, of the third part of the portion of the church, but that the vicar should answer small episcopal payments, so that the religious should sustain no burthen on that account, which endowment was confirmed by the prior and chapter of Christ church. (fn. 18)
The church of Bexley, with the advowson of the vicarage, remained among the possessions of the above mentioned priory till its final dissolution, in the 23d year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered, together with its revenues into the king's hands. (fn. 19)
Henry Cooke held the rectory and advowson of Bexley of the king in capite, and died possessed of it in the 5th year of king Edward VI. in whose descendants the rectory or parsonage continued down to Robert Cooke, esq. of Mount Mascall, who married Rebecca, fourth daughter of Sir Henry St. George, garter principal king at arms; she died in 1710. After her death her brother, Sir Thomas St. George, afterwards garter, possessed it, as did Tho. St. George, esq. his son, who left an only daughter and heir, Eleanor, married to Thomas Dare of Taunton, in Somersetshire, one of whose descendants, the widow of Mr. Henry Emmett, died not many years since possessed of it, and by her will devised it to trustees, for the benefit of the eldest son of Mr. Thomas Latham, who had married her neice, Miss Wardlow, in which situation it still continues.
The parsonage house, which stood opposite the church, and was one of the most antient edifices of the diocese, having been for many years inhabited by poor families, was pulled down in 1776, and no other has been since erected in its room. (fn. 20)
In the 15th year of king Edward I. this church was valued at thirty marcs, and the vicarage of it at ten marcs. (fn. 21) This vicarage is valued in the king's books at 13l. 4s. 7d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 6s. 5½d. (fn. 22)
By virtue of a commission of enquiry in 1650, issuing out of the court of chancery, it was returned, that Bexley was a vicarage, with a house and five acres of glebe land, all worth forty pounds per annum, master Nicholas Frankwell then preaching there.
Church Of Bexley.
|Or by whom presented.|
|John Bunton, obt. July 1591.|
|Wm Luffe, A.M. ob. Nov. 1609.|
|Nicholas Frankwell, 1610, obt. Oct. 1658. (fn. 23)|
|Thomas Smoult, S.T.P. resigned 1665. (fn. 24)|
|Benjamin Huntington, 1665, obt. Jan. 1, 1706. (fn. 25)|
|Robert Huntington, obt. Mar. 20, 1732. (fn. 26)|
|Knipe, obt. Nov. 1736.|
|H. Piers, A.M. 1743, ob. 1769.|
|Honourable Thomas Townshend||William Green, 1770. Present vicar.|