The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE next parish north-westward is Bicknor, antiently written Bykenore, the south-west part of which is in the hundred of Eyhorne, and division of WestKent; and the remainder in that of Milton, and division of East Kent; but the church and village being situated in the former part of it, this parish is esteemed to be in the division of West Kent.
BICKNOR is an obscure remote place, lying a little more than two miles northward from the summit of the chalk hills. It lies among the woods, mostly on high ground, and though with much hill and dale, yet the former are neither so steep nor so frequent as in Wormshill, and the adjoining parishes before described. It is a very healthy situation, but the soil is very poor, consisting mostly of an unfertile red earth, much intermixed with flints. The church and adjoining village, of only five or six houses, stand on the southern side of the parish, about a mile northward from which is the hamlet of Dean-bottom; near the south-east side of the village is a large quantity of wood ground, called Bicknor-wood, besides which there are several other small parcels of wood-ground, interspersed in different parts of it, equally poor with the rest of the lands in it; in the northern part of the parish is an estate called Northwood, lately belonging to the Chambers's, of Tunstall.
THIS PLACE was antiently part of the possessions of a family of the same name. Sir John de Bicknor held it, as half a knight's see, in the reign of Edward I. and he, as well as Sir Thomas de Bicknor, accompanied that king to the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, in the 28th year of his reign, and are registered in the roll of those knights, who were made bannerets there by that prince. Their arms, being Ermine, on a chief azure, three lions rampant, argent, are still remaining on the roof of Canterbury cloysters.
In the 1st and 4th years of Edward II. Alexander de Bykenore, clerk, was treasurer of the exchequer in Ireland, and Thomas de Bykenore, in the 5th year of that reign, married Joane, eldest daughter and heir of Hugh de Mortimer, of Castle Richard. But before this, at the latter end of Edward I.'s reign, Bicknor was become the property of the family of Leyborne, one of whom, William de Leyborne, died possessed of it in the 3d year of Edward II. His son Thomas died in his life-time, so that his grand-daughter Juliana became his heir, and from her great inheritance was called the Infanta of Kent. She died without issue by either of her husbands, all of whom she survived, and possessed in her own right of this manor, in the 41st year of Edward III. but no one being found who could claim it as heir to her, it escheated to the crown, where it remained till the king, in his 50th year, granted it, among other premises, to the abbey of St. Mary Graces, on Tower-hill, then founded by him, by whom it was quickly afterwards demised to Sir Simon de Burley, for a term of years, which becoming forfeited by his attainder, Richard II. in his 12th and 22d years, granted and confirmed this manor to it, in pure and perpetual alms for ever.
This manor remained part of the possessions of the above-mentioned monastery till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, together with all the lands and revenues belonging to it. After which, the king, in his 36th year, granted the manor of Bicknor to Christopher Sampson, who in the 2d year of Edward VI. passed it away to Sir Thomas Wyatt, and he soon afterwards alienated it to Thomas Reader, of Bredgar, yeoman, who about the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign conveyed it to William Terry, and he in the reign of James I. partly by sale, and partly on account of alliance, settled the property of it on William Aldersey, descended of an antient family of that name, settled at Aldersey, in Cheshire. His son, Thomas Aldersey, esq. of Bredgar, gave this manor by his will to his second son Farnham Aldersey, of Maidstone, and he died possessed of it in 1686. His son, of the same name, alienated it, about the year 1718, to Charles Finch, esq. of Chatham, whose daughter and heir Rebecca carried it in marriage to Mr. Thomas Cromp, of Newnham, in Gloucestershire, who was succeeded in it by his only son, the Rev. Pierrepont Cromp, of Frinsted, and he, in 1764, sold it to Abraham Chambers, esq. of Totteridge, in Hertfordshire, who resided here for some time. He died in 1782, and by his will gave this manor, among the rest of his estates, to his three sons, Samuel, Abraham-Henry, and William, who afterwards possessed them jointly, and upon a division made of them in 1795, this manor was allotted to the youngest, William Chambers, esq. the present possessor of it. There is no court held for this manor.
There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about eight; casually three.
BICKNOR is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sittingborne.
The church, which is dedicated to St. James the Apostle, consists of a nave and two side isles, and a chancel, which is half the length of the church. The nave is double the height of the two isles. There is a low pointed steeple at the south-west corner of it.
It is a very antient and curious building, and appears by the short and clumsy size, and bases of the pillars, the zig-zag ornaments of their capitals, and the semi-circular plain arches in every part of it, to have been built in the time of the Saxons; indeed, the whole of it has marks of a very early period.
This church was antiently esteemed as an appendage to the manor of Bicknor, and as such was given, with it, by Edward III. in his 50th year, to the abbey of St. Mary Graces, on Tower-hill, where it remained till the dissolution of that monastery in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it became part of the possessions of the crown, as has been already related, where the patronage of it has continued to the present time.
This rectory is a discharged living in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of thirty-two pounds. In 1640 it was valued at fifty pounds. Communicants thirty-two.
The rector's house, or hovel, as it may more properly be called, is very singular and remarkably placed, for it is nothing more than a shed, built against the north side of the church, with a room projecting nearly across the isle, and under the same roof; a miserable habitation, even for the poorest cottager to dwell in. (fn. 1)
Church of Bicknor.
|Or by whom Presented.|
|The Crown.||William Pettett, A. M. Nov. 2, 1620.|
|William Haughton, A. M. Mar. 7, 1636. (fn. 2)|
|Stephen Newman, A. M. April 8, 1662, obt. 1669.|
|Isaac Bates, A. M. June 7, 1669, obt. 1674.|
|William Elward, A. B. May 1, 1674, obt. 1704.|
|William Barklay, August 28, 1704, obt. Oct. 23, 1718. (fn. 3)|
|John Vigurs, clerk, Dec. 19, 1718, obt. Dec. 6, 1725. (fn. 4)|
|David Williams, August 29, 1726, obt. 1742.|
|William Marsh, March 10, 1743, the present rector.|