The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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IT IS a situation equally unpleasant as it is unhealthy, lying most part of it low, the water bad, and the air unwholesome from the noxious vapours arising from the marshes at no great distance northward from it. The village, called Bapchild-street, containing about twenty houses, (one of which in the middle of it is the vicarage, a small but neat modern building, and at the east end of it, adjoining to the same side of the road, in a kind of orchard, are the remains of the old chapel, which will be further mentioned hereafter, a small remnant of the walls of which, composed rudely of slints, are all that are left of it, being part of a barn, the remainder of the walls of which are built up with brick) stands on the high Dover road, about forty-one miles and an half from London, having the church at a small distance southward from it, whence the land ries gently to the southern boundaries of it, next to Rodmersham, adjoining to which part of it, about a mile from the London road, though partly in Tong, there is a house, called Wood-street-house, built about the year 1776, by Mr. John May, of Sittingborne, who resided in it, and died in 1778, leaving a son John, and a daughter Anne, since married to Mr. Ambrose Russell. It is now occupied by Mr. Edward Matson.
There is an antient and allowed fair held in the village, on the feast of St. Laurence, now by alteration of the style on August 21, for toys, pedlary, &c. the profits of which belong to the lord of Milton manor.
The land in this parish, as well as the neighbouring ones, near the high road from Sittingborne as far as Boughton-street, is a fine loamy fertile soil, which, though it extends but a small way southward of the road, yet it continues equally fertile on the lower or northern side of it, quite to the marshes.
The greatest part of this tract of land, is what in these parts is usually called round tilt land; being and that is continually tilled, without being made fallow, with the same succession of grain, viz. barley, beans, and wheat, year after year; of the latter of which in particular, the burthen is usually four or five quarters per acre, and the usual annual rent of the land 20s. a very considerable rent, considering the great burthen of parochial taxes, and the high rate of servants wages in this part of the county. These expences oblige the landholder to make the most of his land, and not to suffer it to be lessened by hedge-rows and small inclosures, by which means most of the farms are thrown into two or three, or perhaps only one field, several of which contain sixty, seventy, one hundred acres, or more, and this makes the country more open and champion than the other parts of this county usually are.
In the year 694, Withred, king of Kent, convened A GREAT COUNCIL of the nobility and clergy, in which he presided, and in which archbishop Britwald was present, at Becanceld, or Bapchild, as it is supposed to mean, by several learned men, among which are Camden, Dr. Plot, and Mr. Johnson, of Cranbrooke. Some few indeed have supposed it, from the similitude of the name, to have been held at Beckenham, at the western extremity of this county; but Bapchild has full as much similitude of name, especially as one copy writes it Bachanchild; and its being situated in the midst of the county, close to the high road, and so near to Canterbury, makes it much more probable to have been held here.
The constitution of this council, by which several privileges were granted to the church, was drawn up in the form of a charter; and in so great esteem were the abbesses, for their prudence and sanctity, that there are the names of five subscribed to it, not only before the priests, but before Botred, a bishop, contrary to all precedent; which makes the genuineness of this charter much suspected.
Dr. Stillingfleet seems to think this was the first charter among the Saxons that was ever made. If so, all shewn, as granted before that time, must be spurious and counterfeit. However that be, he says, the year of the christian æra was never applied before that time to any public ones. (fn. 1)
There are yet part of the walls of an oratory remaining, near the high road on the north side of it, almost at the east end of Bapchild-street, which is by some supposed to have been erected in memory of the celebration of this council, and in later times was made use of by the pilgrims, who, on their journey to Canterbury, to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, here offered up their prayers for the success of their pilgrimage.
Another council was afterwards said to have been held at Beccanceld in 798, by archbishop Athelard in which, Kenulph, king of Mercia, presided; but both these are supposed, by some, to have been spurious, the latter especially, and the former was thought to be so by the late archbishop Wake, as may be seen in his treatise on the state of the church.
Under the descriptions of Lenham and Newington, mention has already been made of the Roman station, called Durolevam, lying on the road from London to Dover; and the opinions of our learned antiquaries, where that station was. Camden's Continuator is the only one, that I have seen, who has even made a conjecture of its having been here at Bapchild, which he founds on the distance of it, and the convenience of its situation on the high road from Rochester to Canterbury, as well as from its having been a place of such consequence in the Saxon times, as to have a British council held at it.
THE MANOR OF BAPCHILD-COURT, which was antiently part of the possessions of the family of Savage, seated at Bobbing in this neighbourhood; one of which, Arnold, son of Sir Thomas Savage, died possessed of it in the 49th year of king Edward III. and was succeeded in it by his son and heir Sir Arnold Savage, of Bobbing, who died in the 12th year of king Henry IV. leaving one son Arnold, and a daughter Elizabeth, who on her brother's death s. p. became his heir, being the wife of William Clifford, esq. who became entitled to this manor among the rest of her inheritance, and in his descendants it continued till Henry Clifford, esq. of Bobbing, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, alienated this manor to William Coting, who not long afterwards passed it away to Mr. John Bix, of Linsted, who afterwards resided at Bapchild-court, bearing for his arms, Vairy, argent, and azure. In whose descendants this manor continued down to William Bix, who sold it to Larkham, whose son the Rev. William Larkham, of Richmond, about the year 1757, alienated it to Mr. Thomas Matchin, of London, whose widow afterwards possessed it, since which it has been the property of John Fuller, esq. who has built a new house on it, and continues the present owner of it.
MORRIS-COURT is a manor here, which lies at a small distance eastward from that last-described. It was formerly the property of a family of the same name, which seems to have been extinct here before the end of king Henry IV.'s reign, when it was alienated to Brown, and at the latter end of Henry VI.'s reign, it was in the possession of Sir Thomas Brown, treasurer of the king's household, who married Eleanor, daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas Fitzalan, alias Arundel, brother of John Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, by whom he had the castle of Beechworth, in Surry. He had by her five sons, of whom Sir George Brown, the eldest, was of Beechworth-castle, and inherited this manor.
In the 1st year of king Richard III. he fell under the king's displeasure, and a proclamation was issued for apprehending him among others, for aiding and assisting that great rebel the late duke of Buckingham, as he was termed in it; and an act passed that year for his attainder, in consequence of which, all his estates were consiscated to the crown, and the king granted a commission to one Roulande Machelle, to take possession for him in the manor of Morise, in the parish of Babechilde, late belonging to Sir George Browne, attainted, (fn. 2) who died before the end of that reign; for in the 1st year of king Henry VII. another act passed for the restoration of his heirs, as well in blood as in estates.
How long this manor continued in his descendants, I have not found; but most probably it was alienated, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by Sir Thomas Brown, of Beechworth-castle, to Wolgate, of a family which had been seated at Wolgate, now called Wilgate-green, in Throwley, for some generations. From this name it passed into that of Kempe, and from thence to Thomas Tilghman, descended of a younger branch of those of Snodland, in this county, and he quickly af terwards sold it to John Caslock, of Faversham, who as well as his father had been mayor of that town. In the grant of arms made to him by William Segar, esq. garter, dated in 1614, his name is written Castelock, and it is recited in it, that his ancestors came into Kent on account of their uncle, who was the lord abbot of Faversham. From him this manor was sold to Mr. Robert Master, gent. descended of ancestors who had for several generations been inhabitants of the same town, and bore for their arms, Argent, on a bend between two cotizes, sable, a lion passant-guardant of the field, crowned, or; who passed it away to Mr. John Knowler, of Faversham, in whose descendants it continued down to John Knowler, esq. recorder of Canterbury, steward of the town of Faversham, and barrister at law. He died possessed of it in the year 1763, leaving by his wife Mary, daughter and heir of Mr. Russell, of Hawkhurst, who survived him, and died in 1782, two daughters his coheirs, of whom Anne, the eldest, married Henry Penton, esq. of Winchester, and Mary, the youngest, to Henry Digby, lord, afterwards earl of Digby; and they joined afterwards in the conveyance of it to Mr. Thomas Gascoigne, the present owner, who resides in it.
PETTS-COURT, antiently called Potts-court, is another manor in this parish, the mansion of which has been long since in ruins. It was part of the possessions of the priory of Dartford, and is inserted in the list of the revenues of it, in a writ ad quod damnum brought against the prioress, in the 11th year of Edward IV. In which situation this manor remained till the dissolution of the priory, in the reign of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered up into the king's hands, with all its lands and possessions; after which the manor of Petts-court, alias Pettis-court, seems to have remained in the crown till king Edward VI. in his last year, granted it, among other premises, to Sir Thomas Cheney, treasurer of his houshold, to hold in capite, by knight's service, whose only son and heir Henry Cheney, of Todington, together with Jane his wife, alienated it, together with the wood, called the Lord's wood, in Milsted, anno 14 Elizabeth, to Richard Thornhill, grocer and citizen of London.
After which, Sir Henry Cheney, then lord Cheney, of Todington, granted and made over to him all liberties, franchises, royalties, and all other privileges within this manor, among others which were claimed by Mr. Thornhill, and judgment was given for him by the barons of the exchequer, on a trial had in Michaelmas term, in the 17th year of that reign. (fn. 3)
In his descendants this manor continued down to Richard Thornhill, esq. of Ollantigh, who in the 4th year of queen Anne, anno 1704, having obtained an act for that purpose, sold it to Jacob Sawbridge, of London, late one of the directors of the South Sea company, who died in 1748, and his great-grandson, Samuel-Elias Sawbridge, esq. of Ollantigh, in this county, is the present owner of it.
RADFIELD is a hamlet in this parish, lying on the high Dover road, about half a mile distant eastward from the village of Bapchild. The principal estate in which, of that name, was in the reign of Henry II. part of the possessions of Adam de Tanges, who gave the moiety of it to the brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.
After which, Gamerius de Neapoli, prior of that hospital, with the common consent of his chapter, by deed in 1190, under their common seal, granted to Turstan de Bakechild, and his heirs, their land in Kent, given to them as before mentioned, together with the whole service of their tenants residing there, and all its appurtenances, which Roger de Wurmedal held, to hold at the yearly rent of six marcs and an half of silver, for all services belonging to it; and further, that he and his heirs should maintain one chaplain and a priest, who on each Sunday should celebrate mass; and should preserve the edifices built at this chapel in a proper state for the reception of him and his brethren, when they made a progress into Kent; with liberty of re-entry on non-payment, &c.
How this estate passed afterwards I do not find; but it was in later times part of the possessions of the Thornhills; from which family it passed, in like manner as Petts-court before-described, in the 4th year of queen Anne, from Richard Thornhill, esq. to Jacob Sawbridge, of London, whose great-grandson Samuel Elias Sawbridge, esq. of Ollantigh, is now entitled to it.
THE FREE CHAPEL before-mentioned, seems to have continued as such, till the general suppression of such religious endowments, by the act passed in the 37th year of Henry VIII. and the 1st of Edward VI. In the latter of them, on a survey taken of it, the return was, that the chapel was fallen down, that the founder was not known, and that the revenue of it consisted of a tenement, and two pieces of land, in Bapchild, then worth forty-two shillings per annum, beyond reprises: all which were sold by the general surveyors of the court of augmentations, in the 2d year of that reign, to Thomas Grene, esq. (fn. 4) After which it became the property of Bix, and afterwards of Bateman. John Bateman owned it in the reign of king James I. and was succeeded by his son of the same name, who by his will devised it to Mr. John Bateman, of Wormesell, and he possessed it at the restoration of king Charles II. Since which it has been alienated to the family of May, in which it has continued to the present time.
MR. WILLIAM HOUSSON gave by will in 1783, for the instructing of the poor children of the parishes of Tonge, Murston, and Bapchild. to read and write the English language, in money 2001. the interest of it to be equally divided between those parishes, vested in the 4 percent. consolidated annuities, which sum was transferred next year to the incumbents of the three parishes, who are the present trustees; it is now of the annual produce of 10l. 13s. 6d.
The church is dedicated to St. Laurence. It is a small building, and by the size and capitals of the pillars and other parts of it, appears to be of some antiquity. It consists of two isles and two chancels. In the south chancel is a brass plate for John Kendall and Margaret his wife, anno 1529. The northern chancel, formerly belonging to Bapchild-court, has been deserted by the owners of it for many years, and is now repaired by the parish. The steeple, which stands on the south side of the church, has a tall spire on it, covered with shingles. It has but one bell in it.
It appears by the Testa de Nevil, that in the time of king Richard I. this church was part of the possessions of the crown, and was given by that king to one master Oliver: what interest he had in it, or how long he continued possessed of it, is not mentioned; but king John, in his 5th year, at the instance of Simon de Wells, granted to the church of Chichester, and him and his successors, bishops of Chichester, this church which was of his gift, with the lands and woods, and all other its appurtenances, to hold in free, pure and perpetual alms, to the endowment of that church, as he had promised at the dedication of it.
After which it seems to have been allotted to that part of the revenue of this church, which was for the maintenance of the dean and chapter of Chichester, to whom the church of Bapchild was appropriated by archbishop Weathershed, in 1229, (fn. 5) and they now continue owners of the parsonage, and the advowson of the vicarage of it, the former of which is demised by them on lease from time to time, but the latter they reserve to themselves.
Church of Bapchild.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Dean and chapter of Chichester||George Fetter, Feb. 26, 1593, obt. 1600.|
|Richard Kitson, jun. A. B. vacated 1605.|
|John Marson, A. B. Sept. 9, 1605.|
|The King, by lapse.||William Branch, A. M. Nov. 24, 1606.|
|Dean and chapter of Chichester.||Francis Skinner, A. M. May 2, 1626.|
|The crown, by lapse.||William Sale, A. B. March 14, 1689.|
|John Goodyer, A. M. Sept. 1, 1697, resigned 1709.|
|Dean and chapter of Chichester.||Thomas Morland, A. B. Sept. 19, 1709, resigned 1716.|
|The crown, by lapse.||George Thompson, Nov. 7, 1716, obt. 1744.|
|William Marsh, July 17, 1751, resigned 1759. (fn. 6)|
|Dean and chapter of Chichester.||Samuel Bickley, Oct. 23, 1759, deprived 1764. (fn. 7)|
|Thomas Gurney, A. B. March 9, 1764, resigned 1765. (fn. 8)|
|Charles Allen, inducted May 10, 1765.|
|Edward Penry, Nov. 7, 1765, obt. March 7, 1798.|