The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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This parish lies in a most unhealthy situation, close to the marshes, and a large extent of some hundreds of acres of salts beyond them, as far as Standgate creek, the river Medway its northern boundary, the noxious vapours arising from which, subject the inhabitants to continued intermittents, and shorten their lives at a very early period; it contains about 1760 acres of land, near one hundred acres of wood, and about 1200 acres of fresh and salt marsh; the fact of the country is rather hilly, the land in general is very thin and poor, having much gravel mixed with it, the other soils throughout it are in some parts black sand, in others a stiff clay, of which latter there is but a small portion; the poorness of the soil occasions the growth of much broom and fern, or brakes in it, with which there are many fields entirely covered. The southern part of the parish has much woodland interspersed throughout it, which is in general but of ordinary value, being mostly oak coppice; the soil is much however adapted to the growth of the elm, with which the hedgerows abound, but these continued groves of tall spire trees stop the free circulation of air, and render this place much more unwholesome than it would otherwise be. The village of Upchurch, called the street, (through which the high road leads from Chatham to Kingsferry and the Isle of Shepey) stands on high ground, nearly in the centre of the parish, with the church close to it, the spire of which is accounted a sea mark.
It seems to have been of much more consequence as well for its craft in shipping, as in the number of its inhabitants, than it is at present, both of which are much diminished from what they were formerly, and the latter are in general now in a state of poverty. In the return made of those places where there were any shipping, boats, &c. anno 8 Elizabeth. Upchurch is said to contain forty inhabited houses, three lacking habitations, twelve ships and boats, from one ton to fourteen; and fourteen persons occupied in carrying from port to port, and fishing. At the western boundary of the parish there is a key called Attrum, or Otterham key, with a wharf for the landing and shipping of corn, and the produce of the neighbouring woods. The creek, called by the same name, flows up by it from the river Medway. In the 17th year of the above reign there was a common arrivage place at Upchurch, called Karter's hythe, probably the same as that before-mentioned. In the southern part of the parish is a hamlet called Halywell, near which there is much woodland, most of which belongs to the earl of Thanet; on the eastern side of it is situated in the valley, close to the sheere way to Newington, the manor of Gore, now only a mean farmhouse. In the northern part of it the land, which is very wet, stretches along a narrow space between the marshes, at the end of which is another hamlet called Ham. There is no commission of sewers for the repair of the marshes in this or the adjoining parishes, but the sewers, walls, &c. which defend them from the tides, are kept in repair by the respective owners of them, at no inconsiderable expence. At some distance from the uplands, across the marshes, lies one of notoriety, called Slayhills, containing five hundred acres, formerly belonging to the Leybornes, and given with the manor of Gore as before-mentioned, to the abbey of St. Mary Grace, Tower-hill. (fn. 1) After the suppression of which, king Henry VIII. granted it to Sir Thomas Wyatt, to hold in capite. Sir Warham St. Leger afterwards possessed it, whose daughter Anne carried it in marriage to Thomas Diggs, esq. after which it acquired the name of Diggs marsh, which it kept but a small time before it resumed its former name; but this estate, from its exposed situation, and the force of the tides, which from the walls of it being neglected, at length broke through them, and overflowed it, and it is now gone to sea, and nearly the whole of it is become a tract of salts, which is covered by every spring tide. In the 49th year of Edward III. there was a commission issued for the viewing of the banks in the king's marshes of Slayhill, Greneberghe, &c. as far as the Isle of Shepey, and to do what was requisite to them according to the law and custom of the realm.
THE MANOR OF GORE, otherwise UPCHURCHH, formerly called De la Gare, which is held of the above manor, by a yearly suit and service. It is situated in a vale in the south-eastern part of this parish, over which, subordinate to that of Milton, it in great measure claims.
It was in very early times in the possession of a family, who took their name from it. Lucas de la Gare was returned a knight of the shire for this county, anno 25 Edward I. before which time however it was become the property of the Leybornes. Roger de Leyborne held it in the 51st year of Henry III. in which year he obtained a grant to hold in fee all his hereditaments and tenements in gavelkind, in Rainham, Upchurch, and Hereclop, of the king, by knight's service. (fn. 2)
After which this manor descended down to Juliana de Leyborne, usually stiled the Infanta of Kent, whose husbands successively became entitled to it, each of whom however she survived, and died in the 41st year of Edward III. when no one being found who could make claim to any of her estates, this manor and estate in Upchurch 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, which was confirmed to the abbey in pure and perpetual alms for ever, by king Richard II. in his 12th and 22d years.
It remained part of the possessions of the monastery till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered up into the king's hands, who soon afterwards granted this manor to Christopher Hales, esq. his attorney-general and master of the rolls, who died in the 33d year of that reign, (fn. 3) leaving three daughters his coheirs, of whom Margaret, the second daughter, married first to West; secondly to Dodman, and thirdly to William Horden, gent. of the Weald of Kent, inherited this manor, which she entitled her three husbands to successively. At length it was alienated by William Horden, in the 9th year of queen Elizabeth to Mr. Richard Stanley, who, in the 22d year of that reign, passed it away by sale to Thomas Wardegar, or Wardacre, as he was commonly called, whose grandson William, son of George Wardegar, sold it, in the 17th of king James I, to Sir Nicholas Tufton, who was created earl of Thanet, in whose descendants, earls of Thanet, this manor has continued down to the right hon. Sackville Tufton, earl of Thanet, the present possessor of it.
HORSHAM is a reputed manor in this parish, situated at a small distance westward from the church. It seems formerly to have been possessed by a family of its own name, one of them, Stephen de Horsham, possessed it in king Edward the IIId.'s reign, how long they continued here I have not found, but that it in after times came into the possession of archbishop Chichele, who in the 26th year of Henry VI. settled it on the college of All Souls, in Oxford, then founded by him, mostly out of the estates of the suppressed alien priories, of which probably this might have been a part, since which it has continued among the possessions of that college, being at this time the inheritance of the warden and fellows of it. There is no court held for this manor.
The lessee of this estate, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, was Sir Cheney Colepeper, who alienated his interest in it to Clement Milway, and he passed the lease of it away to Mr. William Harding, whose descendant Mr. John Harding, of London, in 1715, alienated it to Joseph Hasted, gent. of Chatham, whose grandson Edward Hasted, esq. of Canterbury, afterwards became possessed of the lease of it, but Mr. Thomas Williams, gent. of Dartford, is the present lessee of it.
THE MANOR OF OTTERHAM, situated in the western part of this parish, near the hamlet of Otterham, or Ottram, as it is now called, had formerly possessors of the same name, who, however, were extinct here before king Richard the IId.'s reign, for John Peche, citizen of London, in the 4th year of it, died possessed of the manor of Otterham, in Upchurch, with its appurtenances, in right of Mary his wife, during her life time, the reversion of it belonging to Thomas de Alburton, when it was held of the king, as of his manor of Milton, by divers services, according to the custom of gavelkind. How it passed afterwards I have not found, but at the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign it was in the possession of Thomas Butts, gent. In later time it passed by sale into the possession of Mr. Thomas Best, of Chatham, whose grandson Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, died possessed of it in 1793, s. p. and gave it by will among his other estates to his nephew George Best, esq. now of Chilston, the present owner of it. (fn. 4)
HAM, alias WEST-COURT, is a manor in the northern part of this parish, situated in the hamlet of Ham, which, with an estate called Sharpnash, alias Sharpness, belonged to the abbey of Boxley, as early as the reign of king John, and in the 33d year of king Edward III. the abbot had a grant for free warren on their manor and estate here, which continued part of the possessions of that monastery till the dissolution of it in the 29th year of Henry VIII. when it was, together with all its revenues, surrendered up into the king's hands, who granted it in his 31st year, to Thomas Greene, gent. to hold in capite by knight's service. He was the natural son of Sir John Norton, of Northwood, in this county, for which reason he was frequently stiled in deeds of that time Norton, alias Greene. He died in the 6th year of Edward VI. being then possessed of the manor of West-court, with its appurtenances, held of the king, as of the duchy of Buckingham, by knight's service; and the manors of Ham and Sharpnash, and lands, pastures, fresh and salt marshes, belonging to those manors in Upchurch and Halstow, held in manner as before mentioned. He left two sons, Norton and Robert, of whom Norton the eldest, left an only daughter and heir Mary, wife of Sir Mark Ives, of Essex, and Robert, the second son, was of Bobbing. They bore for their arms, Gules, a cross potent, ermine, within a bordure of the second. (fn. 5) Norton Green, the eldest son of William as before mentioned, inherited these manors, which he alienated to Thomas Aldersey, gent. of Bredgar, in whose descendants the manor of Ham continued till it was length alienated to Thomas Hous, who passed it away to Thomas Skip, after which it came at length to his grandson Thomas Skip Bucknal, who in 1792, with the royal licence, took the name of Dyot. He is now of Hamptoncourt, in Middlesex, esq. and is the present possessor of the manor of Ham, alias West-court, and its appurtenances. What became of the part called Sharpness, I know not, excepting it was the marsh called Harfleet, alias Sharpness, afterwards called New-marsh, from one Mr. Elfet's stopping up the breach, and new making the walls of it; but it has long since been swallowed up by the sea again. It lies between Bayford and Burntwick marshes, and contains about five hundred acres of land.
BENJAMIN TROWTES, gave by will in 1623, bread to the value of 10s. payable out of Stains-farm, is yearly distributed to the poor on Maundy Thursday, and the Saturday before Michaelmas day, vested in Luke Miles.
Two ACRES of wood in Herst-wood, belonging to Gorefarm, situated on the south side of the sheere-way leading to Newington, was given by a person unknown, to the use of the poor, now of the annual produce of 40s.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a very large, handsome building, consisting of three broad isles and two chancels; the pews for the present decreased number of inhabitants taking up only a small part of the middle isle. In the north chancel there are several grave stones, all of which are robbed of their brasses. In the north windows of this chancel there are good remains of painted glass, for the most part well preserved; underneath is a vault, which, by the circular stair-case to descend into it, seems to have been made use of only as a charnel-house, having many bones laid up in it. The steeple at the west end of the church is very remarkable, being a tower on which is placed a square part of a spire for about ten feet, and on that an octagon for the remaining or upper part to the point of the spire at top.
The church of Upchurch belonged antiently to the Premonstratensian Abbey de Insula Dei, or Lisle Dieu, in Normandy, founded by Reginald de Paveley, in 1187, who having lands in this county, might probably give this church for the better support of his new foundation.
This church appears to have been appropriated to it very early, for in 1369, anno 44 Edward III. a commission was issued by archbishop Wittleseye for the augmentation of the portion of the perpetual vicar of Uppechirche to the above-mentioned abbey for some time appropriated, to five marcs.
Upon the suppressing of these foreign houses, this church was, in the 4th year of king Richard II. given to the hospital of St. Katherine, near the Tower, towards the founding of a chantry for three chaplains in it. But this seems to have been a grant only for a term of years, for king Henry VI. in his 17th year, on the foundation of All Souls college, in Oxford, granted this church, together with the advowson of the vicarage, to that college, part of the endowment of which it remains at this time.
The parsonage consists of a house, &c. eighty-one acres of arable, fresh, and salt marsh, being the glebe land of it, and the tithes of about five hundred acres of arable land in this parish, and is held at the yearly rent of 16l. 13s. 8d. in money, sixteen quarters of wheat, and sixteen quarters of malt. The lessee repairs the chancel of the parish church.
In the 8th year of king Richard II. this church was valued at 23l. 6s. 8d. then belonging to the abbey of Lisle Dieu, by which it should seem, that it was not divested of its property here then, though the hospital of St. Katherine's held the possession of it. It is valued in the king's books at eleven pounds, and the yearly tenths at 1l. 2s. In the reign of queen Elizabeth there were one hundred and thirty-nine communicants. In 1640, it was valued at 60l. Communicants forty.
Church of Upchurch.
|Or by whom presented.|
|College of All Souls.||Richard Jones, A. M. May 1, 1590, obt. 1609.|
|Thomas Long, resigned 1611.|
|William Bradenham, A. M. Aug. 3, 1611, obt. 1619.|
|Francis Webb, A. M. June 12, 1619, obt. 1630.|
|Christopher Collard, A. M. Nov. 20, 1630, resigned 1639.|
|Enoch Stephens, A. M. April 24, 1639, obt. 1640.|
|John Messenger, A. M. Feb. 6, 1640, obt. 1641.|
|Edward Vaughan, A. M. Nov. 30, 1641.|
|The Archbishop||John Campleshon, A. M. Oct. 14, 1664.|
|College of All Souls||Benjamin Phinnies, clerk, April 1, 1667.|
|Thomas Milway, July 2, 1685.|
|Henry Warren. (fn. 6)|
|John Saunders, A. M. Dec. 20, 1708, obt. 1719.|
|James Brent, A. M. July 17, obt. 1727.|
|Baynton Parsons, A. M. April 10, 1727, obt. 1742.|
|Archbishop, by lapse||Henry Piers, A. M. August 11, 1742, resigned 1746. (fn. 7)|
|College of All Souls||Francis Baker, LL. D. inducted November 11, 1746, obt. 1749. (fn. 8)|
|Richard Jacob, A. M. 1749, resigned 1757. (fn. 9)|
|Richard Brereton, A. M. Feb. 4, 1758, resigned 1766.|
|Wolley Leigh Shencer, A. B. February 12, 1766, the present vicar. (fn. 10)|