The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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LIES the next parish eastward from Upchurch, it is written in antient deeds Halegestow, and is usually called Lower Halstow, from its low situation, and to distinguish it from the parish of High Halstow, in the hundred of Hoo.
It is a very obscure and unfrequented parish, though the road from Chatham to the King's Ferry leads through the lower part of it, across a branch of the creek, here called the Stray, which is at high water hardly passable with safety. The little streamlet which rises southward near Newington church, runs on hither to the corn mill, belonging to All Souls college, situated on another branch of this creek, up to which the tide flows likewise, the mill being turned by it; below these the two branches acquire the name of Halstow creek, and soon afterwards joining, about three miles below, that of Standgate creek, a little further from which it flows into the river Medway, at some distance above Sheerness. At the lower end of Standgate creek, all vessels arriving from foreign countries, where the plague, or any other infections distemper is known to rage, are obliged by order of the privy council and the king's proclamation to perform quarantine for a limited time, and for the purpose of airing the cargoes of them, there are two large hospital ships, commonly called lazarettos, being the hulks of forty-four gun ships stationed here constantly, on board which the goods and merchandize are removed, for the purpose of airing them, and a government cutter attends to see this properly observed, and to prevent the crews getting on shore before the time is expired,
Halstow creek above this becomes so shallow, as to be used only by the small vessels belonging to the dredger men, who live here, and make up the principal part of the inhabitants of this parish, it is navigable in both branches as high up as the stray on the one, and the bridge built over the other, just above the church, where there is a wharf belonging to All Souls college, which, if in a proper condition, might be made of great use to the neighbouring country, which, as appears by the survey made in the 8th year of queen Elizabeth, by her order, was then called Halstow key, and that there were then in this parish houses inhabited twenty-four, ships and boats fourteen, from one ton to seven; and persons occupied in carrying from port to port and fishing fourteen. There are two small hamlets in the lower part of it, near the creek, the one built round a green, and called from thence Halstow-green, and the other at a small distance from it called Lower street. This part of the parish lies on a level, and open to the adjoining marshes, which render it most unpleasant, and at the same time unhealthy to an extreme, the look of which the inhabitants carry in their countenances; indeed, it seems so enveloped among creeks, marshes and salts, the look over which extends as far as the eye can see, that it seems a boundary, beyond which the traveller dreads to hazard his future safety.
The whole of this parish, excepting towards the marshes, has a woody appearance, the shaves and hedge-rows being very broad round the fields, it contains about twelve hundred acres of land, the soil of it is in general a very stiff and wet clay, a heavy tillage land, some few parts of it are gravel, and others, a black unfertile sand, with much broom and brakes, or fern on it. The clayey lands have of late years been much improved, by spreading them over with lime, brought at a heavy expence from the upper part of Hartlip, a distance of between three and four miles, by which means they produce a good crop of wheat. Near the stray there are some fertile meadows and orchards, the lands in general let at a high rent of fifteen and twenty shillings an acre, much of it throughout the parish belongs to All Souls college, as part of their manor farm of Horsham, in Upchurch. Towards the eastern part of the parish the hills rise pretty high, over much of which the adjoining manor of Norwood in Milton claims. In the north-east part is Basser farm, almost the whole of which is pasture, and some of it so fertile as to be good fatting land for beasts.
THE MANOR OF BERKESORE, commonly called BASSER, which is situated in the north-east part of this parish. It was given to the monks of the priory of Christ-church, in Canterbury, to the finding of a light before the shrine of St. Anselm there, which gift was confirmed by Henry II. who added to it fifteen pounds of rent in this place likewise, as did Reginald de Clere, certain land bounding to that of Roger de Wardun and William de Northwode.
King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted and confirmed to the prior and convent of Christ-church, free-warren in all their demesne land in Berkesore, held in the time of his grandfather king Henry III.
In which state this manor continued till the dissolution of the above-mentioned priory, in the 31st year of Henry VIII. when it was, with all the lands and possessions belonging to it, surrendered up into the king's hands, who settled this manor, by his dotation-charter, in his 33d year, on his new erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains.
The family of Darell, of Calehill, have for many generations been lessees of this manor under the dean and chapter. Sir Robert Darell held it as such in the 17th year of king James I. and in his descendants it has continued down to Henry Darell, esq. of Calehill, the present lessee of it. A court baron is regularly held for it.
WILLIAM ROBINSON, of this parish, by will in 1632, gave 20s, in money, and two bushels of wheat, out of land now used with the Stray farm in this parish, to be distributed yearly on St. Thomas's Day for ever.
CATH. WOOTTON, of this parish, gave by will in 1678, a field called Budington, in Newington, of the annual produce of 20s. to be distributed yearly on Easter Monday to the poor of this parish for ever.
The church, which stands close to the creek, is dedicated to St. Margaret; it consists of three small isles and one chancel, with a low pointed steeple, in which hang five bells, and has nothing remarkable in it. The church of Halstow was part of the antient possessions of the priory of Christ-church in Canterbury, as appears by the instrument of archbishop Baldwin, who came to the see of Canterbury in 1184, who, at the presentation of the prior and convent, granted to his beloved son John de London, nephew of the then blessed martyr Thomas, the church of St. Margaret of Halegestowa, in perpetual alms; saving the pension of one marc, which the said John should be bound to pay to the monks above-mentioned, twice in each year. (fn. 1)
In which situation this church continued till the dissolution of the priory in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it was, with all the lands and possessions of it, surrendered up into the king's hands.
The church of Halstow, with the vicarage of it, did not remain long in the hands of the crown, for the king settled it by his dotation-charter, in his 33d year, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains, the parsonage being leased out by them for twenty-one years, but the advowson of the vicarage they retain in their own hands.
The vicarage is a discharged living in the king's books of the yearly certified value of forty pounds, the yearly tenths being 16s. 2¼d. In 1642 it was valued at sixty pounds per annum, first receipt. Communicants eighty-two.
Dr. Francis Walwin, prebendary of Canterbury, in 1770, but a short time before his death, paid into the hands of the Rev. John Tucker, of Canterbury, and rector of Ringwold, since deceased, ten pounds to be laid out for the benefit of this vicarage.
John White, vicar of this parish in 1696, presented a petition to archbishop Tension, setting forth, that he had two vicarage-houses, one an old uninhabited house adjoining to the sea side, which every spring tide overflowed with salt water, and which the seamen and others had in a manner demolished; that the other is a house given by two maids, who died there, and bequeathed it to the vicar for ever; that it had been recovered by his predecessor by course of law, and that he himself had inhabited it for twenty years. He therefore prayed the archbishop to grant him licence to demolish the former, in regard that the vicarage was small, not being worth thirty pounds per annum. To which the archbishop assented, and granted his licence for that purpose in 1696.
The scite of the old house and garden was afterwards taken possession of by a dredgerman; a house has been since rebuilt on it, by a person who now claims it as his freehold, and the vicar has not as yet made any attempt to disposses him of it.
Church of Halstow
|Or by whom presented.|
|Dean and chapter of Canterbury.||George Atton, A. B. Feb. 13, 1595, obt. 1609.|
|John Warde, Jan. 30, 1609, obt. 1617.|
|William Tonstall, A. M. Nov, 27, 1617, resig. 1619.|
|Thomas Parker, A. M. Nov. 1619, obt. 1632.|
|Henry Dering, A. M. July 13, 1632, obt. 1666. (fn. 2)|
|John White, A. B. Nov. 1, 1666, obt. 1706. (fn. 3)|
|Ralph Milway, March 11, 1707, obt. 1759.|
|Thomas Lamprey, jun. Jan. 1, 1760, the present vicar.|