The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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ALTHOUGH the road from Sittingborne to Hollingborne-hill, and thence to Maidstone, passes through it and the village of Bredgar, it is rather an unfrequented place, lying obscurely among the hills, and bounding eastward to the woods. It contains near 1300 acres of land, of which one hundred are wood-grounds. The village, which stands on high ground, nearly in the centre of the parish, having the church and college, or chantry in it, is a healthy and not unpleasant situation, being surrounded mostly by pasture grounds, but the remaining part of the parish is very hilly, the soil poor and chalky, and much covered with flints, being rather a dreary country. At the entrance of the village there is a good house, inhabited for many years by the Beales, the last of whom, Mr. John Beale, of Bredgar, dying s. p. in 1769, gave this among his other estates, among his relations, and this house is now owned by his sister's son, Mr. Pattison; a little distance from hence is a modern fronted house, belonging to the Rev. Mr. Marsh, rector of Bicknor, who resides in it.
IT APPEARS by antient records, that there was a family resident in this parish, who took their name from it. Robert de Bredgar, resided here in the reign of king Henry III. whose name appears in an antient roll of the benefactors to the monastery of Davington, and bore for their arms, Argent, a bend, gules, fretty, azure, between two lions rampant of the second; and in the reign of king Richard II. Robert de Bredgar, clerk, parson of this parish, founded a chantry or college in the church here, as will be further mentioned hereafter.
It was antiently in the possession of a family, which assumed its surname from it; one of whom, John de Bexon, was residen there in the reigns of Edward II. and III. whose effigies was formerly painted in the windows of this church, with a scroll underneath. But in the next reign of king Richard II. this manor was become the property of the family of Tong, who were of some account in different parts of East-Kent, as well as in this neighbourhood; for it appears by some antient deeds, that Semanus de Tong, in the 16th year of that reign, was tenant to the Maison Dieu, in Ospringe, for lands at Lorinden, in Challock, and sealed with a bend cotized, argent, between six martlets, gules, in which name this estate continued down to John Tonge, gent. who about the latter end of the reign of king Charles I. alienated it to Mr. Thomas Fearne, who bore for his arms, Per bend, gules, and or, two leopards heads, counterchanged. One of his descendants, Mr. John Fearne, passed it away by sale to Mr. Thomas Best, of Chatham, whose grandson, Thomas Best, esq. of Chilston, dying in 1795. s. p. gave it by his will, among his other estates, to his youngest nephew, George Best, esq. now of Chilston, who is the present possessor of it. (fn. 1)
SWANTON-COURT, now vulgarly called Swan court, is a manor likewise in the southern part of this parish, adjoining to Bicknor, which was formerly part of the possessions of the eminent family of Leyborne, of Leyborne, in this county, in which it continued till Juliana, daughter of Thomas, and heir of her grandfather William de Leyborne, dying s. p. by any of her husbands, all of whom she survived, this estate in the 41st year of king Edward III. escheated to the crown, there being no one found, who could claim it, as heir to her; and it remained there 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, part of the possessions of which it remained till the dissolution of that monastery, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered up into the king's hands, together with all the lands and revenues belonging to it.
Soon after which, the king granted this manor to Ralph Fane, esq. who as quickly afterwards parted with it to Sir Thomas Wyatt, who in the 33d year of that reign passed it away to the king, in exchange for other estates, pursuant to an act passed for that purpose the year before.
This manor thus coming into the king's hands, he granted in his 38th year, to Christopher Sampson, esq. to hold in capite by knight's service, who in the 5th year of king Edward VI. alienated it to Thomas Reader, of Bredgar, yeoman, and he having levied a fine of it in the 16th year of queen Elizabeth, afterwards sold it to William Terrey, who in the reign of king James I. partly by sale, and partly on account of alliance, settled it on Mr. William Aldersey, descended from an antient family of that name settled at Aldersey, in Cheshire, who bore for their arms, Gules, on a bend, argent, three leopards heads, vert, between two cinquefoils, or; in chief, a crescent, within a crescent, for disference. (fn. 2) He married Thomasine, daughter of Mr. Roger Terrey, and their descendants continued to reside here, till at length Hugh Aldersey, esq. dying in 1762, s. p. his heirs-at-law alienated it about the year 1767, to John Toke, esq. late of Goddington, in Great Chart, but now of Canterbury, who continues at this time the owner of it.
MANNS is an estate in this parish, which was formerly accounted a manor, and took its name from a family who were possessors of it; one of whom, John Mann, died possessed of it in the 50th year of Edward III. when it was found by inquisition, that he held it of the king, in capite, by knight's service, and that Joane was his daughter and next heir. How it passed afterwards I have not found; but the next that I find it in the possession of, is the family, of Isley, one of whom, Thomas Isley, possessor of this manor, left five daughters and coheirs, viz. Mary, married to Francis Spelman; Frances, to William Boys, esq. Elizabeth, to Anthony Mason, esq. Anne, to George Delves, esq. and Jane, to Francis Haute, esq. After which, Francis Spelman, and Mary his wife, in 1583, alienated their fifth part to Robert and Thomas Whytfield, and their heirs male.
In the reign of king James I. William Hales, esq. of Nackington, was possessed of the principal messuage called Manns, with the lands belonging to it, and in 1640, together with his son William Hales the younger, passed it away by sale to Tho. Godfrey the younger, of Lid, esq. who seems to have parted with it to Clarke, whose family was possessed of lands here some time before this, for Humphry Clarke, alias Woodchurch, of Bredgar, esq. grandson of Humphry Clarke, of Kingsnoth, resided here in the reign of king James I. and dying in 1608, was buried in the north isle of this church, bearing for his arms, Paly, wavy of six pieces, ermine, and gules. (fn. 3) He alienated it to Reader, who bore for his arms, Three crescents, on a canton, a lion's head erased, all within a bordure, ermine, in whose descendants it continued down to Mr. John Reader, who died possessed of it, and his heir-at-law alienated it to Mr. James Chapman, gent. of Milton, the youngest son of Edward Chapman, esq. of Molash, and his grandson James Chapman, esq. is the present possessor of it.
In the 16th year of king Richard II. Robert de Bradgare, rector of this church, John Burbache, clerk, and others, founded, with the king's licence, A CHANTRY or SMALL COLLEGE in this church of Bredgar, in honor of the Holy Trinity, which consisted of a chaplain or secular priest, in holy orders, and two scholar clerks or confreers, who were to govern it, and celebrate divine officers, continually there in future, excepting at those times when the scholars should be employed in their studies: and they endowed it with different houses, rents, and lands, in this and the adjoining parishes, to hold to them and their successors for ever; and in 1398 the above-mentioned Robert de Bradagare, with the consent of archbishop Arundel, who then confirmed this foundation, gave them, under his seal, rules and statutes, for the better government of it. At which time there appears to have been a building already erected, called the college, for them to reside in, almost adjoining to the church of Bredgar.
In which situation this chantry or hospital continued, till the reign of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered up with all its possessions, into the king's hands. Soon after which the scite of it, by the name of the chantry house of Bredgar, with sundry premises belonging to it, in Bredgar, Borden, and Bicknor, was granted by the king to George Harpur, esq. who afterwards, in the 33d year of that reign, exchanged it with the king for other estates in this and other counties. After which it seems to have remained in the hands of the crown, till queen Elizabeth, in her third year, having taken into her hands several manors, lands, &c. parcel of the see of Canterbury, by her letters patent that year, granted to archbishop Parker, and his successors, several rectories, parsonages, and other premises, in lieu of them, among which was this dissolved college of Bredgar, then valued at 13l. 6s. 8d. Since which it has continued parcel of the possessions of the archbishopric, and remains so at this time. The tenths payable to the crown receiver from this dissolved chantry are 1l. 17s. 7¾d.
THREE TENEMENTS and sixty-five perches of land, at the Bush, in Silver-street, in Bredgar, let to the overseers at 20s. per annum. was given for the repair of the church. One acre and an half of land in Hinkins crost, let at 12s. was given for the like purpose. A small piece of land, called the Playstool, let at 2s. 6d. per annum, was given for the like purpose.
WILLIAM TERRY, gent. by deed anno 17 James I. granted to Francis Clarke, and others, 31. per annum out of a house called Black-end, and an orchard belonging to it, and a piece of land called Mascalls, all in Bredgar-street, in trust, to be distributed among the poor inhabitants.
MR. THATCHER, citizen of London, in 1718 gave by deed 100l. which with that of 30l. added to it by the parishioners, was laid out in lands at Torry-hill, containing twenty-eight acres, lying in Milsted and Lenham, which were purchased in trust, for the minister and churchwardens to pay from thence 5l. per annum, for a master or mistress to reach eight poor children of this parish to read, and to instruct them in the church catechism; the overplus to be distributed to the poor of the parish. The children to be appointed by the minister; now of the annual produce of 6l. 10s. 4d.
The church is dedicated to St. John Baptist. It consists of three isles and one chancel, and has a square beacon tower at the west end, in which hang five bells. On the west side of the tower there is a fine Saxon door-case, with zig-zag ornaments; on the capitals of the pillars are carved two heads of a very ludicrous from. By the injudicious digging of a vault for Mrs. Murton of this parish, in 1791, two of the columns gave way, and the main arch between the body and chancel came down, but this damage has been since repaired.
In this church there are several memorials for the Tongs, and Fearnes of Bexon, particularly of John Fearne, obt. 1713; of the Readers, as late as 1705. In the north isle a monument for Humphry Clarke, alias Woodchurch, esq. obt. 1608. Memorials of the Alderseys, of Swanton, particularly of Hugh Aldersey, obt. 1762, and Mary Thurston his wife. In the church yard, at the east end of it, are several tomb-stones of the Beales and Thurstons. There is a very antient tomb-stone near the south porch, on which was once a portrait in brass, on the east end of the stone there is carved a cross in relief.
King Henry III. gave this church in pure and perpetual alms, to the leprous women of the hospital of St. James, alias St. Jacob, at the end of Wincheap, near Canterbury, so that Mr. Firman, then master of it, should enjoy it for his life, but there was no vicarage endowed in it till archbishop Courtney, in the 15th year of king Richard II. endowed one in it.
After which this church appropriate, as well as the advowson, continued part of the possessions of the hospital, till the surrendry of it in 1551, anno 5 king Edward VI. at which time there appeared to be a manor called
FILCHER, alias FILTER, belonging to the rectory of Bredgar appropriate; all which, together with the advowson, seem to have remained in the hands of the hands of the crown, till queen Elizabeth granted them to Thomas Reader, who possessed them in 1578. He afterwards sold them to Mr. William Terrey, who in the reign of king James I. passed them away to his kinsman, William Aldersey, of Swanton-court, in whose descendants they continued till Hugh Aldersey, esq. of Bredgar, about the beginning of George II.'s reign, alienated them to Mr. John Tappenden, whose son, of the same name, sold them to Sir Edward Dering, bart. of Surrenden, whose son Sir Edward Dering, bart. is the present owner of this manor and rectory, with the advowson of the vicarage of the church of Bredgar.
John atte-Vyse, one of the founders of the college, in 1398, ordained, that each year in future for ever, after his death, on the feast of the Holy Cross, there should be paid to the vicar of Bradgare, for the oblations of that day, six-pence; to the keeper to the goods of the church here, six-pence; to the parishclerk and sacrist, four-pence, and 5s. 4d. to the poor parishioners of Bredgar.
Church of Bredgar.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Robert de Bredgate, in 1398. (fn. 4)|
|William Terrey, gent. of Bredgar||Simon Seaman, A. M. July 15, 1595, obt. 1622.|
|John Lane, A. M. January 17, 1622.|
|Nathaniel Windsmore, obt. 1670.|
|Thomas Aldersey, gent.||Edward Darbie, A. B. Feb. 20, 1670.|
|The crown, by lapse.||Thomas Conway, A. M. Feb. 1, 1689.|
|Thomas Aldersey, gent.||Edward Polhill, clerk, Sept. 24, 1690.|
|The crown, by lapse.||Robert Elwicke, A. B. Sept. 16, 1699.obt. 1722.|
|William Aldersey, gent.||Richard Tysoe, A. M. Sept. 20, 1722, resigned 1744.|
|John Tappenden.||Richard Laurence, A. M. ind. April 2, 1745, obt. August, 1772. (fn. 5)|
|Sir Edward Dering, bart.||William Gurney, A. M. Nov. 21, 1772. resigned 1780. (fn. 6)|
|Thomas Scott, B. A. March 15, 1780, obt. 1794. (fn. 7)|
|Charles Cage, 1794, the present vicar.|