The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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LIES adjoining to the river Stour, on the northern side of it, opposite the town of Fordwich. It takes its name from its situation, and to distinguish it from Bere-court, in Westcliffe, near Dover, which is a good distance eastward from it; and in some records it is written Sturry Bere, from its nearness to that parish.
WESTBERE extends from the river Stour across the marshes up the hill northward, as far as the high road to Margate, and it extends south-westward as far as the town of Fordwich, two houses within that corporation being within the bounds of this parish. The village is neat and pleasantly situated, about the middle of the parish, at the foot of the hill, not far from the marshes, having the church just above it, and containing about sixteen houses, one of which is a good one, built by Mr. Francis Newman, surgeon, who resided in it, being the son of Decimus Newman, clerk, rector of this parish, who was the tenth son of Daniel Newman, esq. of Seal. His son Daniel Newman, esq. of Canterbury, barrister-at-law and recorder of Maidstone, resided here likewise at times, and died possessed of it in 1781, whose widow Mrs. Anne Newman is the present possessor of it, by whom he left an only daughter and heir Anne, married since to the present Rev. Sir John Fagg, bart. Although so near the marshes it is very healthy. The soil, from the village up the hill, which rises close behind it, is mostly a sand, and covered much with broom and coppice wood; but from each extremity, and as far as the land is ploughed towards the marshes, it is fertile for corn, fruit, and hops. The marsh-land, which is called Westbere level, containing about 370 acres, is under the management of the commission of sewers for the eastern parts of the county of Kent.
Somner is of opinion, that very antiently and æstury or arm of the sea covered this level, and that the water of it extended as far as this village. As a remarkable proof of which, he says, that by credible relation and assurance in his time, in the digging or sinking of a well, at a very great depth, store of oysters and other like shells, together with an iron anchor, firm and unimpaired, were found and turned up. (fn. 1) And the river Stour, when flooded, frequently extends over the marshes here near three-quarters of a mile in width, quite as far as the rise of the hill just below the village of Westbere.
THE MANOR OF CHISTLET claims over that part of this parish within the hundred of Blengate, which is the greatest part of it; and the remainder, being the borough of Rushborne, lying within the hundred of Westgate, is within the jurisdiction of that manor. Subordinate to the manor of Chistlet are the MANORS OF HERSING AND HOPLAND, the former being now usually called Haseden, they were both antiently held of the abbot of St. Augustine, by knight's service, by Hugh de Soldank, who was succeeded in them by a family who assumed their name from their residence at the latter; one of whom, Nicholas de Hopelonde, was a benefactor to the above abbey in king Henry III.'s reign, for it appears that there was much land then called by the name of Hopland, which extended likewise into this parish; for it appears by the register of the above abbey, that Sir Haward de Bechele was the abbot's tenant for a manor at Hoplonde, in this parish, in the beginning of the above reign, and he had then the abbot's licence to have divine service performed in his chapel, within the bounds of it, by his own chaplain, in his and his wife's presence, so that it should be without prejudice to their church of Westbere, of which he was a parishioner. The Hoplande's were succeeded here, before the end of king Edward I.'s reign, by the family of St. Laurence, who became about that time owners of other lands in this parish, by purchase from Hugh de Westbere.
After which both these manors continued in this name till about the latter end of king Henry V.'s reign, when Catherine, only daughter and heir of Thomas de St. Laurence, carried these manors in marriage to Sir William de Apulderfield, a man of much note in the succeeding reigns of king Henry VI. and king Edward IV. After which they became the property of the family of Isaak, who held them of the abbot by knight's service; in whose descendants, one of whom, Edward Isaak, had his lands disgavelled by the act of 31 Henry VIII. they continued till they were sold to the Haddes's, who resided here in queen Elizabeth's reign, during which, Matthew Haddes, esq. sold them to Robert Tournay, gent. descended from those of Saltwood, and he passed them away again, in the 19th year of king James I. to Thomas Stede, esq. who resided here; after which they descended to his grandsons, who in 1669 joined in the sale of them to William Weldish, in whose family they continued till Mr. Jonathan Weldish, of Maidstone, gave them by will to Mr. William Roffe, gent. then of Maidstone, but now of East Barming, who is the present owner of them.
BUT THERE WAS another part of this estate of Hopland, lying in this parish, adjoining to the demesnes of Hersing eastward, being now known by the name of HOPLAND FARM, which was some years since alienated to Brook Bridges, esq. of Goodneston, whose descendant Sir Brook Bridges, bart. of Goodneston, is the present owner of this estate.
THE TITHES, both great and small, arising from the estate of Hopland, once belonging to Soldank, within the bounds of this parish, were, before the reign of king Henry I. in the possession of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and were assigned to the cloathing of the monks there. (fn. 2) At the dissolution of the monastery, they came into the hands of the crown, and are now vested in the respective proprietors of these estates, which are wholly exempt from the payment of tithes; that of Hopland only paying an acknowledgment yearly of eighteen pence to the rector of this parish.
CLINCHES, alias HOPENHALL, is a manor, the house of which is situated on the north side of Westbere-street. It was for many descents in the family of Gilbert, one of whom, Thomas Gilbert, resided in this parish in king Henry VI.'s reign, and died possessed of this manor anno 2 Edward IV. and in his descendants it continued till it passed at length into the name of Milles, and Christopher Milles, esq. of Herne, died possessed of it in 1638, whose descendant Richard Milles, esq. of Nackington, is the present owner of it.
THE BOROUGH OF RUSHBORNE, antiently spelt Rusheborne, lies in the northern part of this parish, and extends into the parishes of Sturry and Chistlet, being within the hundred and manor of Westgate, from which it is separated by some part of the hundred of Blengate intervening, the principal house and estate in it was, for some length of time, the property and residence of the Twymans, who lie buried in this church; they bore for their arms, Gules, a fess nebulee, ermine, between six billets, or. Henry Twyman resided here, and died possessed of it in 1677, and was succeeded in it by his eldest son Hammond Twyman, esq. a man of much note for his learning and superior qualifications. His grandson Wheler Twyman, clerk, died in 1779, unmarried, and by will devised it to Mrs. Hannah Hall, who carried it in marriage to Mr. Peter Harrison, who died here in 1788, leaving her surviving, and she now possesses it and resides in it. There are four other houses in this hamlet.
THE TITHES of this borough were part of the antient possessions of the priory of St. Gregory, perhaps given to it at the first foundation of it by archbishop Lanfranc, and they were confirmed to it by archbishop Hubert, in king Richard I.'s reign, among the rest of their possessions. These tithes remained with the priory till the dissolution of it, in Henry VIII.'s reign, when they came into the king's hands, and were soon afterwards granted, with the scite and other possessions of it, in exchange, to the archbishop, part of the revenues of whose see they continue at this time. George Gipps, esq. of Harbledown, M. P. for Canterbury, is the present lessee under the archbishop, as part of the possessions of the dissolved priory of St. Gregorie. They are of the yearly rent of 10l. There was once a payment of 2l. 17s. from this parsonage or tithery, to the rector of Westbere, for three quarters of oats, but it has not been paid for many years past.
CHRISTOPHER MILLES, ESQ. of Herne, by will in 1638, devised to the poor the sum of 20s. to be paid yearly on the last day of August (his birth-day) out of the lease of the parsonage of Reculver, Hoade, and Herne, so long as it should please the archbishop and his successors to continue the lease to any of his surname.
The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is but small, consisting of one isle and a chancel, having a wooden pointed turret at the west end, in which are two bells. It is situated on the side of the hill above the village, and is remarkably dry, which has induced many of the parishioners of the neighbouring parishes to be buried in it. In the isle are memorials for the Blaxlands, of Fordwich. A monument for Henry Twyman, gent. of Rushborne, who married Anne, daughter of Anthony Hammond, esq. of St. Albans, in this county. Another for Wheeler Twyman, of Rushborne, rector of Luddenham, and vicar of Sturry, obt. 1779. On the spring of the arch at the entrance into the chancel, on each side, are two remarkable figures, carved in stone; one representing a deformed cripple, and the other a person in the attitude of sickness. On the pavement of the chancel, is a very antient stone, costin-shaped, a cross story on it. Several memorials in it for the Twymans, of Rushborne, and for the Newmans, of this parish; one for John Graydon, esq. of Fordwich, vice-admiral, &c. obt. 1726. A memorial for George, son of Richard Knatchbull, esq. late of Mersham Hatch, obt. 1619; and one for Anne, wife of Thomas Gilbert, gent. of Westbere. Within the altar-rails is a memorial for Rob. Jenkin, rector of this parish, obt. 1778. There are some small remains of painted glass in the windows. In the church-yard, at the east end, is a tomb for several of the family of Denne, of Whatmer-hall, in Sturry.
The patronage of this church was part of the antient possessions of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and continued so till the suppression of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it came into the hands of the crown, where it has remained ever since, the king being the present patron of it.
This church is valued in the king's books at seven pounds, and the yearly tenths at fourteen shillings. It was at first certified to be of the clear yearly value of 56l. 1s. and now of seventy pounds. In 1588 it was valued at forty pounds, communicants seventytwo. In 1640 it was valued at fifty pounds, the like number of communicants.
Church of Westbere.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Crown.||John Johnson, A. M. Feb. 18, 1608.|
|John Aucher, S. T. P. April 7, 1661.|
|William Knight, A. M. Jan. 21, 1681, deprived|
|Decimus Newman, gent. A. M. Jan. 7, 1698, obt. 1722. (fn. 3)|
|William Wood, A. M. July 3, 1722, resigned 1734. (fn. 4)|
|Robert Jenkin, A. M. Nov. 29, 1734, obt. Oct. 8, 1778. (fn. 5)|
|Charles Allen, A. M. August 21, 1779, obt. 1795. (fn. 6)|
|Kaye Mawer, 1795, the present rector.|