Parishes: Barson

Pages 71-78

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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THE next parish south-westward is Barson, alias Barfriston, which latter is its proper and antient name; being written in the survey of Domesday, Barfrestone, but for the sake of contraction it has been of late both called and written by the former name of Barson only. There is but one borough in this parish, viz. the borough of Barson, which contains the whole parish; the borsholder for which is chosen at the petty sessions, held for this division of the lath of St. Augustine.

BARSON lies on the open hilly downs, with which this neighbourhood much abounds; they are in like manner for the most part arable, the soil upon the hills is chalky and not over fertile; in the valleys it is inclined to clay, and of course better land, though still of a coarse nature. The court-lodge and church are nearly in the middle of the parish, which has in it, including the street, only twelve houses, and contains about 470 acres of land. This parish as well as its vicinity is exceedingly healthy, and has been already-noticed under Coldred. Instances of longevity here are very frequent and as remarkable, for in 1700 the minister resident in this parish was buried at the age of 96. The minister who preached the funeral sermon was 82. The reader of the service was 87. The parish clerk was the same age, but then absent. The sexton 86, and his wife about 80, and several of the neighbouring parish of Coldred, who attended at the funeral, were above 100 years old; and in the year 1722 there were in this small parish, which consisted only of fifty-eight souls, nine persons, whose ages made 636 years.

At the southern boundary of the parish are a great number of Roman tumuli, or barrows, which adjoin the lines of entrenchments at the end of Eythorne pa rish, all of which have already been noticed under Shebbertswell before, in which parish most of them lie. There is no fair.

There was in king Henry III.'s reign a family resident here, who took their name from it; one of whom, Amicia de Barfreston, was a benefactor to the priory of Davington, as appears by the ledger book of it.

AT THE TIME of taking the survey of Domesday, in the 15th year of the Conqueror's reign, this place was part of the possessions of Odo, the great bishop of Baieux, the king's half-brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:

In Estrea lath. In Estre hundred, Ralph de Curbespine holds of the bishop, one yoke in Barfrestone. There one very poor woman pays three pence and one farthing. This yoke is, and was worth separately ten shillings.

Rannulf de Colubels holds there one yoke, which has been scotted in Hardes and to this time is not scotted to the king's tax.

On the confiscation of the bishop's estates, which happened on his disgrace, about four years afterwards, this at Barfriston appears to be among the lands which were granted for the defence of Dover castle, to Hugh de Port, and with other lands, made up together the barony of Port, being held by barony of that castle, by the service of performing ward there, for the defence of it.

After which it was held of his descendant, John de St. John, in king Henry III.'s reign, by a family named Wyborne; one of whom, John de Wyborne, held it in king Edward II.'s reign; but before the 20th of king Edward III. this name was extinct here; for it appears then to have been alienated from them, and in the tenure of different persons; one of whom, John de Monynham, seems to have held that part of Wyborne's estate, which comprehended the manor of Batfriston, which after the heirs of Moningham had deserted their patrimony here, was alienated about the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign, to Sir Thomas Browne, of Beechworth castle, comptroller of the houshold, and in his descendants the property of it continued down to Sir Thomas Browne, of the same place, whose lands were disgavelled by the acts of the 1st and 8th of Elizabeth; not long after the latter year of which he alienated it to Mr. Thomas Boys, of Eythorne, who afterwards removed hither, and dying possessed of it in 1599, was buried in this church. His eldest son Thomas, was of Hoad, and inherited this manor, which his eldest son John Boys, gent. of Hoad, sold at the latter end of king Charles the 1st.'s reign, to Anthony Percival, of Dover, comptroller of the customs there, who died in 1646, and lies buried at Denton, in whose heirs this manor continued, till it was at length sold to Major Richard Harvey, who was of Elmington, in Eythorne first, and afterwards of Danecourt; his grandson, Mr. Richard Harvey, gent was of Barson, and having pulled down the antient mansion of this manor, handsomely rebuilt it, and afterwards resided here. He married Elizabeth Nicholls, of Barham, by whom he has had seven sons and six daughters; of the former, Richard the eldest, now of Ramsgate, was vicar of St. Laurence, and is now of Eastry, and married Judith Matson, by whom he has a son Richard, now vicar of St. Laurence, who married Miss Wade, by whom he has one only son Richard. Henry the second son, is an admiral of the royal navy, and of Walmer, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Wm. Boys, esq. lieutenant-governor of Greenwich hospital, by whom he has had four sons and one daughter. John, the third son, was likewise a captain in the royal navy, and of Heronden, who died in July 1794, at Portsmouth, of the wounds he received in the glorious naval fight against the French, on June the 1st preceding, which prevented the king's intention of making him an admiral, as a reward for his gallant behaviour in it. He left four sons and four daughters; of the former, Henry Wife, esq. the eldest, is now of Heronden, and John is a captain in the navy. Of the daughters, Mary married Wm. Boteler, esq. now of Eastry, and Fanny married Robert Curling, surgeon, of Sandwich, Elizabeth died young, and Sarah. Of the younger sons of Mr. Richard Harvey, of Barson, by Elizabeth Nicholls, Thomas the fourth son is living, but s. p. and Samuel, the sixth son, is of Sandwich, brewer. Of the daughters, Frances, Margaret married to Thomas Freeman, clerk, rector of St. Martin's, and vicar of St. Paul's, in Canterbury; Elizabeth to William Wyborn Bradley, brewer, of Sandwich; and Sarah to John Tucker, clerk, late of Shinglewell, and rector of Gravesend and Luddenham, in this county. (fn. 1) But to return to Mr. Richard Harvey, who after residing here some time, at length in 1792 alienated this estate to John Plumptre, esq. of Fredville, the present owner of it. (fn. 2)

HARTANGER, written in Domesday, Hertange, is a small manor in this parish, which, at the time of taking that survey, was part of the possessions of the bishop of of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:

Radulf, son of Robert, holds of the bishop Hertange. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is . . . . . In demesne there is one carucate, and five villeins, with two borderers, having two carucates. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth forty shillings, and afterwards ten shillings, now sixty shillings. Eddid held it of king Edward.

Four years after taking this survey, the bishop's estates, on his disgrace, were confiscated; upon which this manor of Hartangre came into the hands of the crown; whence it was afterwards granted to Simon Fitz-Adam, by whom it was held by knight's service, by barony, of Dover castle, by the service of ward for the space of fifteen days, for the defence of it.

Of Simon Fitz-Adam and his heir Adam Fitzwilliam, this manor was afterwards held by the Pirots. Alan Pirot died possessed of it at the latter end of king Henry I.'s reign, and was succeeded in it by Robert Pirot, whose heir was Ingelram de Fontibus; how long he and his heirs held it, I do not find; but at the latter end of king Henry III. or the beginning of king Edward I.'s reign, William de Hartanger held it. After him it became the estate of Robert de Hardres, as may be seen by the book of knight's fees, and he held it by knight's service of the honor of Clare. In the 8th year of the next reign of king Edward II. his next successor in it was Reginald de Tondresley; how long it continued in that name does not appear; but at the latter end of king Henry VI.'s reign it was come into the possession of Sir Thomas Browne, of Beechworth-castle, whose descendant of the same name, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, passed it away to Francis Santon, esq. whose son and heir Francis Santon alienated it soon afterwards to Edward Merriweather, second son of Edward, of Shebbertswell, who resided here, and dying possessed of it in 1621, anno 20 James I. was buried in this church, and in his descendants it continued, till at length about the middle of the last century, it was sold to Pot, and Mr. William Pot, citizen and apothecary, of London, gave it by his will in 1691, with other lands in this county, to trustees and their survivors, in trust, for them to pay two hundred pounds per annum, out of the rents and profits of them, to Christ's hospital, and the remaining produce of them to the hospital of Bethlem, in London; in which trust this manor continues vested at this time. (fn. 3)

It appears by the register of Ledes abbey, that Sibilla de Watemle gave to the priory of Ledes, in free and perpetual alms, inter alia, the tithe of Hartangre, which gift was confirmed by archbishop Theobald, in the reign of king Stephen.

There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly or casually relieved are not more than one or two at most.

THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sandwich.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a small building of great antiquity; the outside is curiously adorned with carve-work in stone, with circular arches and windows, especially at the east end; the west end has a fine circular arch with Saxon ornaments and zig-zag border; and in the inside is another like arch between the body and chancel. This church, so well known to every lover of antiquity, of which so many engravings have been made, is a most curious specimen of Anglo Saxon architecture. It consists of a body and chancel, separated by a circular arch, supported by two elegant wreathed pillars; a row of singular uncouth heads are round the cornice; a beautiful circular window is at the east end; at the foot of the wall are two circular arches, forming recesses, probably for places of sepulture, and not improbably for the founders of the church. The grand south entrance, now partly hid by a modern porch, is most curiously sculptured with rows of figures of various kinds. Nitches for statues are all round the building. There is no steeple, a small wooden turret having been taken down a few years since. There is only one bell. In the chancel is a mural monument for Thomas Boys, gent. of Barfreston, of the family of Fredville, obt. 1599; arms, Or, a griffin segreant, sable, within a bordure, gules. Another mural monument for Robert Ewell, rector and patron, one of the six preachers of Canterbury cathedral, obt. 1638. A gravestone for George Smith, forty-one years rector of this parish, obt. 1752. Several of the Boy's were buried in this church. In the windows of it were formerly these arms, viz. Azure, two bendlets, argent, within a bordure, and the same arms without the bordure.

The advowson of this church, which is a rectory, was antiently appendant to the manor; but in the reign of king Henry VIII. it was become an advowson in gross, and was in the possession of John Boys, of Denton, attorney-general to the duchy of Lancaster, who held it by knight's service of the king, as of his castle of Dover. His son William Boys, esq. of Denton, sold this advowson to his kinsman Thomas Boys, of Aythorne, and in his descendants it continued down till the reign of king Charles I. when it was alienated to Ewell, from one of which name it was sold to Sir Basil Dixwell, who was possessed of it in 1640; since which it has become part of the possessions of the president and fellows of St. John's college, in Oxford, who are the present patrons of it.

This rectory is valued in the king's books at 7l. 14s. it is now a discharged living of the clear yearly value of about thirty pounds. In 1588 it was valued at sixty shillings, and here were communicants forty. In 1640 it was valued at fifty shillings, and here were the like number of communicants.

This rectory has been augmented by the governors of queen Anne's bounty with 200l. and a like sum added to it by the president and fellows of St. John's college, with which the house, barn, and appurtenances were new built, and a barn, stable and lands were purchased in the parish of Alkham, now of the annual rent of thirty pounds.

There is a glebe belonging to it of seven acres, of which one is in Nonington, but in the king's books there is said to be ten acres of glebe land.

Church of Barson.

Or by whom presented.
President, &c. of St. John's college. George Smith, A. M. 1732, obt. May 16, 1752. (fn. 4)
John Spier, S. T. P. Oct. 20, 1752, resigned 1758.
John Chalmers, A. M. July 15, 1758, resigned 1780.
John Luntley, LL. D. June 17, 1780, the present rector.


  • 1. See the arms of Harvey under Tilmanstone.
  • 2. See more of the Plumptres, under Fredville, in vol. ix. of this history, p. 258.
  • 3. See Strype's Stow's Survey, book i. p. 194.
  • 4. He held this rectory, with the vicarages of Shebbertswell and Coldred annexed.