Parishes: Burham

Pages 409-416

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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LIES the next parish southward from Woldham, on the eastern bank of the Medway. It is written in Domesday, Boreham, and in antient grants, Burgham.

THIS PARISH is in situation much the same as that of Woldham, last described, stretching itself along the eastern bank of the river Medway, whence, from the low land, the hills rise eastward to a great height, the soil of which is very poor, being mostly chalk, and covered with flints; great part of them are open and uninclosed pastures, much covered with low scrubby bushes, heath, and furze, being usually called Burham downs. The Court lodge, with the church, at some little distance from it, stands close to the river, a low, but rather a more healthy situation than Woldham, owing to the marshes being fewer and less offensive than those lower down on the river; about a mile distant from the church northward is the hamlet of Scaborough, equally near the river; and at the southern boundary of the parish, but on higher ground and at farther distance from it, on the road called the Lower road, leading from Rochester to Aylesford, the two hamlets of Great and Little Culing, near the former of which there are several pits of potters clay.

There was formerly in this parish, at a place called Haly-garden, a spring highly reverenced by the common people for the virtues and sanctity which they attributed to it, to which they made pilgrimages from all the neighbouring parts. (fn. 1) In the 17th year of king Richard II. the Friars Carmelites of the adjoining parish of Aylesford obtained the king's letters patent, granting this spring, and the land in which it was, to them, for the making of an aqueduct for the use of their house.

The liberty of the corporation of Maidstone extends itself on the river as far as a piece of land called Hawkeswood, in this parish. (fn. 2)

This parish was antiently bound to contribute towards the repair of the fourth pier of Rochester bridge.

THIS PLACE, before the conquest, was in the possession of earl Leofwine, who, as well as his brother, king Harold, lost their lives at the fatal battle of Hastings. After which, William the Conqueror gave it to Odo, bishop of Baieux, his half brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the survey of Domesday, taken about the year 1080.

The same Ralf (de Curbespine) holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Boreham. It was taxed at six sulings. The drable land is eight carucates. In demesne there are two, and 15 villeins, with 20 borderers, having six carucates. There is a church, and seven servants, and one mill of six shillings, and 10 acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of 20 hogs. . . . . . . In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth ten pounds, and when he received it as much, now 12 pounds. The bishop of Rochester has the houses of this manor, and they are worth seven shillings. Earl Leuuin held this manor.

Ralph de Curva Spina, or Crookthorne, as his name was englished, resided at Comford park, in the neighbouring parish of Birling, which manor he likewise possessed; he bore for his arms, in imitation of Simon de Abrinces, or Averenches, of whom, as his chief lord, he held several estates, Azure, five chevrons or, a label of five points gules. (fn. 3) His descendants continued owners of Burham till the reign of king Henry II. when they were succeeded by the family of Magminot; one of whom, Walkeline de Magminot, dying without issue, his sister Alice carried this and other large possessions in this county to her husband, Geof fry de Say; and his descendant, Geossry de Say, in the 8th year of king Edward III. obtained a view of frank pledge and other liberties within all his demesne lands of this manor; and having been frequently summoned to parliament among the peers of this realm, he died in the 33d year of king Edward III. holding this manor in capite, and by the service of repairing a part of Rochester bridge and a certain house in Dover castle.

After which this manor passed in like manner as Cowdham, already described in the former part of this History, by a female coheir of this name into the family of Fienes, afterwards lords Dacre; and then again afterwards by another coheir of Fienes, Margaret, in marriage, to Sampson Lennard, esq. of Chevening; (fn. 4) whose son and heir, Henry Lennard, in his mother's right, lord Dacre afterwards, suffered a common recovery of this manor, and died in the 14th year of king James I. leaving three sons and four daughters. Of the former, Richard, the eldest succeeded him as lord Dacre; Edward died young; and Fynes, the third son, had this manor given to him by his father's will. He left a son, Robert, who in king Charles I.'s reign alienared this manor of Burham to Francis Barnham, esq. of Hollingborne, and Mr. John Maplesden, gent. and they accordingly, as trustees, in the reign of Charles II. alienated it to Sir John Banks, bart. on whose death, in 1699, without male issue, Elizabeth his daughter and coheir, then married to the Hon. Heneage Finch, second son of Heneage earl of Nottingham, entitled her husband to it. He was afterwards created baron of Guernsey, and on the accession of king George I. earl of Aylesford; since which it has descended to his great grandson, the Rt. Hon. Heneage earl of Aylesford, who is the present proprietor of it. (fn. 5)

There is a court leet and a court baron held for this manor.


A PERSON UNKNOWN gave land, one half of the produce of which to be yearly expended in the repairs of the church; the other half on the maintenance of the poor yearly, vested in the churchwardens and overseers, and now of the ann. produce of 7l.

MR. BOGHURST gave the yearly sum of 1l. to be distributed to the poor yearly on Christmas day, by the churchwardens and overseers, chargable on land, vested in John Woolsey, and now of that annual product.

BURHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester.

The church, which is small, having a large tower at the west end of it, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and stands near the banks of the Medway. There is some good painted glass in the windows of it.

The church of Burham was antiently part of the possessions of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem in England.

Pope Boniface VIII. who became pope in the year 1295, anno 24 Edward I. appropriated this church, the patronage of which belonged to the Knights Hospitallers, to that order, at the same time reserving a competent portion for a perpetual vicar in it; in consequence of which, Thomas de Wuldham, bishop of Rochester, with the consent of William de Tothale, prior, and the brethren of that hospital, in 1302, made and ordained a perpetual vicarage in this church, decreeing, that it should consist in the portions and profits therein mentioned; accordingly, he assigned to this vicarage, and the vicar serving in it, all small tithes, viz. of lambs, calves, pigs, geese, wool, milk, cheese, eggs, hay, flax, hemp, gardens, apples, and other fruit growing in gardens, and of land dug with the foot, and also all oblations and obventions of the altarage whatsoever, howsoever, whencesoever, and howoftensoever arising, together with eighteen acres of arable land, called Fogherelesland, and eleven acres of arable land, called Benecrost and Stonhelle, two acres of meadow, of which one lay between Hakewode and Burham-court, called Ocacre, and the other in a place called Landmedediche; and he decreed, that the vicars should have those lands and meadows free from all tenths and every other service, in like manner as the rectors of this church held them free, before the said appropriation; and he likewise assigned to the vicarage and vicars, the tithes of sheaves arising from a certain tenement, called Totyntonesyok, of the fee of Burgham, and two quarters of wheat, to be paid yearly to the said vicars, on the feast of St. Michael, from the barns of this rectory; and also land and a house sufficient and decent, which should be built on the soil of this church, at the expence of the said prior and brethren; and he ordained and decreed, that the vicars, for the time being should, at their peril, keep and preserve all the vestments and ornaments of the altar of the church, and all the books, which, if they should be at any time lost, burnt or spoiled casually or negligently, should be made good at the vicar's expence, and the lights round the great altar, so far as belonged to the rector; and that they should find and provide bread, wine, and other necessaries, for the celebration of divine rites, and should pay the procurations to the archdeacon, when he visited, and sustain all other burthens, ordinary and extraordinary. But the defects of the body of the chancel, as in the pavement, walls, and windows, in glass and iron, and the roof of it, should be repaired as often as occasion should require, at the expence of the said Hospitallers; and if any part of it should fall down, that they the said brethren should rebuild it, and support the same for ever. And that no doubt might arise concerning this endowment, the bishop caused a duplicate to be made of it, to be left with him, and the other with the prior and brethren. This decree was exhibited as the endowment of the vicar age of Burgham, by John Bryddesdale, vicar of the same, at the visitation of the bishop of Rochester, in the cathedral church of Rochester, in the 22d year of king Richard II. (fn. 6)

Leonard de Tibert, prior general of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, in the 7th year of king Edward III. with the consent of his chapter, granted the appropriation of this church, with all its appurtenances, excepting the advowson and presentation of the vicarage, and all the lands and tenements belonging to the hospital in this parish, to Nicholas de Hales, prior of the church of Clerkenwell, in London, to hold freely for ever.

There was an inquisition taken in 1445, that the prior of St. John of Jerusalem was the right patron of it, to whom the church was said to be appropriated; and that the vicar was endowed in certain arable lands meadows, and pastures, in the tithes of the yoke of Totyngton, in two quarters of wheat from the rectory of this church, and also in the tithes of wool, hay, lambs, cows, calves, geese, pigs, eggs, fruits, wood, and in other small tithes, also in oblations and altarages, which amounted to the value of twelve marcs; and that the vicar was bound from thence to support the burthens of bread and wine, and lights, viz. two processional tapers, tenths to the king, when any should happen, episcopal procurations, when he should visit, and archidiaconal visitations yearly, the expences of the proctors of the clergy, and other contributions, according to the taxation of twenty marcs made of the said church, and that he should take on him the office of dean, whenever it should happen to him; and that thus the portion of the vicar, these burthens being borne by him, would be worth, coib. annis, by estimation, eight marcs yearly; and further, that ten pounds would not be enough for the sufficient repair of the buildings of the vicarage, which were every where ruinous, excepting one chamber; and that the vicarage was situated in a lonely place, and remote from neighbours, by reason of which no vicar without a family could inhabit it alone with safety; and that the vicar then presented was a priest of good same, of sufficient age, and honest conversation, as more fully appeared in the inquisition.

Thomas Dowcra, prior of the hospital of St. John, and the brethren of it, in the 1st year of Henry VIII. let to ferm to Richard Ware, of Burgham, yeoman, their rectory of Burgham, with the mansion, glebe lands, and all tithes, profits, and commodities belonging to it, excepting the advowson of the vicarage of the church, to hold for twenty-one years, at the yearly rent of 13l. 6s. 8d. he and his assigns delivering to the vicar of Burgham two quarters of wheat yearly, and supporting all the burthens, ordinary and extraordinary, and all reparations whatsoever of the rectory, with its appurtenances, excepting those of the chancel; and a like lease was granted of it by the crown, in 1567, to Dr. Cæsar, with the same payment to the vicar yearly. (fn. 7) This rectory and advowson remainded part of the possessions of the hospital at the time of its dissolution, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. this order being then suppressed by an act passed specially for that purpose, by which all their lands, revenues, &c. were given up to the king's use.

The vicarage is a discharged living in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of 46l. the yearly tenths being 16s. In 1708, here were ninetyeight communicants.

In 1606, the patronage of this vicarage was in the king and lord Buckhurst by turns; and about 1630, it was in the king and lord Abergavenny by turns. (fn. 8) In 1760, it was the property of Mr. Franklyn; soon after which it was purchased by Mr. George Gordon, of Rochester, wine merchant, whose heirs sold it to the Rev. Dr. Joseph Milner, of Preston-hall, in Aylesford, who died in 1784, and his widow is now entitled to it.


Or hy whom presented.
Prior and Brethren of St. John's hospital William Bryddesale, 1398. (fn. 9)
Richard Lynstere, removed in 1444. (fn. 10)
Robert Frodesham, 1445. (fn. 11)
Martin Hoggard, clerk, Ap.27, 1553. (fn. 12)
Thomas Harry, about 1630. (fn. 13)
Thomas Fidge, about 1644.
Thomas Stapeley, A. M. 1685, ob.Oct. 30, 1689. (fn. 14)
Thomas Fidge, obt. Septem. 20, 1700. (fn. 15)
Pickering, 1715, 1724.
Richard Callims, A.B. Obt. Dec. 1737. (fn. 16)
Peter Innis, A.M. 1740, obt. 1769. (fn. 17)
Joseph Butler Milner, S. T. P. Ap. 1769, obt. July, 1784. (fn. 18)
Mrs. Sarah Milner Robert Parsons, 1784. Present rector.


  • 1. Philipott, p. 92. Tan. Not. Mon. p. 223.
  • 2. Kilburne's Surveys, p. 361. Lambard's Peramb. p. 421.
  • 3. Camden's Remains, p. 112. Philipott, p. 80.
  • 4. See Cowdham, vol. ii. p. 61; Chevening, vol. iii. p. 109.
  • 5. See Aylesford.
  • 6. Reg. Roff. p. 196, 197, 199.
  • 7. Augmentation office, Kent Roll 5, No. 22.
  • 8. Ect. Thes. p. 385. MSS. Twysden.
  • 9. Reg. Reff. p. 197.
  • 10. Ibid. p. 199.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. He had the queen's letters of presentation to it. Rym. Fæd. vol. xv. p. 544.
  • 13. MSS. Twysden.
  • 14. Also rector of Woldham, where he lies buried.
  • 15. He lies buried in the church yard of Rochester cathedral, of which church he was a minor canon.
  • 16. And rector of Crayford.
  • 17. Also rector of Kingston, in Kent.
  • 18. Patron of this church, and rector of Ditton. See Preston hall, in Aylesford.