Parishes: Bircholt

Pages 10-14

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1799.

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IS the next parish from Smeeth northward, being usually called Birchall. In Domesday it is written Belice. It lies between Braborne lees and Hatchpark, and is a very small parish, having in it no more than the court-ledge, and four or five other houses. The soil of it mostly a deep stiff clay. It is a very obscure out of the way place, not having any traffic through it, and is but very little known.

BIRCHOLT, at the time of the taking of Domesday, was held by Hugo de Montiort, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in it:

The same Hugo holds Belice. Turgis held it of king Edward, and it was taxed for one suling. The arable land is. . . . . In demesne there is one carucate, and two villeins, with one borderer having one carucate. There are three acres of meadow.

These two estates, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, were worth sixty shillings, and afterwards twenty shillings, now sixty shillings.

Robert de Montfort, grandson of Hugh beforementioned, submitting to a voluntary exile, the king took possession of this among the rest of his estates; after which it was held by the Criols, and under them again, in the reign of king Edward I. by Philip de Columbers, in which name it does not seem to have continued long; for in the reign of Edward III. it was held jointly by a family who took their name of Bircholt from it. How long the portion above-mentioned, in which the manor of Bircholt, and two parts of the advowson of the church of Bircholt, I do not cluded, continued in the name of Bircholt, I do not find; but in king Henry IV.'s reign, as appears by several antient court-rolls, Richard Halke, or Hawke as they were usually called, of West Halks, in Kingsnoth, was the proprietor of it; in whose descendants it continued down to William Halke, who resided here in the reign of queen Elizabeth. He left an only daughter and heir Joane, who married Hamon Handville, of Ulcombe, and thereby entitled him to the possession of this manor. This family was originally of Handville, or Hanville-green, in Waltham. They removed to Ulcombe in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, and bore for their arms, Argent, a lion rampant, sable, the field semee of crosses, patee of the second. (fn. 1) One of his descendants, Stephen Anvill, or Handfield, having purchased of Sir Thomas Scott in the reign of king Charles II. the manors of Stretchland, alias Foreland, and of Stephens, alias Pounds, (which had formerly owners of the name of Punde, and afterwards became the property of the Whiting's) in this parish of Bircholt and in Braborne, together with the other third part of the advowson of the church of Bircholt, which had been vested in the same proprietors, became possessed of the whole property of these manors, as well as of the advowson of this church, and there is yet a farm in this parish called by the name of Handfield, from their possessing it; all which he conveyed, about the year 1727, to Cale, in which name it continued down to John Cale, esq. of Barming, barrister-at-law, who died possessed of it in 1777, and by his will devised this, among the rest of his estates in this county, to the heirs of Thomas Prowse, esq. of Somersetshire, in consequence of which his two daughters and coheirs became entitled to it; the youngest of whom married Sir John Mordaunt, bart. of Warwickshire, (fn. 2) and they continue the present possessors of this manor, with the advowson of the church of Bircholt as above mentioned, in undivided moieties. There is a large antient house still remaining on this estate.

There are no charities belonging to this parish. The poor constantly relieved are two, casually the same.

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

The church, which was dedicated to St. Margaret, has been many years in ruins, though some small part of the walls are yet remaining. It was standing in the year 1518, as appears by a legacy then left towards the repair of it; but in 1578, the return made at the visitation was, that there was no church standing.

It is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 2l. 10s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 5s. Id. In 1578 here were communicants fourteen, and it was valued at ten pounds. It is now worth about twenty pounds per annum, and has three acres of glebe land belonging to it.

The patronage of this rectory was always annexed to the manor of Bircholt, as has been already mentioned before, according to the shares the respective owners had in it, that is to say, two turns in three in the family of Halk, or Hawke, as they were usually called, and afterwards of that of Handfield, or Hanville, one of whom having purchased a remaining part of that manor, to which a third turn of presentation to this rectory was annexed, became possessed of the entire advowson of it. From the Handfields it went by sale to Cale, and afterwards, in like way with the manor, as has been already mentioned, to the coheirs of Prowse, who are the present possessors of it, with the advowson of the rectory of Bircholt.

Church of Bircholt.

Or by whom presented.
The Queen, hac vice. John Cadham, April 8, 1596, obt. 1616. (fn. 3)
William Halke, gent. of Bircholt. Thomas Johnson, May 20, 1617, obt 1623.
Lanceiot Harrison, A. M. May 20, 1623, obt. 1641. (fn. 4)
Sir Edward Scott. Hugh Harrison, A. B. August 5, 1641.
William Belcher, ejected 1662. (fn. 5)
Thomas Handfield, of Ulcombe. John Kosse, Nov. 4, 1662. (fn. 6)
Simon How, obt. 1673.
Christopher Harris, A. B. Oct17, 1673. (fn. 7)
The King, by lapse. William Howdell, A. M. Oct. 2. 1731, resigned 1743. (fn. 8)
Charles Hayes, esq. Curteis Wightwick, A. M. inducted Oct. 15, 1743, resig. 1750. (fn. 9)
The King, by lapse. John Howdell, Sept. 28. 1750, obt. 1762.
John Cale, esq. William Polhill, A. B. Nov. 19, 1762, resigned 1773. (fn. 10)
Thomas Jordan, A. B. 1774, the present rector.


  • 1. There is a pedigree of them in the Visitation of the county of Kent, anno 1619.
  • 2. See more of the Cales and Mordaunts, under Barming, vol. iv. of this history, p. 390.
  • 3. And rector of Braborne.
  • 4. In 1626 a dispensation passed, for his holding this rectory with Orlestone, Rym. Fæd. vol. xviii. p. 875.
  • 5. And rector of Ulcombe. See Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 286.
  • 6. And rector of Braborne.
  • 7. He was likewise perpetual curate of Wingham.
  • 8. He was vicar of Leysdown likewise, by dispensation.
  • 9. He had a dispensation to hold the vicarage of St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury, with this rectory, and was afterwards rector of Bonnington. He was of Pembroke college, Oxford, which college Richard Wightwick, who was a younger son of the Wightwicks, of Kingsnoth, was greatly instrumental in the foundation of.
  • 10. He resigned this on taking the vicarage of Linton, as he did that in 1779 for the vicarage of Deling.