Parishes: Dimchurch

Pages 264-270

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

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THE next adjoining parish southward upon the sea thore, is Dimchurch, (written in antient records, Demecberche) lying in the same level of Romney Marsh, and within the liberty and jurisdiction of the justices of it.

THIS PARISH is situated wholly in the level of Romney Marsh, adjoining southward to the sea, from which it is desended by an artificial wall of great strength, being the sole barrier which prevents the sea from overflowing the whole extent of the Marsh. This wall is usually known by the name of Dimchurch wall, and is about three miles in length, extending from Brockman's barn, eastward of this place, as far westward as Wallend, about a mile and an half from New Romney. As it is for the common safety, so it is supported by scots levied over the whole marsh, and the yearly expence of it is very great indeed, to the amount of 4000l. as the sea has lately increased with unusual force against it, insomuch as to call for every exertion for its preservation. It is more than twenty feet in height, and as much in width at the top, the high road from Hythe by Dimchurch to New Romney being along the summit for the greatest part of the length of it, and at the base it may be said to extend upwards of three hundred feet, being defended outward, down the sloping bank of it towards the sea, by a continued raddle work of overlaths and faggots, fastened to rows of piles in ranges of three feet width, parallel with the wall, one above the other, for a considerable way; and across contrariwise by numbers of iettees, knocks, and groins, from the wall towards sea, at proper distances, along the whole of it, to weaken the force of the waves, and at the same time stop the beach and shingle stones, which are continually thrown up, and to lodge them among the works, on the sides of the wall, as an additional covering and strength to it. Through the wall are three grand sluices, at proper parts of it, for the general sewing of the Marsh.

At a very small distance below the wall, lies the straggling village of Dimchurch, containing about forty houses, with the church and parsonage; a small distance from which is a house called NEWHALL, built in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, in which the courts, called the Lath, are held by the lords of the Marsh, and likewise by the corporation of it, who meet here and hold a general lath once a year, on Whit Thursday, to regulate all differences, and to take care that the Marsh laws are duty observed and executed, and make new ones for that purpose, and to see to the management and repair of the walls, sewers, and drainage of the Marsh, and to levy scots for the expence of them; a full account of which, as well as of the history, charters, and constitution of the Marsh, will be given hereafter, at the close of the description of the parishes within it.

The high road to Burmarsh, and likewise to Buttersbridge, and so on to West Hythe hill and the upland country, goes through this village, and is, as well as most of the roads hereabout, tolerably good, owing to the convenience of their being mended with the beach and shingle-stones. The inhabitants of it are of the lower sort, and, like others dwelling in the rest of the Marsh, are mostly such as are employed in the occupations and management of the level, or a kind of seafaring men, who follow an illicit trade, as well by land as water. The country here looks very open, for there is scarcely a tree within the bounds of it, and for some miles further. The lands are chiefly grass, and towards the east there are great quantities of beach and shingle stones lying bare, with a very uneven surface, interspersed among the pastures, and continue so for a considerable breadth, as far as the town of Hythe, plainly shewing that the whole of it, as far as the foot of West Hythe-hill, was once covered by the sea, and in course of time, and by degrees, deserted by it.

The MANOR OF EASTBRIDGE claims over greatpart of this parish, and the manor of Burmarsh over some of it, but the principal one in it is

The MANOR OF NEWINGTON-FEE, alias DimChurch, which extends likewise beyond the bounds of it into several others, and seems to have been so called from its having been accounted a limb of the manor of Newington Belhouse, near Hythe, as such it most probably had always the same owners; however that be, it appears, in the reign of king Henry VIII. to have been part of the possessions of Thomas, lord Cromwell and earl of Essex, before whole attainder, which happened in the 32d year of that reign, it came by purchase from him into the king's hands, together with the manor of Newington Belhouse, to which this of Newington-fee, as well as Brenset, seem then to have been accounted appendages, (fn. 1) and it continued in the crown with them, till the 1st year of queen Mary, when it was granted to Edward, lord Clinton and Saye, to hold in capite, who the next year passed it away to Mr. Henry Herdson, alderman of London, whose grandson Mr. Francis Herdson alienated it, in king James I.'s reign, to Mr. Henry Brockman, of Newington, in whose descendants it continued down to James Brockman, esq. of Beechborough, who dying in 1767, without male issue, bequeathed it by his will to the Rev. Mr. Ralph Drake, who afterwards took the name of Brockman, and his eldest son James Drake Brockman, esq. now of Beechborough, is the present owner of it. A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.


CAPTAIN TIMOTHY BEDINGFIELD, by will in 1693, gave all his lands in St. Maries, Woodchurch, and Liminge, towards the education of such poor male children, of such poor parents as did not receive alms of this parish, or out of any parish-stock, and whose parents were of the church of England; and that such children be kept to learning, and sent to one of the universities if capable, or put out to trade; to be taken out of the parishes of Dimchurch, Liminge, and Smeeth; and 5s. a piece to two poor women of those parishes, on the 25th day of December yearly, after they had received the sacrament. Which lands are vested in trustees, three of whom are, the minister and churchwardens of Dimchurch for the time being.

JOHN FINCH, gent. of Limne, by will in 1707, among other charitable legacies, devised his sixth part of 160 acres of marshland in Eastbridge, to the ministers, &c. of Limne and Eastbridge, and their successors, in trust, that they of Limne should dispose of two third parts of the rents of the same, as is thereinmentioned, and that the minister, &c. of Eastbridge, should difpose of the other third part to three of the poorest and eldest people of Eastbridge, which have been good, honest and industrious labouring people, who have never received alms or relief of that or any other parish, in case there should be so many poor found there; if not, to so many of the poor of Dimchurch, so qualified, which should make up the constant number of three half-yearly for ever.

The poor constantly relieved by this and Blackmanstone consolidated, as to this purpose, are about twelve, casually twenty.

DIMCHURSH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Limne.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, consists of one isle and one chancel, having a low pointed steeple at the west end, in which hang five bells. At the bottom of the tower of the steeple is an antient circular arch, ornamented. The isle is cieled, the chancel not. In the latter, within the rails, is a memorial for John Raisback, A. B. obt. 1787. Without the rails a memorial for John Fowle, gent. of Dimchurch, obt. 1753. In the isle, against the south wall, is a monument for Capt. Timothy Bedingfield, and Mary his wife, who lie buried near it. He died in 1693, arms, Ermine, an eagle, gules, impaling argent, a lion rampant guardant, crowned, sable.

This church, which is a rectory, was part of the possessions of the monastery of St. Augustine, and continued so till the dissolution of it in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. where it has remained ever since, the king being the present patron of it.

It is valued in the king's books at 7l. 2s. 8½d. and the yearly tenths at 14s. 3¼d. There is a parsonage house and three acres of glebe. In 1588 it was valued at sixty pounds, communicants seventy-three. In 1640, the like. It is now of the value of about eighty pounds per annum.

In the petition of the clergy, beneficed in Romney Marsh, in 1635, for the setting aside the custom of two-pence an acre, in lieu of tithe-wool and pasturage, a full account of the proceedings in which has been already given before under Burmarsh, upon which it was then agreed on all sides, that wool in the Marsh had never been known to have been paid in specie, the other tithes being paid or compounded for; and as to this parish in particular, that the custom of two-pence an acre, as before-mentioned, for pasture and wool, which is sometimes called the tithe of dry cattle, had been proved by an indenture made between Richard Hudson, parson of Dimchurch, and Thomas Honywood, in the 43d year of queen Elizabeth.

There is a modus of one shilling an acre on all grass land in this parish.

Church of Dimchurch.

Or by whom presented.
The King. George Hudson, A. M. June 13, 1599, resigned 1605. (fn. 2)
Robert Elye, A. M. Nov. 24, 1605, resigned 1619. (fn. 3)
Henry Hills, A. B. April 30, 1619.
Richard Burton, A. M. Nov. 13, 1625. (fn. 4)
Basil Kennet, A. M. April 15, 1676, obt. 1686. (fn. 5)
William Smith, A. M. Dec. 3, 1686, obt 1713.
Richard Bowes, LL. D. 1713, resigned 1718. (fn. 6)
Julius Deedes, A. M. Feb. 3, 1718, obt. April 19, 1752. (fn. 7)
Claudius Clare, LL. B. June 11, 1752, obt. Dec. 1764. (fn. 8)
John Raysback, A. B. August 3, 1765, obt. Feb. 15, 1787. (fn. 9)
William Webster, 1787, the present rector.


  • 1. See Newington Belhouse before Rot. Esch. an. 7 Edward VI. pt. 8, an I Mariæ, pt. 10.
  • 2. See before, where he is called Richard.
  • 3. He resigned this rectory for Smarden, and died in 1644.
  • 4. Rym. Fæd. vol. xviii. p. 647. He continued rector likewise in 1635.
  • 5. He held this rectory with the vicarage of Postling. He was father of White Kennet, bishop of Peterborough. Wood's Ath. Oxon. vol. ii. p. 408, 1131. See Postling.
  • 6. He resigned this rectory for Easling, and was afterwards vicar of New Romney,
  • 7. Likewise prebendary of Canterbury, and rector of Great Mongeham. He lies buried in Hythe church.
  • 8. And vicar of Limne.
  • 9. He lies buried in the chancel, within the altar rails.