History of Whitfield
Whitfield comes from the Old English ‘hwit’ meaning ‘white’ and ‘feld’ as ‘open country, land without trees, unencumbered ground’; therefore, ‘white open land’. Whitfield was commonly known as Bewsfield – early owner of the manor – until the 16th century.
Whitfield Parish Church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter. The Saxons built the church in the 8th or 9th centuries. The Normans extended it around 1200, and cast a bell – said to be the oldest in Kent.
In 1800, Edward Hasted describes it as consisting ‘of a small nave and two chancels, having one bell in it, but there is no steeple, it is a wretched mean building. The roof is supported by a most uncouth pillar in the middle, so strangely as to prevent, I think, all description of it. There are no monuments in it, nor any thing surther worthy notice’. The architect Ewan Christian restored the church in 1894.
The detailed History of Whitfield below is reproduced from British History OnLine, from the History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
Whitfield, alias Bewsfield...
is the next parish south-eastward from Coldred. It has been variously called by both these names, both which plainly imply its high and open situation; but the latter, written in Domesday, Bevesfel, is its proper name, that of Whitfield being much more modern, by which it is now however in general called. The manor of Norborne claims paramount over great part of this parish.
THIS PARISH is very small and narrow, it is a very unfrequented place, situated on very high ground, in a poor country of open unenclosed land, the soil of which is in general chalk and very light, though there are some few strypes of deep ground more fertile than the rest. The village, called Whitfield-street, having the church in it, is situated at the south-east bounds of it, at a small distance from which is a hamlet of houses, called Lower Whitfield, where is a farm, formerly belonging to the Denews, and then to Brett, of Spring Grove, whence it was sold to the present possessor of it, Peter Fector, esq. of Dover, and at the western bounds, in a dell, Hazling wood. At the northern bounds is the hamlet of Pinham, consisting of three small farms.—There is no fair.
OFFA, king of Mercia, in the first year of his reign, anno 757, gave to the abbot of St. Augustine’s monastery, land called Bewesfeld, with the privilege of feeding hogs and cattle in the royal wood, and other liberties mentioned in his charter for that purpose, one of which was that of taking one goat in Snowlyn’s wood, where the king’s goats went; after which this land continued in the possession of the monastery till the time of taking the survey of Domesday, in which record it is thus entered under the general title of the land of the church of St. Augustine:
Oidelard holds of this manor, viz. Norborne, one suling, and it is called Bevesfel, and there he has two carucates, with ten borderers. It is worth six pounds.
After which, that part of the above land, which comprehended THIS MANOR OF BEWSFIELD, was held of the abbot by knight’s service, by the eminent family of Badlesmere. Guncelin de Badlesmere held this manor in Hen. VIII.’s reign, and another Guncelin de Badlesmere held it in like manner in king John’s reign, and was a justice itinerant. He left one son, Bartholomew, and two daughters; Joane, married to John de Northwood, and another to John de Coningsby. Before his death he gave this manor in frank marriage, with this eldest daughter Joane, to Sir John de Northwood, of Northwood, who was a man of great account in the reigns of king Edward I. and II. whose descendants continued in the possession of this manor for some length of time, and till it was at length alienated to Chelesford, alias Chelford, from which name it again passed by sale about Henry VII.’s reign, to Wm. Boys, of Fredville, whose descendant Sir E. Boys the elder, afterwards possessed it, at which time the name of this manor seems to have dropped, and to have been blended in that of the adjoining one of LINACRECOURT, by which name it has ever since been called. He gave it to his second son Roger Boys, esq. (fn. 1) whose only son and heir Edward Boys, about the year 1644, conveyed it by sale to Herbert Nowell, esq. and he alienated it to John Day, who sold it to Roger Laming, of Wye, and he parted with it to Hercules Baker, esq. of Deal, whose daughter Sarah carried it in marriage to Thomas Barrett, esq. of Lee, whose third wife she was. She died s. p. as did Mr. Barrett in 1757, possessed of this manor, leaving it in jointure to his fourth wife Katherine, daughter, and at length sole heir of Humphry Pudner, esq. who died in 1785, on which it descended to their only son Thomas Barrett, esq. now of Lee, in Ickham, who is the present possessor of it.
LINACRE MANOR, or LINACRE-COURT, as it is usually called, in which the manor of Bewsfield is now merged, lies in the south-west part of this parish, adjoining to Coldred and River, and was the other part of that land given to St. Augustine’s monastery, and described in Domesday as before-mentioned, being held by knight’s service of the abbot, by the family of Criol, one of whom, William de Criol, as appears by the book of knights fees in the exchequer, held it as such in the reign of king Edward I. but it did not long afterwards remain with them, for John de Malmains, of Hoo, held it in the next reign of king Edward II. his son John left an only daughter and heir, who carried it in marriage to John Monyn, and he in her right held it in the 20th year of king Edward III. After this it continued but a small time in the name of Monyn, for in the 49th year of that reign, John Solley is entered in the register of the abbey, as holding this manor of the abbot by knight’s service. How long it remained in his descendants I have not found, only that it was at length alianated to Chelsesford, alias Chelford, from which name it passed, with the manor of Bewsfield as before related, by sale, about Henry VII.’s reign, to William Boys, esq. of Fredville, who died possessed of both these manors in 1508; after which it descended down to Mr. Edward Boys, who about the year 1644 conveyed this manor by sale to Herbert Nowell, esq. since which it has passed in the like chain of ownership as the manor of Bewsfield described before, down to Thomas Barrett, esq. of Lee, in lckham, who is the present owner of this manor of Linacre, in which that of Bewsfield is included. A court baron is held for this manor.
THE MANOR OF WHITFIELD, with THE MANOR OF LITTLE PISING, and THE LANDS OF PIMHAM, was in the reign of king Henry III. in the hands of the crown, in the 13th year of which that eminent man, Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent and chief justice of England, had a grant of it, among others, with licence to give of assign it to whomever he would, either to a religious house or otherwise; not long after which, he appears to have settled this manor, with the estate in this parish, called Little Pising, on the hospital of St. Mary, in Dover, afterwards called the Maison Dieu, then lately founded by him; after which Edward I. granted a charter of free-warren to the master and bretheren of this hospital, for their demesne lands in Whytefeld and Coldred adjoining. After which this manor and estate continued part of the revenues of this hospital till king Henry VIII.’s reign, when on the suppression of it they came into the king’s hands, where they staid till king Edward VI. in his 2d year granted the manors of Whitfield and Little Pysing, to Sir Thomas Heneage and William lord Willoughbye, to hold in capiteby knight’s service. (fn. 2) They seem to have sold their joint interest in them to James Hales, whose heirs possessed them at the latter end of the reign of queen Elizabeth, after which I find no more of the manor of Whitfield, but that the manor of Little Pysing passed by sale into the family of Monins, of Waldershare, in which it continued down to Sir Edward Monins, bart. who died in 1663, after which his heirs and trustees joined in the sale of it, together with other lands at Pinham, to Sir Henry Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, who died possessed of it in 1712, after which his granddaughter Catherine, countess of Rockingham, became possessed of this manor of Little Pising in her own right, and of the lands at Pinham, jointly with her two sisters, as coheirs of their father, in equal shares in coparcenary in tail general, since which her interst in these estates have passed in like manner as Coldred before-mentioned, and her other estates in this county, to her eldest grand son, the present right hon. Geo-Augustus, earl of Guildford, the present possessor of them.
THERE was given by a person unknown, for the use of the poor not having relief, land, now vested in Redman Jones, of the annual produce of 10s.
The poor constantly maintained are about ten, casually eight.
THIS PARISH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Dover.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, consists of a small nave and two chancels, having one bell in it, but there is no steeple, it is a wretched mean building. The roof is supported by a most uncouth pillar in the middle, so strangely as to prevent, I think, all description of it. There are no monuments in it, nor any thing surther worthy notice.
This church was originally appendant to the manor, and as such was given to St. Augustine’s abbey in 757, by king Offa; after which the abbot and convent, in the year 1221, anno 6 Henry III. granted their right in this church to the abbot and convent of Combwell, to hold in perpetual alms, but it was at the same time agreed, that the latter should not exact the tithes of sheaves, arising from twenty-five acres of Napushurst, which the abbot and convent of St. Augustine had sometime granted to Thomas de Newesole, but that the church of Bewefield should enjoy the small tithes of the above lands for the ecclesiastical service, which it should persorm to the tenants of St. Augustine, who inhabited there, and this, by the liberal concession of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, at the time of making the grant; (fn. 3)upon which, though this church became appropriated to the abbot and convent of Combwell, yet there does not seem to have been a vicarage endowed in it till the year 1441, anno 20 king Henry VI. when a composition was made by archbishop Chicheley, between the abbot and convent, appropriators of this church, and Wm. Geddyng, vicar of it, on account of his portion, and the pensions belonging to this church. In which state this appropriation and vicarage continued till the final dissolution of the priory of Combwell, for so it was then esteemed, in the 27th year of king Henry VIII. when it was suppressed by the act then passed, as being under the clear yearly value of two hundred pounds, and came into the hands of the crown; after which the king, in his 29th year, granted the scite of the priory, with all its lands and possessions, in which this appropriation and advowson of the vicarage of Beausfield,alias Whitfield, was included, to Thomas Culpeper, esq. to hold in capite, who before the 34th of that reign passed them back again to the crown, whence they were immediately afterwards granted to Sir John Gage, comptroller of the king’s household, to hold in like manner; and he next year exchanged them both, among other premises, with the archbishop of Canterbury, for the confirmation of which an act passed anno 35 Henry VIII. since which they have continued parcel of the possessions of the see of Canterbury, his grace the archbishop being at this time entitled to them. Thomas Barrett, esq. of Lee, is the present lessee of this parsonage.
This church has been for many years esteemed only as a curacy, to which the archbishop nominates; for Henry Hannington, vicar of it, at the instance of archbishop Abbot, by deed in 1613, renounced all the right and title, that he had by virtue of the endowment or composition made in the time of archbishop Chichele, between the then vicar of this church and the prior and convent of Combwell.
This church was valued, anno 8 king Richard II. at twelve pounds, and the vicarage at four pounds, which on account of its smallness was not taxed to the tenth; the latter is valued in the king’s books at 5l. 18s. 8d. It formerly paid twelve shillings tenths to the crown receiver, but being certified to be only of the value of twenty-six pounds, it is now discharged of first fruits and tenths. In 1588 here were eighty-two communicants, and it was valued at fifteen pounds only. In 1640 it was valued at forty-five pounds. It was augmented by archbishop Juxon in 1661, with twenty pounds per annum, to be paid by the lessee of the parsonage; and farther confirmed by indenture anno 28 Charles II. It is now a discharged living of the yearly certified value of twenty-six pounds. There was a payment to the parson of Bewsfield, payable yearly out of the lands of the abbot and convent of St. Radigund, which was granted to the archbishop anno 29 Henry VIII.
Church of Whitfield – PERPETUAL CURATES
James Burvil, from 1679 to 1692.
Thomas Mander, from 1697 to 1703.
Francis D’ Aeth, A. M. 1753, obt. Jan, 29, 1784. (fn. 4)
Thomas Delanoy, A. M. 1784, resigned 1788. (fn. 5)
William Tournay, A. M. 1788, resigned April 1792.
Sir Henry Pix Heyman, bart. April, 1792, the present curate.