LIES adjoining to the river Stour, on the northern
side of it, opposite the town of Fordwich. It takes its
name from its situation, and to distinguish it from
Bere-court, in Westcliffe, near Dover, which is a
good distance eastward from it; and in some records
it is written Sturry Bere, from its nearness to that parish.
WESTBERE extends from the river Stour across the
marshes up the hill northward, as far as the high road
to Margate, and it extends south-westward as far as
the town of Fordwich, two houses within that corporation being within the bounds of this parish. The
village is neat and pleasantly situated, about the middle of the parish, at the foot of the hill, not far from
the marshes, having the church just above it, and containing about sixteen houses, one of which is a good
one, built by Mr. Francis Newman, surgeon, who resided in it, being the son of Decimus Newman, clerk,
rector of this parish, who was the tenth son of Daniel
Newman, esq. of Seal. His son Daniel Newman,
esq. of Canterbury, barrister-at-law and recorder of
Maidstone, resided here likewise at times, and died
possessed of it in 1781, whose widow Mrs. Anne Newman is the present possessor of it, by whom he left
an only daughter and heir Anne, married since to the
present Rev. Sir John Fagg, bart. Although so near
the marshes it is very healthy. The soil, from the
village up the hill, which rises close behind it, is mostly
a sand, and covered much with broom and coppice
wood; but from each extremity, and as far as the land
is ploughed towards the marshes, it is fertile for corn,
fruit, and hops. The marsh-land, which is called
Westbere level, containing about 370 acres, is under
the management of the commission of sewers for the eastern parts of the county of Kent.
Somner is of opinion, that very antiently and æstury
or arm of the sea covered this level, and that the water
of it extended as far as this village. As a remarkable
proof of which, he says, that by credible relation and
assurance in his time, in the digging or sinking of a
well, at a very great depth, store of oysters and other
like shells, together with an iron anchor, firm and unimpaired, were found and turned up. (fn. 1) And the river
Stour, when flooded, frequently extends over the
marshes here near three-quarters of a mile in width,
quite as far as the rise of the hill just below the village of Westbere.
THE MANOR OF CHISTLET claims over that part
of this parish within the hundred of Blengate, which
is the greatest part of it; and the remainder, being
the borough of Rushborne, lying within the hundred
of Westgate, is within the jurisdiction of that manor.
Subordinate to the manor of Chistlet are the MANORS
OF HERSING AND HOPLAND, the former being
now usually called Haseden, they were both antiently
held of the abbot of St. Augustine, by knight's service, by Hugh de Soldank, who was succeeded in
them by a family who assumed their name from their
residence at the latter; one of whom, Nicholas de
Hopelonde, was a benefactor to the above abbey in
king Henry III.'s reign, for it appears that there was
much land then called by the name of Hopland,
which extended likewise into this parish; for it appears by the register of the above abbey, that Sir
Haward de Bechele was the abbot's tenant for a manor at Hoplonde, in this parish, in the beginning of
the above reign, and he had then the abbot's licence
to have divine service performed in his chapel, within
the bounds of it, by his own chaplain, in his and his
wife's presence, so that it should be without prejudice
to their church of Westbere, of which he was a parishioner. The Hoplande's were succeeded here, before the end of king Edward I.'s reign, by the family
of St. Laurence, who became about that time owners
of other lands in this parish, by purchase from Hugh de Westbere.
After which both these manors continued in this
name till about the latter end of king Henry V.'s
reign, when Catherine, only daughter and heir of
Thomas de St. Laurence, carried these manors in marriage to Sir William de Apulderfield, a man of much
note in the succeeding reigns of king Henry VI. and
king Edward IV. After which they became the property of the family of Isaak, who held them of the
abbot by knight's service; in whose descendants, one
of whom, Edward Isaak, had his lands disgavelled by
the act of 31 Henry VIII. they continued till they
were sold to the Haddes's, who resided here in queen
Elizabeth's reign, during which, Matthew Haddes,
esq. sold them to Robert Tournay, gent. descended
from those of Saltwood, and he passed them away
again, in the 19th year of king James I. to Thomas
Stede, esq. who resided here; after which they descended to his grandsons, who in 1669 joined in the
sale of them to William Weldish, in whose family
they continued till Mr. Jonathan Weldish, of Maidstone, gave them by will to Mr. William Roffe, gent.
then of Maidstone, but now of East Barming, who is the present owner of them.
BUT THERE WAS another part of this estate of Hopland, lying in this parish, adjoining to the demesnes
of Hersing eastward, being now known by the name
of HOPLAND FARM, which was some years since
alienated to Brook Bridges, esq. of Goodneston, whose
descendant Sir Brook Bridges, bart. of Goodneston, is the present owner of this estate.
THE TITHES, both great and small, arising from
the estate of Hopland, once belonging to Soldank,
within the bounds of this parish, were, before the
reign of king Henry I. in the possession of the abbot
and convent of St. Augustine, and were assigned to
the cloathing of the monks there. (fn. 2) At the dissolution of the monastery, they came into the hands of
the crown, and are now vested in the respective proprietors of these estates, which are wholly exempt from
the payment of tithes; that of Hopland only paying
an acknowledgment yearly of eighteen pence to the rector of this parish.
CLINCHES, alias HOPENHALL, is a manor, the
house of which is situated on the north side of Westbere-street. It was for many descents in the family of
Gilbert, one of whom, Thomas Gilbert, resided in
this parish in king Henry VI.'s reign, and died possessed of this manor anno 2 Edward IV. and in his
descendants it continued till it passed at length into
the name of Milles, and Christopher Milles, esq. of
Herne, died possessed of it in 1638, whose descendant
Richard Milles, esq. of Nackington, is the present owner of it.
THE BOROUGH OF RUSHBORNE, antiently spelt
Rusheborne, lies in the northern part of this parish, and
extends into the parishes of Sturry and Chistlet, being within the hundred and manor of Westgate, from
which it is separated by some part of the hundred of
Blengate intervening, the principal house and estate
in it was, for some length of time, the property and
residence of the Twymans, who lie buried in this
church; they bore for their arms, Gules, a fess nebulee, ermine, between six billets, or. Henry Twyman
resided here, and died possessed of it in 1677, and was
succeeded in it by his eldest son Hammond Twyman,
esq. a man of much note for his learning and superior
qualifications. His grandson Wheler Twyman, clerk,
died in 1779, unmarried, and by will devised it to
Mrs. Hannah Hall, who carried it in marriage to Mr.
Peter Harrison, who died here in 1788, leaving her
surviving, and she now possesses it and resides in it.
There are four other houses in this hamlet.
THE TITHES of this borough were part of the antient possessions of the priory of St. Gregory, perhaps
given to it at the first foundation of it by archbishop
Lanfranc, and they were confirmed to it by archbishop Hubert, in king Richard I.'s reign, among the
rest of their possessions. These tithes remained with
the priory till the dissolution of it, in Henry VIII.'s
reign, when they came into the king's hands, and
were soon afterwards granted, with the scite and other
possessions of it, in exchange, to the archbishop, part
of the revenues of whose see they continue at this
time. George Gipps, esq. of Harbledown, M. P. for
Canterbury, is the present lessee under the archbishop, as part of the possessions of the dissolved priory
of St. Gregorie. They are of the yearly rent of 10l.
There was once a payment of 2l. 17s. from this parsonage or tithery, to the rector of Westbere, for three
quarters of oats, but it has not been paid for many years past.
CHRISTOPHER MILLES, ESQ. of Herne, by will in 1638,
devised to the poor the sum of 20s. to be paid yearly on the last
day of August (his birth-day) out of the lease of the parsonage
of Reculver, Hoade, and Herne, so long as it should please the
archbishop and his successors to continue the lease to any of his surname.
The poor constantly relieved are about twenty-four, casually eighteen.
WESTBERE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of
its own name.
The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is
but small, consisting of one isle and a chancel, having
a wooden pointed turret at the west end, in which are
two bells. It is situated on the side of the hill above
the village, and is remarkably dry, which has induced
many of the parishioners of the neighbouring parishes
to be buried in it. In the isle are memorials for the
Blaxlands, of Fordwich. A monument for Henry
Twyman, gent. of Rushborne, who married Anne,
daughter of Anthony Hammond, esq. of St. Albans,
in this county. Another for Wheeler Twyman, of
Rushborne, rector of Luddenham, and vicar of Sturry,
obt. 1779. On the spring of the arch at the entrance
into the chancel, on each side, are two remarkable
figures, carved in stone; one representing a deformed
cripple, and the other a person in the attitude of sickness. On the pavement of the chancel, is a very antient stone, costin-shaped, a cross story on it. Several
memorials in it for the Twymans, of Rushborne, and
for the Newmans, of this parish; one for John Graydon, esq. of Fordwich, vice-admiral, &c. obt. 1726.
A memorial for George, son of Richard Knatchbull,
esq. late of Mersham Hatch, obt. 1619; and one for
Anne, wife of Thomas Gilbert, gent. of Westbere.
Within the altar-rails is a memorial for Rob. Jenkin,
rector of this parish, obt. 1778. There are some
small remains of painted glass in the windows. In the
church-yard, at the east end, is a tomb for several of the family of Denne, of Whatmer-hall, in Sturry.
The patronage of this church was part of the antient possessions of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and continued so till the suppression of it in
the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it came into
the hands of the crown, where it has remained ever
since, the king being the present patron of it.
This church is valued in the king's books at seven
pounds, and the yearly tenths at fourteen shillings.
It was at first certified to be of the clear yearly
value of 56l. 1s. and now of seventy pounds. In 1588
it was valued at forty pounds, communicants seventytwo. In 1640 it was valued at fifty pounds, the like
number of communicants.
There is a barn and about two acres of glebe pasture
land, belonging to this rectory, and there were two
acres of marsh-land, which have been for time out of mind inundated.
Church of Westbere.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Crown.||John Johnson, A. M. Feb. 18,
|John Aucher, S. T. P. April 7, 1661.|
|William Knight, A. M. Jan. 21, 1681, deprived|
|Decimus Newman, gent. A. M.
Jan. 7, 1698, obt. 1722. (fn. 3) |
|William Wood, A. M. July 3,
1722, resigned 1734. (fn. 4) |
|Robert Jenkin, A. M. Nov. 29,
1734, obt. Oct. 8, 1778. (fn. 5) |
|Charles Allen, A. M. August 21,
1779, obt. 1795. (fn. 6) |
|Kaye Mawer, 1795, the present rector.|