Glimpse history through old images of Birchington-on-sea, Kent, England.
An early 20th century postcard of the building team at Fright & Austin shows a large bungalow with a dormer roof under construction.
The creation of the NHS was still more than a decade away when this Carnival took place, with participants collecting money for the Margate and District General Hospital.
If you keep an eye on the background, you’ll see some of the local shops, and a woman looking out over the sash window of her bay window.
Birchington Carnival (1935) – British Pathé on YouTube
Sea Wall 1954
In February 1953, a number of Kent’s coastal communities had suffered terrible floods when the sea defences were breached, leaving damaging salt deposits on local farmland.
This newsreel from 1954 shows men working on a new three mile sea wall between Birchington and Reculver, which was costing more than a million pounds.
Sea Wall (1954) – British Pathé on YouTube
Extract from “Archaeologia Cantiana -Volume 12“
Published in 1878
Birchington is the only parish in Thanet , that could be
supposed to derive its name from a Saxon family which
settled there ; and even with respect to this name it may be
doubted whether there was a family of Birchingas , or
descendants of Birch . Undoubtedly , however , this place was
occupied at a very early period .
One relic of its early inhabitants , found here , many
years ago , was a Saxon coin called a scatta , of the reign of
EPA , King of Mercia , who was slain in A.D. 612. An
engraving of this ancient coin is given by Mr. Roach Smith
in the first volume of his Collectanea Antiqua .
Upon many maps of Thanet we see Epalds Bay marked ,
in Birchington . This is clearly a Saxon name , and , if the
maps are correctly marked , it should have some claim , I think ,
to be identified with the Ippelesfleot mentioned in Gotselinus ‘
Life of St. Mildred , as the port into which her ship , on one
occasion , came .
For several centuries Birchington has been a limb of
Dover , one of the Cinque Ports . Consequently it was under
the jurisdiction of a deputy appointed by the Mayor and
Jurats of Dover .
In the year 1526 , the Corporation of
Dover received , from the various ” limbs ” of that Port , con
tributions towards the cost of its suit for the discharge of a
subsidy . Amongst them it enumerates ” The Deputy of
Birchington and Goresend 16s . 8d . ”
The mention of two
names suggests the existence of two distinct quays , or land
ing places , one in Birchington village , the other at the out
lying hamlet of Goresend . When both are mentioned , some
times one is named first , sometimes the other , but in many
cases Goresend is not mentioned at all , it being evidently
a mere outlying hamlet of Birchington . For instance , in
June , 1523 , we find mention of one list of Jurors in the
five ports , including ” Mergate and St. Johns , St. Peters and
Byrchyngton , ” while another list names Mergate and St.
Peters , Goresende and Byrchington .
The ancient map of
Thanet , drawn circa A.D. 1414 , does not mention Goresend ,
although it names both Berchingtone and Wodecherche , and
marks a church at each of them , as well as at ” All Saints . “
On the 18th of March , 1565 , certain special commissioners
made a return of the number of boats , population , houses
and officials in the members and limbs of the Cinque Ports .
They do not mention Goresend , but they state that Birching
ton was under the government of the Mayor and Jurats of
Dover , that it contained forty – two inhabited houses , and had
neither ship , nor boat .
In or about the year 1584 Vincent
Underdown , deputy of Birchington , certified that there were
but three fishermen at that place , all of whom were in the
habit of sailing from Margate . They were Henry Brabsonne ,
Ralphe Linche , and Stephen Knighte .
The number of men composing the select and general
bands in the Cinque Ports was returned to the Secretary of
State about A.D. 1572. The totals shew from St. John’s , St.
Peter’s , and Birchington , together , 170 men in the select
band ; and 204 in the general band .
In 1620 the deputy of Birchington incurred the displeasure
and wrath of the Lord Warden . He had allowed
passengers from the continent to land at Birchington with
out taking the oath of allegiance to James I. Sir Henry
Mainwaring , Lieutenant of Dover Castle , sent for him on the
12th of December , and he was committed to prison . How
ever , fourteen days after , Sir Henry wrote to the Lord
Warden asking for the deputy’s release because he had erred
from ignorance .
Great precautions and vigilance were required in those
days , and the inhabitants were called to furnish men and
arms , as the annexed muster roll will shew :
In the unsettled state of relations with neighbouring nations
precautions of many kinds were necessary . The following
list of soldiers billeted in Birchington shews who the in
habitants were , while it affords an illustration of the state
of affairs :
BIRCHINGTON . A tru List of the names of all such Soldiers as
were lately billetted in Birchington in the Isle of Thanett
& also the names of such persons vpon whom they were
billetted & the tyme of theire Continuance there , viz . from
Jan. 22 1627 untill Mar. 3 , An . eodem 6 weekes full :
The whole number of Soldiers billetted there are 15 Soldiers &
one Lieutenant , of whch 12 Soldiers were billetted there 6 weekes &
the Leiuetant & 3 Soldiers but one weeke : :
The 12 Soldiers billetts for 6 weekes at iijs vid a piece per
weeke is xiili xij .
There was continual contention respecting the rights to
wreck of the sea . The Warden of the Cinque Ports claimed
all wrecks within the limbs and members of those Ports ;
while the Lords of manors asserted their claims to wrecks
within their manors . Thus , in the reign of Queen Elizabeth
the Dean and Chapter , of Christ Church , claimed all wrecks
from Pope head gate , alias Pope gate , to Westgate Bay in
Birchington , in right of their manor of Monkton . Henry
Crispe Esquire , in like manner , claimed wrecks from the
mainland to low water mark , within certain of his land , in
Birchington , called Brockmans .
In 1602 the Judge of the
Lord Warden’s Admiralty Court investigated these various
claims , and , amongst other items of information , we learn
that the Lord Warden’s advocate would not bring forward ,
as a witness , John Underdown of Birchington , because he
answered wholly on Mr. Wotton’s part. Mr. Wotton
claimed wrecks at the Hope at Cliffs End by Stonor and
Pegwell , from Tarryes way to the liberties of Sandwich .
The Parish Accounts for Birchington , and those for the
Ville of Wood , during the past 250 years , are still in existence.
The ” cess , ” or rate , levied upon the parishioners was
of a comprehensive kind . It touched both land and income ;
realty and personalty . The land , in 1620 , was assessed at
1d . per acre ; how much in the pound was charged for
” ability ” rate I cannot discover .
The effect however was ,
for example , that in 1620 Sir Henry Crispe knight , paid
£ 1 0s . 6d . for 246 acres , and likewise £ 1 5s . Od . for ” ability
rate . ” Henry Crispe , Esq . , paid nothing for land , but was
charged 6s . for ability rate . Thirty – six years later , in
January , 1656 , Henry Crispe , Esq . , paid 13s . 4d . for ” ability , “
while he likewise paid on 274 acres of land . At the same
time Sir Nicholas Crispe , his son , paid 11d . for ability rate ,
and also paid for eleven acres of land .
In 1631 , when a dearth of corn caused much distress , the
parish officers of the Ville of Wood bought about twenty
four bushels of wheat , at prices varying from 6s . 3d . to
7s . 6d . per bushel , and sold them to the poor at 4s . per
bushel . They likewise bought barley which was much cheaper .
What pestilence happened during 1644 we do not know ,
but in the parish account book we read , ” This yeare the
Parishe beeing visited with Godes heauye hande , there weare
3 assessments made and confirmed for the use of the sicke
and poore of Birchington ; the first was made July 6 , 1644 ;
the second was made August 31st , 1644 ; the third was made
October 6th , 1644 ; whereof the third and last is heere
onlye registered . “
Many of the entries in the parish accounts are of interest ,
but we can only notice very few .
When the Hearth or Chimney Tax * was collected in A.D.
1673-4 , George Ruck was the deputy of Birchington , and
230 hearths were paid for , by the occupants of seventy – nine
houses . Poor persons , who inhabited twenty – seven other
houses , were excused from payment , because they received
parochial relief . Thomas Crispe , Esq . , of Quex , paid the tax
for seventeen chimneys in that house , and also for six others
in his farm house . The largest number of hearths paid for
by any other inhabitant was that of seven in the house of
Richard Davidge .
The family of Kentis , or Cantis , or Canteys , of which
two or more branches were living in Monkton when the
Hearth Tax was assessed , had , in the middle ages , property
in Birchington . For instance , at Martinmas , 1309 , Amisius
Kentis , and Agnes his wife , obtained from Richard de
de Subury , for £ 20 , a messuage , in ” Bircheton and Thanet , “
consisting of thirteen acres of land , and three acres of marsh
with appurtenances .
BIRCHINGTON CHURCH .
Birchington was , until recently , a chapelry appendant to
Monkton Church ; and , like a neighbouring chapel , which
was appendant to St. Nicholas Church , it was dedicated to
All Saints , or All Hallows . It is a singular circumstance
that two chapels , situated so near to each other , should have
had the same dedication . Both buildings are marked upon
the old map of Thanet , which was made about A.D. 1414 .
The three conterminous chancels , and the tower , of
Birchington Church seem to have been built during the
reign , either of King John , or of his son Henry III . Like
many others , erected at that period , its tower stands at the
west end of the south chancel . Crowned with a shingled
spire , this unpretending tower though low , and without
buttresses , is graceful in its proportions , notwithstanding
its simplicity . Divided into four stages , it has in its second
stage a small Perpendicular square – headed window with
label , on the south side ; in its third stage there are lancets ,
and in its fourth stage are four windows , each of a single
light . On the interior the tower is open on three sides ,
having three plain Early English arches rising from im
The chancel has , on each side , a plain arcade of two
Early English pointed arches , springing from simple im
posts , resting on wall – like piers . The north , or Quex
Chancel , has , above its western arch , a western lancet
window ; which is a very unusual feature . Of the same age as
the chancels and tower , is the Font . It is a plain octagon ,
supported upon one large central, and four smaller, round
You can continue to read this book online for free to find out more.
More about Kent
- Old Images of Kent, England
- Old Images of Chatham, Kent
- Old Images of Rolvenden, Kent
- Old Images of Queenborough, Kent
- Old Images of Westerham, Kent
- Old Images of Birchington-on-Sea, Kent
- Old Images of Tonbridge, Kent
- Old Images of Cliffe, Kent
- Old Images of Folkestone, Kent
- Old Images of Faversham, Kent
- Old Images of Broadstairs, Kent
- Old Images of Dover, Kent
- Old Images of Dungeness, Kent
- Old Images of Canterbury, Kent
- Old Images of Maidstone, Kent
- Old Images of Rochester, Kent
- Old Images of Margate, Kent
- Kent, A County In England