A brief history of Bapchild

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History – an account of the origins & progress” of in our case the Village of Bapchild.

Bapchild was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book but the village of Tonge was recorded and is one of the earliest references to the area in which we live.

Kent was the first part of the Country inhabited by the native Britons and settlements along the line of the road (A2 now) would have figured largely in the development of the County. The Roman invasion saw the development of the area known as Watling Street and Roman artefacts have been discovered in the general area surrounding our village.

After the Romans left the Saxons took control of the area. In the year 694, Whithred, King of Kent summoned a Great Council of Nobility and Clergy to be held at Beccancelde a Saxon name meaning Spring of the Brook. Through the years the name has developed until its present name Bapchild was used fro 1759.

As Berhtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury and Tobias, Bishop of Rochester would have attended the Great Council; it seems likely a timber-framed Church covered in wattle & daub would have stood on the site of the present Church. The construction of the present Church commenced in 1090 using locally found materials e.g. flint and chalk consisting of the present Nave with its fine chalk columns. Early English builders added the Aisle and long narrow Chancel. The Tower, and Spire date from the
13th Century while the Porch is of Tudor origin.

The Savage Family held the Manor of Bapchild Court in the 14th Century passing to William Briggs in 1560 who then sold the Court in 1757 to the Gascoyne family. The Morris family had owned Morris Court next to Bapchild Court since the 14th Century when it too was sold to the Gascoyne family in 1763.

You will note from the above many of our local road names have a historical background i.e. Morris Court Close and Whithred Road.

Lords Close is named after the Reverend Lord, Vicar of this parish and
Avent Close remembering Nancy Avent who was the headmistress of the school for many years.

The development of the village along “The Street” consisted of housing and an Inn called the Bell & Whistle situated on the south side of the road. Prior to the present school being built, two schools were available in the parish. One was located in a house opposite the old post office and another in a cottage at Radfield. In 1851 plans were in hand to develop the present school and at a meeting on 27th March 1852 these proposals were adopted and the contract to build a school with an adjoining teachers residence was put out to tender. The cost of building the above facility was £550 & 10 Shillings.

Once completed the School Managers appointed Samuel Etheridge
(aged 23) as Master of the school and his sister Ann (aged 25) as Teacher. The annual remuneration for these teachers was the Master, £40, the residence and 2 tons of coal, with the Teacher receiving £20 both sums payable on 25 March.

On 31st march 1853 the Archbishop of Canterbury visited the school and in 1952 when the school celebrated its centenary another visit by
Geoffrey Fisher the then Archbishop of Canterbury was made. The development of the school continued with further extensions in 1962 and 1981. The work of the School has been greatly assisted by the support of the Governors and the Friends of Bapchild School.

Throughout its history the school has been a Church Aided Foundation and until recently the incumbent head teacher lived continuously at School House, which must be a unique record in public education.

Completing the heart of the Village is the new Village Hall, which was opened in 1988. This replaced the old Village Hall that was sited in The Street since 1923 as a memorial to those men from Bapchild & Tonge who had died in the 1st World War. The old hall cost £300 to construct and was raised by public contributions.

The village continues to grow with the building of the Panteny Orchard development.

There is so much more that could be written about Bapchild past and present but throughout history it has been our “own” village. Its people through their skill, hard work and enterprise have and are still contributing to its future.

Supplied by Richard Bush 10th May 2004