Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Birchington, Kent Beggars Bush 1880

The 1688 Thomas Hill map of Birchington, drawn for John Bridges when he bought Church Hill Farm in Birchington in 1688  shows Baggers Bush as hedge feature along the south west boundary of a field named Bunum Shott with an area 6 acres 2 rods 14 perches on the west edge of village.

It is south a large house called Beessom/Beeslom, and directly east of Poores land. The feature is unusual: there are no other similar features marked, most fields are identified by the owners. The field is in an area later known as Bedlam Fields from being owned by the Bethlehem Hospital in London.

On the Tithe map of 1840 it is called it Beggars Hill.  All Saints Parish Records Churchwardens Accounts for adjoining parishes of Birchington and Wode (aka Acol, Wood and Woodchurch) record “Church land at Beggars Bush to be exchanged for land at Epple Bay and East End belonging to St John’s College, Cambridge 1880” and “right of way to Beggars Bush and Wilson Stairs 1891,1892,1893”.

Jennie Burgess tells me that the house labelled Beeslom in the 1688 map, was subsequently called Bedlam and survived with this name until 1939 when a developer wanted to enlarge an estate to the east and offered to let the Auxiliary Fire brigades of Thanet use it for fire fighting practice.

She says there are several misspellings on this 1688 map, as the cartographer was poor at calligraphy. The original is also lost though several copies survive. This leaves opne the possibility that Baggers was always Beggars. Jennie Burgess says that the area was and is productive land, so it is possible the origin of the name was from the charitable ownership in the area.

This name may be related to the earlier site in Minster in Thanet, which is the next parish south of Birchington. A deed dated 1566 records Begars Busshe sold by Henry Pettit of Birchington, probably the Henry Pettit, son of John, born before 1523 at Birchington who died in 1568, though possibly the Henry Pettit, son of Valentine, born about 1520 at Dent-de-Lion, Margate.

The purchaser is “Galfride Sandwell” of “Mynster”. The collection of Minster Deeds also include land is Washeter field sold in 1556. According to Hasted Waschester was an estate bought by Jeffry Sandwell of Monkton, with other lands in Minster, Monkton and Birchington, which were later combined with the a farm called Acol, which is midway between Minster and Birchington villages. Geoffrey Sandwell is recorded in the archives as a juror in Minster in Thanet in 1601 but there is litigation over his estate by 1617. Galfride is used elsewhere as an alternate for Geoffrey, so it seems likely this is the same person (or possibly father & son) so it is possible that the site in Minster in Thanet was in the same ownership as the site in Birchington.


Canterbury Cathedral Archives CCA-U3-76/5/A/6

Business Records of G. C. Solley & Company, Estate Agents of Sandwich, Cat. Ref. EK/U1507, Title Deeds, Minister in Thanet, ref. EK/U1507/T15 – date: 1566

Hasted, Edmund,’Parishes: Minster’, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10 (1800), pp. 264-294. URL: Date accessed: 01 May 2011.


Jennie Burgess, Birchington Heritage Trust

Kent Archives


Posted: May 5th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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