In the July 1999 parish magazine, the Churchwardens announced that the Diocesan preference was for Leigh and Bidborough to share a priest and this had been discussed by the two PCCs and that the Archdeacon was now reporting back to the Bishop. This prompted the following article in the August 1999 parish magazine.
In 1219 Bidborough was part of the parish of Leigh but the parishioners of Leigh living in the Hamlet of Bidborough were inconvenienced by their distance from Leigh as well as the frequent inundations of the Medway.
At the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford there is preserved a Deed relating to the “Capallan de Bitteberge”.
“To all the faithful of Christ to whom this present writing shall come, Richard Canutus parson of the Church of St Mary of Leigh, health in the Lord, know all of you that I by the motion of divine piety, have given and granted and by this my present Deed have confirmed to Walter, clerk, son of Benedict de Tappenhase with the consent of John Canutus, Knight, patron of the same Church, the Chapel of Bidborough to be possessed and held with all its appurtenances in pure and perpetual alms, by paying therefor yearly to the mother church four shillings of sterling money at the festival of St Laurence. But the said Walter, clerk, shall sustain all the burdens of the said Chapel, as well as its ornaments and other necessaries.
“And that this donation and grant may remain good and firm I have to this wording set my seal with the seal of the aforesaid John Canutus.”
It is interesting to note that Bidborough Parish was created and separated from Leigh by a short Deed executed by the Patron and the Rector, neither the Bishop nor the Archdeacon seem to have been involved. I assume that the Leigh PCC have been collecting four shillings regularly on the 10 August each year from Bidborough Church, if it has not been paid there is £156.00 together with accrued interest owing.
Clearly 780 years ago the inundations of the Medway were serious, today the existence of the Weir Wood and Bough Beech reservoirs which both take water from the Medway tributaries will have reduced the inundations, but the Leigh Barrier will have made the inundations more serious.
Lawrence Biddle (August 1999 parish magazine)