In 1985 when the Leigh Historical Society held a Church History Exhibition in the Church we obtained from the Kent Archives two volumes of the Churchwardens’ Accounts and in the six weeks before the Exhibition, Margaret Allison, Belinda Forster, Cecil Gravell, Diana Wood and I met at The Woods every Monday morning to see the Churchwardens’ Accounts to research tea occupants of selected Leigh houses which included The Porcupine, Cinderhill, Great Barnetts, Pauls Farm, The Old Bakery and the Woods.
There was a difficulty in that the first volume of the Accounts covered the period from 1685 to 1736 and the next volume the accounts from 1790 to 1836. We had, therefore, no information for the period 1737 to 1789.
Last month I was rung by a friend interested in Speldhurst local history to say that the widow of a Mr Hinton had a number of old papers which included the Churchwardens’ Accounts for Leigh for the years 1737 to 1789 and he would like to hand these accounts over to me. Knowing the deficiency of hate Accounts lodged at Kent Archives, I could not wait and got into the car and collected them.
The two sets of Accounts already lodged at Kent Archives were in good condition as they had been rebound in the 1930s at the expense of the 2nd Lord Hollenden. The Accounts I collected were in poor condition and the Vellum binding was decayed. However, they were quite readable and I started to research the earlier years.
In each year the rateable value of each property in the Parish was recorded under four headings: Leigh Green, Blackhoath and Charcott, Hollanden and Haysden. Finally there was a list of the Outbounders, the property outside the Parish which contributed to the Church rate. Apart from the rateable value there was a column showing the Church rate actually assessed calculated at 3d or 4d in the £.
Each year aft these lists of properties there followed an account of the expenses incurred by the Churchwardens out of the Church rate. There is expenditure each year of a routine nature such as the Annual Visitation, presumably by the Archdeacon and this always seemed to include dinner for the Minister at 5/- who seemed to get no other benefit in the year. There was also the regular cost of making up the Accounts and getting them passed and signed.
Lawrence Biddle (Parish Magazine: March 1999)
(This article said ‘to be continued’ -however, it appears that it never was.)