Four Leigh Vicarages

The following article was written by Lawrence Biddle for the October 1981 parish magazine

In 1353 the Tonbridge Priory petitioned the Bishop of Rochester that their monastery had been burnt to the ground and that they were reduced to great poverty and they asked that the Rectory of Leigh should be appropriated to them.  The Bishop granted their request but insisted that they should appoint a Vicar and provide him with a house which should consist of a hall, two chambers, a kitchen and a stable.  The first Vicar was appointed in 1354 and the first vicarage built, but by 1393 that vicarage had fallen down and the Priory agreed that William Goddard, the Vicar, should have three acres of glebe and a new second vicarage which had lately been built on the glebe.  This vicarage, standing on the site now occupied by Inglenook, was occupied as the vicarage until the middle of the nineteenth century.

A glebe terrier dated 1615 describes the second vicarage as consisting of a hall with a brick chimney and a parlour at the north end and a chamber over the parlour and a garrett above.  At the south end of the hall were three ground floor rooms and three upper rooms “well covered with tyles”.  There was also a thatched barn and the house was surrounded by a moat which also enclosed three small pieces of ground, on the south an old garden, on the north a bean garden and on the entrance side a little court.  This vicarage with its square garden inside the moat on the south and its entrance court is shown on the 1869 25″ Ordnance survey map.

In 1830 Rev. Thomas May was instituted as Vicar.  He owned Old Kennards, Kennards and Collins farms and he had nine children: he must have found the vicarage inadequate as he built Upper Kennards as a house for his own occupation.  The old vicarage was evidently allowed to deteriorate because, when Rev. Thomas May retired in 1876, the vicarage was condemned by the diocesan surveyor.  The new Vicar, Rev. Hugh Collum, resided for two years at the Woods while he appealed for funds to build a new vicarage and on 5 March 1877 Mr Samuel Morley laid the foundation stone of the new vicarage.  The stables for the new vicarage were built on the site of the old vicarage.

By 1961, the 1877 vicarage had proved too big and was sold, and a new, fourth vicarage, was built on the site of the vicarage vegetable garden to designs by Mr Neil Macfadyen and was opened by the Bishop on 15 October 1961.