“Galfridus de Gaspernasse, capellanus, rector primus ecclesie de Betbergh. Quia parochiani de Lega manentes in hameletto de Betbergh predicto multociens erant laborati et gravitati per longitudinem et profunditatem itineris versus Legh et de Legha, eundo et redeundo, et inundacione aquarum, que sepius contingebat, impediti, cupientes exonerari et alleviari a predictis laboribus, gravaminibus et impedimentis, consilio peritorum accesserunt ad patronum et ad rectorem,” &c. (Reg. Roff., 166.) Hence it appears that, originally, Bidborough was part of the parish of Leigh; the river Medway intervening between the two places. However, although Bidborough may have been first constituted a distinct parish at the period above mentioned, a chapel must have existed there previous to A.D. 1219. Of this fact the first evidence is, that the chapel of “Bettebergh” is named in a document dated in that year. (Text. Roff., 231.) The building now standing is another witness, the south door arch being Norm., consequently constructed before 1219, with a Perp. one inserted below it. And, lastly, the foundation deed itself, quoted from above, testifies conclusively that the church was not then first erected; for, after reciting the inconveniences caused by separation from the parish church, the concluding prayer of it is, that the residents at Betbergh may have “cantariam in capella sua” and “capellanum celebrantem.” The former of these expressions seems to imply the previous possession of a chapel, though it intimates farther, that the edifice was used only for some occasional, and probably imperfect, service. From its connection here we may, almost must, understand the word “cantaria,” primarily signifying “a place for singing” to mean the full and entire celebration of Divine service, as then regularly performed in parish churches, of which, indeed, chanting formed an integral portion. Unluckily, the deed alluded to does not contain the names of the patron and rector of Leigh, so as to afford the opportunity of comparison with a similar document relating to Penshurst, only twenty years later in date.
Among Anthony Wood’s collection in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, is preserved the following deed, relating to the church of this place, though therein it is styled a chapel. It is endorsed by A. Wood’s own hand, “Capella de Witteberg,” although in the body of the document the name is distinctly written Bitteberge.:—
“Omnibus Christi fidelibus ad quos presens scriptiun per-