Bilsington Parish


The village of Bilsington is located between the parishes of Ruckinge and Bonnington. Half of the parish lies in the Romney Marshes and the other on higher ground in the north. The main village is situated on the crossroads of Hamstreet to Hythe and Romney Marshes to Ashford.

Priory of Austin Canons was built next to the church in 1253, it was abandoned after Henry VIII dissolution in 1535. Fortunately, some of the priory was converted to a farmhouse and later, in 1906,  most of the buildings were restored. The priory is now a private residence

One of the landmarks of the village is the Obleisk to Sir William Cosway who was tragically killed in an accident in London. Built in 1835 the monument is situated in Mill Field and stands 52ft high. Sir William was a wealthy landowner who helped finance village needs. He paid for the voyage fares for four Bilsington families to emigrate to New York, as Poor Relief was not sufficient to meet the needs of the village in the 1830's. These familes were: Webb, Horn, Longhurst and Lucas.

The Royal Military Canal flows through the southern part of the parish. Built in 1807 to defend the coast against Napoleon's potential invading army, it later brought trade and travel opportunities to the villagers. Coal and bricks, etc. were brought to the village by barge from Hythe and, from 1811, people could use the canal for travel. More on this can be found on the Royal Military Canal dedicated website here.


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For more historical information please visit:

  • Saxon Shore website gives general information on Bilsington's heritage.
  • Here's History Kent for maps, history, and photographs.
  • A book 'Bilsington People 1800-1900' by Margery Kendon can be found in the Ashford Library (for loan) & Ashford Museum (for reference only).

Surrounding Parishes

Mersham, Aldington, Bonnington, Ruckinge, Kingsnorth

Bilsington People

From census and trade directories it appears that Bilsington was a small community with agriculture as its main focus. The 1851 census shows the many farms which dotted the Bilsington village landscape, employing agricultural labourers and farm servants from the village. The village pub 'The White Horse' and various grocers, bakers and blacksmiths also feature in this census and later ones. Bilsington continued to be strongly agricultural, however the reduction in population was noticeable from the pages of the census from 21 in 1851 down to 10 in 1901. Sadly the village now has no school or local shops to cater for its inhabitants.
The chart below shows the sharp rise and falls of Bilsington's population during a 120 year period.

The chart is based on census, trade directories, and Victoria County History of Kent figures.


In May 1831 Sir William Cosway and Samuel Cosway applied for a grant to build a day school in the parish. At this time a small school for 8 girls and 10 boys had been housed in a cottage. After funds were secured for a new school building, the school could provide education for 50 boys and 30 girls. However, until more funds could be found for a second classroom, the girls were taught in the schoolmistresses room up until 1838. In this year a small mixed school was built in Bilsington for up to 90 children. By the early 20th century, the numbers of schoolchildren passing through its doors dropped dramatically, possibly due to the opening of neighbouring parish schools and better transport links. The schoolhouse was in existence up to 1974, lasting one hundred and forty years. There is no school in the parish today.

Church & Religion

The Church of St. Peter & St. Paul stands separate from the village of Bilsington. The Norman church was largely repaired in 1570 after it fell into a ruinous state through lack of maintenance by its parishioners. The enlargement and restoration of the church took place in the 1880's.

For some more interesting information on Bilsington Church please visit Kent resources website

  • Parish registers date from 1562. Registers in existence are: Baptisms 1562-1907; Marriages 1570-1981; Banns 1754-1866; Burials:1562-1992.
  • Transcriptions of parish records by KFHS are available: Baptisms 1562-1812, Marriages 1570-1837, Banns 1754-1823 and Burials 1562-1812 on CD29.
  • Monumental Inscriptions for St. Peter & St. Paul's: None - if you have any further information please contact us.

Methodist chapel built at the parish boundary of Bilsington and Newchurch. A Sunday school was provided for the children and numerous outings took place.


  • Lathe of Shepway (PO Directory 1855)
  • In the hundred of Newchurch & St. Martins, Longport (1855 PO Directory)
  • Liberty of Romney Marsh (PO Directory 1855)
  • East Ashford Union with workhouse at Willesborough (built 1835)  (1891 Kelly's Directory) prior to this the Hamstreet Workhouse built around 1723 was used for Bilsington and surrounding parishes.
  • Ashford Petty Sessional Division (1891 Kelly's Directory)
  • Ashford County Court district (1891 Kelly's Directory)
  • Benefice of Aldington, Bonnington and Lympne with West Hythe (Present)
  • Rural deanery of North Lympne(1891 Kelly's Directory) of Romney (Present)
  • Archdeaconry & Diocese of Canterbury(1891 Kelly's Directory) Archdeaconry of Maidstone (Present)
Ashford Villages

Bethersden Biddenden Bilsington

Bircholt Bonnington Boughton Aluph

Brabourne Brook Challock

Charing Chilham Crundale

Egerton Godmersham

Great Chart Orlestone/Hamstreet

Hastingleigh High Halden Hinxhill

Hothfield Hurst nr. Aldington

Parish Records

Kenardington Kennington Kingsnorth

Little Chart Mersham Molash

Newenden Pevington nr. Pluckley

Pluckley Rolvenden Ruckinge

Sevington Shadoxhurst Smarden

Smeeth Stone cum Ebony Tenterden

Warehorne Westwell Willesborough

Wittersham Woodchurch Wye

Ashford Branch