Sandwich Road, Waldershare, Dover, CT15 5AT
A pretty church for walkers crossing the beautiful North Downs
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This pretty church is an ideal resting point for walkers crossing the beautiful North Downs. It dates back to Norman times.
The south chapel of 1697 contains a touching memorial to the Bertie family, with life-size marble figures of a husband and wife holding hands.
In the north chapel is a fantastical monument to Sir Henry Furness (who died in 1712) – tiered like a wedding cake and flanked by statues of women mourners and cherubs, it almost scrapes the chapel ceiling!
The chancel has some fine Victorian murals and alabaster reredos, whilst there is also lovely Victorian stained glass throughout the building.
Opening times on the CCT website
Church Lane, West Stourmouth, Canterbury, CT3 1HT
A Saxon survivor in the Garden of England
This picture-postcard church stands hidden by trees in a delightful setting by the Little Stour.
When visiting, you first see the small spire and bell tower then the beautiful flint, ragstone and brick body of the church. There is strong evidence of Saxon origins but many alterations have left traces from most of the centuries since.
Inside, the church is furnished with box pews, some with beautiful carving, a 17th-century pulpit and a handsome organ, still showing the original pumping lever.
The attractive tiled flooring contains three interesting memorial stones.
The Drove, Fordwich, Canterbury, CT2 0DE
900 years of craftsmanship in a lovely shingle church
This historic church stands in an idyllic spot near the River Stour, leaning somewhat, as a result of a 15th-century flood.
Inside, the church is mellow and unspoilt, with 17th-century fittings and wall paintings. It is home to a strange carved stone, dating from around 1100. Nearly 1.7 metres long, the Fordwich Stone is thought to be a shrine made for the body parts – or relics – of a saint, maybe St Augustine of Canterbury.
There are also box pews and a corporation pew, 17th-century rails and altarpiece, and the Royal Arms and Commandments, painted on plaster in 1688.
Earlier features include the 12th-century font made of Bethersden marble and lovely 14th century glass.
Church Lane, Capel, Tonbridge, TN12 6SX
A small Norman church with a Thomas Becket connection
Becket himself is said to have preached in this small Norman Wealden church.
The tower was partly rebuilt after a fire in 1639. Inside, the crown-post roof is striking and there are some interesting fittings.
Most significant however, are the extensive Medieval wallpaintings which cover most of the nave, depicting, amongst others, Cain and Abel and Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
Goodnestone Court, Goodnestone, Faversham, ME13 9BZ
A tiny church that has survived earth tremors
This tiny unspoilt gem of a Norman church stands on a knoll above Goodnestone Court, a half-timbered building from the 15th-century.
Inside, part of the rood-loft staircase, two piscinae and a tomb which may have been used as an Easter Sepulchre, survive from Medieval times.
There is a miniature 19th-century font, Willement glass in the east window and two 16th-century brass' inscriptions to a couple who both departed 'in the fayth of Christe’.
A rustic tiled and timbered bell-cote crowns the nave, and the porch was rebuilt in 1837 after an earth tremor.
Paddlesworth Road, Paddlesworth, Snodland, ME6 5DR
A 900 year old Pilgrim church with the aura of a Norman place of prayer
On the Pilgrim’s Way below the trees that crown the North Downs, this 900-year-old tiny building sits close to an 18th-century red-brick farmhouse and its barns.
For centuries the pilgrims must have passed the church on their way to the Medway crossing from Snodland to Burham, but in 1678 it was abandoned and for 250 years was unused for religious purposes.
It is made up of two simple rooms – a chancel and nave and it still has the aura of a Norman place of prayer.
Kingsdown, Sittingbourne, ME9 0AS
The only complete Anglican church designed by E W Pugin - an untouched time capsule
St Catherine's is the only complete Anglican church designed by Victorian architect E W Pugin.
Built in 1866, it has a needle-sharp spire and richly coloured stained glass. Inside and out, it is a time capsule of Victorian church design that has remained almost exactly as Pugin designed it.
Knowlton Court, Knowlton, Canterbury, CT3 1PT
A Medieval church with a lovely Victorian interior
This pretty Medieval church is set in the grounds of Knowlton Court manor house. It is Medieval in origin but outwardly Victorian.
The lovely interior features:
marble monuments including one commemorating the sons-in-law of Sir Cloudesley Shovel and ascribed to Grinling Gibbons;
beautiful stained glass by Lavors, Barrand and Westlake that fills the church with coloured light.
Main Road, Cooling, Rochester, ME3 8DG
The inspiration for a dramatic Dickens tale.
Charles Dickens used the churchyard of St James as his inspiration in the opening chapter of Great Expectations, where the hero Pip meets Magwitch the convict. The site – on the Hoo Peninsula with marshes stretching north to the Thames estuary, is dramatically desolate and bleak in winter, recalling the sinister opening scene in David Lean’s 1946 film of the book.
Here, you can find what have become known as 'Pip’s Graves’ - the forlorn gravestones of 13 babies that Dickens describes in the chapter as "little stone lozenges each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their [parents’] graves".
Inside, the church is light and spacious. There is a 500-year-old timber door that still swings on its ancient hinges – even though it now leads to a blocked north doorway! Another quirky feature is the 19th-century vestry – its walls are lined from top to bottom with thousands of cockle shells - the emblem of St James.
The monuments in the church walls and floor are a fascinating record of those who once lived here. They include a slab with a brass effigy of Feyth Brook, who died in 1508 and was the wife of Lord Cobham, of nearby Cooling Castle.
Dickens fans should also visit St Mary’s in Higham, the village where the novelist ended his days while writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Strand Street, Sandwich, CT13 9EU
Sackings, earthquakes and collapsed towers
The intimate and atmospheric St Mary’s occupies what may be the oldest church site in Sandwich where a 7th-century convent was founded of which nothing has survived.
There remain substantial parts of a large Norman church, despite the town having been sacked by the French in the 13th- and 15th-centuries, an earthquake in the 16th and the collapse of the tower in the 17th!
The north arcade was then replaced with slender columns of chestnut and the immense barn-like breadth of the nave and south aisle was roofed in one span.
The tower over the south porch has a wooden belfry built in 1718 and there are monuments from several periods and interesting fittings to discover.
Manor House Lane, Capel-le-Ferne, Folkestone, CT18 7EX
A unique church with views across the English channel
This lovely church is remote from the road and squats snugly on bleak downland above Folkestone. It has views across the channel, looking towards France.
A single Norman window, with a little delicate wallpainting in the reveal, indicates its early origins; but most notable is a 14th-century three-arched stone rood-screen with, uniquely in England, an arched opening above for the rood itself.
There are also ancient roof timbers, a small brass and a 13th-century piscina.
Old Church Road, Burham, Rochester, ME1 3XY
Standing peacefully on the pathway of pilgrims
Standing peacefully under the Downs, on the pilgrims’ route to Canterbury, is this stocky flint-and-ragstone church with its stocky west tower.
It was deserted when the village moved to higher ground. St Mary’s is curious architecturally: north and south aisles were added to the original 12th-century structure and later pulled down, leaving clear evidence of its history.
The rustic, partially plastered interior is lovely and there are two ancient Norman fonts.
Luddenham Court, Luddenham, Faversham, ME13 0TH
An 850 year old gem hidden in a farmyard setting
The 850-year-old church of St Mary’s is hidden in a farmyard on marshland fringes to the south of the River Swale.
The west doorway, with zig-zag decoration, is mid 12th-century, whilst the exceptionally long chancel was built about a hundred years later. Inside, a 13th-century stone coffin lid is topped by carved hands holding a heart. The curious little brick tower is early 19th-century. There are also some reused Roman tiles in the wall.
NB: Access is only permitted from the public road that leads to the church from the north-east, and the adjacent footpaths. Visitors are requested not to use the private road that reaches the church from the south.
Church Street, Lower Higham, Rochester, ME3 7LS
A remote church on the edge of the Thames marshes
St Mary’s sits remote from Higham village in orchards on the edge of marshes running to the Thames.
It is an unusual church with great charm and eccentricity. Its striped walls of ragstone and knapped flint and a near-symmetrical arrangement of two naves and two chancels are surmounted by a shingled spirelet.
Originally Norman, it was remodelled and enlarged in the 14th-century, perhaps when a priory of Benedictine nuns was established nearby.
There is some memorable woodwork including a 15th-century chancel screen in its original position, a 14-th century pulpit and a particularly fine south door, treated like a four-light window with much delicate carving and some original ironwork.
Restoration in 1863 provided most of the furnishings and the glass in the chancel windows.
Old Church Lane, East Peckham, Tonbridge, TN12 5NG
Set romantically on a hilltop with glorious views
When the village moved down nearer to the river, St Michael’s was left romantically sited on a hilltop among beeches, with glorious views over the Medway valley to the Weald.
Originally Norman, the church seems to have expanded to its present size around 1300; the piers and arches are clearly 14th-century, the windows and south porch mainly 15th-century, and the shingled spirelet has an attractive weathervane dating from 1704.
Inside there are fragments of ancient glass, a Royal Arms of George II and two centuries of memorials dedicated to the Twysden family.
The churchyard has has some lovely 18th-century headstones.
Market Street, Sandwich, CT13 9DA
A landmark church that still rings a curfew.
St Peter's is the guardian of an ancient Sandwich tradition. Every day at 8pm, the curfew bell rings out, signalling that the townspeople should cover their fires to make them safe for the night. This was once known as the 'pigbell’, as it also informed people they could release their animals into the street.
This old Cinque Port church (Cinque Ports were the five harbour towns on the south coast which in Medieval times provided the king with ships and men in exchange for trading and other privileges) is a local landmark.
Much of today's building dates from 800 years ago, though it has been altered many times. The handsome tower with its distinctive onion dome top is a 17th-century addition - built by Flemish protestant refugees, in the style of their homeland churches.
There was once a Norman church on the site and traces of masonry from this building can still be seen at the west end. The present church dates from the late 13th-/early 14th-centuries, when Sandwich was at the height of its prosperity.
The atmospheric crypt - open by arrangement - was once a charnel house where bones from the graveyard were stored to make room for new graves.
Inside, the church is spacious and airy with few furnishings allowing you to easily appreciate the impressive size and proportions of the lofty interior. The Medieval roofs, handsome decorated windows, and the magnificently carved tomb recesses and effigies to local benefactors reflect the wealth and importance of the town and its people.
The Street, Swingfield Street, Swingfield, CT15 7HA
A 13th-century church with links to the Knights Hospitallers
A huge 13th-century tower dominates this Medieval church in a quiet location on the Kent Downs. The church has close links with the Knights Hospitallers whose Commandery still stands across the fields.
The North aisle is Victorian and there are two fine 20th-century windows.
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