The Spring lecture on Thursday 14 March was given by Paul Britton on Stained Glass in Kent Churches, tracing the rich history of stained glass in Kent parish churches, especially glass of the 19th and 20th centuries. The work of all the best Victorian and post-Victorian English stained glass designers is to be found in the county, including some outstanding examples such as Pugin’s east window at St Augustine, Ramsgate; Heaton, Butler and Bayne’s glass at Higham; Patrick Reyntiens’ East window at Marden; and John Piper’s pretty Annunciation to the Shepherds at Lamberhurst.
The Autumn lecture on Wednesday 20 November was given by Imogen Corrigan, an independent scholar, on ‘The Dregs of the People Remain’: the Black Death and its Aftermath. The talk explored the physical, social, religious and economic impact of the plague of the mid-fourteenth century and of the recurrence of the disease throughout the late middle ages, ranging widely across Europe and using many illustrations, mainly from manuscripts. Modern scholarship suggests that the death rate may have been even higher than we had supposed, perhaps as much as half the population. The talk raised interesting questions about whether lost settlements in Kent disappeared because of the plague and whether the common Kentish phenomenon of a church distant from its modern settlement was caused by plague.
The 2019 Briggs Event was held at St Dunstan, Frinsted on Sunday 19 May, when Dr Elizabeth Woolley gave a lecture on Victorian wall-painting based on her recently completed doctoral thesis undertaken at the Courtauld Institute of Art. This is a hitherto neglected subject and academic study of it has been hampered by the loss of the archives of most of the firms that produced these paintings and by the loss of many of the paintings themselves, destroyed in the 20th century when they became unfashionable. But, in a fascinating talk, Dr Woolley traced the work of five firms illustrated by many examples, some of them in Kent. There was nowhere better to have held the talk than Frinsted, which has impressive paintings by Clayton and Bell and (probably) Burlison and Grylls.
On Saturday 11 May our AGM was held at St Mary, Goudhurst, followed by a visit to St Dunstan, Cranbrook, where we also had tea.
On Thursday 13 June we visited a group of churches west and south of Sittingbourne: St Mary, Newington, St Peter and St Paul, Borden and St John the Baptist, Tunstall (the recipient of recent grants from the Friends).
On Tuesday 16 July we saw three churches east of Canterbury: All Saints, West Stourmouth, Elmstone church and St Mary the Virgin, Wingham.
The 5 September visit was to Doddington church with its startling dedication to the Beheading of St John the Baptist; St Peter and St Paul Ospringe and St Mary of Charity, Faversham’s grand parish church.
Finally, on Thursday 19 September a party went by coach to Chichester Cathedral and to the little-known but very beautiful Boxgrove Priory, both in West Sussex.
Thank you to John Lumley, Amicia Oldfield and Richard Pitt who organised these visits.