For the sixty-sixth Annual General Meeting on Saturday 14th May 2016 we met at St Peter & St Paul, Upper Stoke then visited Hoo St Werburgh for a lecture and afternoon tea. This combination of AGM and lecture has, once again, proved popular.
The chairman, Mary Gibbins, was pleased to say FKC had given grants of over £150,000 in the past year and to comment that John Newman had said churches are in better condition now than they have been for years.
All the reports were welcomed and all the motions for re-elections were carried.
Following an explanation for the proposal and a short debate, an important amendment to the Constitution was carried that enables Friends of Kent Churches to broaden the scope of the application of its Grants:-
The objects of the Association are to promote the preservation of Churches in use of architectural merit or historic interest in the County of Kent (pre April 1965 boundaries) and to contribute towards keeping in good order their fabric and fixtures of special importance and providing the facilities necessary to keep them in use.
Such facilities include kitchens and lavatories.
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At St Peter & St Paul, Upper Stoke FKC contributions have been made towards underpinning the south aisle and re-roofing the nave. We were given a summary of the work by the church warden, Ian Bett, and architect, Rena Pitsilli-Graham. A very well illustrated report on the project is at http://www.stpeterstpaulupperstoke.com/restoration
A number of us climbed the 53 steps up the tower to be rewarded with a very clear view of surrounding countryside and the Thames Estuary.
The following texts and photographs are courtesy of Christopher Rigby:-
The main entrance is via an ancient door of massive oak timbers situated in the north aisle, whilst opposite in the south wall can be seen a modern door donated by the Royal Engineers based in the Medway Towns.
Entrance to the 53 step spiral staircase of the tower at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Upper Stoke, with masons marks visible on the fifth step and the right hand side of the door archway; see also the rope handrail which hangs down the centre of the spiral staircase. The tower is believed to date back to the 14th century although rebuilding appears to have taken place between 1470 and 1550 and the tower may have been extended in the 16th century. The spiral stone staircase provides access to the belfry which contains three bells, one modern, one 17th century, and one 16th century, and to the summit which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
This image shows the circular tub shaped font which is located at the western end of the south aisle. The simple shape and workmanship suggest a Saxon origin although some consider it to be Norman dating back to the 13th century. There is a heavy font lid of much later origin which is decorated with ironwork. Adjacent to the font is a window to the memory of those who have been baptised in the font and also a wall plaque to the memory of Sidney George Rayner who was Churchwarden for 23 years.
The north east corner of the nave dates back to the late 12th century although over the years the glass in the windows has been replaced. The coloured glass window on the north wall was designed and donated by Mrs Marjorie Crofts and depicts St Francis of Assisi with rushes, poppies, a white dove and a kingfisher. This window was made by Maile Studios of Canterbury and presented to the church in 1995.
A view of the eastern end of the South Aisle through the Norman arch supported by heavy circular columns with scalloped capitals circa 1175. The left hand column leans at a precarious angle towards the south.
The main east window in the Chancel is dedicated to the Goord family and dates from 1938. It was made by Celtic Studios of Swansea, a small studio founded in 1933 by Howard Martin and his cousin Hubert Thomas. They designed and made stained glass windows for houses, a cinema, a public house, chapels, and churches and there is a large amount of their work in Toronto, Canada. The window here cost £409.10s and shows St Peter and St Paul with Christ in the centre panel. St Peter is holding two keys and St Paul is holding a sword.
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At Hoo St Werburgh FKC contributions have been made towards the recently completed project to replace the floor affected by woodworm and turn the church into a space which can be used for more community activities. It has many interesting features and ‘the medieval glass is of exceptional quality’ (Pevsner) – photo from Norman J Penny below.
Our speaker was William Palin – the conservation director at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and a former director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage and Trustee of the Spitalfields Trust. He came over as a passionate believer in preserving our architectural heritage and finding new uses for buildings; he is currently leading the project to repair and revive the derelict Grade II* Dockyard church at Sheerness. William shared many slides of buildings under threat, some demolished and those saved – starting with Spitalfields, moving on to Sheerness dockyard and ending with views and layouts of Greenwich. A fascinating lecture and an appropriate reminder of the important value of the fund raising and grants activities of the Friends of Kent Churches.
We were then provided with an excellent afternoon tea that would have attracted lots of sugar tax – but hardly a cake was left! Many thanks.