Recent Visits, Lectures & AGMs

On this page you will find notes and pictures from our recent visits to churches, lectures and AGMs.

On Thursday 8th March 2018  Janet Gough OBE gave us a lecture at Lenham Community Centre entitled  How to pick a favourite church, a trip through England’s unique heritage

Jane Gough was Director of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, ChurchCare from 2008 to 2016 where she raised over £90 million in funding for cathedrals and churches.  She launched the Church Days website for visitors and set up with Sustrans the Tower and Spires Cycle Tours linking cathedrals and churches.  Recently she published two Scala paperbacks in their Director’s Choice series on the Cathedrals of the Church of England and Churches of the Church of England.After reading history and the history of art at Cambridge she qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked for Southeby’s for nine years and was a guide at and on the Executive Committee of the Friends of the V & A.  Janet was awarded an OBE for services to heritage in 2017 New Year’s Honours.


On Wednesday 8th November our last lecture of 2017 was given by Matthew Saunders MBE on Redundant Churches and the Friends of Friendless Churches.

Matthew Saunders is Honorary Director of the Friends of Friendless Churches, a charity founded 60 years ago which campaigns for and rescues redundant historic churches threatened by demolition, decay or inappropriate conversion.  It currently owns 50 former churches or chapels, including St Mary, Eastwell and maintains them as peaceful spaces for people to enjoy. He is also secretary of a kindred charity, the Ancient Monuments Society, a member of the Church Buildings Council and was trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  He has written and lectured extensively on historic buildings and was awarded the MBE for services to Architectural Conservation in 1998.

On 26th September we had an excellent guided tour of Rochester cathedral with John Bailey.

The third, and last, of this summer’s visits, organised by Paul Smallwood, was on 6th September to St Peter & St Paul, Bilsington then to St Mary, Ruckinge then to Kenardington.

St Peter and St Paul Bilsington can be dated back to the 12th century and probably replaced the Saxon church recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086. The church is constructed of ragstone with a red brick and timbered porch, and above the ridge of the porch, and to the west of the porch roof, blocked-in archways can be detected upon very close inspection. Photographs and text courtesy of Chris Rigby.

The two stage 15th century tower is set on a high plinth and completed with a timber belfry. The 15th century bell hung outside the church was removed from the belfry in the 1930’s amid concerns the timber bell frame could no longer support the weight of the bell.












St Mary Magdalene Ruckinge is a Grade I listed building and mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086. The main structure of the building is 12th century, but it was probably built on top of an old Saxon church. The Western tower was rebuilt in the 13th century, its origin being Norman.
In the east window of the north aisle, there are fragments of 14th century glass, featuring St George and the dragon. As in many churches of this area, most of the glass is clear. The chancel has medieval choir stalls with poppy head bench ends, tracery and shields. Much damage was incurred in 1987 in the Great Storm, and has only recently been fully repaired. In 2011 the interior plasterwork was completely redecorated and restored.

For a few centuries smuggling was rife on Romney Marsh, and it is rumoured that the notorious Ransley brothers were buried in Ruckinge churchyard after being hanged at Penenden Heath, Maidstone. One of these graves is marked with a ‘Bedpost’ Memorial.

Text and picture © 2017 Archbishops’ Council / A Church Near You.


002 St Marys Church Kenardington Kent 210117001 St Marys Church Kenardington Kent 210117

St Mary’s Church, Kenardington,is of 12th century origin and is what remains of a church damaged by a French raiding party in the fourteenth century and struck by lightening in 1559. Most of the church was demolished leaving only the former south aisle and chapel to form the current church. On the south wall original windows were reduced in size by filling in the outer sections leaving some fascinating shapes of ‘blind’ tracery. Photos and text courtesy of Chris Rigby.










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The second of our set of visits, organised by Richard Latham, was on 12 July to  Chilham and GodmershamSome Friends had suggested we have a “two church” afternoon and this did, indeed, prove to be very popular – more time for talks, exploring and discussion.

A view across Chilham square







The model of Chilham Church in Chilham Church




Richard Latham (who organised the day’s events) with our two presenters at Chilham Church. A fascinating insight – not only into the church history but also the village and its various owners.


Friends arriving at Godmersham Church







A fascinating talk about Godmersham Church, Park and House from Rebecca of Godmersham Park Heritage Centre




The walk from Godmersham Church to the House – and a superb afternoon tea in a very large marquee





The photographs below are courtesy of Chris Rigby.

St Marys Church, Chilham. The large western tower is sixty eight feet tall and was constructed in the 16th century being completed in 1534. Externally the church has Flint and Caen/Rag chequer work with Ragstone plinths and quoins. There is a beacon stair turret on the south east side of the tower and round headed windows with square hood moulds in the upper stage. The west window of Bath stone under the tower is entirely 19th century. The clock was made in 1727 but only had the minute hand fitted in 1790.004 St Marys Church Chilham Kent 020317

001 The Wildman Memorial St Marys Church Chilham 071114

< The Wildman Memorial.002 The Pulpit St Marys Church Chilham 071114

                                      The pulpit and organ pipes >






The Hardy Children Monument  located in the North Chapel was carved in white marble by the sculptor Alexander Munro. It is a memorial to the children Arthur and Edmund Hardy who died in 1858 at Yorkshire before their parents moved to Chilham Castle in 1861. Originally the monument was on display in Chilham Castle and was gifted to St Mary’s Church when the Hardy family left Chilham Castle in 1918.

St Laurence the Martyr Church, Godmersham The church is situated in an idyllic setting by the banks of the River Stour and was attended regularly by Jane Austen in the early years of the 19th century when she visited her brother Edward who owned the nearby Godmersham Park. The church is of Saxon origin but variously dated to the 10th or 11th century.

001 St Laurence the Martyr Church Godmersham Kent 020317

002 Tower Detail St Laurence the Martyr Church Godmersham Kent 020317

< Tower detail

003 Norman Dog Tooth Block Tympanum Above Blocked West Doorway St Laurences Church Godmersham Kent 020317

Norman Dog-Tooth Block Tympanum above  blocked West doorway ^


During the early 12th century a Romanesque apsidal chapel at the base of a tower was added to the north wall of the nave and can be accessed via a small door adjacent the pulpit. Originally it opened by way of a wide arch to the nave and there was a north door to make it independent of the church. Tower naves are believed to be of Saxon origin which gives a clue to the age of St Laurence Church, Godmersham.

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The first of our set of visits, organised by Paul Britton, was on 21 June to Chiddingstone Causeway, Leigh and Tonbridge.

Below are three photographs of St Luke’s church, Chiddingstone Causeway from Chris Rigby.

This church replaced the small corrugated iron chapel of St Saviour as the village population grew due to the success of the local cricket bat industry and was consecrated in 1898. It was designed by Mr John Francis Bentley who was also the architect for Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral and was constructed in Bath stone to the late Free Gothic style with many notable features.

The coped gable porch has a moulded doorway with engaged shafts and carved spandrels and a good quality carving of a winged bull which was the emblem of St Luke. The interior of the porch is fitted with a stone seat on each side of the entrance.

The font, which was also designed by Mr John Francis Bentley, has an octagonal pink alabaster stem and deep octagonal tulip shaped bowl of green streaked Cippolini marble with a white marble rim and stands on a Portland stone cross shaped step.

St Luke’s church – Chiddingstone Causeway – general view

St Luke’s church – Chiddingstone Causeway – porch

St Luke’s church – Chiddingstone Causeway – baptistry

Below are four photographs of St Mary’s church, Leigh from Chris Rigby.

1 St Mary's Church, Leigh

The architecture suggests a church which was rebuilt during the 13th century.

Quite probably the western tower was never completed at this time as the construction of a new tower began in the 15th century.

In 1860-1861 the church underwent considerable reconstruction with a new tower erected on the existing base and the rebuilding of the south wall.

In 1903 the tower clock was presented in memory of Queen Victoria.

2. Porch and Turret South Wall St Marys Church Leigh



Porch and Turret, South Wall.

3 - North Aisle Column

13th Century North Aisle Column.




The columns of the North Aisle were built into the current north wall after a fire destroyed the North Aisle during the 15th century.

Some years ago a section of the current north wall was opened up to reveal the 13th century column and how it had been decorated.

4 - Millenium Sundial

Millenium Sundial.

The Welsh slate gilded and painted sundial was commissioned to commemorate the Millennium in the year 2000.





The sundial was made by Sally Hersh, a sculptor and sundial maker, and designed to complement the shape of the windows in the turret.







The third church this afternoon was to St Peter and St Paul, Tonbridge.

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The annual Briggs Lecture was at Luddesdowne on 17th June.

The Very Rev Dr Michael Chandler, former Dean of Ely Cathedral, gave a very interesting talk on the Oxford Movement and its development.  The event was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the re-consecration of the church following reconstruction.  Everyone enjoyed seeing the wonderful church with its Victorian decoration scheme even if finding it was a bit of a challenge and it was a great pleasure having tea watching a village cricket match on a definitely sloping pitch. As always the Briggs talk is intended to help a church with fund raising by providing sponsorship and publicity and if your church would like to host an event do let Mary Gibbins know at

1. St Peter and St Pauls Church Luddesdowne Kent

St Peter and St Paul Church, Luddesdowne was originally a manorial church which can be dated back to the 13th century. In 1865 the church was in danger of collapsing so with the exception of the tower it was demolished and subsequently rebuilt by the Wigan families of Luddesdowne and East Malling, and reconsecrated in 1867 by the Bishop of Rochester. During the restoration the height of the tower was increased.

Grave memorials of the Wigan family

Grave memorials of the Wigan family

Grave memorials of the Wigan family who rebuilt and beautified St Peter and St Paul Church, Luddesdowne in the 19th century: Edith Maud Wigan and Eleanor Jane Wigan, daughters of the Rector of St Peter and St Pauls Church, Luddesdowne, and granddaughters of John Alfred Wigan, Justice of the Peace for Kent, of East Malling.



The 2017 AGM – on the 2106 Annual Report – was held at St John the Baptist, Wittersham on Saturday 20th May. Here are the AGM 2017 Minutes. Full details of the AGM and the churches visited are at the AGM 2017 Report page.

A visit to St Mary, Stone in Oxney preceded the AGM with a talk on the “Mithraic” Altar Stone by Norman Penny.

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Our first lecture for 2017  – What Are Churches For? was given by A N Wilson on 1st March at Lenham. He has written extensively, nearly 50 books, which include biographies, novels and histories and recently presented television programmes on Josiah Wedgwood, C S Lewis, Sir John Betjeman and Queen Victoria.

Originally destined for ordination, many of his works have a background of religious and ecclesiological themes and he has made public his changing views on religion through his life. In the 1980s he declared that he was an atheist, publishing a pamphlet Against Religion and thirty years later wrote about his rediscovered faith, writing articles attacking academic and media atheists. A recent book, The Book of the People: How To Read The Bible, is an examination of the different books of the Bible and how and why we should read it.

As predicted, we had a stimulating and entertaining talk!

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In 2016 we had two Lectures and three afternoons of church visits. Plus the John Briggs annual Talk – this year with a musical interlude. Also, a day out to St Paul’s Cathedral and some City of London Wren Churches.

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On Wednesday 2nd November, John Goodall, who is well known to many through his many contributions to Country Life, gave a talk on The Medieval Parish Church in Kent. 

John is the architectural editor of Country Life. He is responsible for writing and commissioning the celebrated series of architectural features published in the magazine every week.  He has been involved in various television series on history and architecture and was the series consultant for the BBC1 television series on architecture presented by David Dimbleby, The Way We Built Britain (2007).

Apart from numerous articles for books, journals and magazines he has published three books; God’s House at Ewelme, which won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize, The English Castle and Parish Church Treasures, The Nation’s Greatest Art Collection published last year.

He is an experienced lecturer to specialist, university and general audiences and we thoroughly enjoyed his talk.

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Tuesday 27th September – a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral followed by Wren Churches in the City of London was organised by Richard Latham – many thanks for organising this excellent day out for us. We met up by the statue of Queen Anne by the west end steps (well known from Mary Poppins “feed the birds tuppence a bag” and seeing famous state occasions including the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill).

The tour guide, Richard, included the Cathedral floor and crypt, the stairwell of the famous geometric staircase, the Chapel of St Michael and St George and the quire. He fascinated us with an in depth history of many aspects of the cathedral.

After lunch we met up again for a visit to St Vedast in Foster Lane, St Mary Aldemary and St Stephen Walbrook (Wren’s prototype for the dome of St Paul’s) and many points of interest on the way. Our guide, Tony Tucker, has produced a short book on the City of London Churches – a great memento and reminder of the range of styles of Wren churches and the varying detail of each steeple. Several of us had worked or spent time in the city and Tony showed us places we must have walked past many times not realising what we were missing – for example the Fountain Court by St Vedast, the fan-vaulted plastered ceiling of St Mary Aldemary (meaning old Mary) and the church of St Mary Abchurch tucked away across from Cannon Street station.

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Thursday 15th September a visit to the eastern part of the county was led by Paul Smallwood. Many thanks to Paul for organising the visits and to our speakers at the churches and for the excellent afternoon tea laid on for us at Northbourne.

St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Eastry CT13 0HL is a church reflecting the importance of the village in the Middle Ages and earlier. It was built in the 13th century by its patrons, Christ Church Canterbury, with solid columns and a clerestory. An important feature is the medieval wall painting on the chancel arch, a series of symbols in roundels.

The following pictures and text courtesy of Chris Rigby:-

Viewed from South East - St Mary the Virgin Church Eastry KentSt Mary the Virgin Church, Eastry, viewed from the south east, dates from c1230 and was built lavishly in the Early English style of architecture by the monks of Christ Church Abbey, Canterbury, who owned Eastry Manor at that time. This Norman church built of flint almost certainly replaced a Saxon building since Eastry boasted a royal palace for the Kings of Kent as early as 660 A.D.

Tower - St Mary the Virgin Church Eastry Kent

The tower, standing 66 feet high and 24 feet square, was originally completed with battlements which were lost when the top was rebuilt in the early 1800’s with ‘medieval’ corbels. The semi-octagonal buttresses of the lower part of the tower were apparently added to the original c1200 flat and shallow pilaster buttresses as part of the Early English ‘modernisation’. The pointed oval (Mandorla) recesses alongside the remodelled triple windows to the bell ringing chamber may also date from around 1230-1240. The horizontal divisions of the tower are marked with String-Courses, or Drip-Stones, since they are undercut to prevent water running down the walls.


004c-st-mary-the-virgin-church-eastry-kent-100816The trio of Lancet windows in the east wall of the Chancel depict the life of Jesus. The lower part of the east wall, including the sills of the three lancet windows, is hidden by the 1908 Reredos of red-brown marble. The mosaic scene of the Reredos shows the Last Supper with Jesus and the disciples. The south side windows of the Chancel, positioned to give maximum light to the Alter, show the Resurrected Christ in the garden meeting Mary of Magdala. The symbolic iron tilting helm of St Roger Nevinson (1625) can be seen in the top left hand corner of the picture, and also the Brass of Sir Roger Nevinson in the floor of the Chancel.



St Andrew, Tilmanstone CT14 0JW is a Norman church without side aisles sympathetically restored by the Victorians to preserve its simplicity. There is a screen, a reredos by Powell’s, a yew tree estimated to be 1,200 years old and stocks. Well worth a visit and a hidden gem!

til-bPaul welcoming Friends of Kent Churches to St Andrew, Tilmanstone.









Detail from the tower – difficult to see here and just as difficult to discern from the ground! A bird – but what species?


The following pictures and text courtesy of Chris Rigby:-

Viewed from South East - St Andrews Church Tilmanstone KentThis church is basically 11th – 12th century Norman, of Early English Gothic design, with walls and tower of flint construction.

View from the south east
Tower from South West - St Andrews Church Tilmanstone Kent


The tower viewed from the south west which was added to the church in the 13th century and is of flint construction. In 1790 the tower was described as very low, but formerly higher, having been taken down a few years ago.

SE Corner - St Andrews Church Tilmanstone Kent

A variety of eighteenth century grave memorials adjacent to the south east corner of St Andrew’s Church, Tilmanstone, illustrating some of the many artistic designs adopted during this period.



002-st-andrews-church-tilmanstone-kent-100816The entrance to the church; door and font, St Andrews Church, Tilmanstone. The circa 12th century Norman font is of local Bethersden marble and was thrown out of the church by Protestant extremists during the Civil War, being later reinstated into the church at the restoration of King Charles 11 in 1662. Beyond the font on the north wall of the nave is an unbroken record of clergy from 1271; three clergy being recorded for 1349, the year of the Black Death.







St Augustine, Northbourne CT14 0LL is another grand church and also had close connections with Canterbury with St Augustine’s Abbey having had a large Grange here on land given by King Eadbald in 618. Built about 1120, the church is plain with simple decoration over the south door, a fine 14th century head of a king found in the ruins of Ethelbald’s palace and a magnificent 17th century monument to Sir Edwin Sandys.









Friends of Kent Churches listening to the history of St Augustine, Northbourne.


The following pictures and text courtesy of Chris Rigby:-

St Augustines Church Northbourne Kent

St Augustine’s Church, Northbourne, is one of the few cruciform churches to have been built in Kent during the twelfth century. It was built circa 1120 AD and is located on the site of a previous Saxon church (said to be founded by the monks of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury). Parts of a previous Saxon building are present in the structure.

North Side View - St Augustines Church Northbourne Kent


View from the north side

North East View - St Augustines Church Northbourne Kent







View from the south east






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Tuesday 12th July three churches near the Channel Tunnel but in a different world! A visit organised by Richard Latham.

Photographs courtesy of Norman Penny.

St Nicholas, Newington next Hythe CT18 8AU is a simple church with Norman nave and chancel and some beautiful brasses of family groups. This was a good opportunity to visit a church not often open. The church has benefited from much restoration (e.g. roof in 1958/59, windows 2 years ago) and modernisation including a kitchen and the addition of a toilet extension. The latter (third picture below) has been sympathetically crafted.

Newington near Hythe

Newington near Hythe

Newington shingle steeple

Newington shingle steeple

Newington porch & extension

Newington porch & extension (toilet)

Richard in action!

Richard in action! Using Cynthia’s notes.

Cynthia (to the left of Richard Latham) is now 80 and has been coming to the church since she was a child. She recalled the days of large choirs and being brought up around the church.

Newington glass 2 Newington glass 1

The small stained glass windows date from 1857 – 1889

Newington Norman arch

Newington Norman arch – a fine example


St Peter & St Paul, Saltwood CT21 4QA is close to Saltwood Castle. A light and airy church with much evidence of its Norman origin and 13th century additions and alterations. There are a number of brasses including one of an angel rising through the clouds with an inscription which reads ‘Here lieth the bowell of Dame Anne Muston’.

A history of the church is at :-


St Peter & St Paul, Saltwood

Saltwood - box pews and our speaker

Saltwood – box pews and our speaker

Saltwood - devil in the string course - left side

Saltwood – devil in the string course – left side

Saltwood - angel in the string course - right side

Saltwood – angel in the string course – right side

Edward III

Saltwood – Edward III – nose defaced

Saltwood - Queen winking

Saltwood – Queen winking


St Leonard, Hythe CT21 5DP is a large church with an impressive 13th century chancel, which has been raised up to allow processions to pass under it. This vaulted passage is now an ossuary with a large number of bones – one of only two churches in England with one.

Hythe 2

Hythe – our guide pointing out the back to back Norman & Saxon arches

Hythe 3

this is the Saxon arch

Hythe 4

and this the Norman arch

Hythe 5

From the chancel, across the nave to the organ



Ossuary 1

The Ossuary is housed in the precessional path area under the chancel

Ossuary 2

The Ossuary – from south to north under the chancel

Ossuary 3

Jaw bones in the Ossuary. We were told that dentists are very interested in these teeth – eroded rather than decayed.

Many thanks to Richard Latham for organising this afternoon’s visits and for delivering most of the talk at Newington.

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This year’s Briggs event was on Saturday 9th July at St John the Baptist, Tunstall. A flint church with a 14th century west door, it has a good set of brasses and monuments and a beautiful 1967 hanging rood.

Over £1,000 was raised which will go towards repairing the roof of St John the Baptist, Tunstall church. Sponsored by the Friends in memory of John Briggs, a generous supporter of the Friends, the evening at the church included a talk by local historian Helen Allinson on the monuments in the church and a musical interlude. Many thanks to all those attending and to the congregation who provided delicious refreshments.

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Thursday 26th May 2016   a visit to West Kent

St Mary, Woodlands. TN15 6AA St Mary is half way between Kemsing and West Kingsdown in Tinker Pot Lane and near to Woodlands Golf Club in Knatts Valley Road. A small rural church built in 1850 when Woodlands became a separate parish, which is charming in its isolation despite being in the busy South East.  There was lots to see at the church and also in the village where the local 7th century saint, St Edith, has a well said to have healing properties.


This photograph of Woodlands is courtesy of Dr Nick Hudd.











St Mary the Virgin, Kemsing. TN15 6LU 

In the autumn of 2010, the Friends of St Mary’s Kemsing commissioned Léonie Seliger of Canterbury Glass Studios to remove the oldest piece of stained glass in the building, to restore it with the greatest care, and then to reinstate it.

The glass itself was suffering from some surface accretions that threatened to damage this delicate piece over the coming years. The way the glass was mounted further obscured it, so that the clarify of its colours could not been enjoyed to the full. It is estimated that this particular piece of stained glass dates to the 13th century, when techniques of glass staining were at their earliest developement. There are few pieces of glass this old in the country.

Photograph and text from:-

St George, Wrotham TN15 7AD, like St Mary, is at the foot of the Downs and close to the Pilgrims’ Way. It has the remains of an Archbishop’s palace nearby. A generous 13th century interior houses an interesting range of brasses and monuments and the passageway though the base of the tower is unique to Kent.


In a niche over the entrance to the porch is a statuette of St George by Willi Soukop RA. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy before being placed in its present position and replaces a statuette that was stolen in 1971. Photograph courtesy of Wrotham Parish Council.




This photograph of Wrotham is courtesy of Dr Nick Hudd which shows the two little windows high on the chancel arch, in a small gallery that runs across and looks down into the nave (several members went up there and reported “very interesting”. Should anyone wish to see a more detailed version, please EMail





Our thanks to Sarah Bracher for organising this afternoon’s visits.

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The AGM and lecture – 14 May 2016 – are reported on a separate website page – AGM 2016 Report.

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Catholic Churches – a more recent heritage –  a lecture by Sophie Andraea was on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at Lenham.

Sophie talked about the surge of church building in the 19th century by the Catholic church after emancipation which has carried on up to the present day. Pugin’s work and Westminster Cathedral are very well known but there are many more including the more recent Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.  Lots of different churches fulfilling different needs and an opportunity for architects to try new ideas!

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In 2015 we had two Lectures and three afternoons of church visits. Plus the John Briggs annual Talk – this year with a Concert. Also, a private viewing and talk on the Stained Glass Exhibition at Canterbury Cathedral.

Knights’ Effigies in Kent 1250 – 1509 – a Lecture by Stephen Burke, Master of Eliot College, University of Kent was given on Thursday 5th November 2015, Lenham Community Centre.

A selection of replicas

Lecturer with a selection of replicas


Who is hiding

Who is hiding here?

Stephen referred to Kent having a small, but significant collection of knights’ effigies, ranging from fragments found in a rockery, to the sumptuous tombs of princes.

We all know of the Black Prince’s tomb, one of the finest warrior’s tombs of the middle ages, which still retains original military equipment of the Fourteenth Century. But others such as that of Sir Thomas de Baa in Ickham, while simpler and not so costly, still give us detailed insights into the equipment of the medieval knight.

Self defence lessons

Self defence lessons?




This fascinating talk examined what survives of the Kent effigies, the men they commemorate, and their military equipment depicted in stone and metal.

The talk was illustrated with slides of the effigies, and with replica arms and armour which the audience was able to handle.


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Thursday 10th September 2015

A visit to three country churches, south of Faversham with many thanks to Paul Smallwood for organising this afternoon.

St Laurence, Leaveland ME13 0NP is a country church with rural views consecrated in 1222. Tiny with plain white walls, it has massive beams. Of particular interest is the monument to Mrs Rooper but its most important aspect is its quiet rusticity. To complete scene, nearby is a timbered farm house dating back to the 15th century.

St Leonard, Badlesmere

St Leonard, Badlesmere – box pews

St Leonard, Badlesmere ME13 0NL is a church of great charm that was reordered in the 18th century but left untouched by the Victorians. There are box pews with tiers at the west end, hat pegs, triple decker pulpit and a large reredos with the Ten Commandments and Gospel tracts all from the 18th century and the royal coat of arms of George 1 is dated 1717.

St Michael and All Angels, Throwley ME13 0PJ is on the top of Downs in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has some magnificent memorials to the Sondes family, especially two of knights in armour with their wives, kneeling and facing each other. One also has weeping children down the sides including babies in their cots.

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Thursday 9th July 2015 – Church Visits…and an Abbey

Many thanks to Richard Latham for organising this afternoon’s visit to two churches and the remains of an Abbey.

St Anthony, Alkham

St Anthony, Alkham

St Anthony the Martyr, Alkham CT15 7DF is in an attractive village in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A flint church, its simple interior with much clear glass is very attractive. The north chapel is unaltered 13th century with rich mouldings and the nave and chancel are the same width with no evidence of a chancel arch.

St Radigunds Abbey

St Radigunds Abbey


St Radigunds’s Abbey CT15 7 DL – we are grateful to the farm and abbey site owner Mr Albert Moynan who gave us the opportunity to visit this privately owned site. It has the most extensive monastic remains, apart from the two cathedrals, in the county. Founded in 1193, it was dissolved in 1590 and the refectory was converted into a residence. The most impressive remains are the tower which stood on the north side of the church and was subsequently converted into a gatehouse. The outline of other monastic buildings can be seen and there is also a medieval barn.

St Laurence, Hougham

St Laurence, Hougham

St Laurence, Hougham CT15 7AH was built in the 12th century and sympathetically restored in the 19th century when the medieval windows in the north aisle were replicated at the east end. There is a beautiful monument to the Hannington family. Husband and wife kneel facing each other and lined up behind them are their children described as ‘These happie olives budded fruitfullie into 5 sonnes, 4 daughters 2 as soon blasted as blowne’. Another good monument is to Peter Nepueu one of many protestants driven from France by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1598.

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27 May 2015 – Church Visits

Many thanks to Sarah Bracher for organising this afternoon’s visits.

A fuller text with pictures will be added.
St Margaret of Antioch, Barming ME16 9HA looks very rural isolated in the middle of a field, despite being close to Maidstone.

Barming 5 Barming 1

The current church’s origins are 12th century with various subsequent amendments. There is a striking reredos by Comper depicting the arrival of the Magi but the real treasures of the church are the choir stalls.









Thought to be early 14th century Flemish, the bench ends are large independent figures of Samson and the Lion, St Michael slaying the dragon, Christ in Limbo and the Bull of St Luke.
Barming 3Barming 4 Barming 2






St Mary, East Farleigh ME15 0JL overlooks the river Medway and like Barming has a medieval bridge. The church is Saxon and Norman in origin with additions up to 15th century and then restored in the 19th century.

East Farleigh 1

East Farleigh 3 East Farleigh 2

In the early 20th century two reredoses by Powell’s were installed and a window depicting Christ appearing to World War I soldiers. Nearby is a WWI propeller as a memorial to Captain Walker RFC 1917.

St Nicholas, Linton ME17 4AW is notable for its wide range of monuments both in age and design including a 17th century one to the grandparents of Sir John Mayne damaged by the parliamentarians, it has recently been restored.  A slightly later one to Sir Anthony Mayne shows him with his two wives on either side and there are two 19th century monuments depicting Charles Mann and Laura, Countess Cornwallis who lie on couches as though in bed.

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The Spring Lecture on 5 March 2015 by Mary Berg on “Norman Churches in the Canterbury Diocese”. Mary, a former economist who lives in Canterbury, has made a special study of Norman churches in East Kent and those in Normandy. It was a time of transformation and about 100 churches of the Norman period survive in the Canterbury diocese. With numerous pictures of churches of the period we were given an insight into the timing of their construction, materials used and the life of people (church and lay) at the time.

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JOHN BRIGGS TALK & MEMORIAL CONCERT 2015 was on Thursday 18th June at St Mary, Nackington

The evening started with a talk on the church and the restoration project followed by a concert of music for a summer evening given by Lees Court Music finishing with drinks and canapés. St Mary is a beautiful rural medieval church with impressive beams and a wonderful setting for Lees Court Music and it will be an excellent evening.

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This was a rare opportunity to see the Cathedral’s glass close up and it is only possible now because it needed to be temporarily removed so that repairs could be carried out to the stonework. The glass is quite exceptional, dating from the late 12th and early 13th century and some may be the oldest painted windows in Britain, pre-dating the fire of 1174. We will be seeing 21 portraits of the Ancestors of Jesus Christ as named in the Gospels.

We met at the Chapter House for drinks and canapés and a view of the exhibition.

Two talks on the glass were given by Leonie Seliger, Director of the Stained Glass Studio at the Cathedral who also answered many questions as we walked about the panels.

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In 2014 we had 3 afternoons of church visits and 2 lectures plus a guided tour of the Sikh Gurdwara in Gravesend. Summaries with pictures are on the links below:-

Spring Lecture on 5 March given by Sir Paul Britton

Halling, Luddesdowne & Meopham church visits on 5 June

Hinxhill, Willesborough & Sevington church visits on 17 July

Lower Hardres, Upper Hardres & Stelling Minnis on 11 September

John Briggs Memorial Lecture on 27 September given by Molly Poulter

Winter Lecture on 5 November given by Bishop Richard Llewellin

Sikh Gurdwara on 6 November

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