The AGM for the 2017 year was on 12th May 2018 at St Gregory & St Martin Wye.
However, we first of all visited St Mary, Brook TN25 5PF located on The Street, Brook next to the Brook Agricultural Museum, a long barn running parallel to the road. Several Friends also looked round the museum.
Taking a very close look at the tiles beyond the altar we could see (when pointed out!) the faces on the floor which are in Chris Rigby’s photograph below.
We enjoyed a talk on the church and its wall paintings then up a narrow stair to the Priest’s Room (photograph below).
St Mary’s Church has a comprehensive series of 13th century wall paintings. The main scheme of paintings on the south and east wall of the chancel show the Holy Infancy and the Passion of Christ together with scenes from Christ’s life and ministry; and one of the church’s Consecration Crosses can be seen on the east wall painting.
The chancel contains a medieval stone altar which was reinstated in 1986 having been recovered from the churchyard, and a 13th century sedilia and piscina.
The eastern end of the chancel floor is paved with medieval floor tiles dating back to circa 1300 which were produced in kilns located on Tyler Hill, Canterbury. These floor tiles are claimed to be some of the finest in the country from this period.
The Priest’s Room is located on the middle floor of the tower and is easily accessed by a wide newel staircase with barrel vaulted ceiling and smooth walls, and is particularly impressive for a small church.
The 12th century wall painting of Christ bestowing his Blessing may have formed a reredos to an earlier alter, and the nave below can be viewed through the small windows on each side of the wall painting. This arrangement of the Priest’s Room/Chapel suggests a continental style known as a’ Westwerk’.
For the AGM we then moved on to St Gregory & St Martin, Wye TN25 5BP.
Following an introduction the President, The Right Reverend Michael Turnbull, asked us to quietly think about Charles Banks who passed away in the year. Charles had been chairman of the Grants Committee for for nearly twenty years.
Mary Gibbins took us through the Agenda with voting, as needed, recorded. A very interesting talk on the history of the church preceded afternoon tea organised by Margaret Williams.
St Mary is a complete early Norman church which still conserves 12th and 13th century wall paintings and, uniquely in Kent, a complete floor of medieval tiling in the vestry. St Gregory & St Martin has recently been successfully re-ordered combining a medieval nave with an 18th century chancel with Georgian furnishings.
The pipe organ located in the north aisle adjacent the Lady Chapel was installed during 1972 to augment a smaller chamber organ situated at the east end of the south aisle. Adjacent the pipe organ can be seen the pulpit of 1878, and above is one of the hatchments of the Sawbridge family, three of the nave roof beam carvings which were restored and painted after the Second World War, and one of the Perpendicular clerestory windows added during the restoration by Cardinal John Kempe between 1432 and 1447.
The small chancel was built circa 1706 to replace a much larger chancel which was destroyed by the collapse of the tower of the original cruciform church. It is pure Queen Anne period representing a simpler version of what Christopher Wren was producing in London having a three window apse and blue, white, and mauve panelling. The Lent alter cloth is one of four main alter frontals produced by the embroiders’ group representing ‘The Crown of Thorns’, and on the reverse the Advent alter cloth representing ‘The Light of Faith Shining Through the Darkness’.
The Mother and Child Bronze by Neil Godfrey was presented to the church by Alan Ridout in 1991 and attached to the nave pillar adjacent the Lady Chapel.
Alan Ridout (9 December 1934-19 March 1996) was a British composer and teacher who lived for much of his live at Canterbury and taught at The King’s School Canterbury. His works include church, orchestral and chamber music, much of it for children. Church music flourished under the influence of Revd David Marriott who was vicar of Wye for twenty seven years until 1994 and he produced several musical plays in the church with schoolchildren including Alan Ridout’s ‘Creation’.