For our June 2018 church visits some historical background and pictures from Chris Rigby.
St George, Benenden TN17 4EF is a large church that needed rebuilding in the 17th century after a fire and was rebuilt again by David Brandon in 1861-2 at the expense of Lord Cranbrook. The glass is Victorian with much interesting detail.
The chancel east window which depicts scenes from the Passion was erected by Gathorne Hardy, who later became the 1st Earl of Cranbrook, and was erected in memory of his father and mother.
The mosaic reredos depicts the Holy Family with angels adoring and is part of a tiled scheme which covers the entire lower east wall and was a thank-offering for the golden wedding of the 1st Earl and Countess of Cranbrook in 1888.
The north porch was added in 1418AD and a particularly interesting feature is the rib vaulted ceiling with the decorative salamander carved boss covering the central joint. Also of interest is the carved boss above the entrance to the nave and the carved stone corbels at the corners of the rib vaulting. The stone seating on the east and west walls was included for betrothal and marriage settlements and also for the exchange of legal documents and payments requiring a witness.
All Saints, Biddenden TN27 8AJ was mainly built in the 13th century and is distinguished by an extensive collection of mainly 16th century brasses showing that previous husbands or wives were not forgotten in commemorative monuments. There are also three roundels showing the Labours of the Months, survival of 15th century stained glass. It is constructed mainly of local sandstone with some later use of Kentish ragstone and flint.
There is evidence of a church being established at Biddenden at the time of the Norman conquest although no reference has been found in the Domesday Book of 1086.
An east painted window and a west painted window of similar designs were added to the porch of All Saints Church, Biddenden, to celebrate the millennium.
One of the oldest features in All Saints Church, Biddenden is the 13th century Purbeck marble font with a lead lined octagonal bowl which is located by the south entrance.
St Mary, Frittenden TN17 2DD was much rebuilt by R C Hussey in a style which Pevsner describes as very authentic-looking with a tower arch being its best feature.
The angels above the chancel arch were painted in 2010 by Penn Norris, (one of the sons of the Revd. Allan Norris, previous rector of St Mary’s Church, Frittenden), taking advantage of scaffolding in the church for planned redecoration work. The style of the angels’ garments was inspired by a 19th century plaster bas-relief at St Mary’s Church which is attributed to the German sculptor Ernest Ritschel (1804-1861) and the current rector of St Mary’s Church, Frittenden, the Rev. Fred Olney, Rector of Sissinghurst with Frittenden, is applying for permission to display that bas-relief in the church.