Woodchurch, All Saints
Woodchurch is a complete 13th century building with an especially pure and serene chancel, outstanding in a county with quite a few other chancels of that date. The church has a very good setting, its large churchyard adjacent to the impressive village green and with the tall smock windmill on the hill above.
Nave, chancel and tower with tall, shingled spire are all 13th century. The nave aisles may be of the same time but, if so, they were largely re-windowed in the late medieval period. The tower has the most prodigious buttresses of any in Kent, added later when it must have shown signs of movement. Whoever built them was certainly playing safe! The chancel chapels and porch were added (or rebuilt) in the Perpendicular period.
Within, the nave arcades have alternately circular and octagonal piers of freestone – presumably limestone of some kind – which have been waxed to give an appearance rather like the locally-quarried Bethersden marble. They carry arches with one massive chamfer. The tower and chancel arches are of the same design. The effect is powerful but beautiful.
Woodchurch: the exterior from the north-east
Woodchurch: tower with immense buttresses
The sublime chancel has long lancet windows throughout, those in the sanctuary with richly moulded rere-arches on triple shafts. As John Newman pointed out, some of these shafts seem to be of local marble but others are of freestone, waxed to produce a similar appearance. There are handsome contemporary piscina and sedilia.
Woodchurch: the interior looking east
Woodchurch: the chancel interior
There is a square Norman font, a pulpit incorporating 16th century woodwork, and some stalls, two with misericords. The Royal Arms are dated 1773 and are signed by a local painter, Joseph Gibson; they are very similar to those in many Romney Marsh churches. The church is predominantly clear-glazed, which in this case is an advantage but there is excellent Kempe glass in the east lancets, a 13th century roundel in the south aisle and some Flemish glass in the north chapel. There are some good brasses, of which that to a 14th century priest, Nichol de Gore, is much the best.
Appledore, St Peter and St Paul
St Peter and St Paul is beautifully placed at the end of Appledore’s long village street, perched above the Royal Military Canal. But what an odd church this is! Much of its oddness is the result of reconstruction after it was burnt out in a raid by the French in 1380 – we tend to forget that the Hundred Years War was not fought just on French soil but in Kent as well. However, damage by the French does not seem to explain the eccentric west tower with its random and entirely asymmetrical assortment of bell-openings in the top stage, reminding us that symmetry was not a high priority for the medieval designer. The only other external feature worth noting is a large late Perpendicular window inserted in the south aisle which has an arch with the slightest ogee at its apex, an unusual and attractive effect. Was this the window paid for by Thomas Knolle and mentioned in his will of 1511?
Appledore: the nave looking east