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Church of All Saints, Birchington

Description: Church of All Saints

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 10 April 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 356680

OS Grid Reference: TR3019169034
OS Grid Coordinates: 630191, 169034
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3737, 1.3061

Location: 227 Canterbury Road (Birchington), Birchington, Kent CT7 9AF

Locality: Birchington
Local Authority: Thanet District Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: CT7 9AF

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Listing Text

878/9/85 THE SQUARE
(North side)


A reset fragment of early C12 window head is the earliest surviving masonry. Chancel, chancel chapels and SE tower c.1200, but they must have been built against an existing aisled church. N and S nave arcades rebuilt mid C14. Church extensively restored in 1863-5 by C N Beazley, who removed many Perpendicular windows. SE vestry 1911.

Flint and pebbles with stone dressings. Tiled roofs.

Nave with N and S aisles and S porch, chancel with N and S chapels and SE vestry.

The nave and aisles roofed together, and the church is almost wholly C19 externally. Unusually, the tower stands over the S chancel chapel, and from the E the massing of the tower, chancel, chapel and vestry gables is very picturesque. The E windows of the chancel and chapels are all C19 replacements in a C13 style; the earlier windows were Perpendicular. The early C20 NE vestry is in a Decorated style. The slender SE tower stands over the S chapel and has a tall, shingled broach spire. Of three stages, it has narrow late C12 lancets in the middle stage and somewhat larger pointed openings in the bell stage. The N aisle has C19 Early English-style windows of two pointed lights with prominent stone dressings. The blocked N door is C13 and has a pointed head and continuous mouldings. The S aisle also has C19 Early English-style paired lights, replacing late medieval windows. Part of an early C12 window is reused in the S aisle walling. The S porch was also restored in the C19, but the S door, although heavily restored, is C12 and has one scalloped and one leaf capital, possibly reset. The C19 W door is in an Early English style with a pointed head and short, detached shafts on the jambs. The Early English-style nave W window is also C13, replacing a Perpendicular window; there are no windows in the W ends of the aisles, although an early watercolour shows them to have previously had small, probably C15 lights with square heads.

The interior is much less heavily restored than the outside. The chancel arch is C14 and has polygonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The N and S chancel arcades are both early C13, perhaps c.1200, and are of two bays, with slightly chamfered arches on square piers. The southern pier is larger to support the tower. Similar early C13 arches open from the tower into the S aisle and from the NE chapel into the N aisle. Mid C14 N and S nave arcades of five bays with chamfered arches on polygonal piers with moulded capitals and bases. The westernmost pier on the S and the SW respond are much larger, with quatrefoil piers in a matching design, and were seemingly meant to support a new SW tower that was never built. The springers for the tower vault survive on the aisle side, and what is probably the remains of the intended tower arch survives on the nave side. Heavy nave roof of 1863 with scissor trusses. Other roofs also C19. The NE (Quex) chapel is enclosed with C19 or early C20 timber screens.

Plain, polygonal C13 font supported on four slender shafts around a large, moulded central shaft. Small, probably C13 piscina in the chancel. Some traceried panels from the C15 rood screen reused in the present low chancel screen. Pulpit, of a C17 wine glass shape with Perpendicular style blind tracery on the body and trefoil-headed arcading on the stem. Reredos of 1883 in an Italianate style, designed by Beazley and painted by Westlake. C19 glass, the most notable of which is the S aisle window to Dante Gabriel Rosetti, with one panel designed by Frederick Shield, the other a copy of one of Rosetti's paintings (Rosetti is buried in the churchyard).

Good monuments, notably in the Quex (NE) chapel, including Sir Henry Crispe, d.1575, and Katherine, his first wife, d. 1545. Recumbent figures on a tomb chest. Marie Crispe, d.1618, a large hanging wall monument in alabaster with kneeling figures, including her husband and children. Members of the Crispe family, another wall monument with portrait busts of 1651, attributed to Joshua Marshall. Anna Crisp, d.1708 by William Palmer, and Ann Powle, d.1744, three inscribed inscription plans in a large, architectural frame.

There was probably a church at Birchington in the Anglo-Saxon period, and until the C19 it was a chapel of nearby Monkton church. The construction history of the church is not entirely clear, but the evidence suggests that it was already its present size by c.1200. The fragment of early C12 window reset in the S aisle suggests that there was a stone-built church on the site by that date. The chancel and tower are early C13, perhaps as early as c.1200, but there must already have been a nave with N and S aisles by that date, as there are contemporary arches from the tower and NE chapel to the aisles. The narrow width of the S aisle is also indicative of an early construction date. The slightly wider N aisle is of uncertain date, but may be contemporary with the chancel. When the arcades were rebuilt in the C14, the intention seems to have been to widen one or both aisles and build a new SW tower, but this was never carried out. As a contract for work on the S aisle and new tower after the design of that at St Nicholas, Wade is dated 1343, it is likely that the work was curtailed by the Black Death and the project never resumed.

The C15 Perpendicular windows, lost in the C19, indicate that the church was extensively remodelled at that date, and the fragments of the rood screen indicate C15 refurnishing. A drawing of c.1860 shows a probably C15 crown post roof in the chancel. There was some refurnishing in the C17, and in the post-Reformation period the NE chapel served as a mortuary chapel for members of the Crispe family, owners of nearby Quex House. By the late C18, there was a dormer in the S nave roof, and the church had box pews and galleries. Unfortunately, Beazley's restoration of 1863-5 was very destructive, and much late medieval fabric, including all of the Perpendicular windows, was removed in an attempt to make the church coherently C13 in style. Such harsh restoration became less common in the later C19. The SE vestry was added in 1911 to designs by G H Pettman.

Lambeth Palace library, ICBS 06063,10698
Buildings of England: North-East and East Kent (1976), 142-3
Burgess, J M. All Saints Church, Birchington: Church Guide (2004)

Church of All Saints , Birchington, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* An interesting parish church, probably C12 in origin with chancel, chancel chapels and SE tower of C.1200 and nave N and S arcades rebuilt in the mid-C14;
* Rare C13 font and interesting C17 pulpit;
* Good collection of monuments of C16-C18;
* Association with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who is buried in the churchyard.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.