Church of St Mary, Chiddingstone
Description: Church of St Mary
Date Listed: 10 September 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 357033
OS Grid Reference: TQ5008645193
OS Grid Coordinates: 550086, 145193
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1863, 0.1462
Location: Chiddingstone, Kent TN8 7AH
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771/7/191 HIGH STREET
CHURCH OF ST MARY
Church, built of local sandstone rubble with tiled roofs. Early C14 nave, chancel, aisles with chapels and C15 west tower, the nave and chancel roof, south porch and wall of the south aisle rebuilt after a fire of 1624. There are minor alterations of 1866 and 1898.
PLAN: Four bay nave and two bay chancel with north and south aisles, each having an east chapel, south porch and west tower.
EXTERIOR: The west tower is of three stages with octagonal stair turret to the south east and diagonal buttresses to the other sides. It is capped by four octagonal crocketed pinnacles. There is a crenellated parapet and a fine collection of stone gargoyles. The upper or bell stage has arched windows with dripmoulds and double trefoil-headed windows and wooden louvres. The middle stage has narrow lights with hood moulding and the lower stage has a large traceried window to the west. The south aisle has three triple cinquefoil-headed arched windows divided by buttresses and the south porch is of 1626, gabled with a semi-circular arch with keystone and capitals at the jambs in the Classical or Renaissance style under a Perpendicular style square moulded dripmould. The diamond-shaped sundial above is dated 1627. The east end south aisle chapel has a three-light window with reticulated tracery, the chancel has a triple window with cusped trefoil heads and the north aisle chapel has a five-light window with cinquefoil heads. The windows to the north wall, whether chapel or aisle, are three-light windows with cinquefoil-headed lights.
INTERIOR: Arcade of pointed arches supported on C14 octagonal columns with scroll mouldings to the abaci of the capitals and roll mouldings to the bases. The nave and chancel have a six bay kingpost roof of the 1620s. The east wall of the tower retains a door and panels of the original mediaeval screen. The font, situated at the west end of the south aisle, was made in 1628 by the master mason William Holis and is an octagonal sandstone font with an oak cover with eight ogeed and crocketed brackets engaging with a central shaft with ball finial. There is an octagonal early C17 oak pulpit with arched panels. The wooden altar rails with turned balustrading partially date from the 1624-9 restoration but there are records of balustrading being turned in 1662 and 1720. The centre of the side wall of the north chapel retains the only piece of old glass. The chancel east window is of 1898 by C E Kempe. The reredos is of 1866 by G E Street with an alabaster Crucifixion relief carved by Earp. The chancel stalls are by Macartney of 1898. The altar tomb of freestone with a top of black Belgian marble is of circa 1650, commemorating Frances, daughter of John Reeve of London and her two husbands, Thomas Streatfeild of Shoreham and John Seyliard of Brasted. The nave has two brasses, one to Richard Streatfeild of Cransted (d. 1584) and the other to William Birsty (d. 1637) with a coat of arms. The third is in the floor of the chancel and commemorates Margaret Waters (d. 1638). There are iron grave slabs in the floor of the south aisle and nave including one to Richard Streatfeild an ironmaster (d. 1601). The north chapel has a Royal Coat of Arms. Wall tablets include John Woodgate, a marble tablet of several colours, erected 1770, and the Streatfeild children of 1833, a tablet encircled by a palm wreath with three cherub heads. There is a fine collection of hatchments in the south aisle, dating between 1627 and 1852. The brass chandelier was donated by Edward Tenison in 1726.
HISTORY: There is written evidence of a Saxon foundation at Chiddlingstone in the "Domesday of the Monks"(1086) where it is recorded that in 1072 Bishop Odo was made to give up the church to the archbishop and in "Textus Roffensis" (1115) it is recorded that the church was paying nine pence chrism fee to Rochester. However the earliest identifiable masonry in the current building are the remains of C13 Early English triple lancet windows to the east wall of the chancel, indicating that at that time the plan may have comprised a nave and chancel without aisles. The current plan is early C14 when the side walls of the earlier building were replaced with arcades and aisles north and south. The chancel window is also of this period and probably the chancel arch was removed and the side walls of the chancel replaced by arcading to provide side chapels. The Perpendicular style west tower was added in the C15 and the windows in the side wall of the north aisle are also C15. The Bore Place Chapel to the east of the north aisle is mentioned in John Alfeigh's will of 1488. In 1526, Sir Robert Read of Bore Place enlarged the chapel and founded a chantry which was suppressed in 1547. In 1624 the church was struck by lightning causing an extensive fire after which the south porch, the south wall of the south aisle, the nave and chancel roof and possibly the nave arches above the columns were rebuilt. The north aisle outside wall appears to have survived. There are records of 1627 for the local blacksmith being paid to both repair and supply new iron bars for the windows. The pre-1624 taller pitch of the nave roof is exposed on the west side of the tower. The church was re-consecrated in 1629. There were two minor Victorian restorations in 1866 and 1898, but G E Street's 1866 plans for new seating and an elaborate screen dividing the chancel from the nave were not executed.
STATEMENT OF IMPORTANCE: A sandstone church with early C14 nave, chancel, aisles with chapels and a good quality C15 west tower. The church was severely damaged by fire in 1624 and has an interesting rebuilt roof of kingpost type and south porch a mixture of Classical and Perpendicular styles. Furnishings include a C17 font and pulpit and a good series of C17 and later monuments and hatchments, mainly to the Streatfeild family.
Pevsner and Newman "Buildings of England. West Kent and the Weald". Revised 1980. ps 213-4.
"A Guide to St. Mary's Chiddingstone". Revised February 2002.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.