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Church of St Thomas a Becket, Capel

Description: Church of St Thomas a Becket

Grade: I
Date Listed: 20 October 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 433895

OS Grid Reference: TQ6373444513
OS Grid Coordinates: 563734, 144513
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1764, 0.3410

Location: Church Lane, Capel, Kent TN12 6SX

Locality: Capel
Local Authority: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: TN12 6SX

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Listing Text


5/222 Church of St Thomas A Becket of
(formerly listed as Church of
20.10.54 Saint Thomas of Canterbury)

Former parish church, now in the care of the Redundant Churches Fund. Norman
origins, C13 chancel arch, tower and nave roof are C14 or early C15, some C16
and C17 alterations (fire in 1639), chancel and much of the south wall
refurbished in the C19. Chancel and north wall are plastered stone but tower
and south wall of nave of large blocks of coursed sandstone ashlar, medieval
section of south wall of smaller less well-dressed blocks; peg-tile roof.

Plan: Small church comprising nave with lower chancel and large but
relatively short west tower. Access through tower. C19 vestry on north side
of chancel.

Exterior: Single stage west tower has moulded plinth, low diagonal
buttresses, crenellated parapet and pyramid roof surmounted by C20 cast iron
weather vane. Belfry has large louvred lancets and tiny slit windows to the
ringing floor. West doorway is a plain round-headed arch containing a C19
plank door with coverstrips. Above a C14 or early C15 window, a double lancet
with cusped ogival arch heads.

Nave has low walls and tall roof. South side has a 4-window front. Left
(west) bay has restored C16 2-light window (arch heads with sunk spandrels)
with hoodmould. Rest rebuilt in C19 with similar Tudor-style 2 and 3-light
windows separated by buttresses. Plastered north side of the nave contains 2
medieval windows, a large trefoil-headed lancet near the left end and a narrow
lancet high in the wall near the centre. Chancel is also plastered. South
wall has a late C18/early C19 priests door containing a very domestic-looking
panelled door with plain hood on shaped timber brackets. East window is a C19
triple lancet in Early English style. Brick vestry windows have shoulder-
headed lights.

Interior: Porch is inside the tower with plain plaster ceiling and plain
(probably C19) timber stair. Doorway to nave has late C18/early C19 panelled
door like that in the priests doorway. Tower and chancel have similar arches;
2-centred arches with semi-octagonal shafts, moulded imposts and double-
chamfered arch ring. Nave has good C14 or early C15 roof; 3 bays with arch-
braced tie-beams, octagonal crown posts with moulded capitals and bases, and
common rafter trusses with soulaces. Similar common rafter roof to the
chancel but it is C19.

The walls are lime-washed. Towards the west end of the north wall there is an
arch-headed niche, either a blocked window or doorway. The north wall also
includes the extensive remains of apparently C13 mural paintings which extend
into the reveals of the windows and niche. The narrative biblical scenes are
described by Newman (see sources). At the east end is a part of a C16 painted
figure and next to it, alongside the chancel arch, painted scrolled
strapwork frame, presumably surrounding a now missing text. C20 tile floor
with older tiles in the chancel.

Chancel has C20 stone altar table. Good oak communion rail is carved with
date 1682 and name of Michael Davis; moulded handrail, turned balusters and
ball finials to the standards. C19 oak drum pulpit and pine benches. Plain,
probably medieval, stone font has an octagonal bowl on a cylindrical shaft.
The only monument is in the chancel, a plain marble plaque in memory of Thomas
Martin (died 1834). The nave contains brass plaques to the dead of both World
Wars. A nowy-headed board over the tower arch is painted with the royal Arms
GR, and it is flanked by contemporary C18 boards with the text of the Lords
Prayer and below the arch is flanked by similar commandment boards. Stained
glass in the East window is dated 1905.

Sources: John Newman. West Kent and the Weald (1969) Penguin Buildings of
England series, p.197.

Listing NGR: TQ6382444536

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.