Church of St Mary the Virgin, Speldhurst
Description: Church of St Mary the Virgin
Date Listed: 20 October 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 439537
OS Grid Reference: TQ5535341438
OS Grid Coordinates: 555353, 141438
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1511, 0.2199
Location: Speldhurst Hill, Speldhurst, Kent TN3 0NL
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TQ 55 41 SPELDHURST SPELDHURST HILL (north side),
12/545 Church of St Mary the Virgin
Parish church. The base of the tower is C14. The old church was struck by
lightning in 1791 and destroyed. Present church rebuilt 1870-71 by John
Oldrid Scott. North chapel is dated 1897, spire added [in 1923. Coursed
blocks of sandstone ashlar. Peg-tile roof and stone slate roofs to porches.
Plan: Apart from the base of the tower the church is wholly C19. Nave with
lower chancel, north aisle with chapel and vestry, west tower, north and south
porches. Early English style.
Exterior: 3-stage tower with angle buttresses up to the top stage. Moulded
eaves cornice with nailhead ornament under low parapet. Low pyramid spire
surmounted by old wrought iron weather vane. Belfry has large 2-light windows
with Early English tracery and louvred over stone grilles. Stair turret
projects from north side with external doorway; it is square with diagonal
buttresses up to the top stage and octagonal above rising above the parapet.
West doorway is a 2-centred arch with moulded surround and hoodmoud. It
contains a plank door with ornamental strap hinges (like the other doors
around the church). Above is an Early English style double lancet window.
The south side of the nave and the north side of the aisle are both 4 bays
separated by buttresses and containing Early English style 2-light windows
with hoodmoulds and carved foliate label stops. Chancel in similar style but
more elaborate. The buttresses are gabled with chamfered corners. The
hoodmoulds of the double lancets on the south side include nailhead ornament.
The east window is 3 lights with early Decorated tracery and moulded reveals.
South porch has a tall and steeply pitched gabled roof, angle buttresses, a 2-
centred outer arch with moulded surround including shafts and hoodmould.
South doorway is a 2-centred arch with shafts and capitals carved with
stiffleaf decoration and chevrons around the arch. Good hinges to the door in
Gothic style. North porch is somewhat plainer. The vestry includes a
buttress made up of fragments of medieval tracery and other pieces from the
Interior: Very complete and high quality late C19 interior. Nave has an open
4-bay roof of arch-braced trusses rising from stone shafts on carved foliate
corbels. Chancel has similar 2-bay roof except here the common rafter trusses
are arch braced. The north aisle has a more vernacular-looking 4-bay roof of
arch-braced trusses with windbraces. Tower has a stone vault to the ringing
floor. Rere arch of west window has elaborate inner window, 2 lights on a
clustered shaft with stiffleaf capital and quatrefoil above enriched with
nailhead ornament. Tall tower arch with half-engaged shafts and moulded
capitals and bases, and double chamfered arch ring. Chancel arch is more
ornate with 4-leaf decoration to the hoodmould. 4-bay arcade to the aisle.
Piers have half engaged shafts with moulded caps and bases. Moulded arches
and hoodmoulds. In the chancel the windows have Purbeck marble shafts with
stiffleaf capitals and nailhead ornament. Walls throughout of exposed stone
ashlar. Tile floor and some encaustic tiles in the chancel.
Fittings and Furniture: Very ornate carved stone reredos in Gothic style
featuring the evangelists in niches each side of central carving of the Virgin
Mary below the Angel Gabriel. Altar is flanked by tall brass candle holders
on twisted stems. C19 altar table with inlaid marquetry sacred emblems.
Ornate altar rail has double standards enriched with 4-leaf ornament and
providing niches for carved angels on pedestals. Sanctuary is lined with
panelled wainscotting. Low panelled chancel screen with open tracery with
sacred symbols and armorial bearings. Oak eagle lectern. Octagonal pulpit
richly carved including a representation of the Virgin Mary with infant Jesus.
Oak benches. Font has octagonal bowl carved with a Gothic arcade and on
clustered shafts. Elaborate carved timber font cover is dated 1926 and is
complete with pulley.
Memorials: Old memorials have been set in the tower. All are late C18 and
from the first half of the C19 and of marble. 2 good monuments on north wall
to John Yorke (died 1798) and Martin Yorke (died 1805) are carved with
military trophies and have urns on pedestals. Both were made by John Bacon
Junior. Best on south side in memory of William Reymond (died 1836) and
features a plaque on a sarcophagus from which the deceased is being carried up
to heaven by 3 angels. This is signed by Thomas Denham.
Glass: The glory of the church is the complete set of stained glass by Morris
and Co. and Clayton and Bell. 10 are Burne-Jones designs. They are described
in some detail in the church guide and by Newman (see sources).
Sources Church Guide
J. Newman. West Kent and the Weald (1969) Penguin Buildings of England series,
Listing NGR: TQ5535341438
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.