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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 18 December 2011
Canterbury Part 26: Churches of Beltinge, Hillborough & Reculver
Beltinge Methodist Church lies behind a
house on the northern side of Glenbervie Drive, about seventy metres
(yards east of the junction with Reculver Road. There is a wooden blue
gate and a blue name board at the entrance to a path that connects the
church to the street. There are Methodist circuit records relating to
the church that date between 1844-1993, so although there is no information
available to show when it opened, it must have been before 1993.
St Mary the Virgin Reculver, Hillborough,
lies on the southern side of Reculver Lane, immediately east of the
junction with Sweechbridge Road in Hillborough. This places it at the
entrance to the lane that leads to its predecessor church of the same
name (see below). This present site was selected as it was closer to
the hamlet that had drifted southwards, away from the eroding coast.
The first church building of 1810 was poorly made, and lasted only
for about sixty years.
The present church was consecrated in 1878. It is a
simple and relatively plain building with seating for just a hundred or
so. None of the stained glass from the old church survived, so the oldest
windows are the two on the north side, which were installed in 1903. The
east windows were commissioned in 1924 and depict St Augustine (founder
of the first chantry at Reculver) and St Nicholas (patron saint of seafarers)
recalling the history of Reculver Towers as a navigation mark.
St Mary's (Old) Church Reculver lies at the
very eastern end of Reculver Lane, hugging the coast. Two thousand
years ago, the site was about a kilometre and-a-half (one mile) inland.
But coastal erosion has seen the sea creep to within a few metres of the
northern side. In AD 43, the newly-arrived Romans erected one of their
first forts, Regulbium, on the site. At the start of the third century
a much larger stone fort was built here, and this remained in use by the
The Roman fort represented a seat of power and, now
called Raculf, it became a royal residence. In 669, King Ecgberht allowed
the founding of a monastery alongside it by a priest named Bassa. Its
abbot, Bertwald, became archbishop of Canterbury in 693. The church here
grew in stages, covering part of the Roman ruins and using some of its
stone, but Viking attacks of the ninth century may have caused the
monastery to be abandoned. The church survived, however.
In the twelfth century the present church was built,
with its two distinctive towers. It incorporated the earlier Saxon remains.
With the population gradually drifting southwards, the church became isolated.
Eventually it was replaced by a new church inland (see above) and was blown
up in 1809. The bell went to St Leonard Baddlesmere in 1830. The towers were
kept as a navigational aid and sea defences have been added in recent years
to try and save them from the sea.