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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler & Arthur Percival, 1 June 2009

Ashford Part 1: Churches of Brook, Brabourne, and the Saxon Shore

Parish Church of St Mary, Brook, Kent

St Mary's Church Brook, is in the tiny parish of Brook, one of eight Kentish parishes to make up the Ashford ward called the Saxon Shore, the other seven being Aldington, Bilsington, Bonnington, Brabourne, Hastingleigh, Ruckinge and Smeeth. The Saxon Shore Way is the Roman-inspired connection between Gravesend and Rye and onwards. It used to connect the Roman forts which existed along the coast. Brook gained its parish church in the eleventh century.

Parish Church of St Mary, Brook, Kent

The Early Norman church lies approximately five kilometres (three miles) north-east of Ashford, on The Street in Brook, a village with a population today of a little over three hundred. It was consecrated in about 1075 and contains space for about 160 parishioners. The tower contains three bells, and when it was struck by lightening in 1896, part of the north-west corner was destroyed. The damage was restored in 1899.

Parish Church of St Mary, Brabourne, Kent

St Mary's Church Brabourne is in a secluded village which lies at the foot of the North Downs. It dates mostly from the late 1100s. Among features of special note are the unusually lofty nave and chancel; the monument (built around 1600) to members of the local Scott family that is also the high altar (see below); and one window with original late twelfth century stained glass. The massive west tower was left unfinished so it rises only a little higher than the nave roof.

Parish Church of St Mary, Brabourne, Kent

The name Brabourne derives from the Saxon 'Bradde Burne', or broad stream. The hamlet was mentioned in AD 846 as 'Bredeburna'. The Norman church was built around 1140 on the site of an earlier Saxon church. It began with four bells, and four more were fitted later. During the Napoleonic Wars the fields between Brabourne and Smeeth were used by the military, who erected barracks, a hospital, prisons, and a mortuary. The area is still known as Hospital Fields.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by Arthur Percival.



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