History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.



Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 15 December 2012

Canterbury Part 11: Churches of Broad Oak, Sturry & Fordwich

Broad Oak Chapel, Broad Oak, Kent

Broad Oak Chapel is in the village of the same name around 2.2 kilometres (a mile and-a-half) north-west of Westbere and houses this evangelical free church. The chapel was opened in 1867, and was licensed for marriage ceremonies in the 1940s as part of the Countess of Huntingdon Connexion. The chapel is not part of the Local Ecumenical Partnership, but there are close links between the different Christian churches in Sturry, Fordwich, Westbere, and Broad Oak.

St Nicholas Church, Sturry, Kent

St Nicholas Church is just off the main road through Sturry, a mile or so to the immediate east of Canterbury. The church belonged to the monks of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury between 1027-1538, although a church building was not erected until the twelfth century. It was built in the standard Norman pattern of nave (the centre part of the church), chancel (the eastern part of the church with the altar) and the west tower with its battlemented parapet.

St Nicholas Church, Sturry, Kent

In the thirteenth century a spire much like the one on St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich (see below) was added, but this was either taken down or blew down in a gale in 1812 and was never re-erected. The Norman nave had north and south doors and high-level windows, three on each side, of which traces remain. Around 1200, the side aisles were added, and holes were knocked into the nave walls to make arches.

St Nicholas Church, Sturry, Kent

Around 1380, the north aisle was widened and the Memorial Chapel was made or enlarged. In the late fifteenth century the south aisle was widened, and the timber-framed porch was built within fifty years of this. Although it has been re-roofed and given brick sides, much of the original woodwork remains. The Victorians made many changes to the church, the main one being the west door (in the tower), and the window above, added in 1855.

St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent

St Mary the Virgin is in Fordwich, immediately to the south of Sturry. In the Anglo-Saxon period (around 600-1066) the estuary of the River Stour extended inland as far as Canterbury. Fordwich, or Forewic, probably grew up as a series of dwellings on the bank close to the river, and as the river gradually silted up, it became the main landing port for Canterbury. The first church here was Saxon, built to cater for the needs of the growing population.

St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, Kent

A Saxon arch still survives in the church, but most of the current building dates from around 1200. However, the nave and front of the chancel were built in the late eleventh century. The tower was added in the thirteenth century and the chancel was extended at the same time. The timber-framed porch shown here is from the 1300s. The old box pews of the 1700s still survive which used to be rented to a single family, giving the church a regular income known as pew-rent.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.