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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 15
Canterbury Part 11: Churches of Broad Oak, Sturry & Fordwich
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 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.
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. In about 1200, the side aisles were
added, and holes were knocked into the nave walls to make arches.
In 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 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.
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.