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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 18 December 2011

Canterbury Part 31: Churches of Beltinge, Hillborough & Reculver

Beltinge Methodist Church, Beltinge, Herne Bay, Kent

Beltinge Methodist Church lies behind a house on the northern side of Glenbervie Drive, about seventy metres 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, Herne Bay, Kent

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.

St Mary the Virgin, Reculver, Herne Bay, Kent

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, Herne Bay, Kent

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 Saxons.

St Mary's (Old) Church, Reculver, Herne Bay, Kent

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.

St Mary's (Old) Church, Reculver, Herne Bay, Kent

In the 1100s 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 more recently to try and save them from the sea.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. The tour now progresses into Thanet.



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