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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Arthur Percival & Peter Kessler, 11 September 2010. Updated 1 January 2020

Swale Part 12: Churches of Sheldwich, Baddlesmere & Leaveland

St James Church, Sheldwich, Kent

St James Church, Sheldwich, is on the eastern side of the Ashford Road, around 150 metres north of the Lees Court Road junction. The village of Sheldwich was first recorded in the year 784, important as it stands astride the highway between the port of Faversham and the market of Ashford. The church is of flint and stone in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, with some remains of Norman work, and also a tower of the Perpendicular style containing six bells.

St James Church, Sheldwich, Kent

The church began as a chapel to St Mary of Charity in Faversham, becoming a parish church before the reign of Richard II (1377-1399). It consists of one isle and a chancel, with a chapel in the middle of the south side of the isle, and a small chapel on the north side of the chancel. It underwent restoration work in 1888 at a cost of 2,500. A new lych gate was placed in the churchyard in 1892. The west tower with its small leaden spire contains a ring of four bells.

The Church of St Leonard, Baddlesmere, Kent

The Church of St Leonard, Baddlesmere, sits on the southern side of the hook in Dayton Road, approximately 140 metres east of the junction with the Ashford Road. The first church here was built before 1085, and was noted in the Domesday Book. The present building (seen in this photo of 1999, taken from the neighbouring Baddlesmere Court), dates to the thirteenth century and was built in the Early English style. The south chancel chapel was in ruins by about 1650.

The Church of St Leonard, Baddlesmere, Kent

A sketch from about 1800 shows the former bell cote before it was built up to a small tower with louvres, containing a single bell which came from St Mary Reculver in 1830. Restored by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the bell was rehung on 20 July 1987. It has a cement rendering on the outside that is typical of the early nineteenth century and which is preserved today. Inside is a totally unspoilt 'Jane Austen' church, unaltered, with box pews, three-decker pulpit, and more.

The Church of St Laurence, Leaveland, Kent

The Church of St Laurence, Leaveland, (sometimes shown as St Lawrence), stands on the northern side of the main lane, around 230 metres west of the 'Leaveland Corner' bus stop on the Ashford Road. It is located next to Leaveland Court (the manor house), as is so often the case in this part of Kent. It is known to date in its original form from 1222 which is when it was consecrated, although a model of the church contained inside the building states a build date of 1206.

The Church of St Laurence, Leaveland, Kent

It consists of flint walls with red and blue brick on the north nave aisle, and a plain tiled roof. The exterior walls contain several Roman tiles, suggesting a settlement of that period had existed in the area. The east wall of the north chapel had to be rebuilt in the seventeenth century, but possible budget constraints meant that brick instead of flint was used. The church was restored in the eighteenth century, and again in 1882, which is when the vestry was added.

All photos on this page by Arthur Percival.

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