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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 1 January 2020

Swale Part 16: Churches of Milstead, Bredgar & Tunstall

Church of St Mary & the Holy Cross, Milstead, Kent

The Church of St Mary & the Holy Cross, Milstead, is on the western side of the Frinstead Road, overlooking the eastbound Manor Road junction. Originally a Norman building of the twelfth century, it was extended in the thirteenth century by lengthening the chancel and with the addition of north and south chapels that run half the length of the chancel. A fifteenth century square tower and nave rebuild completed the construction and plenty of the original stonework survives.

Church of St Mary & the Holy Cross, Milstead, Kent

The flint-and-plaster building declined gradually in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapels became ruinous until two bouts of restoration work in the 1800s. The first was carried out by a local builder while the second was by the renowned architect, William Butterfield, in 1872 who rebuilt the church as it is seen today, including the chapels and the chancel windows. One highly notable feature is what are known as its 'Butterfield dumplings' on the nave windows.

Church of St John the Baptist, Bredgar, Kent

The Church of St John the Baptist, Bredgar, is on the east side of The Street, about fifty metres north of the Bexon Lane junction. A Saxon church may have stood here - some stones at the foot of the tower are believed to be part of it. The majority of the building was erected in the twelfth century. It consists of three isles and a chancel, with a square beacon tower at the west end in which hangs five bells. A fine Saxon doorcase stands on the west side of the tower.

Church of St John the Baptist, Bredgar, Kent

When digging was taking place in 1791 to construct a vault for a Mrs Murton of the parish, two of the columns gave way and the main arch between the nave and chancel came down. The damage has since been repaired. Henry III gave the church to the leprous women of the hospital of St James (also known as St Jacob) at the end of Wincheap near Canterbury. When the hospital was handed to the crown in 1551, St John's went with it. It gained a vicarage late, in 1392.

Silver Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Bredgar, Kent

Silver Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel stood on the western side of Silver Street, just about at the midway between the Gore Road and Deans Hill Road junctions, and flanked on its southern side by a large open section of fieldland (which survives to this day). The chapel is shown on the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914. It was still present even on the post-war OS 1:10,560 map of 1949-1961 but today a newish-build private dwelling occupies the site.

Church of St John the Baptist, Tunstall, Kent

The Church of St John the Baptist, Tunstall, is on the eastern side of the Tunstall Road, around a hundred metres south of the right-hand turn and the road's eastwards progression towards the Cranbrook Drive turning. Its main structure dates to the fourteenth century. It consists of three isles and a chancel, with a small chapel on the north side. A tower sits at the west end with a peal of five bells. The south chapel - built in flint - was enlarged using brick in 1655.

Photos on this page kindly contributed by Jelltex, 'Boxley' / Nigel Chatfield, and Adam Swaine, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group, and one photo copyright © John Baker, and reused under a cc licence.

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