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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 31 January 2020

Thanet Part 18: Churches of Minster, Thorne Hill & Cliffsend

St Mildred's Catholic Church, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent

St Mildred's Catholic Church is on the eastern side of St Mildred's Road, a little way north of the junction with the High Street and also partially visible from the High Street. St Mildred 'the Virgin' was abbess of Minster-in-Thanet in the late seventh century. Daughter of Merewalh of the Herefordshire Saxons, St Mildred Bread Street in the City of London was dedicated to her. This church existed by the time of the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914 but today is a private residence.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Minster-in-Thanet, stands in a large churchyard at the south-east corner of Church Street and Station Road. The Wantsum marshes lie only a hundred metres to the south (beyond the railway). There was almost certainly an early Kentish royal vill here (and before that a Roman villa). Around AD 670 the site became a monastery for nuns and remained as such with interruptions in the 800s until destroyed by the Danes in 1011.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent

Alternatively known as the 'Cathedral of the Marshes', the church was given to St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury about 1030, and it is likely that a multi-phased Anglo-Saxon church underlies the present building. No pre-Norman work seems to survive in this present building, which was erected in the late 1000s to 1100s. Rebuilds and extensions occurred in the 1200s-1400s while the tower was added in the later 1100s. The Tudors and Victorians added their own touches.

Minster Abbey, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent

Minster Abbey is situated along much of the northern side of Church Street, flanked by Bedlam Court Lane on its eastern side, and within sight of St Mary's Church (above). Ermenburga, a great-granddaughter of Ethelbert of Kent, came to Thanet from Mercia in the middle of the 600s to set up up the abbey as St Mildred's (Benedictine) Priory. Initially this was on the site of the church until it was re-established on its present site in AD 741 by the third abbess.

Minster Abbey, Thorne Hill, Kent

Holy Trinity Chapel, Thorne Hill, is on the northern side (the left-hand side of this aerial photo) of the set of buildings that forms Thorne Farm, on the eastern side of Thorne Hill, immediately north-west of Cliffsend. The chapel was built in the 1300s, complete with a chantry that gained several local areas of land to support it. The Dissolution spelled the end for the chapel which eventually became ruinous and was rebuilt in the 1800s to form the present cottage.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Cliffsend, Thanet, Kent

St Mary the Virgin Church, Cliffsend, is on the west side of Foads Lane, midway between the turnoffs for Cliffs End Road and Cottington Road. The building began in 1871 as Cliffsend Primitive Methodist Chapel. The Methodist union of 1932 made it redundant and it was soon being rented by the Church of England. The church purchased it outright in 1956 and it remains in use as such today, having more recently been reordered and refurbished for modern needs.

Four photos on this page by P L Kessler, one kindly contributed by Bill Smith/British Methodist Buildings via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group, and one by Multimap. The tour now progresses into Dover.



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