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Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Margaret Church, Addington      TQ 6537 5888

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993

LOCATION: Situated at about 225ft O.D. on a hillock in the Folkestone sands with the Addington brook to the south. The main road from London to Maidstone (A20) now lies S. of this brook, but the medieval route from London to Maidstone may be that running through Addington to the N.E. (see Symonson's 1596 Map). The medieval manor house apparently lay immediately to the north-west (later Addington Place).

DESCRIPTION: A church is mentioned in Domesday book and it is quite likely that the existing nave (except the west end) and shell of the chancel date from this time. All four quoins of local ironstone and tufa survive, and herringbone work in local Rag can be seen in the N. + S. walls of the nave and lower east wall of the chancel. These original walls were rendered externally. The windows have all been replaced, but the blocked up doorway on the south has an external tufa semi-circular relieving arch above it. Internally, however, it is clear that a 15th century doorway was inserted into this earlier doorway. Though the top of the chancel east gable was rebuilt in the 19th century, there is an earlier lower gable fragment on the south-east side with ? a trace of an earlier (?? 13th cent.) window line. The window on the N.E. side of the nave is probably 14th century, as is perhaps the chancel arch.

In mid-15th century a new manorial chapel was added on the south-east by the Watton family (said to be newly constructed in a will of 1463). This is finely constructed of Ragstone with ashler blocks being used in the lower south wall, and the whole of the east wall (except the gable). There is a continuous plinth. The fine large two-light window in the south wall is, however, made of Caenstone. It has a large square hood-mould with carved head-stops (now worn), and pellets in the spandrels of the two Perp. square-headed windows. The two-centred, two light east window of the chapel is of Ragstone, and was completely blocked up in the 17th century when the Watton monument was put in. There is a circular window (with quatrefoil in it) in the west gable, but this appears only to be 19th century. The fine painted 7-cant barrel ceiling in this chapel, which has corner corbels, also appears to be 15th century, though ? repainted in the 17th century. There are still some fine brasses (not in situ) in this chapel. A small vestry was also perhaps added to the north side of the chancel at this time (see Petrie drawing of 1807), but this was replaced by a taller structure in 1858. The Perp. east window of the chancel was entirely replaced in the 19th century.

On the south-west side of the nave there is a fine Perpendicular 2-light window. The internal splay and jambs of this window are in high quality carved Kent Rag. of the 15th century.

The north doorway and north porch (of Rag rubble) are also probably of the later 15th century (see their mention in the 1474 will), with original tie-beams, and some exceptionally fine carved large boards outside.

The final major addition of the later 15th century was the west tower. For this work the west wall of the nave was demolished, and two new walls were butted onto the original west quoins. These slightly lengthened the nave, and connected directly with the tower, which has angle-buttresses on the west and a north buttress on the N.E. There is a polygonal stair turret on the S.E. with its original door into the church. The tower is a fine Kentish tower with square-headed windows (2 lights in the upper floor) and a crenellated parapet. The west-doorway was made into a window in the 19th century, and recently much of the external masonry of the tower has been over-restored in Portland stone. Apart from the Ragstone quoins, the main tower walls are made of local ironstone and Ragstone rubble. There is a continuous plinth around the tower though not around the extended nave walls. Inside there is a fine tower arch, and under this is a plain octagonal font. Under the tower the organ was put into an inserted gallery in 1949 (with a vestry below). There are some interesting diagonal putlog holes in the west face of the tower.

In the mid-17th century, as we have seen, the S.E. chapel was given a fine new monument on the east wall, after the window had been blocked. The chapel was restored and a helmet was placed on a bracket on the west wall (a rare survival now - security risk?).

In 1858 the north-east chapel/vestry was rebuilt on a plinth with good Ragstone ashlar. It was given a north gable and new Bathstone windows. There is also a fine Ragstone arch between the chapel and the chancel, copying the southern one. At the same time new roofs were put into the chancel and nave, and a new Bathstone window was put into the south-east side of the nave. The three-light east window was also renewed as well as the gable above. A new west doorway into the Watton chapel was made and the south nave doorway was blocked up, and the west doorway had a Bathstone window inserted into it. A piscina was inserted into the S.E. side of the S.E. chapel next to a medieval aumbry.

In 1881 a new Reredos was put in the chancel (the earlier Lords' Prayer, Creed and Commandment Slabs are stored in the Ringing Chamber), and the York stone floor was replaced by decorated tiles in 1882. The following year an organ was put in the North-east vestry/chapel. It was moved to the tower in 1949. Quite a lot of glass has been put in the windows.

The bells were rehung in 1969.

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The original church had local ironstone and Tufa quoins and Ragstone and Ironstone herringbone rubble walls. Much fine Ragstone was introduced for quoins, windows, etc., in the 15th century (and for the 14th century window on the north side of the nave). The mid-15th century south window of the south-east chapel is, however, of Caenstone.

There is some good Ragstone work in the 1858 North-east vestry/chapel but all the other 19th century work is in Bathstone. Recent repairs to the tower are in mechanically cut Portland stone.

Several fine brasses in the church, including Richard Charles (i) (ob. 1378), William Snayth (ob. 1409) + Armoured figure + wife. Also Thomas Chaworth (ob. 1446) in Priest's robes and Robert Watton (ob. 1470) in plate armour and his wife.
   The magnificent mid-17th century Watton monument is on the east wall of the south-east chapel. Also marble plaque of 1779 to Admiral William Parry.

Size & Shape: Oval to rectangular area on hilltop, extending quite a long way to the east.

Boundary walls: ? Recent Ragstone walls around churchyard.

None, but Long barrow(s) only a few hundred yards to north-west.

Exceptional monuments: Fine obelisk monument to east of church.

Ecological potential: ? Good

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book

Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): ?

Late med. status: Rectory

Patron: Attached to the manor with pension from Rector to Rochester Cathedral Priory, then to Dean & Chapter from 1542.

Other documentary sources: Hasted IV (1798), 547-8. Test. Cant. (West Kent 1906), 1 has the will of William Watton (ob. 1463), referring to the Chapel of the Assumption of the B.V.M. "newly constructed in the parish church of 'Adyngton'. The will of Robert Eylot (ob. 1474), gives 20d to the repair of the north porch doorway. Also the 'Palme crose' in the churchyard is mentioned in 1528.

T.S. Frampton's list of Patrons and Rectors (from 1326) is on the wall under the tower (compiled 1889). It has many useful notes on the Rectors, etc.


Inside present church: Good

Outside present church: ? Good

To structure: Much recent stone replacement to the tower in Portland Stone (Shelly Whitbed).

A late 11th century nave and chancel on a prominent hilltop with a fine manorial chapel (and fine brasses and monument) added on the south-east. There is also a fine later 15th century west tower.

The wider context:

Guide Book: Leaflet (Anon., undated) with phased sketch plan.

Photographs: Kent Churches 1954, has the Watton chapel ceiling (p.54) and the Watton monument (p.165).

Plans & drawings: Petrie view from N.E. in 1807, showing earlier small NE Vestry.

DATE VISITED: 11/3/93                                     REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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