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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 All Saints Church, All Hallows, Hoo     TQ 8360 7757 

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993

LOCATION: Situated at the north-east corner of the Hoo peninsula at c. 67 feet above O.D. overlooking the Thames estuary to the north.

DESCRIPTION: The supposedly earliest remains from this church is the fragment of re-used chip-carved interlace on a block in the east face of the respond at the west end of the south arcade. This has been called Anglo-Saxon, but it could equally well be early Norman.

The nave of the present church must have been built before the end of the 12th century, but there are no visible distinguishing features to suggest a more exact date. It is quite likely to have been one of the six churches in Hoo, mentioned in Domesday Book. There is a high internal offset in the west wall of the nave.

At the end of the 12th century, and in common with several other churches in the area, a south aisle was added to the church. A little later, in the early 13th century, a north aisle was also added, and these additions no doubt reflects the rising population in the area. At about the same time, a small tower was perhaps added to the north side of the west end of the nave. The inner part of the arch into this tower (now blocked) can still be seen, and it has a bar-stop on its south jamb. Externally one can just make out a scar for the east end of the south wall. (The existence of this south wall also explains why the early 14th century window in the west wall of the nave is off centre). Part of the east end of the former north wall of the tower has been incorporated in a later N.W. buttress, and the position of the first floor in the tower can also be made out.

As John Newman has pointed out (B.O.E. West Kent, 127), the original north and south walls of the nave were 'thinned down' when the arcades were inserted. He has also shown that the rather odd late Norman southern piers are a characteristic of this part of Kent (cf. the churches at Grain and Stoke nearby). They are octagonal here but have large square abaci, and are surmounted by plain pointed arches. There is also an early lancet at the west end of the S. aisle with a rectangular opening externally. The north arcade is a little later stylistically, and has round piers and moulded capitals. There are also small chamfers on the arches. It is possible that this north arcade has been rebuilt after an early collapse. The upper wall is out of alignment and the eastern round pier seems to sit on an earlier foundation.

There is a c. 13th century round block-built font in the nave (on a 19th century base). In the early 14th century, a new chancel arch was made, but any other changes in the chancel have gone in the late 19th century rebuilding. The remains of the in situ screen in the chancel arch are also probably of a 14th century date. At about the same time a new north-east chapel (of St Mary Magdalene) was created, and though this was demolished sometime after the Reformation, its wall foundations were re-excavated in 1907 (Unfortunately this area outside the church is now heavily covered in Elder bushes, whose roots are no doubt damaging the remains). There are still a pile of architectural fragments in the area. When the chapel was built, arches were made in the wall to connect with the chancel, to the south, and with the east end of the north aisle. This latter arch was partially reopened in 1901, and it can be seen best inside the church. A small fragment (springer) of the arch into the chancel can be seen outside (on the west side). This North-west chapel later became the family chapel of the Coppingers (of All Hallows House), but it was already in ruins in the mid-18th century. Hasted tells us that the 1594 monument and brass to William Coppinger and his wife, Martha, were moved from the north wall of the 'North Chancel' to its present position on the north wall of the chancel. The rest of the monument was destroyed.

The south doorway into the nave south aisle also dates from the 14th century. It contains a rehung? 12th century rectangular door with decorative ironwork strips on its outside.

In the later 15th century, the nave and aisles of the church were completely reconstructed. The outer walls were given buttresses and new two-light windows (under square hoodmoulds). The outer walls were also heightened and given parapets (there are also rosettes on the hollow chamfer at the top of the new north aisle windows), and a new clerestory was added to the upper nave walls. There is apparently a 1472 bequest 'to the werkes of the body of the church,' which must relate to this work. Outside the west end of the nave, one can see the earlier roof line, and the heightened clerestory walls (with new Rag quoins). It was perhaps at this time that the N.W. tower was removed, and a new bell-cote was built over the west end of the nave. Unfortunately the 15th century nave roof has been replaced by a 19th century king-post one. The crenellated parapet was also rebuilt at this time.

There is a fine ? 18th century pulpit with small tester in the nave, and reset 'Our Father, Creed and Ten Commandment's boards on the aisle walls. An early vestry is at the west end of the N. aisle. The chancel and east end of the south aisle were completely rebuilt by Ewan Christian in 1886-91, after a Vicarage had been demolished in 1842. Petrie's view from the north-east suggests that this may have been a south chapel originally. Christian also restored the nave upper walls (date 1891 on rain-water) and built the south porch.

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The earlier walls are of Ragstone rubble and flint, with Caenstone and Reigate stone being used for early architectural features. The north arcade is entirely of Reigate stone with vertical tooling. The 15th century rebuilding of the nave and aisles used mostly Ragstone, though much if this has been replaced with Bath stone.

The rebuilt chancel is of Ragstone rubble with Bath dressings. All the new windows are also in Bath. Roofs have been redone in slate, no doubt replacing lead. The new south porch is also covered in slate, and has Ragstone walls.
Most recent stone repair appears to be in Clipsham (eg. hood of W. window in N. aisle).

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: 1594 brass (Refixed in late 18th cent.) on N. Chapel wall to William Coppinger.

Size & Shape: Heavily mown rectangular area around church

Boundary walls: 19th/20th cent. brick E + N and brick + stone on S + W.

Exceptional monuments: Some large 18th + 19th cent. tombs to S.W. church.

Ecological potential: ? - Heavily mown. New ? Limes (+?) planted to N. of church
Two ? 19th cent. Yews to S.W.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: ? One of the six churches in 'Hou' in Domesday Book.

Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): Chapel to Hoo St Werbergh.

Late med. status: Vicarage - Appropriated to the Priory's Almonry (with St Werbergh) by the bishop in 1252. Endowed in 1327.

Patron: Rochester Cathedral Priory, then Dean and Chapter.

Other documentary sources: Hasted IV (1798), 30-4
John Newman B.O.E. (W. Kent, 1976), 128 quotes a bequest of 1472 'to the werkes of the body of the church.'

Previous archaeological work: Foundations of walls of N.E. Chapel (of St Mary Magdalene) excavated 1907, (Unpublished). Some architectural fragments still lying in the area.

Inside present church: ? Good

Outside present church: ? Quite good, but drainage ditch around outside of church - all the way round.

To structure: c. Kitchen/Store out into S.W. corner of church. Proposals (1992) to put toilet here.

To graveyard: None, but vegetation on N.E. Chapel site needs removing.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1993 P.M.T.

The church and churchyard:

A Norman nave with south and north aisles (and north-west tower) added around 1200. North-east chapel and new chancel arch rebuilt in the 14th century. Nave and aisles rebuilt in the late 15th century with new windows, clerestory and parapet. The whole of the chancel and south-east side of the church was rebuilt in 1886-91 by Ewan Christian. He also rebuilt and restored the upper walls and roof of the nave and added the south porch.

The wider context: One of a group of chapels to Hoo, St Werberg on the spine ridge of the Hoo peninsula that became parish churches. Its neighbour at Hoo, St Mary is now redundant.

REFERENCES: F Grayling, County Churches: Kent I (1913), 59 quoting Leland Duncan.

Plans & drawings: View from N.E. in 1809 by Petrie, showing now-replaced east end.

DATE VISITED: 18/6/93                                     REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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