Cosmus & St Damian Church, Blean TR
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1991
An isolated site (the village has moved away to the Turnpike road to
the west) in a cleared area in the forest at c. 230-240 feet above
O.D. It is 2 miles N.N.W. of Canterbury.
This church was very heavily restored in 1866 when the whole of the
chancel was refaced and a large new north aisle was added.
Only the west wall of the nave, and a small part of its
south wall show anything of the ancient fabric, but it is clear that
the nave walls are basically 13th century in date. The west wall and
south west quoins appear to have been rebuilt at this time and contain
reused pieces of Caen and Reigate stone (probably from the 12th
century church). The south east quoin of the nave, which has been
rebuilt (in 1866), is made of small block Caenstone, which also
suggests a 12th century date. The north door of the new north aisle
has side jambs of Caenstone with simple stopped chamfers. This is also
perhaps of later 12th century date (? reused from the nave north
door). The south door is c. 13th century with simple broached stop
The central lancet window on the south side of the
chancel is also partly ancient (? 13th century). All the other windows
in the chancel were renewed externally in 1866 but the three north
lancets have mainly 13th century re-rearches inside. There was
originally a two-light window in the E. wall (with quatrefoil above)
as the 1807 Petrie drawing shows.
On the south side of the nave, something of the earlier
plaster facing has survived. East of the porch, however, it has been
renewed recently (and painted grey!).
There is one restored lancet in the middle of the south side of the
nave, and to the east of it a 2-light perp. window with hood mould
(15th century) made of Caenstone and Kentish rag. The inserted 2-light
west window is also perp. and under a hood mould. It is surrounded by
early buff brick (15th century), no doubt put in when the window was
There was once a bell-turret (with one bell), above the
west gable (mentioned by Hasted), but this has been removed, and a new
bell-turret has been placed at the west end of the north aisle. It
contains a bell.
The south porch, recently restored, is perhaps an early
20th century replacement of an earlier one.
Internally late medieval crown post roofs survive over
the nave and chancel (3 bays in the nave and 2 in the chancel - The
chancel roof had earlier racked to the east). In the nave, the wall
plates and tie beams have a simple concave chamfer, while in the
chancel it is a double concave chamfer on the wall plates and tiebeams.
There is no chancel arch just the two end trusses for the roofs
abutting. On the underside of the nave tie-beam, mortice holes for a
central post with braces on either side and smaller holes for struts.
This may relate to a rood screen/loft.
There is also a plain octagonal
font on a step in the S.W. corner of the nave.
The 1866 restoration has removed almost all earlier
features, though the 1697 altar rails (with turned balusters) and
altar table base (now in N. aisle chapel) of similar date is there.
There are also two Bethersden marble slabs in the chancel central
aisle and the fine early 18th century Boys wall monument in the S.W.
The late Victorian fittings (pews, choir stalls, pulpit
etc) are quite good, and there is also some good late Victorian and
later glass (a few fragments of earlier glass have been put in the
border of the central lancet on the south side of the chancel). The
best glass is perhaps the three east lights, which were designed in
1866 by Holiday and made by Powell's (Newman N.E. Kent (3rd ed.) 146).
There is quite a good 1866 3-bay side purlin and windbrace roof in the
new north aisle.
BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles, etc.):
Most of the external walls are of the heavy 1866 knapped flint set in
grey cement (ie. old chancel, as well as new N. aisle). However the
west wall of the nave is still mostly original (c. 13th century) with
Ragstone 'on end' quoins and rubble walling containing small knapped
flints, Roman bricks, septarian nodules, etc., as well as some reused
Caen and Reigate stone (probably from earlier church). Around the top
of the inserted perpendicular west window are small buff bricks
(probably 15th century). The nave S.E. quoin is of Caen stone (perhaps
12th century reset). The 15th century windows are made of Caenstone
and Kentish Rag.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: To John Boys (ob. 1710) and his wife
(ob. 1717) of Hode - large wall monument in S.W. corner.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size: Large north-south area, with large 20th century. extension on
Shape: North south rectangle.
Earthworks: within: - enclosing: slight hollow lane to south east and
adjacent: Major earthworks to the south-west of the church (?remains
of deserted medieval settlement). These are now being ploughed up.
Building in churchyard: Modern parish hall to N.E. of church.
Ecological potential: Possibly - various ornamental trees and shrubs
have been planted in the churchyard.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Late 11th century. (Domesday Monachorum)
Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): ? Church (Pays 12d.
for oil etc., at Easter)
Late med. status (rectory\vicarage\appropriation): Appropriated to
Eastbridge Hosp. (1206) Perpetual vicarage from 1375 (endowed by Abp.
Patron: EASTBRIDGE HOSPITAL, CANTERBURY (from 1206) – earlier Hamo
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: Good, except where cut into by large ?
Heating pit inside S.W. door. There may also be some earlier burial
Outside present church: Good on S. and W., but cut by drainage
channel. Also many graves around.
To structure: Heavy new grey painted render on S. side of nave and
porch. There have been several Kent peg tile thefts from the roof
To graveyard: Weatherboarded parish hall built in N.E. part of
churchyard (1979). Drainage channel dug all round church with brick
QUINQUENNIAL INSPECTION (date\architect): September 1990, John F. Ford
(good and thorough).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A heavily over-restored church, surrounded
by a large (in use) churchyard. The 15th century buff bricks in the
west wall are an unusual feature.
The wider context: The survival of earthworks to the S.W. (although
now being ploughed up) makes it important to discover the original
relationship of this church to its surrounding early settlement,
despite the problems of the large churchyard.
Guidebook: A sheet - rather inaccurate!
Plans and drawings: Sketch plan in quinquennial. Copies of Petrie view
from S.E. in K.A.S. library.
DATES VISITED: 3rd July
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown