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Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

St Peter & St Paul Church, Boughton-under-Blean    TR 04785 855R

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993

LOCATION: Situated at about 100 feet above O.D. on Upper Chalk, about a mile S.W. of Boughton Street (ie. the Roman Watling St.) next to Boughton Court. To the east is the higher ground of the Blean Forest, and there is a steep drop southwards from the church.

DESCRIPTION: The earliest visible fabric in the church dates from the 13th century, but there must have been an earlier church here. This is suggested by the early 13th century arch into the south aisle from the south transept. The last vestiges of a perhaps 12th century longer aisled nave being demolished in the late 15th century.
   In the later 13th century, the present chancel was built with an almost contemporary chapel to the north. There may also have been a contemporary south chapel which was enlarged in the early 14th century (see below). The south transept must also date from the later 13th century, and all these areas are characterised by the use of an internal roll string course, wide lancets (with rere-arches) and the use of comb-tooled Caen and Reigate stone masonry. The triple-lancets in the east wall of the chancel also have internal hoods and shafts with capitals and bases. There are also rectangular aumbries (east wall) and a piscina and mutilated sedilia (S. wall). Another piscina is in the S.E. corner (E. wall) of the north chapel.
   Also in the later 13th century the arcades to the nave aisles were built, with roughly alternating round and octagonal piers. The western arches have clearly been cut short.
   Early in the 14th century the south chapel was rebuilt, with a new south wall, and arch into the south transept. The south wall has a pair of 2-light Decorated cusped-ogee windows (much restored externally) and inside a cusped-ogee arch between the windows over a contemporary tomb. There is also a mutilated? sedilia to the east. (This chapel now contains the organ and is also a store).
   The chancel arch, springing from head-corbels, is also probably early 14th century, and the simple rafter, collar and soulace roof to the east is also perhaps 14th century. It also has crenellated wall-plates, and was boarded until the 1871 restoration. The heightening of the early east gable and the making of the strange extended N. + S. quoins to the E. wall must also be 14th century.
   The final major period of building before the Victorian restoration was in the late 15th century. The original west end was demolished (some fragments of it may be incorporated in the N. + S. walls of the west tower), and a new 'Kentish tower', with western angle-buttresses, was erected. It has a stair turret in the S.E. corner, and a west doorway (now the main entrance).
   Some time after this the new north and south aisles (with contemporary N. porch) were built with a continuous plinth around the outside. The south aisle is very small, and only has single-light S. and W. windows (with square hood-moulds and ? original glazing bars). There was also apparently a south porch (the vestry until demolished in 1871). The north aisle is larger and has three two-light Perpendicular windows with a contemporary doorway and stair to the rood-loft in the north-east corner. High up doorways were also made on either side of the chancel arch for the Rood-loft. There are stoups inside the north and south doorways, that on the north having a deep bowl and a (now mutilated) square hood-mould. The 5-light S. window of the S. transept (and the angle buttresses on either side) is also probably 15th century.
Also in the late 15th century the roofs in the nave, south transept and North chapel were renewed with fine crown-post trusses on moulded tie-beams and crenellated wall-plates. Where necessary the tie-beams have been raised on arch-braces (eg. west end of nave, south transept and east truss in N. chapel) to leave arches and windows clear.
   The remaining Rood screen (and smaller west screens to the N. + S. chapels) are probably early 16th century in date. The Rood lofts have gone, and a new 1871 top of the central screen has been made.
   The inserted east window of the south chapel may also be early 16th century.
The church underwent a major restoration in 1871 costing 2,000 under J.P. St. Aubyn. It was completely refloored and reseated, and much external refacing (in heavy knapped flint) was undertaken as well as the renewal of various jambs, etc., in Bathstone. New roofs were made over the aisles and south chapel, and a new angle-buttress was added to the S.E. of the south chapel. A west gallery (built in 1784) was removed and a new font was installed.
   A new church (St. Barnabus) was built at Boughton Street in 1896.

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The 13th century work is with flint rubble and Caen and Reigate stone quoins, jambs, etc., Kent Rag. as usual, is first found a little later and is the material used for all the late 15th century quoins, jambs, etc., Bathstone is used in the 1871 restoration, as well as heavy knapped-flint facing.
   There are a few medieval tiles at the entrance to the N. chapel, and one fragment of late 15th cent. glass at the W. end of the north aisle. Some fine Tudor heraldic glass etc., is recorded in the 17th/18th century (see Councer Lost Glass op.cit infra). There are 8 x 18th & 19th cent. bells in the tower.

A medieval leger with 'Lombardic' letting lies in the chancel (see. Arch. Cant. 18 (1889), 241-2+fig). and there is a ? 13th tomb slab (on its side, loose) under the S. side of the tower.

There are some important 16th and 17th century brasses and legers and some fine monuments. The best is that to Thomas Hawkins (ob. 1617) with a recumbent effigy by Epiphanius Evesham.

Shape: Large area around church, with large extension down the hill to the south-east.

Condition: Good

Building in churchyard or on boundary: Late Victorian lych gate.

Ecological potential: Good - Large Yew Tree to south of church, planted in 1695.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: ? One of the Boughtons in D.M.

Late med. status (vicarage): Vicarage, with appropriation 1340 (A parish exempt from the Archdeacon's jurisdiction).

Patron: Archbishop of Canterbury till 1340 when given + appropriated to Faversham Abbey, but vicarage advowson reserved to archbishop. Then in 1539 to Crown till 1542 to Dean & Chapter of Canterbury.

Other documentary sources: Test. Cant. (E.Kent, 1907), 26-8 mention the rood, many lights, the altar of St John-The-Baptist and St James. Also in 1559 'To the new boarding and making anew of the backside of the Rood-loft.' Also 'towards glass windows + tyling. Mending the highway between Boughton Church and Poplar Lane' (1559). Also the 'Palm Cross' in the churchyard (1559).
   Also Hasted VII (1798), 14-19, who records a 'handsome gallery' built at the West end in 1784.

SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS: ? Quite good below 19th century floor.

Outside present church: Good, but drainage trench around N. side, etc.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): Nov. 1990 Andrew Clague.

No early work visible. The chancel, north and south chapels and the south transept were all built in the later 13th century. The south chapel S. wall was rebuilt in the early 14th century. The shortened nave, west tower, and aisles and porch were all rebuilt in the late 15th century.

The wider context: One of a group of churches with major enlargements to the chancel area in the later 13th century.

REFERENCES: Sir Henry Dryden 'On a monument at Boughton-under-Blean', Arch. Cant. 18 (1889), 241-2 + fig. (in chancel). J A Boodle 'Boughton-under-Blean', Arch. Cant. 21 (1895), 327-336 (+ Appendix on the bells). See also note on coats of arms in the church, Arch. Cant. 22 (1897), 186-190. S.R. Glynne, Notes on the Churches of Kent (1877), 235-7 He visited the church in 1862 before the 1871 restoration.
   For now vanished, mostly late 15th cent. glass, see C R Councer, Lost Glass from Kent Churches (1980), 13-16.

Guide Book: Brief leaflet - undated/unsigned.

Plans & drawings: Drawings: Petrie view from S.E. in 1806.

DATE VISITED: 8th March 1993                           REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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