Martin Church, Brasted
TQ 468 555
ROCHESTER DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993
LOCATION: Situated at c. 310 ft above O.D.
on the Gault Clay/Folkestone beds boundary ¼ mile to the north of the
main east-west road through Brasted village. The site slopes gently to
the wetter clay on the north-east. Court Lodge farm is about ½ mile
to the north-west at the foot of the Downs.
DESCRIPTION: The church has very recently been completely re-roofed
and rebuilt after a major fire (arson in 1988). It had also been
completely rebuilt in 1864-5 by Alfred Waterhouse, except for the west
tower, and probably the early 13th century piers and double-chamfered
arches of the south arcade (as suggested by John Newman). The plan, a
double-aisled nave, north and south transepts, large chancel (with
19th century added vestry over boiler house) and south-east chapel
almost certainly reflects the earlier medieval plan ie. no new
foundations were made. It is also possible that the core of some of
the walls may be medieval, but externally they exhibit uniform
mid-19th century 'crazy paving' masonry with a plinth. There is also
much heavy black cement snail-pointing. The masonry is all in local
sandstone/ironstone and Ragstone with Bath stone dressings and some
larger Ragstone quoins. The North Transept north window has
reticulated tracery which may reflect the earlier tracery. This is
confirmed by Glynne (see below). Petrie's view from the south-east in
1802 shows a south transept with a Perpendicular 3-light south window.
There also appears to be a small Norman south chancel window.
The very heavily buttressed west tower may well have been built
originally in the 13th century, but it too has been heavily restored
and pointed in the 19th century. The topmost stage with uniform
two-light trefoil-headed windows under square hood-moulds, and with a
battlement above, probably dates to the 15th century. There is also
another similar two-light square-headed window on the ground floor on
the south side.
On the S.W. side of the tower is a more slender diagonal buttress,
with Reigate stone ties into the main wall. This and the west doorway
may be late 13th century in date; the latter having rough stops at the
bottom of its external mouldings.
Probably in the early 14th century, the tower received three major
buttresses (and perhaps a new thicker face) on the north side, two
major buttresses on the west (one of which is contrived above a small
stone west porch, and one on the south-east. They have many
weatherings on them. The northern buttress on the west side seems to
have many quoins of a yellow irony sandstone (perhaps Tunbridge Wells
Sandstone). The buttress in the middle on the west bifurcates over the
west porch, which means access can be had to the west doorway under
three chamfered ribs supporting the buttress above. All this
buttressing is perhaps because the tower had become unstable on its
Gault clay/sand subsoil.
Above the level of the buttress-tops is a second stage with
single-light trefoil-headed lancets in each face. All the mullions and
tracery have been restored though they are perhaps of an early 14th
century. At this stage are large side-alternate quoins, though many
have recently been renewed on the north-east.
The drastic rebuilding of 1864-5 by Alfred Waterhouse may have been
because of the instability of the ground, and much cracking in the
walls, though this is not mentioned in Sir Stephen Glynne's useful
description of the church in 1859 ie. not long before the rebuilding
(see his Notes on the Church of Kent (1877), pp. 234-5).
BUILDING MATERIALS: The main material is the local ironstone,
sandstone and Ragstone for the rubble-walling, with Bathstone
dressings (and some large Ragstone quoins) used for the 1864-5
rebuilding. There is also some Reigate stone visible in the S.W. side
of the West Tower (? 13th century), and large? Tunbridge Wells
sandstone blocks appear to have been used in quoins and some
weatherings of the northern west buttress.
Other rough flint, ironstone and sandstone (heavily pointed) can also
be found on the N. side of the tower.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Dorothy Berisford (ob. 1613)
tomb-chest under tower and Robert Heath (ob. 1649) with reclining
figs. in N. transept - see comments by J Newman (B.O.E. West Kent
& Weald 2nd ed. 1976, 177-8). Also R Westmacotts monuments to
John Turton (ob. 1806) and Mary Turton (ob. 1810).
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size & Shape: Large rectangular area around church, with 20th
century extension (still in use) to N.W. (and New Lych gate). New
cremation area to the north of the Tower.
Condition: Good - Much car noise from the M25, not far to the north!
Boundary walls: Ragstone (and a few bricks) to south (? 19th century)
and iron railings on west side.
Building in churchyard or on boundary: Stone rubble shed (? 19th
cent.) on S. side of graveyard (next to "The Stanhope
Exceptional monuments: Just N.W. of tower, an obelisk monument,
surrounded by Anchors and chains to Francis Crawsley (1878). Some
other fine 18th cent. + gravestones.
Ecological potential: ? Possible, but neatly mown grass now. One
rather-sick Yew to the south of the church and a line of Fastigiate
Yews just inside the South boundary wall. Also some tall Scot's Pines
to the N.W. and a line of beeches on the north boundary.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book.
Late med. status: Rectory within the Peculiar Deanery of Shoreham.
Patron: The Archbishop of Canterbury.
Other documentary sources: See Hasted Vol. III (1797), 155-7.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good - no new foundations in 1864-5,
Outside present church: Ground level in churchyard much built up,
particularly on S.W. with new deep drainage ditch (? to old ground
level) cut on south side of nave south aisle and south transept.
To structure: Major rebuilding up to 1992 after 1988 fire.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A completely rebuilt Victorian church
(quite a fine example, with unusual tracery-cuspless) by Alfred
Waterhouse, with a restored medieval west tower (? 13th, early 14th
and 15th century). The tower is much-buttressed, probably due to the
instability of the site.
Photographs: View of tower from N.W. in Kent Churches 1954,
25, with its many buttresses.
Plans & drawings: View from S.E. in 1802 by H. Petrie in K.A.S.
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown