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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St 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 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 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 Arms").

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.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD:

SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good - no new foundations in 1864-5, hopefully!

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.

RECENT DISTURBANCES\ALTERATIONS:
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.

REFERENCES:
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. Library.

DATE VISITED: 11/5/93                                          REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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