Peter Church, Bridge
TR 1836 5412
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994
LOCATION: Situated on Upper Chalk (just above the
Nailbourne floodplain) at about 90 feet above O.D. with the main Roman
road to Dover immediately to the north-east. Bridge Place is about a
¼ mile to the south-west, and its mother-church of Patrixbourne is
about ¾ miles to the north-east. Canterbury is just under 3 miles to
DESCRIPTION: Unfortunately the church was disastrously over-restored
in 1859 by Scott (John Newman, B.O.E. (N.E. and Kent 3rd ed.
1983), 159, says it was 'done with grotesque insensitivity'). However,
with the help of Glynne's description (of 1846), and various early
19th century views, as well as the few surviving medieval features, it
is possible to work out something of the architectural history.
Externally it has been completely refaced with heavy knapped flint,
and Bathstone dressings, but the core of all the main walls, except
the Vestry on the north-east and the tower stair-turret must be
medieval. The west end of the north aisle also appears to have been
extended westwards in 1859.
There had been an earlier small-scale repewing in 1836,
followed by a restoration by Scott in 1857. The complete rebuilding
took place in 1859-60, with most of the money coming from Mrs Gregory
of Bridge Hill.
From the surviving remains, there is no doubt that the
nave, chancel, south aisle and tower-base all date from the 12th
century. It is also possible that the nave itself dates from the late
11th century, but there is no visible evidence for this. The west
doorway to the nave is of a mid- to later 12th century date, and
unlike virtually everything else on the outside of the church was not
totally renewed in 1859. There is a decorated round-headed archway
with water-leaf capitals, and much original Caenstone survives. The
internal north jamb to the doorway is also mostly of original
diagonally-tooled Caenstone blocks. On the north-east side of the
chancel is a round-headed (c. mid-12th century) window, which
was unblocked in 1859. Glynne in 1846 refers to two 'closed' windows
on the north side of the chancel, and 'on the south a fine doorway and
two windows, now closed; the former has fine chevron mouldings'. This
doorway was reset on the east side of the north-east vestry in 1859,
but its fine chevroned arch, over scalloped capitals, is still visible
as an entrance to the vestry lobby. The south aisle and south-west
tower seem to have been added in the later 12th century. The arcade
had already gone by 1846, but part of a respond (with nook-shafts)
still survives at the extreme east end. Just beyond this, in the east
wall, a fragment of the north jamb of a 12th century window survives.
This south aisle had a low southwall until 1859, and its steep-pitched
roof continued the line of the main nave roof. The tower at the west
end of this aisle has 1859 round-headed arches, on the north and east
in a 'decorated Romanesque' style (? designed by Scott). Glynne tells
us that originally they were 'very rude semicircular arches'. The
south and east windows into the ground floor of the tower may be based
on earlier 12th century ones.
During the earlier 13th century, a north transept chapel
and north aisle were added. Glynne tells us that 'the north aisle is
very low and narrow, divided from the nave by three rude pointed
arches with large wall piers having no capitals or impost mouldings'.
The pointed arches survive, though a fourth has been added on the
west, as well as three extraordinary double piers. The eastern respond
is mostly original, however, with bar-stopped chamfers. Another
original arch (with bar-stopped chamfers) divides the north aisle from
the north-east transept chapel. Glynne also says that there was a
lancet at the west end of this aisle. The north-east chapel still has
a pair of original lancets on the north (restored externally), and
earlier there was apparently a hagioscope from this chapel into the
chancel. The upper stage of the tower may be 13th century.
The one later medieval feature that survives is the
3-light early perpendicular window in the west wall of the nave. This
too still contains quite a lot of original masonry, and may date from
the late 14th century. The 2-light east window, now rebuilt, was
probably early 14th century ('poor Middle Pointed' according to Glynne).
The early 19th century views show a pair of two-light late
perpendicular windows with square hoods on the south side of the
The chancel still contains some early 16th century
fittings, and a roodloft was documented as being made in 1522 (see
below). On the north side of the sanctuary are two low rectangular
niches which contain the two halves of the effigy for Macobus Kasey
(ob. 1512). Above and just to the west of this is some relief
sculpture (also ? early 16th century) in a tympanum panel. Was this
set originally inside a 12th century doorway? Above this is an early
17th century painting of Robert Bargrave (ob. 1649). On the chancel
south wall (at the west end) are fragments of a relief memorial to a
vicar, Malcolm Ramsey (ob. 1538). He was vicar of Patrixbourne and
Bridge for 44 years. These include part of an inscription.
The tower appears to have been given brick south-east and
south-west buttresses in the 17th or 18th century. These were removed
in 1859 when a south-east stair-turret was added to the tower. This
was apparently restored in 1891.
BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
Virtually the whole of the church has Bathstone dressings, with heavy
knapped flint on the exterior. Some 12th century and later Caenstone
does, however, survive.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: - see above
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size, Shape: Large Rectangular area around with church, but with the
north-east side cut off by the main (Roman) road to Dover (Bridge
Hill). Large new extension to the south - ? Late 19th century.
Apparent extent of burial: Burial in churchyard from at least 1474.
Boundary walls: To road on north-east, with gateway with brick piers
and iron arch.
Ecological potential: ? Yes - many fastigiate yews (and other trees)
in southern part of churchyard.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: 13th century.
Late med. status: Vicarage (with Patrixbourne).
Patron: Goes with Patrixbourne church to which it was a chapel. After
the Reformation, the patron was the owner of nearby Bifrons.
Other documentary sources: Hasted IX (1800), 289-290. Test. Cant.
(E. Kent, 1907), 35-6 mentions the Holy Cross (Rood) light, as well as
lights of Our Lady, St. Nicholas, St. Erasmus, the Trinity, St. Loye,
St. Trunion, as well as St. Peter (? in the chancel). The Eastern
Sepulchre mentioned in 1535, and 'the painting of the High Cross in
the Roodloft in 1504 - also 'to the making of the Roodloft, 1522'.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good, except under east end of south aisle,
where there is a sunken boiler house.
Outside present church: Good, but perhaps disturbed by the 1859
refacing and rebuilding.
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): MAY 1993 A. CLAGUE
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A 12th century nave, chancel, south aisle
and south-west tower base, with an added earlier 13th century north
aisle and north-east transept chapel, which was very heavily restored
and refaced externally in 1859-60.
The wider context: One of a group of medieval parish churches, which
was technically only a chapel-of-ease (to Patrixbourne, in this case).
REFERENCES: For the vicars, see W.A. Scott Roberton 'Patricksbourne
church, and Bifrons' Arch. Cant. 14 (1882), 169-184. (A list of
vicars, by T.S. Frampton (1900) is on the S.W. side of the nave). S.R.
Glynne Churches of Kent (1877), 131-2 (he visited in 1846).
Plans and early drawings: Petrie view from S.W. in 1807, and views
from S.W. and S. in 1828 in Victoria and Albert Museum. Also view of
church from S.W. in oil (? early 19th cent.) and Watercolour of church
from S.E. (June 1869) in the vestry and plan of graveyard (new part)
in 1942 (also in vestry).
DATE VISITED: 21st February
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown