Chartham TR1069 5509
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1991
In the centre of the village, North of the River Stour and Paper Mill. The Court Lodge (Deanery Farm) is ½km. to the west, unusually.
The church is in the valley plain at about 50ft. above O.D. To the NW
of the church is a village green.
This church was totally rebuilt at the end of the 13th century, with
only a few odd reused fragments in the walls suggesting the presence
of an earlier church. The nave, shallow transepts and chancel all
appear to have been built at the same time, though only the chancel
has very high quality split-cusp tracery (reflecting probably the
ownership of this rich manor by Christ Church Priory). The use of
transepts may suggest an earlier cruciform church, and it is just
possible that the crossing area of the new church (and the nave) were
built around (ie. outside) the earlier church before it was
The chancel, which has magnificent split-cusp 'Kentish
Tracery' windows all around (4x2 light windows on the north and south,
and a 4 light east window), was perhaps built first. It is heavily
buttressed, and this may indicate that a stone vault (or? even a
timber vault) was planned. In the event this was not built, but an
unusual continuous internal hood-mould (with trefoiled loops between
the windows) was put in. The roof over the chancel is still boarded
in, and appears to be much restored. On the south side of the chancel
is a small doorway (restored), while under a heavily moulded arch in
the centre of the north side is a tomb-chest set into the wall with
All the other chancel fittings (including the altar,
stalls etc), are of the c. 1875 restoration.
The shallow north and south transepts both have 5-light stepped
cinque-cusped lancets and each has an original piscina for its altar
(a will of 1533 suggests that one altar was dedicated to St. Giles).
Between the transepts and nave are large cinquefoiled squints, and the
north and south walls of the transepts both have an internal string
course. In the transept floors (and before 1875, situated in the
centre of the chancel) are 5 brasses in Purbeck marble slabs: (1) The
magnificent Robert de Septrans brass (c. 1322). For this date of c.
1322, see P Binoki "The stylistic sequence of London figure
brasses" in J Coales (ed.) The Earliest English Brasses
Patronage, Style and Workshopes 1270-1350 (1987), 86-8 (2)(3)+(4)
brasses of 3 rectors in vestments: Robert London (d.1416), Robert
Arthur (d. 1454), and Robert Sheffelde (d.1508). (5) Poor brass of
Jane Dowther (d.1580). The organ is now in the N. transept, while the
S. transept has an altar and other fittings including the font (moved
here in 1985).
The nave is much plainer than the rest with only paired
trefoiled windows in the walls. There are three of these, while the
4th pair (on the N.E.) is only of lancets. This lower window, however,
is the only one to have an internal hood-mould. At the west end of the
nave are two opposing N.+ S. doors. That on the north originally had a
timber-framed porch on dwarf stone walls. This was however, removed in
the 1875 restoration, and the doorway was blocked up. The south porch,
though heavily restored (it has lost its original S. wall and
doorway), was perhaps an original feature of the church. Just over a
third of the way along the nave are two opposing buttresses, and a few
feet to the west of these are clear signs in both north and south
walls of masonry breaks. This was, however, perhaps only a pause in
the work, leaving the west end of the nave to be completed a few years
later. There is another buttress on the N. side, just E. of the
blocked N. door.
Over the whole of the crossing, transepts and nave (but
not visible in the chancel) is a magnificent series of c. 1300 timber
roofs with large scissor-trussed rafters. Over the crossing is a fine
saltire of arch-braces, culminating in a huge boss of oak-leaves. In
the nave which has a 28 foot span, there was originally one truss with
a tie-beam and king-strut (it lay between the two opposing north and
south buttresses). The tie-beam was later cut back to the walls and
the king-strut cut off below the scissor crossing. See Med.Arch
27 (1983), 129 (The north rafter and ashlar piece has been restored).
Lower beams run E.-W. across the transept openings (? for screens),
and rest on stone corbels.
The western tower, which has diagonal buttresses and a
spiral stair turret in the north-east corner, was probably built
entirely in the late 15th century after the west wall of the nave had
been totally demolished. The lower stage contains quite a lot of
reused material (including a 13th century quatrefoil), while above the
window heads in the bell-chamber red brick is used (Wills suggest the
tower was being built in 1474 and 1490, 1495 and that it was finished
and getting new bells in 1500). There is also red brick in the top
level of the stair turret. There are 5 J. Hatch bells of 1605 and a
treble of 1728 in a relatively new frame. The tower roof has also been
The church was described in 1861 by Sir Stephen Glynne
before the 1875 restoration. It had high pews, a west gallery (put in
in 1777), and a fine pulpit with sounding board on the S.W. side of
the crossing. Two fine photos of the interior (framed and on the W.
wall of the nave) of before 1875 show these and a series of hatchments
on the walls. The scissor-braced roofs were plastered below, and this
along with the gallery pews, and hatchments were removed in 1875 (also
the N. porch). The pulpit was moved to the N.E. side of the crossing
and the chancel was refurbished with the brasses being removed to the
transepts. A new chancel screen was made (removed in turn in 1984).
BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The main materials are knapped flint and ragstone quoins. However,
Roman brick, Caen + Reigate stone (+ a little Purbeck marble) are also
reused in the wall faces (? from earlier church). At the top of the
tower, red brick is used (from c. 1480) for window heads + in
stair-turret top. The side windows of the chancel still contain some
very fine c. 1300 glass (restored 1881, but drawn beforehand by
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Monument to Revd. J.M. de l'Angle (d.
1724) in N. Transept. Large monument to Sir William Young and his wife
Sarah née Fagge by Rysbrack (dated 1751 but not placed in S. Transept
till 1788. Also several brasses (including the famous Sevtrans brass
in N. transept) of the early 14th century - see list in Newman (1983),
The Bungey memorial (c. 1597) on the S. side of the E. window caused a
dispute in the 19th century.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Shape: Rectangular - extended eastwards 1815/16 (see guide).
Apparent extent of burial: Burials recorded here from at least 1474
Boundary walls: Stone wall on N. + E. (the later extended 1815/16).
Building in churchyard or on boundary: - except 1925 "Lychgate".
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book
Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): Pays 28d. 'Chism' in
D.M. + 45 shillings. 'Romscott'.
Late med. status (rectory\appropriation): A rich rectory, held by many
prominent men (see Hasted VII (1797), 317-9 for post-dissolution
Patron: The Archbishop.
Other documentary sources:
In 1294 the Patent Rolls record that Edward I remitted part of a fine
to the rector 'towards the works of his church begun by him'. Test.
Cant. (E. Kent, 1907), 80 mentions wills giving 6s. 8d. to bell
tower (1474) + 6s. 8d. for reparation of steeple (1490) and
"towards renewing of a bell in the steeple"....my great
brass pot "(1500)". Also "to the making of a door on
the south side of the church, whensoever they do make it, 55
shillings", - and "to the tyling of the church 105
shillings" (1533). A chapel of St. Giles is also mentioned
(1533). Another will in Arch. Cant. 31 (1915) gives 13s. 4d.
"to the steeple when it is begun" (1495).
Reused materials: A few Roman bricks in church walls.
Previous archaeological work (published\unpublished): 1991 (Jan.)
small trench beside S.W. quoin of S. transept to investigate
foundations (plan + section drawn + copy to T.T-B. 24.9.91.)
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good - earlier church foundations should be
below the nave/chancel, etc.
To structure: In 1985, a large new screen was put in at the W. end of
the nave (to form a 'narthex'). The font was moved to the S. transept,
and some of the brasses here are getting scraped by the plethora of
To graveyard: All the gravestones have been moved to the edge of the
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1988 (December) by Howard
Jones - of Lee Evans Partnership, Canterbury.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: An exceptionally fine new church of c. 1300
with original roofs and some original glass; also some fine brasses.
There is also a good late 15th century western tower.
The wider context: The Court Lodge (Deanery) at Chartham is also a
fine complex of buildings which can be contrasted with the church (see
Arch. Cant. 89 (1974), 169-182). It has a hall roof of 1303.
REFERENCES: Notes by A. Clapham + G. Rushforth (glass) in Archaeol.J.
86 (1930), 306-7. + by S Rigold in Archaeol.J. 126 (1970),
265-6. Also S.R. Glynne, Notes on the Churches of Kent (1877),225-7.
Guide Book: by G. Haslam (1987).
Photographs: In the church, two fine views (looking E. + W.) before
the 1875 restoration.
Plans & drawings: Plan in The British Architect, Nov.13th 1885,
reprinted in Archaeol.J. 86 (1930), 305 + Petrie view from the
DATES VISITED: 11th July 1991 & 24th September
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown