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Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Pancras Church, Coldred         TR 2744 4759

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1992

LOCATION: Situated at about 370 feet above OD in the outer bailey of a motte and bailey castle, the later medieval court lodge is immediately to the south-west. The "village" of Coldred Street lies mile further to the south-west beside a "green" (common land) with a pond.

Despite earlier suggestions that this is an Anglo Saxon church, it seems very likely that this is a late 11th century church built soon after the Motte and Bailey castle, that surrounds it, was erected. The church consists of only a simple rectangular nave and chancel with a small 1890 vestry to the north and an 1890 replacement porch to the south.
   The nave (and probably the chancel) originally had only whole large flints for quoins at the corners, as well as around a high up (in the gable) circular window in the west wall. Much of this quoining was later (late 12th or 13th century) replaced with Caen and Hythe stone quoins with rough diagonal tooling. These quoins are often side-alternate (eg. NE quoin of chancel, NE and NW quoins of nave).
   In the north and west walls of the nave are the remains of three original single splay windows. Internally these are all covered in plaster, but externally they have stone surrounds. That in the middle of the west wall has been entirely replaced in Bath stone (? 1890). The north window of the nave has small Caenstone jambs with some Bath replacement in the upper part. It is perhaps c. late 11th/early 12th century date - the surrounding wall might also suggest this. The original windows on the east and south as well as the original doorways have all been replaced in the later Middle Ages, but the doorways on the north and south probably mark the original doorways. In the 13th century another doorway was apparently cut through the middle of the west wall (below the earlier window). This is now blocked with knapped flintwork, but above it is smaller stonework with one block of Reigate stone, suggesting the 13th century date.
   In the 13th century also new simple 2-centred doorways were inserted on either side of the nave (with plain chamfered surrounds to the outer doorway). The doorway on the north is smaller than the southern one, and the latter still has four voussoirs (decorated with chevron) above it. This must have come from the earlier 12th century doorway. The rere-arches of both doorways seem to re-use some earlier Caenstone jambs.
   The two-light windows in the east wall and south wall of the nave must both be early 14th century insertions. Externally the east window is entirely restored in Bath stone, while the south nave window is mostly original (only the central mullion and sill are in Bath stone). Internally both these windows have fine Hythe stone jambs with carefully drafted edges to the blocks. The internal sill to the east window has been cut down in the 19th century so the altar could be inserted there. The nave south window only has timber lintels over it internally. There is a ?medieval aumbry on the NE side of the nave (no original surround visible).
   The south window of the chancel is a two-light perpendicular window (15th century) with a square top. It has rougher internal Hythe stone jambs. There is no chancel arch, but a small rood screen was perhaps added at the end of the 15th century, as well as perhaps the original south porch.
   Over the west gable of the nave is a stone bell-cote for 2 bells. This was restored and rebuilt in c. 1890, but probably dates originally from the 13th century. The Bell now displayed in the south chancel (which broke in half in 1939, and was stuck together and displayed) may well be an original 13th century bell made for the church. There is today a single (replacement) bell in the south bell-cote (the bell cote is shown in a ruined state in Petrie's early 19th century watercolour).
   There were major restorations in 1866 (date on rain-water hopper on SE corner of nave) and 1890. Smaller restorations were carried out in 1911 and 1923. In 1890, the north vestry (with fireplace) was added and a new porch. All the fittings in the nave and chancel including the font (with 1929 lid) must date from the 19th century restorations. The chancel roof is 19th century, but the nave has remains of a substantially rebuilt later medieval crown-post roof. Externally there is cement render on the south and east chancel walls, and (redone recently) the nave north wall.

BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The original church is made of whole coursed flints (with occasional Roman bricks) including flint quoins. There are quoins and jambs etc. (added later?) of Caen and Hythe stone, and one piece of Reigate stone in the west wall. Later Medieval jambs and tracery are in Hythe stone with 19th century restorations in Bath stone.

Shape: D-shaped - enlarged to road on SE, and to farmyard boundary on SW (c. late 19th century).

Condition: Good

Apparent extent of burial: Burials in churchyard first mentioned in wills 1478, 1503, etc.

Earthworks: enclosing: The whole of the curving northern boundary of the churchyard is the
adjacent: outer bailey bank of the early Norman motte and bailey castle.

Building on boundary: Farmyard buildings of Coldred Court along boundary to SW.

Exceptional monuments: - but some good headstones in situ in the churchyard.

Ecological potential: Good

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Vicars presented in c. 1206 and 1208 (see Arch Cant. 20 (1893), 65)

Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB. DM, TR etc.): None - it was one of three 12th/13th century chapels (with Popeshall & Newsole) in the parish - all perhaps founded in the late 11th century.

Late med. status: Appropriated to Maison Dieu soon after 1236. In 1584 (and confirmed in 1680) the vicarage was united with Shepherdswell.

Patron: Goes with the manor until in 1236 it was granted to the Maison Dieu in Dover, then in 1520 to the Crown until c. 1549 it went to the Archbishop.

Other documentary sources: Hasted (IX) (1800), 391-3 Testamenta Cantiana (E Kent, 1907), 85-6 mention "Light of Holy Cross", 1478, "Light of St Catherine", 1517 etc, "Light of St Pancras", 1466, etc, "To the reparation of the Stepell of Coldred", 1509 & 1517.

Reused materials: A few Roman bricks in the church

Finds within 0.5km: A c. 300 feet deep well was discovered in the late 18th century (see Hasted IX 386 and plan) just south east of the church (under the road). It may be the original castle well, or Roman. Other Roman finds were made in the mid 18th century to the east of the church when Waldershare Park was enlarged (Hasted op.cit)

Inside present church: ? Good

Outside present church: - good

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): ? Peter Marsh

This church and its surrounding motte and bailey castle is an unusual and important c.late 11th century monument, even though most of the motte has been dug away. It is also a good example of an original early Norman rectangular nave and chancel with no later additions (except the 1890 vestry).

Few parish churches survive within the outer bailey of a motte and bailey castle.

REFERENCES: H M & J Taylor, Anglo Saxon Architecture I (1965), 164-5

Guide book: By Adrian Newell (Sept. 1989) with some useful illustrations (but no plan)

Plans & drawings: Petrie view from SW (early 19th century) (New plan (1:50) made by Howard Jones (August 1992))

DATES VISITED: 17th October 1992                    REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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