Stephens Church, Hackington
TR 1483 5913
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993
LOCATION: The church lies about ½ mile north of
Canterbury on the head brick earth terrace at c. 50 feet above
O.D. Immediately to the west of it (until demolished in the late 18th
century) was Place House (see Arch. Cant. 45 (1933),
201-4 and Arch. Cant. 48 (1936), 238-240), the residence
from c. 1227 until c. 1540 of the Archdeacons of
Canterbury and then of the Manwoods and Hales. Earlier it may have
been the site of Archbishop Baldwin's College.
DESCRIPTION: The architectural history of this church has been very
well surveyed by K.H. Jones (in Arch. Cant. 44 (1932),
253-263), and this survey is accompanied by an excellent measured plan
by G.M. Livett. It is, therefore, only necessary here to summarize the
earlier work, and perhaps to amplify a few details where a different
interpretation is given.
The earliest fabric surviving above ground belongs to the
nave; and must date from the late 11th/early 12th century. These early
walls are made with flint and reused Roman brick set
'herringbone-wise' in thick layers of coarse lime mortar. The outer
face was then lightly rendered all over. The finest original
architectural feature is the south doorway (now in the later porch),
which is made of Caen stone, and has a 'chip-carved' diaper pattern in
the tympanium over a timber-lintel. The side shafts have cushion
capitals, and there was perhaps a similar doorway in the west wall,
though with more elaborate chevon - covered arches over it. There may
also have been a doorway in the north wall. Two original windows
survive above the south porch. They are round-headed and have quite
large openings. That on the east was lengthened downwards in the 13th
century. Another similar window, but at a lower level, is on the north
side of the nave at the west end. It is perhaps reset in the 19th
century from a higher up position to the east (This window is blocked
in an early 19th century view).
This church is now a cruciform church and the arches into
the north and south transepts are semi-circular (though slightly
flattened) with roll-mouldings on the nave side of the arch, and with
mainly plain (and in part restored) piers. The south-east pier has a
more elaborate cushion capital at the top and chip-carved work on the
abacus. Jones suggests that they are arches that were reset in the
early 13th century, using materials from Archbishop Baldwin's late
1180s college. This is highly unlikely, and it is much more likely
that they are original early to mid-12th century arches (on a large
scale) still in situ. This suggests that there was
already a prominent cruciform church here before Archbishop Baldwin
started to construct his college. The surviving external quoins on the
east and west sides (at the extreme north end) of the south transept
are also probably mid-12th century in date, though the 12th century
transepts have disappeared totally.
The west doorway was also perhaps rebuilt in the later
12th century, though its inner arch has comb-chislework of a 13th
century date. The lower part is heavily restored in Portland stone.
During the early-mid 13th century a tower was inserted at the west end
of the nave by putting a north-south wall on its east side with a
pointed arch in it. Large angle buttresses were added on the
north-west and south-west corners (containing much reused masonry),
and an upper stage was built with large Hythe stone quoins (and some
reused Caen stone blocks). There is a 13th century rectangular window
half way up the wall. The upper windows were replaced in the 15th
century, but still have 13th century internal jambs. All the 13th
century work is characterized by the use of the comb-chisel. The
internal heads of the upper tower windows are of tile voussoirs (also
probably 15th century replacements).
The lancet windows in the nave, with rere-arches, must
date from the later 13th century, but the blocked lancet in the west
wall of the south transept (with Caen jambs and a Reigate stone head)
may be earlier. Also of a late 13th century date is the chancel, which
is in three bays and has external buttresses. Jones' suggestion that
the (outer) window tracery was inserted a few decades later in the
early to mid-14th century seems unlikely (there is no sign of window
insertion in the fabric of the outer walls which are full of reused
fragments and Roman bricks and thin tiles). Much of the external
tracery has been restored in Bath stone, and the tracery in the upper
quatrefoils may be a 19th century insertion (cf. Early 19th cent.
drawings). The original quoins to the buttresses and for the plinth
(not made on the north) are of large blocks of dark green Hythe stone.
The internal shafts in the chancel windows have been painted black to
look like marble, but are in fact cut from the same blocks as the
jambs. The north and south transepts were apparently rebuilt in the
early 14th century, though the south transept was almost completely
rebuilt in the late 16th century. The north wall of the north transept
with its diagonal buttresses and trio of trefoils in the head of its
three-light north window must be early 14th century as is the 2-light
E. window of the S. transept. A pair of small early 14th century
ogee-headed windows were also added on either side of the chancel east
window, though the east window itself is a 15th century (5 light
Perpendicular) replacement. Also added in the 15th century is the
stone south-porch, which is particularly distinctive in having much
dark brown ironstone in its south gable. The chancel arch is perhaps
early 15th century.
Of unique importance to this church is the surviving
indenture for the making of a new rood-screen in 1519-20 (see A.
Vallance in op. cit. below). This screen still survives,
though its top was mutilated in the 19th century, and it was moved to
the entrance of the south transept in 1966. Another early 16th century
feature is the 3-light east window to the north transept. The simple
three-and five-cant roofs (with three tie beams each in the nave and
chancel) may also have been replaced in the 16th century. They all
have painted lath and plaster ceilings. The south transept was almost
completely rebuilt in the late 16th century in brick (with the south
plinth repaired in the 19th century in knapped flint) for the Manwood
family pew (with a brick burial-vault beneath). The low pyramid roof,
and unusual hexagonal spirelet over it, on the western tower has a
frame that may date from the late 15th or 16th century (with later
repairs). The ? Late Medieval font was given by Sir Roger Manwood in
1591 (inscribed). There was a major mid-19th century restoration when
the church was refloored and repewed.
BUILDING MATERIALS: The earliest materials are whole flint and reused
Roman bricks with Caen stone dressings. Some Reigate stone was
introduced for quoins and jambs in the 13th century, as well as larger
blocks of Hythe stone for the tower quoins. Many reused materials are
also found in the tower, chancel and north transept, no doubt from the
earlier church. There is also some local ironstone and other Tertiary
sandstones (with mollusc holes).
Brick was introduced in the late 16th century (S. transept) and the
usual Bath stone in the later 19th century, as well as some knapped
flint and Portland stone. Also some more recent heavy cement render,
and window repairs in ? Portland stone.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Sir Roger Manwood (ob. 1592) and his
helm + gauntlets on west wall of south transept. Also Lady Manwood
(1641). There are also some fine early hatchments, and a unique
poorbox, dated 1634. The tower screen (dated 1630) has a double-door,
and a central mullion and tympanum which can be taken out for
funerals. The Pulpit is early 17th century but on a later base. The
original ring of six bells dates from 1746, and the Royal Arms on the
west wall of the nave from 1695.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size: Large area around church with extensions to east.
Building in churchyard or on boundary: The Archdeacon's house (Palace)
was just to the south of the church.
Exceptional monuments: Some good monuments.
Ecological potential: ? Good
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: 12th century - Chapel of Hackington.
Late med. status: (vicarage\appropriation): Vicarage from 1227.
Patron: The Archbishop, then given and appropriated to the
archdeaconry in 1227.
Other documentary sources: See Hasted IX (1800), 51-55 + Test. Cant.
(E. Kent 1907), 144-5 mentions the Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
with a seat nearby 'newly built' (1491). Also lights of the Holy Cross
(Rood), St Mary, St Erasmus, St John-the-Baptist, and St Katherine.
A very rare indenture for the making of a new Rood-screen in 1519-20
survives in the British Library (Add Ms 38139, fo 236) - transcribed
in Arch. Cant. 44 (267-8). It was to be like the
now-lost Rood screen in the Holy Cross church, Canterbury.
Reused materials: Many Roman bricks in the earliest phase.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good, but some burial vaults.
Outside present church: Quite good, but cut away by boiler house on
N.E. side of nave and S.W. side of N. transept, and having quite a
deep drainage channel around the outside.
To structure: Some windows have been totally renewed externally (eg.
lancet on S. side of nave) in ? Portland stone. A lower floor has been
put into the tower in 1971, and the 1519-20 rood-screen was moved in
1966. The Manwood burial vault was opened in 1962. The bells were
returned and rehung in 1971.
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): May 1992/David Martin
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A late 11th/early 12th century nave with a
major expansion to a cruciform church in mid 12th century, and a large
new chancel of c. 1300. The close connection with the
Archdeacon of Canterbury from 1227, whose Palace was next door, makes
this more than an ordinary parish council.
The wider context: The relationship of this church to Archbishop
Baldwin's large new (uncompleted) college of the 1180s has yet to be
REFERENCES: K.H. Jones St.'Stephen's church, Hackington, and its
possible connection with Archbishop Baldwin' with excellent plan by
G.M. Livett and appendix on the Rood-screen by Aymer Vallance, Arch.
Cant. 44 (1932), 253-268.
Guide Book: 1978 by John Hayes (with plan & drawings copied from
Photographs: In Kent Churches 1954 of south side of church
(p.12), 1630 West Screen (p.138) and 1634 pillar almsbox (p.146).
Plans & drawings: 5 views of the church in the early 19th century
and Petrie view from S.W.in 1801. Plan (1932) by G.M. Livett (see
DATE VISITED: 14th & 23rd March
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown