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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 Holy Cross Church, Hoath         TR 203 642
   (earlier St Mary & Holy Trinity)

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994

LOCATION: Near centre of village at c. 110 feet above O.D. with Hoath Court beside the churchyard on the west. The church is situated on a gravel terrace on the east side of the Blean Forest which is on London Clay.

DESCRIPTION: This church unfortunately underwent major restorations in 1842 and 1866-7, but despite this, something of the medieval fabric of this ancient chapel to Reculver still survives.
   The nave perhaps dates from the 12th century, as suggested by its north-west and south-west Caenstone quoins, while the chancel is probably of the 13th century, and has some iron-cemented gravel stone in its south wall (cf. churches at Chislet, Westbere, Sturry and also 13th century buildings in Canterbury). It has a pair of lancets in its east wall with a plain round window above (all restored externally). Glynne says there was a piscina with a shelf above. The chancel arch was also c. late 13th century, as were the south door to the nave and the windows on either side. The north nave doorway, of similar date, had its head reset in the north aisle wall in 1867.
   In the early 14th century, a three-light west window was made, as well as three two-light windows in the chancel (two on the north, one on the south-east). In the later 15th century two two-light square-headed (under hood-moulds) Perpendicular windows were put into the south side of the church. That on the south side of the nave has a triangular opening under it, possibly a piscina. All these windows have, however, been heavily restored in the 19th century. The Perpendicular windows mentioned above are on either side of where the Rood-screen would have been, and may relate to various activities at the church in the late 15th-early 16th century, including a porch 'pewing' in 1495, gifts to the roodloft (1509-19), etc. All are mentioned in wills, which also tell us of the buying of new bells in 1499. This may be the date when the small bell-turret over the west end of the nave was made (or rebuilt). It was, however, heavily restored along with the west gable (date stone) in 1842, and is now covered in shingles. Above it is a slender spire, also covered in shingles. There are three bells here, one of c. 1500 (see above) and two of 1696.
   In 1866-7 the church was heavily restored by Joseph Clarke, and a new north aisle was added. New roofs were made and a new north arcade, as well as completely new fittings including a font and pulpit. The Incorporated Church Building Society gave a grant of 30 for 109 new seats (no doubt the present pews - some now removed). A new porch was also made on the south side of the nave (it has a stoup in it on the east side of the nave doorway).

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.): Flint with Caenstone quoins in the original nave, and some iron-cemented gravestone in the chancel south wall. Also some? Kentish Rag. Otherwise the outside walls date from the heavy 19th century restoration when they were covered with pebble-dashed render. Much Bathstone was used for window restoration, etc.

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: None, but a headless brass of c. 1430 in a leger in the chancel floor (to Isabella Chakbon).

Size & Shape: Roughly rectangular area around church, with quite large extension to the north, still in use. Churchyard only in use from c. 1303 (before that the parishioners had to use Reculver). It was only formally consecrated in 1410.

Building in churchyard or on boundary: Various buildings in the village to east and west, as well as a shed in the northern church yard; and a lynch gate on the south.

Exceptional monuments: Some quite good 18th and early 19th century gravestones (and bodystones). In the early 1980s some gravestones were pulled out.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: ? Early 14th century.

Late med. status: Always a chapelry to Reculver - until 1960 when it was attached to Chislet. After 1310, it was the only chapel.

Patron: The Archbishop - via Reculver church. Between 1354-60, a chantry chapel of the Holy Cross was founded in Hoath church by the Vicar of Reculver. It was dissolved in 1548.

Other documentary sources: Hasted (2nd ed. 1808), IX, 99-101. Also Test. Cant (E. Kent, 1907), 167-8, and R. Graham 'Sidelights on the Rectors and parishioners of Reculver from the Registers of Archbishop Winchelsey' Arch. Cant. 67 (1944), 1-12, and A. Hussey, 'Reculver and Hoath wills' Arch. Cant. 32 (1917), 83-141. (This also has a list of the Chantry priests.) New bells 'to be bought' are mentioned in 1499, and money for 'pewing of the church' in 1495. Also the hoodloft (1509-19).

Inside present church: ? Quite good, but disturbance by N. aisle arcade foundations.

Outside present church: Disturbed on north by 1867 north aisle, and boiler house to west.

To graveyard: Some gravestone were removed in the early 1980s.

The church and churchyard: A small ? 12th century nave and 13th century chancel which were heavily restored in the 19th century when the north aisle was added. A rare c. 1500 bell survives in the turret.

The wider context: One of Joseph Clark's heavy restorations (he also rebuilt the nearby early 19th century Reculver church).

REFERENCES: S. Glynne Churches of Kent (1877), 30, who visited before the restoration.
D. Ingram Hill 'The church of Holy Cross at Hoath', in Hoath and Herne ed. K. McIntosh (1984), 31-6. Also in the same volume; H. Gough 'The cure of souls at Hoath' pp. 19-23.

Plans and early drawings: Petrie view from S.E. in 1808 showing timber turret and earlier S. porch.

DATE VISITED: 11th February 1994                                   REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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