Giles Church, Kingston
TR 1982 5127
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1991
About 5 miles S.E. of Canterbury, half a mile S.W. of the main
Canterbury-Dover (Roman) road, at about 160 feet above O.D. in the
chalky Nailbourne valley (S.W. hillside).
A small church with a simple unaisled nave and chancel (no chapels,
though a Lady Chapel is, oddly, mentioned in a 1525 will), and an
added 15th century W. tower. There are also a 19th century vestry and
As Elliston Erwood has shown, the plan of the nave and
western part of the chancel (and the whole flint quoins) suggest an
early Norman date for the earliest part of the church. The chancel was
probably extended about 10 feet eastwards in the early 13th century.
Early in the 14th century four new windows were inserted
into the east end of the nave (and by this time, any chancel arch had
gone, and the east end walls of the nave cut back. On either side are
2-light windows with trefoiled heads and 'daggered bottomed'
quatrefoils over - all under 2 centred arched hoodmoulds (ie just
reticulated). The eastern windows in the nave are single-light
cinquefoil headed windows which light the E. end of the nave very
well. The window on the north is very low, and that on the south has
internal shutter hooks at the bottom. Were these windows to light an
altar or an early rood screen? There is a corbel (bracket) just west
of the S.E. window. In the centre of the S. wall of the nave is a
shallow niche under a wide pointed arch. It perhaps blocks an earlier
doorway (see scar in render outside), and was perhaps originally for a
tomb (Hasted says that there was a flagstone here from which the brass
was gone). There was also apparently a 'Decorated' period E. window
with a Rose until replaced by the present 3-light E. window in 1897 (?frags.
over gateway in churchyard wall west of tower).
In the later part of the 15th century, a massive but
small tower, with western angle-buttresses, was added to the west end
of the nave after its west wall had been demolished. The tower arch is
perhaps earlier. It has a fine 3-light trefoil-headed window over its
W. doorway. The top stage of the tower has debased round-headed
windows suggesting an early 16th century date. The large Ragstone
quoins for the tower are still largely intact - most of the rest of
the flint face is covered in render. There is a simple corbelled top.
Inside the tower, in the S.W. corner, is a fine 14th century corbelled
A pair of two-light perpendicular windows, with square
heads (and hoodmould on S.), were added at the west end of the nave on
the N. and S. sides, and a fine new doorway with a square head and
decorated spandrels inscribed (very worn):
"Pray for the soules of .... Thomas .... and Alys
his wyf". This must also be later 15th century (no related will
is known), and there is a fine holy water stoup immediately west of
the doorway with a square hoodmould. (The porch is 19th century)
The chancel windows and fittings (Sedilia, Piscina and
Aumbry) were also renewed in the 15th century. There are single-light
windows one either side to the east, and 2-light windows on either
side to the west. These have internal side jambs that come down much
lower with a bench on the north - that on the south was cut away for
the door into the vestry in the later 19th century. The door into the
aumbry on the north was acquired, and put in, in 1928, by the Rector.
The nave and chancel both have fine surviving (c. 15th
century) crown-post roofs that butt each other. The carved angel truss
at the E. end of the chancel was inserted in 1873 when the lath and
plaster ceilings were removed by William White.
There is a fine early 17th century pulpit at the S.E.
corner of the nave.
Many alterations and repairs were carried out in the 19th
century. In 1846, after repair and redecoration, a new floor was laid
and new pews were put in. At the same time the W. gallery and chancel
screen were removed.
In 1973, as mentioned above, the ceilings were removed,
then in the 1880s more repairs were undertaken (another reflooring and
reseating in 1886, with new choir stalls by Norman Shaw). The floor
tiles in the chancel, also by Norman Shaw, were put in at the same
time (see Newman B.O.E. (N.E.+E. Kent), 367).
Finally the east window was renewed in 1897 and the gable
top was rebuilt and heightened with a coping.
BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The original material was local flint, but most of this is now covered
by the external render used all over the building. There is some use
of Caen in windows, etc., and, for the later work, Kentish Rag (from
the Sandgate, etc. - boring mollusc holes), best seen in the tower
Under the tower is an early 13th century octagonal font bowl (unusual
at this date) on a new base (returned to the church in 1931 after have
been discarded over 150 years earlier. (Glynne visiting in 1846 saw a
There are 3 bells in the tower, hung for chiming only : one by William
le Belyetere (c. 1350) but cracked; one by Joseph Hatch, 1610 and a
There is a brass indent on the S. side of the chancel (by vestry door)
with only two brass shields in situ.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Monument to John Nethersole (ob.
1627) with small kneeling figures. There are also several fine wall
At the beginning of this century, Oyler mentions many hatchments in
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size: Small area N+E+S of church with larger extension to S.E.
Apparent extent of burial: Churchyard burials recorded from 1481
Exceptional monuments: Some fine 18th century monuments and
headstones (from 1740) around church and still in situ.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Patron: The Lord of the Manor of Kingston.
Other documentary sources: Test. Cant. (E. Kent, 1907), 183 -
Rood light (1472, 1475, 1479, 1491 wills). Also light of B.V.M. and a
chapel of Our Lady (1525), and Image of St. Christopher (1472), and
Lights of St. Giles (1475) 1491-1499 and St. Margaret (1525).
Tabernacle of St. Giles (1478). Also paving the church (1479) and
reparation of nave (1505). N.B. also Parish Register No. 2(1744-1812)
also contains notes relating to repairs/alterations in 1846, 1873,
1881, 1882, 1886 and 1897.
Reused materials: Above a gate into the old Rectory garden (N.W. of
the tower) are various architectural fragments set up (? from the
earlier E. window).
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ?Quite good.
Outside present church: Narrow trench cut all the way round the
outside of the church (except N. and W. of Tower).
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1989 ANDREW CLAGUE
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The Church and churchyard: A small but fine parish church with fine
later medieval roofs, and some good monuments in, and around, the
REFERENCES: Notes by F.C. Elliston Erwood in Arch. Cant. 59 (1946),
1-2 (and plan of 1927). Also by G.R. Glynne Notes on the Churches of
Kent (1877), 130, and Hasted IX (1800), 348-9.
Guide book: Leaflet by Margaret Smith (n.d.)
Plans & drawings: Plan in Elliston Erwood (above).
DATES VISITED: 26th November
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown