& St Paul Church, Leybourne TQ
ROCHESTER DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1995
LOCATION: Situated at about 60 feet above O.D. on
the 2nd gravel terrace (over Folkestone Sands). The main road
from West Malling to Rochester is just to the east and beyond this is
the West Malling stream which runs into the Medway a little further
north. Leybourne castle gate-house (part of a fortified manor) is not
far to the west.
DESCRIPTION: This church was unfortunately over-restored by Sir Arthur
Blomfield in 1874, especially his recasting and heightening of the
A church is mentioned in Doomsday Book (1086), and this is perhaps the
nave and western part of the chancel of the present church, which
shows clear signs of their early Norman date. There is much
herringbone work on the south side of the nave, east of the porch, as
well as in the south wall of the chancel. A near complete early Norman
window on the south-east side of the nave was reopened in 1961, and
its internal splay was covered in 13th century red-painted decoration.
Its original external jambs are of tufa. Above the porch is the
eastern tufa jamb of a second window, and this can also be seen
inside. Glynne (in 1847) also says: `One window to the north, of
Norman work, is filled up.' He may have meant the south, or there may
still be two other Norman windows above the later arcade. The
south-east quoin to the nave (in side-alternate tufa blocks) is the
original one, and there are other odd tufa blocks on the north-west
corner of the nave, and in the rebuilt south-west corner (not in
situ). The chancel was enlarged eastwards in the 13th century
and two lancets were put into the south wall with, internally, a two
bay blind arcade. Only the western arch is fully visible, but part of
the blocked eastern one can be seen, as well as the free-standing
shaft (heavily plastered, but probably of Purbeck marble) in the
middle. The simple pointed arch into the north chapel was totally
restored in the 19th century, but it almost certainly replaces an
earlier 13th century one leading into the 13th century north-east
chapel of the de Leybourne family. A fine later 13th century
heart-shrine is now set into the late 15th century north wall of this
chapel. It was `rediscovered' (as a heart-shrine) in 1861, and fully
discussed by the Revd. L.B. Larking (Refs. below). The western tower
was also probably first built in the 13th century, but it is totally
refaced externally, and internally the lancets in the first and second
stages are covered in plaster/render. The restored south nave doorway
may also be 13th century.
The three light east window in the chancel has reticulated tracery,
but is totally restored in Bathstone. It perhaps reflects an earlier c.
1300 window which still has shafts on the internal jambs. There is
also an early 14th century trefoil-headed piscina in the south-east
corner of the chancel, with above it a trefoiled lancet (restored
externally) which clearly replaced the earlier 13th century lancet
here. Part of the Reigate stone west jamb (and tufa sill) of this
earlier window is still visible in the outside wall. At about the same
time (early 14th century), a new two-light window was put into the
south-east corner of the nave. This window, and its pair to the west
of the porch, are entirely of the 1874 restoration, but there was a
larger window here before (shown in the early 19th century Petrie view
with a vertical stanchion and two horizontal bars), and its larger
internal wall-recess also suggests an early 14th century date. The
two-bay north arcade of the nave, to the north aisle, and the chancel
arch were also rebuilt in the early 14th century with octagonal piers
and double hollow-chamfered arches. The north aisle must at this time
have been wider. The south porch may have been added in the later 14th
century or 15th century. It has very large Ragstone blocks in its
south side, and a two- centred arch over. There is a 19th century
boarded ceiling, but above it is probably a 15th century roof (with
barge-boards at the south end). There is also a plain octagonal
Ragstone font. In the late 15th century the north aisle and north-east
chancel were totally rebuilt as a very narrow structure (perhaps after
population decrease). The north wall of this new structure is of
uniform Ragstone rubble on a hollow-chamfered plinth. The three
two-light late Perpendicular windows, and the new two-light east
window to the chapel, have square hood-moulds or 4-centred arch
hood-moulds. They are of Ragstone, except the most westerly window
which appears to have a little Caen stone in it (as well as some
restored Bath stone). There is a late 15th century pitched roof over.
There is a c. late 17th century pulpit in the south-east corner
of the nave.
When Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church in 1847, he mentions a `low
ugly western tower which seems to be modern, as is also the porch.' He
must be mistaken about the latter, but the south-west corner of the
nave (and probably the tower) were rebuilt in the early 19th century.
The whole of thenave wall west of the porch is of galleted Ragstone
masonry with red brick south-west quoin (with blue-headers). This is
typical of early 19th century work, though the 2-light window here was
clearly put in, in the 1874 restoration.
As we have seen, Sir Arthur Blomfield carried out a major restoration
of the church between 1873-7, and completely refaced the tower in
uncoursed Ragstone ashlar. The inside top stage of the tower is of
brick, probably in part from the earlier campaign. Blomfield also
restored much of the window tracery and put in roofs in the nave and
chancel. He added new buttresses to the east end of the chancel (and
one to the south-east corner of the nave), and completely refurbished
in the interior of the church including removing the gallery from the
north aisle (mentioned by Glynne). Floor levels were raised,
particularly in the chancel (and a Reredos was put in behind the high
altar in 1877). In 1937 the floor-levels in the chancel and north
chapel were partly lowered again revealing some earlier leger stones.
In June 1966 the tower was struck by lightening, and the roof had to
be rebuilt; the two bells were also re-cast into one at this time.
BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
13th century re-painted decoration on Norman window jamb in the nave.
The original Norman church is of Ragstone rubble with tufa dressings.
Then the 13th century chancel had Reigate stone dressings, and a ?
Purbeck marble shaft. The 14th and 15th century phases have fine cut
Ragstone and a little Caen stone. Also a few blocks of ironstone.
Galletted Ragstone masonry and red brick (with blue headers) was used
for the early 19th century restoration, while in 1873-7 Ragstone
facing was used, and Bathstone dressings.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: To Louisa Brockman (ob. 1837) - made
1866 by J.S. Westmacott. Also two wrought-iron crowns in the north
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size & Shape: Elongated oval around church - probably created in
Boundary walls: Ragstone boundary walls all around.
adjacent: Part filled in ditch/moat to Leybourne castle to west.
Exceptional monuments: Some good early headstones (+ one chest tomb)
to south of church.
Ecological potential: ? Yes - Yews planted all around church in 19th
century, with curved lines of beaches outside churchyard wall to west.
Late med. status: Rectory
Patron: Leybourne Manor (given in 1377 and until the Dissolution, to
the Abbey of St. Mary Grace by the Tower).
Other documentary sources: Hasted IV (1798), 506-8., Test. Cant.
(West Kent, 1906), 50.
Finds within 0.5km: Leybourne castle to the west.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: Quite good, but several burial vaults in
Outside present church: Good - drainage ditch on the north + south,
but levels much built up in churchyard.
To structure: Top of tower rebuilt in 1966 after lightening strike.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: Though this church was over-restored in c.
1874. The 13th century north-east chapel has a rare heart-shrine in
it, but this chapel and the north aisle were completely rebuilt as a
very narrow affair in the late 15th century. Early 14th century north
arcade and a chancel arch, with the porch a little later. Restoration
in the early 19th century and 1873-7.
The wider context: One of a group of early Norman churches in the
REFERENCES: L.B. Larking `On the heart-shrine in Leybourne Church, and
the family of De Leybourne'. Arch. Cant. 7 (1863),
329-341, and 5 (1868), 133-193. S.R. Glynne, Churches of Kent
(1877), 154-5. (He visited in 1847), when the nave aisle was galleted).
Guide book: Brief good leaflet (undated & anon). c. 1980s.
Photographs: Photo of Heart Shrine in Kent Churches 1954, 159.
Plans and drawings: Petrie early 19th century view from S.E.
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown