Mary Church, Luddenham
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1991
Isolated site c. 2 miles N.W. of Faversham, with only Luddenham Court
Farm to the west, and Luddenham marshes to the north and west. The
church is c. 20 ft above O.D.
In the late 18th century, Hasted (IV, 1798, 390) describes the church
as 'a small building, consisting of one aisle and chancel, having a
tower steeple on the north side of it, in which are three bells'.
However, in 1807, the steeple and part of the chancel/nave fell down,
and a very small red-brick tower was built on the south-west by
William Moss. He also repaired the nave and chancel. The south porch
was added in 1889. It is made of heavy knapped flint with Bath quoins.
H. Petrie's watercolour of 1806 (from the S.E.) shows the church (with
earlier S. porch) just before the collapse of the tower. The west wall
of the nave displays the earliest phase of the church with many Roman
bricks used in the N.W. and S.W. quoins. Other reused Roman bricks can
be seen in the walls behind the peeling plaster render. One large Caen
stone block is at the top of the N.W. quoin.
The west doorway is a very worn mid-12th century feature
made of Reigate stone. There is a zigzag pattern around the
semi-circular arch and on the jambs, as well as remains of very worn
scalloped capitals. The two doors filling the west doorway are
probably late medieval in date, though they have been repaired at the
bottom. On the north and south walls of the nave at the west end, the
fabric is clearly 12th century with ragstone and flint rubble (and
Roman brick and some ironstone) set in a yellow mortar.
About half way along the north side there is a two-light
trefoil-headed window made of Wealden marble. This is set in roughly
knapped-flint masonry (with some Roman brick), and this is clearly a
rebuild of the 14th century. There is another two-light trefoil-headed
window at the east end of the chancel on the south side. This is made
of Kentish Rag (+? Reigate) and is very worn. It probably has its
original glazing bars. Opposite it on the north side of the chancel at
the east end, is an original (late 12th century) lancet of worn
Reigate stone. There is another lancet to the west of these on both
sides but their external jambs have been entirely replaced in ? Bath
stone (in the 1880s). The two east wall lancets have also been
completely replaced in 1880s in Bath stone.
Towards the west end of the chancel, on the south side, a
vertical line of quoins in Kent Rag is becoming visible (behind
peeling render). This may be another later Medieval window jamb.
As we have seen the tower fell in 1807. It must have
fallen southwards across the west end of the chancel and east end of
the nave, as the walls here show much evidence for total rebuilding
behind the now-peeling 1807 render. Both the east quoins of the nave
are totally rebuilt with Reigate stone blocks (reused) and some long
Wealden marble pieces (? reused medieval window jambs).
There is also a slightly jutting out 1807 quoin in the
middle of the nave on the south side. The rebuilt walls contain some
areas of red brick and red brick, and red brick buttresses were added
north and south at the east end of the chancel. The position of the
original N.E. tower can still be made out on the N. side of the
chancel (by the later rebuild).
In the south-west corner of the nave, a new mean little
brick tower was built, and at the same time the top of the nave west
gable was rebuilt in brick, and a poor upper west window (with timber
mullions - Y tracery) was inserted. The small brick tower has little
belfry windows and a crenellated top.
In the later Victorian period (? 1880s), three new
two-light windows (with quatrefoils over) in Bath stone were inserted
(two on the south side of the nave, and one on the north, at the E.
The whole church was covered in render in 1807 (except
the top of the brick west gable and upper part of the tower). This
render, which is now coming away has a wavy-line pattern on it. In the
later 19th century, a heavier render was used to repair certain areas,
and around the newly inserted windows. This has a plain surface.
BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
In the earliest period (12th century) many Roman bricks were reused
and Reigate stone was brought in for the west doorway. Kent Rag rubble
(+ some more local flint and ? sandstone) was also brought in
(probably by sea). In the later medieval period Wealden (? Bethersden)
marble and cut Kentish Rag was brought in for window jambs.
For the 1807 repairs red brick (and reused materials) were used, while
in the 1880's Bath stone was imported. The roofs are of Kent Peg tile.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN THE CHURCH:
13th century coffin slab, with a cross and a pair of hands holding a
heart. It came from the neighbouring (now ruined) Stone church - see
photo in H.R. Pratt Boorman + V.J. Torr, Kent Churches 1954,
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Condition: The whole churchyard has for several years been completely
overrun by nettles and brambles - and some saplings are now growing.
Boundary walls: Iron railing to N. (with farmyard) + ? later 19th
century brick wall to south.
Exceptional monuments: A large 18th century tomb chest to the north of
the chancel (now completely covered in brambles).
Ecological potential: ? Yes.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Late 12th century (see below).
Late med. status: Rectory.
Patron: The Crown-briefly appropriated to Faversham Abbey (late 12th
century) but this was overturned in the early 13th century and a
yearly pension (66s. 8d.) given instead to the abbey (to D.+ C. of
Canterbury after Dissolution - see Hasted VI (1798), 391 ).
Other documentary sources: Minutes of Vestry meeting 13th Nov. 1807/C.E.
Woodruff, Canterbury Diocesan Records (1922), 114) records.
Whereas the steeple and part of the Church and chancel of the said
Parish have lately fallen down, and upon an estimate made by Mr
William Moss, architect, it appears that the sum of £500 will be
necessarily required to rebuild the same and to restore the Pulpit,
'Reading Desk, and Pews, which have been destroyed.' It was decided to
carry out the work and levy a rate of 2/- in the pound.
Reused materials: Much reused Roman brick in the church walls (see
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good
Outside present church: Much cut by surrounding graves + drainage
ditch around church.
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1986 - A. Clague.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: The west end of the nave is of the mid 12th
century with a fine (but very worn) decorated doorway. The western
quoins are largely of Roman brick. Most of the central part of the
church was destroyed above ground when the tower fell in 1807. Not
very good 19th century restorations.
Plans & drawings: Early watercolour (from S.E.) in 1806 by Petrie,
showing N.E. Tower.
DATES VISITED: 11th October
REPORTED BY: Tim Tatton-Brown