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Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Mary Church, Luddenham         TTQ992631R 

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. end).
   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.

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, 167,

Shape: Rectangular.

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 above).

Inside present church: ? Good

Outside present church: Much cut by surrounding graves + drainage ditch around church.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1986 - A. Clague.

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 1991.                          REPORTED BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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