KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  --Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

  St Botolph Church, Lullingstone       TQ 5295 6442

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993

LOCATION: Situated at just over 150 feet above O.D. in the narrow flood-plain of the river Darenth where it cuts through the North Downs. Lullingstone 'Castle' is immediately adjacent to the south-east (and the later 16th century brick gatehouse to the S.W.).

DESCRIPTION: Until they were united in 1412, there were two parishes and parish churches in this part of the valley. St John-the-Baptist, Lullingstane and the present church: St Botolph, Lullingstone. (Lullingstane church, which was probably near the Roman Villa, was in ruins after the Reformation and the remains were pulled down 'some years ago' (Hasted).

This church was probably newly built around c. 1300 by the Rokesle (Ruxley) family. Despite some previous assertions, there is no evidence at all of an earlier 'Norman' church. The simple nave and chancel is built entirely in the Decorated style and all features of the primary building are of this date, and there is no sign of windows, etc., being inserted into earlier walls.

The nave has two original two-light windows on the north, and another on the west above a contemporary doorway (now bricked up). The three-light window on the south-east side of the nave looks slightly earlier in date stylistically (late 13th century) but is probably contemporary with the other windows with reticulated tracery. Externally the nave walls are of high-quality coursed knapped flint with side-alternate quoins at the corners (the south-west corner has been rebuilt - note crack/joints). The external masonry of the chancel is also of coursed flint masonry but not as neatly squared as in the nave. There are two two-light windows (and a small doorway) on the south and a three-light east window with similar, but more elaborate reticulated tracery. Another contemporary window is on the north-west side of the chancel, but this is now missing its central mullion and tracery. All the windows in the church have internal rere-arches, and all of them still have their original jambs, mullions, tracery, etc., in Ragstone with Caen tracery. There is only sparing repair in Bathstone (particularly to external hoods), though much external tracery is worn. The hood-mould to the west doorway has been hacked off, but the doorway itself still exhibits jamb-blocks with comb-chisel tooling and large worn pyramid stops at the base. Inside the south-east corner of the nave a fine ogee-headed piscina was uncovered again in the late 19th century. There are original diagonal buttresses on the north-east and south-east corners of the chancel, thought that on the N.E. is restored with 18th century bricks. Some original iron glazing bars also survive.

The roof over the west-end of the nave still has a crown-post truss, supporting a timber belfry. More of this c. 14th century roof may survive over the nave (and possibly the chancel), though it is hidden below the 18th century ones, and above the 18th century ceilings.

Around c. 1520 (and perhaps not finished till just after 1522, from the evidence of his will), Sir John Pechè had a new north chapel of red brick (with stone dressings) constructed north of the chancel. The English-bond red brickwork is visible externally (with cement-covered plinth), as are the fine three-light windows (two in the north wall, and one in the east wall), with original glazing bars. Sir John's exceptionally fine tomb (with effigy below) also survives in the thickness of the north-east chancel wall and the north chapel. A contemporary doorway into the chapel also survives immediately to the west. This chapel was to be a chantry, but this would have been dissolved after only about 25 years. The chapel also has its original flat moulded ceiling.

At about the same time as the chapel was being constructed, or a little earlier, the magnificent Rood-screen was put in. The decorative features, rebuses, etc., date it to c. 1510-22, and remarkably the whole screen, its gates and loft still survive, though the latter has an 18th century small balustrade on the top. The, now-blocked, doorway to the Rood-loft also survives on the north-east.

In the earlier part of the 18th century the church was restored, and given new interior decorations - paid for by Percyvall Hart, Esq. (ob. 1738). A new lath-and-plaster partition was created a few feet east of the west wall of the nave, and new flat plaster ceilings were made, as well as plaster surrounds to the windows, and to the chancel arch. A new pulpit and box-pews were also put in (cut-down and re-arranged in the late 19th century), as well as a very small pillar font (in a case) on the south-west side of the nave. A monumental porch was also added outside the early 14th century S.W. door to the nave, and the walls of the nave were raised several feet with Flemish Bond brickwork. On top were white cornices and a new slate roof. The western bell cote (with one bell) was also reformed with slate cladding and roof (capped by a weather vane). New black and white marble floors were put in the nave and chancel and new chancel stalls, and some new glass. The whole of the west wall of the north chapel was given 'Rococo - Gothick' arcading and made into a monument to Percyvall Hart, Esq. The church is fully described by Hasted (Vol. II (1797), 548 - 550) soon after the changes.

In the later 19th century, as we have seen, the box pews were cut down and re-arranged, and earlier this century the altar rails and reredos were put in by Sir Oliver Hart Dyke. The church was visited by Sir Stephen Glynne in 1859 before these changes - see his Notes on the Churches of Kent (1877), 146-7.

BUILDING MATERIALS: The main building material is knapped flint, in the original church, with Caen and Ragstone dressings (Roman bricks are used over the putlog holes). Then red brick is used for the c. 1522 north chapel and for the 18th century works. 19th century repairs in Bathstone. There is also much fine glass in the church of various dates (14th cent. to 18th century), as well as 18th century plaster work and marble paving.

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Sir John Peché (ob. 1522) - see above. Also several other fine monuments in chancel (Sir Percyvall Hart - ob. 1581), and his wife, Frideswide) and north chapel (Sir George ob. 1587 and Lady Hart - replacing the altar). Also Percyvall Hart (ob. 1738) - west wall and Anne Dyke (ob. 1763) north wall of north chapel. There are also some fine brasses in the chancel floor, including those to John de Rokesle (ob. 1361) and Sir William Peché (ob. 1487) - the latter with rare Arabic numeral date.

Size & Shape: Small ? 19th cent./20th cent. churchyard with gravestones immediately north + N.W. of church.

Condition: Good

Boundary walls: Brick low boundary wall to N.W. and earlier brickwall to N. (kitchen-garden).

Ecological potential: : ? No, within only neat lawns to south and east (large ceders here).

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Late med. status: Rectory

Patron: Lords of the Manor of Lullingstone

Other documentary sources: For will of Sir John Peché of 1521 (Probate granted 1522) see Canon Scott Robertson's article 'Peché of Lullingstone' in Arch. Cant. 16 (1886), 227-240 with complete transcription (on pp. 235-7), mentioning his chapel at Lullingstone shall be made up and fynysshid.'

Reused materials: Few Roman bricks in Nave walls (above Putlog holes).

Finds within 0.5km: Large well-known Roman Villa c. half a mile to the north, which is also probably the site of Lullingstane Church.

Inside present church: ? Good

Outside present church: ? Good

To structure: Major Redecoration inside chancel - Apr/May 1993.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): H Wrighton,

The church and churchyard: An exceptional small (new) church of c. 1300 with a fine c. 1522 north chapel, containing several very fine monuments, and a beautiful Rood-screen and loft. Rebuilt in the early 18th century with plaster ceilings, window and chancel arch surrounds and other fittings. No major Victorian restoration took place.

The wider context: The monuments and wide variety of stained glass in the church are of particular importance.

REFERENCES: Canon Scott Robertson 'Church of St Botolph, Lullingstone', Arch. Cant. 16 (1886), 99-113 with engravings of the Rood Screen and tomb of Sir John Peché, and list of Rectors.

Guide Book: Useful recent, but undated and anon, illustrated leaflet.

Photographs: View of church from S.W. (Roof of Gatehouse) in Kent Churches 1954, 9, and of interior looking E. (with Rood screen) in ibid, 134.

Plans & drawings: Good engravings in Scott Robertson's article (above). View from south by H Petrie in c. 1806.

DATE VISITED: 11/5/93                            REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

To Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information Introduction          To Church Committee Introduction

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society December 2011

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too