Lawrence Church, Mereworth TQ 6603 5373,
earlier site c. TQ 668 533
ROCHESTER DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994
LOCATION: The present church of 1744-6 is c.
½ mile north-west of the original church, which was just behind the
west pavilion of Mereworth Castle.
DESCRIPTION: Brand new church on new site (see above) of 1744-6, built
for the Earl of Westmorland (architect unknown). It is like a Roman
basilica with lines of columns inside, and a porch of Tuscan columns,
like an apse, on the west.
Above and in the west end is a small tower, with above it a fine
slender octagonal spire, which can be seen from miles around. There
are clock faces at the base of the spire, and some fine neighbouring
urns on the corners of the tower.
This church has been well-described in many places (including the two
guides available in the church), and it is not my intention here to
The church (particularly the tower & spire) were repaired in 1946
after War damage.
BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
Ragstone blockwork walls with fine Tunbridge Wells sandstone quoins,
window jambs, columns, spire etc.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Brass (part lost) of Sir John de
Mereworth (ob. 1366) under canopy (cf. Cobham). Also another brass to
William Shosmyth (ob. 1479) - taken from earlier church. Also wall
monument in recess with brass on Bethersden marble to Sir Thomas
Nevell (ob. 1542). Opposite is a huge monument (built 1639 in old
church) to Sir Thomas and Lady Mary Fane. There is another 16th
century tomb to 3rd or 4th Lord Bergavenny.
Also old chest on N.E. side of church.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size & Shape: Rectangular area around church with large extension
to south (of c. 19th cent) which is terraced down hillside. A
large number of small ? footstones have been laid flat in paths around
Present Burial: Open (est. per yr: a few) North part + S.E. part still
in use for burial
Maintained by parish/local authority:
Boundary walls: Ragstone block wall with regular pilasters and ? T.
Wells sandstone coping.
Building in churchyard or on boundary: Small ugly modern boiler house
(+ oil tank) immediately south of church. Modern large wooden shed in
S.E. part of churchyard.
Exceptional monuments: Some fine headstones around church
Ecological potential: Churchyard contains fastigiate yews + variegated
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book (1086)
Late med. status: Rectory
Patron: Priory at Tonbridge (Black Canons) - from late 12th cent. to
1525, then Cardinals College, Oxford till 1529, then to Lord
Abergavenny, Fanes, Lord le Despencer.
Other documentary sources: Hasted V (1798), 87-90.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
But below ground deposits must remain at the earlier site.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: An exceptionally fine mid. 18th century
church on a new site, well away from the original site. The earlier
(medieval) church was close to Mereworth Castle, and has been
demolished, though no doubt there are below ground remains.
The wider context: This is an exceptionally rare, for Kent, new
mid-18th century church built in a classical/baroque style.
Guide Books: Short guide by Jeremy Lowe (n.d.) and longer guide by
Andrew Wells (1983)
DATE VISITED: 31/5/91 + 16/5/92 + 12/10/93 +
11/1/94 REPORT BY: Tim
Churches - Architectural & Historical Information Introduction
Church Committee Introduction
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