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

Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Mary Church, Nackington          TR 1568 5458

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1992

LOCATION: The church is situated about 2 miles SSE of the centre of Canterbury just beyond the County Borough boundary at c.260 feet above OD. The Court Lodge is immediately to the SW and Sextries Farm to the NE. The church is in open arable country on the Upper Chalk.

The earliest visible remains are of a c.12th century rectangular nave, and also probably the chancel north wall. There are three surviving original plain round-headed windows (two on the north side, and one on the SW side of the nave), with external jambs and voussoirs of Caen stone. There also appears to be a blocked 12th century window in the west gable of the nave. Only the north-east quoin of the nave (also of Caenstone) is original. The main masonry is of coursed whole flints which was originally covered by a plaster face, externally as well as internally. The church was perhaps rebuilt (or erected for the first time) by St Gregory's Priory in Canterbury after they had acquired it early in the 12th century.
   In the middle of the 13th century two lancets were inserted into the north wall of the chancel and a small tower was added to the west end of the nave (on the north side). A slightly larger lancet was also put into the west wall of the nave (the round-headed window in the gable wall above had been blocked by the S wall of the tower). New opposing doorways were also put into the north and south sides of the nave. The tower also has 13th century lancets in its N, S and W faces.
   At perhaps a slightly later date in the 13th century, a large chapel was added to the south side of the chancel. It is connected with the nave by a wide 2-centred arch, and has a wide doorway from the churchyard on its north west side (this required the cutting away of much of the south east quoin of the nave). This chapel appears originally to have had two lancets on its south side (see Petries 1808 view from SW) and a further pair of lancets in its east wall. Hasted tells us that 'in the two east windows of this chancel (ie. the Milles family's 'South Chancel') are good remains of painted glass' (Hasted IX (1800), 297). This fine glass is now in the two north windows of the chancel, and despite restoration in 1935 is mainly of a 13th century date. There is apparently a double piscina in the south wall of the chapel, perhaps suggesting that the chapel originally contained two altars.
   St Gregory's Priory acquired much land in Nackington in the 13th century (see Woodcock (ed) p.178, etc), but there is no mention of the new chapel.
   The church seems to have suffered a lot from settlement problems (there are still various open cracks in the walls), and when the nave was given a new crown-post (2 bay) roof in the 15th century, large buttresses were added to the north and south sides of the west wall, as well as to the middle of the S nave wall (a new N porch may have acted also as a buttress). At some later stage the top of the west tower seems to have been take down (perhaps after becoming unstable). Two stone corbels in the north-east and south-east corners of the nave were perhaps inserted in the 15th century to support the rood beam.
   In Archbishop Parker's Visitation of 1573, we hear that 'the parsonage house and chancel is like to fall downe'. (Also 'the parson is not Residente' - see Arch. Cant. 29 (1911), 275. This is also perhaps partly due to settlement. This was finally dealt with in a major mid 19th century restoration when the east walls of the chancel and south chapel (and the south wall of the south chapel) were completely rebuilt. A new two-light east window was created in the chancel, but no windows were put in the S chapel east wall. It was, however given a new 2-light S window (in 'Decorated' style). The north wall of the chancel was heightened in brick. The outer jambs and arch to the lancets were restored in Bathstone and a new roof was put on the chancel.
   The south chapel contains burial vaults of the Milles family, and there are smaller vaults for the Faussetts in the chancel and Foxes (N side of nave).
   At about the same time the west tower was given a new brick upper stage with a small spire on top. The tower contains one bell which was perhaps moved from a bell-cote in the nave roof above the N door (see rubbing marks on rere-arch of N door). Hasted says that the church had 'at the north-west corner a low wooden pointed turret, in which hangs one bell'. The tower contains an internal N->S tie-bar (on the west) and also a west altar and a 19th cent. font in the SE corner. The boiler room (with steps down) is immediately south of the tower. There is also an oil tank south of the nave.
   The north porch was also completely rebuilt in the later 19th century. There is an iron tie from the porch west to the NW buttress, and a new vestry with lobby was built west of the south chapel. It has flint facing and a 'perp' 3-light W window. The SE nave window was also restored in Bathstone (bricks above) with a round-headed top at this time.
   The chancel screen and panelling around the chancel walls was added in 1909 by W D Caroe and a pulpit was made in 1924. The earlier organ, recently restored is now at the NE corner of the nave. The panelling in the tower was also added by W D Caroe in 1909.

BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
Flint rubble (with occasional Roman bricks) with Caen stone quoins, jambs etc, are used for the 12th and 13th century walls. The 15th century buttresses have large Ragstone quoins and chamfered plinth blocks, with later brick (? 18th century) repairs.

The rebuilt east and south (chapel) walls have coursed brick bands and heavy knapped flintwork, with Bathstone window jambs (also the new vestry).

There is some fine 13th century glass in the two N lancets of the chancel (restored by Caldewell in 1935), and traces of wall paintings on the N side of the nave (by the door).

Good wall monuments in S E chapel to Christopher Milles (1742), Mary Milles (1781), Mary, Lady Sondes (1818) and Mary Milles (1822). Also fine leger slabs in the chancel and S chapel (to Rev. Bryan Fausset of 1776, etc). Three fragments of a medieval grave slab (with cross on top) in SW corner of S chapel (from churchyard)

Apparent extent of burial: First mentioned for burial in will of 1488 (Test. Cant. (E Kent 1907), 228)

Exceptional monuments: A ? Medieval graveslab lies to the north of the chancel. Three frags of another medieval graveslab have now been moved into the S chapel.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Dom Monachorum

Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): Church in Dom. Mon. - one of a mixed group pertaining to an unknown (un-named) church.

Late med. status: ? Appropriated to St Gregory's 12th century - Vicarage - later perpetual cutate (Frampton's list of vicars is in the S chapel)

Patron: The Archbishop, then St Gregory's Priory from at least the later 12th century till Dissolution - then via King, back to Archbishop. Annexed to Rectory of Lower Hardres in 1921.

Other documentary sources: See Hasted IX (1800), 297-9, and A M Woodcock (ed.) Cartulary of St Gregory's and burial 'in the Church of Natyndon before the Image of Our Blessed Lady beside the high altar' of Thos. Bykkar (1531). n the Parish Records (see C E Woodruff, 1922), 132 - a plan of proposed wall tiles for the chancel and proposed addition to the vestry (for a faculty in 1874) are mentioned.

Reused materials: A few Roman bricks

Inside present church: Some disturbance from burial vaults, particularly in S chapel.

Outside present church: ? good, except drainage trench around outside of church and boiler house on SW. There is soil built up to the south of the church.

To floors: - The leger in the chancel to Revd. Bryan Faussett is being badly scraped by a choir pew front.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): 1990 Maureen O'Connor

The church and churchyard: This is a small c. early 12th century church with 13th century additions, including a large SE chapel and small W tower. Due to instability of walls it was much rebuilt in the mid 19th century.

The wider context: The survival of 13th century glass at the church is of great importance.

REFERENCES: See previous page. In 1859, the church was visited by Sir Stephen Glynne; see his Churches of Kent (1877), 184.

Guide book: Leaflet (April 1978 by K M G) - very brief.

Plans & drawings: Petrie view from SW in 1808 with no top to tower and a pair of 13th century ? lancets in S chapel S wall.

DATES VISITED: 20th April 1992                             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 October 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