Nicholas Church, Newington next Hythe TR 1826 3738
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1996
LOCATION: Situated on the Folkestone sands at c.
210 feet above O.D. at the southern end of a small village with
Forstal farm immediately to the west.
DESCRIPTION: Though a church is mentioned in Domesday Book (1086),
there is no evidence in the fabric of the present church of an
Anglo-Saxon, or an early Norman church. The present building started
as an early 12th century nave and chancel, and this perhaps fits the
dedication (St. Nicholas was brought to Bari, Otaly from Myra), and
the historical evidence of the church being given to the Abbess and
Convent of Guines in c. 1130.
A simple two-celled structure was probably built at about
this time of the local Kentish Ragstone, with Ragstone block quoins.
The round-headed chancel arch, and the blocked south doorway are
original features and the dressings are apparently of Caen stone.
In the early 13th century a lean-to to north aisle and a
north-east (probably from the beginning, a Lady) chapel were built
contemporaneously, after making three pointed- arches in the north
wall of the nave, and a single arch in the north chancel wall. A
pointed arch also connects the aisle of the chapel, and all these
arches have Ragstone dressings with comb-chisel tooling. The simple
north doorway with a Ragstone pointed arch with a continuous chamfer
is also 13th century, though the two round-headed windows in the
north-aisle wall appear to be reset and restorations (they were
reopened, and are rectangular inside). The north-east chapel has two
early 13th century lancets on the north, as well as the north jamb of
one of the original east windows. This was replaced in the late 13th
century by the present 3-light east window with decorated tracery. The
pair of lancets in the east wall of the chancel are also apparently
13th century replacements for the original windows, and there appears
to have been a narrow doorway (now blocked) on the south-west side of
the chancel. It seems likely that the original
chancel was heavily rebuilt in the early 13th century.
The font in the north aisle, with a round bowl on 5
shafts, may also be 13th century in origin. It had a late medieval
timber cover until the late 19th century.
In the early 14th century, the nave of the church appears
to have been extended westwards with the thicker walls (really a high
plinth on the south). A trefoil-headed was added on the south, and a
new west doorway was put in. Unfortunately the whole of the upper part
of the west wall has been rebuilt (in 1907), and only the relieving
arch survives of the 14th century west doorway. The inserted
round-headed (`Norman') west doorway is clearly a modern structure.
The west wall also perhaps indicates that there was originally a west
buttress at the west end of the nave north wall (now gone).
This extension westwards of the nave may have been for a
tower, but it was never completed, and instead a timber-framed belfry
was out into the roof. This is on four `large posts and is behind the
The present shingled belfry, with its ogeed cap, was
rebuilt in 1907, and the following year the five bells were rehung,
and a sixth bell was added (according to an inscription in the
church). The north-west vestry, which has a buff brick north-west
quoin was also perhaps built at this time, as was presumably the north
Two trefoil-headed windows were put into the south side
of the chancel in the early 14th century, but these have heavy
external repairs in cement. There is also a trefoil-headed squint from
the Lady Chapel into the chancel.
In the 15th century two Perpendicular windows were put
into the south side of the nave. A three-light window on the west, and
a two light window on the east with a square hood-mould. At the
south-east corner of the nave was a tall low window (perhaps
originally with a transom), but the lower part is blocked, and the
upper part is totally restored.
A fine hexagonal late 15th century pulpit is in the
south-east corner of the nave, but this was probably converted from
the font-cover in the late 19th century.
Until the late 19th century, and mentioned by Glynne,
there was a gallery pew for the Brockman family in the arch of the
north-west side of the nave. All the roofs seem to have been remade in
the 19th century, and the two east gables built up with a stone
BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The church is mostly made of the local Ragstone rubble, Caen stone was
used for the early 12th century dressings. The 13th century blocked
doorway on the south side of the chancel appears to have some Reigate
stone jambs, as well as Caen and Ragstone. From the 13th century all
the other main dressings are of well-cut Ragstone.
For the restoration, local Ragstone, as well as some Bathstone was
used, also some buff bricks.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: -
Various late 15th century - early 16th century brasses.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size & Shape: Irregular area around church
Boundary walls: Rag rubble with brick capping on west (? 19th century)
Ecological potential: Yes. There is one very large and ancient yew
tree immediately north-
west of the church.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR, etc.): -Earliest ref. to
church: Domesday Book has a church at `Neventon'.
Late med. status: Vicarage, and united to Cheriton Rectory in 1771.
Patron: From c. 1130 - 1439 , the Abbess and convent of Guines
(France) and appropriated
to them. Then from 1439 to the dissolution to Wye College. Since then
in private hands till
1958 to the Archbishop.
Other documentary sources: Hasted VIII (1799) 207 -210. Test. Cant.
(East Kent 1907) 230-1 mentions the churchyard from 1465, the
reparation of the church (1501), various lights, the 'Chancel of Our
Lady' (ie. Northchapel) (1471). T.S. Frampton's carefully documented
list of vicars, with extensive notes is on the north wall of the
church, by the door.
Finds from church\churchyard: One late medieval grave-marker is in the
Finds within 0.5km: Large scale excavations to the north-east, in the
early 1990s, before Channel Tunnel construction work started by the
Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good.
Outside present church: Good - ground level around church much raised,
but c. 3 feet
drainage slots along north and south walls.
To structure: Nave + N. porch reroofed 1958.
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): -
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A small early 12th century nave and
chancel, with north-east Lady Chapel and north aisle added in the
early 13th century. The nave seems to have been extended westwards in
the early 14th century and contains a timber-framed bell turret, with
a lead-covered ogeed cupola over it.
REFERENCES: E.W. Parkin, `The church of St Nicholas', Arch. Cant. 103
(1986), 171-3 + Rough inaccurate plan.
Guide Book: Brief undated leaflet by S.W. Molyneux - not very
Plans & drawings: Sketch plan is guide. View from S.E. in 1806 by
Petrie in K.A.S. Library.
DATES VISITED: 20th June
REPORTED BY: Tim Tatton-Brown