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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Peter & St Paul Church, Newchurch         TR 054 314

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994

LOCATION: Located at a few feet above OD, with small village street to the east. Also the Old Rectory to the east.

DESCRIPTION: This church has suffered from two heavy restorations in 1845 and 1909-15. Despite this, however, three main phases of work can be recognized: an early to mid-13th century chancel, an early to mid 14th century nave and aisles and a latter 15th century west tower.
   No trace is visible of an early nave, though there presumably was one under the present nave. Unusually, however, it appears to have been the same width as the chancel.
   The 13th century chancel is characterized by its use of plain pointed arches with no mouldings and simple bar-stoped chamfers. The 13th century chancel arch survives as well as arches into the north and south chapels, showing that the chapels were already in existence by this date. The jambs are mainly of Rag with Caenstone abaci and plinth. On the north-east side of the chancel are two lancets with only one on the south-east. All have rere-arches, suggesting a later 13th century date. The east window was totally replaced in 1845. On the south-east side of the chancel is an ogeed trefoil-headed piscina with sunk chamfers (and grooves for a shelf).
   In perhaps the very late 13th century, the south chapel and south aisle wall were rebuilt. Fine geometric tracery (with sexfoils in the heads) survive in the three-light east and south windows of the south chapel (perhaps that dedicated to St. Michael and St. Thomas Becket). The south aisle windows sadly only have Y-tracery in Roman cement (of 1845), but the hollow chamfer inside the heads of all the windows in the south chapel and aisle suggest that they are of the same date, as is probably the plain south doorway. There is also a single light ogeed trefoil at the west end of the south aisle, and a cinquefoiled piscina in the south chapel with ogeed top, and aumbry beyond it.
   In the wide north aisle, by contrast, all the windows have flat chamfers on their internal arches, and except for the west window (with Roman cement Y-tracery), they have reticulated tracery in Caenstone. The north doorway is also contemporary, as are presumably the north and south arcades of the nave. They are both of four bays with octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases and double flat chamfered arches. All this suggesting an early 14th century date. The north chapel (probably that dedicated to the Virgin Mary) has restored Geometric tracery in its 3-light east window and Roman cement Y-tracery in its north window. The use of rere-arches in both and north and east windows here may also, however, suggest a late 13th century date for the rebuilding of the chapel. However, it is likely that all the rebuilding of the chapels nave arcades and aisles took place continuously around 1300. There are also some unexplained cut-off corbels at the west end of the aisles.
   The nave was re-roofed in the 15th century with a crown-post roof with moulded wall-plates and tie-beams, and the aisle and chapel roofs were perhaps done at the same time. However, they appear later to have had their crown-posts and collar-purlins removed. They are all now boarded on the outside. The chancel roof is now ceiled in with timber boarding and moulded ribs (also carved wooden bosses in the eastern boy). There are the remains of some moulded wall-plates in the aisles, with carved head-stops surviving in the south chapel.
   The two porches may also have been added in the 15th century, but that on the south has been completely rebuilt. The north porch is most unusual with its pointed barrel-vault. It has a stoup in it, to the west of the doorway.
   The west tower, with angle-buttresses and stair-turret on the north-east, was built in the later 15th century (wills perhaps suggest the 1470s). It has a hollow chamfered plinth, and a fine tower arch, and carved label stops to the square-headed west doorway. The 3-light window above now unfortunately only has double Y-tracery in Roman cement. The 1806 Petrie view shows ? Perpendicular tracery here. After the ground and first-floor stages of the tower were built, it settled considerably out of plumb, to the west. After a pause, however, when partial stability was reached, the top stage was built with two-light square-headed Perpendicular windows, for the belfry in all faces. Above this is a large moulded string-course with gargoyles at the western angles, surmounted by a crenellated parapet. The slightly higher turret top is also crenellated, and has a later weather vane.
   There is also a fine octagonal font of the 15th century with concave faces to the bowl with roses and the symbols of Sts. Peter and Paul (Keys + Sword) on shields. The front is on an octagonal plinth.
   Finally in the early 16th century a Roodscreen was made right across the church, and parts of the screen survive in situ in the aisles only (with tracery only on the north). The double doors are also contemporary with decorated spandreled tops. Passages were cut through to behind the chancel arch, but no screen survives across the chancel.
   The `Wine Glass' pulpit with linen-fold panels and tester may be early 16th century also. The 1845 Restoration saw the eastern window tracery restored and Y-tracery inserted, while the 1909-15 restoration saw much external quoining repaired, and the south porch rebuilt. Also much snail-pointing. Dormer windows over the east end of the nave.

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.): The earlier chancel has Ragstone rubble with mostly Caenstone dressings (also some Ragstone jambs). The 14th century work is also in Caen and Ragstone, while the later 15th century tower is of Ragstone in larger roughly coursed blocks, with very well cut Ragstone dressings (all have a very near chase along the sides of the edges).

1845 repairs in Roman cement and ? Caenstone. 1909-15 repairs, apparently all in Ragstone.

A little late 15th century coloured glass survives in the upper east lights of the south chapel.

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: None, but two medieval grave slabs have now been put outside the east wall of the south chapel. There is also a fine decorated 14th century wooden chest, now used as the south chapel altar.

Hasted mentions `an ancient tomb at the end of the south isle, but without inscription, and another at the end of the north aisle, seemingly very ancient, and in ruins'. These are presumably the grave slabs mentioned above. It would be nice to see them back inside the church.

Size & Shape: Rctangular area around church, with ? extension to west

Condition: Good.

enclosing: mostly surrounded by ditches

Ecological potential: ? Yes - Large open area, but surrounded by trees and ditches full of water.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Niwancirc in Dom. Mon., and `pertaining' to `Limen'.

Evidence of pre-Norman status (DB, DM, TR etc.): Hundred of `Newchurch' mentioned in Domesday Book - perhaps 10th century church, therefore.

Late med. status: Both Rectory and Vicarage (the latter endowed from 1247).

Patron: The Archbishop

Other documentary sources: Hasted VIII (1799), 342-4, mentions an `altar-piece' erected in 1775.
Test.Cant. (E Kent, 1907), mention Chapel of "St. Michael the Archangel and St. Thomas the Martyr" (1472), "New Bell" (1477), and "New Belfry" (1479) and "New Bell" (1536)

Finds from church\churchyard: Architectural fragments (and carved stop from a wall-plate) on north window-sill in North Chapel. In 1973 a bell-pit was discovered near the church during grave-digging.

Previous archaeological work (published): - Bell-pit excavation apparently unpublished.

Inside present church: Good ? only a few burial vaults.

Outside present church: Good

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect):

The church and churchyard: A mid to later-13th century chancel with plain chancel arch, and arches into chapels on north and south. Then rebuilding of north and north chapels and aisles (and nave arcades) in the very late 13th and early 14th centuries. Large west tower, which settled to the west during building, added in the later 15th century. The church was over-restored in 1845 and 1909-15.

REFERENCES: S Glynne Churches of Kent (1877) 206-7 (He visited in 1873).
Notes by W A Scott Robertson Arch. Cant. 13 (1880), 459-466.

Guide Book: By Revd. C Donaldson (c. 1950) with a few later notes.

Photographs: View from south (? early 20th c.) in the church (framed). Kent Churches 1954, 44 : west doorway; 72 : interior looking SE; 93 view from SE; 122 : shows the font.

Plans and early drawings: Petrie view from SW in 1807 (framed copy in church) + 1880 engraving of SE Chapel window in Scott Robertson (above).

DATE VISITED: 16th October 1986, 2nd August 1989, and 2nd September 1994 

REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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