Mary the Virgin Church, Postling
TR 1455 3910
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1992
LOCATION: Immediately N.W. of Postling Court, on
N.W. side of (post-medieval) village at 325 ft above O.D., the church
is situated on coombe deposits just below the North Downs and above
the Gault Clay. The East Stour rises at springs just S. + W. of the
DESCRIPTION: The nave and the western half of the chancel date from
the late 11th century, having rag, ironstone and flint masonry, much
of it laid 'herringbone'. The nave quoins and south and west door
jambs and chancel arch piers are in Quarr stone. The original east
quoins of the chancel are in rough ironstone blocks. There is an
original round-headed window on the N. side of the nave also with
external quoins in Quarr. The blocking for another original window on
the south side of the original chancel may also be seen and ? also a
blocked window above the S. nave porch. In the 13th century lancets
were inserted at the west end of the chancel and on the S. side of the
nave; also a new S. nave door. A small western tower with W. facing
buttresses was also added. This is of ragstone rubble and has small
lancets half way up on the S. + W. walls; also a 2-centred W. doorway
with a half-roll around it. (The upper part of the tower was added is
1852 -see below). It was originally of wood according to Glynne. The
two-centred chancel arch (above original jambs) is also 13th century
with only simple chamfered rag voussoirs. The unique dedication stone
(on wall of N. side of chancel) is probably 12th/13th century.
In the later 13th century (after it came to St Radigund's
Abbey) the chancel was extended eastwards with slightly knapped flint
and ironstone/rag. rubble walls, and on edge ragstone quoins. The
eastern angle-buttresses may be later additions. The eastern lancet
windows have trefoiled heads (totally restored externally in Bath
stone) with original ragstone jambs and rear arches with chamfered
faces (it still has its original side jambs). The east window was
totally renewed in the 19th century, but had 'three trefoiled lancet
lights within a pointed arch' according to Glynne (see also Petrie's
view from S.E.).
There is a renewed trefoil-headed (bathstone) piscina in
S.E. corner of the chancel. The side jambs and its sink are original.
Also a rough trefoiled recess in the N. wall. At the N.E. corner of
the nave another ? early 14th century window has a more elaborate
moulded rere-arch, mostly in chalk block. There was perhaps a pair to
this on the N.W. side of the nave, but it is all renewed (internally
and externally) in Bath stone.
The roofs over the chancel (2 bays) and nave (3 bays) are
fine 15th century crown-post affairs. Ceilings were removed and
external boarding was added in the 19th century.
Very unusually the ends of the late 15th century rood
beam (on large stone corbels) still survive with a carved and painted
west face. A slot at the back indicates a rood loft running back to an
offset in the east nave wall at the level of the chancel arch
springing. A second 'loft' ran across the middle of the chancel (more
stone corbels and a carved beam end on the south survive).
On the S.E. side of the nave is a two-light perpendicular
window with a square hood- mould externally. It has original glazing
bars (renewed cill), and internally appears to be set in an earlier
The small square font on five shafts on a Bethersden
marble base is restored, but may be 13th century.
The south porch was rebuilt in 1825 (G.S.C.W. 1825 on
stone over doorway), it is now pebble-dashed externally, and the ten
commandment boards came in 1828 (George Skeene 1828 on them). They are
now on the W. wall of the nave.
The pairs of lancets at the top of the tower on the N. +
S. faces were renewed in 1852 (W.S. 1852 on S.W. cill) and the tower
was heightened and given a new shingled spire.
There was a major restoration in 1896-7 when the external
window jambs, eastern buttresses (and N. buttresses) quoins were
Vallance's and Livett's articles on the church are an
excellent summary of the history of the fabric (see ref. below).
Virtually nothing new can be added to this.
There are 3 bells in the tower, two are pre-Reformation
with inscriptions: 'Ora pro nobis, Sancte Petre' and 'Ora pro nobis,
Sancte Maria'. They were made by William le Belyetere of Canterbury in
the 1320s. The third is by Joseph Hatch of Ulcombe (1623). They were
repaired and rehung in 1979 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
BUILDING MATERIALS: The original quoins for the nave (4 external
corners, N. window and W.and S. doorways inside, and the plain jambs
of chancel arch) are of Quarr stone. There are also Quarr stone abaci
blocks at the top of the S. chancel arch pier. Also flint, ironstone
and ragstone rubble. The west tower has rag rubble and cut quoins, and
some have boring mollusc holes in them (hence quarried on Sandgate
foreshore). The inner jambs of the 13th century lancets are partly in
chalk block. Some later medieval jambs, etc. in Caen and ragstone.
Later 19th century repairs to masonry in Bath stone. Remains of fine
late 12th/13th century wall paintings on S. and W. side of nave.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: A grave-marker (loose) now in piscina
niche in S.E. corner of nave. A small fragment of a Medieval tomb slab
in the N.E. corner of the chancel.
Oval tablet to Revd. John Agge Stock (ob. 1792) + wife on S. wall of
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size: Large area all round the church.
Boundary walls: Some ? 19th cent. ragstone walls on S. and W. sides of
Ecological potential: Good - cowslips, etc. and primroses, daffodils.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: "2 small churches" mentioned in
Domesday Book (1086) for Postling + Henewood manors.
Evidence of pre-Norman status (DM, DM, TR etc): None - but ? manorial
chapel from late 11th century.
Late med. status: (Vicarage): Appropriated to St Radigund's Abbey by
1384. Vicarage from 13th century (see list of vicars by Revd. T.S.
Frampton on N. wall of nave).
Patron: From c. 1250, St Radigund's Abbey (given them by Philip
Columbers, 2nd Lord of Postling manor). From 1445, for 2 years, the
church served directly by the Abbey. After the Dissolution (1536) the
Other documentary sources: Test. Cant. (1907), 248
mentions "churchyard of St Mary of Postling" (1475) and the
light of the Holy Cross (1475 + 1491); also Lights of St/Blessed Mary
(1475+91) and St. John-the-Baptist (1475+91). Hasted VIII (1799),
215-8. These lights were perhaps on the 'loft' in the chancel.
Finds from church\churchyard: A few Roman bricks.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good, but one or two burial vaults.
Outside present church: ? Good
To structure: Steel ties binding N. and S. walls of the chancel
together at extreme E. end. Some unsuitable repairs to W. quoins of
tower (high up) in ? Lepine.
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): Sept. 1989 - Maureen
O'Connor (with rough 1:100 plan + elevations).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: A fine small late 11th century church with
an extended 13th century chancel and small western tower. The church
contains a unique ? c. 12th dedicatory inscription, and the
carved + painted remains of timber beams (+lofts) in the nave and
The wider context: One of a group of late 11th cent. new churches in
the area made with Quarr stone quoins (cf. Lyminge and Brook).
REFERENCES: See S. Glynne, Churches of Kent (1877), 52-3. Aymer
Vallance, "Postling Church" and G.M. Livett "Postling
Church: supplemental notes" in Arch. Cant. 30
(1914), 192-202 with good plan, elevation details by W.H. Elgar.
Guide Book: Not very accurate notes (from an article by A.D. Cheney in
the Home Counties Magazine (July 1903).
Plans & drawings: Plan in Vallance + Livett (see above) + View
from S.E. in 1806 by Petrie.
DATE VISITED: 11th April
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown