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Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

  All Saints Church, Tudeley       TQ 622 454

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994

LOCATION: A fairly isolated site at c.130 ft. above O.D. with a farmyard to the west, but only c.2 miles south-east of Tonbridge on Wadhurst Clay.

DESCRIPTION: This church is now famous because it is filled with Marc Chagall's glass of 1967 and 1974. However, it had become very ruined in the 18th century, and in 1765 it was rebuilt, largely in red brick at a cost of 1,125. Much of the earlier stone shell of the chancel survives, as well as the lower walls of the nave and west tower.

Two periods of masonry survive; the chancel, with mostly smaller blocks than the nave, is earlier, and has inserted into it the c.14th century doorway on the south side of the chancel. No other original features like windows survive in the chancel or nave, except the buttresses. The slightly larger blockwork of the nave, abuts the chancel on the S.E. side, but is coursed around into the tower on the west. I would therefore very tentatively suggest that the chancel may be 13th century, with the nave and west tower, and its contemporary buttresses c.14th century. The south door into the chancel, and probably its buttresses are 14th century. There is certainly no trace, above ground, of the Domesday Book (1086) church.

The 1765 rebuilding, on the earlier walls, was in Flemish Bond brickwork with many `blue' headers. The round and round-headed windows in the tower are of that date. The chancel also had a single round-headed window on each of its north and south sides, as well as a larger one in its east window, with probably a brick upper wall/gable above. This last window and the south window are shown in Petrie's view from the south-east in 1808. Traces of the filled-in round-headed window on the north can still be seen (as well as parts of its stone side-jambs). Plain arch from tower to nave.

The 1765 rebuilding also put a small tiled spirelet on top of the low tower (still surviving), and barrel-vaulted ceilings under slate roofs with wide eaves. The vault in the nave was painted (marbled) in 1967. There are also 3 late 18th century bells in the tower.

In 1876 a north aisle with arcade were built by R. Medley Fulford. It is under a slate roof containing the nave line. The 18th century windows were removed from the chancel and south side of the nave, and `medieval' tracery was put in (two 3-light `Perpendicular' windows on the south side of the nave), as well as a new west door into the tower and a south door. A new south porch was also built, and a small window into the north-east side of the tower. The less sympathetic chancel arch was put in in 1885.

In the 1967 restoration, the east window (and gable above) were rebuilt for the Chagall glass, while the 1974 glass was just put into the 19th century windows (the earlier glass is now displayed in `light-boxes' under the tower). A new west gallery for the organ has also been built, but this rather hides the Royal Arms. The church has also been repaved and repewed.

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.): The surviving medieval stone is of the local Tunbridge Wells sandstone type, while the 1765 work is in brick. The 19th century windows, doorways, etc. appear to be in Bathstone. Blue slate 18th century roof coverings.

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Very fine Fane tomb (1571) on north side of chancel. Also Thomas Stydolf and wife brass of 1457 on floor in chancel (+ one indent to south).

Size & Shape: Large open rectangular area around church, with extensions to east and north.

Condition: Good

Building in churchyard or on boundary: 18th century brick building along west boundary.

Exceptional monuments: Some good headstones around the church.

Ecological potential: Yes.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book.

Late med. status: Vicarage, with chapel of Capel annexed.

Patron: Given c.1293 to Tonbridge Priory, and soon after appropriated to them. Vicarage only endowed from 1398. After the Dissolution (1526), to Christ Church, Oxford, then (1529) to Crown and in 1548 to private hands.

Other documentary sources: Hasted V (1798), 258-260 .Test.Cant (W.Kent, 1906) 79.

Inside present church: ? Good, if underfloor heating did not go too deep.

Outside present church: Good - only upper walls rebuilt in 18th century.

To structure: East window and upper east gable rebuilt in 1967 by R. Potter.

To floors: Underflooor heating.

The church and churchyard: A small c.13th century chancel, and buttressed nave and west tower of the 14th century survives in the lower walls, but the upper work is largely of 1765, with 19th century windows and new north aisle. Now famous for the Chagall glass.

The wider context: A small `High Weald' chancel, nave and tower in an area with little medieval population expansion.

Guide Book: Leaflet (undated).

Photographs: Fane tomb of 1571 in Kent Churches 1954, p.165.

Plans and early drawings: Petrie view from S.E. in 1808.

DATE VISITED: 31/7/94                                         REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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