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

Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Andrews Church, Wickhambreaux          TR 220 5875

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1991

LOCATION: Situated about 5 miles east of Canterbury at c. 20ft. above O.D. It is on the west side of the village green, with the Court (Lodge) adjoining to the N.E. The church faces well to the S. of E., with open country to the south-west.

DESCRIPTION: The plan of this church is fairly regular with a chancel, nave and two lean-to aisles which clasp a western tower. The whole church was rebuilt in the 14th century, and there are no traces of any earlier work (except possibly some reused materials (Reigate stone, Roman brick, etc.). The lower part of the western tower may be slightly earlier than the rest of the church, and perhaps dates to the early 14th century, as do, perhaps, the lower west walls to the aisles, including the simple two-light windows there. However, the tracery of that on the north is totally restored, and that on the south only has part of its original jambs, tracery, etc. (there is an unusual wooden central mullion and Y-shaped piece above). The west window in the tower above the west doorway, which still contains Caen and Reigate stone jambs, arch, etc., is also perhaps of the earlier 14th century.
   The whole of the rest of the church was probably rebuilt in the 2nd half of the 14th century, when the Lords of the manor were the Earls of Kent - possibly when Joan "Fair Maid of Kent" was Earl, and married the Black Prince.
   Of this later 14th century church, all the windows, whether 2-of 3-light, are very similar in design having square heads and cusped ogees at the top of each light. There is also a square hood-mould, except in the south windows of the south aisle. At the west end of the south wall of the south aisle, there may earlier have been another window which was later filled in (indications of this in outside plaster). In the aisles, all the windows are of two lights (except in the east wall), while in the chancel they are of three lights with a four-light main east window (restored wrongly in 1878 - J. Newman). There is also much 19th century restoration to the chancel tracery. Inside there are three bays of arcading on each side of the nave with tall octagonal piers (mostly of tall semi-octagonal well-cut greensand blocks). The arches over them have two hollow chamfers, and there is a slight difference between the capitals and bases in the north and south arcades. There is a similar wide chancel arch, springing from engaged half-octagonal piers. In the chancel there is a fine cusped-ogee headed piscina on the S. side (now very low, due to 19th century raising of floor). There is also a holy water stoup just inside the North door to the east.
   The upper stage of the tower (also late 14th century) has a set of tall windows (with transoms) for the bell chamber (now with louvres). Above is a crenellated parapet. In the north and south walls are tall simple rectangular openings for the intermediate chamber.
   The nave roof has 4 simple tie-beams (? 14th century), the rafter trusses are invisible above the ceiling. The aisle roofs are simple shallow-pitched affairs. The braced wall-posts are small braces and, perhaps, a later addition (?17th century). The timber-framed N. porch (on later brick socles) is probably late medieval, but restored. Only the N. aisle roof has a (? later) parapet (not on S. aisle).
   Under the early 18th century Rector, the Revd. Alexander Young (1712-55), a new Rectory was built (1713), and the church received a ring of 6 new bells in 1728 (made by Samuell (sic on bell) Knight). The Rector's niece, Mary Young (ob 1767) left 100 in her will for wainscotting and ornamenting the chancel (see Memorial inscription), and this work was no doubt stripped out in the 1878 restoration. Some of the woodwork appears to have been retained for a vestry screen at the west end of the south aisle. There is also a fine table (? originally an altar) with turned baluster legs in the vestry. 18th century brick repairs to S. aisle buttresses, etc. also to Tower upper W. face.
   The Victorian restoration (1878) was very extensive with the whole of the chancel being refaced with heavy knapped flint and cement pointing. 3 courses of stone banding in the chancel walls was also introduced, and there is much new stone (red sandstone for quoins etc). There is also the use of Roman cement for window repairs (eg N. aisle windows). The N. aisle was extended eastwards for an organ chamber; the old E. window opening was kept, but the tracery was moved to the new east window. (The new east walling is in heavy knapped flint externally). Outside its east wall is a (now redundant) boiler house, with steps down from the east. A new arch connects the organ chamber with the chancel. Inside the church, a tiled dado was added all around, with an elaborate "baptistry" made at the W. end of the N. aisle. Wall-paintings were added above the arcades and above the E. window (Angels/foliage). Also a dark blue nave ceiling with gold stars.
   There are also elaborate new chancel fittings (and tiled floor) in a much-raised floor. The pulpit and Rector's stall are at the front of a "stage".

BUILDING MATERIALS (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
Much flint, tertiary sandstone, reused Roman bricks, tufa, Hythe stone and some tiles are visible in the rubblework of the unrestored aisle and tower walls. Caen (and some Reigate) stone are used for original quoins, etc., as well as Kentish Ragstone (visible in unrestored windows).

Some 18th century red brick repairs, and much 19th century knapped flint and new (? Red) sandstone quoins and window jambs, mullions, etc.

Hasted says that the east window contained glass with the arms of the Black Prince and of Mortimer quartered with Burgh also a figure of Salome and John-the-Baptist being beheaded (this is now in the centre light of the S. aisle (E. window). There is also the fine 1896 E. window stained glass by Rosenkrantz (Newman N.E. & E. Kent p.49 (3rd edition), 497.

Rev. Alexander Young (ob. 1755) wall monument on S. side of chancel (by Sir Robert Taylor), and Mary Young (ob. 1767) wall monument on N. wall of chancel.

Size & Shape: Larger irregular shape, with extensions to S.W.

Condition: Good

Apparent extent of burial: Burial in churchyard first mentioned in will of 1499.

Ecological potential: - A line of pleached limes runs to N. porch from Green to the east.

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

Late med. status: Rectory and Vicarage till 1322 when consolidated in one (Regist. Reynolds - fo. 102v Lambeth Pal. Lib.).

Patron: The Lord of the Manor - a fairly rich Rectory. By the mid 14th century the manor was in the hands of the Earls of Kent (including Joan "the Fair Maid", 1353-85).

Other documentary sources: Early wills (Test. Cant. (E. Kent 1907) 363-5) mention altars of St. John-the-Baptist (?5 aisle) and St. Margaret (? N. aisle). "The holywater stock in St. Maragret's Ile" (1532) is perhaps that just E. of the N. door. John Readhodes chantry (1485) was at the altar of St. John-the-Baptist. A window is ordered to be made in a will of 1510 in south side of Wickham church like the window in Ickham to give light to the High Rood there. "Also" Towards the Turnery of the Roodloft. Our Ladyile" (1517).

In 1767, Mary Young (niece of Rector, Rev. Alexander Young, who rebuilt Rectory in 1713) left 100 in her will "to the wainscotting and ornamenting of this chancel" (see Memorial Tablet). This was removed in the 1878 Restoration, and only the Vestry Screen (originally part of reredos to altar) remains.

Reused materials: Much reused Roman brick, particularly at W. end of church.

Inside present church: ? Good as chancel (and ? west end) floors raised in 19th century.

Outside present church: - ? Good - only shallow drainage channels around N.E. and S. sides of church.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): February 1990 Peter Marsh

The church and churchyard: An unusual example of a rural church, attached to a secular manor, totally rebuilt in the 14th century.

Plans & drawings: Petrie view from S.E. in early 19th century.

DATES VISITED: 22nd December 1991                           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