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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Giles Church, Wormshill        TQ 8817 5741

Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993

LOCATION: Situated at just over 500ft. above O.D. on the heavy Clay-with-Flints on the North Downland chalk. The Court Lodge is just over the road to the north.

DESCRIPTION: In the south wall of the nave, just above the east side of the porch is a double-splayed window that at first sight looks like an Anglo-Saxon window. It was revealed in the major restoration of 1879 (and now contains, in the glass, a figure of St Giles commemorating this restoration). There are no stone quoins and the external jambs are now covered in cement render, so it is not possible to be certain that it is an Anglo-Saxon window. It is possible that it was an early Norman window which later had its external jambs removed. A church is mentioned here in Domesday Book when the pagan name 'Wodins Hill' is replaced by 'God's Hill'.
   The external north-east corner of the nave (now in the north chapel) still has small-black, diagonally tooled quoins which must date from 12th century, while the western pier between the nave and north aisle has mouldings on either side at abacus level that suggest that it was originally a central pier for a smaller (? later 12th century) two arched entry into an earlier north aisle. The irregularity of the arch spacing also suggests this.
   In the early 13th century a larger north aisle and north-east chapel (the Lady Chapel according to later wills) were added and a new arcade was made along the north side of the nave and chancel. This arcade has very plain chamfered pointed arches with equally plain abaci. Though restored in many places, it is possible to see quite a lot of the original Reigate stone jambs with comb-tooling, and a few bar-stops. The 2-light east window and the most eastern lancet in the north wall of the north chapel have medieval chalk-block jambs and rere-arches. They are both totally restored externally, but are perhaps originally of a late 13th century date. On the south side of this chapel is a square headed piscina. This chapel still contains a fine 'Hutch' chest with an incised decoration on the front. Compare a similar chest at Graveney church.
   After piercing the west wall of the nave a small roughly square western tower was also added in the early 13th century. It too has a simple chamfered pointed arch into the nave. Above this arch on the south side is a now-blocked doorway into the first floor chamber of the tower. Externally (ie. on the N.W. + S sides), this chamber was lit by tall lancets. Those on the north and south are now blocked. There is an earlier (c. 13th cent.) roofline, above the present roof, in the east face of the tower.
   The top stage of the tower above the string-course, was added in the 15th century. It has Perpendicular, 2-light trefoil-headed windows under square hood-moulds on the north, west and south sides and simple small rectangular window above the roof on the east side. The tower top has a crenellated parapet, and the whole of the outside of the tower was heavily restored in 1900. Externally it has a restored knapped-flint face with a slightly sloping plinth on the north and south sides.
   The south doorway into the nave is also perhaps late 13th century, and there are the remains of an earlier (c. 13th cent.) window in the south wall of the nave (its Reigate stone west jamb and Rag sill). It was cut into and replaced by the early 16th century window. Also in the middle of the south wall of the chancel is a lancet which was reopened in the 19th century, but is perhaps an original feature.
   The 3-light east window in the chancel is a fine late 14th century one with good early Perpendicular tracery in its head, and exceptionally its original stained glass is also there. Externally, however, the whole of this window has been restored with renewed Ragstone jambs with Bathstone tracery above.
   In the 15th century, two 2-light Perpendicular windows with square hood-moulds were inserted into the south wall of the chancel. A similar window was also put into the north aisle. Both are in Ragstone with much renewal in Bathstone. The fine 2-bay crown-post roof in the north chapel must also date from the 15th century, as does the upper stage of the tower (see above). The semi-octagonal Ragstone bowl of the font (on a built plinth) is also probably 15th century).
   Finally, in the early 16th century two-light windows with nearly rounded heads were inserted into the west wall of the tower and the south-east side of the nave. Only the former has a square hood-mould. Also at this time a new rood-loft must have been built. The now-blocked entrance door to this can be seen on the N.E. side of the nave (in the north chapel). A Fragment of the base of the Rood-screen now lies against the north wall of the north chapel. At about the same date, a stoup was added immediately east of the outside of the nave doorway, and a rough timber-framed porch was built with a small crown-post roof. It has large timber arch durns to the south, and now stands on a restored timber base-plate and flint socle. Externally it is weather-boarded.
   There is a fine early 17th century hexagonal pulpit, with incised decoration, on the south-east side of the nave. It has, however lost its sounding board. The north-aisle roof, originally with a ceiling may also be 17th century. The Creed and Lord's Prayer Boards (now under the north side of the tower) were apparently made in 1794, and there is one bell of 1718).
   This church was given a very heavy restoration by Joseph Clarke in 1879-80, and much of the external facing, window jambs, etc. date from this time. New lancets were added on the north side, as well as a new 2-light window at the west end of the north aisle. Three new external buttresses were added and the west side of the chancel arch was rebuilt. The nave crown-post roof and the chancel roof also date from this restoration, as do most of the fittings (pews, tile floors, etc.).

BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The main materials are large local flints, with perhaps a little Caen stone for early quoins. In the 13th century Reigate stone jambs (as well as some of chalk) are used. Then Ragstone is used for later medieval dressings.

All the heavy 19th century repairs are in Bathstone.

There is medieval glass in the top of the chancel east window (late 14th century coronation of the Virgin), as well as in the North Chapel N. lancet (now with isothermal glazing) and the S.W. window of the chancel (in the top lights). Some early iron glazing bars.

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: A few early Legers in the north chapel etc. Part of a medieval grave-slab built into the inside N. wall of the north chapel.

Royal Arms of George III above S. door of nave (painted in 1974) and recently put here. There is also an 18th century chamber organ.

Size & Shape: Quite large area around church, with extension to E.

Condition: Good

Boundary walls: Flint + brick boundary on west.

Building in churchyard or on boundary: -

Exceptional monuments: Four fine (?17th cent.) table-tombs of Ragstone to S.E. chancel - now overgrown and falling apart. Also 1 ? 17th century gravestone.

Ecological potential: ? - Large Yew to N.W. of church.

HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book (1086) as Godeselle (also in D.M.).

Late med. status (vicarage): Rectory

Patron: The Lord of the Manor

Other documentary sources: Hasted V (1798), 564-5. Testamenta Cantiana (E. Kent, 1907), 374-5 mention burial in churchyard, 1460, 1463 etc. Also "gilding of an Image of the Trinity to stand in the Beam of the Roodloft" (1516). Many other lights are mentioned as well as the altar of Our Lady (1519).
Also 'To the reparation of the arch in the north aisle' (1505).

Reused materials: A few loose architectural fragments on a window sill in the north aisle.

Outside present church: Good - only a shallow drainage trench around the church.

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): October 1992. Neil MacFadyan.

A c. 11th century nave, with one south window that may be Anglo-Saxon. North aisle. north chapel, and west tower added in the early 13th century. Top stage of tower and various windows added in the Medieval period.

The wider context: The 'Hutch' chest of the 13th century is a rare surviving medieval fitting.

Guide Book: Leaflet by Michael Nightingale (Sept. 1987).

Photographs: Kent Churches 1954, p. 144 of the 'Hutch' chest in the north chapel.

Plans & Early drawings: H. Petrie view from S.E. in 1807.

DATE VISITED: 16th April 1993                                 REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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