Margaret Church, Womenswold TR
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1994
LOCATION: On a raised roughly triangular shaped
site (churchyard) at c. 320 feet above O.D. The church is in
the N.W. part of the parish surrounded by a group of c. 18
cent. houses; Woolage is the larger population area in the S.E. part
of the parish.
DESCRIPTION: The nave and chancel form one continuous long rectangle,
with an added tower to the west. The coursed flintwork and western
quoins of the nave suggest that this is a 12th century structure,
which had an enlarged chancel added in the late 13th century. The
tower is also probably late 13th century, while the small north
transept (? a chapel) is a little later (? c. 1300) with its
wider lancet. The chancel has eastern buttresses, and three lancets on
each side as well as an eastern triplet. (There is a bishop's head
sculpture - ? corbel - set in the east gable). There is a small 13th
century doorway in the S. chancel wall with a hoodmould, and a
restored buttress in the middle of the S. wall marks the nave/chancel
boundary. A small brick porch was added on the S.W. (dated 1729 on
keystone), in Flemish bond with some blue headers.
A sunken boiler house has been added on the northside of
the tower (with steps down from the west), and surprisingly the N.
wall of the nave has no windows in it. It seems to have been
completely refaced (or totally rebuilt?) in c. 1300 when the
north transept was built. The latter now contains the organ, so that
the interior is obscured. It used to house the Old Nethersole pew.
Internally the chancel, of the late 13th century is the
best surviving part of the medieval building. It has a continuous
string course and tomb recesses on either side as well as a triple
trefoil-headed sedilia, and a trefoil-headed piscina on the
south-east. There are good mouldings to the rere-arches. Hasted (op
cit., 265) mentions 'old French capitals, nearly obliterated' over
one tomb-recess. The new chancel may have been built c. 1286
when, Wingham College was set up.
The south side of the nave has two two-light early 16th
century windows with depressed heads. These windows perhaps replace
early 14th century windows, as shown by the pointed knapped-flint
relieving arches over them.
There is a 1749 Bell inscribed: THO I AM BUT SMALL I WILL
BE HEARD AMONG YOU ALL.
Unfortunately the major restoration of 1869 was a heavy
one with much new work, both masonry repairs and the new roofs, and
the church was not visited by Sir Stephen Glynne, until the following
BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The principal imported stone is Caen for the quoins, lancet jambs,
etc. There are also a few reused the Roman bricks and a little Reigate
stone (eg. N. side of tower), and the c. 1869 restoration seems
to be in Bath stone (eg. restored E. buttresses, W. doorway and W.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Some fine wall monuments on N. side
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS: Size & Shape: Roughly triangular shaped
and raised above surrounding area. Large drop (terrace well) to N.E.
Boundary walls: None, except terrace wall on N.E. - only banks.
Ecological potential: ? Yes - several yew trees in churchyard.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: ? 13th century
Late med. status: Originally a chapel-of-ease to Wingham, then in 1286
(when Wingham College was founded) it became a parish in its own
right, but then made a Chapel to Nonnington.
Patron: Wingham College, then after the Reformation, to the
Other documentary sources: Hasted IX (1800), 265-6.
Reused materials: A few Roman bricks.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS:
Inside present church: ? Good
Outside present church: Good - shallow gulley around church
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): APRIL 1992 Peter Marsh
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
The church and churchyard: 12th century nave with added later 13th
century tower, and large new chancel. Small north transept (? chapel)
of c. 1300.
The wider context: One of a group of chapels belonging to Wingham
REFERENCES: S. Glynne, Churches of Kent (1877), 188-9.
DATE VISITED: 15th & 23rd September 1991 and 21st February
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown
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