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Churches Committee
Kent Churches - Architectural & Historical Information

 St Margaret Church, Womenswold        TR 2273 5060

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 year.

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. nave quoins).

EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: Some fine wall monuments on N. side of nave.

CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS: Size & Shape: Roughly triangular shaped and raised above surrounding area. Large drop (terrace well) to N.E.

Condition: Good

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 Archbishop.

Other documentary sources: Hasted IX (1800), 265-6.

Reused materials: A few Roman bricks.

Inside present church: ? Good

Outside present church: Good - shallow gulley around church

Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): APRIL 1992 Peter Marsh

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 College.

REFERENCES: S. Glynne, Churches of Kent (1877), 188-9.

DATE VISITED: 15th & 23rd September 1991 and 21st February 1994 

REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown

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