Monday, 9 May 2016

Four Churches - Surrey/Kent Border

A trip out last Saturday morning saw me visit four churches on the Surrey/Kent Border

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Westerham

It is thought that there has been a church on this site since the 7th century however the earliest parts of the present building date from the 13th century (the tower and center east wall).

In the tower can be found a late 14th century wooden staircase, one of only two spiral staircases from this era in England that twist to the left.

In the 14th century two chapels were added - St Katherine's to the south and the Resurrection Chapel to the north.

The Church registers record the baptism of General James Wolfe (who was born in the Old Vicarage) and three of Sir Winston Churchill’s grandchildren in this same font which dates from the 14th Century.

The church contains a memorial window dedicated to major General James Wolfe who was born in Westerham and won won victory over the french at the battle of Quebec in 1759. The window dates from 1909  and was constructed in the William Morris workshop after a design by Edward Burne-Jones.

Holy Trinity Church, Crockham Hill

According to its website the church was built in 1842 at the sole expense of Mr Charles Warde, of Squerryes Court in Westerham. Construction of the church was entirely of local stone quarried from Limpsfield, Chiddingstone and Crockham Hill itself, and the work undertaken by a Mr Thomas Horseman and his son who lived at Masons’ Cottages – now 2, Church Gates (at the entrance to the lane leading to the church) where all the stone was cut.

Octavia Hill was a great Christian housing reformer and co-founder of the National Trust who, in 1884, came to live at Larksfield, a cottage she and Harriot Yorke built on the edge of Crockham Hill Common. With a passion for the countryside, she argued eloquently for the preservation of open spaces, fought to keep footpaths open, and personally saved many vantage points along the Greensand Ridge where others could experience what she called ‘the healing gift of space’. When she died in 1912 Octavia Hill was buried alongside her sister Miranda under a yew tree near the top of the steps to the south of this church.

She is also commemorated with a marble effigy in the chancel to the left of the altar. This was partly executed by an American sculptress named Miss Abbott, who lived at nearby Jacob’s Ladder, but was completed by Edmund Burton, and installed in December 1928.

The Octavia Hill memorial window (to the right of the main door) was a gift of the Orpington and Chislehurst National Trust Centre in 1995 to mark the Trust’s centenary. Designed by Alfred Fisher of the Chapel Studio in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, it represents the dark side of inner city life which Octavia worked to eradicate, and the brighter prospect of the countryside which she bequeathed to future generations via the National Trust. A portrait of Octavia Hill, and the oak leaf symbol of the Trust, are both evident in the window's design.

St Andrew's Church, Limpsfield Chart

The church dates from 1895 generally and was to the design of Reginald Blomfield; it was built by Messrs Durtnells of Brasted.  The whole building is of local warm buff-coloured Wealdstone Sandstone with white stone dressings. 

The tower was added in 1902 and the new vestries about 1960.The tower has diaper work of rubble and dressed stone above a stone string course.

A view inside the church towards the chancel

St Peter's,  Tandridge

The Church is sited on rising ground close to Tandridge Lane just north of the junction with Jackass Lane. It was originally built in the 12th century and  contains Norman and Medieval elements but the general outward appearance is Victorian. It was enlarged in 1844 by the addition of the south aisle, taking away the tower screening and moving and reincorporating the I4th Century doorway in the new position of the porch.

A much greater reconstruction was undertaken in 1874 by the famous Victorian architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, then residing as a tenant of Rook's Nest, a major house in the parish, and the church was given its mainly Victorian Gothic appearance, together with the north aisle and the somewhat unusual dormer windows.

The most striking feature of the church is the timber tower which, with extra bracing added over the years consists of four massive oak pillars supporting the clock chamber, bell chamber and shingled spire. The nave roof built at the same time is of Early English coupled rafter construction, which dates them both around 1300 AD, but the trees that supplied the tower posts would already have been several centuries old.

Unfortunately it was the only one of the four churches I visited that was locked.
In the churchyard is a very old Yew tree - 

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