Lynsted Church History

St Peter & St Paul Lynsted History

St Peter & St Paul Lynsted: A History of a 13th Century Church
(reproduced with the kind permission of David Wood)

There does not appear to have been a Church in Lynsted before the Conquest, as it is not included in the list of Churches under Teynham in the Doomsday Book. Lynsted Church is mentioned as a “Chapel of Tenham” in the Archbishop’s Black Book, and was given, as well as Teynham, Doddington and Iwade, to his brother, the Archdeacon Simon Langton, in 1229 by Archbishop Stephen Langton. It is dedicated to St Peter and St. Paul.

According to Aymer Vallance who lived at Aymers near the Church, the earliest part of the Church is the wall under the Tower, which may be as early as 1180, and that the Tower, which dates from the 13th century, stood outside the Church until the latter was lengthened to include it. He stated that most of the main building is 14th century, and the West Window is a good example of that period. The South Aisle and pillars are 15th century.  The Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) states the following description of the church, recorded after a visit in 1967:

“Parish church with 14th & 15th cent. features, the chancel was rebuilt in the 16th cent., and restored in 19th cent. Northwest tower of four stages with triple offset diagonal buttresses, and upper stages weatherboarded, with broach shingle-clad spire. 19th cent. fenestration except south chapel east window having 16th cent. restored cusped ‘Y’ tracery, and chancel east window 16th cent. uncusped perpendicular of 15 lights. North chapel 15th cent east three-light perpendicular window. The east end of the chancel originally stood by itself as the exposed quoins (view outside) and discontinuous plinth of the two chapels indicate.

The weather vane is in the form of a boar’s head, so possibly was given by one of the Hugessen family (see Hugessen Arms).

The South Door. This great oak is very solid and probably the original. Careful inspection reveals several very interesting features including fine hinges and escutcheons and a small head above the door ring. To the left of centre at about head height can be seen four holes one of which contains lead, and is likely to be a musket ball dating back to the Civil War. From the angle of entry, it was fired by a Parliamentarian soldier from the bottom of the path at Ludgate Lane. To the left of the holes is other damage, which may well have been caused at the same time and looks as though it has been made by an axe.
There is a fine South Porch with a circular scratch dial (Mass Dial) on the west jamb (now indistinct), and traces of a smaller dial, heart-shaped, below. The sockets into which the gnomon for each of these dials fitted can still be seen; the topmost is lined with lead. In the stonework of the arch can bee seen a large number of marks apparently caused by a chisel or axe. This damage possibly occurred at the same time as that to the South Door.
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Gifts Recorded

The gates of the South Porch were given by Aymer Vallance in 1912 and were made from an old window grating from the Church of Milton-next-Gravesend. A plate fixed to the left hand gate (viewed from inside the porch) describes the date and origin of the gates.

In 1481 William “Vynch” gave 13/4d “towards the making of one arch now building in the Church”. Possibly this was one of the South Aisle arches. This same William Finche was the father of Dame Catharine Drurye, whose memorial is described later.

There were lights to “Our Lady next the Font”, St. Anthony, St. Christopher, St. Erasmus, St. James, St. John St. John the Baptist, St. Katherine, St. Nicholas, St. Peter and St. Sonday (this was the popular name for St. Dominic, the founder of the Preaching Friars).

According to Lynsted wills, various valuable gifts were made to the Church:

    • William Cotyng in 1534 gave four nobles (£1.33) “to buy 3 Candlesticks, one of 5 branches to hang before the Rood and two others of four branches, one afore the Trinity and the other afore St. Anthony”.
    • William Toft, Vicar in 1509, left 40/- “to the gilding of Mary, John and the Crucifix”; 40/- to “ the Ceiling behind the Rood in the Rood loft with weyncote”.
    • Sir John Walker, of Lydd, in 1509 left “my four books of the Bible to the Church of Lynsted”.

Richard Selhnere in 1517 left orders to “make an image of St. Sonday and 30/- to buy three Candlesticks of Laton with 5 branches; and 9 Altar Cloths, to every Altar 3 Cloths”.  Lynsted parishioners would be glad if these valuable gifts still remained in their Church, but they were probably taken away at the Reformation.

    • Various gifts are mentioned to the bells:-
    • Elena Bix in 1473, 20/- to the buying of a Bell for the Church.
    • John Stebill, 1497, to the Great Bell 20d (8p).
    • Richard Selhnere, 1517,  20/- (£1) to the Bell frames.

The Church Bells

The Church Bells were cast between 1597 and 1639, and the belfry is most likely earlier judging by the references above, prior to which the tower would have finished at the top of the stonework. The bellmakers were John Wilnar of Borden, and Robert Mot, first owner of the Foundry in Whitechapel, started in 1570. He was probably the son of a John Mot of East Kent who bought up discarded metal goods from churches after the Reformation. A family by the name of Motte lived in ‘Linstead’ in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and Richard Mot was the executor to Rev. William Tofft, vicar of the parish who left many gifts to both the church and the parishioners. The inscriptions on the bells are as follows: –

“John Wilnar made me, 1639” and one of the other five; “Robertus Mot me fecit, 1597”, and two of the others in 1600. one of which was recast by John Warner in 1884, and one other was recast in 1900.

After the Reformation it was apparent from Visitation Reports that, as was the case with Teynham, there was general disrepair and no gifts are recorded. There is a catalogue of reports of the sorry state of the building during the 16th and 17th centuries. The churchwardens’ accounts from the 18th and 19th centuries show a general improvement in the state of repair to the building. Amongst these is a receipt by John Austen for a sum of 9s 7d  (46p) for various staples and spikes and for mending the Church gate in 1766, (some of the spikes to the gate in Ludgate Lane are missing again, and this gate has recently been repaired!). Could it be that this same John Austen was a relative of Jane who came to the church on her way to Godmersham Park where she visited Fanny Knight, her favourite niece?
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Blocked doorway and stoopIn the North wall was originally an entrance, but filled in presumably when the north aisle was added. Look upwards at the stone line marking the roof level prior to the building of the north aisle, and trace this line outside the tower door. The old oak door, which rests against this wall over the blocked up entrance, stood for a long time against the south wall of the tower, held there by two spikes into the wall. It is very likely to have been the door for the north wall, and may well have been put to one side, ‘just in case’.

Stoop. To the right of the old oak door, is a niche or stoop, in which a container for holy water would have rested, for the use of all those entering the building. A study of the exterior of the building will reveal the many places where additions to the structure have been made in the past, and it is interesting to see where new and old flintwork join, and guess at the relative ages of these additions.

Rood StairsA narrow staircase which led originally to the Rood Loft, and the Chancel Arch shows signs of having been filled in behind the Rood. The original Rood Screen was preserved from destruction during the time of  Henry VIII or Oliver Cromwell, only subsequently to fall victim of a fire, evidence of which can be see on the pillars in the north and south aisles.

Missing Wall Tablet

A tablet commemorating John Hunt and his unfortunate sons. This tablet was found in the old coal shed outside the west door, and it would appear to have hung on the wall above the present position of the pulpit, where a black supporting slab can be seen. It probably suffered damage when the bomb struck the roof in 1940, removed for safe – keeping, and forgotten until very recently. This same bomb caused great devastation, and some of the memorials in the north chapel suffered considerably, but are now restored. (Regretfully, this tablet was removed from the porch and vandalised in 2004, but now fully restored by Rob Wreford and reinstated in its original position).

The Church also had oak fittings and seats until about 1840 which, ironically, were replaced by grained box type pews. This extract from the Register of Services later described by Rev.L. E. A. Ehrmann:

On June 12th (1933) the work of re-seating the Nave was commenced i.e. removing the existing  hideous deal pews, non of which were alike, all of which were cut into with penknives etc. and in which the children were entirely hidden from view. The Parochial Church Council are carrying out the work thoroughly by removing soil and rubbish and making a concrete foundation for wood blocks upon which the new oak pews will rest. The cost of this altogether is *£313 plus ultimate cost of chairs on either side of the pillars
* In present day terms, £313 must equate to about £30 000.

The east window is one replacing that destroyed in the WWII, and deserves close inspection. It depicts a number of saints around the central figure of Christ seated in glory, robed in scarlet and holding a sceptre. The marks on the nails in His hands and feet are clearly visible. Fragments of the original (pre war) glass have been worked into the margin of each window which are best inspected from the Sanctuary step.

At the very top of the window appear four mystical creatures, representing the gospel writers i.e. St. Mark., St Matthew,  St. Luke and St. John all written vertically at the side of each of four windows.

The figures are, from left to right:

St. Aiden, with the cross of (St Andrew above), holding a bishop’s crosier in one hand and a torch in the other. St. Alban (martyr) clad in armour with crucifix palm branch and sword.  Christ seated and robed. St. Dunstan holding forging pincers and cross: the Venerable Bede with book and water ewer. The second row: St. Ethelreda crowned, with book and staff, St. Augustin with cross and holding a chalice in which there is the figure of a king. Edward the Confessor holding a ring and sceptre, and finally St. Hugh of Lincoln, with a crosier in his left hand and in his right hand a chalice in which the artist has placed the infant Jesus holding an orb. There is a small darkened pane of glass to the lower right of the window inscribed with the name of the artist and glaziers together with the date of construction.

The South Chapel

The South Chapel appears to have been the Lady Chapel and was connected with Bedmangore Estate, for William Apulderfield left instructions in his will that his wife Mildred should “shingle the Chapel of our Lady”. Originally, the chapel was dedicated to St. Dominic and contained a statue of the saint which was destroyed at the Reformation as being a superstitious image. The Chapel passed into the hands of the Roper family when they inherited this estate, and was in their possession until recent memory.

There are fine tombs to the Roper family in this Chapel, one of which is by Epiphanius Evesham. The bas-relief at the base is especially beautiful and his name is carved on it.

After his execution, the head of Sir Thomas More, according to tradition, was taken to Lynsted by his daughter Margaret, who had previously married into the Roper family, and after staying briefly she continued her journey to Canterbury taking her father’s head with her.

The North Chapel

    • The North Chapel was probably connected with Sewards Manor and the Finch family. It contains a tablet to the last of the Finches (Catherine), who married Sir Dru Drury, and tablets to James Hugessen, who bought the Finch-Drury estates, and many of his descendants.

The window to this chapel, like most of the glass, is quite recent and depicts St. Peter and St Paul either side of the Virgin and infant Jesus. Each of the disciples carries a book with inscription: St. Peter’s reads ‘St. Peter Apostle of Jesus Christ’ but that carried by St Paul is not altogether clear, but appears to read ‘ St Paul, servant of Jesus Christ’

A good many alterations were made during the 19th cent., the time when Rev. John Hamilton (whose memorial brass can be seen in the North Aisle, and his large gravestone is in the North section of the churchyard close to the North door) was vicar. He put a new glass in the east window; gave a Reredos of stone (behind the High Altar) which was carved after being placed in position; and put in the stone arches to the north of the Altar. This carved reredos replaced one of wood which can be seen in the tower vestry, and which contains the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Creed.

Early in the last century the roof and Tower  were found to be faulty and a considerable sum was collected and the Nave partly re-roofed, only to suffer damage by a bomb which hit in the last war.

In 1932/3 the Vicar, Rev. L. E. A. Ehrmann, fitted out the Hugessen Chapel for daily services, renewed the Priests’ seats and Lectern in English oak. The linen fold carving to the pew ends was carried out by a Mr. Humphrey of Newnham.
The Clock

Lynsted Church Clock 1720

During 1996, the clock was completely rebuilt by Frederick Perry, a local clockmaker, and the face re-enamelled by one of the parishioners, all as a labour of love. The clock is at present maintained through the devoted attention of Len Scott, a parishioner living nearby, who has researched the history of the clock. So far, he has managed to trace back to the following entry in the archives held at Canterbury Cathedral:

April ye 28th 1720.

An A Greement Made  Betwene ye Churchwardens of ye Parish of Linstead and Michall Cronck for ye saide Michall Cronck hath Taken ye Parrish Church Clock to hold in Good Repaier, for y sume of five shillings per yerare and to Maintaine ye Said Clock in Good Repaier for ye Sume of five Shillings per yeare, for ye full End and Tearme of Seven Yeares.  Witness my Hand, Michaell Cronk

Witnes Ralph W**d?

The art of spelling seemed to be very arbitrary, and even the same words were spelt in different ways in the  passage. Michaell Cronk as he spells it, is spelt differently by the writer of the Agreement.

The Sundial

The rectangular dial with the inscription (of debatable scriptural interpretation) “EVERY MOMENT WELL IMPROVED SECURES AN AGE IN HEAVEN” has been recently refurbished as a labour of love by Bill Marks in memory of his mother. The gnomon is the only part which remains of the original dial which probably pre-dates the clock which is believed to be early 18th century.

Communion Plate

The Chalice of silver which is about 6 inches high, and dated 1664, was the gift of  Henry Eve, D.D. in 1680. Henry Eve was vicar of the Parish (the “Farming Doctor”) from 1665 according to Selby.

A second chalice with paten is something of a mystery. It is eighteenth century French silver gilt and appears to have been presented to a church in Smyrna by three hairdressers!. Somehow the pair of vessels were carried across Europe and were purchased in Suffolk some forty years ago.

There are two Alms dishes, one silver dated 1704 and about 8 inches in diameter, given by Eliza Eve, widow of Henry Eve junior, in memory of her husband.. The second is inscribed “The Gift of Mary Johnson of Linstead in Kent, Widow, 1747.”

A Flagon, inscribed “For the Service of the Communion Plate of the Parish Church of Lynsted in Kent, bought in 1755, pursuant to a gift or request in the Will of Philip Weston late of Berkshire, Esq., deceased.”  with W.G., the makers mark in script letters.

The Chandelier

Chandalier donated by Henry Eve
This magnificent artefact is supposedly one of the oldest and finest in Kent. It is dated 1686 and is in memory of Henry Eve, a former churchwarden.  It has sixteen candles. The cherub heads were discovered in 1904 bricked up in a recess in the tower, for what purpose is unknown. The inscription on the chandelier can be read with difficulty, and not without hazard, and is as follows: –

“Bequeathed by Henry Eve Esq. for the use of Linsted Church in Kent this Present Year 1686.
Wherein he died Churchwarden Accordingly this Branch was given
by his Pious Relict Dorothy admiring fratrix.”

Most recently (2001) this fine example of craftsmanship has been restored to its former glory and fitted with clean burning nylon candles at a cost of some £1600. Careful inspection will reveal that the chandelier did not escape damage by the bomb which also caused damage elsewhere in the church. Some of the pew ends also show damage.

A letter from Rev. Edward Laycock, dated 21st May 1970, and sent to the then incumbent (Rev. Basil Minchin) contains an interesting tale:

Dear Vicar,
About the year 1904 or 5, I was practising as an Architect and my partner and I were carrying out restoration work on Lynsted Parish Church. I am sending you some photos which I no longer want, but which may interest you. These I have described on a separate sheet. I was ordained in 1908 and am now over 90 years of age- Your church was a very interesting building, and I hope it escaped injury during the war.
With all good wishes
Yours sincerely
Edward P. Laycock

(Unfortunately, his aspirations were not realised) He goes on to describe the photos:-

1& 2: The re-constructed roof of Nave

The old roof was plastered on the inside-there was a great deal of dry-rot and many rafters were dangerous. The great oak tie beam, shown in the photo, was very dangerous & had a support beam, from the floor, to prevent it collapsing (see photo)
The hanging Candelabra had a number of slots to contain ‘something’ but nobody knew what it was that was missing.
One day, while examining the walls of the tower, I heard a hollow sound which suggested a cavity & I had this opened up. It revealed a 2 light window and it also contained all the cherub heads which fitted into the holes of the great Candelabra.

It still remains a mystery as to why and when the heads were removed and hidden away.

The Font

The original medieval font was probably destroyed after the Reformation, or during the Civil War (Lynsted was an area of Royalist sympathisers), and the present font now stands hopefully in its final resting place having been moved twice. This font was moved from its position in the new kitchen to what is now the north west corner of the new community room, and stood about six inches higher on a plinth, which for safety was reduced to its present floor level. The present Victorian font was given by the Tyler family and bears this inscription on the pedestal: –

Presented by
Col. C.H. Tyler
of the Lodge
Lynsted 1845

The base of the font is octagonal, and is made of 48 separate stones, eight of which are tiles bearing the Fleur de Lis, and these match those found in the floor of the Roper chapel, which was probably laid at or about the same time. Judging by pre-existing damage, the font was a victim of the bomb which fell on the church during the last war. It was interesting to note that the presence of the inscription only came to light during the previous move that took place early in 1997. The suspension gear for the lid has not yet been restored, and was disconnected by a previous incumbent who was mindful that the lid might descend at an inopportune moment with disastrous consequences. 

The Gallery

Until 1920 or thereabouts when a new vicar, the Rev. J. Skelton arrived and stayed in the parish for a brief period of about two years, there was a gallery at the west end of the nave which was accessed by a staircase to the south of the west door. For some reason, the Rev. Skelton had this gallery removed (possibly because of its condition and funds not being available for its repair). Photographs* taken in about 1904 show clearly this gallery; the plastered ceiling of the nave; the recently discovered cherub heads for the chandelier and a supporting beam beneath the large roof cross-member (found to be defective) nearest to the west end. The position of a flue of one the old coal burning stoves can also be seen. The gallery has now been reinstated above the Community Room, and is used weekly by the Youth Club.

The Tower

The vestry, which was used as a choir robing room, contains the original reredos which has been trimmed to fit its present position. Narrow and steep stairs lead to the ringing chamber. There are various inscriptions on the walls and window reveal, but the most interesting of the graffiti is on the stair handrail. This pencil writing was done probably with the author’s head and arm pushed under the rail since it would require a very long ladder to reach the top writing. Above the ringing chamber is the clock-winding chamber. The clock case also carrier some very interesting graffiti and a record of some the work carried out on the clock, together with some dates of death of various local inhabitants and other sentiments yet to be recorded. The damage to the tower can be seen at this level and the repairs in brick are visible on the south and east walls.

Copyright: David Wood,  (churchwarden 1996- )