Lenham - St. Mary's Church
© P.E. Blanche 2001
© PE Blanche 2001
The Elizabethan Pulpit
© PE Blanche 2001
The guide book states that there has been a Church here in Saxon and Norman times but as repeated in other references, the early building was destroyed by fire in 1297. It was apparently a malicious act which seems a little strange for those days when religion probably meant more to a community that it does now - although these days theft from our churches does unfortunately seem to be very commonplace. In 1298 Archbishop Winchelsea came to Lenham in person and excommunicated the perpetrators of the crime 'in absentia'.
As a consequence of this act of vandalism, the Church was rebuilt in the 14th Century. The only parts of the norman building to survive are a piece of the wall in the corner of The Chapel of St. Edmund on the North east corner of the building and a column between this Chapel and the West end of the Chancel.
There is a picture of the Chancel to the left and the altar can be seen as a stone slab standing on four small pillars. This is a rarity for a Kentish Church where most stone altars were replaced by wooden communion tables in the 16th Century. This stone altar was actually buried into the floor of the Chancel and not rediscovered until the early 20th Century.
In the picture on the bottom left is the Elizabethan Pulpit which is located in the South East cormer of the Nave. The photograph, I'm afraid, does not do it justice but as the wood has darkened with age it is difficult to pick out all the relief work within a single frame without trying to carry around extensive lighting equipment. The rest of the nave still retains early box pews which is really nice to see in Churches where they have not been replaced by Victorian benches.
In the tower is a ring of eight bells and includes a bell made in 1619 by the famous Kentish bell founder, Joseph Hatch. The largest bell, the tenor, weighs in at 21 cwt.
See also: Additional Interior Views
(includes War Memorials)
back to the index page - "L" | town
and village index page
visual site index | text index