St Botolph’s Church, 83m ESE of Ruxley Manor.
Reasons for Designation
A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.
Despite some later alterations, St Botolph’s Church is a good example of a medieval parish church which survives well. The upstanding remains include many original architectural details, the arched piscina and double sedilia of which are of particular interest. The site has been shown to contain the foundations of an earlier Norman church, a Saxon timber-framed building and numerous inhumation burials. The location of these on the same site as the later church is especially significant since it will provide evidence for the development of religious and burial practices over a period of some 500 years.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 30 March 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a 13th century parish church and the buried remains of an earlier church and timber-framed building, surviving as upstanding and below ground remains. It is situated on a north-east facing slope to the east of Ruxley Wood.
The church is a single-cell aisleless building, rectangular in plan without a tower. It is built of flint and stone rubble with stone dressings. Stone and later brick buttresses support each angle and the walls of the building. The west end has a blocked arched window with a blocked arched doorcase below it. A later 18th century red brick surround and casement window have been inserted into the opening. The south side has an arched window with later 20th century casement and an off-centre wagon entrance. The east end has an arched window blocked in with 18th century brickwork. In the north side are two blocked arched windows and an 18th century brick doorcase. The interior retains a 13th century arched piscina and double sedilia in the east side of the south wall. The pantiled roof dates to the late 18th century but was restored in the 20th century and the pitch has been altered.
St Botolph’s Church, also known as Ruxley Old Church, was built adjacent to Ruxley Manor in about 1300. It served as the parish church of Ruxley until 1557, by which time it was in a ruinous state. Cardinal Pole deconsecrated the church and relocated the congregation to the parish of St James’ Church in North Cray. It was subsequently converted into a barn, which was known as Church Barn in the 18th century. A cylindrical stock brick oast house was built at the north-east corner in the early 19th century. The church was latterly used as a donkey-mill, chicken house, stable and machine shop before it was restored in the late 20th century.
Partial excavation in 1968 and 1989, revealed the foundations of an earlier two-celled church, thought to date to the late 11th or early 12th century AD. It is on the same alignment as the present building. The foundations are of chalk and flint and the church is about 16m long, 8m wide at the west end with a short square chancel 6m wide to the east. Several inhumations were exposed during the excavation. At least two were related to St Botolph’s but others related to the earlier building. Two burials were found to underlie the earlier building foundations, indicating the layout of an even earlier burial ground. The skulls were pillowed in flint. Evidence was also found for a timber-framed building dating to around the 9th century AD.
The upstanding remains of St Botolph’s Church are Grade II listed.