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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List entry Number: 1240708



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Tunbridge Wells

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Speldhurst

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 20-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 439214

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


TQ 53 37 SPELDHURST GROOMBRIDGE HILL (east side) OLD GROOMBRIDGE 16/509 Chapel of St John the Evangelist 20.10.54 GV I

Chapel-of-Ease. Built in 1625 by the patriotic Protestant John Packer to commemorate, as the inscription records, the return of Prince Charles from Spain, fortunately not married to the Catholic Infanta. Restored in 1757 by William Camfield, some early C19 improvements (weathervane is dated 1824), east end repaired after a fire caused by lightning in 1895, and roof rebuilt in 1912. Red brick, all headers up to eaves level and gables are English bond. Sandstone ashlar detail, the quoins lightly (and distinctively) rusticated, some decorative use of cream and yellow-coloured sandstone. Peg- tile roof.

Plan: Nave and chancel under a continuous roof. South porch and small priest's doorway into north side of chancel.

Exterior: Essentially Perpendicular Gothic with some attempts at classicism. Single gable-ended block with diagonal corner buttresses. Each end are tall 5-light transomed windows with Tudor arch (almost elliptical) heads and Perpendicular tracery. They are flanked by C19 buttresses and the continuous hoodmould steps up over the buttresses to the window. Each side has 3 windows separated by buttresses, all 3-light similar in style to those each end. Buttresses have alternate bands of projecting rusticated sandstone. Gables have stone coping. West gable includes a lozenge-shaped timber clockface with painted Roman numerals and hour hand. It also includes the initials BRS and date 1792. Above it is a smalled keyed oculus and at the apex a gabled brick bellcote surmounted by an ornate wrought iron weathervane. A view of the west end of the chapel dated 1809 (reproductions are available in the Chapel) shows it without the buttresses each side of the window, the clockface appears to be set higher and the bellcote is a different structure altogether.

South porch is left of centre. It is gabled. It has sandstone quoins with alternate quoins projecting slightly. Classical round-headed outer arch with moulded imposts, chamfered surround, facetted keystone and balls in the spandrels. It has the beginnings of a pediment below the gable. The gable contains the dedication plaque (also carved with William Camfield 1775) below a plaque carved with the Prince of Wales feathers. South doorway is a round- headed arch with chamfered surround and it contains a small-panelled oak door.

Interior: Continuous roof over nave and chancel. 5 bays of early C20 tie- beam trusses with crown posts enriched with Jacobean style Renaissance features. Boarded ceiling except for the eastern bay which has panels painted with religious emblems in strapwork cartouches. No structural division between nave and chancel. Walls are plastered above small field oak panelled wainscotting. One panel (near west end of north wall) bears the date 1690. Moulded plaster cornice. C19 tile floor including a couple of C17 graveslabs. Chancel floor of black and white marble flags.

Fittings and Furniture: Oak-panelled reredos in C17 style but probably C19. Probably C17 altar table with turned baluster legs. C19 brass altar rail has twisted standards and foliate brackets. Although stalls and chancel rail is probably C19 the style of Tuscan collonettes is probably based on the originals and parts may indeed be C17 work. Good C17 oak drum pulpit has panelled sides enriched with carving and has small original sounding board. C19 plain oak benches. Good C17 stone font with fluted octagonal bowl and stem has jewelled band. Good clock mechanism exposed at the west end. Although much repaired expert opinion suggests that parts date from the early C17, maybe even older than the chapel. 3 good brass chandeliers. Largest in chancel is believed to be C17 Flemish with others later copies. Other C17 brass candleholders around the chapel.

Memorials: Best is in the chancel in memory of Sir Philip Packer (died 1686). Sculpted semi-naked figure of Sir Philip sits slumped in death with an open book in his hand. Sculpture in a round-headed niche and on fluted base. The inscription is in a cartouche below. Next to it in the east wall a memorial to Sir John Packer (died 1697); framed plaque flanked by panelled pilasters, entablature carved with foliage and open pediment containing armorial cartouche, gadrooned sill over an apron with a plaque containing a winged cherub's head. South wall includes a couple of C19 marble plaques and, over the south door, an alabaster plaque in memory of William Cotton Oswell (died 1893) an eminent explorer.

Good stained glass. Mostly C19 but east window of south wall contains early C17 heraldic panel; the Peckham arms, reset amongst deceptive C19 imitations by Clayton and Bell. Adjoining south window also Clayton and Bell. Rest by Kempe from the 1890s.

This is a rare early C17 church. It is also situated amongst an exceptional group of important and attractive buildings in Old Groombridge, all associated with nearby Groombridge Place (q.v.).

Sources. C.J. Ellingham. A History of Groombridge (1973), pp.5-10. Church Guide. J. Newman. West Kent and the Weald(1969). Penguin Buildings of England Series, pp.309-310.

Listing NGR: TQ5306437681

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Guide to the Chapel of St John the Evangelist Groombridge
Ellingham, C J , A History of Groombridge, (1973), 5-10
Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1969), 309-310

National Grid Reference: TQ 53065 37682


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End of official listing