Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

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

Tunbridge Wells (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 55353 41438


TQ 55 41 SPELDHURST SPELDHURST HILL (north side), SPELDHURST 12/545 Church of St Mary the Virgin 20.10.54


Parish church. The base of the tower is C14. The old church was struck by lightning in 1791 and destroyed. Present church rebuilt 1870-71 by John Oldrid Scott. North chapel is dated 1897, spire added [in 1923. Coursed blocks of sandstone ashlar. Peg-tile roof and stone slate roofs to porches.

Plan: Apart from the base of the tower the church is wholly C19. Nave with lower chancel, north aisle with chapel and vestry, west tower, north and south porches. Early English style.

Exterior: 3-stage tower with angle buttresses up to the top stage. Moulded eaves cornice with nailhead ornament under low parapet. Low pyramid spire surmounted by old wrought iron weather vane. Belfry has large 2-light windows with Early English tracery and louvred over stone grilles. Stair turret projects from north side with external doorway; it is square with diagonal buttresses up to the top stage and octagonal above rising above the parapet. West doorway is a 2-centred arch with moulded surround and hoodmoud. It contains a plank door with ornamental strap hinges (like the other doors around the church). Above is an Early English style double lancet window.

The south side of the nave and the north side of the aisle are both 4 bays separated by buttresses and containing Early English style 2-light windows with hoodmoulds and carved foliate label stops. Chancel in similar style but more elaborate. The buttresses are gabled with chamfered corners. The hoodmoulds of the double lancets on the south side include nailhead ornament. The east window is 3 lights with early Decorated tracery and moulded reveals. South porch has a tall and steeply pitched gabled roof, angle buttresses, a 2- centred outer arch with moulded surround including shafts and hoodmould. South doorway is a 2-centred arch with shafts and capitals carved with stiffleaf decoration and chevrons around the arch. Good hinges to the door in Gothic style. North porch is somewhat plainer. The vestry includes a buttress made up of fragments of medieval tracery and other pieces from the old church.

Interior: Very complete and high quality late C19 interior. Nave has an open 4-bay roof of arch-braced trusses rising from stone shafts on carved foliate corbels. Chancel has similar 2-bay roof except here the common rafter trusses are arch braced. The north aisle has a more vernacular-looking 4-bay roof of arch-braced trusses with windbraces. Tower has a stone vault to the ringing floor. Rere arch of west window has elaborate inner window, 2 lights on a clustered shaft with stiffleaf capital and quatrefoil above enriched with nailhead ornament. Tall tower arch with half-engaged shafts and moulded capitals and bases, and double chamfered arch ring. Chancel arch is more ornate with 4-leaf decoration to the hoodmould. 4-bay arcade to the aisle. Piers have half engaged shafts with moulded caps and bases. Moulded arches and hoodmoulds. In the chancel the windows have Purbeck marble shafts with stiffleaf capitals and nailhead ornament. Walls throughout of exposed stone ashlar. Tile floor and some encaustic tiles in the chancel.

Fittings and Furniture: Very ornate carved stone reredos in Gothic style featuring the evangelists in niches each side of central carving of the Virgin Mary below the Angel Gabriel. Altar is flanked by tall brass candle holders on twisted stems. C19 altar table with inlaid marquetry sacred emblems. Ornate altar rail has double standards enriched with 4-leaf ornament and providing niches for carved angels on pedestals. Sanctuary is lined with panelled wainscotting. Low panelled chancel screen with open tracery with sacred symbols and armorial bearings. Oak eagle lectern. Octagonal pulpit richly carved including a representation of the Virgin Mary with infant Jesus. Oak benches. Font has octagonal bowl carved with a Gothic arcade and on clustered shafts. Elaborate carved timber font cover is dated 1926 and is complete with pulley.

Memorials: Old memorials have been set in the tower. All are late C18 and from the first half of the C19 and of marble. 2 good monuments on north wall to John Yorke (died 1798) and Martin Yorke (died 1805) are carved with military trophies and have urns on pedestals. Both were made by John Bacon Junior. Best on south side in memory of William Reymond (died 1836) and features a plaque on a sarcophagus from which the deceased is being carried up to heaven by 3 angels. This is signed by Thomas Denham.

Glass: The glory of the church is the complete set of stained glass by Morris and Co. and Clayton and Bell. 10 are Burne-Jones designs. They are described in some detail in the church guide and by Newman (see sources).

Sources Church Guide J. Newman. West Kent and the Weald (1969) Penguin Buildings of England series, pp.541-542.

Listing NGR: TQ5535341438


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Guide to the Church of St Mary the Virgin Speldhurst
Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1969), 541-542


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

End of official listing

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Date: 01 Aug 2004
Reference: IOE01/12724/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Neville Broadbent. Source Historic England Archive
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