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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST THOMAS A BECKET
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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 63734 44513



5/222 Church of St Thomas A Becket of (formerly listed as Church of 20.10.54 Saint Thomas of Canterbury) GV I

Former parish church, now in the care of the Redundant Churches Fund. Norman origins, C13 chancel arch, tower and nave roof are C14 or early C15, some C16 and C17 alterations (fire in 1639), chancel and much of the south wall refurbished in the C19. Chancel and north wall are plastered stone but tower and south wall of nave of large blocks of coursed sandstone ashlar, medieval section of south wall of smaller less well-dressed blocks; peg-tile roof.

Plan: Small church comprising nave with lower chancel and large but relatively short west tower. Access through tower. C19 vestry on north side of chancel.

Exterior: Single stage west tower has moulded plinth, low diagonal buttresses, crenellated parapet and pyramid roof surmounted by C20 cast iron weather vane. Belfry has large louvred lancets and tiny slit windows to the ringing floor. West doorway is a plain round-headed arch containing a C19 plank door with coverstrips. Above a C14 or early C15 window, a double lancet with cusped ogival arch heads.

Nave has low walls and tall roof. South side has a 4-window front. Left (west) bay has restored C16 2-light window (arch heads with sunk spandrels) with hoodmould. Rest rebuilt in C19 with similar Tudor-style 2 and 3-light windows separated by buttresses. Plastered north side of the nave contains 2 medieval windows, a large trefoil-headed lancet near the left end and a narrow lancet high in the wall near the centre. Chancel is also plastered. South wall has a late C18/early C19 priests door containing a very domestic-looking panelled door with plain hood on shaped timber brackets. East window is a C19 triple lancet in Early English style. Brick vestry windows have shoulder- headed lights.

Interior: Porch is inside the tower with plain plaster ceiling and plain (probably C19) timber stair. Doorway to nave has late C18/early C19 panelled door like that in the priests doorway. Tower and chancel have similar arches; 2-centred arches with semi-octagonal shafts, moulded imposts and double- chamfered arch ring. Nave has good C14 or early C15 roof; 3 bays with arch- braced tie-beams, octagonal crown posts with moulded capitals and bases, and common rafter trusses with soulaces. Similar common rafter roof to the chancel but it is C19.

The walls are lime-washed. Towards the west end of the north wall there is an arch-headed niche, either a blocked window or doorway. The north wall also includes the extensive remains of apparently C13 mural paintings which extend into the reveals of the windows and niche. The narrative biblical scenes are described by Newman (see sources). At the east end is a part of a C16 painted figure and next to it, alongside the chancel arch, painted scrolled strapwork frame, presumably surrounding a now missing text. C20 tile floor with older tiles in the chancel.

Chancel has C20 stone altar table. Good oak communion rail is carved with date 1682 and name of Michael Davis; moulded handrail, turned balusters and ball finials to the standards. C19 oak drum pulpit and pine benches. Plain, probably medieval, stone font has an octagonal bowl on a cylindrical shaft. The only monument is in the chancel, a plain marble plaque in memory of Thomas Martin (died 1834). The nave contains brass plaques to the dead of both World Wars. A nowy-headed board over the tower arch is painted with the royal Arms GR, and it is flanked by contemporary C18 boards with the text of the Lords Prayer and below the arch is flanked by similar commandment boards. Stained glass in the East window is dated 1905.

Sources: John Newman. West Kent and the Weald (1969) Penguin Buildings of England series, p.197.

Listing NGR: TQ6382444536


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

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Books and journals
Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1969), 197


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

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 31 Aug 1999
Reference: IOE01/00716/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mrs Barbara Ingram-Monk. Source Historic England Archive
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