The diminutive church of St Thomas has stood in Walland Marsh, isolated and, on the day of our visit, compellingly beautiful in the summer sunshine. In winter I suspect it is a bleak and dreary place, blasted by the wind and rain.
The church we see today first took on this appearance some time between 1700 and 1800, although there has been a church here since medieval times, indeed many of the timbers are original. The turret contains 3 bells, the original medieval bells were sadly broken up and recast in the restorations of 1913. They are hung with gear allowing them to be rung, and there is a space for a fourth bell.
In 1912 it was discovered that the building was in danger of collapse, and the entire chancel, north wall of the nave , the porch, roof coverings and turret were all taken down, the foundations secured and the building faithfully reconstructed, largely as it had been before. Every part of the ancient frame and structure which could be re-used was replaced. The porch was entirely rebuilt and the bell turret, formerly of weatherboards, was reconstructed to a slightly different design and was faced with cedar shingles.
The building would have originally been a timber frame clad in wattle and daub. In time the plaster work was replaced with brick, when the base plate of the frame was removed and walls built on a foundation of brick. Much of the original timber work remains in the roof frame, the picture below shows the chancel roof.
The interior is unique in Kent, and the chancel is offset from the nave and is longer than it appears from the nave, an illusion probably caused by the low beams.
Here is a closer view of the chancel - the altar is covered with plastic presumably to protect from damage from birds or bats.
There is a complete three decker pulpit still in postition. The pews and pulpit are of the same date and are all original, complete with fastenings.
The font is plain, and a design unique in Kent. The bowl has seven sides, perhaps a reminder of the seven sacrements of the church. It was originally located on the north side of the church, but is now in the centre, underneath the turret.
This final view shows the church from the west, illustrating its remote and lonely location, with just the sheep for company.
Information on this page is taken from the excellent booklet, "St Thomas Becket, Fairfield, Kent" by David Cawley, available in the church.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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