An unusual and attractive Tudor building built in 1516-17 to replace a medieval chapel which was destroyed by fire when the hamlet of Small Hythe was burnt to the ground. It is unusually constructed of red brick which it is thought may have been imported from the Low Countries in exchange for timber from the Weald of Kent. The stepped gables of the west and east walls indicate Dutch influence. The porch was added in 1866.
Here is the east window with a close up of the centre light. It depicts Christ victorious with a Paschal lamb and a medieval ship. This window was installed by the War Damage Commission in 1952, after the original window had been destroyed by a V1 rocket in 1944.
Here are the pipe organ and font - the base looks rather like a millstone?
Here is the west window, the only one with the original brick Tudor tracery, but all the glass in the church is modern. It is rather a shame that the rest of the windows have arches have been made more pointed - the Tudor style would have suited the architecture so much better.
Here are the remaining windows in the building.
Here are two views of the nave, looking east and west. The medieval oak screen and wainscot panelling are the oldest features of the church, and are perhaps the oldest of their type still in existence. The pews in the nave are made of pitch pine and replaced oak family boxes in 1900. The pulpit and lectern were gifts from St Mildred's Church in Tenterden.
The roof is a perfect example of a rectangular Tudor roof with two interesting repairs in evidence. The roof over the chancel was repaired in 1747 by the addition of oak side purlins fixed at right angles to the rafters. The roof over the west end was repaired in 1982 by steel brackets and stainless steel straps on top of the beams. These are fixed to wall plates set in concrete spreader beams on top of the walls, almost invisible, and so preserving the antiquity of the building. The cost of this last repair was £24,000, a sum raised by the parish itself.
The next picture is of the west front of the building.
This final view of the south side of the church was taken from the garden of Ellen Terry's house, which has a gate into the churchyard. Ellen Terry's house is owned by the National Trust and open to the public - well worth a visit. The weather was much better on this visit in June 2010 that it was in 2004!
In this church Dame Ellen Terry worshipped and her funeral service was held here on 24th July 1928, conducted by the Rector of Wittersham who was vicar in charge at the time.
The Benefices of St Mildred, Tenterden and of St John the Baptist, Small Hythe, were permanently united to form one Benefice in 1928, but with the two parishes continuing distinct in all respects.
The Kent Archaeological Society has interesting early pictures of this church, here.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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