Chapter 3: The story of St. Martin's Church - Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Extensions

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Chapter 3: The story of St. Martin's Church
Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Extensions
From Tudors to Stuarts
How old is the Church?
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The major rebuilding of the church was done in the Early English style of the thirteenth century. However it has been suggested that if the chancel arch is a faithful copy(it was replaced in the mid nineteenth century), it would put the date back to the last years of the twelfth century.alt At the same time the roof was heightened and the clerestories (upper windows) added. The original South Aisle was probably also built at this time, although by the time of the nineteenth century restoration it had collapsed.

There are several thirteenth century features to be seen in the chancel. The double aumbry, aalt cupboard for keeping the chalice and other vessels, and also for keeping the reserved sacrament, is on the northern side.. It would have originally have had wooden doors. To the south are the piscina, a basin used to wash the vessels used in communion and the seats or sedilia where the clergy would sit.

The tower, built in the perpendicular style was added later, in the fifteenth century. However it too was built in flint, with stone quoins (corners).

altIn the middle ages there would be much that would be familiar to us today. There would be church services each Sunday morning and evening, and there would be the usual round of christenings, marriages and funerals. The photo below is of the oldest gravestone in the churchyard, dating from the thirteenth century.

However there would be quite significant differences. Apart from the services being conducted in Latin, the walls would have been plastered and painted brightly with religious scenes, there would be much more that was unfamiliar. Church-going was not an option. As late as the seventeenth century Henry Gardener, tailor and Samuel Brimstone, cordwainer, of Great Mongeham, were indicted for recusancy (failure to attend church) ‘on 9 Mar. 1684 and on one Sunday following’

altThere would also have been several statues of saints and many candles. Those who could afford it would leave instructions in their wills to have candles lit or even prayers said by the priest. Stephen Browne of Ripple, who died in 1518, and by his Will left ‘to his wife Joan during her life, and to his son John after her death, his heirs and assigns for ever, to find a yearly Obit to be done in the church of Great Mongeham for ever to endure’, to the parson or parish-priest there saying dirige and mass 10d., to the clerk for ringing two "pellys " [peals] to dirige, "making of the herse ", and ringing to mass 8d., to the parson of Ripple or parish priest of the same to be at the dirige and sing mass 6d., to three other priests saying mass 4d. each, and to poor people 6d. He ordained also that a taper of 2 lbs. of wax yearly should be maintained and should burn before Our Lady of Pity in Mongeham church, and against the Obit to be new "striken " [made] and burn upon the herse during the mass, and afterwards to be set before Our Lady.

Another way for the deceased to speed his or her journey to heaven was to leave alms to the poor. In 1379 Nicholas Crioll bequeathed forty shillings to each of six parishes in his manors, including Mongeham and Walmer.

The living at St. Martin’s was in the gift of the Archbishop of Canterbury. However when a living fell vacant between the demise of one archbishop and the appointment of the next the king would fill the vacancy. The rolls record three instances of royal appointments to the parish of Great Mongeham. In 1294 Arnald de Mastarino was presented to the church of ‘Monyngeham’. Two years later it was deemed necessary to provide ‘simple protection, for five years, for Arnald de Mastarino, parson of the church of Monengeham, in the diocese of Canterbury’. Why such protection was deemed necessary is not recorded in the rolls. On June 28th 1349 William de Hundelowe was presented to the church of Monyngham. Just two days later William de Oulecotes was also presented to the church. There is nothing recorded to explain this curious event.


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