Chapter 3: The story of St. Martin's Church - From Tudors to Stuarts

Article Index
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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In the years that followed the Reformation (in the reign of Henry VIII) the pattern of worship changed considerably. The walls were painted white and lighting candles to the saints died out. Thomas Starkey, a political theorist and a supporter of the reformation was influential with Henry’s advisers. He was made rector of St Martin’s in 1530. There is no record of how much time (if any) he spent in Great Mongeham, but his influence must have been felt. John Boys, a ‘powerful preacher’ and vocal opponent of Popery held the the livings of Bettishanger and Tilmanstone. In 1618 he was also collated to the rectory of St. Martin’s and in 1619 became Dean of Canterbury. Again it is most likely that the day to day parish affairs would have been in the hands of a curate.In the Civil War Kent was predominantly Parliamentarian. A helmet dating from the Civil War hung In the church until it was stolen a few years ago. From the papers of Archbishop Sancroft (written in the late seventeenth century)we learn that St. Clement’s, Sandwich was full of ‘sectaries and grossly ignorant persons’; Great Mongeham was also much infected with sectaries and Northbourne full of Anabaptists and Quakers, ‘poor fellowes’. The Compton Census of 1676 gives the number of Non-conformists as 8 while there were 78 Conformists. The census did not record any Papists in the village.

altThe only significant addition to the church in this time was a porch. The Flemish (sometime called Dutch) gable suggests that it was a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century construction. The engraving above was made in 1829 and is an illustration from a book on Kent. The porch was removed in 1851.

The church was sadly neglected and fell into disrepair.

Maintaining the fabric of the church was a perennial problem. As early as 1511 John Craford appeared before Archbishop Wareham’s visitation and was ‘enjoined to repair the Chancel sufficiently before the Feast of the Assumption under pain of sequestration’ and by 1665 the church was described as ‘much out of Repayre’ At some time before 1800 the south aisle either collapsed or was demolished.

The North or Lady Chapel was the exception. The responsibility for its upkeep went with the glebe altestates. Glebe estates were those belonging to Lords of The Manor but after the Reformation most church estates had been leased or sold on. With them usually went responsibility for the upkeep of part or all of the Parish Church. By the mid seventeenth century the Manor was leased to the Crayford family, and with it went the responsibility for the Lady Chapel. That is why the memorial to Edward Crayford (right) is situated there. It was placed there in 1615 by his wife Anne. The inscription reads "Here lyeth the body of Edward Crayford esq eldest sonne of Sr Will Crayford of Great Mongeham who by Anne his wife one of the daughters of Sr Rowland Hayward thrice Lord Maior of London who had yssue will George Richard Iohn + Anne, he dyed ye 28th of Sept 1615 of his age ye xxxixth vnto whose memorie Anne his wife hath dedicated this"

The obligation for the upkeep of the chapel remained with Great Mongeham Farm until George Wellard was able to get it removed for a lump sum payment sometime before the last World War.

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