Exploring Kent's Past

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Monument details

HER Number:TR 26 NW 2
Type of record:Monument
Name:Anglo-Saxon Minster and the ruins of St Mary's Church

Summary

St Mary's Church c.669-15thc; Former site of Benedictine monastery founded AD 669 and destroyed by Vikings

Images

Reculver 1   © Explore KentReculver 2   © Explore KentReculver 3   © Explore KentReculver 4   © Explore KentReculver 5   © Explore KentReculver 6   © Explore KentReculver 7   © Explore Kent
Grid Reference:TR 2276 6935
Map Sheet:TR26NW
Parish:HERNE BAY, CANTERBURY, KENT

Monument Types

  • MONASTERY (MONASTERY, Early Medieval or Anglo-Saxon - 410 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CHURCH (CHURCH, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (CHURCH, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1018784: RECULVER SAXON SHORE FORT, ANGLO-SAXON MONASTERY AND ASSOCIATED REMAINS

Full description

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[TR 22756936] St. Mary's Church [NR] (rems. of) (NAT) (1) See attached pamphlet. (2) Reculver Church is as described in Authy. 2. It is under the guardianship of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. GP/AO/63/121/7. Published survey 25" revised; q.v. TR 26 NW 1. (3) Additional bibliography. (4-20) Additional bibliography - not consulted. (21-36).

From the National Heritage List for England:

The monument includes the surviving part of a Saxon Shore fort, an earlier, temporary Roman military camp and Iron Age farmstead, and a later Anglo-Saxon monastery and medieval parish church, situated on a low sandy cliff on the North Kent coast, around 3km east of Herne Bay. Coastal erosion has destroyed the north eastern part of the Saxon Shore fort and later monastery. Investigations carried out in the 19th and 20th centuries have shown the monument to have undergone several phases of development and reuse. Historical records indicate that the Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded in around AD 669, when Egbert, King of Kent granted Reculver to Bassa for the foundation of a minster church. The religious house utilised the existing Roman defences, and the church was built near the centre of the earlier fort, probably around the site of an early wayside preaching cross, the base of which was found during 1927 investigations at the eastern end of the nave. The cross base, now at Canterbury Cathedral along with other fragments of Saxon masonry from the church, has been dated to the early seventh century AD. The church survives in the form of buried foundations marked out in modern concrete, and standing ruins up to around 2m high, incorporated within the later medieval parish church. This early walling reused Roman tiles, bricks and rubble masonry. The earliest monastic church had a rectangular nave and apsidal chancel flanked by twin projecting rooms, or porticus. Eighth century additions include north and south aisles. Documentary evidence suggests that the site had ceased to function as a monastic house by the tenth century AD, after which time the church became St Mary's, the secular parish church of Reculver. Much of the original extent of the Anglo-Saxon monastery has been destroyed by coastal erosion, although some buried traces will survive within the monument. The now disused medieval parish church, flanked to the south by part of its surrounding walled graveyard, was partly demolished in 1805. The original form of the church is recorded in 18th century illustrations and descriptions. Substantial remodelling of the western end in the early 12th century included the construction of tall twin towers. The towers, without their original wooden steeples, still stand on the cliff edge. The chancel was enlarged during the 13th century. In 1809, the ruined church was bought, repaired and underpinned by Trinity House, and the twin towers are still used as a navigation mark for shipping. The standing ruins have been the subject of modern restoration and repair. Subsequent land use, including the construction of a number of houses and buildings in the 19th and 20th centuries, World War II activites and the use of part of the monument as a caravan park, will have caused some disturbance, although many of the modern buildings have now been demolished. The walled interior of the Saxon Shore fort and the church are now in the care of the Secretary of State. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are Beach Cottage, the King Ethelbert Inn and its associated outbuildings, all modern signs, fences, gates, bollards, railings, fixtures and fittings and childrens play equipment, all telegraph poles and lighting, and the modern surfaces of all paths, tracks, paving and hardstanding; the ground beneath all these features is, however, included.

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, monasticism formed an important part of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house monks, canons (priests) and sometimes lay-brothers living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. The main components of the earliest monasteries might include two or three small timber or stone churches, a cemetery and a number of associated domestic buildings, contained within an enclosure or vallum. Those sites which have been excavated indicate no standard layout of buildings. The earliest sites were not markedly dissimilar from contemporary secular settlements, although their ecclesiastical role may be indicated by the presence of luxury items, such as stone sculpture, coloured glass, inscriptions and high quality metalwork and pottery. Later foundations in the 10th and 11th centuries generally had one major stone church and a cemetery, and a more regular layout of buildings, often ranged around a cloister. Documentary sources indicate the existence of 65 early monasteries. The original number of sites is likely to have been slightly higher and would have included sites for which no documentary reference survives. Of these, less than 15 can at present be linked to a specific site. As a rare monument type, and one which made a major contribution to the development of Anglo-Saxon England, all pre-Conquest monasteries for men exhibiting survival of archaeological remains are worthy of protection. The Saxon Shore fort and pre-Conquest monastery at Reculver, despite some damage caused by coastal erosion, survive comparatively well, in close association with features dating from the Iron Age to the later medieval period. Part excavation has shown that the monument contains important archaeological and environmental evidence. The Saxon Shore fort, along with the example at Brancaster in Norfolk, is believed to be one of the earliest constructed on the English coast, and its reuse of the site of the earlier Roman invasion camp reflects the stategic importance of Reculver harbour. Like the fort at Brancaster, it is unusual in that it lacks the corner and interval towers found in the other Saxon Shore forts. The pre-Conquest monastery at Reculver represents a particularly rare example of a Mid-Saxon religious house, and its siting within the earlier Saxon Shore fort illustrates the early Christian practice of reusing important Roman or prehistoric enclosures.


FOUNDATIONS OF EARLY SAXON CHURCH (EXCAVATED 1927).EXAMPLE OF EARLIEST DESIGN OF CHURCH - CF SILCHES (Photograph). SKE547.


FOUNDATIONS OF EARLY SAXON CHURCH (EXCAVATED 1927).EXAMPLE OF EARLIEST DESIGN OF CHURCH - CF SILCHES (Photograph). SKE547.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11657.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11657.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11668.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11668.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11678.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11678.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11679.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11679.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11680.


Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11680.


Taylor, H. M., Reculver Church (Article in serial). SWX9311.


Taylor, H. M., Reculver Church (Article in serial). SWX9311.


McKenzie, 1774, Coast of Kent from North Foreland to Isle of Sheppey (Chart). SWX8104.


McKenzie, 1774, Coast of Kent from North Foreland to Isle of Sheppey (Chart). SWX8104.


Stephenson, 1786, Survey of the East Swale (Chart). SWX7894.


Stephenson, 1786, Survey of the East Swale (Chart). SWX7894.


Jessup, R. F., 1936, Reculver, p.179-194 (Article in serial). SWX7288.


Jessup, R. F., 1936, Reculver, p.179-194 (Article in serial). SWX7288.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9950.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9950.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9962.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9962.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10100.


1941, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10100.


1942, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9922.


1942, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9922.


1946, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9460.


1946, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX9460.


1948, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11681.


1948, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11681.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11682.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11682.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11683.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11683.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10696.


1949, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10696.


1965, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11684.


1965, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11684.


1974, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10603.


1974, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10603.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11658.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11658.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11659.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11659.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11660.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11660.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11661.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11661.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11662.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11662.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11663.


1976, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11663.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11664.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11664.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11676.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11676.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11677.


1983, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11677.


Kozodoy, R., 1986, The Reculver Cross (Article in serial). SWX9315.


Kozodoy, R., 1986, The Reculver Cross (Article in serial). SWX9315.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11665.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11665.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11666.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11666.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11667.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11667.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11669.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11669.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11670.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11670.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11671.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11671.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11672.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11672.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11673.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11673.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11674.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11674.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11675.


1988, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11675.


Trust For Thanet Archaeology, 1991, Intertidal Zone Minnis Bay-Reculver (Unpublished document). SWX7082.


Trust For Thanet Archaeology, 1991, Intertidal Zone Minnis Bay-Reculver (Unpublished document). SWX7082.


1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10165.


1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10165.


1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10167.


1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX10167.


<1> Field report for monument TR 26 NW 2 - December, 1963, OS 6" 1961 (Bibliographic reference). SKE5839.


<2> OS Card / NAR index entry, Reculver Kent 1961 (MOW) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<3> OS Card / NAR index entry, F1 AC 04-DEC-63 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<4> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch Ael 4th Series 25 1947 153 (E Gilbert) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<5> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch 77 1927 241-256 (C R Peers) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<6> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch Cant 3 1860 135-136 illus (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<7> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch Cant 12 1878 248-268 (G Dowker) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<8> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch NL 2 1949-50 123 (E Martin-Clarke) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<9> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch J 53 1896 298-299 380 (J T Micklethwaite) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<10> OS Card / NAR index entry, VCH Kent 2 1926 141-142 (R C Fowler) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<11> OS Card / NAR index entry, The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist 9 22-32 (J Russell Larkby) 253-56 (F Grayling) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<12> OS Card / NAR index entry, PSA Series 2 1 1861 369-373 (J B Sheppard) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<13> OS Card / NAR index entry, Trans Dur and North Architect and Arch Soc 4 1890-5 liii (C C Hodges) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<14> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch J 125 1968 291-6 (H M Taylor) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<15> OS Card / NAR index entry, The Arts in Early England 2 1925 (G B Brown) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<16> OS Card / NAR index entry, Anglo Saxon Architecture III 1978 1109 (H M Taylor) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<17> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch J 130 121-122 (C A Ralegh Radford) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<18> OS Card / NAR index entry, Med Arch 14 1970 161 (D M Wilson and D G Hurst) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<19> OS Card / NAR index entry, Antiq J 53 1973 53 (H M Taylor) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<20> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch of Anglo Saxon England 1976 115 163 164 167 168 171 174 191 204 (D M Wilson) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<21> OS Card / NAR index entry, Collect Antiq 6 1868 222 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<22> OS Card / NAR index entry, Tanner's Notitia Monastica 1787 Krent XLVIII (Naismith) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<23> OS Card / NAR index entry, Monasticon Anglicaum 1 1846 454-6 (W Dugdale) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<24> OS Card / NAR index entry, English Roman Arch before the Conquest 1930 23-4 (Clapham) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<25> OS Card / NAR index entry, Trans Aber Ex Soc III 90 Part 9 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<26> OS Card / NAR index entry, Antiq and Topo Cabinet 4 1808 (J Storer) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<27> DOWKER MSS (Collection). SKE6555.


<28> OS Card / NAR index entry, CAT Annual Report, 1992-3. (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<38> Hawkes, S.C., 1969, Early Anglo-Saxon Kent (Article in serial). SWX7826.


<39> Gem, Richard, 1995, Anglo-Saxon minsters of the Thames Estuary (Article in monograph). SWX9355.


<40> RCHME, 1995, Thames Gateway: Recording Historic Buildings And Landscapes On The Thames Estuary (Unpublished document). SKE17329.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Photograph: FOUNDATIONS OF EARLY SAXON CHURCH (EXCAVATED 1927).EXAMPLE OF EARLIEST DESIGN OF CHURCH - CF SILCHES. P29090. Black and White. Print.
---Photograph (Print): 1941. Photograph. 21. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1998. Photograph. 1368. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1998. Photograph. 3154. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1974. Photograph. BPZ 76 tr228694/8. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1949. Photograph. DY 55-59 tr228694/3. print.
---Photograph (Print): Photograph. TR2269/1. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/10. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/11. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/12. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/13. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/14. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1976. Photograph. TR2269/15. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1983. Photograph. TR2269/16. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/17. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/18. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/19. print.
---Photograph (Print): Photograph. TR2269/2. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/20. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/21. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/22. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/23. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/24. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/25. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1988. Photograph. TR2269/26. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1983. Photograph. TR2269/27. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1983. Photograph. TR2269/28. print.
---Photograph (Print): Photograph. TR2269/3. print.
---Photograph (Print): Photograph. TR2269/4. print.
---Photograph (Print): Photograph. TR2269/5. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1948. Photograph. TR2269/6. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1949. Photograph. TR2269/7. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1949. Photograph. TR2269/8. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1965. Photograph. TR2269/9. print.
---Unpublished document: Trust For Thanet Archaeology. 1991. Intertidal Zone Minnis Bay-Reculver.
---Article in serial: Jessup, R. F.. 1936. Reculver. 10 (38), pages 179-94. p.179-194.
---Chart: Stephenson. 1786. Survey of the East Swale. chart.
---Chart: McKenzie. 1774. Coast of Kent from North Foreland to Isle of Sheppey. chart.
---Article in serial: Taylor, H. M.. Reculver Church. 126, p.225.
---Article in serial: Kozodoy, R.. 1986. The Reculver Cross. 108, p.67-94.
---Photograph (Print): 1946. Photograph. 4024. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1942. Photograph. 6087. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1941. Photograph. 78. print.
---Photograph (Print): 1941. Photograph. 59. print.
<1>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TR 26 NW 2 - December, 1963. OS 6" 1961.
<2>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Reculver Kent 1961 (MOW).
<3>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. F1 AC 04-DEC-63.
<4>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch Ael 4th Series 25 1947 153 (E Gilbert).
<5>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch 77 1927 241-256 (C R Peers).
<6>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch Cant 3 1860 135-136 illus.
<7>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch Cant 12 1878 248-268 (G Dowker).
<8>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch NL 2 1949-50 123 (E Martin-Clarke).
<9>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch J 53 1896 298-299 380 (J T Micklethwaite).
<10>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. VCH Kent 2 1926 141-142 (R C Fowler).
<11>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist 9 22-32 (J Russell Larkby) 253-56 (F Grayling).
<12>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. PSA Series 2 1 1861 369-373 (J B Sheppard).
<13>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Trans Dur and North Architect and Arch Soc 4 1890-5 liii (C C Hodges).
<14>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch J 125 1968 291-6 (H M Taylor).
<15>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. The Arts in Early England 2 1925 (G B Brown).
<16>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Anglo Saxon Architecture III 1978 1109 (H M Taylor).
<17>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch J 130 121-122 (C A Ralegh Radford).
<18>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Med Arch 14 1970 161 (D M Wilson and D G Hurst).
<19>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Antiq J 53 1973 53 (H M Taylor).
<20>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch of Anglo Saxon England 1976 115 163 164 167 168 171 174 191 204 (D M Wilson).
<21>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Collect Antiq 6 1868 222.
<22>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Tanner's Notitia Monastica 1787 Krent XLVIII (Naismith).
<23>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Monasticon Anglicaum 1 1846 454-6 (W Dugdale).
<24>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. English Roman Arch before the Conquest 1930 23-4 (Clapham).
<25>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Trans Aber Ex Soc III 90 Part 9.
<26>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Antiq and Topo Cabinet 4 1808 (J Storer).
<27>Collection: DOWKER MSS.
<28>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. CAT Annual Report, 1992-3..
<38>Article in serial: Hawkes, S.C.. 1969. Early Anglo-Saxon Kent. 126, pages 186-92.
<39>Article in monograph: Gem, Richard. 1995. Anglo-Saxon minsters of the Thames Estuary. 41-54.
<40>Unpublished document: RCHME. 1995. Thames Gateway: Recording Historic Buildings And Landscapes On The Thames Estuary.
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