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Monument details

HER Number:TQ 74 SE 2
Type of record:Listed Building
Name:Church of All Saints, Staplehurst


Church, 12th.century and later, Norman remains incorporated

Summary from record TQ 74 SE 176:

Grade I listed building. Main construction periods 1167 to 1876

Grid Reference:TQ 7863 4298
Map Sheet:TQ74SE

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to Modern - 1167 AD to 2050 AD)
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1060713: CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS

Full description

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[TQ 7862 4298] All Saints' Church [NAT] (1) The church of All Saints Staplehurst was built in the twelfth century but little of this building remains. It was extensively enlarged in the 13th c. and again in the 15th c. when the tower was added. (2) There is some Norman work in the north wall of the chancel. The church was restored in 1853 and 1876. (3) All Saints' Church, dedication confirmed, is in use for divine worship. (4) Checked and correct. (5) All Saints Parish Church. Grade I. Late 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, with alterations in 1853 and 1876. (6)(7) Additional bibliography. (8)(9)
There is no evidence for an Anglo-Saxon or early Norman church at Staplehurst, and as F.C. Elliston Erwood pointed out in 1948, the north side of the nave (east of the 1876 organ chamber) is probably of a 12th century date. The lowest walling, of Small Paludina Limestone rubble, has a ‘herringbone’ (or counter-pitched) course at the bottom, as well as a higher course of ‘herringbone’ work higher up in the centre. Some of the upper wall was probably rebuilt in the early 14th century. There is also a small amount of ‘herringbone’ work at the base of the north wall of the chancel in the centre (above the so-called ‘anker-cell’ floor), suggesting that the western two-thirds of the chancel is also perhaps 12th century. Some of the lower quoins, of diagonally tooled Tunbridge Wells sandstone, also probably survive of the 12th century north-east corner of the nave.

It has been suggested that the famous ironwork-covered south door of this church dates from the late Anglo-Saxon period. The ironwork of the door, which is on most of its original vertical planking (but with some repairs at the bottom), was certainly for a round-headed opening, but this is likely to have been the south doorway of the present 12th century nave. The door was then retained in the 13th and early 14th century rebuilding (see below). This 12th century date for the door is perhaps confirmed by the recent study of the similar door at Stillingfleet, Yorks. The door is, nevertheless, an exceptionally rare survival of a Romanesque iron-covered doorway. The nearest similar 12th century door and doorway is at Old Woking church is Surrey.

As Elliston Erwood also showed, the nave was probably lengthened to the west and the chancel to the east in the 13th century and a 5-bay arcade for a south aisle, and a 3-bay arcade to a south-east (Lady) chapel were also made in the 13th century. The nave arcade, which is of alternating round and octagonal piers - following the late 1170s Canterbury Cathedral choir - also has some very late 12th/early 13th century elements like spurred bases. This arcade soon leant over to the south (and the extreme south-west half-pier to the west), and probably the original south aisle only had a shed roof, and a low wall on its south side. Here only perhaps the very lowest part of the south aisle outer wall is 13th century. The outer walls of the north-east side of the 13th century chancel and of the south and east sides of the Lady Chapel were also later replaced (see below), but the plain pointed arches, with double flat chambers of both the south arcades (nave and chancel) are quite early 13th century pieces of work, but with the nave arcade preceding the chancel one. The north-west corner of the 13th century nave is probably marked by some visible quoin stones at its extreme north-west, where it is abutted by the tower’s north-east buttress.

There is one Reigate stone block (in the east side of the central south buttress of the Lady Chapel) which is perhaps reused from the 13th century south wall, as are perhaps some of the Caen stone blocks in the neighbouring walling.

In the early 14th century, and perhaps after some of the 13th century work became unstable, three separate campaigns of work took place. First, three two-light windows of Tunbridge Wells sandstone were put in the north wall of the nave, and the upper wall was rebuilt and two buttresses were added to the north. Unfortunately the most easterly and westerly of these windows were heavily restored in c. 1853 as 14th century windows, though they apparently replace 15th century square-headed windows, according to Glynne. Secondly, the whole of the north and east walls of the chancel were also rebuilt in the early 14th century, with buttresses on the north, and two new north windows (a two-light one to the west and a single light to the east, both with very similar reticulated tracery) were also made. All these chancel windows had moulded rere-arches (with sunk chamfers on the north) and moulded hood moulds with carved stops. The east window was also shafted. The chancel arch, though a 19th century restoration, is in early 14th century style with double chamfers. Glynne tells us that, in his time, ‘the chancel arch has been removed, and is replaced by an ugly Italian one of wood’, while Scott Robertson recorded late medieval stalls in the chancel in c. 1825.

Finally the outer wall to the south aisle was completely rebuilt with buttresses and a contemporary south porch, which contains a plain early 14th century south doorway of Ragstone with a continuous flat chamfer and pyramid stops. Into this doorway was reset the well-known door. Above the doorway can be seen (externally) the weatherings for the original porch roof. This roof still survives with a tie-beam, scissor-braces and single crown-post, though it was restored in c. 1853 with a rebuilt south gable top (with new corbelled-out eaves and new coping). Half-way up the south aisle wall is a continuous moulded Caen stone stringcourse (restored in 1853), on which are three fine 3-light windows, all built of Caen stone. The east and west windows have invented reticulated tracery and internal rere-arches and hood-moulds with head stops, and are entirely of 1853. The central window also has much 19th century renewed tracery, but inside its jambs have moulded shafts and a hollowed chamfered rere-arch and hood. Inside the south door and east of it is a small stoup and tomb recess with moulded arch over. There is also a two-light west window to the south aisle (restored recently), and a small doorway just to the north (restored externally). The 5-bay crown-post roof over the south aisle is perhaps if a 15th century date, with gables at either end rebuilt in the later 19th century, and a new arch inserted into the east end of the aisle at the same time (c. 1853). It, no doubt, was built to buttress the new chancel arch.

In the earlier part of the 15th century the west wall of the nave was removed and a fine new west tower, with timber spire on top, was built. The spire was blown over ‘by a great wind’ in 1673, but its base and supports are still partly in situ, and were recorded by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust in July 1996. The tower has a continuous hollow-chamfered plinth of Ragstone (at three levels), as well as the brick jambs for the doorway into the 1764 gallery. The tower has Perpendicular traceried windows under square hood-moulds and a larger 3-light west window, all with Ragstone dressings. The fine west doorway also has a square hood-mould and decorated spandrels with shields in them, and a shield, with a lion rampant, over the top. Most of the doorway is of Kentish Ragstone, but the lowest part and the carved spandrels, are of Caen stone. The lower walls of the tower are of large Tunbridge Wells sandstone blocks (with iron nodules) with Ragstone quoins. Higher up, the local Small Paludina Limestone rubble is used once again. There are some early 16th century decorated wooden panels reused in the tower ceiling, They came from a dormer window in the nave.

The fine moulded arch-braced roofs over the Lady Chapel and chancel must also date from this 15th century rebuild, as does the slightly different nave roof. This very long nave roof of
5½ bays sits on wall-posts that in turn are on fine semi-octagonal corbels with carved heads on them. The roof was restored and boarded in 1853. It is possible that the original chancel arch was removed at this time in preparation for the new Rood loft (see below).

The south-west or Lady Chapel was rebuilt in the 15th century. It has a continuous hollow-chamfer on top of the external plinth which is made of Large Paludina Limestone, as are some of the quoins (mixed with Kent Rag). There is a separate doorway (with s stoup just inside it), and some fine new Perpendicular windows. This rebuilding was probably paid for by Spilsill Court.

At the end of the 15th century (c.1497 from wills), the east arch of the nave south arcade was replaced with a wider 4-centred arch (with double hollow chamfers) in preparation for the new Rood screen. A northern rood-stair (still visible) was also built and a passage through the wall above the arcade was also made. Sadly the last remains of the Rood screen, along with the late Medieval chancel stalls, were completely removed in the 1853 restoration. An approximately contemporary two-light window was also made at the west end of the north wall of the chancel, and to the east of this the north wall of the chancel was pierced for the round window of the so-called ‘anker-cell’.

The large ragstone ‘font’ now in the sought-east part of the nave on a new base was perhaps originally a large stoup set in a wall. It is only in fact a half-octagon, and may have been pulled out of the most westerly piers.

The inside of the church otherwise only contains its later 19th century pews and fittings, including a raised high altar with decorated tiles and a reredos. In 1876 the north wall of the nave was pieced for an organ chamber. Some early glass from the east window was apparently removed in 1882, when the present stained glass was put in, and set into a panel now displayed on the window sill in the south aisle (west of the porch).

At the west end of the Lady Chapel is a fine Bethereden (Large Paludina Limestone) marble table tomb, on top of which were the brasses of Walter Meyney (ob. 1577) and his two wives. This tomb was originally at the east end of the chapel and only the southern female brass now survives. (12)

Description from record TQ 74 SE 176:
The following text is from the original listed building designation:
3/107 Church of 23.5.67 All Saints
Parish church. Late C12, C13, C14 and C15, with alterations of 1853 and 1876. Roughly-coursed sandstone, with ragstone and sandstone dressings. Graduated sandstone to tower. Plain tile roofs. West tower, nave, south aisle, south porch, south chancel chapel continuous with nave and flush with east end of chancel. Site of anchorite's cell to north of chancel. West tower: C15. Three stages, on chamfered plinth. North-west and south-west angle buttresses, and single north buttress. Battlemented above moulded and gargoyled string. Window of 2 trefoil-headed louvred lights with squared hoodmould, to each face of belfry. Single trefoil-headed light with squared hoodmould to all but east face of middle stage. 3-light pointed- arched and traceried west window with hoodmould. Moulded pointed-arched west doorway flanked by engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases, set in square-headed cavetto-moulded architrave with shields in quatrefoils to spandrels and with lion rampant to shield over door; squared moulded hoodmould with carved heads of bishop and king to label stops. Quadrilateral south-east stair turret, becoming octagonal at belfry stage and rising above tower with plain stone coping and short shingled spirelet with weathervane. South aisle: of late C12 origin, with C13, C14 and C19 alterations. No visible plinth. Diagonal south-west buttress, and 2 south buttresses. Gabled. 2-light west window with ogee cinquefoil-headed lights, quatrefoil in an ogival, and hoodmould. Three C19 three-light pointed-arched south windows above a string. Porch: C13, set towards centre of south aisle. No visible plinth. Gabled, with shaped kneelers. Tall pointed-arched outer doorway with plain-chamfered head and unchamfered jambs. C18 spear- head railings about 5 feet high set across doorway, with gate flanked by scrolled supports to centre. No side lights. Continuous stone bench with wooden seat within porch to each side. Uncollared roof with slender moulded octagonal crown post set on cambered tie-beam, and with scissor braces crossing immediately above collar purlin; ashlar-pieces and doubly-chamfered wooden cornice. Tall C13 pointed-arched plain-chamfered inner doorway with broach stops, with rare C12 boarded door made for round-headed doorway and cut down to fit C13 arch. C12 and C13 decorative ironwork to door with 5 tendrilled straps, C hinges with bestial heads, fish and a fishing boat, a flying dragon with snake and crescent, crosses, and other motifs (see Zarnecki, Holt and Holland (ed), English Romanesque Art 1066-1200 (exhibition catalogue), 1984). South chancel chapel: C13 origins, rebuilt in C15. Roughly-coursed ironstone interspersed with ragstone blocks, and with ragstone dressings. High chamfered plinth. Higher eaves and lower ridge than nave. Diagonal south-east buttress and 2 south buttresses. C15 pointed-archer traceried 3-light south-west window with hoodmould. Similar restored south-east window. Traceried 4-light east window with cinquefoil- headed lights and hoodmould. Small hollow-chamfered pointed-arched south- west doorway with broach stops and hoodmould. Chancel: C13, possibly with earlier origins. No visible plinth. Tall 5-light east window with trefoil- headed lights, trefoiled and quatrefoiled tracery, and hoodmould. Small blocked rectangular light above. Two early C14 north windows, one 2-light, one single-light, with depressed ogee cinquefoiled-headed lights and reticulated tracery. Slightly later 2-light north-west window. Squint, rectangular to outside, circular towards inside, between the two early C14 windows,and formerly communicating between chancel and anchorite's cell. Second, much smaller squint beside it, possibly for alms. Nave: C12. Roughly coursed ragstone rubble with occasional bands of herringbone stonework. No visible plinth. 2 north buttresses. Two 2-light C19 windows to east and one to west of projecting 1876 stone organ chamber. Railings: C18 or early C19 painted iron spear-head railings on low stone plinth, running east from south-east corner of porch, returning to east end of south aisle, and surrounding Usborne family tombs. Interior: structure: 5-bay south arcade to nave of doubly plain-chamfered pointed arches, springing from late C12 and C13 piers and columns, semi-octagonal west end pier with square abacus and spurred base, then 4 alternating circular and octagonal columns with moulded capitals; first, second and fourth from west with water-holding bases, third (circular) column from west with spurred base. East half of fourth column, east end pier and arch rebuilt in C14. Three-bay C13 south arcade to chancel, with 2 circular columns with moulded capitals and water-holding bases, and doubly plain-chamfered pointed arches dying into walls. C15 tower arch with engaged columns with moulded capitals and bases, and trebly hollow-chamfered pointed arch. Chancel arch and arch between south aisle and south chancel chapel 1853, in a late medieval style. Rere-arch of central window of south aisle springs from slender engaged shafts. Hollow-chamfered pointed-arched doorway with broach stops to tower stair turret. Doubly plain-chamfered pointed-arched doorway to rood-loft stairs at east end of north wall of nave, with similar doorway to top of stairs above. Rectangular embrasure for roof-loft access high above east end of nave arcade. Roof: C19 barrel roof to nave with moulded pendant posts on carved stone corbels. Largely medieval crown-post roof to south aisle, with 6 moulded octagonal crown-posts, sous-laces, and ashlar-pieces. South chancel chapel has late medieval wagon roof with curved ashlar-pieces and sous-laces, and in which side purlins and collar purlin are moulded with thick central roll with leaf chamfer-stops. Roof is punctuated by 5 principal trusses (including end trusses) with short moulded spurs or hammer-beams on solid-spandrel brackets, supporting curved braces (placed in front of shortened curved ashlar-pieces) rising to side purlins, and thence to collar purlin. These additional braces are moulded like the purlins. A flat-faced rectangular boss is formed at each junction of braces and purlins. Moulded wooden cornice. C19 wagon roof to chancel. Fixtures and fittings: trefoil- headed stoup with broach stops to east side of south door. Stoup with depressed ogee head with carved foliage to borders, beside doorway to south chancel chapel. Hollow-chamfered pointed-arched tomb recess with broach stops to south wall of aisle. Defaced rectangular stone font on 4 short later shafts. 16 early C16 wooden panels set in tower ceiling, carved with shears, staples, pomegranate etc. Brass chandelier to nave dated 1808. Royal arms of 1764 under tower, and late C19 Benefactors and Parish Fees boards. Monuments: tablet on south wall of south aisle to Henry Hoare, d.182(8?) Ionic columns on plain corniced plinth, with plain frieze and moulded triangular pediment with antefixae. Tapering inscription panel between columns, and grey back plate. Tablet on east wall of south chancel chapel to John Diamond, d.1800. Rectangular marble tablet with bell consoles and moulded cornice surmounted by woman in relief with urn. Free-standing chest tomb in south chancel chapel to Walter Mayney, d.1577, and 2 wives. Bethersden marble, with moulded plinth and recessed moulded side panels. Plain stone top in darker stone, formerly with 3 brasses of which one, of a wife, remains. (J. Newman, Buildings of England Series, West Kent and the Weald, 1980. Church Guide 1975.) Listing NGR: TQ7857343021 (13)

Archive material (14)

<1> OS 6" 1961 (OS Card Reference). SKE48369.

<2> Arch Cant 61 1948 49-52 (F C Elliston-Erwood) (OS Card Reference). SKE35330.

<3> M H L G Maidstone RD Kent 2225/11/a Oct 1960 55 (OS Card Reference). SKE46220.

<4> F1 ASP 01-DEC-61 (OS Card Reference). SKE41865.

<5> F2 CFW 22-JAN-64 (OS Card Reference). SKE43269.

<6> DOE (HHR) Borough of Maidstone Kent 25 March 1987 65-66 (OS Card Reference). SKE39941.

<7> Bldgs of Eng-West Kent & the Weald 1980 544-545 (J Newman) (OS Card Reference). SKE38159.

<8> Arch Cant 9 1874 189-202 (W A Scott Robertson) (OS Card Reference). SKE35997.

<9> Country Life 93 1943 1153 (J Southey) (OS Card Reference). SKE39463.

<10> Field report for monument TQ 74 SE 2 - December, 1961 (Bibliographic reference). SKE3757.

<11> Field report for monument TQ 74 SE 2 - January, 1964 (Bibliographic reference). SKE3758.

<12> Diocese of Canterbury (Tim Tatton-Brown), 1996, Staplehurst, All Saints:Diocesan church survey (Unpublished document). SKE29502.

<13> English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

<14> Historic England, Archive material associated with All Saints' Church, Staplehurst, Listed building (Archive). SKE53949.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 61 1948 49-52 (F C Elliston-Erwood).
<3>OS Card Reference: M H L G Maidstone RD Kent 2225/11/a Oct 1960 55.
<4>OS Card Reference: F1 ASP 01-DEC-61.
<5>OS Card Reference: F2 CFW 22-JAN-64.
<6>OS Card Reference: DOE (HHR) Borough of Maidstone Kent 25 March 1987 65-66.
<7>OS Card Reference: Bldgs of Eng-West Kent & the Weald 1980 544-545 (J Newman).
<8>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 9 1874 189-202 (W A Scott Robertson).
<9>OS Card Reference: Country Life 93 1943 1153 (J Southey).
<10>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 74 SE 2 - December, 1961.
<11>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 74 SE 2 - January, 1964.
<12>Unpublished document: Diocese of Canterbury (Tim Tatton-Brown). 1996. Staplehurst, All Saints:Diocesan church survey.
<13>XYMap: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. [Mapped feature: #18891 church, ]
<14>Archive: Historic England. Archive material associated with All Saints' Church, Staplehurst, Listed building.