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Monument details

HER Number:TQ 83 SW 85
Type of record:Listed Building


Grade II* listed building. Main construction periods 1300 to 1899 C14/15th church with later restoration

Grid Reference:TQ 80840 32670
Map Sheet:TQ83SW

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to Modern - 1300 AD to 2050 AD)
Protected Status:Listed Building (II*) 1204075: ST GEORGE'S CHURCH

Full description

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Description from record TQ 83 SW 1 :
(TQ 80833267) St. George's Church (NAT) (1) 23/1 Church of St George, Benenden. Grade B. Chancel with North and South Chapels. Nave with Aisles North Parvise Porch and West Tower. C.14- C.15, greatly restored in 1861-2. (2) In normal use. (3) St George, Benenden. Pale sandstone Perpendicular large and handsome,struck by lightning in 1672, one casualty being the detached timber belfry which was noted in the churchwardens' accounts at the time as being c.134 ft high. The church was patched up and restored by David Brandon in 1862. He completely rebuilt the interior in a conscientious locally correct Perpendicular. (4) Additional bibliography - not consulted. (5) Parish church. 14th c and 15th c damaged after storm of 1672 and restored 1676 and in 1862 by David Brandon. Built of sandstone, ashlar, south aisle of sandstone rubble with plain tiled roof . (Listed Grade II*) [Full architectural description] (6) Additional bibliography. (7)
Unfortunately this church was struck by lightning on 30 December 1672, and the great timber steeple on the north-west caught fire, and in a few hours the steeple and church had burnt down (see contemporary account in Scott Robertson - op.cit. below). It was rebuilt in the late 17th century with a semi-classical interior, but all of this was swept away in a major restoration by David Brandon in 1862. All the internal arcades, the chancel arch and many of the windows were completely reconstructed at this time, so it is only possible to work out mostly later phases in the outer walls, including the late medieval phases.

The earliest visible masonry is probably in the west wall of the nave, and side-alternate quoins for the south-west corner of the unaisled nave can be seen high up above a latter pilaster buttress beside the south-east corner of the tower. These may be of a 13th century date.

There was also perhaps a 13th century chancel on the site of the present choir with its east wall under the sanctuary step. The lower part of a diagonal buttress for the north-east corner of this earlier east wall was uncovered in September 1988 outside the present sanctuary north wall, as well as a small fragment of a south-east buttress foundation.

No other 13th century remains are visible, and it is clear that the church was greatly enlarged in the later medieval period. Of these enlargements the external walls at the north-east corner (Holy Trinity Chapel) and the south-west corner (south porch and west end of south aisle) are probably the earliest, and perhaps date from the 14th century. Rubble ironstone masonry is used for the walls and there is a chamfered plinth which is plain on the north-east side, suggesting an earlier date than the concave chamfers used in all the other plinth tops. Most of the windows have been restored, but the three Perpendicular windows on the north side of the Holy Trinity Chapel (which have square hood-moulds) may be early 15th century in date.

The south porch has had a later doorway put into its outer wall, but may also be late 14th - early 15th century in date, and links with the south wall of the south aisle beyond. The eastern part of the south wall of the south aisle was rebuilt in 1861-2, but is probably on an earlier wall line of the very late Middle Ages. The earlier south aisle wall perhaps ran east from the north-east corner of the south porch.

The north porch, with its fine octopartite ribbed vault, probably dates from the later 15th century, but the north doorway to the church inside is probably earlier (perhaps early 14th century). It has convex and concave mouldings and pyramid stops. The porch itself, and the neighbouring areas of aisle walls are made of coursed ashlar of Ashdown Beds or Tunbridge Wells sandstone on a plinth, though there are areas of 19th century Bathstone repairs.

Outside the north-west corner of the church there was once a very tall (said to be 134 feet high) timber-framed bell-tower and spire, which may have been similar to that surviving at High Halden Church. It was destroyed, as we have seen, in December 1672.

The best documentary evidence for building work at the church is for the rebuilding of the south-east (Lady) chapel. This is probably being made in c.1474-7 (see evidence from wills below). The outer walls and windows (with concave internal jambs) and associated spiral staircase for the rood-loft still survive. They have coursed sandstone ashlar walls and a plinth.

The extended chancel (sanctuary) has similar sandstone ashlar walls and windows, but is on a Kentish Ragstone plinth. However, at the south-east external corner, one can see that the Lady Chapel north-east corner butts up against the sanctuary, which must therefore date from a little before the 1470s.

The tower was rebuilt after the disaster of 1672, and we are told that it was not finished until 1715 (there was apparently this date on the west doorway before it was renewed in 1861). The tower arch is still the classical one in its sides (it had a gallery over it), but has a new 1861-2 pointed arch over it. The main rebuilding of the church was done in 1673-8, and new semi-classical arcades were put in.

David Brandon's major restoration took place in 1861-3, and completely new arcades and chancel arch (and arches into the chapels) were put in. Many windows were renewed and the south aisle wall was rebuilt over a boiler house. All the crenellated parapets were also renewed, as were all the roofs. Many new fittings (pulpit, font, pews, etc.) were put in.

The bells were returned and hung in a new metal frame in 1971. (8)

The following text is from the original listed building designation:
BENENDEN TQ8032 THE GREEN 1350-0/7/125 St George's Church 02/06/67 GV II* Parish Church. C14 and C15, damaged after storm of 1672 and restored 1676 and in 1862 by David Brandon. Built of sandstone ashlar, south aisle of sandstone rubble with plain tiled roof. Nave and chancel without a break, north and south chapels, north and south aisles and north and south porches with parvises. West tower of 3 stages. Square with stepped buttresses, octagonal turret with spirelet to south west and crenellated parapet. Double round-headed window to south. West face has double round-headed window to top stage and small rectangular window below. Pointed arched 4 light window with cinque foiled heads and intersecting tracery. Pointed arched door with dripmould and C19 door with decorative iron hinges. Nave and chancel have crenellated parapet and stepped buttresses. Four 3 light cinquefoiled windows with dripmoulds. Large east window with 3 tiers of cinquefoil-headed lights. North porch has round headed arch and parvise with trefoliated lancet windows. Vaulted with 8 ribs and a salamander carving on the boss. South porch has C19 crenellated parapet, offset buttresses, rectangular window and pointed arched doorway. Interior 5 bay nave with octagonal columns and arches. C19 nave roof with 2 tiers of purlins, crenellated tie beams and C19 foliated corbels. C19 octagonal stone font. Coat of Arms of George II over north door. C19 aisle roofs. C19 chancel arch with angel corbels. C19 stained glass windows, octagonal stone font and octagonal stone pulpit on marble piers. North chapel has monument to Sir John Morris of Hempstead (d. 1750) Admiral of the Fleet by P. Scheemakers, a marble beast with obelisk behind, inscription tablet below and family shield and crest. Also standing wall monument to Thomas Hallett Hodges d. 1801, an urn bearing sarcophagus in front of truncated pyramid. (Buildings of England; "West Kent and the Weald":- John Newman: P.147).
Listing NGR: TQ8084032670 (9)

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

<2> MHLG Prov List Cranbrook RD Nov 1960 2 23/1 (OS Card Reference). SKE47147.

<3> F1 ASP 05.02.63 (OS Card Reference). SKE41925.

<4> Bldgs of Eng W Kent & the Weald 2nd Ed 1980 152 (J Newman) (OS Card Reference). SKE37935.

<5> St George's Church, Benenden; a guide & brief architectural history 1962 (C Lebon) (OS Card Reference). SKE49606.

<6> Field report for monument TQ 83 SW 1 - February, 1963 (Bibliographic reference). SKE4334.

<7> DOE (HHR) Tunbridge Wells 5 July 1993 (66) (OS Card Reference). SKE40664.

<8> Diocese of Canterbury (Tim Tatton-Brown), 1994, Church Survey - St George's Church, Benenden. (Unpublished document). SKE7599.

<9> English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: MHLG Prov List Cranbrook RD Nov 1960 2 23/1.
<3>OS Card Reference: F1 ASP 05.02.63.
<4>OS Card Reference: Bldgs of Eng W Kent & the Weald 2nd Ed 1980 152 (J Newman).
<5>OS Card Reference: St George's Church, Benenden; a guide & brief architectural history 1962 (C Lebon).
<6>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 83 SW 1 - February, 1963.
<7>OS Card Reference: DOE (HHR) Tunbridge Wells 5 July 1993 (66).
<8>Unpublished document: Diocese of Canterbury (Tim Tatton-Brown). 1994. Church Survey - St George's Church, Benenden..
<9>XYMap: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. [Mapped feature: #38716 Church, ]