This was one of the most important churches in Kent, and must have the remains of an Anglo-Saxon (perhaps cruciform) church beneath it. This earlier church of St Mary, which is mentioned in Domesday Book, was no doubt enlarged and rebuilt in the period between the late 11th and late 14th century, but in c.1395 it was demolished by Archbishop Courtenay so that he could build a very large new collegiate church. Despite various suggestions in the earlier literature (Cave-Browne, etc.), there is no evidence that the present church contains above-ground walling of a pre-1395 date. Both the chancel and the large nave (both of them aisled) were almost certainly built between June 1396 (when Archbishop Courtenay was allowed to take 24 masons called `fre maceons’ and 24 masons called `ligiers’ (stone layers) for the works of the college) and the early 15th century when Archbishop Arundel helped finish off the work. There is a continuous plinth all around the outside.
This very large church is, therefore, unusual in being all of one style of c.1395-1405, which John Harvey attributes to Henry Yevele. It certainly has close connections with the rebuilt nave and S.W. transept in Canterbury Cathedral both historically and architecturally. The nave with its aisles is of great size, 99 ft. (east-west) by 93 ft. internally, while the chancel, and its much smaller aisles, is a perfect square of 60ft. The whole church is c.187 feet long externally (including buttresses) but is relatively low in height. The south porch, however, was also a tower, and until 1730 it had a c.80ft. high timber-and-lead spire on top of it. The vestry on the south side of the chancel is also contemporary with the rest of the church, though it was heightened in 1849, and an organ-chamber was made immediately to the west of it in 1886. On the north side of the nave, the stair-turret, leading to the roof (and Rood-loft as well originally), is all contemporary with the adjoining walling. The north porch, however, dates from 1927, though there was an earlier flat, battlemented porch there until the mid 19th century.
3 shots in Raw
Tonemapped in Photomatix Pro
Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD