History of All Saints Whitstable

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For at least eight hundred years a church has stood on this site. (1202)
The original building consisted of chancel and nave. In the early 13th century it was rebuilt and the tower added. In the 15th century the north aisle and north east porch were erected.
In 1873 extensive building work was carried out as the fabric of the church was thought to be unsafe and during this period the chancel was enlarged and a new vestry added.
In 1962 the west porch and south aisle were added.

Following the decision of a Consistory Court in 1983 the pews in the nave and north aisle were removed and replaced by chairs, and a central altar was added. The central Altar can be removed to permit community activities when required.

The oldest remaining portions of the church are the Norman tower, the Norman font with its Tudor cover and the 15th century arcade between the nave and the north aisle.

North Aisle
To the west of the entrance is a list of every incumbent since 1257.
To the east are the seafaring windows, which have the oyster and starfish at the top. Farther to the east are memorials to the dead of the two world wars; one window shows a small representation of All Saints’ Church

The North Aisle
The Nave:
The frontals of the central altar were designed by Polly Hope and depict scenes from the Book of Revelation.

The central altar with distinctive altar frontals by Polly Hope

The Lectern & Pulpit:
The Lectern is made of oak taken from the old church by the Clerk of Works in 1876. The pulpit was given by the Revd. McDonald Maugham (uncle of the author Somerset Maugham) in memory of his wife.
The pulpit

Chancel and Sanctuary:
The chancel arch dates from 1876 and replaces a rood screen destroyed in Cromwell’s time.
The oak choir stalls were given in the 1920’s in memory of the Revd. Sidney Graystone, a former Lord of the Manor of Whitstable.
The central sanctuary lamp is 17th century Italian. The lamps on either side are approximate replicas to replace the originals which were stolen.
The light over the ambury, the cross on the high altar, and various common vessels are the work of Omar Ramsden the distinguished church craftsman.

The altar in the sanctuary

South Aisle:
Fixed on the south wall is the oldest memorial in the church, the tablet originally on the grave of
Thomas Brede. (1444)

The South Aisle

The Tower
The Norman tower is constructed of flint from the local beach; many of the stones still show evidence of water scouring. The buttress projecting into the nave is an integral part of the original structure indicating that at one time the tower was detached from the body of the church.
In the interior is a portion of wooden staircase believed to be part of the original stairs.
Over the tower archway is the memorial hatchment to members of the family of Edward Gonneston, incumbent from 1611 to 1637.

The oldest part of the church (the tower) adjoining the newest part (the south aisle)

The Bells:
In 1780 the three old bells were taken down and recast into six bells (still in use today) by Samuel Knight of Holborn; one bears the inscription “S.K. made me in 1730”

The Font
The font is Norman, and its unusual cover is Tudor. On each of the cover’s eight sides are coats of arms of the period and others of the Smythe and Manwood families. The font cover and the nearby memorial hatchment were recently restored by experts in Canterbury; however the original paint remains.

The Font

Church Plate
All the old plate was stolen in 1770 except for the Robert Knock chalice, paten, flagon and almsdish. These are Georgian and normally kept at the bank.

The Parish Registers:
These are unusually complete and date back to 1549. They, and many other documents, are now housed in Canterbury Cathedral Archive/Library.

The Churchyard:
Over six acres in extent and enlarged several times, the churchyard is the second largest in the Diocese. The large mausoleum standing well back from the south west corner of the church is the Wynn Ellis monument. Wynn Ellis was a wealthy M.P. and formerly Lord of the Manor. It dates from 1875.
At the extreme south east corner of the churchyard is the Garden of Remembrance formed in the 1950’s for the interment of ashes.
The track alongside the southern boundary is the site of the former Whitstable to Canterbury railway, the first paying passenger line in the world. The line was finally closed in 1953.
The Churchyard

The Lychgate
This impressive entrance to the church grounds was constructed by Percy Pout a local craftsman in 1924. It was dedicated in memory of W Harrington and N Scryngour. The design is a copy of one at St Martin’s Church Canterbury.

The Lytchgate

If you would like to see around the church, the best time to visit is a Saturday morning from 10am till 12noon when the church is open for visitors.