All Saints church is open for visitors every Saturday from 10am to 11.30am (it closes at noon but we suggest you arrive by 11.30am). You will find the below helpful to read before you visit or to have on your phone as you tour round the church.
History of All Saints Whitstable
The story starts with a thirteenth century building to which was added a north aisle and chapel.
Slightly later a tower was added to the Southeast corner, giving a familiar Kentish plan.
Then in the mid nineteenth century Charles Barry Junior was asked to restore the church which meant new a new roof, rebuilt chancel and new window surrounds throughout.
The lectern and pulpit date from this period, the latter given by Somerset Maugham’s uncle.
Then in 1962 a south aisle was built – its arcades perfectly matching those of the north – quite an achievement for the period! Recent re-ordering has created a central nave altar – a refreshing variation on the familiar nave sitting.
Its frontal, or rather four-sided frontal is by Polly Hope – always an artist to study in detail and a joy to behold.
The main altar has a set of candlesticks and cross by Omar Ramsden, that doyenne of the arts and crafts movement. Of similar period is a fine window in the north aisle by Margaret Aldrich Rope in striking arts and crafts colours.
The main item of interest, however, is the lovely plain and solid fifteenth century font with a fantastical cover. It is onion shaped, familiar in many Kent churches, but here lavished with carving dating from the earliest years of the 17th century incorporating the Scottish Thistle and Prince of Wales feathers.
In the churchyard are two important graves – the Egyptian Mausoleum of the Wynn Ellis family, designed by Charles Barry Jnr., and a charming Arts and Crafts brick and flint enclosure of 1913.
For a full history through a public lecture watch this video HERE
To view a selection of our historical parish magazine click HERE
To read an account of early 20th century life at All Saints click HERE
Photos below -
Before the South Aisle was added and before church was reordered
From Historic England's website
CHURCH STREET (southwest side) Church of All Saints 30-MAR-51 II* Perpendicular C15 south west tower and north aisle arcade. Church otherwise rebuilt in 1875-76 by Charles Barry Jr. South aisle and west porch added in 1962, in a sympathetic style. Re-ordered internally 1981-86.
Materials: rubble Kentish Ragstone walls through all periods, with some evidence of water scoured beach pebbles in tower. Ashlar quoins and dressings. Red tiled roofs. Continuous stone plinth around Victorian work.
Plan: following the 1962 south aisle addition, the church is roughly rectangular in plan. Aligned east-west, the entrance is now through the northeast porch, although there are further porches to the west and the west of the north wall.
Exterior: church is fairly low and dominated by the fairly plain south west tower, with string course below parapet, pair of cusped lancets to each face of the top stage, below clock, and single lancet at ground floor level; heavy angled buttresses; evidence of band half way up tower. The south aisle (1962) continues for five bays with paired trefoil-headed lancets under hoods. East end: lower 1962 aisle to left with central window with trefoil headed lancets and cusped light under moulded hood to match that in Victorian north aisle; central 1875 chancel end with Perpendicular four-centred window under moulded hood and above continuous moulded cill, and corner buttresses; north aisle to right is recessed with central nearly rounded pointed arch window with pair of trefoil-headed lancets under cusped light, all under moulded hood with square headstops. North east corner has flat-roofed vestry to east and north porch with cinquefoil cusped circular windows over door. West end is pleasingly proportioned with graduated heights down from the dominant corner tower; west end of nave features quatrefoil with Kentish cusps; advanced central flat-roofed porch of 1962 with depressed arch and quoins.
Interior: arched brace timber roof with reinforcing rods and wooden brackets set on stone corbels; simple crown post roofs in aisles. Octagonal piers and arches moulded with double wave to nave arcade: C15 to north side and 1962 to south. Higher chancel arch of 1875. Interior was reordered in 1984 when pews removed and altar moved to a movable podium in the centre of the nave. Victorian floor tiles of the original plan survive, and the chancel has a handsome decorative tiled floor; Victorian choir stalls; piscina basin to south wall may be re-used from earlier building. 1890s lectern, a gift of a former vicar, features marble colonettes, and oak lectern apparently made out of timber from the medieval roof. A number of late-C19 and early-C20 stained glass windows: of note are the Browning Memorial window of 1925 in the north wall which shows a red-sailed traditional Thames barge, as well as a shell and a starfish, over St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read; east window of 1884 depicts lamb of God; St. Augustine of 1908 and Wynn Ellis (of mausoleum in churchyard, q.v.) window of 1875, with seven roundels, both reset in south aisle. South wall has a brass memorial tablet to Thomas Brede, d.1444. World War I and World War II memorial tablets with names in the north aisle, and a memorial window dedicated to parishioners who died in WWI. Tower features a substantial ladder stair of rough hewn oak of some antiquity. Medieval stone font with hexagonal shaft and basin on moulded base in south west corner has early C17 font cover with ogee profile and crocketed ribs, recently shown to have a painted underside, and featuring coats of arms. The bells date from 1730 when recast by Samuel Knight of Holborn, one bearing the inscription ' S K made me in 1730'.
Subsidiary Features: timber lych-gate to Church Street is dated 1924, constructed by Percy Pout and dedicated to the memory of W Harrington and N Scryngour.
History: there has been a church on this site since the C13. The medieval fabric that survives today is the plain but imposing Perpendicular tower and four bay north arcade (as well as possibly the piscina which may have been reset in the new chancel). The church was otherwise largely rebuilt in 1875-76, by Charles Barry Jr.; a printed notice of 1875 confirmed that only the tower and a colonnade of arches from the existing church were to be kept. The west end was underpinned in 1908 and in 1914, and a Lady chapel was created in the former organ chamber / vestry. The altar panels were painted around this time by a Miss Ethel K. Martyn. In 1921, an Emily Holden donated funds to buy the land for a vicarage and to extend the churchyard (one of the largest in Kent). By 1962, there was still need for further room in the church, and a south aisle and west porch were added with the arcade in a sympathetic style with the Victorian windows reset into the new south aisle wall. This work was dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey in December 1962. The interior was reordered in 1984. The tower has long served as a beacon for seafarers in this coastal town, and also served as an air raid lookout post in WWII.
Sources Newman, J., Buildings of England, North East and East Kent (1977), 495 All Saints Church Whitstable, 'A Short Guide'
Reasons for Designation All Saints church, Whitstable, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Perpendicular tower and nave arcade, and possibly piscina and font, constitute C15 fabric of more than special interest; * The rest of the church, mostly by Charles Barry Junior 1875-6 is of special interest for its sympathetic Gothic design with late-Victorian fittings and windows of note; * The square tower has served as a beacon for sailors and fishermen in this historic coastal community for five centuries; a window of 1925 shows a traditional Thames sailing barge that is so characteristic of the Whitstable seafaring economy; * Group value with the Grade II monuments in the churchyard: the Wynn Ellis Mausoleum (LBS 468924) of 1875, also by Charles Barry Junior, the Walter Goodsall Burial Enclosure (LBS 468925) of 1913, and the C18 headstones with skull, hourglass and bone motifs; as well as a number of listed buildings on Church Street.