History

Built in 15th Century

Eastchurch – along with Warden, Leysdown, Harty, and Elmley – once had Norman chapels. Although, these were not authorised for baptisms or weddings, which were conducted at Minster. The exact location of the first church in Eastchurch is unknown, but Parsonage Farm is a likely candidate.

In 1194, the church was appropriated to the Cistercian Abbey of the Dunes as part of a ransom for the release of Richard the Lionheart. The oversight of Eastchurch was then delegated to Boxley Abbey. Over time, due to the shifting London Clay, the 12th-century church became unstable, and in 1431, King Henry VI was informed of its critical condition. With royal pressure, a new church was built on a different site, completed in 1432, using stone materials brought from off the island. Designed in the Perpendicular style by William Nudds, a monk from Boxley Abbey, the church features refined architecture, including external buttresses for added stability. The building, with its complementing solid foundations and skilfully knapped flint detailing, remains unchanged and is considered a Grade 1 listed structure, which is quite uncommon.

Mentioned in Domesday Book

The church of All Saints, known as Eastchurch, is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Eastcyrce. Its original location and the hamlet of Eastcyrce were approximately 1/4 mile south of its current position.

Church of Eastchurch is donated

King Richard I the Lionheart was shipwrecked on his way home from the Crusades and taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria. He was later handed over to Henry VI of Germany. After extensive negotiations by our Lady of Dunes in Koksijde (Belgium) and a ransom payment of one hundred thousand marks, Richard was released in 1194. As a reward, he granted the church of Eastchurch to the Monastery of the Dunes, with papal confirmation received in 1196.

Rights transferred to Abbey of Boxley

The rights were transferred to the monks of Boxley in 1313. In 1391, a grant was made for the provision of the perpetual vicarage of Estcherche, valued at 30 marks.

New church construction

William Cheyne is granted a Royal Licence to donate land for the construction of a new church of Eastchurch, under the patronage of the Abbot of Boxley. Work was completed in exactly a year. An astonishing achievement as all stone materials.

New church is consecrated

The newly built church is consecrated on All Saints’ Day, with William Nudds serving as its first vicar. The tower of the church is 17.6 meters tall, with a view extending across the Thames to Essex.

Abbey of Boxley sought control of the vicarage

In 1472, the Abbey of Boxley sought control of the vicarage at Eastchurch to increase their income. Permission for appropriation was granted by Pope Sixtus IV in 1472, but the license from the Archbishop of Canterbury was not received until 1512. The transfer was completed in 1515 when the Abbey of Boxley gained the rights of the rectory and advowson. During this period, the church had only a Curate selected from the monks, and no Vicar.

Abbey of Boxley was dissolved

In 1536, Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey of Boxley, and the vicarage of Eastchurch passed to the Crown. In 1544, the King granted them to Sir Thomas Cheyne of Shurland. Eventually, the parsonage and other possessions were sold to Roger Livesey of Tooting. The Livesey family substantially rebuilt the parsonage, and Gabriel Livesey and his wife Anne Sondes were buried in Eastchurch Church.

Bells added to tower

The tower of the church holds a set of six bells, five of which were forged in Kent in the year 1605. Joseph Hatch, a bellcaster from Kent, created and installed one of the bells in 1605. John Wilnar contributed three more bells, including a tenor, in 1632, and completed the ring of five with an additional treble two years later. In 1911, Mears and Stainbank added another treble bell to the set.

James Jeffreys became Vicar

In 1684, James Jeffreys became Vicar, having previously served as Chaplain to the Duke of York (later James II). He was the brother of Judge George Jeffreys, known for his brutality in the “Bloody Assizes” that followed Monmouth’s rebellion in 1685.

Clock added

The clock, which strikes the tenor bell every hour, was made by Forster of Sheerness and gifted by the Churchwardens in 1804

Overcrowding in Graveyard

In 1660, a petition was sent to the King, and Robert Wilkinson became the Vicar of Eastchurch in 1661. In 1665, a boundary ditch was dug around the churchyard and the small vicarage cottage. In 1870, due to overcrowding, the drainage ditch was filled in to create more space for burials, and the water butts were removed. Restoration work began on the chancel, and a subscription fund was set up for a new stained glass east window in 1872. The rood screen was repaired, chancel steps were altered, chancel windows were repaired, and chandeliers were renovated in 1873. In 1878, due to continued overcrowding, representations were made to the home office. In 1881, the paths at the ends of the church were removed, and a new approach was made from the High Street to the south porch door. A new extension to the rear of the churchyard was consecrated in 1892.

Lych gate installed

In 1921 a lych-gate was installed at the entrance to the church and dedicated to the memory of those killed in the WWI.

All Saints Damaged By Fire

In the year 1922, a fire erupted in the vestry located behind the organ, causing significant damage to the church. In response, villagers and personnel from RAF Eastchurch swiftly came to the aid, evacuating all movable items from the church, including the pulpit. Unfortunately, they were unable to rescue the organ or prevent extensive harm to the roof.

Modern rectory built

A new modern rectory was built near the church in Warden Road, and the old rectory was sold and converted into a residential home.

Sanctuary roof collapses

The Sanctuary roof collapses, leading to restoration work that took place from April to November 2009, partially funded by English Heritage.

Reordering Project

The West end of the church undergoes reordering as part of the Jubilee Project, creating a spacious area for church and community use

Exterior roof replaced

The exterior roof is replaced with funding assistance, particularly from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Present Day

Test 2

Plan of All Saints Church

There is a rigorous spatial discipline in William of Boxley’s design for All Saints’. The plan is clear and symmetrical, and there is preoccupation with geometrical proportions.

The plan of the combined Nave and Aisles space is almost square, and the volume is half cube; the Chancel’s plan is a double square and volume is a double cube.

These design features anticipated those of 100 years later.

Plan of All Saints Church

There is a rigorous spatial discipline in William of Boxley’s design for All Saints’. The plan is clear and symmetrical, and there is preoccupation with geometrical proportions.

The plan of the combined Nave and Aisles space is almost square, and the volume is half cube; the Chancel’s plan is a double square and volume is a double cube.

These design features anticipated those of 100 years later.

Alms-Box

One interesting item that visitors should make sure not to miss is the old and heavy-looking original alms-box. It is made out of a solid piece of oak and is believed to be as old as the current church, or possibly even older.

The alms-box is secured with three large locks, as required by an ancient church rule, and all three locks are still in working condition. The box can only be opened with three different keys, each with a unique design, which are held by the rector and two churchwardens, one key for each. This ancient artifact reminds us of a time when even monks didn’t fully trust each other when it came to matters of money. It brings to mind a story by Rev. Richard Barham called “The Jackdaw of Rheims,” where confusion and chaos ensue, and everyone’s pockets are turned inside out in search of a missing ring.

Rood Screen

The rood screen in Eastchurch Church is a notable feature that spans the width of the church without interruption. It is believed to be original to the building and is considered a remarkable example of craftsmanship.

The screen is adorned with beautiful tracery throughout, showcasing intricate and delicate designs. Its wide presence separates the Chancel and the Chapels, creating a distinct boundary. The rood screen holds historical and architectural significance, as it is believed to be the only original and uninterrupted rood screen in the county. Its presence adds to the overall aesthetic appeal and ambiance of the church, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history and artistic heritage of Eastchurch Church.

Rood Screen

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