UPPER HARDRES CHURCH

 


History

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DoorwayAccording to the Domesday Book (1086 - 87), there was already a Saxon church here at Upper Hardres at the time of the Norman Conquest.  It was rebuilt in the twelfth century, and was consecrated in 1160.  Not all the original church remains.  But the tower does, with two typically Norman pillars supporting the arch between the chancel and the Lady Chapel.  The Norman FontThe massive font, on your right as you enter, is also Norman, though it was not originally in the position it is now.

The church tower and Norman ArchChanges were made in the 13th century. At that time what is now the chancel, with its lancet windows, plus the small area westwards towards the end of the tower, would have formed the nave - the main body of the church.  At least, this is what can be deduced from the evidence of the church in the nearby village of Hastingleigh, which has retained its original shape.

A further development took place in the 14th century, when the present nave and the south aisle were added.  At the same time the tower base was pierced and supported by an arch to give access to the Lady Chapel.  It was probably at this time that the font was moved to its present site.

The John Strete Brass

John Strete's brassHanging on the wall of the Lady Chapel is a brass rubbing.  It was made in memory of Leslie Long by his son Anthony.  It depicts one of the church’s treasured possessions, the John Strete ‘Bracket Brass’. One of the most famous complete brasses in the country, it has considerable artistic merit.  John Strete was once a rector of this parish, who died on 6th February 1405.  He is shown kneeling, with the patron saints of the church on a bracket behind him.  A Latin prayer entwines the pillar supporting the bracket.  A rough translation is, [Peter,] keybearer of Heaven, and Paul, the teacher of the people, intercede for me to the King of Angels that I may be worthy.

Windows

The beautiful 14th century East windows were not originally part of the church: you can see that the shape does not quite match the stonework in which they are set.  They came in fact from St Mary, Stelling, in 1791.  Other fragments of glass – 13th and 16th century – originally came from the West window, which14 century glass: St Anne teaching the Virgin Mary her primer was shattered in 1972 by a disastrous fire: photos of the damage done are on display.  Perhaps inspired by the example of M. Pierre Turpin, a 1935 French glass painter, and his companion, Mr. N E Toke who, as visitors, were so frustrated by the dirt covering the windows that they obtained a bucket of water and proceeded to clean them, the church paid £6,500 to the Cathedral glaziers to clean and restore the fragments.  We are now privileged to see some of the finest specimens of glass painting in the 14th century; there are certainly no finer examples of painting from that century in Kent.

The Neame memorial windowThe stained glass window (left) in the Lady Chapel is modern.  It is dedicated to the memory of Cecil and Dorothy Neame of Hardres Court, presented by their son Richard, a good friend of the church, in 1972.  He also gave the church the fine copy of Murillo’s Madonna and Child, which is on the left of the main door.  It was in Richard Neame’s memory that the west door was restored, using the original ironwork.

Memorials

Most of the memorials in the church are to the Hardres family of Hardres Court.  Some scholars believe that the family came over with William the Conqueror, but others suggest that they were Saxon landholders who managed to retain their tenancy. In the Lady Chapel are memorials to George Hardres, who died in 1485 (the earliest we have to the Hardres family), and to the last of the Hardres line, Sir William Hardres, who died in 1764.  In the sanctuary, to the south side of the high altar, is the memorial, by an unknown artist, to Thomas Hardres, who died in 1628.  It is made of Bethersden marble, diapered, with low relief carving, and is said to be one of only six examples in the country: three are memorials and three are chimney pieces.

On the north side of the altar is the memorial to the Rev Davis Jones and his first wife Roberta.  Compare his touching protestation - Dear wife blest saint since thou art gone before, I’ll love heaven better to see thee once more – with the fact that just nine months after her death he married the only sister of the last Sir William Hardres.

Sir Thomas Hamon's monumentFurther west on the same side of the sanctuary is the fine memorial to Sir Thomas Hamon (left), who died in 1684.  That above the archway leading from the nave into the tower is to Richard Barham, who died in 1795.  He was the father of Thomas Ingoldsby, author of The Ingoldsby Legends.  On the north side of the nave is the marble memorial to Mrs Elizabeth Denward.  It lists all her charitable activities – she built a school and repaired both this and Stelling Church, in which a painted wooden tablet gives the same information.

 

 

Church Platechurch plate

These days it is unfortunately not feasible to display the silver patens (plates which hold the consecrated bread during communion), flagon and chalice (a standing cup used to hold sacramental wine during Holy Communion) which date from the eighteenth century. They are in the safekeeping of the Cathedral Treasury and on display there. The photograph on the right is found in the lady chapel and shows what the flagons are like.

Bells

The tenor bell, made by William Daw of London in the late 14th Century, weighs approximately 433 kg. A rough translation of its Latin inscription is, Called Katherine, I am the resounding rose of the world. The second, weighing approximately 293kg was made by Joseph Hatch of Ulcombe in 1609. The treble made by Samuel Knight of London in 1727, weighs approximately 191 kg.

The Organ

The organThe church organ is located in the nave near to the west window.

 






Judith Cutler 2007 (based on research by Rev W H J Burt, Rector 1979-1984)