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History of St Botolph's

The Place

We cannot be sure of the date when the first church was built on this site.  The Saxons worshipped here and there is Roman material in the walls of the church.  Indeed, as the highest point for miles around, it is likely that people have worshipped on this sites since earliest human habitation. 


The majority of the building seen today was built in the 14th century, whilst most of the internal decorations, particularly in the chancel and around the font, reflect the work of E. W. Godwin in 1862.


The Tower

A Saxon church once stood on this site, evidence of which can be seen outside the church in the “long and short work” brickwork by the tower.  The original tower was built in 1180 without foundations.  The outer walls of this can still be seen and the primitive way in which the flints were assembled with mortar may have been the reason why it fell in 1628. 


The present tower was built in 1717 inside the old one and much of the original material was used.  They had, by this time, learnt of the importance of foundations, and we can also see that the flints have been “dressed”, a refinement which gave a neater appearance to the walls. 


The tower has a peal of eight bells, the last two being added in 1920.


The Porch

Until the 19th Century the porch possessed a pointed tiled roof and there was also a small wooden building between the porch and the tower, but this has since been removed.


The Nave

The nave was built around 1330, but a small part of the Early English Church can be seen in the three arches of the S.W. portion of the nave.  The roof is modern (1905), but the supporting beams are the old ones.  Two windows in the North aisle are in the perpendicular style of the 15th Century, the rest are 14th Century.  The whole floor of the nave and the chancel was raised during the 19th Century, but portions have been exposed at the west end revealing the original bases to the pillars. 


N. J. H. Westlake executed the painting on the west wall of the Annunciation in 1876. It is possible in some places to glimpse the decoration by Godwin covered up during the 1925 refurbishment.


The pews and the pulpit date from circa 1850.


The Font

The font is late 14th Century.  It was restored and reconsecrated in 1937 having been desecrated seventy years earlier. By the South door near the font is the ancient Holy Water stoup.


The Lady Chapel and South Aisle

The east end of the South aisle is now the Lady Chapel.  There had been an altar there in the Middle Ages, but the present altar was erected in 1922.  The window above the altar and several others in the church, contain such beautiful stonework. 


The sedilia and piscina in the South aisle are probably as old as the church itself although altered in the 17th century to provide a heating system to a family’s boxed pew which existed at that time!


St. Andrew’s Chapel and North Aisle

At the east end of the North aisle is the small altar dedicated to St. Andrew.  Nearby is the oldest visible gravestone in the church (1692). The stained glass window in the north-east of the aisle was subscribed as a revival in the area, Frederick Southgate, Vicar 1858-1885 and John Fuller Russell, first Rector of Greenhithe.


The North Aisle also contains a model of the Royal Charlotte, an East Indiaman build in Pitcher’s Shipyard in the 17th century.  Nearby is the Parish Chest which is c14th century.


The Chancel, Screen and High Altar

Between the nave and the chancel is the well-preserved ancient oak screen which was erected in 1313.  The screen is the largest and one of the oldest chancel screens in a Kentish parish church.


The chancel contains several ancient brasses.  On the south side is the brass of Peter de Lacey (1375) described as “one of the finest brasses of an ecclisiast in Kent, and one of the finest in the country.”  Peter was chaplain to the Black Princ as well as being Vicar of Northfleet.  On the north side are brasses to William Lye, priest (1391) and William Rikhill and his wife Katherine (1433).



In cira 1870 the organ and the Choir pews were inserted in the Chancel and the Aumbury light by Arthur Ramsbottom in 1908.


The Sanctuary has a 14th Century piscina; the sedilia and all the decorations are by Godwin.  The High Altar dates from 1862 and is made of English oak taken from a mansion near Canterbury. 


A marble step and footpace were added by the Guild of St. Botolph’s in 1879.  The fine East window was the also designed by Godwin in 1861 as a memorial to Prince Albert and its upper part reflects images from the Book of Revelations. 


Worship in the Building

This is primarily a place of worship.  Morning and Evening Prayer are said daily in the church during the week and there is a Eucharist on almost every day.  On Sunday the main service is at 10.00 a.m.