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Church of St Clement

A Grade I Listed Building in Sandwich, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2734 / 51°16'24"N

Longitude: 1.3432 / 1°20'35"E

OS Eastings: 633286

OS Northings: 158006

OS Grid: TR332580

Mapcode National: GBR X18.4DM

Mapcode Global: VHLGS.78G4

Plus Code: 9F3378FV+97

Entry Name: Church of St Clement

Listing Date: 19 May 1950

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1343695

English Heritage Legacy ID: 177337

Location: Sandwich, Dover, Kent, CT13

County: Kent

District: Dover

Civil Parish: Sandwich

Built-Up Area: Sandwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Tagged with: Church building

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752/2/161 SANDWICH
07-FEB-07 (South side)

Substantial parish church. Built in latter half of C12. Chancel C13, altered at various stages; N chapel may also be C13; aisles added C14; nave rebuilt and N porch added C15. Restored and altered 1865-70 by Joseph Clarke.

MATERIALS: Caen stone tower; mixed wall construction comprising knapped and unknapped flint, ragstone, ironstone, Caen stone, pebbles, brick and tile; stone dressings. Kent peg tile roofs.

PLAN: All that remains of the cruciform Norman plan is the central crossing tower with NW stair turret, carried on four arches. Plan is rectangular, comprising three bay nave; N and S aisles; chancel with shallow projection. N chapel (dedicated to St Margaret). Clergy vestry infilling NE angle between sanctuary and chapel. S aisle effectively divided into two by the organ; E end is now a choir vestry. two-storey N porch with stair in SW angle.

EXTERIOR: Square Norman tower with three tiers of blind arcading; crenellated parapet added by Clarke. Norman windows to stair turret. Shallow-pitched roof to nave, other roofs steep pitched. Offset buttresses; angle buttresses to W and E ends. Early C19 engravings indicate that much of the fenestration was subsequently altered or replaced by Clarke; virtually all window tracery is Victorian. The W window to the N aisle, and E window to S aisle, which had been partly infilled with smaller windows, were reinstated to their original size; the Early-English style triple-lancets to the chancel however are entirely conjectural and replaced a C15 window. Perpendicular side windows to chancel. Nave clerestorey windows with segmental arches. Gabled porch, upper parts repaired in C16 or C17 brick. Oak-panelled studded door with date 1655 and initials 'RRWH / WW' in stud lettering.

INTERIOR: Nave arcades of three bays with complex mouldings comprising a continuous moulding to the outer arches and piers, and inset arches carried on shafts. Shallow-pitched oak coffered roof, recently repainted and gilded, has carved bosses to junctions and paired angels with outstretched wings to ridge beam, an unusual feature in Kent more commonly associated with East Anglian churches. Pulpit and pews are C19.

Tower is carried on four tall arches; scar of pitched roofline of lower earlier nave visible on W face. Arches have roll mouldings continued from respond shafts. Round outer shafts recessed; paired half-round shafts to inner arch. Carved Romanesque capitals with scallops, foliage, grotesque faces etc. Blind-arcaded frieze with decorated capitals on inner face of tower above arches. Doorway to stair turret on NW angle of tower has late Saxon or early Norman tympanum with intricate low-relief carving of intersecting arcades with a stag; extrados with carved staggered voussoirs. Oak door with cinquefoil traceried head.

Tie-beam and crown-post roofs to aisles, chancel, St Margaret's chapel and choir vestry; those to aisles and chancel with plaster slopes and exposed ashlar pieces; those to chapel and vestry with exposed rafters, mainly medieval in the case of the former. C19 canted rafter roof to sanctuary. C19 screen to St Margaret's chapel. Chancel has C15 oak choir stalls; ogee bench ends with poppyheads, cinquefoil-traceried panels to front, one misericord seat with carved shield. Stalls are raised on moulded stone plinth inset with hollow acoustic jars; these features are rare survivals. Acoustic jars also visible on E wall of sanctuary. Piscina to S wall of sanctuary; blocked aumbry to W of it is truncated by the large arch to the choir vestry. N sanctuary wall has blocked lancet window, a large C15 squint with four-centred arch, drip-mould and carved spandrels, and an aumbry next to an arched doorway through to the NE vestry. Altar to St Margaret's Chapel incorporates two medieval altar stones which had been used as tombstones, and has a gradus, or altar step. Piscina also at E end of choir vestry with C14 cusped ogee head. S aisle wall has a piscina, stoup, and doorway with a dripmould and carved spandrels. Walls are plastered and painted. Some medieval encaustic floor tiles survive as well as a variety of old flooring materials, and C19 encaustic tiles.

The church has many fittings and monuments of note. Fine octagonal limestone font in N aisle, the faces bearing carved roses and heraldic emblems including the arms of ancient Sandwich and those of Archdeacon Robert Hallum, by whom it is believed the font was given c1406. Panelled stem with empty statue niches; two-tiered octagonal base. Notable monuments include that to Frances Rampston on S wall of chancel (d 1611), of kneeling female figure set in aedicular niche, in marble, and Mary Hayward (d 1751), with epitaph set within unusual cut brick aedicule. A mutilated niche on N wall of S aisle holds a statue of St John, said to have been removed from Lincoln Cathedral by the puritans. Numerous early-mid C19 neo-Classical wall tablets. Large, very worn medieval brass of male and (originally) wife under double canopy. Many indents of brasses.

HISTORY: Sandwich was one of the Cinque Ports, the chief harbour for the export of wool and one of England's most important naval bases until the harbour began to silt up in the C15. The town's former prosperity is reflected in its three substantial parish churches: St Clement's, St Mary's (qv) and St Peter's (qv). The tower once had a spire, which was taken down in 1668 probably as a precautionary measure as the towers to St Peter's and St Mary's churches had both recently collapsed. The church fell into disrepair in the C19, and was restored 1865-70 by Joseph Clarke, Surveyor to the Dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury. St Clement's became the parish church after the union of the three Sandwich parishes in 1948.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: A church of outstanding interest for its imposing Norman tower, which ranks among the most notable surviving examples nationally. It also has major interest for its later phases, including the splendid nave arcades and angel-boss roof, a wealth of medieval features of various dates, and many monuments dating from the C17-C19. Its context within the Cinque Port of Sandwich, one of England's least-altered walled medieval towns which has two other highly-graded medieval churches and a dense concentration of listed buildings, gives the church outstanding historic interest and group value. The medieval and later churchyard walls are separately listed.

SOURCES: J Newman and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England, North East and East Kent, p 447.

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