St Augustine's - Northbourne
Unsurprisingly, the site of St Augustine’s church claims to be one of the oldest places of Christian worship in England. St Augustine landed at Ebbsfleet, just 5 miles away, in AD597. It is thought that in AD618 Eadbald, the newly crowned King of Kent gave land at Northbourne to St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury. Although records show that a church was indeed built on the site, the present building was built about AD 1120, although fragments of masonry from the earlier churches can be seen built into the walls. One of only a few cruciform churches to have been built in Kent, St Augustine's has retained that layout with few alterations.
The tower was built as a village refuge in the tradition that started in the reign of Alfred the Great, when the King ordered the construction of stone churches with tiled roofs and refuge towers as village fortresses against the attacks of the Danes. Most of these refuge towers had access from the outside, halfway up. The 'ghost' outline of the entrance on the North side of the tower, and part of the one remaining step set in the exterior of the North Transept are visible when standing in the churchyard. Internal access to the tower was by a stone turret stair built on the North West corner of the tower with the entrance behind the pulpit.
This was removed some time during the last two hundred years and replaced by the present iron stair. The last occasion when the beacon was lit on the tower and the bells rung in warning was in 1457 when the French attacked Sandwich. It is recorded in a history of Sandwich that the signals sped so fast from church tower to church tower that the men of Rye were called to arms to march to the relief of Sandwich only a matter of minutes after the beacon was lit on St. Clements church tower in Sandwich. The last time the tower saw "war” service was in 1940 as an observation post for the field guns dug in on the Almonry Meadow, against the churchyard wall. The Royal Artillery observer on the tower had a fine view of the coast from Sandwich Bay to South Deal. The bells hung silent, ready to ring out the warning if the enemy landed; the attack that never came.
The four arches that carry the tower are Norman, three being round-headed and that leading into the Nave being pointed. It shows the first indication of the transition from Norman to Early English.The Lady Chapel contains the Sandy Memorial and family vault. The memorial was, apparently, built in the lifetime of Sir Edwin Sandy’s and the effigies are reputed to be sculpted from life. The couple are shown lying in their four poster bed, though the folds of the material of Lady Katherine Sandy's dress show that she stood for the portrait. Sir Edwin was MP for Sandwich during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I and lived at Northbourne Court. He believed in free Parliament elected by universal suffrage, and was twice imprisoned in the Tower of London for his' "revolutionary" view. In 1607 he was a founder and treasurer of the Virginia Company of London and obtained the Royal Assent from James I for a Constitution for the Company to be drawn up. This resulted in the first freely elected government in the world, in Virginia. Sir Edwin's constitution later became the pattern for the Constitution of the United States of America, when the Thirteen Colonies obtained their independence. A tablet on the west wall of the chapel was set there by the American and British Commonwealth Association.
The cache his hidden outside of the churchyard.
If anybody would like to expand to this series please do, I would just ask that you let Sadexploration know first so he can keep track of the Church numbers and names to avoid duplication
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