Church Micro 1884 - Denton
The church at Denton is another of those churches set alongside a manor house, and secluded from view of the passing traffic by many wonderful beech and yew trees. The church is signposted at the south end of the village at the entrance to Denton Court. It is a short distance along the drive that an old metal fence and gate can be seen on the right. It is though this gate that you can drive/walk along the grass track to the church, although I would not advise driving it if it has been raining. Please do not continue to drive up the drive, it only leads to Denton Court itself and is private.
There was certainly a church here in when it is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The present St Mary Magdalene is largely of early 13th century construction as evidenced by the simple form of the building itself - the chancel arch and lancet windows which occur in both chancel and nave. Most of the lancet windows have been renewed at a later date, and the difference in construction and addition of the buttresses on the north and east external faces point to an eastwards extension of the chancel at a later date. In addition to the present north doorway there was formerly an entrance on the south side of the nave. the lower part of the jambs of this doorway may be seen on the outer wall at the south west end of the church. Almost immediately above and just below the roof level are indications that a sundial was formerly placed here. In the wall at this point is evidence of a blocked lancet window.
The attention of visitors may also be directed to; (1)The pilgrim's crosses on the jambs of the main entrance,(2) The small panel of medieval glass, probably 14th century, in the tracery above the north chancel doorway, (3) A stone cross head affixed into the wall at the side of the pulpit. This bears lettering that is indecipherable, it's original position and purpose is unknown to this day.
Two bells of the 15th century remain of a former peal of three bells. The third bell was removed in 1867. When it was removed it was one of the last complete medieval peals left in Kent. Denton also used to have a unique Death Knell system of bell tolling to announce a death in the parish. The knell was 3x3 for a man, 3x2 for a women, 2x3 for a male under twenty years and 2x2 for a girl under twenty. The bell was tolled at eight on the morning of the funeral and again before the funeral took place until the corpse reached the church gate. This practice stopped about 200 years ago. I am indebted to a former colleague, Paul Lucock, who wrote a 'A History of St Mary Magdalene Church' in 1996.
From the cemetery on higher ground to the rear of the church, a short walk left along the footpath to the rear of the churchyard will allow a view of the rear of Denton Court, built between 1792-1810 for Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges. It was given listed grade II listed building status in 1952.
The cache is slightly smaller than a 35mm film pot.