Hever, Kent – St Peter

We are in Kent, and had a cottage in Hever. St Peter’s church was open and worth exploring – they advertise the fact it is open very well indeed. The church website is here, and there are photos here.

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The church stands opposite the wonderful Henry VIII pub – website. We had had a very good Sunday lunch here, though the pub was extremely busy. They could only fit us in at 12 or 4.30 for lunch, so if you’re going you need to book. Henry VIII visited Hever for the beautiful young ladies in the Castle, these days he should go to the pub!

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The entrance to the Castle is next to the church. The castle has this website. We visited the castle in March 2014 – fascinating building and lovely gardens. Here are some photos from that visit.

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The church guide is ideal – well illustrated, a decent plan (actually it is a superb plan), and not too long. I also like the first page, which I quote in full: “’England is a Christian land and only by contemplation of her long Christian history can one comprehend her. Her cathedrals and parish churches mark the milestones of her passage through time.’ Thus wrote Sir Arthur Bryant. How true this is of Hever Church with its splendid brass of Sir Thomas Bullen, its association with his daughter Anne, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, and the events which led up to the English Reformation. The purpose of a parish church, however, is not to teach history, it is to witness to the presence and glory of God, in whose honour it was built, by its very existence and by the lives of the people who worship there. So welcome to this place of prayer, where the gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached and the sacraments have been celebrated for more than 800 years.”

There is a document in the library of Rochester Cathedral which records the consecration of the Norman Church – indeed it records the fee of 9d paid for its consecration. You can imagine the churchwarden in the pub afterwards moaning about the cost! Parts of the current building date from 1292, most of it is mid C14, and the Bullen Chapel was added in about 1465. The timbers of the Nave roof are original – about 600 years old (they built to last). There was a restoration in 1894, and the wooden lid of the font went into the care of Mr W.  Bourne, the builder. “It was not seen for many years until his granddaughter found it, after his death, being used as a coffee table and returned it to the church.” The pulpit dates to 1621. I liked the plaques to two Vergers.

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The picture you can see on the south wall of the Chancel is “Christ before Caiaphas”, by the Victorian artist Reuben Sayers. There is also an “Angel of the Resurrection” by the school of Tintoretto – see the websites I quoted earlier for better pictures.

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I like this window on the south side of the Sanctuary. It shows St Dunstan, “a man skilful to work in gold and silver” and Tubal Cain, “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron” to quote the King James Bible (Genesis 4.22). My kids are very proud that their granddad was a blacksmith – Julie’s dad left the family business in Llansantffraid near Oswestry to work in the car factories of Coventry – so Tubal Cain is their ancestor. The window commemorates Frederick Joseph Bramwell (1818-1903), an engineer – not one, I’m sorry to say, I have ever heard of, even though he apparently built a loco for the Stockton and Darlington in 1843.

dsc05340dsc05341dsc05343dsc05344These two brasses are in the Chancel, and a nice altar.

dsc05346dsc05347dsc05349The Bullen Chapel is on the north side, and I didn’t get a decent photo of the whole chapel or the Tudor fireplace. Sir Thomas Bullen died in 1538. He was the father of Anne Bullen (or Boleyn) and grandfather of Elizabeth I. He was also father of Mary, the other Boleyn. My beloved wife on her blog has reviewed several books with the search term “Boleyn”. A fascinating family – I love the way the Church of England was founded because of Henry’s desire for a beautiful woman (or two), and I should read more about Sir Thomas. His wife was Lady Elizabeth Howard. The brass on his tomb shows the full robs and insignia of a Knight of the Garter with the badge on his left breast and the Garter around his right knee. A falcon, the crest of the Bullen family, is above his right shoulder and at his feet is a griffin.

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The altar is an Elizabethan manifold chest and under the offertory box is the old parish records’ chest.

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There is a modern window in memory of Gavin, 2nd Baron Astor of Hever who died in 1984 (so, not that modern). My photo of the whole window wobbled – you can see a good photo here.  These figures are St Paulinus of York and St William of Perth – no, I hadn’t heard of him either. He was a pilgrim baker murdered en route to Canterbury.  St Peter is in the centre light, the patron saint of this church.

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I liked this window, in memory of Peter Dinnis, a local farmer, who died in 1974.

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By now the light was going, so I had a final wander round the churchyard, then we went back to the house and had an evening getting the blog up to date (this blog takes some time to write. I hope you think it’s worth it).

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The following morning we went off to explore, and we stopped first of all at Hever station – London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, 1888. Not a lot of use for us to get to London as the Up platform is not Julie-friendly, but the building is well maintained.

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