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St Mary the Virgin Church, Elham Kent

St Mary the Virgin by Barbara Ballard St Mary the Virgin Church is a ragstone and flint building dating from 1170-1200 and restored in the 20th century. The tower was added in 15th century. An earlier Saxon church stood on the same site. The church is 122 feet long and 50 feet wide.

Above the north porch is a stone carving of the Virgin and Child. In the porch are two small windows, one with the arms of Oxford University and the other with the figure of St George. There is much of interest in the interior.

St Mary the Virgin by Hywel Williams The nave interior has massive stone piers. At one time these piers were part of the church wall which did not have aisles until the 13th century. The west windows of the aisles are in the Decorated style. Dating from the 14th century is the woodwork in the ceiling of the north aisle. The tower arch and chancel arch are of the same period. The clerestory windows were added in the 15th century when the nave roof was altered. The clear glass windows on the north side are ancient crown glass.

A fresco, once covered with whitewash, is on the eastern part of the nave wall on the north side. An ancient shrine is in the easternmost pier of the north arcade. The lectern is French and dates from the 17th century, while the pulpit is Elizabethan.

Old house in Elham village by Barbara Ballard Some of the nave pews are walnut inlaid with rosewood. The organ has an oak case and dates from 1937, although it was rebuilt in 1970 and 1984. There is a ring of eight bells. The church clock is from 1874. The bowl in the font is 12th century.

Altar by Nick Smith In the south aisle on the St Catherine altar is a painted mahogany reredos with three relief carvings in English alabaster. The Jesus chapel is enclosed with an oak screen carved in 1917. Flemish glass roundels in the two light window are 16th century. In the north aisle is an ancient yew chest thought to date back to the crusades.

Mahogany reredos are found in the chancel. A marble floor is in the sanctuary as well as oak panelling and lime wood carvings. The 10 foot long high altar is of Cornish granite. In the sanctuary is an Italian canvas of the 16th century. Also in the chancel is a small priestís door with a 13th century window above.

Visitor Information

Elham village by Barbara Ballard Elham is on a minor road off the M20 north of Hythe, or east off the B2068 south of Canterbury.
The church is open daily. See porch for times and services.

Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard except photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows: Church exterior by Hywell Williams; Church altar by Nick Smith

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