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Kent odds and ends… 14.7.12

July 16, 2012

As today looked set to be at best showery I decided not to venture too far afield. I started with the local church-

All Saints, Birchington

All Saints, Birchington. This is only open on Saturday mornings – but it is well advertised that this is the case which is acceptable in my opinion. The signage is very good and had at least alerted me to the church being open today. When I got inside I was welcomed by the steward on duty, a friendly lady who was keen to tell what there was of interest in the church. There are some laminated guides to the church, the windows, bells etc. There are various leaflets available, including a very few on Christianity. I wasn’t able to count up the visitors book but it looked to have quite a few names in it. There are some good displays about Birchington through the years and of recent church events. There are some lovely pictures of the congregation including one board entitled, ‘Characters of Birchington’. This does help to convey something of the life of the church to the visitor. This a votive stand to use and a side chapel which could well be used for private prayer (the Quex Chapel). I went to the service on the Sunday and they are indeed a very welcoming church – thoroughly recommended.

The grave of the pre- Raphealite Dante Gabriel Rossetti at All Saints, Birchington

I would rate this church as very good for the visitor.

St. Mary’s, Chartham. A delightful church in a lovely spot next to the village green and the railway station (which still has manually operated level crossing gates – surprising for a quite busy line). Unfortunately the church is only open from 3 – 5pm each afternoon. This is clearly marked. I can’t rate this one.

St. Mary’s, Chartham

St. Mary’s, Chilham. A famous little village which gives a sense of going back in time. St. Mary’s was open and the signs all invite the visitor to enter and pray like generations before have done. There is also a welcome in French, German and Dutch. Inside there are free guides to the church as well as ones which can be purchased. There are also cards for sale and a table of secondhand books. There is a votive stand to use and some prayer slips which are placed on a side altar to be prayed for. This appeared to be well used. This church in monitored by CCTV. Also there were some copies of the ‘100 Minute Bible’ for sale at £2.50. For children there is a churchyard trail and a churchyard nature trail. All in all a lot of thought has gone into welcoming the visitor. 80 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. I would rate this as a very good church.

St. Mary’s, Chilham

St. Leonard, Badlesmere. This church gets a good write up in the recent AA book of Churches and Chapels. John Betjeman also rated it highly. I can see why. It is not much from the outside but inside it is a real gem of a church. There are box pews again and a complete, and rare, 18th century interior. There is a guide and some nice cards and pictures for sale, and some mugs with the church on them. The signs outside are basic but it is signed from the main road which helps to find it. There was also two pews of books for loan – ‘short or long term if you wish.’ 8 people had signed the book in the last month. There is a Jubilee display of children’s work in two pews. The Bible is left open at a Psalm. This is a very simple, very humble, but very beautiful church which is well worth a visit. Overall rating OK + for visitors.

St. Leonard’s, Badlesmere

St. Leonard, Badlesmere

Then lastly, as by now the rain had really set in is St. Mary of Charity, Faversham. This large town centre church is full of interest and they have made an especial effort for the visitor. There wasn’t a visitors book but several people came in whilst I was there so this must get many visitors. The signage is very good. There are guides available in several languages. There is also a good ‘trail’ laid out around the church which points out the historical and spiritual significance of things such as the font, chancel etc. This is very well done with careful explanations. There are also some excellent displays and a whole range of leaflets on things of interest. One display explains what we can expect to see in a church, another sets out the church year. There is a votive stand to use. I would rate this church as very good.

St. Mary of Charity, Faversham

St. Mary of Charity, Faversham

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