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St Leonard, Deal, Kent

(51°12′59″N, 1°22′51″E)
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Kent
now Kent
  • Toby Huitson
  • Mary Berg

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The church of St Leonard is the oldest of several churches in the Kent coastal town of Deal, 8 miles NE of Dover. The building, which lies on the outskirts of the town, is complex and is the result of many centuries of modifications, not least in the Jacobean, Georgian and Victorian eras (collectively described by Glynne in 1877 as 'injudicious and tasteless alterations'). At the core of the church is a Romanesque nave and chancel. However, the nave is heavily cut back in the centre where a pillar has been removed on both N and S sides of the arcade and the entire church now liturgically re-orientated across the resulting axis N-S. Aisles were added in the 13thc, now much altered. The 17thc. tower, which is crowned by a distinctive white cupola, is believed to have replaced a 12thc original. The main Romanesque sculpture consists of the nave capitals and responds, together with a pillar piscina in the chancel.


No church is mentioned in DB. The advowson belonged to St Martin's Priory, Dover, before the Reformation, itself a dependancy of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.


Interior Features




Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


All of the surviving nave capitals/responds are sculptured differently.

Pillar piscinas are very rare in Kent; the only other known example is at St Helen & St Giles, Rainham, which is stylitically unrelated. This pillar piscina had considerable effort lavished on its sculpture. The fact that it has been perserved (probably re-set) in a Gothic cpntext suggests that it was still valued in a later period, even if its decoration must by then have seemed quite archaic.


S. Glynne, The Churches of Kent (London, 1877), 101.

G. W. Woolaston, Woodruff & Stebbing, ‘St Leonard’s Deal: Notes on its Architecture…’, Archaologia Cantiana 49 (1937), 167-188, especially 167-170.