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St Mary, Brook, Kent

(51°10′9″N, 0°11′49″E)
TQ 537 434
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Kent
now Kent
  • Mary Berg
  • Toby Huitson
24 July 2013

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The church of St Mary is in a rural location about 1 mile SSE of Wye, 4.5 miles ENE of Ashford in Kent. The church is a Romanesque gem built at the end of the 11thc: it is essentially a twin-cell building with nave and chancel, dominated by a massive W tower. The interior is renowned for its series of medieval wall-paintings, and there is also a wall-painting in the first-floor tower room. There are various sculptural elements throughout the building including the W tower arch, the chancel arch and the tower chamber.


The church is mentioned in Domesday Book as part of the possessions of Christ Church, Canterbury.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



Vaulting/Roof Supports


The reset chip-carved blocks in the W door are likely to be part of a former tympanum.

It is believed that the tower - and the church - was built under the patronage of Prior Ernulf in 1097, but the evidence for this attribution is not known to the fieldworkers. The fact that the tower is so large proportional to the rest of the church and contains a wide ashlared stairwell (very rare in parish churches of this date), together with the presence of sculpture and wall-painting in the tower chamber, marks it out as very special. The wall painting in particular suggests that the upper chamber had, or soon acquired, a devotional use in the medieval period.


T. Huitson, Stairway to Heaven: The Functions of Medieval Upper Spaces, Oxford 2014, 15, 22-4, 51.

M. Berg, Norman Churches of the Canterbury Diocese, Stroud 2009.