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St Peter, Bekesbourne, Kent

(51°15′25″N, 1°8′55″E)
TR 198 556
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Kent
now Kent
medieval St Peter
now St Peter
  • Toby Huitson
  • Mary Berg
29 September 2010

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=8789.

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Feature Sets

Two-cell church with W tower and post-medieval S nave chapel (or transept as Newman calls it). The chancel was extended and the tower added in the 13thc, possibly at the same time. A considerable restoration took place in the 19thc, including some rebuilding of the tower.

Although basically a Norman two-cell plan, the present chancel being a 13thc extension of the original, the only surviving original features are two large windows in the chancel and the fine mid to later 12thc N doorway, all of Caen stone set in walls of randomly laid flint.


A church is mentioned in the Domesday Book, although nothing appears to survive from that date. There were medieval manors on each side of the River Nailbourne at this point. Eustace held the one nearest the church (now Cobham Court) in the later 12thc and gave his income from the church to the Priory of St Gregory in Canterbury before 1182, but in 1190 William de Bec (family generally called Le Beck locally) disputed this gift. After a hearing in the local ecclesiastical court on 20 February, 1190 (Cartulary of the priory of St Gregory, Canterbury, ed. Audrey M. Woodcock, Camden Third Series v. 88, London, 1956, 39-40) William relinquished his claim for a consideration of 100s.


Exterior Features



The interior was stripped out by 19thc restorers. Newman (see Bibliography) found it an ’unattractive interior, the flints exposed, with hefty arches of the 1880s to chancel and transept’. The transept, or chapel, may have replaced an earlier chantry chapel but there is scant evidence.

The W capital of the N doorway includes a dignified bearded head that could represent a lay donor, possibly either Eustace or a member of the Le Beck family. It is also possible that this is spolia.


M. Berg and H. Jones, Norman Churches in the Canterbury Diocese, Stroud 2009, 40, 88, 121, 130, 147, 155-6, 191.

J. Newman, The Buildings of England: North East and East Kent, Harmondworth 1983, 137-8.