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Holy Innocents, Adisham, Kent

(51°14′14″N, 1°11′9″E)
TR 225 535
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Kent
now Kent
  • Mary Berg
  • Toby Huitson
  • Mary Berg
29 September 2010

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Adisham is a village about 6 miles SE of Canterbury. The church of Holy Innocents is a mainly 13thc cruciform building with a central tower. The base of the tower very likely dates from the first half of the 12thc. As Tim Tatton-Brown has observed, the survival of the original lower gables on four round-headed windows establishes that the church was cruciform in shape from the mid-12thc at the latest (Tatton-Brown 1991). There is also a font made of Purbeck marble and a crossing impost, both of which very likely date from the early 12thc phrase in the church's construction.


The church belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the monks Christ Church Priory from before the Conquest. The late 11thc survey of Canterbury possession, known as the Domesday Monachorum, records that chrism was collected from the church (Douglas 1944, 28d). The church was very likely a minster church: evidence from the early 13thc establishes that the chapel of Staple was subject to its authority. The church very likely served the important manor held by the archbishop in Adisham. At some point in the early 12thc the church was enlarged to form a cruciform church with a crossing tower and very likely richly furnished: the only survival of this furnishing is the mid-12thc font of Purbeck marble, a type found in many churches in SE Kent. The whole church seems to have been rebuilt in the early 13thc, possibly at the same time as the four crossing piers were cut back and enlarged to allow four slightly pointed arches to be created. Some further changes were made later in the middle ages and W. White undertook a major restoration of the church in 1860--70.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Interior Decoration





The church has an imposing presence in the village. It feels like a building of above-average status - indeed, it is rare that Glynne devoted one and a half pages to a single building in his 1877 volume. Despite this, the Romanesque pickings are few, perhaps as a result of the considerable investment which seems to have been made after 1200.


M. Berg and H. Jones, Norman Churches in the Canterbury Diocese, Stroud 2009, 39, 44, 46, 117, 119, 138, 142, 153-154.

D. C. Douglas, Domesday Monachorum of Christ Church, Canterbury, London, 1944.

S. Glynne, The Churches of Kent, London, 1877, 244-6.

Rev H. Montagu Villiers, ’Adisham Church’, Archaeologia Cantiana 14. 1882, 157-161.

J. Newman, The Buildings of England: North East and East Kent, Harmondworth 1983, 126-7.

T. Tatton-Brown, ‘Kent Churches – Some New Architectural Notes’, Archaeologia Cantiana 109 (1992), 111-116.