The Church of St. Helen's (1857) - Cliffe History

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Cliffe at Hoo - St. Helen 1857

From ‘Notes on the Churches of Kent’ by Sir Stephen R Glynne


A large church of considerable interest, with many excellent details. It consists of a nave, with north and south aisles, north and south transepts, and a spacious chancel; a tower at the west end of the nave; and a south porch. There is much mixture of styles, at least of the three Pointed styles, but no Norman. Part of the tower, the arcades, and the transepts are Early English. The arcades consist each of five pointed arches and include the transepts; these are of well-finished characters, and spring from circular columns having moulded capitals and bases. There is a clerestory having a single splayed lancet over each pier. In the aisles the windows are Decorated, mostly of two lights, but a good one at the west of the north aisle is of three lights; all have good hood mouldings. The transepts are curious and interesting. Between the north aisle and north transept is a large pointed arch, and beside it is a smaller one, springing from shafts which do not reach to the ground, over which is an open lancet in the wall. The west side of the north transept presents internally two good moulded Early English arches on slender shafts with bands, moulded capitals and bases. On the east wall are two larger arches of the same character, containing smaller ones on shafts with moulded capitals, and set on a bracket of foliage, beneath which is a trefoiled niche or piscina. In one of the eastern arches is a single-lancet window, with shafts. The south transept has on its east wall an arrangement of Early English arches, similar to that of the north transept, the arches containing each one lancet. On its west side is a somewhat similar arrangement: three arches are presented, one opening to the aisle of the nave, the central one chews an alteration of plan (when the nave aisles were widened), and a segmental arch is inserted within it, the apex of the original lancet occupying the space between the original arch and the segmental insertion; the piers are octagonal and filleted, but have been altered. Within the third arch is a lancet window. The end windows 1 of both transepts are Perpendicular. In the south wall of the south transept is a piscina, and on its east wall some ancient rude painting. There is no chancel arch, but a mutilated rood-screen remains and the rood-door is seen. The chancel is excellent Decorated and has lately undergone a very fair restoration, except the east window, which is a very ugly modern one and which we hope will soon be replaced. On the north and south sides are three good windows of two lights, of varying tracery, having excellent mouldings and hoods on corbels, and set on a string-course. There is an altar in form of a chest. On the south of the sacrarium are three beautiful sedilia, ascending eastward, having ogee canopies with crockets and finials, with double feathering and foliage at the points of the cusps ; there is groining beneath the canopies, and ranging with them is a piscine of uniform character. Opposite to these on the north is a wide sepulchre, rather verging to Perpendicular character; having a foliated arch with panelled spandrels and an embattled cornice; adjoining which is a door to a sacristy now demolished, the trace of which may be seen outside. There are the ancient wood stalls still remaining. The interior is spacious and part of the nave is wholly clear of seats, which adds to the effect, but the existing pews are very ugly. The roof too is concealed by a modern ceiling, but the spandrels of the beams are seen ; the old lead roof appears outside. There are strings in the aisles under the windows and over the doors. The pulpit is a fine carved one of wood, with the stand for the hour-glass, dated A.D.1634. The tower arch is a plain Early English one on imposts. The tower has on the north and south in its lower part lancet windows, on the west a Perpendicular window; it also has a good stone groined roof with crossing ribs, but no boss. The lower part is decidedly Early English, and is of rough flints, with flat-faced buttresses. The upper part is later, strengthened by large buttresses 2 of brick. The five bells now lie on the ground within the tower, waiting to be re-cast. The exterior of the nave has rather a patched appearance, as also have the transepts. The north transept has a square end. The north aisle has a better appearance than the south, with a high tiled roof, and courses of flints on its west gable. The south aisle has a plain battlement.
The south porch is Perpendicular, of flint and stone, also embattled; it has labelled two-light windows, a moulded doorway and an octagonal turret attached.
The font has an octagonal bowl, with, concave sides, on a buttressed stem; it has a wood cover. There are several monumental remains. An old stone in the nave is thus inscribed—
Ione la femme Johan Ram gyst ici
Deu de sa alme eit merci.

A brass to Thomas Faunce, 1609, and two wives; also the print of a pillar brass on steps, and one of a priest under a canopy.

 
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