A Virtual Museum - Your Town, the Borough and its History

chalk-church.jpg
chalk-church.jpg
The parish church of Chalk village is St. Mary the Virgin. The present structure is of Early English style dating from the 11th to 13th centuries with a late 12th century north aisle. The dormer windows in the north aisle are 19th century the roof previously sweeping down to a low north wall.

The tower with its projecting stair turret is typically Kentish and a major 15th century addition. The porch, with its quaint tippling figures that so intrigued Dickens, is of the same period. The site was occupied by previous churches as recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) and the Synod of Chalkhythe (785). The church was greatly enlarged during the 14th and 15th centuries with a bell dated 1348 originally part of the structure.

The Reformation saw the end of any architectural expansion. The church lost its southern aisle in 1759 when the arcade arches were filled in. The porch cornice is Victorian; previously there was a pointed roof. The church suffered from a drastic Victorian restoration and lost its screen of 1660 and until the middle of 20th century remained in a poor state. It underwent further considerable restoration in the early 1950s.

The Rev. William Joynes with the help from Lord Darnley, paid for the restoration of the church in 1874. Other major benefactors to the church included William Martyn (d.1416), William Pokle (d. 1496), Richard Allen (d. 1510), the various Patrons of Chalk e.g. Priory of Norwich and Cobham College, the Earls of Darnley and present parishioners the Bishop of Rochester and the Pastoral Aid Society.

The church has a nave of three bays with north aisle, the western end of which is now a vestry for choir and priest. On the south side of the chancel is a 13th century sedila and piscina with shelf. Inside the west door is a holy water stoup.

Chalk Church is in the Diocese and Archdeaconry of Rochester with the Rector of Milton being the modern patron since 1934. The Church is now in the Deanery of Gravesend but before 1846 it was in the Deanery of Rochester. During 2008 thanks to a major grant from the Colyer-Fergusson Trust Chalk Church has has its roof totally repaired, and the tower restored using original cement mortar which replaced the damaging concrete used in the 1950's restoration.

St. Mary Woodland owned by Chalk Church since July 2002. The barns whch are used for fetes, meetings and events were opened in 1997 and 1989. These are both fantastic community resources which are situated next to the churchyard.

References and further information:

"An A to Z History of Chalk" by Christoph Bull. First edition published 1984, second edition published - 1992.  Available at Gravesend Library for consultation.

"Chalk Church an Illustrated Guide", updated and re-written by Christoph Bull 1997.  Available at Chalk Church to purchase for £1.50.

"The Great Expectations Country" by W. Laurence Gadd 1929. Available for reference at Gravesend Library.

"A Historical Walk Through Gravesend And Northfleet" published by Gravesend Historical Society.


See the publications page for more information on these books and more.