Benenden, St George's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Kitty Fisher, of nursery rhyme fame, is buried in the Norris family vault
Sometime around 1418, a huge detached bell tower was added. This was a remarkable structure of wood, on a stone foundation. The tower reached 132 feet in height, much higher than the current tower.
Also in the early 15th century, the north porch with its vaulting and carved gargoyles was added. The vaulting meets in a centrepiece representing a salamander; the symbol of eternal life in medieval Christian symbology. Each corner of the vaulting shafts terminates in a corbel head in the shape of peculiar faces or masks.
The bell tower was unfortunately struck by lightning in 1672. The tower was burned to the ground, and all five bells melted from the extreme heat. The tower was not replaced until 1718, with money earned from investing the proceeds of selling the scrap metal from the old bells. When the church was rebuilt, it was with a sturdy, integrated tower.
Benenden church was heavily rebuilt in 1861 by architect David Brandon, under the direction of Rt Hon. Gawthorne-Hardy, later first Earl of Cranbrook. Memorials to the Gawthorne-Hardy family can be seen in the chancel.
Also within the church is a memorial to Sir John Norris, Lord of the Admiralty, who owned the manor of Hemsted House. Norris's grandson, also named John, married Kitty Fisher, a famous courtesan who is remembered in a popular nursery rhyme. Fisher is buried in the Norris family vault under the chancel.
There is also a memorial brass to Edmund Gibbon, who founded the local school in 1609.
In the churchyard is the grave of an early cricketer by the name of Richard Mills, whose gravestone is carved with a cricket bat.
About Benenden, St George's Church
Address: Benenden, Kent, England
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Benenden is located on the B2086 3 miles west of Tenterden. The church is at the top of the Green
Website: Benenden, St George's Church
Benenden, St George's Church Photos
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Hole Park - 1.6 miles (Garden)
Rolvenden, St Mary the Virgin - 2.6 miles (Historic Church)
Cranbrook Museum - 2.9 miles (Museum)
Newenden, St Peter - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Sissinghurst Castle Garden - 3.1 miles (Garden)
Bodiam, St Giles Church - 4.3 miles (Historic Church)
Bodiam Castle - 4.4 miles (Castle)
Great Dixter Gardens - 4.7 miles (Garden)
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