Wye, St. Gregory and St. Martin's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Queen Anne style collegiate chancel
Kempe's long career in the church led to him being in turn Bishop of Rochester, Chichester, and London. For 26 years he was Archbishop of York, until he was made a Cardinal and finally, Archbishop of Canterbury. He is buried in Canterbury Cathedral. The Kempe arms of three wheatsheaves can be seen in several locations around the church.
Among the most intriguing memorials in the church is a tablet to Lady Joanna Thornhill in the chancel. Lady Thornhill (1635-1708) was well known for her generosity and established a school for the poor of the parish. She was the great-granddaughter of Sir Richard Grenvile, and widow of Richard Thornhill, a Royalist cavalier. Widowed at 22, she became a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. When her brother was created Earl of Bath she gained the title 'Lady' and lived at Olantigh until her death. She left money in her will to provide schooling for those poor children not able to attend Kempe's college. Lady Thornhill's new school eventually became Wye's primary school.
In the floor of the nave are grave slabs to members of the Brett family, spanning the years 1599-1770, but one of the most impressive features inside the church are funeral hatchments to the Sawbridge family of Olantigh. The hatchments begin in 1715 and the last dates from 1913. The hatchments depict the Sawbridge arms as granted by the College of arms in 1714; 'Or, two bars azure, each charged with a barrulet dauncettee argent, a chief indented of the second.' The obscure terminology of heraldry describes what is essentially a visual pun; a series of jagged teeth on a bridge, standing for the family name Sawbridge.
'Their days were imbittered [sic] by various evils. Their conduct proves that true Christian resignation may palliate the heaviest afflictions.'
I'm left to wonder what 'various evils' afflicted the two sisters!
The Palmer Brasses
One final feature is a set of memorial brasses to members of the Palmer family. These brasses are set into a modern panel immediately beside the south door. They commemorate Alice Palmer (d. 1467) with her two husbands Thomas Palmer and John Andrew, her 8 daughters and 3 sons. Both husbands are dressed as merchants, with long tunics and short-cropped hair. Alice Palmer wears a distinctive late 15th century horned headdress. The rather amusing inscription below the brasses translates as
John Andrew the just and Thomas Palmer the good looking,
Going out into the world, were laid in hard marble,
and their wife Alice suffered a similar fate.
It is requested that you will not forget that they may live in Christ.
One final note; if you use a postcode for your satnav, I suggest using TN25 5BP, instead of the official postcode, which led us down a nearby side street, and we had to backtrack and ask a local where the church was! Its actually very easy to find; on the High Street across from the village shop.
Address: High Street, Wye, Kent, England, TN25 5ES
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On the High Street. Well signposted with brown tourist signs as 'Historic Church'. Free on road parking. Use TN25 5BP for satnav!
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Godinton House and Gardens - 4.9 miles (Historic House)
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Charing, St Peter and St Paul - 6.4 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Wye:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Service
2nd Floor, Ashford Gateway Plus
Tel: 01233 330 316