Capel, St Thomas Church
Capel, St Thomas Church
St Thomas Becket is a small Norman church in a rural setting in the Kentish Weald. The most interesting feature of the church is the 13th-century wall paintings that dominate the north wall of the nave. The wall paintings were uncovered during restoration in 1927.

The paintings depict Biblical stories, including Cain and Abel, and the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

The tower had to be restored after a fire in 1639, and the chancel and south wall were rebuilt in the 19th century. The church is built of red sandstone under a tile roof. The layout is very simple, with a nave, chancel, north vestry, and a short west tower. The tower is just one stage high, with a battlemented parapet and pyramidal roof.

Thomas Becket at Capel

One fascinating story associated with Capel church relates to the ancient yew tree in the churchyard. Not only is the church dedicated to St Thomas Becket, but Becket himself is said to have preached under the yew tree! Another version of the story says that Becket preached in the church itself. Either way, it seems that there is a very close connection between the church and the saint.

The church features 14th-century stonework and a very fine timber roof built to a crown-post design. The communion rails date to 1662 and the oak pulpit is Victorian. The octagonal font is probably medieval. There is just one memorial in the church, dated 1834. There are also brass plaques to the dead of WWI and WWII, and over the tower arch is a royal coat of arms.

In the churchyard is a 16th-century chest tomb, though the inscription is too worn to be legible. Another table tomb dates to 1768, and there are a large number of 17th and 18th-century gravestones.

The church is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It is usually open daylight hours.