Ickham, St John the Evangelist Church, Kent
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: A pair of 14th-century tombs and effigies
The first written records of Ickham come from 781AD, when King Offa granted the manor of Ickham and well to Christchurch Priory in Canterbury. The monks of Canterbury built a timber church where the west end of the nave now stands. In 1090 the Saxon monastic church was replaced by a much larger flint and stone church in Norman style, stretching from the current west end to the chancel steps. The church was extended still further over the next 3 centuries, with much of the labour carried out by the monks themselves. You can still see some of the early medieval mason's marks on the walls. At the end of the 12th century the nave walls were pierced to create arcades, and north and south aisles added.
The real historic interest in Ickham's church can be found in the transepts. The south transept, sometimes called the Baye or Baa Transept, is named for the Norman lords of the manor. The transept was created around 1350 and used as a chapel dedicated to St Thomas, a role it still fulfils. At the south end of the transept, set beneath a large traceried window, is a richly decorated tomb recess containing a tomb chest and effigy of Sir Thomas de Baa (d. 1339). The Baa tomb is quite beautifully decorated, with crocketted finials at each side and humourous faces carved at each terminus of a cusped ogee arch.The effigy, though worn, shows Sir Thomas in a pious pose, clad in mail. It is worth noting that the Baa transept is rather obscurely shut away behind a curtain, so that at first it seems there is no access. It was only after carefully reading the church guide that I realised the transept was indeed open to visitors!
By contrast, the north transept is very obviously accessible, and worth exploring, too! At the end of the transept, making a matching pair with the Baa memorial, is a tomb recess housing the effigy of a 14th century priest. This is thought to be William de Heghtresbury, rector at Ickham in 1354. Heghtresbury served as Chancellor of Oxford University, where he held the wonderfully-named post of 'Professor of the Sacred Page'. He died in 1372.
It is worth a good look at the effigy; seldom have I seen an effigy that seemed to show so much character. Rather than an idealised representation of the deceased, the Heghtresbury effigy seems to depict the dead man's realistically; this is a face to remember!
Summing up St John's
This is a very pretty church in a wonderfully attractive village. The setting at the end of the longgreen, with thatched cottages on one side, is one that will live long in my memory. It is worth taking a moment or two to stroll around the village itself, which is full of attractive period cottages, including several 17th century brick houses boasting Dutch style gables.
Address: The Street, Ickham, Kent, England, CT3 1QW
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Off The Street on the north side of the Ickham village green. Parking along the green verge.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Wingham, St Mary's Church - 1.3 miles (Historic Church)
Patrixbourne, St Mary's Church - 2.7 miles (Historic Church)
Fordwich, St Mary's Church - 2.7 miles (Historic Church)
West Stourmouth, All Saints Church - 3.5 miles (Historic Church)
Conduit House - 3.9 miles (Historic Building)
Canterbury, St Martin - 4 miles (Historic Church)
St Augustine's Abbey - 4.2 miles (Abbey)
Fyndon Gate - 4.2 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Ickham: