Monday, 15 November 2010

St. Anthony the Martyr, Alkham

     I eventually arrived here - after a pleasant drive through the scenic Alkham valley on a beautiful summers day - having completely missed the church the first time.  Finally locating it, sitting above the village backed by tall trees behind the local hostelry, my immediate problem was where to park the car.  I couldn't leave it on the main road because of the double yellow lines, and the lane leading up to the church was too narrow to park without causing an obstruction, so I elected to cheekily leave it in the pub car park and hope that the landlord wouldn't complain.

     On entering the churchyard through the lychgate, I was glad to see that it was spacious - with no unsightly telegraph wires - and that it allowed me to virtually pick any spot from which to take my shots.  I was confronted by a building which Newman describes as being of "considerable interest and beauty" and I wouldn't argue with that.  It seems that there has been a church here at least since the Conquest (possibly earlier), but the present flint structure is largely Early English dating from the 13th century, with a west tower; chancel and, unusually, a narrow south aisle with clerestory windows.  The 14th century saw the addition of a singularly grand north chapel and chancel, the sum of which we see before us today.  It once belonged to the abbey of St. Radigund, but has certainly fared much better than that ivy-clad ruin situated high on the isolated chalk plateau behind Dover.

     The first recorded rector was Herbert de Averenches, son of Simon, the Lord of the Barony of Folkestone.  His short incumbency lasted between 1199 and 1203, and would certainly have been in the original Norman church, the only traces of which are to be found embedded in the walls of the present building.  He lies buried in an engraved stone coffin in the floor of the north chapel and the inscription, claimed to be the earliest to be found anywhere in a Kent church, reads thus:  'Here lieth Herbert, offspring of Simon.  A man open-hearted, assured by hope of good things, fluent in words of faith.'

     To complete the very pleasant picture here, set above the church among clumps of beech trees sits the Old Rectory, a handsome early 18th century house in different shades of red brick with an adjoining entrance gate into the churchyard - no doubt the abode of the rectors past and present.  In order to cut down the glare on the church walls, and to maximise the effect of the blue sky, I decided to shoot with a polariser and warm-up filter.  I was reasonably pleased with the result, although one is never entirely happy and always feels that one could do better.


  1. I can't believe that you don't have any comments on this interesting blog of yours. I enjoyed reading it and will be back to read more.

  2. Thank you Paul, I am very pleased that you find this interesting. I really enjoyed photographing and researching the churches, and having done the book, I am getting as much of a kick out of posting it here.