Well, here I am, amazingly, at journey's end in this tentative venture into the realms of authorship. Having never considered that I would ever embark on such an endeavour, the novelty and complete wonderment of filling a blank page with the results of collective research has, for me, only been exceeded by the liberating experience of being able to air in print one's own personal thoughts and feelings.
I acknowledge the debt that I owe to the learned John Newman, whose towering work on the Kent sections of 'The Buildings of England' has proved invaluable; to the late Sir John Betjeman whose knowledge, enthusiasm and inimitable brand of humour has made the study of this fascinating subject hugely entertaining and informative; and to the authors of all the meritable volumes listed in the Bibliography who, between them, filled in the considerable gaps in my knowledge and understanding. Through them my personal comprehension has grown, if not to expert proportions, to vastly more than I possessed at the start of this venture. Thanks are also due in no small measure to my wife, Carol, for indulging my whim to attempt the written word, and for her good humour during my frequent moments of frustration when I struggled to find the right words, and to all the members of my extended family for displaying such fortitude in reading each part as it progressed and giving me their constructive criticism and constant encouragement to continue - for this I give them all my love and lasting gratitude.
Finally to the churches themselves, my affection for which has grown to immeasurable proportions. These noble old buildings have moved me sufficiently to take up the pen; inspired me, during the writing of this book, to try my hand at watercolour painting with results, though modest, far beyond that which I would have considered myself capable; have given my wife and I many memorable days in the Kent countryside and, through their study, helped me - to a much larger degree - believe in what they stand for. For these reasons alone I love them dearly as one loves old friends. One thing has become crystal clear during my travels through the various villages - that Kent's remarkable medieval churches are not simply the decaying remains of a bygone age, but a living, breathing testimony to the faith of the great men of history who built them, to the skills of the old stonemasons who fashioned them, and to the affection of all those who lovingly care for them and worship in them today. In conclusion, perhaps I will leave the last word to the Reverend Harry Williams, one-time Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, who said: "Churches are banks of affection, and it is affection that keeps them standing." Here's to the next volume!