Your Church of
St Peter and St Paul
Water Lane, Ospringe, ME13 8XS
Welcome to our Grade II listed church!
Evidence points to the fact that there was a Saxon church of some importance on this site. That church was probably made from wood, and although a way out of the village itself, it was situated close to the source of a spring (just across the lane behind the Victorian bier house).
The Doomsday records of 1086 mention a church here. The remains of this stone building are probably beneath or indeed part of, the north & south walls of the nave. As you come up the path, you may have noticed the Norman doorway in the north wall of the chancel. It is original whereas the stained glass windows are restorations. Unfortunately the door is now behind the choir stalls erected by the Victorians who also built the fake Norman style arch through which you entered the church.
By the 13th Century, the community was large enough to warrant a bigger church. The early English water stoup, to the left of the south door, is proof that the two aisles of the nave date back to that period. The bowl of the font that is just inside the north door also dates from this period. The chancel was extended during the C13th and it is believed there was a separate Lady Chapel to the east of this chancel (which means it would have been in the churchyard). The size of the church has remained fundamentally unchanged since that time.
Memorials in the Church
Hart and Soul
The Hart Chapel, built 1320 - 1337, owes its existence to Robert and Thomas Hart who owned the surrounding land in C14th. Two windows and the piscine are original.
One window once had a stained glass effigy of Thomas Hart but all that remains is the small shield bearing the family arms, in the west gable end of the chapel. In pre-reformation times, this chapel contained the altar of St. John the Baptist.
In the C15th (the King Henrys), the north aisle had a major rebuild, and there would have been a gallery that extended right across the church. The niche in the north wall of the nave carved and steps to the rood loft were formed. The windows in the wall of the north aisle are later reproductions.
State of disrepair
During the late C15th & C16th (Henry VIII & Elizabeth I), the church was allowed to fall into a terrible state of decay.
Things improved in the C17th when we received patronage from the local Streynsham family and Jacob Master. Jacob's son Edward married one of Streynsham's daughters and united the two families.
Edward Master was very conscientious in his care of Ospringe and frequently wrote long despairing letters to the royal court of Charles I, reminding them of their duty 'to pay up and look good for the church' which stood on their land - all to no avail!
A memorial to Jacob Master died 1631, blocks a C13th window in the north wall of the chancel.
By the C18th (the King Georges of Hanover period) the church had fallen into disrepair again. Some private (box) pews were fitted and two new galleries. There is an old plan showing the pews and ownership on the pillars at the back but no pictorial record of the galleries unfortunately.
Then the Victorians...
Rev. William Griffin was appointed vicar in October 1848 and took charge of the church in 1849. He reported on the church as he found it and then kept further records of all the improvements which were made during his ministry.
The two windows in the north wall of the chancel are by Thomas Willement. The first depicts the arms of John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, and those of St. John's College, Cambridge. It was commissioned by the Fellows in 1853. Fisher was chaplain and executor of Lady Margaret Beaufort's will (Henry VIII's grandmother). He carried out her desired intention of the foundation of St John's College, but much of her endowment was seized by Henry VIII. In way of some compensation, Bishop Fisher persuaded the King to give the rectory of Ospringe church and surrounding land to the college.
The screen between the Hart Chapel was built.
Outside, the south porch was rebuilt in oak and the embattled turret of the south rood staircase was restored.
In 1865, the barrel organ was replaced by a manual pipe organ. This organ was in turn, rebuilt and enlarged in 1900.
Canon Griffin died in 1893 having served the parish for 45 years. The mosaic reredos behind the high altar was provided as a memorial to a much-loved vicar. Note the inscription in front of the altar table.
Willement's monogram ("the Father of Victorian Stained Glass", active from 1811 to 1865), can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner of the window in the south east corner of the Hart Chapel. There is also stained glass by Clayton and Bell, one of the most prolific and proficient English workshops of stained glass during the latter half of the C19th and early C20th.
The tower and bells
In C13th, a circular tower built of flints and surmounted by a spire 50 feet in height, stood apart from the main church building near the north-west corner. It collapsed in 1695 when the bells were said to have been rung for William III who was in 'royal progress along the Street'. Fortunately no one was hurt. The hurriedly built replacement fell down 50 years later! In 1751, it was replaced by a bell cot erected at the western end of the ridge of the nave roof.
In 1866 the saddleback tower was built in the north-west corner. This was paid for by William Hall of Syndale who was the owner of the Faversham gunpowder works. There are 8 bells which are not easy to ring as the fittings are original but the tone is very pleasant!
The 'parish room' was erected at the west end in 1988 when the 'Shooting Gallery' in Water Lane was demolished. Before this time the pews extended right to the west wall.
The Grade II listed lychgate was designed and built circa 1860, by the Victorian architect Edward Lushington Blackburne. (There may well have been an earlier gate on the site which had decayed)